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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Gospel According to Paul # 7

In His Letter to the Romans (continued)

The Gospel In Eternity Past (continued)

What great hope is here! If that is true, if we can grasp that, that is good news, is it not? We make everything of the situation in ourselves which is so hopeless; God makes everything of His Son to meet our hopelessness. And God is not experimenting because something has gone wrong - 'We must find some kind of remedy for this, we must find something with which we can experiment to see if we can meet this emergency; man has gone sick, and we must look round for a remedy.' No; God has already covered it from eternity, met it from eternity, in His Son. It is the gospel, the good news, of God "concerning His Son." This may raise a number of mental problems, but here is the statement of this book. Hope, you see, is not destroyed because Adam falls: hope reaches back beyond man's sin.

You say, "Then what about the Cross?" Well, the Incarnation and the Cross are only effecting what was settled in eternity - bringing out of eternity into time in a practical way, making effectual for man in his desperately needy condition, that great purpose, intention, design of God concerning His Son. The Cross is the means which lifts right up out of the trough, the valley, of human sin and failure, on to the level of the eternal counsels of God, and restores the even course of that which ultimately is eternally unaffected by what has happened in time. Tremendous good news, that, is it not? The Cross becomes the occasion of faith by which all this is transcended - of course it provides the ground for our faith - and when faith acts in relation to the Cross, what happens? We are brought into Christ: not brought into the Jesus of three and a half years, or even of thirty years, but brought into Christ as representing God's timeless thought for man. Faith brings us into that. That is the good news, "the good news concerning His Son"; the gospel, the good news of "the God of hope".

You see, hope is founded upon God's eternal provision outside of time: and that is a very safe rock upon which to stand! Yes, founded upon the eternal rock of Christ's Sonship, not upon an after-thought and an after-measure to meet something that has happened unexpectedly. Hope is grounded and anchored outside of time. The Apostle, writing to the Hebrews, uses a picture, a metaphor. "The hope ... which we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and entering into that which is within the veil" (Hebrews 6:18, 19); taking you outside of time, outside of this life, anchoring you there in eternity. How great is the Cross! How great is the message of Romans six! It takes us right back beyond Moses, Abraham and Adam. It takes us right back past Adam's sin and failure, and the whole race's hopeless condition. The Cross takes us back before it all, and there in the past eternity links us up with what God intended. The Cross secures that. And with the other hand the Cross reaches right on into eternity to come, and says,, "Whom He foreknew ... them He also glorified" (Romans 8:29, 30). The Cross secures the coming eternal glory. How great is the Cross!

Hope, then, is resting upon the immensity of the Cross. Hope rests upon the fact that Christ, Who passed this way, becoming the last Adam, being made sin for us, bearing it all, now raised by God, is seated at God's right hand, and therefore that we, as "in Christ", have been placed beyond any risk of another fall. I always think that this is one of the most blessed factors in the gospel - that Jesus in Heaven now, having been this way and the way of the Cross, says that this Adam will never fail. There will never be another fall. This heredity is secure, is safe, because linked with Him. There is no fear of our being involved in any more falls of that kind, no fear at all! It is indeed a wonderful hope, this gospel of the God of hope!

Do you see how very vividly the dark picture of hopelessness is drawn? I have only given you the outline, but you look at the details - the terrible picture of the Gentiles and the Jews drawn in the first chapters of this letter, and the hopelessness of the situation for both. Yes, despair indeed - and then over it all written, Hope! The good news of hope stands over it all, in spite of it all, because hope rests upon God having before all things determined upon something which He will carry out, and which He has demonstrated by the Cross of His Son, Jesus Christ. You and I know, do we not, that when faith has acted in relation to the Cross of the Lord Jesus, something begins in us which reverses altogether the natural course of things. Now faith is growing, faith is developing; we are learning the way of faith, we are being enabled to trust God more and more. Everything has changed: obedience is now possible.

And there is ANOTHER LIFE, ANOTHER NATURE, ANOTHER POWER, in us, which has made for hope. A contradiction of the Christian faith is a despairing Christian, a hopeless Christian; one who is not marked by this great thing which is preeminently characteristic of God - hope. He is "the God of hope". The Lord make this true, that we are filled with hope, "rejoicing in hope". "Patient in tribulation", but "rejoicing in hope" (Romans 12:12).

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 8 - (In His Letter to the Corinthians)

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