In the first post I discussed the idea of Jesus being the Messiah, the king or leader that would come to herald in God’s kingdom in this world. It was assumed that this was to be a human, a real king, not someone like Jesus.
In the second part I talked a bit about Paul. Paul was very Jewish and only became a Jesus follower after Jesus died and rose from the dead. He was a Jewish insider as well as a Roman citizen.
In this part I will discuss “the gospel”. The beginning of the Letter to the Romans states:
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. NIV
Besides having a good idea of who Jesus and Paul are, it would be a good idea to have some idea as to what the gospel is that Paul is talking about. Paul says that he is “set apart for the gospel of God- the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son..” You may have heard that the word gospel means good news and indeed I do believe this is the sense in which Paul is using the word. In Greek it is euaggelion, which also has more of a good tidings, or good message flavor to it.
The point I want to make about the use of the word gospel by Paul, is that when he is writing the letter to the Romans he is not talking about what he has to say, but he is referring to what Jesus did and what he said. The gospel is how the man Jesus fulfilled the prophetic narrative, declared his message to the people and was risen from the dead thereby ushering in a new age, a new kingdom to come for all of humanity.
This gospel that I am talking about is in stark contrast to the “good news” that so many of our reformed churches in the US teach. I propose that the gospel according to Jesus goes something like this:
Everyone! As your fathers and the prophets have promised, I have come make everything right between you and God. I have come to tell you of a new way of life that was promised by God. I am here to be the leader of the world. Rejoice, for I am ushering in the Kingdom of God which is available to you here and now. This Kingdom of God has two commands. First, love God with all you have and second, love your neighbor as yourself. That’s it! It is simple! Believe that it truly is THE WAY! If you believe that this really is The Way, you will have the opportunity to live a life of the ages. A life that is the way that Yahweh always wanted you and all people to live.
That is some good news as far as I am concerned. Unfortunately, many of our religions have forgotten the gospel. They have instead contorted it to mean something more like this:
One God: Infinite, Eternal and Unchangeable, subsisting in a mysterious and Eternal Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. 1 John 5:7-8, Matt. 28:19
One Word: The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments of faith and practice. 2 Timothy 3:16-17, 2 Peter 1:16-21
One Condemnation: There being no difference, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, because the carnal mind being born of corruptible seed, is enemy against God. Romans 3:10-26, Romans 6:23, John 3:16, Ezekiel 16:4
One Savior: The Lord Jesus Christ, God manifest in the flesh; His essential deity, virgin birth, sinless life, vicarious death, physical Heaven from whence He shall return personally and premillennially to set up an earthly kingdom. John 1:1-14, John 14:9, Isaiah 7:14, Acts 3:12-26, Hebrews 9:24, 1 Cor. 15:12-15, 1 Thess. 4:13-18, Acts 1:11, Rev. 19:11-16, Rev. 19:19-20, 20:1-6, Titus 2:11-14.
One Atonement for Sin: Made by Jesus Christ in a substitutionary and sacrificial death on the cross, sufficient for all, available to all, and that all must be born again or be forever lost. Mark 10:45, John 3:3, 36, Romans 5:1-10, 1 Cor. 5:18-21, Hebrews 2:9.
One Spirit: God, the Holy Ghost whose work is to reprove the world, of sin, of righteousness and of judgment, and through whose sovereign agency in sanctification the soul is changed more and more into the Divine Image from glory to glory. John 16:7-15, 2 Cor. 3:18.
One Life: The Life is with Christ in God – The Life Eternal; begun when a sinner believes and receives Him and continuing thereafter by the effectual and sovereign grace of God. Phil. 1:6, Eph. 1:13, John 1:12, Romans 10:9-10, John 10:26-29.
One Church: Which is Christ’s Body, all the members of which God hath from the beginning chosen in Christ to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth. Eph. 1:4, Eph. 1:14, 22-23, 6:25-32.
Two Destinies: Heaven, a place of eternal life and bliss, and Hell, a place of everlasting punishment eternally separated from God. 2 Cor. 3:10, Rev. 20:1-15, Rev. 21:1-29, Hebrews 9:27-18, Matt. 25:46, Luke 16:19-31.
One Satan: Both Temper and Accuser who exists in personality and reality. Rev. 12:9-10, Matt. 4:2-11, John 8:44, Eph. 6:11-12.
One Commission: The Great Evangelistic Commission given by Jesus Christ to the Disciples and the continuing Church. Matt. 28:16-20, Acts 1:8.
The Blessed Hope: The personal premillennial return of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. John 14:3, 1 Thess. 4:13-18.
Two Ordinances: Baptism, the immersion in water of a believer in Christ which symbolizes His identity with the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, and the Lord’s Supper, the eating of the unleavened bread and drinking of the fruit of the vine, commemorating the broken body and shed blood of Jesus Christ for the remission of sin. Acts 2:11, Acts 8:36-38, Romans 6:3-4, Luke 22:14-20, 1 Cor. 11:23-26, Acts 8:12-13.
For more information please click the link below:
Baptist Faith and Message
I got this from the Beaverdam Baptist Church website. I will use my definition for “the gospel” and not the Baptist one as I work through my posts on the letter Paul wrote to the Romans mainly because I believe that it is the true message that Jesus taught. It is a simple message that truly proclaims the good news of Jesus.
Jesus gave us the gospel, the good news, good message and good tidings. What Paul is doing in his letter is not proclaiming the gospel as much as fighting for the gospel. Paul is offering a perspective and clarification for the people in Rome.
Next time, I want to start getting into versus 5 and 6 which begins to bring into light the faith versus works paradigm of the great reformation.
Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. 6And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. NIV
I also want to bring out one theme that I hope to develop in subsequent posts. This theme is that Jesus and the Apostles were poor people of low standing. We get so caught up in the Jesus is Lord, and Kingdom of God that I believe that these words have lost the impact that they had in the time of Jesus. Jesus was a poor person who was the opposite of a Lord and King. That is a big part of the point of what happened.