Confessing Our Faith In the Culture – Chapter 20

Of the Gospel and of the extent of the Grace Thereof

 

As he reached the bottom of the valley, the moon peered up over its edge. He had never seen the moon before — except in the daytime, when he had taken her for a thin bright cloud. She was a fresh terror to him — so ghostly! so ghastly! so gruesome! — so knowing as she looked over the top of her garden wall upon the world outside! That was the night itself! the darkness alive — and after him! the horror of horrors coming down the sky to curdle his blood and turn his brain to a cinder! He gave a sob and made straight for the river, where it ran between the two walls, at the bottom of the garden. He plunged in, struggled through, clambered up the bank, and fell senseless on the grass.

“What is so frightful?” asked Nycteris, with a smile like that of a mother to her child waked from a bad dream.

“All, all,” he answered; “all this darkness and the roaring.”

“It is so horribly dark!” said Photogen, who, listening while she spoke, had satisfied himself that there was no roaring.

“Dark!” she echoed. “You should be in my room when an earthquake has killed my lamp. I do not understand. How can you call this dark?”

“You call it dark!” she said again, as if she could not get rid of the absurdity of the idea; “why, I could count every blade of the green hair — I suppose it is what the books call grass — within two yards of me! And just look at the great lamp! It is brighter than usual today, and I can’t think why you should be frightened, or call it dark!” George MacDonald, Day Boy and Night Girl

In the history of the world there has been only one Gospel, describing God’s one plan of salvation, communicated progressively by one means, designed for one end.

A. One Gospel

1. gospel is not law, law is not gospel

Would you know the difference between the Law and the Gospel? Only observe — the Law denounces wrath; the Gospel publishes peace; the Law convinces of guilt; the Gospel brings an acquittance; the Law pronounces sentence; the Gospel holds out a pardon; the Law requires satisfaction to the last mite; the Gospel discovers, that satisfaction has been made in full; the Law knows nothing of mercy; the Gospel knows nothing else: in the Law, righteousness, justice, and truth, shine gloriously; in the Gospel, love, grace, mercy, pity, condescension, and compassion do also shine, and with much more resplendent glory: commands, prohibitions, conditions, threatenings, penalties, &e., belong to the law; but, in the Gospel, these have no place. In the Gospel we find free grace, free mercy, free pardon ; faith and repentance are freely given, and, with them, a new heart, a new nature, new life, — all is new, all is free. The Gospel, as the word signifies, is good message, good news, glad tidings. The language of the angels at the birth of Christ, was, “Behold, we bring you glad tidings of great joy,” Luk_2:10. The angelic prophet Isaiah, in that memorable passage, applied by our blessed Lord to himself and the gospel day, Luk_4:18-19, breaks out in the following gospel strain: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison doors to them that are bound, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness,” Isa_40:1-3. Philadelphia Baptist Association, 1795 Circular Letter

2. not a different gospel OT vs. NT

o OT saints had the promises and believed them Hebrews 11:13; Luke 2:25, 38; Luke 23:51

o NT saints still believe the promises

§ We’re not home yet!

§ Even then we (probably) won’t have it all, at least for a while

B. One Plan

1. determined by God before creation Ephesians 1:3-14

o chosen by the Father

o redeemed by the Son

o regenerated, sealed, and sanctified by the Holy Spirit

C. One Means

1. natural revelation communicates some things e.g. Psalm 19:1-6; Romans 1:18-23, 2:12-14

o being, wisdom, holiness, justice, law, wrath, goodness

2. insufficient for saving knowledge

Of the Gospel we farther observe, that it is purely a matter of revelation, and is not discoverable by the light of nature. This revelation was made by slow degrees. On this head a late writer in our connection expresses himself thus: “The first dawning of the Gospel, and at the same time the first glimmering of hope, appeared to Adam in the promise that was made respecting the seed of the woman, Gen_3:15. Here the eternal counsels of the grace of God began to unfold themselves. In the promise made to Abraham, which was afterwards renewed to Isaac and Jacob, the same gospel grace breaks forth with clearer light. What had before been spoken in more general terms of the seed of the woman, is now said in a more particular manner of the seed of Abraham, Gen_22:18. To Jacob the very time of accomplishing the promise was pointed out, Gen_49:10. Moses renders the promise still more manifest, while he points out a character and likeness, Deu_17:15. In the prophets, who were much farther advanced in the dispensation of the promises, approaching to the fullness of time, hastening to the coming of the Messiah, you have his virgin mother, Isa_7:5; place of birth, Mic_5:2, and the other circumstances particularly pointed out. Only observe the order and progress of the divine promises, gathering light and strength as they advance. When the first intimation of a Saviour was given, he was to be sought for among all the human race; afterwards we are directed to the particular seed of Abraham; even Isaac and Jacob: of Jacob’s numerous sons the tribe of Judah is taken; of the tribe of Judah the family of Jesse; and of Jesse’s sons the house of David. Thus, reducing, as it were, to a point, what had at first been delivered but in very general terms.

“These are some of the leading and principal discoveries that were made to the world, of our blessed Saviour before his incarnation. Thus did the promises and prophesies become brighter and brighter, until at last they shone more clear in their full accomplishment, when the sun of righteousness rose, dispelling darkness, and spreading the light of the gospel-day.” Philadelphia Baptist Association, 1795 Circular Letter

3. it must be “proclaimed”

o faith comes by hearing Romans 10:17

o aided and encouraged by seeing Matthew 5:13-16

D. One End

1. to glorify God

God’s eternal purpose is to gather into one the whole created universe by reconciling His creatures to Himself and to each other, a purpose He is working out through Christ in the church and ultimately to the praise of His glory.

2. through the work of Christ

3. to bring us safely home 1 Peter 3:18

o to God, the greatest gift

[T]he Christian gospel is not merely that Jesus died and rose again; and not merely that these events appease God’s wrath, forgive sin, and justify sinners; and not merely that this redemption gets us out of hell and into heaven; but that they bring us to the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ as our supreme, all-satisfying, and everlasting treasure. “Christ . . . suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (1 Pet. 3:18). John Piper, God Is the Gospel

E. Our Part

1. fulfill vocation 1 Corinthians 7:17-24

o don’t practice Christian monasticism

1. leaving the world for a “holy” calling

2. working, living, dealing only within the abbey

2. transform culture

o do NOT be transformed by it Matthew 5:13-16

o live out a biblical worldview Philippians 2:14-16
Barna Update

o beat the world at its own game Luke 16:1-13

The moral will then be no other than is commonly and rightly drawn from the parable ; Be prudent as they, as these children of the present world, but provide for yourselves not temporary friends, but everlasting habitations : they use heavenly things for earthly objects ; but do you reverse the case, and show how earthly things may be used for heavenly. Trench, Notes on the Parables

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