The Gospel in the Gospels

What is the Gospel?

The gospel is hard to distill down to its essence. Lots of things could be said about the Gospel and its implications. But how does one summarize it into a forceful, hopeful, prayerful, encouraging statement?

Before the word gospel referred to a book of the bible, It was a Greek word that referred to a message of good tidings issued from the lips of an appointed messenger.

We are accustomed to using the word all the time. Gospel worship. Gospel community. Gospel preaching. Gospel music. We know the first four books of the NT belong to a literary genre called gospel.

Mark 1:1 “The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” So, here Mark is referring to the document He is writing, right, the Gospel according to Mark?

But that word referred to something before the four evangelists’ books were designated with it. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John wrote accounts of the Gospel.

One Gospel. Four accounts. The Gospel according to…. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Accounts of what? The gospels are not biographies in the modern sense. A Gospel is a proclamation. A proclamation of what? By whom?

The distinction I want to make is that the Christian Gospel was originally a message delivered by an appointed messenger and the four books that begin the New Testament are hand written accounts of that one messenger and His message. The gospels, plural, are a literary genre – a gospel is a message of good tidings proclaimed by an anointed messenger.

The original anointed messenger of the Christian Gospel was Jesus. And His Gospel was that He, Jesus, the son of God, is king. Not just of heaven, but of earth.

The Christian Gospel is that Jesus is King.

This is an earth altering, worldview altering, cosmic message of joy. It’ what the Apostles were proclaiming in 2nd Corinthians 4:5–6 “For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

Those living in darkness and the shadow of death have seen a great light and that light is the king, the son of God – Jesus. Jesus was the first messenger of this good news and He was the message.

Before we continue, let’s review this word Gospel that we know so well. Like I said last week, the words the NT authors chose to use had a context in the original Hellenistic culture. Understanding how the words were used before and outside the NT can help us a great deal in our understanding of their use in the NT.

It was a strategic move to incorporate this specific word into the Christian message.

The word gospel, or evangel among the Romans, meant “joyful tidings,” and was associated with the cult of the emperor, whose ascent to the throne or great military victory was accompanied by a gospel proclamation.

A calendar inscription from about 9 B.C., found in Priene in Asia Minor, says of the emperor Augustus: “the birthday of the god was for the world the beginning of joyful tidings which have been proclaimed on his account.”

This inscription is remarkably similar to Mark’s initial line and it clarifies the essential content of an evangel in the ancient world: a Historical event which introduces a new setting for the world.”

Jesus’ proclamation of the coming of His kingdom in this world is the Christian Gospel.

Mark is writing one account of this world shattering news. The Roman world would have understood Jesus and then Mark’s use of this word, as both controversial and weird.

A poor Jewish on-time carpenter, traveling rabbi is a God? What affect could he possibly have on the world?

The use of the word Gospel by Jesus, is a tacit statement that His coming is an event that brings about a radically new state of affairs for mankind.

As biblical and historical scholar N.T. Wright sums up the evidence, “in the Greek world… a Gospel, is a regular technical term, referring to the announcement of a great victory, or to the birth, or assent of an emperor.” The point here is that a “gospel,” refers to a public announcement of glorious news about an emporer.

The gospel is not primarily about salvation. It’s not primarily about going to heaven. It’s not primarily about adoption as God’s children. All of those things are the fruit of the Gospel.

But the Gospel is not about you and your salvation. It’s about Jesus. Continue reading “The Gospel in the Gospels”

The Son of God had Stones

Young David knew what was at stake. He heard Goliath and knew what Goliath said was a reproach on the men of Israel (1 Samuel 17:26). The men fled as if the army of Lord depended on them. They feared Goliath because they did not fear the LORD.  David knew that it was not the honor of men at stake. Goliath “defied the armies of the living God,” (1 Samuel 17:36) and David knew that God would defend His name, if there were only a servant to clothe Himself in the strength of the Lord, a man with the stones to face Goliath. The Israelites fled because their strength was nothing to Goliath’s. David stood up because the strength of the Lord was greater than Goliath’s; “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this philistine,” (1 Samuel 17:37).

David had the stones (1 Samuel 17:40). More, in fact than were needed, because his faith was great enough to move mountains, to slay giants, to stand for the whole nation in battle. David didn’t ask for permission, David didn’t care about the Philistine’s feelings. David wasn’t PC and didn’t kowtow to the idols of God’s enemies. David stood up, marched out and challenged the enemies of God. David needed five stones, but God only needed one thrown in faith.

The Son of God had stones.

John the Baptizer declared that the mighty man of God is here (Mark 1:7). The greater David feared the Father more than Rome, more than Satan, more than the powerful scribes and priests who sold out to the idol of the Roman Imperial cult (John 19:15).  Jesus said to Peter “on this Rock I will build my church,” (Matthew 16:18) and Jesus didn’t ask for permission. He didn’t bow to the self-made God-emperor of Rome. Jesus declared Himself Lord (Mark 1:14-15) and faced the consequences (Mark 15). Continue reading “The Son of God had Stones”

Church Newsletter 8-15-2018

Saints,

Isn’t it amazing how quickly we forget what the sermon was about? Isn’t it amazing how quickly the cares of the world drain our Sabbath joy?

Hoping to encourage you all, I am going to send out a newsletter on Wednesdays that will consist of “filling up the edges;” follow up to the sermon or excerpts edited out on Sunday morning, resources from around the web and a devotional to aid in your preparations for the next Sunday Service.

It’s important to slow down, quiet your mind and reflect on what we are learning as a church, as a church. There are a lot of distractions in the world but consider the following a point of renewal, which the whole church is participating in together. Pray for the recipients of this email and the worship service to which we are all heading together.

I pray that this is an aid to stay in touch with you all midweek, as well as, a way to “be of the same mind,” (Phil. 2:2).

Filling up the edges

The whole idea for the sermon titled “The Gospel according to Mark according to Peter according to Christ,” came from the idea the scriptures are a product of the Body of Christ. Jesus is the message, He first entrustred that message to men who would write it down. Jesus then preserved it through centuries of history. Finally faithful men died that it might be transmitted into English and the Lord blessed their effort by putting the gilded leather copy in your hands. Give thanks.

The following was edited out of the sermon do to time restraints but summarizes the whole sermon nicely:

John Piper explains “From the beginning of his ministry, Jesus was preparing for the transmission of his truth and authority to his church through authorized spokesmen who would teach with his authority, commit their teaching to writing, and leave a body of inspired writings through which Christ would govern his church until his return. Christ did this by calling, commissioning, and then sending the spirit to guide the apostles.”

The Word of God always intended to govern the church of God through words. Not just any words, words he arranged by the power of the Holy Spirit to be read and understood by the power of the Holy Spirit.

This is called organic inspiration and we can see through the transmission of the Gospel from Jesus to Peter, Peter to Mark and Mark to us, that this is indeed the case.

Theologian John Frame explains organic Inspiration this way; “God used all the distinct personal qualities of each writer. God used the differences of heredity, environment, upbringing, education, gifts, talents, styles, interests, and idiosyncrasies to reveal his word. The differences were not a barrier that God had to overcome. Rather, they were God’s chosen means of communication with us. God’s word is complex and nuanced, muliperspectival. God used the organic complexity of human persons and the diversities among persons to communicate the complexity of his own personal word. He used Human persons to communicate with us in fully personal ways.”

In Genesis God said he made man in His image, male and female He made Them. A community is the best image of the Triune God. The best written revelation of this God is transmitted the same way; through a community in all its diversity and unity.

Jesus was the first Christian preacher and He declared His kingship in word and Deed. Peter preached that same message as an eyewitness. John Mark Recorded it and compiled it for Roman Christians, all the while, Jesus the Lord, by the Spirit, was preparing a message for the whole world.

Mark’s task was to project Christian faith in a climate of uncertainty where martyrdom had been a reality. He selected and arranged the tradition to present the Christ who continues to speak and act meaningfully in the context of crisis. What was demanded by the Roman Christian’s situation was not a past word, descriptive of what Jesus had said and done, but a word from the present through which the Living Lord could be here and known. 

And so reading the gospel of Mark we meet the Lord Jesus here and now.

Around the worldwide web

The link is to the podcasts of Parish Presbyterian Church. #19 is Pastor George Grant’s first sermon on Mark and it is wonderful. I suggest you subscribe, if you like good podcasts or good sermons.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/parish-presbyterian-church-podcasts/id691474731?mt=2

Devotional

The Gloria

Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to people of good will.

We praise you,
we bless you,
we adore you,
we glorify you,
we give you thanks for your great glory, Lord God, heavenly King,

O God, almighty Father.

Lord Jesus Christ, Only Begotten Son,
Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father,
you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us;
you take away the sins of the world, receive our prayer;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us.

For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ,

with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father.

Amen.

 

Stop Entering into Temptation

And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” – Luke 22:40

The cross stands before the disciples. Sorrow fills them. Temptation is coming. Jesus encourages them to pray so that they can stand. Jesus offers them true rest, the source of true strength.

Burdened and confronted with spiritual warfare, with their own weakness and vulnerability, the disciples attempt to gather strength for the coming fight. They seek rest.

So, they sleep. It seems natural. It seems logical and even reasonable. We are physical creatures. And when life wearies us and presents us with huge challenges we try what we can to comfort ourselves and strengthen ourselves.

We all do this. The money doesn’t add up so we withhold our tithe. The time doesn’t add up so we sleep, in the morning and veg out in the evening. We have a few extra minutes at the end of the commute so we grab a coffee. The energy doesn’t add up so in the face our spouses’ need we appeal to our need for sleep or some time to just “relax.” The resources don’t add up so we’ll wait to invite that family till our house is bigger or cleaner or nicer.

Continue reading “Stop Entering into Temptation”

Mr. and Mrs. Jason Richmond

Introduction

Today is a beautiful day, indeed a glorious day.

God has sanctioned this covenant, it is a union made in His name. Your promises to one another are bound up in His expectations and promises to each of concerning marriage.

Since His word is your rule of faith and practice, I want to briefly exhort you in three things.

You were created to complete one another to build a community that proclaims the gospel of Jesus Christ.

First, you were created to complete one another

Genesis 2:18 “Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” (ESV)

Genesis 2:20–23 “But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, this at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”

The union of Adam and Eve is a template for our marriages. Jason was created by God as an unfinished man. He can’t fulfill his calling without help.

Ellie, you are that help. You were made to fill up what he lacks.

 Jason, Ellie was made to complete you and by joining with you in marriage, she becomes whole herself by completing you.

Always look to her as your chief source of wisdom, confidence, assistance and comfort. Don’t try to go it alone. Let her profoundness delight and fulfill you.

Marriage is not unique. Thousands upon thousands are being joined together just today.

But what is absolutely unique. The miracle of marriage, is that of all the women in all the history of mankind, one woman was made to be the flesh of your flesh and the bone of your bone – Ellie.

Love her as you would love your own self.

You, Ellie, are the answer to a profound problem; it was not good that Jason was alone. It displeased God. So, He made you to fulfill Him. Let that be your calling and your glory. He can’t survive without your help. He is not a whole man without you.

Remember this. No matter what comes, no matter what disappointments befall you, no matter how providence may shake you and what sin might come between you.

Remember, that of every man and woman who ever lived on the earth, the two of you, together, complete one another. Continue reading “Mr. and Mrs. Jason Richmond”

This is My Body Broken for You

We have been called to arise; to enter the Holy of Holies and worship the Triune God. We have come by the sacrifice of another, by the leading of His Spirit to worship our Father in Heaven.

We have come to raise our voices and respond to the goodness of our Lord. We have come to be renewed and strengthened. Those you have ears to hear, let them hear.

Ephesians 5:15-17 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

That’s the challenge; understand the will of the Lord, and walk and act accordingly. But our flesh likes easy, safe, selfishness. We have our own desires. We have our own wills and they struggle against the Spirit and our faith every day. The mission of the Lord is others focused. The love of the Triune God faces out. The will of the Father is that His children will lay down their lives for others just like our older brother Jesus laid down is His life for you.

The calling of the Christian Faith is “This is my body broken for you….Husbands, Wives, Parents, Masters, servants, friends…this is your calling. Everyone, this is your calling. This is a calling so heavy only the humble can carry it. It will break the backs of the proud. This is my body broken for you…

Look around. Look around this church. Look around your neighborhood. Look around your family. You were not given bodies and redeemed for mere pleasure or selfish pursuits. Life was poured into you so that you could pour it out in the service of others.  This is my body, broken for you…

This requires walking by faith, fighting the easy safe selfishness that our flesh loves so much. It requires looking up and looking out. To the condition and welfare of others. It requires prayer, putting on the mind of Christ by daily submitting to His word and it requires repentance.

Now let us confess and ask God to forgive us for our selfishness and ask for the Spirit of God to reveal and lead us in understanding the will of our Lord.

 

 

The Redeemer Church Story

You are part of an epic story. A tale with twists and turns, a journey of redemption. It began with the fall mankind, and it has been marked by sin, death, and suffering… but then a triumph that brought forgiveness, life and hope.

Redeemer Church is the place where we tell this story in a thousand ways. It’s a simple story of death turned life. And at the center of this tale is the one who made it possible… Christ, our great Redeemer. The Son of God, who came to make all things new.
The result of sin is death. The Bible makes this clear. And it was our sin. Our own choices. Our own actions filled with lust, hate and selfishness in the beginning of God’s beautiful world that led us far, far away from him. Into a place of hopelessness. A place of death. But the mystery we celebrate, that moment in our story where the unexpected happens, is when… in Christ… we find the unimaginable. We turn our heads, we look around in amazement… and we rejoice. Jesus the Redeemer. He takes the dark, sinful threads of our own stories, and weaves them together to create a picture that is entirely and completely glorious. Unexpected. Undeserved. That very sin that brought us death, Christ took it upon him and paid the penalty of that sin. He shed his blood… he died! However, that wasn’t the end… he rose again! He busted the chains of death because death could not hold him. And life has now come through death. A life like you could never have otherwise known. And a life that could only have come out of the death we created with our own sin. Redeemed by his love! That is beautiful irony! The darkest hours of your life — the things you’ve done that you believed were unforgivable… these are the very things that make up the biggest comeback story you could imagine. Rejoice! It’s very real.

And because of this, we now go into our world and bring the redemption and love that has been given to us. We make, create, bless, serve, give, help and restore–bringing the goodness we have received and pouring it out upon the world. Knowing that the goodness of the Lord will overcome evil, justice will overcome injustice, righteousness will overcome unrighteousness, and Jesus will triumph over the darkness.

That’s what Redeemer Church is all about: telling that story within our lives. We are here to celebrate it. To live it. To proclaim it. Fullness of Christ, fullness of life!