The Gospel Begins and Ends With God - Part Three (Final)

Thursday, June 30, 2005

In part one of this series, I introduced the concept of the gospel being a message that begins and ends with God. In part two, I offered several narrative texts to point to this pattern of God's graciousness. Today, I'll conclude with some implications and applications.

All of the examples I shared yesterday were but preparation for the most miraculous way in which God made the first move again. He stepped out of heaven and became a human being, being born of a virgin, and lived among mankind, revealing, doing and accomplishing the will of His Father. At the incarnation, it was God who made this first and greatest move of all time to reveal Himself and His righteousness as a Man in the person, ministry, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ.

The pattern remains unbroken today. God has always made the first move in saving and delivering and rescuing His people, and He still does today. How does He do this today? He makes the first move when Christians proclaim the gospel message of His righteousness in Jesus Christ. Christians are to be preachers who are used by God sovereignly to suddenly break into a person’s life with the startling revelation of God and His righteousness. This was the effect that Paul’s preaching, for example, had on so many of his Gentile listeners. It was good news to the Gentile to hear that this God who had moved in and through all of history in order to bless and protect one nation was now turning to bless and protect people from all nations. What incredible news that must have been to hear for the first time that the God of all gods has suddenly and graciously decided to make Himself known to us!

Further, God is also making the first move when through His gospel message He enables a person to believe in Jesus Christ and obtain His righteousness. That’s why Paul wrote that in the gospel, “the righteousness of God is revealed from faith…” The Greek for this phrase “from faith” is ek pisteos, which means that the gospel message itself is that power of God through which God initiates the faith in a person’s heart and mind. Faith is necessary to receive the gospel, and God provides that faith in order for a person to believe. Unless God makes the first move, no one will believe and be saved.

Finally, God is making the first move when through His gospel message He continues to enable the righteous to believe in Jesus Christ and live by His righteousness. That’s why Paul wrote that in the gospel, “the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith…” Not only did God initiate the believer’s faith through the gospel message, but He continues to invigorate the believer’s faith through the same gospel message. The gospel message reveals that the righteousness of God is beginning and end of a believer’s faith. It put the faith in them and it keeps it in them and them in it. It makes them righteous both in their standing before God and in their conduct. The gospel reveals the righteousness of God to a believer giving them belief and yet also given for the final purpose of belief. Paul summed all of this up for us in Romans 8:29-30. He wrote,

“For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”

Do you notice how many times “He” is used before each verb? This is because it is God who not only moved first, but continued to move until He accomplished His purpose, namely our conformity to Christ and our glorification with Him in heaven. This is the promise of Philippians 1:6. “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Beloved, do you now taste and see the glory Paul saw and praised when in Romans 11:26 he writes, “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.”? Taste and see the goodness and graciousness of God in the first mover in all things, especially in the gospel with regards to your faith!

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