Appendix 12: The Gospel

(All Scriptures quoted, unless otherwise indicated, are from
The New International Version © 1995, The Zondervan Corporation)


In my comments on Daniel 9:22-27 I wrote “Daniel, worried for his nation, is [now] hearing the Gospel!”

Daniel 9:19, 20 provide the substance of Daniel’s prayer, his concerns and the occasion for Gabriel’s message (Heb. dabar):

“Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.” While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and making my request to the Lord my God for his holy hill …

In Gabriel’s response, Daniel was privileged to learn that, besides restoring the City and the Temple, God would, one day,

  • finish transgression
  • put an end to sin
  • atone for wickedness
  • bring in everlasting righteousness
  • seal up vision and prophecy and 
  • anoint a most holy place (NRSV)

Good News!

There was nothing that Israel could do to make things right, but God, out of love, was going to provide atonement, but how? We are privileged to be able to look back — to Jesus Christ and how He made the promise a reality.

The definition of the word “gospel”
Old English gōdspel, from gōd ‘good’ + spel ‘news, a story’, translating ecclesiastical Latin bona annuntiatio or bonus nuntius, used to gloss ecclesiastical Latin evangelium, from Greek euangelion (ευαγγελιον) ‘good news’; after the vowel was shortened in Old English, the first syllable was mistaken for god, i.e. ‘God’.

By definition the Gospel is news, not advice. It has been well said then, “Despite a million sermons to the contrary, the Gospel is not good advice. It is Good News.”1

This, then, is about the Gospel of God regarding His son Jesus Christ
Romans 1:1-3 — Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God … regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David …

The Gospel is supremely important
Romans 1:16 — I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ climaxes in His death on the cross
1 Corinthians 1:17-24 — For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel — not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”2 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

Christ died for us, paying the price for our sins so that a person who believes3 can have a new, even an eternal, life
Romans 6:23 — For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 4:1-25 (passim) — What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.” … The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness — for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

Romans 5:1-21 (passim) — Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. … For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Ephesians 2:1-10 — As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

When one thinks on these truths, and reflects on the annual ritual performed on the Old Testament Day of Atonement (Heb. Yom Kippur) which was just a part of what Seventh-day Adventist preacher George Vandeman (1916-2000) once styled “The Passion Play in the Desert,”3 one cannot help being reminded of that great sacrifice of Christ Jesus.

Two goats, each equal in value and condition to the other, were selected and then separated by lot (Leviticus 16:8); one to be slaughtered, the other to be abandoned. On that Day the blood of the slaughtered animal was taken by the High Priest into the Most Holy Place of the tabernacle in the wilderness and later the Temple in Jerusalem (Leviticus 16:15). This was evidence that the sacrifice had been made. The High Priest then went outside and confessed all the sins of Israel over the head of the waiting live goat (Leviticus 16:21). That animal was then led away, far away, into a lonely place and abandoned there (Leviticus 16:22). Any onlooker would see in those symbolic acts both the death of their substitute and the removal or remission of their sins to and by the scapegoat, the sin-bearer, the one by which atonement was made (Leviticus 16:10).

THE SCAPEGOAT IN THE WILDERNESS BY HOLMAN HUNT

Pre-Raphaelite artist William Holman Hunt (1827-1910) depicted the scene in “The Scapegoat.” In the foreground we see the hungry and thirsty goat gasping, struggling and about to collapse on the shores of the Dead Sea. In the background the full moon is rising (night is drawing on); an ibex is drowning; the carcass of a camel is decomposing; food is nowhere to be seen; the water is saline. We, familiar with the crucifixion of Christ, can almost hear the cry, “My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me?” (recorded in Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34)

Forecasting this, the Old Testament prophet Isaiah (53:6-11) wrote:
… the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.

God offers every human being life, both now and eternally, in Christ.
Why? Because of His love for us all.
How? Christ paid the price.

John 3:16-18 — “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

Romans 5:9 — Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!

Romans 8:31b-39 — If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died — more than that, who was raised to life — is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Ephesians 2:13 — But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.

1 John 2:25 — And this is what he promised us — even eternal life.

1 John 5:11-13 — And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.

Matthew 11:28-30 — “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

1 John 1:1-7 — That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched — this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete. This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

1 John 2:1-2 — My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense — Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

Colossians 2:13-15 — When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

Eternal life is a gift of grace and not a reward for good works
1 John 3:16 — This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.

Philippians 3:1-7 — Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord! … If anyone … thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless. But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.

Romans 8:1 — Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus …

2 Corinthians 5:18-21 — God … reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Please believe it!4
Romans 1:17 — For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

Romans 3:21-26 — But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished — he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

Galatians 3:11 — Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, “The righteous will live by faith.”

John 3:16-18 — “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

Belief brings peace

Martin Luther (1483-1546), 1519
At last, by the mercy of God, meditating day and night, I gave heed to the context of the words, namely, “In it the righteousness of God is revealed, as it is written, ‘He who through faith is righteous shall live.’” There I began to understand that the righteousness of God is that by which the righteous lives by a gift of God, namely by faith. And this is the meaning: the righteousness of God is revealed by the gospel, namely, the passive righteousness with which merciful God justifies us by faith, as it is written, “He who through faith is righteous shall live.” Here I felt that I was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself through open gates.

John Wesley (1703-1791), 1738
In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.

Charles Wesley (1707-1788), 1738
And can it be that I should gain
An int’rest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain?
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God, should die for me?

He left His Father’s throne above,
So free, so infinite His grace;
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race;
’Tis mercy all, immense and free;
For, O my God, it found out me.

Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quick’ning ray,
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free;
I rose, went forth and followed Thee.

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him is mine!
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
It is a great consolation for me to remember that the Lord, to whom I had drawn near in humble and child-like faith, has suffered and died for me, and that He will look on me in love and compassion.

Charles F. (“Rusty”) Goodman (1933-1990)
When I think of how He came so far from glory
Came and dwelt among the lowly such as I
To suffer shame and such disgrace
On Mount Calvary take my place
Then I ask myself a question
Who am I?

Who am I that a King would bleed and die for
Who am I that He would pray not my will,
thine for
The answer I may never know
Why He ever loved me so
But to that old rugged cross He’d go
For who am I?

Ralph Carmichael (1927- ), 1970
Long, long ago in a far away place
Rough rugged timbers were raised to the sky.
There hung a man suspended in space,
And though He was blameless
They left Him to die.

Just to think of the cross
Moves me now;
The nails in His hands,
His bleeding brow.
To think of the cross
Moves me now.
It should have been me,
It should have been me.
Instead I am free, I am free!

He put an end to my guilt and despair,
Turned bitter hating to sweet peace and love.
Even the men that put Him up there
Were offered forgiveness and life from above.

Epilogue

At The Cross

SALVADOR DALI'S CRUCIFIXION copy 2Knots of spectators
Gravitate toward the drama
of Death
Slowly playing
with a Man —
And watch to the bitter End.

The Man is watching, too —
The roll of dice
as soldiers gamble
for His clothes
The faces of the folk
fascinated by His pain
(the torture of His hanging
from the nails)
The curl of mouths and twisted eyes
of men who mock his misery.

The Man is listening
to
The rattle of the gamblers’ wood
The gasp of pleasure when the winner’s known
The rise and fall of spoken feelings
The sudden blurt of nonsense from the idlers at His feet.

The shadow on the dial moves Eastward;
The day slips slowly towards eternity
Never to be repeated.

Death strengthens his grip

And the Man
strengthens His grip
upon His Father.

Some see
the Truth.

The rest
Drift
Away

© Angus McPhee, 1996

Endnotes

1. Ford, Desmond, Daniel (Nashville, TN: Southern Publishing Association, 1978), 238.
Note: Accordingly, “Gospel” should never be applied to a body of information no matter how interesting or beneficial it might be. The preaching or publication of advice or other matters under the designation “gospel” is both unfortunate and misleading. It is the result of misinformation at the worst or misunderstanding at the best. If his source is ignorant of the Gospel, i.e. the Good News about Jesus Christ, the hearer or reader who is a newcomer to Christianity might never understand.
2. Isaiah 29:14, quoted.
3. Vandeman, George E. Planet in Rebellion (Nashville, TN: Southern Publishing Association, 1960), 53.
4. From John’s reason for writing his gospel we learn that to believe is essential: “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name (John 20:31).” He also makes this point in his first letter: “And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us (1 John 3:21).”
Paul wrote, “Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, ‘The righteous will live by faith’  (Galatians 3:11).”

The authors
The apostle Paul who wrote letters to Timothy and to other early Christian individuals and congregations.
Matthew and John who were two of the twelve disciples of Jesus Christ
Mark who was an early believer in Christ and Christian missionary
Isaiah was a Jewish prophet who was active from c.790 B.C. – c.739 B.C.

The Biblical sources
Colossians is the commonly accepted title of the letter from Paul to the believers in Colossæ
First and Second Corinthians are the commonly accepted titles of the two letters from Paul to the believers in Corinth
Ephesians is the commonly accepted title of the letter from Paul to the believers in Ephesus
Galatians is the commonly accepted title of the letter from Paul to the believers in Galatia
Philippians is the commonly accepted title of the letter from Paul to the believers in Philippi
Romans is the commonly accepted title of the letter from Paul to the believers in Rome

Glossary
The Gospels (plural) are the four Biblical books about the life of Christ. They are called the Gospels because they contain the Good News. Near the outset of Jesus’ ministry He had said (Mark 1:15): “The time has come. The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”
The four Evangelists are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John who authored the four Gospels.
To be justified (noun: justification) is to be declared righteous by God and to be looked on by God differently from before. This is a particularly blessed experience when a sinner confesses his sinfulness and accepts Christ as his substitute and Savior. (See, e.g., Romans 5:9)
According to Scripture, to be sanctified (noun: sanctification) is to be set apart for a holy use as, for example, were the articles in the so-called “Sanctuary service” or Temple ritual. In coming to this world for our salvation Jesus sanctified Himself. (John 17:19)

The Lyrics
To hear the music, click on the highlighted text in each one.

Illustrations
“The Scapegoat” by William Holman Hunt (1827-1910), 1854, 1855. This is one of two similar paintings executed simultaneously by Hunt. Hunt had one framed with the quotations “Surely he hath borne our Griefs and carried our Sorrows; Yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of GOD and afflicted.” (Isaiah 53:4) and “And the Goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a Land not inhabited.” (Leviticus 16:22) See Wikipedia.

“Christ of Saint John of the Cross” (part) by Salvador Dali (1904-1989), 1951.


Angus McPhee, October 23, 2019