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Good News: A Biblical Exposition of the Gospel
The Good News – A New Standing
The gospel is a multi-faceted jewel that reveals multiple perspectives on the amazing grace of God for all who are in Jesus Christ. Learn 3 biblical perspectives on God’s amazing grace found in our new standing with God in Christ:
- Good News of Propitiation: You Are Forgiven!
- Good News of Justification: You Are Accepted!
- Good News of Adoption: You Are Adopted!
In the Applied Theology Series, “Good News: A Biblical Exposition of the Gospel, Part 5” by Drs. John Frame and Steve Childers, you’ll learn the important differences between being forgiven through Jesus’ blood, being accepted through Jesus’ righteousness, and being adopted as God’s child.
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Chapter 4: The Good News: A New Standing!
A Biblical Exposition of the Gospel
Drs. John M. Frame and Steven L. Childers
We saw in the Apostle Peter’s preaching that God promises the gifts of forgiveness, the Holy Spirit, and a new world to all who repent and believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior.
In these gifts, God is graciously reversing the effects of his just curses on humanity and the world and restoring his creation order. God’s gift of forgiveness is our cure for guilt, God’s gift of the Holy Spirit is our cure for personal corruption, and God’s gift of a new world is our cure for the world’s corruption. As the old hymnwriter says, “His blessings flow as far as the curse is found.”
These three cures give us three perspectives on the gospel that can help us deepen its application to our lives. But we must not limit our understanding of the gospel to these three perspectives. In fact, the Bible gives us perspectives on each of these perspectives. The gospel is a multi-faceted jewel that reveals multiple perspectives on the amazing grace of God in Jesus Christ.
New Sacrifice: Propitiation
Jesus, as our “merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God,” has made “propitiation for the sins of the people” (Heb 2:17). There are several biblical words used to help us deepen our understanding of God’s love for us through the substitutionary death of Christ on our behalf, including sacrifice, redemption, reconciliation, and propitiation. Jesus is the one “whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood (Rom 3:25).” To propitiate means to placate, pacify, appease, and conciliate someone.
John writes, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:10).” Through Jesus’ death, God’s just wrath against us has been turned away by being poured out in all its fullness on Jesus in our place. God satisfied his own wrath against us by substituting his own Son for us on the cross so that God can look on us without anger and we can look on God without fear. John Stott writes:
It is God himself who in holy wrath needs to be propitiated, God himself who in holy love undertook to do the propitiating, and God himself who in the person of his Son died for the propitiation of our sins. Thus God took his own loving initiative to appease his own righteous anger by bearing it his own self in his own Son when he took our place and died for us.
This is the good news that believers in Jesus don’t have to live in fear of God’s condemnation anymore. Instead, no matter how great our sins may be, God promises that he can no longer look on us with anger because he poured out all his wrath on Jesus in our place.
New Record: Justification
God also considers all believers in Christ as righteous, perfect law-keepers based on the imputation of Jesus’ righteousness – his record of perfect obedience. The doctrine of personal justification occupies a central place in Paul’s understanding of the gospel.
He writes, “Know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified” (Gal 2:16).
When we believe in Christ, a great exchange takes place in the heavenly court. “For our sake he (God) made him (Christ) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor 5:21) God treated Jesus like a sinner so he could treat us like Jesus.
Whereas forgiveness through propitiation cancels our liability to punishment; justification is the positive counterpart. Justification bestows on believers in Christ a righteous standing before God. Paul writes, “But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known . . . which comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. . . . ” (Rom 3:21-25). So the Father now accepts us as righteous in his sight, not because of anything we do for him, and not even because of anything he has done in us, but only because of what Jesus Christ has done for us.
Justification must be understood as a legal declaration, not a moral transformation. Righteousness is imputed to believing sinners, not infused or even imparted. Believing sinners are to put on the alien righteousness of Christ like a robe, which conceals their continuing sinfulness. Every justified Christian is simul justus et peccator – at one and the same time righteous and a sinner.
This is the good news that believers in Christ don’t need to be crippled by the fear of rejection from God or people anymore, always seeking acceptance by building and defending our reputations. Instead we can love God and people well, risking people’s rejection because we know God’s acceptance of us by counting Christ’s perfect righteousness to be ours through faith.
New Family: Adoption
And God declares that all who are in Christ stand before him as his deeply loved children. The goal of Jesus’ death for us is “that he might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons”. (Gal 4:4-5) Paul writes, “You have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15) J.I. Packer, writes:
If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all. 
We who were once enemies and strangers to God are now in the high position of being his own beloved children in his family. To be right with God the Judge is wonderful, but to be adopted, loved and cared for by God the Father is even greater.
This is the good news that we don’t need to go on living and feeling like unloved spiritual orphans anymore. We can now experience all the privileges of our spiritual inheritance as beloved children, including the comfort of knowing Jesus as our compassionate older brother “who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin” (Heb 4:15).
This is the good news that, although we can grieve and displease God because of our sin, there is nothing we can do to cause our heavenly Father to love us any less, and there is nothing we can do to cause him to love us any more. The Father’s love for us in Christ is the same eternal love he has always had for his one and only Son. Because we are now his children, God promises to use all the trials of our lives not for our punishment but for our good, to help us grow and mature to be like his Son (Heb 12:10).
 This Greek word ἱλαστήριον (hilastērion) translated “propitiation” is also translated “sacrifice of atonement.” Propitiation is a personal word. Someone propitiates a person.
 John Stott, The Cross of Christ, 1986:175
 See also Rom 3:21-26 in the context of Romans chapters 3-5.
 In Ephesians 1:4-5 Paul also teaches that the ultimate goal of God’s election is adoption. “In love He predestined us to be adopted as sons through Jesus Christ.”
Knowing God, IVP
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