Some writers struggle with writer’s block. My problem is having too many things to write about!
I have to finish Rome’s Audacious Claim. That is a priority. The draft in 90% done, but there will be a lot of editing and rewriting, and I want to release it June 1. On the other hand, the “Rebuilding the Foundations” series, which I started on this blog, is really what is on my heart. It will be the next book after Rome’s Audacious Claim.
“Rebuilding the Foundations” is a series of teachings, though, and I am going to break it down into small bits so that others can teach it as well. Since I need to post regularly on this blog anyway, I will return to writing those small bits on this blog.
The first small bit is the Gospel.
Rebuilding the Foundations: What is the Gospel?
This foundation is based on four passages, though there are many more Old Testament prophecies and New Testament passages that could be cited.
In this passage, Simon confesses that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus changes his name to Peter (Petros=Rock), tells him that he will build the church on him, and then makes several wonderful promises to him.
We all know that Jesus is the only foundation for the Christian and the Church (1 Cor. 3:11). Peter is not the foundation itself, but he is the first rock set upon the foundation of Christ. All the major branches of Christianity believe that Peter’s confession is also the rock.
If Peter’s confession is the rock as well, then Jesus is building his Church on it. If Jesus is building his Church on it, then we should too!
The other passages we will look at simply prove that the apostles preached the Gospel in such a way as to get their converts to make the same confession Peter made.
No explanation needed here. John said that he wrote his Gospel to get people to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, which was exactly Peter’s confession. Those who believe Peter’s confession have life through Jesus’ name.
Acts 2:36 is an example that is true of all the rests of the apostles’ preaching in Acts. Peter first proclaims that the Holy Spirit has arrived according to the prophecy of Joel. Then he preaches Jesus, telling the Jews first that they killed him, then that he rose from the dead, and finally calling all Israel to “know for certain” (NASB) that Jesus is “Lord and Christ.”
His whole sermon is based on the idea that the resurrection establishes Jesus as “Lord and Christ,” not exactly the same as “Christ, the Son of the Living God,” but the same idea and conclusion.
We learn from Acts 2:36 that it is not the exact terminology that matters. Believing that Jesus is the Messiah (Christ=Messiah) or Lord is the same as believing he is the Son of God because the Messiah is said to be the Son of God in Psalm 2:7 and the Lord in Psalm 110:1.
Here we see from Paul the same thing that we find in Acts 2 (and the rest of Acts). The goal of the apostles preaching was to get their hearers to believe that Jesus rose from the dead because this would prove that he is the Christ, the Son of the living God, the confession on which Jesus builds his Church.
“[He] was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead,” Paul wrote (v. 4). He says that this is “the Gospel of God” (v. 1).
As a side note, in verse 5, Paul says that he is bringing about “obedience” to this faith. Our modern preaching to the lost is primarily based on the atonement, believing that Jesus died for our sins. While Jesus did die for our sins, one cannot “obey” faith in Jesus’ atonement. Faith that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, however, does call for obedience to Jesus, because the Christ is not just the Son of God. The Messiah also sits on the throne of David to rule God’s kingdom forever (Ps. 2:2,6,12; 110:1-2).
Again, much of evangelical Gospel preaching calls on hearers to believe that Jesus died for their sins and to confess that he is their Savior. Romans 10:9-10, though, says that salvation and righteousness come to those who confess Jesus as their Lord and who believe he rose from the dead. This is the rock upon which Jesus said he would build his Church.
This lines right up, obviously, with the other passages we have looked at. Our initial Gospel preaching should lead hearers to confess that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the living God, proven to be so by his resurrection.
The Gospel contains much more than just the fact that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. This is evidenced by the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, all of which contain Jesus’ teaching, life, miracles, his death, his resurrection and some of what those things mean for us. Thus, the contain much more than just the confession that Jesus is the Christ. Jesus’ death for sins is not only true and important, it is part of the Gospel (1 Cor. 15:1-3).
Nonetheless, the purpose of our Gospel preaching should be to prove to the lost that Jesus is the resurrected Christ and Son of God, for it is by believing this, and then becoming obedient to that faith, that they will be saved. Jesus died for our sins, but believing that he died for our sins is not enough. It is through calling on him as the resurrected Lord of our lives that we are saved (Rom. 10:9-13).