Archive for January, 2016

What Is The Gospel?

What Is The Gospel?

Exploring the Good News of the Kingdom

“What do we mean by preaching the Gospel?  At various times and in different circles the Gospel has been identified with this or that element in the general complex of ideas broadly called Christian; with the promise of immortality, with a particular theory of the Atonement, with the idea of ‘the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man,’ and so forth.  What the Gospel was, historically speaking, at the beginning, and during the New Testament period [is the critical question]…No Christian of the first century had any doubt what it was, or any doubt of its relevance to human need.”[1]

“If the church is in a fog on the gospel, then the church very much risks losing its reason for being.  A misdirected gospel message robs the church of valuable momentum in the world.  Nothing leads to stagnation more quickly than for an institution to forget why it exists.”[2]

Nothing is more paramount to the Christian life than a reliable grasp of the meaning of the “gospel” of Jesus Christ.  If this foundation is not laid aright at the beginning, nothing else that follows in (more…)

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Here is the first session of four talks I did on the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) at Dartmouth:

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“So we do not lose heart.  Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16)

“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.  Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.” (Romans 6:12-13)

Gaffin“We take this verse [2 Cor. 4:16] as our further entree into Paul because here, expressed in a nutshell, uniquely and more pointedly than anywhere else, is his anthropology of the Christian–how he views the constitution of the Christian’s person as a Christian, how in that respect Christians are to look at themselves as Christians.  Here we have Paul’s basic outlook on the person of the Christian living between the resurrection and the return of Christ–on how, in fundamental categories, believers are to view themselves during this interim…What is now true of the Christian as inner self is not (yet) true for the outer self…What is true for believers is not yet true for their bodies, but for now, until death (cf. 2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:23) and looking toward the future resurrection of the body, it is true only in the body…

Believers have already been raised with Christ (Eph. 2:5-6; Col. 2:12-13; 3:1; cf. Rom. 6:4-5, 8, 11, 13 and Gal. 2:20)…In view principally is what has taken place in the actual life history of the Christian, an involvement in this sense that is ‘existential’…Having already been raised with Christ is real, actual, ‘existential,’ not something true merely ‘in principle’…

As far as the believer is ‘inner man’ (‘heart,’ at the motivating center of his person), he is already raised; so far as the believer is ‘outer man’ (‘body,’ ‘members’), he is yet to be raised…The resurrection [of Jesus] is not the especially evident display and powerful proof of Christ’s divinity, but rather the vindication of the incarnate Christ in his suffering and obedience unto death, and with that vindication, the powerful transformation of him in his humanity…Paul looks at the resurrection [of Jesus] in terms of the Adamic identity of Jesus and the genuine humanity he shares with believers…

It is not an overstatement to say, as Paul sees things, that at the core of their being, in the deepest recesses of who they are–in other words, as ‘the inner self’–believers will never be more resurrected than they already are.  God has done a work in each believer, a work of nothing less than resurrection proportions, that will not be undone.  Such language, it needs to be stressed, is not just a metaphor…In Paul, there is no more important conclusion about the Christian life, nothing about its structure that is more basic than this consideration: the Christian life in its entirety is to be subsumed under the category of resurrection.  Pointedly, the Christian life is resurrection life…

Resurrection life is brought into view as both a possession and a goal; it is both a gift and a task…

Nothing better brings to a focus the structure and true ‘dialectic’ of the present existence of the believer than this correlation: ‘alive from the dead…in the mortal body’ [Rom. 6:12-13].  Nothing in Paul, it seems, provides a more basic perspective on that existence…Believers are alive with the new-creation life of the age to come, as they continue to live in ‘the present evil age’ (Gal. 6:14-15 with 1:4)…

The deepest motive for our sanctification, for holy living and good works, is not our psychology, not how I ‘feel’ about God and Jesus.  Nor is it even our faith [i.e. justification].  Rather, that profoundest of motives is the resurrection power of Christ and the new creation that we are and have already been made a part of in Christ by his Spirit.” (Richard B. GaffinBy Faith, Not by Sight: Paul and the Order of Salvation, 2nd. ed., chapter 3)

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Paul and Gift-Barclay“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us…We are always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.  For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.  So death is at work in us, but life in you…We know that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.  For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.  So we do not lose heart.  Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:7-16)

In the passage laid out further below, John Barclay comments on the following passages in Romans–all of which highlight the theme of the fallen physical “body” of Christians as the source of the ongoing moral conflict and struggle as they walk in newness of life in the midst of this present evil age: (more…)

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Romans 7The following observations all collaborate to show that the mysterious “I” of Romans 7:7-25 is a portrayal of Israel under the old covenant, before Christ and apart from the indwelling presence of the Spirit.  This portrait is set in contrast to the subsequent treatment of the new covenant Christian in Romans 8:1-11.  Romans 7 is not a depiction of the “normal” Christian life, nor even of the “dark side” of the struggling Christian who relies on the flesh rather than on God in faith.  It is an image of what slavery to sin while “under the law” looked like for Israel.

1.) 7:5-6 as OUTLINE: 7:5 = 7:7-25 and 7:6 = 8:1-11 (cf. also 6:20-21 and 6:22, again separated by “now”)[1]

2.) “Dwell” (oikeo): nothing good (7:18) and sin (7:17, 20, 23) Holy Spirit (8:9, 11)

3.) In/of the Flesh (7:5, 14, 18, 25, 8:7-8) Not of the Flesh (8:5, 9)[2]

4.) Captive to the Law of Sin (7:23, 25) Set Free from Law of Sin (8:2; 7:6)

5.) Enslaved (7:14; 6:17, 6:19-20) Free (6:6-7, 6:17-19, 6:22, 8:2, 15)

6.) Death (7:5, 10-11, 13, 24; 6:20, 8:6) Life (6:4, 10-11, 13, 22-23; 7:6; 8:2, 6, 10-11)

7.) Law Disobeyed (7:10-11, 7:15-25; 8:7) Law Obeyed (8:4; 2:27-29, 13:8-10)

8.) Christ and the Spirit are not mentioned a single time in 7:7-25 (except for final deliverance from the (more…)

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