1 Corinthians 15:8
Tuesday, September 9, 2014
Good News about God first
Among evangelicals, the Four Spiritual Laws was a fairly universally accepted way of explaining the Gospel simply in the latter half of the past century
YESTERDAY’S introduction to Looking Again at the Good News considered how the gospel had been redefined at various points in history as reactions to an understanding which could be seen to need correction. There have been many of those – we ended with the 1950s Four Spiritual Laws which are still widely quoted today. But are these statements of the Gospel, or of our responses to the Gospel? We’ll let that question hang…
I quoted Dr Scot McKnight’s research on the Gospel sermons in Acts 2, 3, 4, 10, 13 and 17 together with the only definition of the Gospel we have, which Paul gives in 1 Corinthians 15.
That’s the reference I want to look at a little more closely today. Paul begins:
(v1 “Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received…
(v3) “..that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried…
(v4) “…that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
(vv5-8) “…and that He appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, He appeared to more than 500 of the brothers at the same time… Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all [Paul’s own testimony, alluding to his road to Damascus experience] He appeared to me also…
(v17) “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile.”
This is quite a long passage, down to verse 29, in which he asserts his apostleship as one who, like the first disciples, saw Jesus face to face. He also speaks of Christ as the “first fruits” in an Old Testament reference to Adam, and then [note this] speaks of His Lordship:
(v25-27) “For He [Christ] must reign until He has put all his enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For He ‘has put everything under his feet’.”
What he says, apart from the asides, is straightforward – and direct. The gospel Paul wanted to remind them of is about Jesus, His death and burial, His resurrection and ascension (much emphasised) and His Lordship.
What do we notice that Paul never mentions? He doesn’t even touch on hell, or heaven, or repentance.
This is all of piece with the six Gospel sermons in Acts. Hell gets zero mentions, haven likewise, and sin gets two, a bit of an overstatement as one of these is in response to the gospel, not the content of the gospel as such. However, Jesus’ life is mentioned four times, His death nine times, His lordship ten times and His resurrection 15 times.
Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and lordship – a simple statement of the gospel is about this. By contrast, being saved by grace, God’s plan for our life, even His provision for our sin, are statements of what results from this Good News.
The Gospel is more straightforward than we think, and also clearly stated in the Bible – but we may have overlooked it, or not seen it for what it is. What is it?
More on this to follow.