July 22, 2020
1 Corinthians 15:1-11
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.
To those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people (i.e., us):
What is the gospel? If someone asked you to answer the question, how would you do it?
Perhaps the bigger question is where do you start. Does the gospel begin with a problem? Must you have bad news in order to have good news? Is the gospel a bad news—good news scenario? The short answer: No.
The gospel does not begin with sin. The gospel begins with God’s good creation. The gospel begins with a world where the crowning creation are the image-bearers of God. We talk so much about original sin, when we need to remember what preceded sin—original goodness and glory. The good news is God created a world filled with righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Okay, I think I made a mistake. I could go back and erase the prior material, but I will leave it in order to demonstrate the kind of thinking I’m trying to correct. The first mistake is to think the gospel begins with the problem—sin. The second mistake is to think the gospel begins with creation—culminating with the creation of people.
The gospel begins much earlier than sin or creation or people. How about an obvious insight? The gospel begins with God. The good news is before anything else, there was God. Putting it that way is not enough though. Who is God? What is God like? Is this God like Allah? The gospel begins with God, who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a triune community of holy love, who existed before time and exists beyond time and who will exist eternally after time ends. The gospel begins with perfect love in the perfect union of a God who is three in one. This is very, very good news.
At the core of all eternity dwells the triune God of perfect unity in a community of holy, creative love. From this eternal community comes a creation of extravagant diversity. Only after all of this unprecedented, unequaled glory and goodness, do we get the bad news of sin and death. Sin and death and evil are a major problem for the world and the human race, but not for God. That’s good news. Because the gospel does not begin with sin it will not let sin prevail. The overwhelming love of God overcomes sin in a way only divine love could do.
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
Where does the gospel begin? It matters what you think.
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done; on earth as it is in heaven. Thank you for being the gospel in and of your very self. Thank you that you, Jesus, in and of yourself, are the gospel. Yes, the gospel is Jesus Christ. Glory to God. Amen.
- What are the implications of beginning the gospel with sin?
- What are the implications of beginning the gospel with creation?
- What are the implications of beginning the gospel with God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?
- If the magnitude of God’s goodness is incomparably greater than the magnitude of sin why do we struggle so with sin?
- What will it take for the gospel to take on greater power in our own lives?
For the Awakening,