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Pastoral Letter - 10 Dec 17                                                 

Dear Calvarians,        

Two weeks ago, we considered the possibility that when young people turned away from the church and rejected the Gospel, they might not be rejecting the true biblical Gospel but a watered-down version of the Gospel. This begs the question - what then is the true Gospel?

The Gospel is Good News.

We have to start at the very beginning. First, the word "gospel" means "good news." This is key to our understanding. The biblical gospel - as one writer puts it - is not a religious system, a set of rules or even a call to obedience (although a right reception of the gospel will certainly lead to obedience).

 

The Gospel simply is "good news" for sinners. It is a declaration of what God the Father had done in and through God the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Here are some passages for our meditation.

 

The Gospel is Jesus Christ.

"PAUL, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead" (Romans 1:1-4).

 

In this passage, Paul gives a summary of the Gospel. The Gospel is about... 

.     Jesus ("concerning his Son"),

.     who is both fully human ("made of the seed of David according to the flesh")

.     and fully God ("declared to be the Son of God with power"). 

The power of the Gospel rests upon the humanity and the deity of Christ. If He were only a man, His death would have no salvific value. On the hand, if He were only God, then He would not die.

 

The Gospel is Christ's Resurrection.

The Gospel would be meaningless if there were no resurrection. There is no salvation - no good news - with a dead Saviour. This was Paul's emphasis in his epistle to the Corinthians.

"Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.... And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. (1 Corinthians 15:1-4, 17-19)

 

In this passage, Paul makes three points concerning the Gospel.  

.     First, "Christ died for our sins," meaning that His death was a substitutionary sacrifice.

.     Second, Christ "was buried, and that He rose again the third day," meaning that the resurrection was a historical fact.

.     Third, God's redemptive plan was "according to the scriptures," meaning that God's salvation plan was prophesied and accomplished at His timing and for His glory. 

The Gospel is about Justification by Faith.

A fourth aspect of the Gospel is the doctrine of justification by faith. "But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus" (Romans 3:21-26)

 

Paul's key points in this passage is that our Lord Jesus' death on the cross is an absolute fulfillment of God's perfect justice and God's grace towards sinners. Paul uses three key words to help us understand what the death of our Lord Jesus accomplished for us. 

.     It offers justification for us, which means that sinners are "declared righteous" before God.

.     It offers redemption to us, which means that we are bought back from the slavery to sin.

.     It offers propitiation for us, which means that the righteous anger of God is appeased.  

There are many more passages in Scripture that explain and elaborate on the Gospel. Every Christian parent should be able to explain to their own child/children the following key elements of the Gospel. 

.     The nature of our Lord Jesus Christ; that He is fully God and fully human.

.     The sacrifice our Lord Jesus Christ; that He died on the cross in the place of God's people.

.     The atoning work of our Lord Jesus; that through His death, sinners may find forgiveness for their sins, salvation and peace with God.

.     The resurrection of our Lord Jesus that secures salvation for repentant sinners and giving them the hope for eternal life for all who believe in him. 

This gospel is, indeed, the "good news" that the Bible declares to us. God, the Creator of the universe, has not left us to die in our sins. He has come near to us, through his own Son, who died in our place and rose again to give us eternal life. This was God's good plan for us from the very beginning of time, and it is now declared to us as something we can receive by faith. This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

 

Lovingly in Christ,

Pastor Isaac

 

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