Friday, December 13, 2013

What Is the Gospel? Part 9

The gospel is a boundless ocean. It is without shores and its depths cannot be fathomed. This is so because we are talking about the good news which centers on the infinite God. The redeemed in glory will spend all eternity wondering in astonishment at the profundity of sin and magnificent grace and love of God demonstrated in the gospel. We will ever be worshiping and learning of the inexhaustible gospel of the glory of Christ.

The gospel. It is the good news that God saves repentant sinners through faith in Jesus Christ. The gospel is proclaimed. The message is- repent and believe. These are the very words that Jesus preached early in his ministry. “Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel’” (Mk. 1:14-15). We need to look more closely at faith and repentance.


Salvation is by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a trusting in him alone for deliverance from the penalty of sin and the wrath of God. Notice that it is in Christ alone. We have nothing to offer. Our works are insufficient, not to mention, contaminated by sin and polluted throughout. It is by faith period. This is important to know and understand at the onset. If a mistake is made here the consequences are eternal and catastrophic. “Faith is the soul of Christianity; whoever is in error here, errs unto his eternal damnation.”1

“Whoever believes in him [Jesus] may have eternal life” (Jn. 3:15). “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (Jn. 3:36). “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).

Saving faith begins with God’s word

If faith is a believing in and a trusting of the Lord Jesus, then the gospel must be heard or read. The gospel, of course, is found in the Bible. John Bunyan began his magisterial work The Pilgrim’s Progress with his character deep in the study of the God’s word. He wrote,

I saw a man clothed with rags, standing in a certain place, with his face from his own house, a book in his hand, and a great burden upon his back... I looked, and saw him open the book, and read therein; and as he read, he wept and trembled; and not being able longer to contain, he brake out with a lamentable cry, saying, ‘What shall I do?’2

The word of God is the beginning of faith. It is the river of delights which feeds the fountain of life from which we drink and live (Ps. 36:8). Paul wrote to the Romans,

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?" So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ (Rom. 10:14-17).

Observe the emphasis placed on hearing and preaching the word of Christ. Faith comes from hearing God’s words. In the Old Testament there is a striking example of this. The young Samuel is serving the Lord under Eli. Yet, Samuel did not know God. “Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him” (1 Sam. 3:7). He did not know God because he did not hear the words of the Lord. The same must happen today; we must hear the word of God in order to have faith in Christ of whom they testify.

Saving faith,” wrote Thomas Boston, “which unites to Christ, is the faith of the gospel.” He went on to say,

That is the word which gives the sinner the only notice of a Saviour, of the atoning blood, and the new covenant in that blood. And hence it is that it is the only word by which saving faith is begotten in the hearts of lost sinners... In this word of the gospel the Lord Jesus, with all his benefits and covenants, is to be believed on and embraced by faith... And the word of the gospel being received by believing, we have Christ and his covenant, with all the benefits of it; faith being indeed the echo of the quickened soul to the word of grace that bringeth salvation... a trusting of the word of the gospel, the person, viz. the Saviour, and the thing therein held forth to us to be believed on for salvation.3

1Wilhelmus a’ Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, 4 vols. (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books,
2007), 2:307.

2John Bunyan, “The Pilgrim’s Progress” in The Works of John Bunyan, 3 vols. (Banner of Truth, 1999), 3:89.

3Thomas Boston, “Of The Covenant Of Grace” in The Complete Works of Thomas Boston, 12 vols. (Tentmaker,
2002), 1:362.

Friday, December 6, 2013

What Is The Gospel? Part 8

Jesus was buried

Not only did the sinless Son of God experience excruciating torment at the hands of sinful men, anguish both in body and soul, but he died. The humanity of the God Man expired; perished. Jesus died physically. This was the plan all along, to die in the place of his sheep. The wages of sin is death and Jesus received our payoff; he got our earnings.

This is fascinating for a number of reasons. Christ is God. The Son, the second Person in the Trinity, humbled himself, took on flesh, and died a horrendous death. He was tried and crucified as a criminal. Jesus, who obeyed the law perfectly, was found guilty. Who can fathom the infinite condescension of the Son? Oh, the humility; the shame and grief he endured. Who can know it? Also, after he died, Jesus was laid in a borrowed tomb. The King of all kings bled and died and then was placed in a hole. He was buried. This is what happens to men when they die. But, Jesus was different. He did not just die, he was sacrificed. He gave his life so sinners could live. His burial is likewise significant because it was a fulfillment of prophecy. It was all according to God’s sovereign plan.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve” (1 Cor. 15:3-5). “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit... And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own tomb, which he had cut in the rock” (Matt. 27:50, 59-60). “And they made his brave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth” (Is. 53:9).

Jesus was resurrected

The death of Christ is most remarkable because of who he is and where he came from and what he accomplished. But, if we were to stop with the death of Christ, as epochal as it was, and not proceed further then we are to be pitied. Why? His death was only one aspect of the salvation that he secured for us. We are saved by his life. If he remained dead then how can he save? What about his predictions to rise? What of God vindicating himself? What about his going to prepare a place and come again?

The resurrection of the crucified Savior is fundamental to the gospel; there can be no good news without it. Jesus was raised bodily from the dead on the third day. He conquered sin, Satan, death, and the grave. And now he lives to give life to his elect and intercede on their behalf. He died in our place to atone for sin and satisfy the righteous judgment of the Father. But, he was raised to life again because he is the Lord of Life. He could not stay dead.

Jesus was “declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead” (Rom. 1:4). He “was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification” (Rom. 4:25). Salvation hinges on Christ’s resurrection. “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9).

This was part of what Paul delivered which he described as “of first importance.” It was nothing less than, “Christ died for our sins... that he was buried, that he was raised on the third...” (1 Cor. 15:3-4). “God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it” (Acts 2:24). “But God raised him from the dead, and for many days he appeared to those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people. And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus” (Acts 13:30-33).

The resurrection of Christ proved that he paid the price for sin. His sacrifice was validated by him rising from the grave. It is in Christ that we “have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:14). “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses” (Eph. 1:7). “He was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities” (Is. 53:5). “He himself bore our sins in his body” (1 Pet. 2:24). Christ was “offered once to bear the sins of many” (Heb. 9:28). “If Christ has not been raised... you are still in your sins” (1 Cor. 15:17) The assumption is that since Christ has been raised those who trust him are no longer in their sins.

Sin, death, and Satan were defeated when Christ was resurrected. “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:14). Jesus “abolished death and brought life” (2 Tim. 1:10). “He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Gen. 3:15). This of course refers to Jesus conquering Satan with his death; the very thing Satan was instrumental in thinking that he vanquished Christ.

Because Jesus rose from the dead, he lives and intercedes on the behalf of his children. We serve a living Savior. He hears us, strengthens us, guides us, uses us, blesses us, chastises us, protects us, perfects us, represents us, loves us, etc. “Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died- more than that, who was raised- who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us” (Rom. 8:34). Jesus “always lives to make intercession” for us (Heb. 7:25). And if we sin “we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 Jn. 2:1).

The death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord was according to scripture. All of it was planned, orchestrated, and ordained by God for his glory. Jesus was “delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23). “God foretold by the mouths of all the prophets that his Christ would suffer” (Acts 3:18). “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Lk. 24:46-47).

In everything he did, Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament. The rich history, all of the types and shadows, ceremonies, sacrifices- were accomplished in Christ. An episode in the life of Christ, after the his resurrection, illustrates this perfectly.

That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, "What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?" And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?" And he said to them, "What things?" And they said to him, "Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see." And he said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself (Lk. 24:13-27).

Who wouldn’t want to be in that Bible study? Jesus interpreted the Old Testament scriptures that spoke of him. Surely, Jesus told them how he fulfilled:

  • the promise made to Adam and Eve of bruising the serpent’s head (Gen. 3:15).
  • the promise of blessing the entire earth through Abram and his offspring (Gen. 12:3 & 22:18).
  • the Passover (Ex. 12).
  • the water from the rock (Ex. 17:5-7).
  • the bronze serpent (Num. 21:4-9).
  • the Davidic covenant (2 Sam. 7:12-16).
  • the virgin birth, his awe-inspiring names, his suffering, and mission (Is. 7:14; 9:6; 50:6; 52:13-53:12; 61:1).
  • there are many, many others that could be listed. See: Psalm 22; 110; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Daniel 7:13-14, 9:24-27; Micah 5:2; Zechariah 6:12, 9:9, 12:10, 13:7.

Joseph Bellamy has written,

The goodness comes from heaven; from God, the great King of the universe. It was first more darkly hinted at to Adam, immediately after the fall; and afterwards to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, by God himself; and by Moses and all the prophets in God’s name, to Israel of old. But last of all, the whole glorious plan was fully brought to light, and published to the world, by Jesus Christ and his apostles.1

Truly, Jesus is astonishing. He fulfilled hundreds of types and prophecies. It is astronomical to attempt to calculate the odds of one man fulfilling all of this. He is remarkable. He deserves all honor and praise. Bow down before him, worship and adore him. Glorify him in life and death. Trust him. Love him. Seek him. Know him. Treasure him. Serve him. Obey him. Cherish him. Extol him. Just do not ignore him. This is the good news- it is Jesus!

The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity stepped down from heaven, veiled himself in the flesh of man, lived a perfect life of obedience free of all sin, bore the curse and wrath of the Father in the place of sinners, bled, suffered, died, was buried, rose on the third day, ascended into the heavens, is seated on the right hand of God, intercedes for his own, sent the Holy Spirit, and is coming again to judge. This isn’t just good news, it’s great news. This is earth shattering news. This changes everything. Christ paid the price for sin, now there is forgiveness in his name. Repentant sinners can be pardoned; they can enter into the presence of holy God through the God Man, Jesus the Christ.

Christ is our all. He is our Rock upon which we build, Shield that defends, Strength that empowers, Peace that frees, Hope that encourages, Shepherd that leads, King who rules, Priest who atones, Prophet that teaches. He is the Lamb that died, Passover that spares, Bread that nourishes, Life that quickens, Way that delivers, Light that illumines, Resurrection that awakens, Gate that separates. Jesus is the Bridegroom, Sin-bearer, Branch, Door, Cornerstone, Vine, Truth, Mediator, Advocate, Messiah, Son of Man. Jesus is God, the Lord, Almighty, Alpha and Omega, the Author and Finisher of our faith, the Fountain, Gift, the End of the Law, River of Water. Jesus is our all. With him we have everything. Without him we have nothing.

We pray to him and through him. He is the Creator and Sustainer. All things were made by him and for him. Christ’s supremacy is all-encompassing; his splendor grandiose. He is beyond words. He is beyond comparison. To what could we compare him? What fool would dare to liken him to his creation? Christ is ineffable, resplendent, magnificent, glorious, sovereign, beautiful. Christ is our all in all. With him we need nothing. Without him nothing is everything.

Jesus Christ,” wrote Thomas Watson, “ is the sum and quintessence of the gospel; the wonder of angels; the joy and triumph of saints. The name of Christ is sweet, it is as music in the ear, honey in the mouth, and a cordial at the heart.”2

Jonathan Edwards, in his brilliant and scholarly language, wrote,

Christ, as he is God, is infinitely great and high above all. He is higher than the kings of the earth; for he is King of kings, and Lord of lords. He is higher than the heavens, and higher than the highest angels of heaven. So great is he, that all men, all kings and princes, are as worms of the dust before him; all nations are as the drop of the bucket, and the light dust of the balance; yea, and angels themselves are as nothing before him. He is so high, that he is infinitely above any need of us; above our reach, that we cannot be profitable to him; and above our conceptions, that we cannot comprehend him... Christ is the Creator and great Possessor of heaven and earth. He is sovereign Lord of all. He rules over the whole universe, and doth whatsoever pleaseth him. His knowledge is without bound. His wisdom is perfect, and what none can circumvent. His power is infinite, and none can resist him. His riches are immense and inexhaustible. His majesty is infinitely awful.3

Who is Jesus? Well, he is God, and as Thomas Brooks tells us,

God hath in himself all the good of angels, of men, of universal nature; he hath all glories, all dignities, all riches, all treasures, all pleasures, all comforts, all delights, all joys, all beatitudes. God is that one infinite perfection in himself, which is eminently and virtually all perfections of the creatures, and therefore he is firstly to be sought. Abstracts do better express him than concretes and adjectives; he is being, bonity, power, wisdom, justice, mercy, goodness and love itself, and therefore worthy to be sought before all other things... God is Alpha, the fountain from whence all grace springs, and Omega, the sea to which all glory runs... God is a perfect good, a solid good... That is a perfect good, to which nothing can be added; that a solid, from which nothing can be spared. God is a pure and simple good; he is light in whom there is no darkness, a good in whom there is no evil... God is an all-sufficient good... God hath in himself all power to defend you, all wisdom to direct you, all mercy to pardon you, all grace to enrich you, all righteousness to clothe you, all goodness to supply you, and all happiness to crown you. God is a satisfying good, a good that fills the heart and quiets the soul... seek early, seek earnestly, seek affectionately, seek diligently, seek primarily, and seek unweariedly this God, who is the greatest good, the best good, the most desirable good; who is a suitable good, a pure good, a satisfying good, a total good, and an eternal good.4

I say it again, it cannot be spoken enough, Jesus is the believer’s all; their everything. The scriptures are full of Christ, he is on every page. They speak of him. Some of Christ’s names and titles have been referred to. They bare repeating. This is rich soil that will yield a most bountiful crop. Oh, let us tarry here as long as we can and meditate on our Savior. Come, let us adore him, sit at his feet, bask in his glory, sing praises with the heavenly choir, grow in his grace, and learn of his excellent greatness. After all, isn’t this what we will do for eternity when we see him face to face? What saith the scriptures?

Jesus is: Advocate (1 Jn. 1:21), Almighty (Rev. 1:8), Alpha and Omega (Rev. 22:13), Amen (Rev. 3:14), Apostle (Heb. 3:1), Author of salvation (Heb. 2:10), Branch (Jer. 23:5), Bread of life (Jn. 6:35), Chief Shepherd (1 Pet. 5:4), Cornerstone (Eph. 2:20), Deliverer (Rom. 11:26), Door (Jn. 10:7), Eternal life (1 Jn. 1:2), Glory of the Lord (Is. 40:5), Good Shepherd (Jn. 10:14), Great High Priest (Heb. 4:14), Head of the church (Eph. 5:23), Heir of all things (Heb. 1:2), Holy One (Ps. 16:10), I Am (Jn. 8:58), Immanuel (Matt. 1:23), King (Matt. 21:5), King of kings (1 Tim. 6:15), King of the nations (Rev. 15:3), Lamb (Rev. 5:6), Lat Adam (1 Cor. 15:45), Life (Jn. 14:6), Light of the world (Jn. 18:12), Lion from the tribe of Judah (Rev. 5:5), Lord of Glory (1 Cor. 2:8), Mediator (1 Tim. 2:5), Messiah (Jn. 1:41), Mighty God (Is. 9:6), Passover (1 Cor. 5:7), Prince of peace (Is. 9:6), Prophet (Lk. 24:19), Ransom (1 Tim. 2:6), Resurrection (Jn. 11:25), Rock (1 Cor. 10:4), Son of David (Matt. 9:27), Son of God (Lk. 1:35), Son of Man (Jn. 5:27), True God (1 Jn. 5:20), True Vine (Jn. 15:1), Truth (Jn. 14:6), Way (Jn. 14:6), Word (Jn. 1:1), and Word of Life (1 Jn. 1:1).

1Joseph Bellamy, Sin, the Law, and The Glory of the Gospel (Ames, Iw: International Outreach, 1998), 11.

2Thomas Watson, A Body Of Divinity (Banner of Truth, 2000), 161.

3Jonathan Edwards, “The Excellency Of Christ” in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, 2 vols. (Peabody, Mass.:Hendrickson, 2004), 1:680-681.

4Thomas Brooks, “Apples of Gold” in The Works of Thomas Brooks, 6 vols. (Banner of Truth, 1980), 1:185-187.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Why Do I Write?

Why do I write?  Is it an exercise in futility? 

Writing should be a joy but it is often a struggle.  I write about God and his amazing salvation; of Christ and his atoning work; of the Spirit and his ministry- it should be a joy.  It should bring satisfaction.  I write and warn people about the counterfeits that so easily befall us.  It ought to be rewarding, but I struggle.

I got the idea to write a book.  So, I began by putting together an outline.  I then fleshed it out until it grew into over 30 pages.  I thumbed through thousands of pages of books in order to get quotes to strengthen my work.  It was a chore.  And I can't help to think, why?  Why am I trying to write a book?  Can I write a book with my pride and shortcomings?  A book would be the oxygen to mix with the fuel of pride ignited by the flame of self-love that exists in my heart.  It could explode; it could be dangerous.

But I press on.  I will complete my task for the glory of God.  I write because I can (I'm not saying that I am a gifted writer, but only that I physically can).  I write because I have something to write about.  I write because I hope that people want to read.  I write because there is so much trivial fluff that fills the shelves and minds of professing Christians.  I write because I feel compelled.  I write because I can't stop writing.  I write because it is fun.  I write in order to edify the saints.  I write to teach.  Why do write?  I write because there is a burning down in my bones; I have to write.  If I don't do it, who will?  Surely, God can call others to write (and he has).  But, he has called and gifted (to a degree)me.  I have to do it. 

Many people will not understand this.  That is alright.  Many of you will, however, understand what I have written.  Some may think that his was a waste of a blog.  Others will sympathize with me and the struggles that face writers or want-to-be authors.  I wrote this as an exercise.  I put into words what I have been feeling and wondering for years now.  It helps to spell things out; to write and then read your thoughts.  This may not benefit anyone else, but this has helped me.

Writing is hard work.  Mentally and spiritually, it can be taxing.  I pray that it will pay off.  I am not talking monetarily, but in fruit.  Hopefully and prayerfully my work will bear fruit.  I hope to impact people spiritually.  That would be the true reward/payment-seeing people come to Christ in genuine repentance and faith; confused people being helped to better understand God's plan of redemption; people who have trusted in a counterfeit gospel coming to that realization and trusting Christ; people who have false assurance being assured by God's grace and not simply trusting in anything that they had done, etc. 

The Faith of Demons is my book.  It has grown to well over 300 pages thus far.  The Faith of Demons seeks to combat easy-believism and casual Christianity (if it can be called "Christianity").  I do so by examining in detail the knowledge and experiences of Satan and his demons.  The point: to show that true saving faith must go beyond what is common to demons.  They know God, scripture, the gospel, etc.  So, just because a person says that they believe in God or knows the gospel does not mean that they are saved.  A person must repent and trust Christ.  Salvation is not by knowledge alone; salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone.  Demons cannot and do not trust Christ. 

There is much more to be said, but you will have to buy the book.  God willing, it will be completed and published early in 2014.  Please pray that the Lord will use this work for his glory.  Also, visit my website to find out more.  Let me know what you think.

Monday, November 25, 2013

What Is The Gospel? Part 7

God sent his Son

Not only did God decide to save sinners in order to glorify himself, but he actually did save them (of course, he is still saving sinners). It was not just a whim or short-lived impulse. No, this was God’s passion and moved him to inaugurate his glorious plan of redemption. So much so, he sent His Son. The second Person of the Trinity came to earth with the mission to save the lost. How was this enacted?

Jesus took on flesh. He had to partake of the same things and be made like his brethren. “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things... he had to be made like his brethren in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God” (Heb. 2:14-17). Jesus “made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:7-8). “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn. 1:14).

Why? Why was Christ born of a woman? Why did he have to be made like us? It was to atone for sinful man’s iniquity. Man was the one that offended God. It is man that stands condemned before the tribunal of God. So, Christ took on flesh to die in the place of man in order for men to be saved. The blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sin. But, the perfect and sinless sacrifice of the Son of Man can.

We must not miss the point. God sent his Son. Yes, it is important that we acknowledge that two natures are in one person by way of a hypostatic union. But, God sent his Son. His only Son. This is earth-shattering news. This changes everything. This truly is what all of history had been leading too and looking back on. Man, who lies dead by the wayside, desires everything except God and sweet communion with him. He loves his sin. By contrast, he hates what is holy and pure, including God. But God sent his Son. Christ came to redeem lawless, rebellious, unlovable, devilish, men.

How did this happen? Christ took on flesh and lived a sinless life of perfect obedience to God the Father and the law. Jesus obeyed perfectly. He succeeded where Adam failed. This is key because God demands a perfect sacrifice. Jesus was perfect so when he gave himself for sinners, God accepted it; he was propitiated. We are ransomed “with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you” (1 Pet. 1:19-20). “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). Christ, our high priest is “without sin” (Heb. 4:15). The Westminster Confession states,

The Lord Jesus, by His perfect obedience, and sacrifice of Himself, which He through the eternal Spirit, once offered up unto God, hath fully satisfied the justice of His Father; and purchased, not only reconciliation, but an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for all those whom the Father hath given unto Him (VIII. V).

What is the gospel? Jeremiah Burroughs explains,

All mankind was lost in Adam and became children of wrath, and was put under the sentence of death. God, though He left His fallen angels and has reserved them in chains of eternal darkness, has thought upon the children of men. He has provided a way of atonement to reconcile them to Himself again. Namely, the Second Person in the Trinity takes man’s nature upon Him and becomes the Head of a second covenant, standing charged with man’s sin, and answering for it by suffering what the Law and Divine Justice required. He made satisfaction and kept the Law perfectly, which satisfaction and righteousness He offered up unto the Father as a sweet savor of rest for the souls of those that are given to Him.1

Oh, Christ is precious. He alone is our everything; he is our all in all. Christ is our Head, Shepherd, Prophet, Priest, King, Righteousness, Light, Mediator, Advocate, Propitiation. He is the Rock, Bridegroom, Door, Gate, Lamb, Redeemer, Son of God, Son of Man, Suffering Servant, Way, Truth, Life, Prince of Peace. Christ is the Holy One of God, adored by the heavenly host, the Father’s Beloved, infinite in beauty and splendor, worshiped by angels, obeyed by all creation. He is all wise, full of grace and mercy, patient and loving, powerful and just. Christ is sufficient, worthy, excellent, to be desired above all, magnificent, regal, amiable, eminent, glorious, and resplendent. Who could ever begin to comprehend his manifold illustriousness? He should be treasured, obeyed, feared, sought, trusted, followed, hallowed, worshiped, and magnified.

Jesus died on a cross

Oh, the cross of Christ. All of known history had been leading up to this one event. It changed everything. We now look back to Calvary. The cross has a special place in the hearts of every believer. For it was where our Savior died. We sing about it, preach it, meditate on its significance, sit at its foot, shudder at the horrific scene, yet gaze at it in a stupefied awe because it was necessary. How else would our sins be atoned? As dreadful and appalling as it is, we cherish the Savior and the cross in whose relentless grip he hung because this is what the blessed Trinity ordained in order to save man. The cross is where wrath and mercy meet. Heaven and hell converged.

The rapturous Horatius Bonar said it this way,

It is only through blood-shedding that conscience is purged; it is only at the cross that the sinner can meet with God; it is the cross that knits heaven and earth together; it is the cross that bears up the collapsing universe; it is the pierced hand that holds the golden scepter; it is at Calvary that we find the open gate of Paradise regained, and the gospel is good news to the sinner, of liberty to enter in2

The cross. What happened on that Roman torture instrument? In short, Jesus died a substitutionary, penal, vicarious, propitious, atoning death. In other words, he died in the place of others. And not just others, but sinners. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Gal. 3:13). Believers are justified “through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation” (Rom. 3:24-25). Jesus is the “propitiation for our sins” (1 Jn. 2:2). Jesus said that he “lays down his life for the sheep” (Jn. 10:11). He did not come to serve but “to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28). Jesus “gave himself for our sins” (Gal. 1:4). Christ Jesus “gave himself as a ransom” (1 Tim. 2:6).

The death of Jesus on the cross is paramount to a proper understanding of the gospel. Without it we’re doomed. With it we have deliverance. The centrality of Christ’s death on the cross cannot be overstated. It is the primary message of Christianity; it is at the very heart of the gospel. It was what Paul preached; “we preach Christ crucified” (1 Cor. 1:23). It was what Paul knew; “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). Greg Gilbert has written that “the death of Jesus is- and must be- the heart of the gospel because the good news is precisely that Jesus saves sinners from their sin.”3 And he accomplished this by dying in their stead. He took their place. He took their curse. He bore our punishment; took what we deserved. The innocent Son of Man was raised up and killed for something he did not do. Oh, but millions are eternally grateful that he did.

What transpired on the cross? What happened? What was the point of all of the pain and suffering? Who better than Paul to adequately disclose the meaning of the cross? He wrote, “For our sakes he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). What happened at Calvary? Why the darkness? Why the cries of being forsaken? Because Christ became sin. Let that sink in. The Lord Jesus Christ, the perfect, spotless, sinless, holy, Son of God had sin laid upon him. He bore the curse. He bore guilt. He bore the shame. He bore the punishment. He bore the Father’s wrath.

The sins of the elect were laid upon Jesus. They were credited to him. As the Substitute, our sins were made his. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree” (1 Pet. 2:24). Christ was offered to “bear the sins of many” (Heb. 9:28). Isaiah's account is even more remarkable. He prophesied some seven hundred years before the time of Christ, but it was as if he stood at Calvary and watched the Servant of the Lord die.

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned-every one-to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all... he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people... he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors (Is. 53:4-6; 8; 12).

As a result of sin being laid on him, Jesus bore the wrath of the Father. God the Father punished Jesus for sin. He who knew no sin became sin and took the penalty that it deserved. The Son, who enjoyed perfect communion and harmony with the Father, endured the righteous indignation for sins not his own. Oh, the love; the justice. What severity; what mercy. What heart can grasp the gravity of this forsakenness?

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46). “Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand” (Is. 53:10).

How do we not adore the One who suffered undeserved punition at the hands of sinners? Even more compelling is that the Son was sent and crushed by his loving Father. We must remember that the loving Father loves himself supremely and ordained the suffering of the Son in order to redeem fallen sinners so that they may share in that love and enjoy him glorifying himself through redemptive love for all eternity.

1Jeremiah Burroughs, Gospel Conversation (Orlando Fl., Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1995), 3-4.

2Christ Is All: The Piety of Horatius Bonar, ed. Michael A.G. Haykin & Darrin R. Brooker (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage, 2007), 79-80.

3Greg Gilbert, “The Gospel: God’s Self-Substitution for Sinners” in Don’t Call It a Comeback (Wheaton, Il: Crossway, 2011), 73.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

What Is The Gospel? Part 6

The Good News

The good news is truly good. But, it is even better after following such bad news; when seen in the light that scripture shines onto sinful humanity. Oh, this is good news. This is great news. The gospel is so stellar because, as we have considered, mankind is depraved and has zero chance at saving himself. He is lost, doomed, damned, condemned, hopeless, ruined, wretched, guilty, and on the broad way which leads to destruction.

But God. God intervened and began to do a mighty work among sinners. This is so sweet after something so bitter. The gospel is a lush oasis in a dry wasteland. It lifts us up from depths so deep and dark. Believers are enraptured and captured by the omnipotent, efficacious, splendiferous, ineffable, loving grace and mercy of our amiable God. He did not leave mankind to its demise. No! He rescues the lost; adopts the discarded; cleanses the filthy; makes whole the incomplete; pardons the guilty; justifies the unrighteous; redeems the enslaved; reconciles the estranged; brings near those who are distant; gives new life to the dead; and glorifies himself by bringing piteous rebels to glory! That is good news.

God chose to save

That God chose to save, to enact deliverance, is astounding. He did not have to, but he chose to before the creation of the world. Which means that both the fall of man and angels was all part of his sovereign and good plan. How do we explain this? What we as believers know is this: God designed to glorify himself. In order to due this, God ordained the Fall and the redemption of some to magnify his attributes. Since he is sovereign, just, righteous, good, and holy, God acted how he pleased and only according to his will. It was God’s prerogative. He orchestrated everything with his own end in mind. He was and is motivated by one factor- his glory.

The gospel glorifies God. “For your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my guilt, for it is great” (Ps. 25:11). “Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and atone for our sins. For your name’s sake” (Ps. 79:9). “Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make known his mighty power” (Ps. 106:8). Read closely the words of Isaiah and John,

For my name’s sake I defer my anger, for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you, that I might not cut you off. Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another (Is. 48:9-11).

And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed a people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom of priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.’

Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!’ And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!’ And the four living creatures said, ‘Amen!’ and the elders fell down and worshiped (Rev. 5:9-14).

And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, ‘Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations! Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed (Rev. 15:3-4).

These verses make it clear that God chose to save to glorify himself. From the deliverance of the Israelites, to Christ sacrificing himself on Calvary, God does all things for the fame of his name. All things. For his glory.

Another aspect of God glorifying himself in the salvation of sinners through the gospel is the magnification of his attributes. Because of the love for himself and his glory, God sent his Son as a substitute to die in the stead of his chosen so they could relish in his love and enjoy his glory. It was the mercy of God that provided redemption. God’s grace is on display by drawing sinners unto himself. We see his power in the resurrection. Note his wisdom in contriving the plan of salvation. His faithfulness is demonstrated in the covenants. His wrath is seen in punishing the Son. The holiness of God is witnessed in his forsaking of the Son. Justice is satisfied by the imputation of sin to the Son in his propitiatory atonement. And mark the sovereignty of God in ordaining all things and bringing them to fruition.

If God does all things for his glory, then we can assume that his actions extol his attributes. Since God’s attributes are who he is, his characteristics, then they are put on display whenever he works. In other words, we read, experience, or see God’s work. Whether in creation, redemption, or his word, he reveals himself; he unveils his character and properties. He tells mankind who he is. All the world is his stage and he brilliantly acts out his attributes in all that he does. If he does not give a person what they deserve, God shows himself to be merciful. If he gives an individual something that they do not deserve, he makes known his grace. God “predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:5-6). “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory” (Eph. 1:11-12). The Holy Spirit is “the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory” (Eph. 1:14). God saved his elect “so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7). God “saved us... according to his own mercy” (Tit. 3:5). “According to his great mercy, he [God] caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Pet. 1:3). “The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin” (Ex. 34:6-7).

Monday, November 4, 2013

What Is the Gospel? Part 5

Man is an enemy of God

God by nature is holy and pure. He hates sin and cannot allow it in his presence. Humanity is sin. Not only that, but man loves sin. Naturally, mankind hates all that is holy, right, and good. This means that we hate God. If two beings hate one another they are enemies. God and man are enemies. There is opposition between God and iniquitous man. “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life” (Rom. 5:10). “Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (Jms. 4:4). “For the mind that is set on the law flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law, indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom. 8:7-8). Part of Jesus’ work was to “reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility” (Eph. 2:16).

Sinful humanity is without excuse

Not only can sinful man offer nothing to God in an attempt to placate his wrath and become acceptable in his sight, but upon being judged man will be silent. Those before the judgment seat will be without excuse. When they stand before God in all his glory, power, and majesty, they will be utterly speechless. They will not be able to speak a syllable in their defense. What could they say? What evidence do they have to the contrary? There is no smoking gun. All human beings will stand condemned (the unconverted that is). They will be without excuse. They willingly and knowingly sinned against God. They suppressed God’s truth in unrighteousness and served themselves or some devilish god in the place of the One True God.

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse” (Rom. 1:20). “They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus” (Rom. 2:15-16). “If I had not come and spoken to them [the world], they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin” (Jn. 15:22).

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

What Is The Gospel? Part 4

Continuing the bad news...
Man is spiritually dead

One of the most important and foundational doctrines in scripture dealing with man and his need of salvation is the fact that he is spiritually dead. This is often disputed. But, the Bible is clear- mankind is born spiritually dead; separated from God and unable and unwilling to glorify him as Lord. Spiritually dead people are just that- they are devoid of life. Their souls are dead. Dead to God, dead to his glory, dead to faith, dead to love for God, dead to Christ and his amiableness, dead to the Holy Spirit’s work and prompting. Man is merely an animated body housing a dead soul.

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses” (Col. 2:13). “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked” (Eph. 2:1). “They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to the hardness of heart” (Eph. 4:18). We are born dead!

Spiritual deadness manifests itself by exhibiting man’s lifelessness when it comes to God, righteousness, good, and holiness. “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh” (Rom. 7:18). “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Ps. 51:5). “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12). “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22). “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” (Rom. 1:18). “For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power” (2 Tim. 3:2-5).

Because man is dead spiritually, he is separated from God who is the source of all life. “Your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear” (Is. 59:2). “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life” (Jn. 5:24). “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers” (1 Jn. 3:14). “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses” (Col. 2:13). “Even when we were dead in our trespasses, [he] made us alive together with Christ-by grace you have been saved-and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:5-6).

Man stands guilty, condemned, without hope, and destined for wrath and hell

As a result of our sin and deadness, we stand to inherit misery. God is the righteous judge and we stand before his bar as guilty, law-breaking, hell-deserving, God-hating, Christ-forsaking, Spirit-blaspheming, wretches. “For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin” (Rom. 3:9). “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men” (Rom. 5:18). “Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12). “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (Jn. 3:18). “For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 5:9).

Scripture cannot be denied: mankind is spiritually dead, separated from God, guilty of trespasses, condemned, doomed, and worthy of eternal punishment. Thomas Brooks, with his arresting verbiage, wrote,

The sentence that shall be passed upon them shall be eternal... There is the vengeance and continuance of it, you shall go into fire, into everlasting fire, that shall never consume itself, nor consume you. Eternity of eternity is the hell of hell... if all the fires that ever were, or shall be in the world, were concentrated into one fire, how terrible would it be! Yet such a fire would be but as a painted fire upon the wall, to the fires of hell.1

Brooks went on to write,

Impenitent sinners in hell shall have end without end, death without death, night without day, morning without mirth, sorrow without solace, and bondage without liberty. The damned shall live as long in hell as God himself shall live in heaven.2

All efforts to save self fall short

Because of the woeful state that man finds himself in, he is unable to contribute anything to salvation. What could he offer? All we as sinners posses is contaminated and corrupted by iniquity. So many of the fundamental truths that have been discussed thus far culminate here in man’s inability to merit salvation or impart something toward it. Humanity is desperately wicked and depraved. Our nature is dead spiritually, yet alive sinfully. A sinful nature produces sinful actions. Just as a dog barks, licks itself, chases its tail, and returns to its own vomit, sinful man sins, only sins, and will continue to sin. Nothing good can come from something tainted and evil.

A sinful, depraved person could never offer anything good enough to save himself. A holy God will not accept an unholy offering. In fact, as we will see shortly, God is so holy, righteous, and pure that He appeases himself. That is the gospel: what man cannot do, God does in sending his Son to offer himself as a perfect sacrifice.

Our works fall short. There is nothing pure or pleasing to God in them. Even if they seem good to us, our works (before conversion) are sinful. Impure motives, pride, self-righteousness, greed, self-love, and hypocrisy stain our oblations turning them to rancid feces. Who would dare present such filth to Almighty God? Who in their right mind would soil God’s hallowed sanctuary with this foul waste?

Those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom. 8:8). “Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ... by works of the law no one will be justifies” (Gal. 2:16). “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy” (Tit. 3:4-5). “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes the knowledge of sin” (Rom. 3:20). “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is a gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8-9). “[God] saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began” (2 Tim. 1:9). “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment” (Is. 64:6).

1Thomas Brooks, “The Golden Key To Open Hidden Treasures” in The Works of Thomas Brooks, 6 vols. (Banner of Truth, 1980), 5:130.

2Ibid. 5:130.

Monday, October 21, 2013

What Is the Gospel? Part 3

We have begun our presentation of the gospel with God. And rightly so. But now we must move to the other side of the gospel coin. Sinful man or the bad news. The bad news must be understood before the good news of the gospel can be trusted and appreciated.

Man is desperately and woefully sinful

We do not need the gospel if mankind isn’t wicked. That is the bad news- humanity is desperately corrupt, cannot save itself, is at enmity with God, lost, and hell bound. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one” (Rom. 3:10-12).

The Bible is clear: man is unrighteous, worthless, fallen, without godly wisdom and knowledge, and not good. This flies in the face of our modern sensibilities. This is the exact opposite of what we are taught or led to believe about man. The world’s message is that we are basically good, must have self-worth, and are to trust our inner light/wisdom. Who or what are we going to believe? The almighty sovereign majestic God or an insignificant glob of dirt? What is our authority? God’s inerrant, infallible, inspired, sufficient word or sinful man’s deluded, misguided, debauched, perverted, non-authoritative philosophies and humanistic dribble?

Scripture portrays humankind as rebels. Man is rebellious against God and his rule. The first chapter in the book of Romans illustrates this. The attitude of rebellion is apparent in many of the descriptions used for sinful man. Unrighteous men “suppress the truth” (vs. 18). They know that God exists but do not “honor him as God or give thanks to him” (vs. 21). Instead of worshiping the true God, “they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things” (vs. 22-23). “They exchanged the truth about God for a lie” (vs. 25). Their rebellion went so far as to even commit homosexual acts (vs. 26-27).

The rebellious nature of humanity is further seen in Paul’s catalogue of sins in verses 29-32. It reads:

They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Another characteristic of sin is seen in that man is the consummate lawbreaker. “For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification” (Rom. 6:19). “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness” (1 Jn. 3:4). “Who gave himself [Jesus] for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Tit. 2:14).

What transpired in the garden of Eden shows that man is a lawbreaker. Adam, the federal head, broke the commandment of God. He was instructed by God himself to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:17). God’s law was transgressed; relegated to an un-authoritative suggestion instead of the very word of God. Man became a law unto himself. He thought that he had the right to make his own decisions and therefore not obey his Creator. Lawless. Rebellious. Hence, godless.

Lawless men crucified Jesus. “This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men” (Acts 2:23). Lawlessness describes the life prior to conversion. Peter wrote, “For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry” (1 Pet. 4:3). “The mystery of lawlessness is already at work” (2 Thess. 2:7). Sinners break God’s laws; it is that simple and plain to see. “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it” (Jms. 2:10).

Disobedience characterizes sin. “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience” (Eph. 5:6). Unbelievers, before salvation, are said to have been “following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2). Jesus is said to be coming back “in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (2 Thess. 2:8).

It was by disobedience that mankind fell. “For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous” (Rom. 5:19). Before salvation we “were at one time disobedient to God” (Rom. 11:30). The unbeliever professes “to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work” (Tit. 1:16). Peter, using strong language, reveals that unbelievers stumble over the rock of offense [Jesus] “because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do” (1 Pet. 2:8).