This really is an awesome summary of the Gospel! Please read it carefully.
8. We love the gospel of God
As disciples of Jesus, we are gospel people. The core of our identity is our passion for the biblical good news of the saving work of God through Jesus Christ. We are united by our experience of the grace of God in the gospel and by our motivation to make that gospel of grace known to the ends of the earth by every possible means.
A) We love the good news in a world of bad news. The gospel addresses the dire effects of human sin, failure and need. Human beings rebelled against God, rejected God’s authority and disobeyed God’s Word. In this sinful state, we are alienated from God, from one another and from the created order. Sin deserves God’s condemnation. Those who refuse to repent and ‘do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ will be punished with eternal destruction and shut out from the presence of God.’ The effects of sin and the power of evil have corrupted every dimension of human personhood (spiritual, physical, intellectual and relational). They have permeated cultural, economic, social, political and religious life through all cultures and all generations of history. They have caused incalculable misery to the human race and damage to God’s creation. Against this bleak background, the biblical gospel is indeed very good news.
B) We love the story the gospel tells. The gospel announces as good news the historical events of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. As the son of David, the promised Messiah King, Jesus is the one through whom alone God established his kingdom and acted for the salvation of the world, enabling all nations on earth to be blessed, as he promised Abraham. Paul defines the gospel in stating that ‘Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day, according the scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter and then to the Twelve.’ The gospel declares that, on the cross of Christ, God took upon himself, in the person of his Son and in our place, the judgment our sin deserves. In the same great saving act, completed, vindicated and declared through the resurrection, God won the decisive victory over Satan, death and all evil powers, liberated us from their power and fear, and ensured their eventual destruction. God accomplished the reconciliation of believers with himself and with one another across all boundaries and enmities. God also accomplished his purpose of the ultimate reconciliation of all creation, and in the bodily resurrection of Jesus has given us the first fruits of the new creation. ‘God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.’ How we love the gospel story!
C) We love the assurance the gospel brings. Solely through trusting in Christ alone, we are united with Christ through the Holy Spirit and are counted righteous in Christ before God. Being justified by faith we have peace with God and no longer face condemnation. We receive the forgiveness of our sins. We are born again into a living hope by sharing Christ’s risen life. We are adopted as fellow heirs with Christ. We become citizens of God’s covenant people, members of God’s family and the place of God’s dwelling. So by trusting in Christ, we have full assurance of salvation and eternal life, for our salvation ultimately depends, not on ourselves, but on the work of Christ and the promise of God. ‘Nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ How we love the gospel’s promise!
D) We love the transformation the gospel produces. The gospel is God’s life-transforming power at work in the world. ‘It is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.’ Faith alone is the means by which the blessings and assurance of the gospel are received. Saving faith however never remains alone, but necessarily shows itself in obedience. Christian obedience is ‘faith expressing itself through love.’ We are not saved by good works, but having been saved by grace alone we are ‘created in Christ Jesus to do good works.’ ‘Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.’ Paul saw the ethical transformation that the gospel produces as the work of God’s grace – grace which achieved our salvation at Christ’s first coming, and grace that teaches us to live ethically in the light of his second coming. For Paul, ‘obeying the gospel’ meant both trusting in grace, and then being taught by grace. Paul’s missional goal was to bring about ‘the obedience of faith’ among all nations. This strongly covenantal language recalls Abraham. Abraham believed God’s promise, which was credited to him as righteousness, and then obeyed God’s command in demonstration of his faith. ‘By faith Abraham…obeyed.’ Repentance and faith in Jesus Christ are the first acts of obedience the gospel calls for; ongoing obedience to God’s commands is the way of life that gospel faith enables, through the sanctifying Holy Spirit. Obedience is thus the living proof of saving faith and the living fruit of it. Obedience is also the test of our love for Jesus. ‘Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.’ ‘We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.’ How we love the gospel’s power!