Posted by: Standing Solus Christus | June 7, 2007

Why is this a Gospel? (Lesson 1: Question 2 Answer)

2.  Why does the title of this book include the term Gospel?  What is Gospel?

The term Gospel is unique to Christian literature and represents a particular genre about the life of Jesus Christ.  The term is employed in the title of the four canonical Gospels (i.e. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). 2   The word Gospel literally means good news and derived from the Greek term ευαγγελιον.  The explicit title Gospel is not used for any book outside of the New Testament, however this does not negate the fact that this genre is also familiar to the Old Testament.  Meredith Kline points out the similarities between these New Testament works with the second book in the Pentateuch (Exodus).  He points this out in the following statements:  “Moses communicated to Israel the word of God’s covenant, the constitution of the kingdom.  This model clearly comes into play when the gospels present Jesus as the founder of the kingdom of the new covenant. 3″   “Moreover, Jesus, like Moses, provides for his followers and leads them in the way; but Jesus is himself the provision – the true bread from heaven (John 6:35) and water of life (John 4:10ff; 7:37ff), and Jesus is the way (John 14:6).  Like Moses, Jesus offers the covenant sacrifice, but Jesus is himself that sacrifice. 4 “

In addition, to the term Gospel used as a title for a particular genre of literature it is shorthand for the grace of God in Jesus Christ.  As noted above, the Gospel is literally the good news about the free redemption that God has provided in His Son.  In order to truly understand and appreciate the good news, we must first understand the bad news.  The bad news is that we human beings are fallen, tainted by sin and darkness by nature.  This is bad, because God is holy, righteous, pure and unable to allow sinful creature to dwell in His presence.  He is also perfectly just and by necessity must bring just judgments on all those in rebellion to His will.  This means the entire human race is under condemnation from God, because they are incapable by nature of fulfilling the standards of God’s law.  The good news is that God has sent His Son to take the place of sinful humanity.  First, He satisfies the justice of God by becoming a perfect sacrifice without blemish to propitiate God’s wrath.  Second, He fulfills all the demands of God’s law perfectly at every moment of His life.  In Christ a great exchange occurs between Him and His people who embrace Him in faith.  Our sins are paid for by Christ fully, which provides the basis for God to forgive us.  Christ righteousness is then credited to us, clothing us like a garment, so that God views through as perfectly qualified to stand before Him.  This is the Gospel that provides the hope of salvation for the people of God.

2 The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary edited by Allen C. Meyers (Grand Rapids, MI:  Eerdmans Publishing 1987), 433

3 Meredith Kline (2007) The Structure of Biblical Authority (Eugene, OR:  Wipf & Stock 1989), 192

4 Meredith Kline (2007) The Structure of Biblical Authority (Eugene, OR:  Wipf & Stock 1989), 194

 

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