Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Content of a Minister's Message

Every minister ought to have credentials that verify that his ministry is not of man but of God. As the apostle Paul told the Galatians, “Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead)” (Galatians 1:1). The credentials that ought to be in every minister’s life are not to be some ordination certificate or letters of commendation or the number of referrals he can list on his resume. The credentials of a minister’s mission are to be that he is a bond-servant of Christ Jesus; that he has been called, authorized, and sent by God; and that he has given his life over to the gospel of God.

Paul, after introducing himself and setting forth the credentials for a minister’s mission, gave the content of the minister’s message. Not only should the minister of the Lord Jesus Christ not be sent from men nor through the agency of man, his message also should not be in the wisdom of man nor should it have its origin in man. The minister must speak God’s gospel and not some man-centered, self-help, human-needs approach gospel which alters the content of the message and corrupts the Word of God.

We now turn our attention to the content of the minister’s message – the gospel of God (Romans 1:2-4).

The promise of the gospel – its origin (1:2)

The gospel is God’s gospel; it doesn’t originate with man and it isn’t an afterthought with God. The gospel is eternal and therefore has as its origin God. God promised His gospel before He ever created the world and then communicated that promise beforehand through His prophets. As Martin Luther put it, “This proves that God’s counsel of salvation was foreordained in detail before it was carried into effect. So all glory for this doctrine must be ascribed to God and none to our merits and efforts; for before we ever existed, it was already ordained” (Commentary on Romans, page 34).

When writing to Titus concerning the origin of the gospel, its eternality, and that God communicated the promise of the gospel beforehand through His prophets, Paul wrote, “In the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago [literally before times eternal], but at the proper time manifested, even His word, in the proclamation with which I was entrusted according to the commandment of God our Savior” (Titus 1:2-3).

Since the gospel has as its origin God, since it is eternal, and since it has been promised beforehand through God’s prophets, then doesn’t it make sense that the gospel is not to be tampered with? That is why Paul told Titus, “In the proclamation [of the gospel] with which I was entrusted.” No one has the right to alter the content of God’s gospel and if they do they can expect the certain and terrifying prospect of eternal damnation (Galatians 1:8).

The salvation of the sinner and the existence of the Christian religion owes its existence neither to blind chance nor to fate, but to the divine predetermined counsel, according to which it had to be fulfilled. This means that those who are open-theists are in extreme error and know not either God or His Word.

Open-theism takes on many forms but in essence it says that God doesn’t know everything. Its reasoning would say that God cannot determine the future so when God’s plan "A" fails then God must resort to plan "B". God doesn’t have a plan "B"! God hasn’t changed His plans nor made a revision to His strategy. God promised His gospel beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures.

The gospel did not originate with Paul and it does not originate with any other man and therefore the gospel we preach had better be the gospel that is found in the holy Scriptures. The Old Testament prophesied the gospel and it was fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

The Person of the gospel – its Object (1:3-4) – the Lord Jesus Christ

Concerning His Son (1:3a). The gospel isn’t about you and it isn’t about me; the gospel is about Jesus Christ the Son of God. The word gospel is euangelion and it means "good news". There is no good news about us; only bad news. But there is good news about the Son of God and that good news is for us and not about us.

The humanity of God’s Son (1:3b)
His incarnation – Mary was a descendant of David
His inheritance – David’s throne – Joseph was a descendant of David
His innocence – he took on flesh and blood but never sinned

The divinity of God’s Son (1:4)
Made known publicly through the resurrection from the dead (1:4a)
Demonstrated as totally holy and without sin through the Holy Spirit (1:4b)
Exalted as Lord (1:4c)

This is good news indeed! As man, Jesus lived a perfect life of obedience through faith, facing all the sufferings of humanity, being tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin, laid down His life as a sacrifice for sinners, and became for all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation. As God, Jesus is worthy of worship and loving and loyal obedience.

This gospel is the only way that God can forgive sinners while He remains just and the only way that He can redeem men without causing them to become idolaters by worshiping someone who is not God.

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