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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

What is the Gospel Anyway?

The word “gospel” comes from the Greek word εὐαγγέλιον, euangelion (eu- "good", -aggello- "proclaim, tell) and it means good news or glad tidings.

Luke 2:8-12 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

From Luke 2, we know that the gospel has to do with Christ:

1) bringing joy to people
2) bringing glory to God
3) bringing peace to men with whom He is pleased (I want to add as a caveat here that we know he is only “pleased” with us through faith in Jesus and what Jesus did for us, not in our mere works apart from faith. We also know that our faith is not of ourselves but is a free gift of grace from Him. See, John 3:16; Ephesians 2: 8; Hebrews 11, etc.):

How does Christ bring joy to people, glory to God, and peace to men?

Here’s my attempt to summarize the gospel:

Our Trinitarian God is One God in three persons- Father, Son (Jesus) and Holy Spirit. God is perfect and is in eternal perfect loving community as Father, Son, and Spirit. God created man and woman in His image. Adam was the first man and Eve was the first woman. God was in relationship with them and they were in relationship with each other. In this, there was much joy for them and glory to God, who is the epitome of love and by whose character love is defined. Sin entered the world when Adam and Eve rebelled against God. Their sin destroyed the perfection of their community with God and each other. From then on, sin brought separation between human beings and our Righteous God, as evil does not dwell with our perfect God (Psalm 5). Sin also brought separation among human relationships, as sin defiles and begets more sin. Through Adam and Eve, all of humanity has inherited indwelling sin, making us sinful from our mothers' wombs. I am a sinner. The more I learn about God’s perfect goodness, the more I see how truly sinful I am in motive, thought, and deed, and how offensive my sin must be to God given how good He really is. God's just penalty for sin is death (Romans 6:23). The story sounds pretty bleak so far. Still, none of this happened apart from God's sovereign will. God's plan all along was to redeem. God the Father sent God the Son (Jesus) on a rescue mission. In love for His Father and for us, Jesus gave up His throne and humbled Himself to come to earth as a man so that He could live an exemplary sinless life and so that He could be the ultimate perfect sacrifice to satisfy the death penalty of sin on our behalf. Jesus died a horrific and cruel death for the ugliness of our sin. Jesus did this willingly in obedience to God the Father, enabled by God the Spirit. He did this to reconcile us to God, so that by faith in Jesus, we could enjoy relationship with Him (John 3:16). The Righteous One died for the unrighteous, so that we who made ourselves His enemies could be His friends through faith. This salvation is a free gift that we could never earn, and it is available to all who believe in Him. We demonstrate our faith in Him by confessing our sinfulness, acknowledging what He did for us, and living a life of trust in Him that leads to obedience to Him. Jesus’ death cleanses believers from the defilement of sin, so that there is no condemnation against us anymore! We are reconciled to God and we get to enjoy community with Him once more! Jesus gave access to the Holy Spirit for those who believe so that we could know God deeper and so that we could be gradually transformed by the Spirit from our sinful character into the character of Jesus. As we see God, His character, and His love, and as we are transformed into His image, we enjoy Him more and more and we have peace in Him. We have the joy of knowing that God is transforming us daily. We have joy as God allows us to participate in His work of loving others. God is glorified in His great expression of love, grace and mercy to us. God is glorified in the fact that justice has been done and sin has been paid for. God is glorified as we reflect His image in increasing measure. One day, our joy will be complete as we will get to enjoy relationship with Him eternally, no longer hindered by our sin and the effects of the fall. He will wipe away our every tear, and at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Now that's good news!

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