The Gospel is central to all the Christian life. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the good news (Gospel means good news) that Jesus Christ, through his death and resurrection is bringing all things under his authority and submission (see Psalm 110). What that means for individuals is different than what that means for the rest of the creation. The Apostle Paul says that the whole of creation groans in birth-pangs looking forward to the day of full redemption.
As humans, there is a part of us that groans as well. We all have longings and desires to be redeemed. Not all of us understand the why and the what of this longing. It expresses itself in many different ways- but the true longing of the fallen heart of man is all the same: we long to be back in communion with the God who created us.
Some of the great documents of the Reformed faith are helpful in getting a better understanding of what the Good News is and how it is applied in our lives.
Reformed Presbyterian Testimony (1980)
The Testimony of the Reformed Presbyterian Church teaches us that all of God’s dealings with men are ‘covenantal’. That means that God deals with man by making covenants with him and man, in turn, responds to God in covenant back to him. This is how we should think of the Gospel, and then ask ourselves, ‘How is God calling us to respond to him?’
RP Testimony Introduction 2-6: Covenant revelation began with God’s first conversation with man. God made him ruler over all things, his servant and co-laborer in achieving his purpose for creation. This covenant directed man’s activity and promised him life through obedience to God’s Word. Thus it was a ‘Covenant of Life’, confirmed by the curse of death for disobedience. By work and rest, after the pattern of his Creator, man was to demonstrate his dependence on God and his hope of final consummation of God’s purpose. This covenant required man to respond to God in the full capacity og his being as the image of God.
When Adam broke the covenant by disobedience death came upon him and all mankind since they were included in the covenant. But God delayed the final sentence of death, and promised victory over Satan through the seed of the woman. Man’s mandate to subdue the earth continued, but he must toil in grief under the whole curse that God placed upon the whole creation. God’s purpose for creation would be accomplished through the Covenant of Grace.
The remainder of Scripture is the gradual unfolding of the Covenant of Grace through a series of covenants, each developing a particular element of the one preceding it and preparing for a more complete accomplishment. The call of the elect people, ultimately to include all nations, to live by faith in obedience was set forth in successive covenants made with Abraham, the nation of Israel, and David.
In the fullness of time God brought forth his Son, born of a virgin, of the seed of David. He obeyed the covenant of life on behalf of His people and offered Himself as a sacrifice to die, once for all, in their place and to appear for them on the throne of God in heaven. Thus Jesus obeyed as man, died for man and sat down in Heaven to rule over all things and bring His covenant people to share His throne and glory.
In the Covenant of Grace all men are called to repentance and obedience. By the grace of God through the merit of Christ and the convincing work of the Holy Spirit, God’s people are saved, sanctified, and given one mind and heart to serve Him. Thus God is always reaching out to men. The covenant people are bound to one another in their Head, Jesus Christ. They are children of the covenant bearing witness corporately to His lordship over every sphere of life. There is nothing outside of His dominion…
Heidelberg Catechism, (1563)
Question 2. How many things are necessary for you to know, that you, enjoying this comfort, may live and die happily?
Answer: Three; the first, how great my sins and miseries are; the second, how I may be delivered from all my sins and miseries; the third, how I shall express my gratitude to God for such deliverance.
The Heidelberg Catechism, which is a great product of the Protestant Reformation says that are three things that people need to understand in order to truly understand the Gospel:
- We are to understand that we are sinners and that our sin is great in the sight of God. Since humans were created in the image of God- they were given responsibilities to reflect his character in their lives. Through what we call ‘The Fall’ (See Genesis 3), humans have been sinners, separated from God and worthy of eternal punishment.
- The second thing that the Catechism teaches us is that we can be delivered from our sin and misery. The fully God- fully man, Jesus Christ came into the world to redeem even the greatest of sinners. Faith in Jesus Christ is the only way that one can be made right with God. We learn of this faith in the Scriptures, the Holy Bible. Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and man and the only way that sinful man can be made right with God.
- The Catechism then goes on to talk about how we express gratitude to God once we have been redeemed. This is living a life that is in conformity to the will of God- or one that follows God’s revealed will (the Law of God: See Exodus 20). Jesus said in John 15 that if you love him, you will keep his commandments. This is living a life of gratitude towards God. Of course, it is important to remember that man is not redeemed by living according to the law- because this cannot be done perfectly in this life.
Below is another helpful document to help us understand what the Bible teaches about the Gospel, or ‘Good News’. Please take time to prayerfully look up the verses in the Bible at the end of each paragraph. I would also encourage you to read the Gospel of John in the Scriptures; this will give you a true account of the life of Christ as well as insight into his plan for redeeming the world! If you have questions about the Gospel, or would like to have a relationship with Jesus Christ, but are still not sure how, please email Pastor Brian for counsel.
ARP Synod’s addition to the Westminster Confession, (1903)