Sunday, August 27, 2006

What is the Gospel?

What is the Gospel?

If John Piper is to be believed then God is the Gospel. In our Sunday night bible study I have been exploring the question of what the gospel is, using Piper's book as a guide. Piper begins with God as the originator of the Gospel and then unites the ideas of Gospel and Kingdom of God. Simple but rich.

In uniting Gospel and Kingdom, Piper brings up Romans 10:9, which we looked at in more depth this evening. If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Long a favorite proof of the power of the "sinners prayer" in many "gospel" tracts.

What is obvious from the rest of the passage is that Romans 10:9 is by no means a proof of anything but the powerful inbreaking of God's kingdom into the world. What I "discovered" is the beautiful way that Paul links the confession in Romans 10:9 with Isaiah 53:

Isaiah 53:7a "How beautiful upon the mountains, are the feet of him who brings good news." Is quoted by Paul in Romans 10:15.

But the rest of Isaiah 53:7, "Who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, 'Your God reigns.'" Is most definitely alluded to when Paul says, "Jesus is Lord." Jesus is the Son of God who reigns over the kings of the earth, which Isaiah 53 states v. 10 The LORD has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God... v. 15 so shall he sprinkle (prosper) many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand. (Again with allusions to Romans 10:14-18)

Not to put N.T. Wright and John Piper in the same blog post, but N.T. Wright explains that "when Paul talks about “if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord,” one of the things he means, of course, is that means confessing that Caesar is not lord and that there are other lords which have ruled over you. And so the step of faith is also by the, necessarily a step of commitment, which is a commitment of life to live in a different way, to live by a different rule." Dick Staub: DS Interview - Bishop N.T. Wright: Gospel for Everyone!

The different way, different rule of the kingdom... shows up in the ministry of Jesus. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!" We repent and live by the different way, because the kingdom has been brought near, because Jesus is Lord. Stepping into the Kingdom by faith implies a silencing of the other kings in our hearts, or to use other Pauline imagery, a "putting to death." Romans 8:13-17

Too often I believe in my heart that I enter the Kingdom of God by my repentance, by my confession that "Jesus is Lord." But by my repentance or by my mental assent to the position of Jesus as Lord will not gain me entrance into the Kingdom of God.

Entrance into the Kingdom of God is because Jesus is its Lord and I experience his love, healing, and grace. I love the Gaither's "He came to love, heal and forgive." And in experiencing divine love, divine healing and divine forgiveness, I repent, I turn away from the kingdom of this world and it becomes the Kingdom of our God and of His Christ.

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