Friday, March 18, 2011

What is the Gospel? Fridays

     In J. I. Packer's classic book, Knowing God, he gives the most succinct description of the gospel that I have ever heard.  Packer said on p. 214,
Were I asked to focus the New Testament message in three words, my proposal would be adoption through propitiation.  (Emphasis mine)
     Can anyone do any better than this?  I suppose John Piper may do 2 words better with the title of his book, God is the Gospel!  "Jesus" or "Christ" as the gospel also trumps Packer in brevity, but Packer hits the heart of the gospel with the 2 words adoption and propitiation.  The 1689 London Baptist Confession (LBC) (12:1) says the following about adoption,
All those that are justified, God vouchsafed, in and for the sake of His only Son Jesus Christ, to make partakers of the grace of adoption, by which they are taken into the number, and enjoy the liberties and privileges of the children of God, have His name put upon them, receive the spirit of adoption, have access to the throne of grace with boldness, are enabled to cry Abba, Father, are pitied, protected, provided for, and chastened by Him as by a Father, yet never cast off, but sealed to the day of redemption, and inherit the promises as heirs of everlasting salvation.  (Ephesians 1:5; Galatians 4:4-5; John 1:12; Romans 8:17; 2 Corinthians 6:18; Revelation 3:12; Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 2:18; Psalms 103:13; Proverbs 14:26; 1 Peter 5:7; Hebrews 12:6; Isaiah 54:8-9; Lamentations 3:31; Ephesians 4:30; Hebrews 1:14; Hebrews 6:12).
     The immeasurable promises given to us in adoption are made possible only through the propitiation of God's holy and righteous wrath by our Lord Jesus Christ.  Packer explains on p. 185 through a John Murray (The Atonement p. 15), quote,
The doctrine of the propitiation is precisely this: that God loved the objects of His wrath so much that He gave His own Son to the end that He by His blood should make provision for the removal of His wrath.  It was Christ's so to deal with the wrath that the loved would no longer be the objects of wrath, and love would achieve its aim of making the children of wrath the children of God's good pleasure.
     Adoption and propitiation are at the heart of the gospel message!  These words are used scarcely in the NT (adoption 5x) and propitiation (4x), but these gospel doctrines are woven through God's Word with Christ being the focal point and the grace of God for sinners on display!  What a blessing it is to be God's son or daughter through the blood of Jesus our Lord!!

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