What is the Gospel?
...the Good News made glorious
In light of the tremendous "Together for the Gospel" conference that took place this past week in Louisville, KY, here is an excellent follow up article to give further clarity and joy in the saving work of our Lord Jesus Christ for His people.
There is no greater duty facing the body of Christ today than defending, guarding, and proclaiming sola fide (justification by faith alone) and sola scriptura (the authority and veracity of God's Word). The glory of the Lord - the splendor, majesty, and holiness of God is manifested in the gospel or in the Lord incarnate (Hebrews 1:1-3).. God is clearly and distinctly seen in the gospel. In the gospel there is no obscurity--no veil. We are permitted to look on the full splendor of the divine perfections - the justice, goodness, mercy and benevolence of God - to see Him as He is with undimmed and unveiled glory. Oh may we behold the beauty and the grandeur of the gospel of grace as evidenced in His sinless life, in His once for all propitiatory sacrifice on the cross by the Lamb of God, and in His bodily resurrection from the grave.
The Cambridge Declaration so powerfully states, "Evangelical churches today are increasingly dominated by the spirit of this age rather than by the Spirit of Christ. As evangelicals, we call ourselves to repent of this sin and to recover the historic Christian faith.
In the course of history words change. In our day this has happened to the word "evangelical." In the past it served as a bond of unity between Christians from a wide diversity of church traditions. Historic evangelicalism was confessional. It embraced the essential truths of Christianity as those were defined by the great ecumenical councils of the church. In addition, evangelicals also shared a common heritage in the "solas" of the sixteenth century Protestant Reformation.
Today the light of the Reformation has been significantly dimmed. The consequence is that the word "evangelical" has become so inclusive as to have lost its meaning. We face the peril of losing the unity it has taken centuries to achieve. Because of this crisis and because of our love of Christ, his gospel and his church, we endeavor to assert anew our commitment to the central truths of the Reformation and of historic evangelicalism. These truths we affirm not because of their role in our traditions, but because we believe that they are central to the Bible." (April 20, 1996)
May it encourage your hearts in service to and worship of our risen Prophet, Priest and King.
Grace and peace,
2 Cor. 4:5-7
by Ursinus, Zacharias (1534-1583)
The term gospel signifies:
1. A joyful message, or good news.
2. The sacrifice which is offered to God for this good news.
3. The reward which is given to him who announces these joyful tidings. Here it signifies the doctrine, or joyful news of Christ manifested in the flesh; as “behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, for unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2: 10, 11.)
The words επαγγελια (epangelia) and ευαγγελια (euangelia) are of a somewhat different signification. The former denotes the promise of a mediator that was to come; the latter is the announcement of a mediator already come. This distinction, however, is not always observed; and is rather in the words than in the thing itself; for both denote the same benefits of the Messiah, so that the distinction is only in the circumstance of time, and in the manner. of his appearance, as is evident from the following declarations of Scripture: “Abraham saw my day, and was glad.” “No man cometh to the Father but by me.” “I am the door, by me if any,” etc. “God hath appointed him head over all things to the church.” “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (John 8: 56; 14: 6; 10: 7. Eph. 1: 22. Heb. 13: 8.)
The gospel is, therefore, the doctrine which the Son of God, our Mediator, revealed from heaven in Paradise, immediately after the fall, and which he brought from the bosom of the Eternal Father; which promises, and announces, in view of the free grace and mercy of God, to all those that repent and believe, deliverance from sin, death, condemnation, and the wrath of God; which is the same thing as to say that it promises and proclaims the remission of sin, salvation, and eternal life, by and for the 102sake of the Son of God, the Mediator; and is that through which the Holy Spirit works effectually in the hearts of the faithful, kindling and exciting in them, faith, repentance, and the beginning of eternal life.
Or, we may, in accordance with the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth questions of the Catechism, define the gospel to be the doctrine which God revealed first in Paradise, and afterwards published by the Patriarchs and Prophets, which he was pleased to represent by the shadows of sacrifices, and the other ceremonies of the law, and which he has accomplished by his only begotten Son; teaching that the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption; which is to say that he is a perfect Mediator, satisfying for the sins of the human race, restoring righteousness and eternal life to all those who by a true faith are ingrafted into him, and embrace his benefits.
The following passages of Scripture confirm this definition which we have given of the gospel: "This is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” “And that repentance and remission of sin should be preached in his name, among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” “The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” (John 6: 41. Luke 24: 47. John 1: 17.)