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THOUGHTS FROM ROMANS

THE GOSPEL OF GOD

Paul introduces himself 'an apostle ... set apart for the gospel of God'.

Paul teaches us that the gospel originates in God. It comes from God. It is God's idea.

This immediately prohibits any tension or division between the God of the Old Testament and the Father of Jesus. They are one and the same. It also prohibits any tension or division God the Father and God the Son. In preaching a Gospel centred on Jesus Christ Paul did not for a moment consider that in doing so he was turning his back on God. Rather the gospel is God's gospel, God's good news. Paul repeatedly draws attention to this divine origin of the gospel:

The gospel is the power of God that brings salvation - Romans 1:16.

In the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed - Romans 1:16.

The gospel involves God presenting Christ as a sacrifice of atonement - Romans 3:25.

Through the gospel God justifies those who have faith in Jesus - Romans 3:26.

It is God who justifies the wicked, and credits their faith as righteousness - Romans 4:5.

God demonstrated his love for us in the death of Christ - Romans 5:8.

It was God who sent his Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering - Romans 8:3.

It is God who called, justified and glorified those who believe in his Son  - Romans 8:28-30.

It is God who is for us, who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all - Romans 8:32.

In a doxology of praise for the gospel Paul says 'Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!' - Romans 11:33.

And then sums up all that he has said about the gospel with two words: 'God's mercy' - Romans 12:1.

To further enforce this point that the gospel is the gospel of God, Paul teaches us that the gospel was always God's intention.

Paul teaches:

The gospel was promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures - Romans 1:2.

The Law and the Prophets testify to the righteousness of God revealed in the gospel - Romans 3:21.

That the promises given to Abraham apply to all who believe in Jesus Christ - Romans 4.

 As far as Paul is concerned, the gospel that God established through the death of his Son, is not something altogether new. It is not an innovative attempt to redeem fallen humanity. It is not a last ditch effort brought in because everything else has failed. From the first embryonic prophecy of the crushing of the serpent's head (Gen 3:15), to the fully-fledged description of the Servant of the Lord (Isaiah 52:13-53:12), the whole of Scripture points forward to the coming and sin-bearing death of Jesus Christ. This gospel of salvation through the death of Christ has always been God's plan. Rather than contradict and nullify the Old Testament, the Gospel fulfils, validates and establishes the deepest significance of the Old Testament.

As the rest of the New Testament affirms:

Many Old Testament prophets and kings longed to get a glimpse of the gospel - Luke 10:23,24.

The good news about Jesus Christ is found in all the scripture: Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms - Luke 24:25-27, 44-48.

Moses wrote about Jesus Christ - John 5:39-47.

Christ is the mystery contained in the word of God - Colossians 1:24-2:3.

Christ is the reality symbolised in the Old Testament rituals - Colossians 2:16,17.

Jesus was chosen to be our Saviour before the creation of the world - 1Peter 1:20.

Jesus is the Lamb, slain from the foundation of the world - Revelation 13:8.

So Paul, right of the beginning of his letter to the Romans, defines the gospel as the gospel of God - a gospel that originated in God before we sinned, a gospel planned by God before we were created. A provision of amazing grace, prepared for us in eternity: given to us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time (2Timothy 1:9).

© Rosemary Bardsley 2019