The Beginning of the Gospel of God
In the Old Testament there are hints that the gospel was coming, but it was not until Jesus came that the gospel of God was fully revealed for all. Take Genesis 3; there were two examples of the gospel shown in that chapter. First we see how God will deal with Satan in verse 15:
“…he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”
: God proclaims that while Satan will inflict pain upon Jesus, the big picture is that it’ll be a minor incident in comparison to what Jesus will do to him; it’ll be the pain of a person stomping his foot on a serpent’s head. Looking past the pain of the heel, who would you say has been defeated? Satan, in Genesis 3, is introduced as God’s enemy and God declares that one day Satan will be fully defeated.
Then we see part of the gospel in verse 21:
And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.
: Here we see part of what Martin Luther called ‘The Great Exchange.’ Not only does God take our sin, he also clothes us with His own righteousness. God responds to the sins of Adam & Eve by killing an innocent animal and clothing their shame with his skin. The gospel was always hinted at in the Old Testament, but it was not yet fully revealed until the time of Jesus.
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” – Mark 1:14-15
John The Baptist & Jesus
The final Old Testament prophet creeped over into the New Testament; his name was John the Baptist. When Jesus came onto the scene, what did John do? Like all other OT prophets, he pointed his disciples to Jesus and then his own ministry came to an end. It was after John the Baptist got arrested that Jesus started proclaiming the gospel of God. According to Jesus, once the ministry of John the Baptist ended, the time of the Old Testament was fulfilled and now it’s time for His ministry and the gospel of God. We will soon see that the Apostle Paul goes into a lot more depth on what the gospel of God is than Jesus does. The gospel of God according to Jesus has three features:
1) The Kingdom of God
The Kingdom Of God
We can see part of what the kingdom of God is in how it relates to the Church. It is true that, in some sense, the Church is the kingdom of God, but in a more true sense of the word, it is not. It is just part of the kingdom of God. The kingdom creates the church, for as people enter into God’s kingdom they become joined to the human fellowship of the church. The church witnesses to the kingdom, for Jesus said, “this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world” (Matthew 24:14). The church is the instrument of the kingdom, for the Holy Spirit manifests the power of the kingdom working through to heal the sick and cast out demons, as He did in the ministry of Jesus. The church is the keeper of the kingdom, for the church has been given the keys of the kingdom of heaven. So the kingdom of God is here now, through the church, but it is not completely here yet. When Jesus comes back he brings with him the fullness of the kingdom of God.
Admittedly, this is a small portion of what ‘the Kingdom’ is but I do plan on writing another post elaborating on this more. It is very central and important and brings the nation of Israel into the story.
Repentance, if you haven’t caught on by now, is rooted in the Greek word, ‘metanoia.’ It speaks about a renewing of the mind. As a man thinketh, so is he; God understands that true change begins in the mind and works from there to the whole person. This is firstly about how the mind thinks on sin and consequently how that will affect a person’s lifestyle. A Christian is never perfect, but he knows it.
Faith is trusting, depending, and believing on God, based on his word, his Holy word, the Bible. While God does speak, he speaks with supreme authority in the Bible.
The Gospel of God & Paul
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. – Romans 1:1-7
As we can see, when Paul writes about the gospel of God, he elaborates on it more than Jesus. Jesus proclaimed the gospel of God; that it was coming. The Apostle Paul is looking back at something that was accomplished. There are two things we can grab from this Scripture:
1) What is the gospel of God?
2) What does the gospel of God do to us?
: We can see 5 things about what the gospel of God is:
1) The gospel of God was promised beforehand through the prophets, priests, and kings, in the Old Testament.
2) All those promises were about Jesus Christ.
3) Jesus Christ was a descendant of David.
4) Jesus Christ was shown to be the Son of God, according to the Spirit, by his resurrection from the dead.
5) Jesus Christ is our Lord.
: Paul is saying that the gospel is what the whole Old Testament is leading up to and about. That it is what God has promised throughout the whole story. It is a final say on what the Old Testament leads up to. Ultimately, he is distancing Christianity from Judaism, saying that if you read the whole Old Testament and don’t end up in the gospel then you have gone the wrong way. All the prophets are talking about the promise, and the promise is Jesus, who was not only promised, but is a direct descendant of King David, which was in and of it self, an Old Testament promise.
Paul is saying that Jesus Christ is God, which is proven by his resurrection. And to finish it off, Paul is saying that not only is Jesus God, but he is our Lord.
That seems to be where Paul ends up with his explanation of the gospel of God; that Jesus is Lord. And funnily enough, that is where most people end too. The gospel of God is that Jesus is Lord. Now if that is unpacked you can end up with a pile of books.
So, the gospel for us is that if we truly believe that Jesus is Lord we will be saved. That’s where the issue is. Some things are debatable in Christianity, but this isn’t. The core of Christianity is the gospel, and the core of the gospel is that Jesus Christ is Lord. The Bible says, “every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,” but we know that not everybody dies believing in Jesus Christ. This means if you don’t bow your knee and confess that Jesus is Lord now for your salvation, you will do so after you die, for your damnation. Because once you die you will know that Jesus is Lord. But it will be too late.
What does the gospel do to us?
In addition to what the gospel is, we can see what it will do to us. Here is a short summary to finish off on:
1) It will make us a servant (or slave) of Jesus Christ.
2) It sets us apart from the world.
3) It means we have received grace from Jesus.
4) It makes us more obedient to him, as we grow in our faith, as a witness to the world.
5) When all is said and done, what all of this adds up to, what the gospel ultimately does to all who believe, it means we are loved by God and have made peace with him through Jesus Christ.
(Part Two available here)