Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.
(Phi 1:1-5 ESV)
The renowned British journalist and satirist, Malcolm Muggeridge, famously quipped that “All new news is old news happening to new people!” It is true that what is “new” to us many times is not new, but must be rediscovered. This rediscovery is “old news” to “new people!”
This is especially true of the greatest of all news, that is, the gospel! The term gospel literally means good news! In general, the gospel is the good news of salvation: human beings being rescued from eternal damnation by running from sin (repenting) and trusting in Jesus (faith). The source of this good news is God the Father. It originated from God the Father. However, the good news is primarily about the person and work of Jesus Christ. Christ is the only mediator between man and God, connecting us to the Father.
So there are four main components to the gospel: God, man, Christ, and human response!
To summarize these four components, the bible teaches that God is holy, so holy that he must judge and punish sin. That is bad news for human beings! Why? The bible teaches that all human beings are born sinful, alienated, and hostile to God. Because of this, all human beings are subject to the just wrath of God. Simply put, we human beings aren’t right with God because something isn’t right with us, but deeply wrong. And that wrong is the moral condition of sin. The combination of a holy God and sinful man is like oil and water. It doesn’t mix.
This is where Jesus comes into the mix. Jesus Christ who is fully human and fully God, lived a sinless life, died and shed his blood on the cross to bear God’s just wrath in the place for all who believe in him, and rose from the grave to bring eternal life. God commands everyone to respond to the message of the gospel through faith and repentance, to turn from their sins and trust in Christ in order to be saved! This is the gospel, the good news. What is deeply wrong with us is supernaturally made right by faith in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. This is what Paul means when he speaks of the “righteousness of God!” We are made right with God or made righteous, not by our self-righteousness, but Christ’s righteousness for us!
Why is this important for us to rediscover? One reason, as Martin Luther noted, is that in “every generation there will be the threat of the gospel going into eclipse. Every time the gospel is proclaimed, clearly and boldly, opposition arises and conflict comes.” Satan hates the gospel and he will do any and everything he can to erase the good news! The Prince of the Puritans John Owen opined that Satan’s attack comes via the rage of a lion through persecution and/or the subtly of a serpent through false teachers within the church. Regarding the latter, this was what was happening during the 16th century Reformation! The Reformers, as Luther, Calvin, and others, rediscovered the good news of the gospel after generations, and generations of the gospel being eclipsed.
Another reason why it’s important for us to reclaim and rediscover the gospel is that a gospel driven church is a healthy church. As I shared with you previously, I agree with Mark Dever that a gospel driven church (what he calls the Third Mark of a Healthy Church), along with Expository Preaching, and Biblical Theology, is an essential mark of a healthy church. A gospel driven church builds unity and brings glory to God. In fact Paul speaks of a special unity we have in the church based upon the gospel. He described the church of Philippi’s unity based upon the gospel as a “partnership of the gospel!” Partnership is a technical term in New Testament Greek referring to “oneness.” Just as the gospel of salvation makes the individual Christian one in Christ, likewise the gospel fellowship of believers in the church makes us all one together as the body of Christ. This is the bases of our unity. The gospel is the glue which hold us together!
In conclusion, there is much cause for division in the American church today. It is during times as this that the gospel is further eclipsed, causing further division and discord! May we in our local churches continue to rediscover the gospel in our lives, and in the life of the church! May the old time religion of the gospel renew us! May this two thousand year old news continue to make us new people in Christ!