The Gospel

From the Archives – Christmas: Redemption Provided

Adoration of the Shepherds (Gerard van Honthorst, 1622)

The second Person of the triune God added a human nature to His divine nature a little more than 2,000 years ago. This stupendous and miraculous event was revealed to God’s people from the beginning of the world. God announced to Satan not long after the creation of Adam and Eve (which occurred “at the beginning,” Matt. 19:4): “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed [the unbelieving community of mankind] and her seed [all true believers represented by their Savior]; [He] shall bruise thy head [a fatal, judicial blow delivered to Satan at the cross—John 12:31], and thou shalt bruise His heel [the crucifixion of Christ]” (KJV, Gen. 3:15).

Especially noteworthy is the emphasis on “the woman” (rather than “the man” or even “the man and the woman”). If Adam was the responsible head of that family unit (“by one man sin entered into the world,” Rom. 5:12; and “by man came death,” 1 Cor. 15:21), what function was Eve to have in the light of this prophetic announcement? Adam perceived that his wife, though instrumental in the fall (1 Tim. 2:14), would, by the amazing grace of God, be instrumental in bringing their Savior into the world. Therefore he named her Eve (i.e., “life” or “living”) “because she was the mother of all living” (Gen. 3:20).

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How to Give the Good News this Christmas: Talk of God’s Faithfulness to His Promises

"Though we often focus on the beginning of Luke 2 at Christmas, the middle of Luke chapter 2 describes two individuals who had been waiting to see God fulfill His promises and their joy in seeing the beginning of this fulfillment in the birth of Jesus." - DBTS Blog

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From the Archives – Peace on Earth

The gospel according to Luke records that on the night of Jesus’ birth an angel of the Lord appeared to shepherds keeping watch over their flocks in a field outside the Judean village of Bethlehem. The angel announced “good news of great joy” which included the benediction: “Peace on earth” (Luke 2:10, 14).

Peace had come to earth in a person. The “Prince of Peace,” prophesied centuries earlier by the prophet Isaiah had come (Isaiah 9:6). In a mystery never to be fully fathomed, the “Mighty God” and “Everlasting Father” was born a child with flesh and blood to dwell on earth for a season (Isaiah 7:14, 9:6; John 1:14). And as the Bible repeatedly demonstrates, whenever the living God comes to dwell among his people, he always brings peace.

But what is peace? The word is not difficult to define. Peace is the calm that prevails in the absence of war. It is the serenity that marks freedom from hostilities, strife or dissension. Peace is a paucity of agitation, upheaval or chaos. Although used in an array of contexts, the definition is fairly straightforward.

Peace is far more difficult to identify and experience. There is peace which is really no peace at all. False peace shatters many lives and poisons many souls. There is peace in the midst of hostility—peace that operates at full throttle in the war zones of human experience. There is peace as ethical responsibility. There is peace we desperately want, but can do nothing to attain.

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The Gospel Way: Theologically Rooted Evangelism (Part 2)

By Sam Horn. Read Part 1.

4. We must celebrate the accomplishment of the gospel.

The gospel is also the record of God fulfilling His purposes and promises in four specific ways. By means of the gospel, God has fulfilled an ancient promise made to our first parents in the presence of their mortal enemy, Satan. Though this enemy bruised the heel of Jesus at the cross, the resurrection was the cosmic proclamation of Christ’s victory over our ancient foe.

The gospel is also the means by which God is in the process of reversing the ancient curse whose mark is death. In vanquishing death and defeating the grave, Jesus announced that eternal life is now the present possession and future hope of every dying believer. Death has lost both its power and its sting (1 Cor. 15:50–57). By means of the gospel, God has transformed death from a prison to a door by removing any cause for fear (Heb. 2:15).

Though active in this present age, Satan has been defeated and will soon be crushed under our feet (Rom. 16:20), and God will deliver His people of all ages and dispensations from the suffering, pain, and death that is our common lot in this present, evil, passing-away world (1 John 2:17). This is the good news of the gospel!

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The Gospel Way: Theologically Rooted Evangelism (Part 1)

By Sam Horn. Republished with permission from Baptist Bulletin © Regular Baptist Press. All rights reserved.

“No human mind could conceive or invent the gospel.” These words comprise the opening line of a little-known prayer included in a collection of Puritan prayers, The Valley of Vision. These words arrested my attention and caused me to reflect again on my own understanding, response, and commitment to the gospel—especially my ineptness, fear, and disinclination to share it with others even after three decades of ministry and multiple evidences of its transforming power.

I have learned that while my soul longs for the gospel, my heart is often indifferent to its effects—and my lips are often silent to its glorious truth. This sad state has become increasingly difficult for me to accept as the status quo. I am convinced that a good bit of my difficulty lies in my failure to reflect regularly and deeply about the true nature and divine purpose of the gospel. Furthermore, I suspect this same failure is why many Christians and evangelical churches fail to engage in sharing the gospel accurately, attractively, and authoritatively with those who desperately need to experience the redemption it offers.

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The Messiness of Being Human

Reposted from The Cripplegate

Part 1

Here’s a glimpse into the sausage factory of expository preaching. A while back my commitment to consecutive exposition was acutely tested. I tackled the chapter every seminoid dreads from the day he graduates, namely Leviticus 15 (you know, the heart-warming one about emissions and discharges of various bodily fluids). The challenges of preaching this sticky wicket are manifold.

First, the preacher himself needs to understand why there is legislation on bodily leakiness in the Bible.

Second, he needs to publicly read and explain the text without blushing or evoking any unsolicited giggles from the congregation.

Third, the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ must be proclaimed from the text, and not just gratuitously or tangentially, but in a way that people grasp the connection and are moved to worship. And finally, application for today needs to be drawn from the Mosaic Law, which is fulfilled in Christ and no longer binding on Church-age believers.

No sweat.

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What Is the Gospel? The Power and Peril of Short Gospel Definitions

At some point during my tenure as a pastor at Grace Baptist, I decided I needed a succinct, memorable expression of the gospel—a phrase I could repeat frequently in a variety of contexts until members of the flock would recall it reflexively.

What I came up with is pretty much straight from 1 Corinthians 15:1-4: The gospel is the good news that Jesus Christ died for sinners and rose again.

Though I didn’t end up teaching it as well I’d intended, the statement did become an important tool in my own thinking. It eventually became reflexive for me, and that was instrumental in a sanctification project God was advancing in my own life.

It was instrumental in two ways: First, it increased my gospel awareness in general sermon preparation, personal Bible study, and random reflections on life and being human. Second, it revealed its own inadequacy. As my understanding of the gospel deepened and expanded, I came to see that my “gospel in a nutshell” statement was too small.

I’m keeping it, though—all the nutshell statements are too small!

Someone I respect said the gospel is simply, “Jesus saves.” I’ve also heard, “The gospel is the cross,” and, “It’s Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). In a way, the gospel can be boiled down to one word: “Christ”!

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Trusting the Good News in the Age of Fake News

"Trust is a fundamental social capital, and as Christians we should lament its decline. But even as the integrity of our news outlets seems to erode before our very eyes--even as we are inundated with fake news--we must never let our faith waiver regarding what we know to be reliable, trustworthy, and true: The Gospel." - Ref21

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