THE GOSPEL IS GOD’S GOSPEL OF PROMISE
The gospel was not a divine after-thought, nor was it first taught in the New Testament. This is exactly what Paul is affirming to his audience in his opening letter. The Gospel isn’t some “back up plan” to God’s mistakes or strategies in dealing with sin. According to Paul it was “promised beforehand” through the prophets in the Holy Scriptures. (v2) Why would Paul begin his letter like this? Maybe this was for the sake of his Jewish critics. By emphasizing that the Gospel was God’s perfect plan of redemption spoken frequently throughout in the Old Testament. This statement Paul makes in (v2) is very important, because what Paul is authenticating is that the gospel didn’t originate with him or even Jesus’s early ministry.
This was God’s plan before the
foundations of the earth.
The Jews would understand what Paul was saying by “Holy Scripture” this is reference to the Old Testament. Unfortunately many responded to the Scriptures incorrectly. What Paul is affirming to his Jewish audience is that the Scriptures did not originate with men, or reflect the thinking of men. The Scriptures were the divinely revealed Word of the Living God to men. In the time of the Jews they were more accustomed to looking to rabbinical traditions for religious guidance. In contrast they saw the Scriptures as a sacred relic than a source of truth. Remember what Jesus said to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, “Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see." And he said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” Luke 24:24-27
Jesus numerous times in His Sermon on the Mount would say “You have heard that the ancients were told” (Matt 5:21, 27, 33, 38, 43) He wasn’t affirming their teachings or referring to the Old Testament; but to the rabbinical traditions that contradicted and invalidated the Old Testament. Jesus exposed the hearts of the Pharisee’s when He said this to them, “He answered them, "And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, 'Honor your father and your mother,' and, 'Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.' But you say, 'If anyone tells his father or his mother, "What you would have gained from me is given to God," he need not honor his father.' So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: "'This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'" Matt 15:3-9
This is why we need to be careful that we don’t separate these two Testaments against each other, as if they are in conflict with each other. What God said in the Old Testament was God’s redemptive plan that was soon to be revealed through His only Son in the New Testament.
R C Sproul said, “Sometimes we make artificial separation or distinction between the Old and New Testaments. We talk about the Old Testament as law and the New Testament as gospel, as if there were no law in the New Testament and no gospel in the Old Testament. Paul says at the very beginning that the gospel is not a novelty; it is the same gospel promised numerous times before.”
Remember what Jesus said in His Sermon On The Mount “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” Matt 5:17-18
The Old Testament is filled with truths that predict and lay the groundwork for the New Testament. Throughout the Old Testament we see this hope of a coming Messiah, the fulfillment of prophecy. Every Jewish sacrificial lamb throughout the Old Testament represented the ultimate sacrifice, which would come and fulfill the penalty of sin. The spotless Lamb of God who would be sacrificed for the sins of the world. Paul proclaims in his opening letter that the Old Testament rejoiced, look towards, the coming Messiah who would taste death for those who rest in His grace. Jeremiah wrote, "Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." Jer 31:31-34
Ezekiel wrote, “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” Ezekiel 36:25-27
Isaiah wrote, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6
These Old Testament promises and many more, speak of the one that Paul revealed in his opening letter. (v3) Remember when the very First Gospel was first proclaimed it was in the context of a curse.
As God cursed the Serpent, then Eve, and then Adam, because of the fall, with gospel hope for the future. “The LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel." To the woman he said, "I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you." And to Adam he said, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, 'You shall not eat of it,' cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return." Genesis 3:14-19
Though they were cursed, we see the first ray of hope of God’s gospel plan, put in place to redeem fallen sinners. This is God’s gospel and Paul affirms that in (v2) because it’s through Holy Scripture that hearts are converted and transformed by God’s gospel. It’s the Scriptures that open our hearts to see the truth and the gospel; and this is what God’s word has been doing for centuries. Do you remember what happened after Jesus spoke to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus? “And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?" Luke 24:31-32. God’s Holy Word…. that reveals His Holy Plan to save sinner, even as He cursed those in the garden in Book Of Genesis.
It’s very important that we understand this! Because what Paul says in his opening letter reveals a considerable amount of information and there is no denying it. His opening exposes the: skeptics, the doubter and the hopeful, to God’s perfect plan of redemption through His Son. Paul is clearly telling them that what he is preaching is…. not another gospel, or a new gospel. But “The Gospel” the one promised by God Himself from eternity past. He affirms this by revealing to us the Godman….truly man and truly God in the flesh, our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Person Of The Good News (V3-V4)
What Paul says here is very important, especially to his Jewish listeners. Why? Because the Old Testament prophecies of the coming Messiah said He would be from the lineage of David.
Who was Jesus’ mother? A virgin
Of what house was he to be? Lineage of David
Where would he be born? Bethlehem
What name was He given? Immaneul
What death would be his? A Cross
Where? At Jerusalem outside the city
We know this is important because Luke spent a considerable amount of time affirming those truths that in the opening chapters of his Gospel letter. Both Mary (his natural mother) and Joseph (his legal father) were descendants of David. This Jesus of the Gospel came from the blood line of David. This Jesus of the Gospel came from eternity past, as He was always present before the foundations of the Universe. (Found in John 1:1)
Truly God and Truly man
Paul reveals here where we get the theological term “Hypostatic Union” (v3-v4) This is a union of two completely distinct and independent natures.Charles Hodge summarized the Hypostatic union this way, “There is no transfer of the attributes of one nature to the other. The two natures are united but not mingled or confounded. The union is a personal union.”
The question asked is…. Is Jesus both God and man simultaneously? The answer is yes. Is Jesus sleeping in the boat upholding the universe by His sovereign power? The answer is yes. Is the Jesus who was tired, the God who could calm the winds with words? The answer is yes. A key passage that speaks of this is Phil 2:5-8 “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Some language to point out here! “Who, though he was, or Being in the” means “to be, to exist “and this statement makes it clear; it is continuous or unchanging. “Form of God” this is the Greek word for “Morphe” Jesus had the whole nature and essence of deity, and also had the whole nature and essence of humanity. “Equality or equal” means “exactly equal, equal in number, size, and quality.”In John’s Gospel we read “But Jesus answered them, "My Father is working until now, and I am working. “This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.” John 5:17-18. This descendent from David was also the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity.
This Jesus, who was tired, hungered, slept in His flesh,
was Almighty God sustaining the universe by His power.
This Jesus tired yet omnipotent…..all-powerful the winds and seas obey Him. “And he said to them, "Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?" Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, "What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?" Matt 8:26-27
This Jesus who slept, yet omnipresent…who was everywhere present as He said “I will be with always to the end of the age.” Matt 28:20
This Jesus who had limited knowledge. “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Mark 13:32
Was also the omniscient God who knew the thoughts of men. “But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts?” Matt 9:4
Why is this important to know?
As Charles Hodge said “To deny Christ a human will, was to deny he had a human nature, or was truly man.”
The same is true of His deity; and that is why Paul says what he says here. This gospel Paul proclaimed is not some foreign or new gospel he mustarded up with the help of Jesus to confuse the world. This is the gospel promise of Holy Scripture. And this Gospel came through the blood line of David in the person of Jesus Christ. Truly God and truly man. The faith of the gospel comes through Christ alone. Christ came not on the earth unexpectedly, nor did He introduce a doctrine of a new kind and not heard of before. His gospel is the promise that Paul proclaimed in his opening letter. The promise that was proclaimed from ancient days.
Jesus was declared the Son of God. The title “Son” is reserved as an incarnational term, applied to Jesus in its fullness only after He put on the robe of humanity. “Declared to be the Son of God.” (v4) It cares the idea of marking off boundaries. From that term comes our English “Horizon” which refers to the distinction line between the earth and the sky. This means! The divine sonship of Jesus Christ was marked off with absolute clarity in His incarnation. There was no mistaking who He was, and why He was here. As the Psalmist wrote, "As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill." I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, "You are my Son; today I have begotten you.” Psalm 2:6-7
The Hebrew writer affirms this prophetic truth found in the Old Testament. “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. For to which of the angels did God ever say, "You are my Son, today I have begotten you"? Or again, "I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son"?” Heb 1:1-5
Christ was given and took upon Himself the fullness of the title of “Son of God.” He did this when….He deprived Himself of the independent use of His divine rights and the full expression of His majesty. He did this by graciously humbling Himself in the likeness of man and submitting to the will of the Father.
And it’s this Son, that had the ability to conquer death;
a power that belonging only to God Himself
This again demonstrates that Jesus was indeed God, the Son. But what Paul says next also affirms everything he has said up to this point. “According to the spirit of holiness.”
“the holiness of His human nature”
The resurrection of the Son verified that Christ’s perfect life came from Him being divine. Fully divine and sinless, who was raised by the Father and who was a descendant of David. This qualifies Him with as part of the royal lineage in Israel. One theologian said, “The sonship which was declared by the resurrection, corresponds to the spirit of holiness which was the deepest reality in the Person and life of Jesus.” This verified Christ’s perfect life came from His divine being as the centurion said. “Truly this man was the Son of God!” Mark 15:39
By what evidence do we believe that
Jesus is the Son of God?
By the testimony of God, who has
declared Him to be His Son.
The testimony of God, that Paul spoke of on Mars Hill to the intellects of that time. “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead." Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, "We will hear you again about this." Acts 17:30-32
God announces to the world the sonship of Jesus, and declared Him to be His Son through the power of the resurrection. Paul wanted his readers to know that “The Gospel” that he was commissioned to preach was…. That Jesus, in harmony with ancient Scriptures was the resurrected human/divine Savior. Truly God and Truly man. A prime example of this is seen……. When Jesus was extreme agony in His humanness, yet at the same time He forgave and granted eternal life to a sinner in His divinity. “ In Luke’s gospel we read, “And he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." And he said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." Luke 23:42-43
Truly man and Truly God, this is why
it’s God’s gospel to mankind
Paul is very clear in his opening introduction about whom and what Gospel he is proclaiming to the world. To summarize this portion R C Sproul said, “I’m not the one declaring to you that Jesus is the Son of God. God has declared that to you by the Holy Spirit in the power of the resurrection.” The Gospel that Paul affirms in his opening letter is the one and only Gospel given to men by which we must be saved.
Jesus means “Savior”
Christ means “Anointed One”
Lord means “Sovereign ruler
He is Jesus… because He saves His people from their sin.
He is Christ…. because He has been anointed by God.
He is Lord…. because He is God and is the sovereign ruler of the universe.
Paul boldly proclaimed to the church in Corinth. “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,” 1 Cor 15:1-4
This is what Paul wanted his readers to know in the opening of this letter to the church in Rome. This is God’s gospel for mankind.