What is the Gospel?

Graeme Goldsworthy gives a stirring answer:

Predestination, or creation, or the new birth, or the baptism o the Spirit is not…the gospel. All of these things are related to the gospel and are necessary for the working of the gospel, but they are not the essential message to be believed for salvation. Furthermore, unlike the gospel message, they do not directly address the matter of our justification and assurance of salvation. Only the message that another true and obedient human being has come on our behalf, that he has lived for us the kind of life we should live but can’t, that he has paid fully the penalty we deserve for the life we do but shouldn’t–only this message can give assurance that we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

– Graeme Goldsworthy, Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2000), 83-84.


Salvation, Sanctification, and Spiritual Hookers

Today I studied Titus 2;14.  It says that Jesus Christ “gave himself 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.”

As I meditated and prayed, I asked myself, “What would make this stick in my mind?  What will make this real?”  I think there’s a progressive relationship between the statements in Titus 2:14.  It goes from redemption to purification to zeal. That helps, but what does that look like?

Then I thought about Hosea.  You know, the prophet who married the hooker and then had to buy her back?

Here’s what made it stick for me:

Imagine that you are like Hosea and God tells you to marry a prostitute.  You get married in the courthouse because the family would be too ashamed to come to the wedding at a church.  You don’t get a honeymoon because before the weekend is over, she cheats on you and goes back to the strip club.

You go downtown to get your wife back.  She is up on stage waiting to be purchased by men who will have their way with her, abuse her, and give her but a few bucks for her services. She’s not going for much money tonight.  But you don’t say, “I deserve better.  She’s not worth it.”  Instead, you lay down a couple hundred and buy her for yourself.

You drive her home.  Other than the sound of her weeping, it’s quiet.  You don’t chastise her or accuse her.  Instead, you reach over to hold her hand as she covers her sobs with the other.

You sit down with her at the table.  You don’t revile her or hit her.  You don’t condemn her and say, “How could you, again?!”  Instead, you wash off her makeup and anoint her with oil.  You take off her dirty, immodest stripper outfit and give a her brand new elegant dress that you’ve been saving up for.  You kiss her forehead and forgive her and cleanse her conscience.

You look into her eyes and say, “My bride, I love you.  And I will love you until you stay with me.”  She is so comforted, so secure, so loved.  So much so, in fact, that over time, she becomes zealous to do good and doesn’t want to sell her body anymore.

We are the whore.  O how often we have cheated on our God and sold our bodies to our sin!  Jesus is our husband, and this is what God did for us through him.  He redeems us through his death.  He purifies us despite our constant failures.  He makes us zealous to do good and hate evil.

He lifts our dropping head and says, “I have redeemed you and I will love you until you obey.”

Will you have this love, or reject it?

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