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Friday, October 2, 2015

The Gospel According to Paul # 2

In His Letter to the Romans

Galatians 2:2; 1 Corinthians 15:1; Galatians 1:11

"The gospel which I preach". "The gospel which was preached by me."

There are in the New Testament four main designations for the basic matter with which it deals, the vital truth with which it is concerned, and those four designations are The Gospel, The Way, The Faith, and The Testimony. That which has now came to be known as "Christianity" was then expressed by one or other of those designations. Of these four, the one used more than any other is the first - The Gospel. That title for the inclusive message of the New Testament occurs there at least one hundred times - that is, in the noun form, "the Gospel." In the corresponding verb form it occurs many more times, but unrecognized by us, because it is translated by several different English words. The verb form of this very same Greek word appears in our translation as "to declare", "to preach", "to preach the gospel". It would sound very awkward if you were to give a literal translation to this verb form. It would be just this - "to gospel", "to gospel people", "to gospel the kingdom", or, to take the meaning of the word, "to good-news", "to good-tidings", and so on. That sounds very awkward in English, but in Greek that is exactly what was said. When they preached they conceived themselves as "good-newsing" everything and everybody. To preach the gospel was simply to announce good tidings.

It is impressive that this word, this title, for the Christian faith - "the gospel" - abounds in twenty of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament. The exceptions are: the Gospel by John, where you will not find it, nor will you find it in the three letters of John. You will not find it in Peter's second letter, nor will you find it in James or Jude. But these writers had their own titles for the same thing. We mentioned amongst the four, "The Testimony": that is John's peculiar title for the Christian faith - often, with him, "The Testimony of Jesus". With James and Jude it is "The Faith". But you see how preponderating is this title of "the good news", "The Gospel."

The Range of The Term "The Gospel"

So we have to take account quite early of a most important fact. It is that this term, the good news, covers the entire range of the New Testament, and embraces the whole of what the New Testament contains. It is not just those certain truths which relate to the beginning of the Christian life. The gospel is not confined to the truths or doctrines connected with conversion and, in that limited sense, salvation - the initial matter of becoming a Christian. The gospel goes far beyond that. I repeat, it embraces all that the New Testament contains. It is as much the gospel in the profound letters to the Ephesians and the Colossians as it is in the letter to the Romans - perhaps no less profound a document, but often regarded as being mainly connected with the beginnings of the Christian life.

No, this term, the "good tidings", covers the whole ground of the Christian life from beginning to end. It has a vast and many-sided content, touching every aspect and every phase of the Christian life, of man's relationship to God and God's relationship to man. It is all included in the good tidings. The unsaved need good news, but the saved equally need good news, and they constantly need good news. The servants of the Lord need good news. They need it as their message, the substance of their message. They need it for their encouragement and support. How much the Lord's servants need good news to encourage them in the work, and support in all the demand and cost of their labors! The Church needs good news for its life, for its growth, for its strength, for its testimony. And so the gospel comes in at every point, touches every phase.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3)

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