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Good News: A Biblical Exposition of the Gospel Pt 2
The Good News About God’s Mission

The Bible gives us a broad understanding of the Gospel as good news about the Triune God’s historic mission of redemption for the restoration of his fallen universe and in particular his fallen human race. The Scriptures teach that the good news of God’s salvation in Jesus Christ is as wide as creation, reaching beyond the redemption of souls to the redemption all things.

The Gospel is good news about the Triune God’s historic mission of redemption for the restoration of his fallen universe and in particular his fallen human race.

Therefore, the Apostle Paul, Augustine, Calvin, and Bavinck taught that the essence of salvation in Christ is the Triune God’s transformation of all things – seeing the Father’s creation as formation, the Fall of humanity as deformation, and Christ’s redemption and the outpouring of his Spirit as reformation. The gospel is more than a set of propositional truths to believe. It’s also a unified, unfolding story in real history by which God tells us how to shape our lives.

Read the first chapter to Good News: A Biblical Exposition of the Gospel below.


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Chapter 1: The Good News About God’s Mission

A Biblical Exposition of the Gospel
Drs. John M. Frame and Steven L. Childers

The Bible gives us a broad understanding of the gospel in four unfolding, historical events that reveal the Triune God’s purpose for the whole universe and in particular the human race:

  • God’s creation of the world and humanity,
  • the fall of humanity and the world into sin,
  • the redemption of all things lost in the fall through Jesus by his Spirit, and
  • the restoration of all things when Jesus returns to establish God’s kingdom on earth forever.

These events give us a broad biblical and historical definition[1] of the gospel as the good news that the Father’s creation, ruined by the Fall, is being redeemed by Christ and renewed by His Holy Spirit into the Kingdom of God.[2]

This is the good news that there is one infinite, personal God who exists in three persons and who created and rules over all things as Triune Lord. And his rule, his kingdom, uniquely entered the world two thousand years ago through the person and work of Jesus, by the Holy Spirit, to make all things new.

Therefore, the gospel is more than a set of propositional truths to believe. It’s also a unified, unfolding story in real history by which God tells us how to shape our lives. He brings our lives into it by drawing us into its plot and calling us to align our life purpose with his for the world. It’s the story about God’s lordship over everything. It starts with God and finds its goal in God. It reveals God’s ultimate purpose for humanity to know, love, serve, and glorify God as Lord in all of life.

God’s Mission of Restoration
This understanding of the gospel includes a robust biblical doctrine of creation that far transcends a narrow focus on what happened at the beginning. It’s a vision of God’s lordship over the whole universe he has made, both at the beginning, and for all time. It is a view of God’s salvation that is as wide as creation, reaching beyond the redemption of souls to the redemption all things.

The early church father Augustine (354-430 AD) describes the essence of God’s saving work in Jesus Christ as restoring all things lost in the fall by using a series of Latin couplets that describe God as “Former and Re-Former,” “Creator and Re-Creator,” and “Maker and Re-Maker.” Augustine presents to us the essence of salvation in Christ as transformation, seeing creation as formation, the fall as deformation, and redemption as reformation.

Likewise, in his theological writings from the late nineteenth century, Herman Bavinck concludes from Scripture that the essence of salvation is “Grace restores nature.”[3] Consequently, human beings are restored image bearers flourishing on the earth as God intended in creation. Bavinck writes,

Grace serves, not to take up humans into a supernatural order, but to free them from sin. Grace is opposed not to nature, only to sin … Grace restores nature and takes it to its highest pinnacle.[4]

Bavinck’s view of grace is not abstract or philosophical. Unlike the Greek philosophers, he does not see human beings as a lower order of being, and our need as the need to reach higher levels. Rather, we are persons, reflecting the tri-personal character of God. Our need is not that we are finite creatures of God; that is a good thing. Rather, our need is for God’s forgiveness, after we have sinned against God.

Our need is not, as many philosophers have thought, to ascend to a higher level of reality, to transcend our finitude, to rise above our humanity and become god. That can never be. God alone will always be God, and we will always be his creatures, nothing more. Rather, our need is for God to restore us to the relationship he always intended, to become again obedient, devoted servants of the Lord.

So, the essence of salvation is the restoration of God’s original purposes in creation. What needs to be restored is primarily our broken relationship with God. And through the restoration of our broken relationship with God is meant to come the restoration of our broken relationships with ourselves,[5] others, and creation[6] because of the Fall.
The Triune Lord carries out this plan of redemption in history to bring salvation to fallen humanity and creation. Therefore, the central message of the Bible can be summed up as “salvation belongs to the Lord” (Jonah 2:9). The goal of the Lord’s salvation is not merely to forgive and relocate believers to heaven, but to redeem and restore fallen humanity and creation so they will flourish on a new earth for eternity.

God’s Mission Through Christ
The Scriptures present Jesus Christ at the center of this biblical story of salvation. They proclaim the good news that God’s kingdom has entered the world through Jesus, to redeem and restore fallen humanity and creation from sin and all its consequences. And the ultimate goal of God’s redemptive plan is to restore all things in heaven and earth in Jesus Christ that God would be “all in all” (1 Cor. 15:28).[7]

The historical context for the biblical word “gospel” is the declaration of a news report about something that has happened, something both very big and very good. At its heart is the proclamation about something significant God did in the person and work of Jesus Christ by his Holy Spirit.

To understand what God did and why it’s good news, it’s helpful to know the gospel’s backstory in history. God’s plan of salvation did not begin in first-century Palestine, but in the garden of Eden after Adam and Eve sinned. In Gen. 3:15, God promised the tempter that the “seed of the woman” will one day avenge his evil actions.

Then God’s plan unfolded through covenants God made with his people like Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and the prophets. The Old Testament prophets foretold the day when a great Messiah King would come and deliver them from their oppression. Isa. 52:7 speaks of those who bring the “good news” that “Your God reigns.”

In Jesus’ day the Jews had been greatly oppressed by the Roman government for many years. They longed for Messiah King to come, set up His kingdom, and save them from their oppression.[8] So they were excited when Jesus began his public ministry calling them to “repent and believe in the good news” that “the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand (Mark 1:14b-15).

However, the Jews soon learned that the kingdom Jesus was inaugurating was not what they expected. The nature of his kingdom was more spiritual than political, as was the oppression from which Jesus came to deliver his people. And to their amazement, the citizens of this new kingdom were no longer limited to the Jews but included Gentiles from all nations.

When the Apostle Paul writes the Corinthian church, he quotes what seems to be a standard summary of the good news in the first century:

Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. (1 Cor 15:3-6)

Paul’s repeated use of the phrase “in accordance with the Scriptures” refers to God’s purposes revealed to Israel in the Old Testament Scriptures to rescue the world after Adam and Eve sinned. Here he builds on the good news of the Old Testament that “Your God reigns.” (Is. 52:7, Rom. 10:15) Then he describes how Jesus “appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me (1 Cor 15:7-8).

Jesus as the last Adam and the new Israel
Drawing from the Old Testament Scriptures, Paul later presents Jesus as the second man and the last Adam. (1 Col 15: 45-47) When the first man, Adam, was tempted in the garden, he failed to obey God resulting in eternal death for humanity (Rom. 5:12-14). But when the second man, Jesus, was similarly tempted throughout his life, he perfectly obeyed God resulting in eternal life for humanity. (Rom 5:18-19)

By God’s grace, he did not destroy humanity after the Fall, neither did he change his demands. Instead, God established a covenant of grace promising to send a second man, the last Adam, who would obey his demands and restore his people to his favor.[9]

There is also a sense in which the nation of Israel was called to be the new Adam. God called Israel, like Adam, to be fruitful and multiply (Gen 1:27-28; 35:11) and to obey all his demands perfectly in order to have life (Lev 18:5). But God’s commands for Israel to make sacrifices for sin were reminders of their failure to keep God’s demands and their need to look ahead for God’s promised Redeemer.

The Bible shows several parallels between Israel and Jesus, including Israel’s temptation in the wilderness for forty years (Ex. 14, Deut. 8:1-2) and Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness for forty days (Matt. 3:13-4:2). So, Jesus is the new Israel, the second man, and the last Adam through which God is graciously restoring what was lost in the Fall.[10]

But Paul’s explanation of the gospel extends beyond Jesus death and resurrection in the past (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) to include Jesus’ present and future rule as the ascended King over all things by the Spirit. (1 Cor. 15:25-28) Jesus will continue his rule until he completes the mission that God the Father gave him to make all things new:

For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death…[W]hen all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself [Jesus] will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him [God the Father], that God may be all in all. (1 Cor 15:25-28)

In the rest of this chapter Paul proclaims the good news that what God did for Jesus, raising him from the dead, he promises to do for all his people when Jesus returns to re-establish God’s kingdom on earth forever (1 Cor. 15:35-58).[11] This is why Paul describes Jesus as “the firstborn among many brothers” (Rom 8:29).

God’s Mission Through History
For Paul, the good news about what God has already done in history through Jesus points to the good news about what God will do to make all things new at the end of history when Jesus returns. Paul’s announcement of what God has done in the past is matched by what God promises he will do in the future, when

the Father’s creation, ruined by the Fall, will be redeemed by Christ
and renewed by his Holy Spirit into the kingdom of God on earth forever.

So we are living in a unique time in history, between what God has done in the person and work of Jesus Christ in the first century, and what God will do through the consummation of all things when he returns. In the meantime God intends for us to experience what he is doing in and through our lives today as we learn how to find our story in his.


Footnotes:


[1] We will be unpacking this broad, historical definition of the gospel later, showing how creation includes humanity and the cosmos, redemption includes Christ’s birth, life, death and resurrection, and renewal includes the Holy Spirit’s work in personal regeneration, etc.

[2] By renew we mean re-form reflecting Bavinck’s description of re-formation, not re-creation: “The re-creation that will take place in the renewal of heaven and earth (Matt. 19:28) is not the destruction of this world and the subsequent creation out of nothing of another world but the liberation of the creature that is now subject to futility … Christ, accordingly, is not a second Creator, but the Redeemer and Savior of this fallen creation, the Reformer of all things that have been ruined and corrupted by sin … sin is not part of the essence of creation; it pushed its way in later, as something unnatural and contrary to nature. Sin is deformity. When re-creation removes sin, it does not violate and suppress nature, but restores it.” “Re-formation, Not Re-creation, Reformed Dogmatics,Volume 4,Holy Spirit and New CreationThe Transformation of Creation, 716-727.

[3] Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 3: Sin and Salvation in Christ, ed. John Bolt, trans. John Vriend (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006) 577.

[4] Ibid. 577.

[5] Most of us do not think of having a relationship with ourselves. Whether we realize it or not, we talk to ourselves constantly. Often it’s subconscious. Our self-talk is a reflection of being an image bearer designed by a triune God, who at creation revealed his intra-Trinitarian discourse in the heavenly court saying, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Gen 1:26a). On many occasions, the authors of Scripture write words to themselves. The Psalmists frequently speak to themselves. In Psalm 42 and 43 David talks to himself when he is experiencing fear, saying things like “Why are you cast down, my soul?” “In the narrative, God, in a remarkable conference with the heavenly host, makes a special announcement of this particular creative act (Gen. 1:26) …” John Frame, Systematic Theology, chapter 4, in the section The Edenic Covenant.

[6] Most of us do not think about “having a relationship with creation.” In Genesis 1:28 we find the first explanation of why God created human beings–to exercise authority over his creation as his representatives: “And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.’” In Genesis 2:15 we find a more direct explanation of God’s purpose for creation and humanity: “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” As we compare and contrast the imagery in Genesis 1 with that of Genesis 2, we go from a picture of God exercising sovereignty through humans over all creation (Gen. 1), to God exercising this same sovereign rule through individual humans in very specific places on the earth–such as the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2). Here we learn that God designs us in his image so that we will cultivate and protect the realms of his creation which he places under our influence, to accomplish his will on earth. These realms or spheres include our marriages, families, work, education, politics, art, etc.

[7] “Paul teaches that God’s redemptive plan encompasses heaven and earth. Its penultimate goal is to restore cosmic wholeness by unifying heaven and earth in the Messiah (Eph. 1:9–10); its ultimate goal is that once again, God would be “all in all” (1 Cor. 15:28).  John J. Hughes, The Transforming Power of Christ’s Love, in Scripture and the People of God: Essays in Honor of Wayne Grudem, p 138

[8] Ridderbos 1975:48

[9] “The first covenant made with man was a covenant of works, wherein life was promised to Adam, and in him to his posterity, upon condition of perfect and personal obedience.”, “Man, by his fall, having made himself incapable of life by that covenant, the Lord was pleased to make a second, commonly called the Covenant of Grace, whereby He freely offers unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ, requiring of them faith in Him, that they may be saved; and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life His Holy Spirit, to make them willing, and able to believe.” Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 7.2-3

[10] Examples of Jesus and the kingdom he inaugurated seen as the fulfillment of Israel’s story include: 1) Jesus’ return from Egypt as a child mirroring Israel’s Exodus out of Egypt, 2) Jesus’ temptation in the desert wilderness alluding to Israel’s temptation in the desert wilderness, 3) Jesus’ twelve disciples remind us of the twelve tribes of Israel, 4) Jesus’ teachings in Matthew parallel Moses’ Pentateuch, 5) Jesus’ sufferings are linked to Israel’s call to be a suffering servant, 6) Jesus’ sacrificial death is tied to Israel’s sacrificial lamb, and 7) Jesus’ resurrection fulfills Israel’s long-awaited, promised hope for resurrection.

[11] See how Paul also refers to Adam as the “first man” and Jesus as the “second man” when teaching on the the future resurrection of the body: “Thus it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being,’ the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.” (1 Cor. 15:45-47)


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The Good News: A Biblical Exposition of the Gospel

Introduction by Dr. John M. Frame

Introducing the Applied Theology Project Series

The Applied Theology Project provides you accessible, affordable seminary-level teaching designed to help you learn how to apply theology to your life and ministry in practical ways – with the goal of helping you better know, love, serve, and honor God as LORD in all of life. Seminary professors John Frame and Steve Childers combine their almost 90 years of teaching and ministry experience to help you apply theology to your life and ministry in practical ways.

Introducing their soon-to-be-released Applied Theology book and course: 

Good News! A Biblical Exposition of the Gospel

“We realize that in this book we are treading on holy ground. As we try to understand the gospel of Jesus, we realize that souls are at stake. So as we prepare this book we pray that God will accompany it, to plant churches and to plant his Word deep in the hearts of those who hear it.” – from the Introduction

Read the New Introduction to Good News: A Biblical Exposition of the Gospel by Dr. John Frame below.


Introduction to the Good News

A Biblical Exposition of the Gospel
Dr. John M. Frame

It is hard to believe that after two thousand years the Christian church is still discussing, even debating, “What is the gospel?” The gospel, the “good news,” is the fundamental truth of our faith, what we believe and proclaim to the world. If we don’t know what the gospel is, and if it doesn’t motivate everything we think and do and say, then what’s the point in claiming to be Christian at all?

At one level, of course, it is very simple: God saves sinners. But further questions and study draw us into a world of vast complexity and mystery. From that world, it is difficult to return to ordinary life, the world in which we are trying to communicate the gospel to needy people.

This is the sort of problem for which God raised up Pathway Learning. What we are all about is helping evangelists and church planters to bring the biblical message, even the most mysterious parts of it, to those hearing it for the first time. We are trying, as Cornelius Van Til used to say, to “put the cookies on the lower shelf.” But what we place on the shelf have to be real cookies, with all the sweet ingredients. To drop the metaphor: Not dumbed-down formulae, but the real biblical teaching, in all its richness.

The job is perilous. Theological accounts of “gospel” abound in oversimplification and overcomplication. How can we formulate the essence of it without getting lost in the details? How do we avoid the temptations of either parading our own academic subtlety or boasting of our down-home earthiness?

Prayerfully, we have concluded that the doctrine of the Trinity helps us to meet such challenges. In Scripture, God is three in one. So salvation from sin is the work of the three divine persons: the Father’s eternal plan, the Son’s actions in history, and the Spirit’s work in our hearts. So it is threefold, but it is also one. Each divine person is present in the others and in the great drama of redemption. So in the end it is a simple gospel, but one that is open to the riches and mystery of the eternal God.

In the history of debate over “gospel,” especially in recent years, some have emphasized its application to individual persons, what God does for me (1 Tim. 1:15). Others have emphasized that the gospel renovates the entire cosmos (Rom. 8:18-25). Still others call attention to what redemption does for God himself: that it vindicates his sovereignty and glory (John 17:1-4).

We see these three emphases, not as rival understandings of the good news, but as aspects of the full Trinitarian gospel. When you look closely at one of them, you will see the other two lying within it. To invoke our buzzword: the three are “perspectivally related.” Each of these understandings is a perspective on the whole and on the other two. So, as the Trinity itself, the gospel is wonderfully simple, and it envelops a rich, threefold, blessing.

We do not present this approach as a novelty, to be commended for its creativity. We find this Trinitarian structure and balance within the historic creeds of the church, and in the thought of its greatest theologians, such as Augustine and Calvin. So this book seeks unity, not only between different theological intuitions, but also between theological methods: we want to bring together systematic theology, biblical theology, and historical theology.

Nevertheless, we do not perceive this work primarily as an academic exercise. We realize that in this book we are treading on holy ground. As we try to understand the gospel of Jesus, we realize that souls are at stake. So as we prepare this book we pray that God will accompany it, to plant churches and to plant his Word deep in the hearts of those who hear it.

Dr. John M. Frame
Emeritus Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy
Reformed Theological Seminary


We help underserved church leaders develop churches that transform lives and communities

WAYS TO GIVE

Online
Give using your credit card or bank draft through our secure online form

Phone
Call us at 407-682-6942

Mail
Send a check:
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Matching Gift
Your employer may also be able to double your gift.

Give a Gift of Stock
You may give securities either by transfer of the certificate of ownership or through account transfer arranged by your broker. In each case, you avoid the tax on any potential gain and receive a deduction for the full fair market value of securities. To give a gift of stock, email us at staff@pathwaylearning.org, call us at 407-682-6942, or write us at P.O. Box 2062, Winter Park, FL 32790.

Pop Quiz: What is the Gospel? Part 2

By Dr. Steven L. Childers

“It is hard to believe that after two thousand years the Christian church is still discussing, even debating, “What is the gospel?” The gospel, the “good news,” is the fundamental truth of our faith, what we believe and proclaim to the world. If we don’t know what the gospel is, and if it doesn’t motivate everything we think and do and say, then what’s the point in claiming to be Christian at all?”   – Dr. John Frame, Theology of the Gospel (Pathway Learning book and course coming soon)

The heart of the gospel of the kingdom is about the King!

In this article, you’ll learn how the heart of the gospel of the kingdom is three things about God’s King and three promises God makes to all who will follow him in repentance and faith.

Learning Tip: Go deeper by reading the extensive footnotes.


Pop Quiz: What is the Gospel? Part 2

A Biblical Exposition of Mark 1:1-15
Dr. Steven L. Childers

At the heart of this Good News about God’s kingdom is the good news about God’s King – Jesus Christ, the Son of God. (Mark 1:1) The Scriptures present Jesus Christ at the center of this biblical story of salvation.

In the first century, God entered the cosmic battle for the restoration of all things lost in creation in a new and amazing way through the person and work of Jesus. In the New Testament, the good news of Jesus Christ is described in three primary ways. First it’s:

I. The good news of what Jesus did
Jesus’ apostles proclaimed that there were five major historic events that Jesus did in the first century that they proclaimed as good news, including:

  1. his birth–as the eternal Son of God who humbled himself and took on humanity
  2. his life–as he lived the life that Adam, Israel, and all of us failed to live
  3. his death– as he died the death we all deserve to die, for our sin, in our place
  4. his resurrection– as he conquered death and inaugurated God’s kingdom on earth
  5. his ascension: as he ascended back to heaven where he rules from God’s right hand.[1]

Jesus’ Baptism
In Mark’s first chapter, he does not begin with Jesus’ birth, but with two dramatic scenes in the early part of Jesus life–his baptism by John and his temptation by Satan. In Jesus’ baptism he shows us how all three persons of the Trinity are at work in this story of salvation. Mark tells us that Jesus “…saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. Then the Father’s voice comes from heaven saying to Jesus, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

Mark begins his gospel by calling Jesus Christ the Son of God. The phrase Son of God refers to God’s promised Messiah, his Anointed One, in the line of King David who would be God’s new Son of David and new Israel, Son of Abraham. The New Testament picks up this same concept by referring to Jesus as the new Son of Adam. This good news that Jesus is God’s Son takes on great meaning when we see what happens next in his life.

Jesus’ Temptation
In verses 12-13, Mark tells that “The Spirit immediately drove Jesus out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan.” Matthew tells us that Satan seized Jesus’ vulnerable state of severe hunger and said, ““If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”

When the first man, Adam, was tempted by Satan in the garden, he failed to obey God resulting in eternal death for humanity. But when the Son of God, the last Adam, Jesus, was similarly tempted by Satan both in the wilderness and throughout his life, he perfectly obeyed God resulting in eternal life for humanity.

The good news is that Jesus saves us just as much by his life as by his death. Jesus faced every kind of temptation known to humanity from the world, the flesh, and the devil. But unlike Adam, Israel, and us, by the power of God’s Spirit he never sinned, so that through his suffering to obey, he could earn a perfect righteousness for us, obeying all of God’s commands in thought, word, and deed.[2]

Only then could he die the death on the cross that we all deserve to die, for our sin, in our place. And be raised from the dead inaugurating God’s kingdom on earth, and then ascend back to heaven where he rules from God’s right hand until he returns.

But the Bible teaches that the good news of the gospel is not only what Jesus did, but also

II. The Good News of who Jesus is because of what he did
Because of Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection, the Bible tells us that God has now made him Savior and Lord. When the apostle Peter preached at Pentecost, he said that Jesus had been “raised from the dead and . . . exalted to the right hand of God.” This symbolic statement that Jesus is now at the right hand of God teaches us that Jesus is presently reigning and ruling in heaven as both Savior and Lord.

As Savior, he alone has the authority and power to deliver people from sin’s penalty and power over their lives. As Lord, he alone has the authority to demand that everyone, everywhere, submit to his rule over their lives. Paul writes, “God now commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed.”

But the climax of this good news is not only that Jesus is Savior and Lord, but that God makes some amazing promises to all who bow before him. The promises of a 1) new standing before God of forgiveness, 2) a new heart from God by his Spirit, and 3) a new world from God when he returns.

III. The Good News of what God promises because of who he is

1) New standing of forgiveness before God,
We see in verses 4-5 that John is already proclaiming that God promises he will forgive the sins of Israel as Covenant breakers for all who repent and draw near to this coming King confessing their sins: Mark writes, “John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.” Here we see God’s promise to give the gift of a new standing of forgiveness to all who repent.[3]

2) New heart from the Spirit of God
But John promises those who repent, more than a new standing of forgiveness. He’s also promising them a new heart by receiving the gift of God’s Holy Spirit. In verses 7-8 Mark tells us John proclaimed, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

This is the same message of the Apostle Peter at Pentecost when he promises all who will repent these same two miraculous gifts from God. Peter says: “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ – for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

By a miracle of divine grace, God promises not only to forgive you, but to plant a new life in you by his Holy Spirit. And that life is the life of God himself – a divine opposition God implants in your soul to counter the power of sin, a new nature, a new set of desires, and a new set of dispositions to know him, please him, honor him and to enjoy him as our Triune God.[4]

3) New World from God
But to all who will bow before King Jesus as Savior and Lord, God promises more than the forgiveness of sins and the gift of his Holy Spirit. He also promises a new world when Jesus returns to “restore everything” that has been lost in creation because of sin by re-establishing God’s kingdom on earth forever. In Acts 3 Peter proclaims that Jesus “… must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.” Jesus called it the “new world.”[5]

Conclusion

So, what is the gospel? It’s the good news that the Father’s creation, ruined by the Fall, is being redeemed by Christ and renewed by His Holy Spirit into the Kingdom of God on earth. And it’s the good news about the King: Through Jesus’ birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension, God has exalted him as reigning Lord and Savior, promising all who follow him in repentance and faith–the forgiveness of sins, the gift of God’s Spirit, and a new world when King Jesus returns to make all things new.”[6]

Your ultimate hope as a follower of Jesus is not that one day when you die you will go to heaven to worship Jesus as a disembodied spirit –as wonderful as that will be. This is because everyone who goes to heaven is making a round trip. Instead our ultimate hope is in another day when Jesus will return and bring heaven back down to earth, and unite our souls with our resurrected bodies so we can finally and fully know him, love him, enjoy him, and serve him on a new earth forever.

The good news is that then – all our relationships that were lost because of sin will finally be restored–not only our broken relationship with God but also our broken relationship with our selves, others and all of creation—“as far as the curse is found.” Revelation tells us, “The kingdom of the world will become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.”

So in the meantime, in verses 14-15, Jesus calls us, by his Spirit, to keep repenting and believing that the Kingdom of God is near. His voice calls us to repent of wasting our lives in the pursuit of worthless idols so we might more radically align our lives around Him and His purposes for the world in the brief time we have remaining.

The gospel is not just a gate we must pass through one time, but it’s also a path we must walk each day of our life. In repentance we keep pulling our affections away from our heart idols, things we wrongly look to for happiness, so that by faith, we can keep putting those affections back on the ascended Jesus Christ in worship.

This is how God means for us to find the streams of living water that alone can quench our soul’s thirst until that final day. John tells us one day Jesus cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever keeps believing in me, as the Scripture says, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”

As we learn to keep drinking deeply from this well that is Christ, Jesus promises us that we will experience the transformation of our lives into his image and find the living waters of his Spirit flowing through us into the lives of others. This well never runs dry. Here the old hymn-writer calls us to respond:

I heard the voice of Jesus say,

“Behold, I freely give
the living water; thirsty one,
stoop down and drink, and live.”
I came to Jesus, and I drank
of that life-giving stream;
my thirst was quenched, my soul revived,
and now I live in him.[7]


Footnotes:


[1] When the Apostle Paul writes the Corinthian church, he quotes what seems to be a standard summary of the good news in the first century: “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared…” (1 Cor. 15:3-4). Paul’s repeated use of the phrase “in accordance with the Scriptures” refers to God’s purposes revealed to Israel in the Old Testament Scriptures to rescue the world after Adam and Eve sinned. Here he builds on the good news of the Old Testament that “Your God reigns.” (Is. 52:7, Rom. 10:15) But Paul’s explanation of the gospel extends beyond Jesus death and resurrection in the past (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) to include Jesus’ present and future rule as the ascended King over all things by the Spirit. (1 Cor. 15:25-28) Jesus will continue his rule until he completes the mission that God the Father gave him to make all things new so that God would be “all in all.”

[2] Paul presents Jesus as the second man and the last Adam. (1 Col 15: 45-47) When the first man, Adam, was tempted in the garden, he failed to obey God resulting in eternal death for humanity (Rom. 5:12-14). But when the second man, Jesus, was similarly tempted throughout his life, he perfectly obeyed God resulting in eternal life for humanity. (Rom 5:18-19).

[3] This good news is that God, as judge, forgives us through Jesus’ blood and accepts us through his righteousness. This means that God now considers the horrible record of all our sins to be on Jesus, and the perfect record of all Jesus’ obedience (his righteousness) to be ours. God, as Father, now promises to forgive, accept, and love those who believe in Christ just as He accepts and loves his one and only Son. Our broken relationship with God is restored. 

[4] This good news is that God promises to deliver those who believe in Christ from sin’s domineering power by not only breaking the crippling power of sin (Rom. 6), but also freely giving them a new heart and a new Spirit, the Holy Spirit, to empower them to know, honor, and enjoy Him forever. Our broken relationship with ourselves is restored.

[5] This good news is that on that day we will be made new in both soul and body and delivered not only from sin’s penalty and power, but also its influence and presence. Creation will be restored and God will dwell with his redeemed people in a new heavens and new earth. God will redeem and restore this fallen, corrupt world and then rule over it with his people forever. Our broken relationship with creation (e.g. our work, our vocation) is restored as we serve God with the fullness of our gifts and passions forever.

[6] The Apostle Paul teaches that the highest blessing of the gospel for believers is being united to God “in Christ.” From this mystical union with God flows all the riches of Christ’s redemption including God’s multi-faceted promises of a new status with God as forgiven (propitiation), accepted (justification), and adopted (adoption), a new heart (regeneration) from God that is freed from sin’s dominance (sanctification) by his Spirit, and a new world (glorification) from God in the age to come. When we are united to Christ through faith, we’re given a very rich and remarkable spiritual inheritance in him. Like a child born into a royal family, it takes time for us to realize the full extent of the riches of our birthright. Faith requires a continual rehearsing and delighting in the many promises and privileges that are now ours because we are in union with God in Christ. Each doctrine related to the gospel helps us understand the many facets of all the spiritual blessings we now have in Christ. In the gospel we see the multi-colored splendor of our new life in Jesus Christ and find the divine remedy for our broken lives and world.

[7]I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say by Horatius Bonar, 1846, Public Domain. Watch and worship with this video using a beautiful Celtic tune with this hymn: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74kyfROS4q8


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