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Good News: A Biblical Exposition of the Gospel
Pt 6
The Good News: A New Heart – Holy Spirit!

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 the person and work of God’s Holy Spirit in your life:

  • Good News of Regeneration: You are Born Again!
  • Good News of Redemption: You are Set Free!
  • Good News of Sanctification: You are Being Transformed!

In the Applied Theology Series, “Good News: A Biblical Exposition of the Gospel, Part 6” by Drs. John Frame and Steve Childers, you’ll learn the important differences between being born again (regeneration), being set free (redemption), and being transformed (sanctification) by the Holy Spirit.
 

Learning Tip: Go deeper by reading the 23 footnotes!


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Chapter 5: The Good News: A New Heart – Holy Spirit!

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

Introduction
God the Father is portrayed in the Bible as Creator, God the Son as Redeemer, and God the Spirit as Restorer of all things lost in creation and humanity because of sin. So the biblical concept of the gift of the Holy Spirit carries with it God’s restoration of fallen humanity through his gift of a new heart and God’s restoration of fallen creation through his gift of a new world. Let’s begin with a closer look at God’s gift to us of a new heart by his Holy Spirit.

This is the good news that by God’s indwelling Holy Spirit he transforms our spiritually dead and corrupt hearts by giving us a new nature, a new freedom, and a new life in Christ. There are three biblical terms that can help deepen our understanding of our new heart from God: regenerationredemption, and sanctification. In regeneration God gives us a new nature by implanting his Spirit in us, in redemption God gives us a new freedom by definitively breaking the domineering power of sin over us, and in sanctification God gives us a new life by progressively transforming us into the image of Christ.

New Birth: Regeneration
At the end of Peter’s sermon at Pentecost, he promises all who will repent not only “the forgiveness of your sins” but also “the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2: 38-39). When we become followers of Jesus, we receive God’s indwelling Holy Spirit who gives us a brand new nature.[1] We need not only the vindication of God as Just Judge, but also the healing of our corrupt souls by God as Great Physician. It is as much God’s purpose to save us from sin’s corruption as it is to save us from sin’s guilt.[2]

When Nicodemus, a Jewish leader, approached Jesus to ask about the Kingdom of God, Jesus drew on God’s New Covenant promise of his Spirit in Ezekiel, and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Then Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God … The wind  blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:3-8)

When Jesus speaks of being “born of the water and the Spirit,” he’s not referring to the waters of baptism or natural birth. Instead, he’s referring to God’s promised cleansing renewal of human souls by his Spirit as pictured in Ezekiel 36. Paul calls this work of the Holy Spirit in new birth the washing of regeneration: “he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior (Titus 3:5-6).”[3]

The good news is that by a miracle of divine grace–a new life has been implanted in us, and that life is the life of God himself. There is now divine opposition implanted in us to counter the power of sin. God has given us a new nature, a new set of desires, and a new set of dispositions to know him, please him, glorify him and enjoy him as our Heavenly Father.[4]

The good news is that no matter how alone or powerless we may feel, we are not alone and without God’s power to flourish in life according to his design. Through our faith in Christ, God has graciously given us his Holy Spirit to come alongside us, to comfort and encourage us, to convict and teach us, and to empower us so that we will be conformed into the image of Jesus Christ. (John 14:18, 25-26, John 16:12-14, Romans 8:29, 2 Cor 3:17-18).[5]

New Freedom: Redemption
When the Holy Spirit regenerates us, he unites us to Christ resulting in a definitive break with sin’s domineering power over us and a new freedom to strive after holiness and righteousness. Paul describes this as a definitive, one-time act of God in the lives of all believers in Christ. (Rom 6, Eph 2:1-6, 2 Cor 5:14-15, and Col 2:20-3:4)[6]

In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he changes his focus from the benefit of Christ’s death and resurrection in our justification in Romans 1-5, to the benefit of Christ’s death and resurrection in our sanctification in Romans 6 because of our union with Christ.[7] In Romans 6, Paul refers to this radical change God makes in us as our “death to sin” through our union with Christ in his death and our “newness of life” by our union with Christ in his resurrection.[8]

Therefore, all who are in Christ have been redeemed from their previous bondage, meaning they’ve been delivered from their captivity in Satan’s domain of darkness and death, and they’ve been transferred to God’s Kingdom of light and life (Col 1:13-14).

Paul often personifies sin as a power by speaking of “sin” in the singular sense rather than “sins” in a plural sense.[9] And he teaches that sin enslaves us primarily through three archenemies of our soul – the diabolical trinity of the world, the flesh[10], and the devil that holds us captive in the domain of darkness. (Rom 5:12, 21; 6:23, 8:2). Satan’s domain of darkness extends beyond individual human hearts to all spheres of private and public life.

The Apostle John writes, “The whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” (1 Jn 5:19)[11] This is why we need more than forgiveness for our sin. We also need to be rescued from Satan’s domain of darkness and transferred to God’s kingdom of light.

In order to rescue us and our runaway world under the dominion of evil, God himself took on a human nature in Jesus and entered our story as one of us.[12] As our Warrior King, Jesus then did valiant personal battle for us against all of his and our spiritual enemies that held us captive. Paul writes, “He disarmed the powers and authorities…and triumphed over them by the cross.”[13]

From infancy Jesus did battle with every spiritual enemy that defeated us and held us captive. He faced every temptation known to humanity from the world, the flesh, and the devil. But unlike us he never sinned, so that through his suffering, he could earn a perfect righteousness for us before God, completely obeying all of God’s commands in thought, word, and deed.

Jesus offered himself up to God for us as not only our substitute in his life, but also in his death. When Jesus died on the cross, he did not simply experience the pain of physical suffering and death. He also suffered the full wrath and punishment of God that we deserve because of our sin (Is 53:6).

As proof of our Redeemer-King’s victory over sin’s domineering power in fallen humanity and creation, God raised him from the dead and seated him on his throne in heaven. This signifies God giving Jesus the sole authority and power as Lord and Savior to deliver his people from their captivity to the world, the flesh, and the devil and transfer them into his kingdom of light and life on earth forever.

Paul proclaims  “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Col 1:13-14) Through Jesus, God gives us not only forgiveness of sins but freedom from the enslaving power of the world, the flesh, the devil, and even death.[14]

The biblical doctrine of redemption is an all-inclusive concept that refers to the fullness of God’s redemptive work in Christ, but it also refers in a more restricted sense to a deliverance and freedom that comes by the payment of a ransom price. Jesus said, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Luke 10:45)[15] The word redemption may also refer to a deliverance that comes by means of a champion’s victory.[16] John writes, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” (1 Jn. 3:8)

Paul’s freedom imagery is seen in his use of the word redemption (λυτρον) with a focus on how Christ sets sinners free from the domineering power of sin: “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men.” (1 Tim 2:5-6).[17]

No matter how intense or enslaving our present struggle with sin may be, we no longer need to be in bondage to sin’s dominion over our lives.[18] Although we can never be free from sin’s influence until heaven, the good news is that, because of our union with Jesus in his death and resurrection, we’ve been delivered from sin’s dominion and set free to live a life of righteousness.[19]

New Life: Sanctification
Paul saw God’s gifts to believers of a new nature through regeneration and a new freedom through ransom as just the beginning of his Spirit’s transforming work in their lives called sanctification.[20]

The biblical term sanctify (ἁγιάσαι) has a one-time positional dimension and an ongoing experiential dimension. The Holy Spirit begins the process of transforming believers immediately upon their regeneration. In Titus 3:5 Paul writes, “He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” Paul establishes a strong, organic link between the washing of rebirth and the renewal by the Holy Spirit.

Calvin also affirms that the doctrine of regeneration includes both conversion and spiritual transformation through sanctification.[21] The work of God’s Spirit in our renewal begins by giving us the gifts of regeneration and ransom, but then continues as an ongoing sanctifying process through which “our inner self is being renewed day by day.” (2 Cor 4:16b) Paul writes: “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Cor 3:18).[22]

Because of Paul’s confidence in the Holy Spirit’s work in us that he is able to say, “We do not lose heart” (2 Cor 4:16a) while facing various trials of life that are all rooted in man’s sinful nature (2 Cor 4:8-12).

Christians often reduce the gospel to “God’s plan of salvation” for lost people to be saved from sin’s penalty, not realizing that it’s also “God’s plan of salvation” for Christians to be saved from sin’s power. The same gospel message that saves sinners also sanctifies saints.

Therefore, the gospel should be seen as not only a message of good news for lost people to be saved from sin’s penalty, but also as a message of good news for believers to be saved from sin’s domineering power. The goal of the gospel is not merely to forgive us, but to change us into true worshippers of God and authentic lovers of people.

The gospel is not just a gate we pass through one time but a path we are to walk each day of our lives.[23] It’s God’s solution not merely to our guilt, but also our moral corruption—as well as the ultimate solution to all the problems of life both personal and social.

The gospel is not merely a set of propositions to be believed and defended, but it is also a supernatural power to be released in and through our lives and churches for a broken world.

Footnotes:


[1] Regeneration is monergistic: meaning it’s entirely the work of God the Holy Spirit. The Spirit’s work precedes and causes our conversion.

[2] Christ’s purpose in our life as Savior is not only to save us from sin’s penalty but also to save us from sin’s power and corruption. The Psalmist praises God for both of these benefits when he writes, “Bless the Lord O my soul and forget none of his benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities and heals all your diseases. (Ps 103:1–3) This is why the old hymnwriter of “Rock of Ages” writes “Be of sin the double cure, cleanse me from its guilt and power.

[3] J.I. Packer writes, “Regeneration is an act of God whereby a soul undergoes a spiritual resurrection into a new sphere of life, in which he is alive to God and united to Him in Christ. God has implanted in the newborn soul a totally new principle of life.” Calvin, whom Packer calls “the theologian of the Holy Spirit”, uses the term regeneration to cover the whole progressive transformation and conformation of the believer by the Holy Spirit, including conversion and sanctification. Calvin writes, “For Christ imparts the Spirit of regeneration to us in order that he may renew us within … and that a new life may then follow the renewal of mind and heart.” – Calvin’s Commentary of Acts 5:31 (CO 48.111)

[4] In the biblical doctrines of propitiation, justification, and adoption, we see God’s gracious, one-time acts on our behalf never requiring repetition. Theologians call these one-time acts definitive acts versus progressive acts. But the doctrine of regeneration includes both kinds of acts. Regeneration is a definitive act of God, referring to a one-time event in history when God’s Spirit performs the miracle of new birth in our souls giving us a new heart. But regeneration is just the beginning, the origin of our sanctification. It coincides in time with definitive sanctification and is the source of our lifelong process of progressive sanctification into the image of Christ.

[5] As we learn to “live by the Spirit,” God promises that we “will not gratify the desires of our sinful nature”(Gal. 5:16).

[6] The biblical doctrine of sanctification refers to the process of our personal transformation into the likeness of Christ that takes place progressively over time. But most of the words in the New Testament that refer to our sanctification do not describe a process of God’s work in us over time, but a one-time, once-for-all definitive act of God. For example, when Paul addresses the believers at Corinth he refers to their sanctification in the past tense as “sanctified in Christ Jesus” and “washed, sanctified, and justified” (1 Cor 1:2, 1 Cor 6:11). When Paul writes Timothy, he refers to believers as those who have been “set apart as holy” (2 Tim 2:21). The New Testament terms for purification are also used with this same meaning, i.e. believers have been purified by a one-time act of God in the past (Acts 15:9; Eph. 5:26; Titus 2:14).

[7] John Murray writes, “But it is a fact too frequently overlooked that in the New Testament the most characteristic terms that refer to sanctification are used, not of a process, but of a once-for-all definitive act. It would be, therefore, a deflection from biblical patterns of language and conception to think of sanctification exclusively in terms of a progressive work.” – Definitive Sanctification Murray also writes about the common neglect of this biblical teaching: “The bearing of Jesus’ death and resurrection upon our justification has been in the forefront of Protestant teaching. But their bearing upon sanctification has not been sufficiently appreciated.” – The Agency in Definitive Sanctification

[8] In Romans chapters 1-5, Paul expounds the good news of our new, legal standing before God in the heavenly court based on the gift of Christ’s forensic, external (alien) righteousness that God imputes to our account when we believe in Christ. Then, in Romans 6, Paul shifts his focus away from God’s external, judicial act in his heavenly court for us to God’s more internal and subjective act in us by his Spirit uniting us with Christ. Paul’s good news in Romans 6 is that because we are now united with Christ in his death and resurrection, God has definitively broken sin’s domineering power over us (“we died with Christ”) and infused Jesus’ resurrection power in us (“we are raised with Christ) to be “instruments of righteousness.”

[9] Paul describes fallen humanity as being held captive under the power of sin (Rom 3:29, 1 Cor 15:56, Gal 3:22), in bondage to the dominion of sin (Rom 5:21, 6:12, 14), and therefore enslaved to sin (Rom 6:6-7, 16-18, 20, 7:14).

[10] The New Testament word σαρκὸς often translated “flesh” is not referring to the flesh of the human body but to our sinful human nature that opposes the work of the Spirit. Paul writes, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” (Gal 5:16-17)

[11] Paul refers to Satan as “the god of this world (who) has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Cor 4:4)

[12] One author wrote, “It’s as if he snuck into the enemy camp, under cover of night, to whisper words of love to his own: I have come for you!”

[13] Throughout history, theologians have formulated several theories about how Jesus’ death was “for our sake,” including Christus Victor [Latin: Christ the Victor]: a perspective toward the atoning work of Jesus that emphasizes his triumph over the evil powers of the world, through which he rescues his people from the domain of darkness to transfer them into the kingdom of God’s light. (Col 1:13-14)

[14] Although Paul speaks of the death of Christ as the basis of our “forgiveness of sins” (Eph 1:17; Col 1:14) and “for our sins” (1 Cor 15:3, Gal 1:4), he also speaks of the death of Christ as the basis for our “deliverance” and “redemption” from the enslaving power of sin revealed in the world, the flesh, the devil, and even death–in which forgiveness of sins is a vital part but not the whole.

[15] Throughout church history, many have promoted unbiblical views of Jesus’ atoning work of ransom, including the view that Satan is the one to whom the ransom of Jesus’ death was paid, and the erroneous view that an angry God afflicts cosmic child abuse on his son to satisfy his cruel demand for justice. Roger Nicole presents the biblical view of ransom: “In common language, the word ransom and its cognates were frequently used with reference to a payment which insured the liberation of prisoners (both prisoners of war and those who were incarcerated on legal grounds) and the emancipation of slaves. It secured a deliverance from the thralldom of servitude or, although more rarely, from the penal consequences of the violation of the law.” (1964:202) This view is also expounded by Leon Morris in The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross.

[16] Nicole writes, “One should also take into consideration numerous passages where Satan is represented as the adversary (this is the meaning of the name Satan), where the struggle occurs between the forces of good and evil, where Christ appears as humanity’s champion, and where Christians themselves are enlisted in the battle royal against demonic powers. It is probably in this universe of discourse that Genesis 3:15, “He shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel,” finds its meaning as the protoeuangelion” (1964:204).

[17] Paul also describes Jesus as the one “who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good” (Titus 2:14). Leon Morris describes Paul’s freedom imagery: “Christians agree that evil is strong and that they cannot break free from it by themselves. But the wonderful thing about the Christian way is that it is the way of freedom. The evil that is part of human nature has been defeated in Christ. Believers live in freedom. Since the price has been paid the bondage is ended. They are no longer to live in slavery” The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross

[18] Paul’s good news of freedom from sin’s dominion sounds like this: “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his …  For one who has died has been set free from sin … For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:1-13) We see here Paul’s biblical ethic that grace motivates obedience. To Paul, the root of salvation is our union with Christ, especially in his death and resurrection. Because Jesus died–we died in him, and because Jesus was raised–we are raised in him to newness of life.

[19] Commenting on Romans 6, John Owen writes, “Wherefore, to be freed from the dominion of sin is not to be freed absolutely from all sin, so as that it should in no sense abide in us any more.” See Owen’s A Treatise of The Dominion of Sin and Grace and A Discourse Concerning the Holy Spirit V:iii

[20] Paul describes this ongoing process of sanctification through which God transforms believers as being solely a work of God: “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through.” (1Thess 5:23)

[21] “Many seventeenth century Reformed theologians equated regeneration with effectual calling and conversion with regeneration … later Reformed theology has defined regeneration more narrowly, as the implanting of the “seed” from which faith and repentance spring (I John 3:9) in the course of effectual calling.” J.I. Packer, Regeneration, Elwell Evangelical Dictionary

[22] Paul saw our spiritual process of transformation as a complete reversal of its bodily counterpart: “Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day” (2 Cor 4:16). Kenneth Prior comments: “Our bodies begin with health and vigor of youth and then gradually decline to the weakness of old age and, ultimately, death. Our spiritual history is the complete opposite. Instead of a healthy and vigorous nature, a Christian begins with a nature corrupted and weakened by sin. From this unpromising start the believer is daily renewed by the Holy Spirit and can look forward to the day when this sanctifying process will be complete.” The Way of Holiness, IVP, p. 57

[23] Tim Keller often writes, “The gospel is not just the ABC’s of Christianity, but the A to Z of Christianity.”


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Good News: A Biblical Exposition of the Gospel
Pt 5
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

Introduction
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).”[1] To propitiate means to placate, pacify, appease, and conciliate someone.[2]

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.[3] 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).[4]

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)[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. [6]

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.[7] 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).

Footnotes:


[1] This Greek word ἱλαστήριον (hilastērion) translated “propitiation” is also translated “sacrifice of atonement.” Propitiation is a personal word. Someone propitiates a person.

[2] John Stott, The Cross of Christ, 1986:175

[3] See also Rom 3:21-26 in the context of Romans chapters 3-5.

[4] 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.”

[5]Knowing God, IVP


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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.


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Good News: A Biblical Exposition of the Gospel
Pt 4
The Good News About God’s King!

The Bible teaches that the gospel is not only good news about God’s kingdom coming to earth. It’s also good news about God’s King–especially:

  • 6 events he did on earth,
  • 2 descriptions of who he is because of what he did, and
  • 3 promises God now makes to all who follow him in repentance and faith.

In the Applied Theology Series, “Good News: A Biblical Exposition of the Gospel, Part 4” by Drs. John Frame and Steve Childers, you’ll also learn what the Bible teaches is the “highest blessing of the gospel” – and (spoiler alert) it’s not the forgiveness of your sins.


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Chapter 3: The Good News About God’s King

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

To understand the fullness of the biblical gospel requires an understanding of God’s story in all of history in general (chapter 1) and in the first century in particular (chapter 2). So far, we surveyed four unfolding, gospel events in all of history that reveal the Triune God’s purpose for the whole universe and 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 Christ and by his Spirit, and
  • the restoration of all things, humanity and the world, when Jesus returns to establish God’s kingdom on earth forever.

These historic events can be summarized 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 on earth forever.

What the King Did: Gospel Events
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 Jesus. So we narrow our historic focus from the gospel events in all of history to the gospel events in the first century. Jesus’ apostles proclaimed that these events took place “according to the Scriptures,” meaning through God’s promises given to Israel in the Old Testament. They can be summarized as Jesus’:

  • birth: the eternal Son of God took on humanity
  • life: he lived the life we fail to live
  • death: he died the death we deserve to die
  • resurrection: he was raised from the dead
  • ascension: he ascended back to heaven
  • return: he promises to return to earth

Who the King Is: Gospel Affirmations
The good news is not only about God’s kingdom, it’s also about God’s King. It’s the good news of not only what Jesus did, but also who Jesus is because of what he did. Because of Jesus’ birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension, he is now reigning at the right hand of God as Lord and Savior of the world. In the New Testament this fundamental affirmation is that “Jesus is Lord!”

On the day of Pentecost, Peter proclaims “This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God …” (Acts 2:32-33) When Peter refers to Jesus being exalted at the right hand of God, he’s referring to the promise God made to Israel in Psalm 110 to send a Messiah King in the line of King David to rule over them and deliver them from their enemies.[1]

The “right hand of God” at which Christ, meaning Anointed One, now “sits” symbolizes Jesus’ position of supreme honor and universal authority as Lord. Therefore, the climax of Peter’s sermon was “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” (Acts 2:36)[2]

What the King Promises: Gospel Promises
Peter’s sermon includes not only the good news of what Jesus did (gospel events) and who he is (gospel affirmations), but also what God promises to all those who come to him. At the end of his sermon, Peter promises two free gifts from God to all who will repent and be baptized: “the forgiveness of your sins” and “the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Peter said to them, “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. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” (Acts 2:38-39)

After the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Jews gathered in Jerusalem (Acts 2:1-13), Peter quotes their Old Testament Scriptures to remind them of God’s New Covenant promises of 1) forgiveness and 2) the Holy Spirit made to them through their prophets. (Acts 2:14-35)[3]

The Forgiveness of Sins: New Standing
Through the prophets, God reveals both his promised curse on Israel for their disobedience and his promised blessing of a coming New Covenant in which he pledges to keep all his previous covenant promises to make them his treasured people. Jeremiah proclaims God’s promise to write God’s law on their hearts and forgive them:

Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah… I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people … For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more (Jer 31:31-34).

The resurrected Jesus told Peter and the other Apostles that “the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. (Luke 24:47).
We see Peter’s obedience to this command in his preaching: “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out.” (Acts 3:19) “To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (Acts 10:43) [4]

The Gift of the Holy Spirit: New Heart
But God’s new covenant promises include not only the forgiveness of sin, but also the gift of the Holy Spirit.[5] Through the prophet Ezekiel, God promises us a new heart and new spirit by putting his Spirit within us:

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. (Ezek 36:26-27).

Just prior to his death, Jesus comforts his disciples saying “I will not leave you as orphans; will come to you” by promising them that he would return to them soon through the ministry of his Holy Spirit whom the Father would send in his name. (John 14:18, 25-26).[6]

Something incredible happens to us when we come to Jesus in genuine repentance and faith. We receive not only the forgiveness of sins, but also the free gift of the Holy Spirit who gives us a brand new nature called a new heart.   John Stott writes,

We must not separate the two gospel promises which God has joined together, forgiveness and the Spirit. Both belong to the ‘salvation’ which Peter insisted was in Jesus Christ alone and both are part of the ‘liberation’ which modern man is now seeking.

Since the time of Pentecost, the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit are received together when anyone comes to saving faith in Christ. Paul calls this gift “the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5-6).[7] The result of the Spirit’s regeneration is a new creation: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Cor 5:17) [8]

By a miracle of divine grace a new life is implanted in us. And that life is the life of God himself. [9] The good news is that there is now divine opposition implanted in us to counter the power of sin. God has given us a new nature, a new set of desires, and a new set of dispositions to know him, please him, glorify him and enjoy him as our Heavenly Father.

The Regeneration of All Things: New World
However, Peter’s preaching of the gospel promises in Jerusalem includes more than God’s promise of the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit to restore fallen humanity to God. He also proclaims God’s promise of a new world when Jesus returns to “restore everything” that has been lost in creation because of sin.

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets (Acts 3:19‐21).

Jesus promises to reward his followers “in the new world when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne” (Matt 19:28). The words translated “in the new world” are from the Greek words meaning “in the regeneration” (ἐν τῇ παλινγενεσίᾳ). This is the same word Paul uses when he describes God’s saving work in our hearts as “the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5).

God’s promised new world will come when Jesus returns to make all things new by restoring fallen humanity and creation through the regenerating work of his Holy Spirit (Rev 21:1-3). By God’s grace, he allows humanity and creation to begin flourishing again, according to his original purpose, and toward his ultimate goal of a new heaven and new earth. God’s goal for history is not merely to restore or regain fallen paradise to its original state, but to redirect and reopen it to the future it has always had.

Highest Blessing of the Gospel: Union With God in Christ
The Apostle Paul teaches that all the blessings that flow from all these gospel promises find their ultimate source in the highest blessing of the gospel – being united to the Triune God “in Christ.”[10] He writes, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 1:3)

From our mystical union with the Triune God flows all the riches of Christ’s redemption and the Spirit’s restoration. This includes our new standing before God as forgiven, our new heart from God by his Spirit, and our new world with God now and in the age to come. It is from our union with God “in Christ Jesus” flows all the spiritual blessings of “wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption.”(1 Cor 1:30).[11]

We must be on guard against the danger of focusing more on the promises of the gospel than on the Promisor, and focusing more on the benefits of salvation than on the Savior. We’re not saved by believing in God’s promises but by believing in the Triune God who makes the promises.[12]

Footnotes:


[1] Peter is proclaiming that Jesus’ ascension “at the right hand of God” fulfills God’s promise of a new Messiah King “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” (Acts 2:34-35)

[2] Paul proclaims this same good news to the Roman church: “For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.” (Rom 14:9) And to the Philippian church Paul writes, “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 2:9-10)

[3] Peter saw in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies including Isaiah’s “last days” (Isaiah 2:2) and Joel’s promise that the Lord will pour out his Spirit (Joel 2:28-32).

[4] Later, the Apostle Paul preaches this same promise: “Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.” (Acts 13:38)

[5] When David repents of his sin with Bathsheba, he not only begs God for forgiveness (Ps. 51:1-9) but also pleads that God will give him a new heart (verses 10-12). It is not enough for God to forgive his past sins; God must also give him a new inner motivation, so that he will not commit the same sins again. That comes from the Holy Spirit, and David prays that God will never take the Spirit from him.

[6] This promised gift is also called the Spirit of Christ (Rom 8:9, Phil 1:19, 1 Pet 1:11), the Spirit of Jesus (Acts 16:7, Gal 4:6), and the Spirit of adoption (Rom 8:15)

[7] “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3:5-6).

[8] See also Gal 6: 15 “For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.”

[9] Matthew Henry writes about the Spirit’s miraculous gift to us of a new heart and new nature: “Regenerating grace creates a new world in the soul; all things are new. The renewed man acts from new principles, by new rules, with new ends, and in new company.”

[10] The biblical teaching on our union the Triune God “in Christ” is one of the most important and neglected doctrines in Christianity. John Murray writes, “Nothing is more central or basic than union and communion with Christ. Union with Christ is really the central truth of the whole doctrine of salvation not only in its application but also its once-for-all accomplishment in the finished work of Christ. Indeed the whole process of salvation has its origin in the phase of union with Christ.” Redemption Accomplished and Applied (Grand Rapids: MI, 1955), 161.

[11] Calvin sees in this verse a two-fold blessing of God (duplex gratis Deus) which all believers receive when mystically united with God by their faith in Christ. This two-fold blessing includes both: 1) our justification, a forensic (legal) imputed standing with God, and 2) our sanctification, our infused new heart by God’s indwelling Holy Spirit.

[12] For example, we’re not justified by believing in God’s promise of justification, but by believing in the Promisor, Jesus Christ, who alone justifies.


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