May 27, 2008

Unpacking the Gospel

In my last post, I argued that Paul's basic gospel proclamation was the good news that Jesus is Lord and God raised him from the dead. This royal proclamation is a dense statement that constitutes a summons to obedience. Thus, after articulating the gospel Paul says that through Jesus Christ our Lord he has, "received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for the sake of his name" (Rom 1:5, NRSV). But what does this involve and how do we proclaim the Lordship and resurrection of Christ as a summons to the obedience of faith?

If the gospel is a summons to faith, then that is how we proclaim it. Our Lord Jesus who was raised from the dead, requires the obedience of faith. The problem is that we are unable to render such obedience because we were born as slaves under sin. In order to deal with this problem, Jesus lived a complete human life in faithfulness to the will of God and was then executed by the Roman Empire on a cross. Because the consequence of sin is death, in his death Jesus took our consequences upon himself in order that we might be declared to have right standing with God. Jesus, in his death and resurrection, also destroyed the power of sin and death enabling humans to respond to the gospel, a graceful summons to faith. With the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, God inaugurated a new kingdom in which Jesus is Lord.

The church has the task of taking the good news of the reign of God in Christ to whole world. However, if we are to do so, we must be clear about the content and the goal of the good news. It's content is Jesus; it's goal is obedient faith and ultimate salvation.

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