Knowing Christ #3
For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
1 Corinthians 2:2
As we learn from the great “I AM” utterances of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Gospel of John, the great blessing of the Gospel is that God in Christ gives us Himself to satisfy the hunger of our souls and to quench the thirst of our hearts. Christ Himself is the great blessing of the Gospel. There are a number of elements, nonetheless, that compose the biblical gospel.
- The Gospel is, in the first place a message about God. The entire content of the Bible is a revelation of the true and living God, and the unfolding of his character and standards. The third question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism sums it up rather succinctly when it poses the question, “What do the Scriptures principally teach?” To which the following answer is given: “The Scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.” This is the central message of the Bible; it is a revelation of God as creator, infinite, eternal, immutable in His being, and that He is the essence of all wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth. Christ Himself is the revelation of God as He insisted when He said to Philip, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” (Jn 14:9).
- The Gospel is, in the second place, a message about man’s sin. The gospel tells us that we have all fallen short of God’s standard, and that we are guilty, vile, hopelessly lost in the darkness of sin, and as a consequence of our sin against God and our estrangement from Him, we all stand under the wrath of God dead in our trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1-3). The reason behind all of our deviations from what God requires in His holy law can be traced back to the fact that we are sinners by nature and by choice. All of our emptiness, dissatisfaction, despair, unhappiness in life stem from this tragic reality. Unless we come to the place where we see our sin as an offence against God (Ps 51:4; Gen 39:9), we remain in our rebellion against Him. Sin is more than simply a social anomaly; it is a theological reality. It is not something that can be measured by human standards, but by what God’s holy moral law reveals to us regarding His character.
- The Gospel is, in the third place, the good news regarding the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ, who is God incarnate, the Lamb of God dying in the room and stead of sinners, Christ who is the risen Lord of Glory, and the perfect only Savior of sinners. The Gospel is a message, then, regarding the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, that He is the One Whom God has sent from heaven to give life to the world. The object of our faith, however, is not in a certain view of the atonement, however orthodox that view may be. The object of our faith must be in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ as He is revealed to us in the biblical Gospel. In the biblical gospel, the Lord Jesus calls us to Himself, to embrace Him and Him alone as our prophet, priest and king. In the gospel God gives us Himself in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. To know Christ is to know the true and living God.
- The Gospel is, in the fourth place, God’s summons to us to repent, to turn from our sins, and to believe into the Lord Jesus Christ. God commands all men every where to repent (Acts 17:30). And when the Lord Jesus was asked by people, what they should do to work the works of God, His response to them was, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him Whom He sent” (Jn 6:29). It is God Who gives us His grace in Jesus Christ to turn from our sins and to believe in His Son.
Yes, the gospel includes all of these essential elements, but we must never forget that God gives us Himself in Christ in the gospel. Christ is God’s answer to the sin of the world. Christ is God’s answer to satisfy the hunger of our sin-starved souls. Christ is God’s answer to quench the thirst of our hearts. Christ is God’s answer as the way back to Himself. This is why, above all else, that in the Gospel, God gives us Himself in Christ; because the Lord Jesus Christ is Himself God’s gospel, His good news to sinners!