Thursday, December 18, 2014

Advent Brought Us The Second Adam

It's hard to believe that Christmas is only one week away. By now you have already made plans for your family to get together on Christmas Day while the night before you might be able to attend a Christmas Eve service. Many churches since the beginning of the month has been spending time singing and preaching about the birth of Christ.

Many of these sermons are heartfelt reminders of why the Savior came but a lot of times they forget one important part of the Christmas story. The story of Christmas is not just about our Savior being born of a virgin or being born in a manager so a song about Jesus in the manager can be written centuries later.

Christmas is about the Second Adam coming to do what the first Adam could not do. Romans 5 refers to Christ being the Second Adam. The Apostle Paul reminds us that "just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come" (Romans 5:12-14).

The first Adam brought death into the world because of his disobedience to the Father by eating the forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden. Ever since that time, God has promised a Messiah to come to undo what the First Adam did. Paul continues, "But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:15-17).

Adam's disobedience brought condemnation. Jesus' perfect obedience brought justification for all who believe. Paul once again, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, says, "Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 5:18-21).

Advent is a reminder that God send us a Second Adam to be our representative to take our place for our sins and die in our place. Praise be to God for His grace and mercy towards us in Christ.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Best Book Lists from Other Bloggers

By now, many news agencies and websites have been releasing this best list of 2014. Many bloggers are doing the same thing with books. Since I am a book lover as well those who are bloggers as well, I thought I would take the time to share their lists for their favorite books of 2014:

Tim Challies

Aaron Armstrong

Kevin DeYoung

The Staff at The Gospel Coalition

Justin Buzzard

Tony Reinke

The Leadership of Servants of Grace

Brian G Hedges

In case you were wondering if I am making a best book list, rest assured. It's coming.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Update On Church Plant-December 16, 2014

As some of you are aware, in late October we started a Bible study based on Tim Keller's classic, The Prodigal God at Jason's Deli. We met on Monday evenings with an average of about 15 per week. We also had a mixture of ages with the youngest being 13 and the oldest being around 70.

We had lots of great discussions on the gospel as well as what we thought was true Christianity which what we were really saying was American Christianity. Our study ended by having a feast at All Saints Anglican Church which does not meet on Sunday evenings so they have graciously let us use their building. We talking about what we learned from the study which you can hear many tell they did not know how much the Father loved them till they did the study with us.

We addressed the need for community. Everyone in the group said they longed to be in Christ-centered community where they do the work of Christ and preach the whole council of God which is what I have been sensing since day one of our study. Everyone agreed that we need to do another study which I am happy to announce that we are in January. We are still discussing what we will address. We have thought about going through Romans or Galatians. We have even talked about teaching on the doctrine of Grace.

We do not have a set date yet to begin the new study but will announce it as soon as possible. We have also decided to meet once again at All Saints on Sunday evenings. Why there? One of the challenges while doing the study at Jason's Deli was child care. Even though we had one family open their home and we had two fully reliable teenagers watching kids, many could not attend the study. The church has facilities where we can use for child care. Basically the church has granted us access throughout the entire building with the exception of their worship center.

This is not our launch for the church plant. A few church planters I have talked with said one of the best things you can do is work slowly before launching. We are doing that. Our launch team started from two has grown to five. We are meeting weekly to discuss theology and vision for the church. We have a timeline that puts us to launch as a church (Lord willing) in the month of March.

We still have a lot of work ahead of us. Thank you for praying. I ask you continue to do as we seek to plant a church that honors Christ in a city that knows religion but not the gospel.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Music Monday: Live at Green Lux-Christmas Songs Vol. 6 by Folk Angel

I am sure you have had Christmas music playing since the day after Thanksgiving or, in my case, November 1st (Don't judge me). This time of year also means a new Christmas album from Folk Angel which is this week's "Music Monday" post.

Also check out Folk Angel's Christmas Songs Collection.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Around The Web-December 12, 2014

If John Piper Rapped by Matt Smethurst

Church As The True Local by Jonathan Parnell

How Not To Read The News by Daniel Darling

3 Ways to Battle Spiritual Depression by Dave Jenkins

Monday morning, our city has some thick fog. Visibility was horrible. You could not even see more than 2 feet in front of you. As far as I know, there were not accidents that morning. 3 hours south of us in Dallas, Tx, they had fog as if the Apocalypse was upon us. A remote control drone with a camera takes a look as downtown Dallas in the midst of the fogpocalypse as it is being called.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Last Chance to Get ESV Bibles for 50%

Westminster Bookstore recently made an annoucement regarding the pricing of their ESV Bibles. As of January 5, 2015, they will no longer be able to have every ESV Bible produced by Crossway for 50% off the retail price.

If you are still looking for a Bible for yourself or someone else, you might want to consider the staff's top 5:

The Gospel Transformation Bible

The ESV Reader's Bible

The ESV Study Bible

The Single-Column Journaling Bible

Personal Reference Bible

Here are some of my top picks for an ESV Bible:

The Verse-By-Verse Reference Bible

ESV Thinline

ESV Ultrathin

The MacArthur Study Bible

The Single-Column Heritage Bible

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Christmas Gifts Ideas for Church Leaders

It's hard to believe that Christmas is nearly two weeks away. I wonder how many of you have your Christmas shopping already done. If you are like me, not even close.

It's easy to shop for our kids and spouses most of the time, but what about church leaders. I am not talking just pastors but elders who are not on staff and even deacons. Don't forget Sunday School teachers/Small Group leaders who have sacrificed their time to serve the body of Christ. Sometimes we think a gift card is sufficient which is depending on your budget. If you are giving them a gift card, get one for a restaurant to take their families out to dinner.

Besides gift cards, are there any other gifts we can give to leaders in the church? Yes, there are many. This post is just to give you ideas on what to give leaders in your church for Christmas. If you have already done the gift card thing, great. I know they will love you for it especially if it is from a bookstore.

For the pastor and teachers in your church, if you want to give them a new Bible to use for teaching/preaching, I recommend The ESV Verse-by-Verse Reference Bible. I use this Bible a lot in my teaching of the Word of God. The verses are listed one-by-one with reference notes on the side. The verses are also in a single-column format.

Another suggestion of pastors and teachers are books. Most pastors I know will never turn down a book especially a free one. You are probably thinking how can you pull this one off without going into your pastor's office and look on his bookshelf to see what books he already. That is tricky and I don't recommend asking the pastor's wife or children. That will start some unwanted rumors.

What books should get for my pastor/teacher? Good question. Let me give you a few ideas from books I have read this past year, which one of them I am still going through and another I have not started.

1. The Godly Man's Picture by Thomas Watson. If you want to challenge a church leader in being a godly man, this would be it. I have been on this book for sometime and it rocked my world.

2. Proof by Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones. This book reintroduces the doctrines of grace in a fresh and practical way.

3. To Live is Christ To Die is Gain by Matt Chandler. Before I left Emmanuel Baptist where I was youth pastor, I took our teenagers through Chandler's study on the book of Philippians. This book is based on that study.

4. The Gospel by Ray Ortlund. This is one of my favorite books from 2014 and one of my favorites on the gospel. Plus is by Ray Ortlund. He also has a great book on Romans 8 that I highly recommend.

5. Prayer by Tim Keller. This is one I have not started yet, but its Tim Keller. He has written a lot of great books that Christians love and even do small group studies in.

What about something else besides books? There is always a basket of goodies with candy and coffee, if your church leader is a coffee drinker. Maybe a new picture to hang in the office. When all else fails, then go for the gift card. Here is one gift card idea. Get one for a restaurant and another one for a movie theatre plus offer to watch the kids. May not be much, but I am sure your church leader will appreciate it.

Hope I was a little helpful. If you tried something I suggested, let me know. If you had something else in mind, feel free to write in the comments. Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Who Was St. Nicholas?

Have you ever caught yourself saying to your kids when they ask you do you believe in Santa Claus, "Yes, I believe St. Nicholas was a real person?" For some you, you have not idea who St. Nicholas is other than one of Santa's nicknames. You might even be thinking he is one of the Saints the Catholics pray to.

St. Nicholas was indeed a real person who the legend of Santa Claus was based on. Sure many things about him are not very realistic such as living in the North Pole, have reindeer who can fly, and resembles Tim Allen. Kevin DeYoung recently wrote a biographical post on St. Nicholas:

The unsatisfying answer to the title of this post is that nobody knows for sure. To quote one Nicholas scholar “We can grant a bishop of that name who had a great impact on his homeland. We can also accept December 6 as the day of his death and burial. These are all the facts we can hold to. Further we cannot go.” (Gustav Anrich quoted by Charles W. Jones in Saint Nicholas of Bari, Myra, and Manhattan).

According to the best estimates, Nicholas, was born around 280 AD in Patara, in Asia Minor. He later became bishop of Myra in modern day Turkey. Nicholas, it seems, died about 343 on or near December 6. That is the date of his Feast Day in the Catholic church.

There is no record of his existence attested in any document until the 6th century. By that time Nicholas, whoever he had been, was already famous. The emperor Justinian dedicated a church to him in Constantinople. Initially, Nicholas was most well known in the East. But by 900, a Greek wrote “The West as well as the East acclaims and glorifies him. Wherever there are people, his name is revered and churches are built in his honor. All Christians reverence his memory and call upon his protection.” In 1087, Italian sailors stole his supposed relics and took them from Myra to Bari, Italy. This greatly increased his popularity in Europe and made Bari one of the most crowded pilgrimage sites. It is said that Nicholas was represented by medieval artists more than any other saint except Mary.

The Man and the Myth

Why was Nicholas so famous? Well, it’s impossible to tell fact from fiction, but this is some of the legend of St. Nicholas:

He was reputed to be a wonder-worker who brought children back to life, destroyed pagan temples, saved sailors from death at sea, and as an infant nursed only two days a week and fasted the other five days.

Moving from probable legend to possible history, Nicholas was honored for enduring persecution. It is said that he was imprisoned during the Empire wide persecution under Diocletian and Maximian. Upon his release and return, the people flocked around him “Nicholas! Confessor! Saint Nicholas has come home!”

Nicholas was also hailed as a defender of orthodoxy. Later sources claim he was in attendance at the council of Nicea. According to tradition, he was a staunch opponent of Arianism. Writing five centuries after his death, one biographer wrote “Thanks to the teaching of St. Nicholas, the metropolis of Myra alone was untouched by the filth of the Arian heresy, which it firmly rejected as a death-dealing poison.” Stories of his courage abound, one claiming that Nicholas traveled to Nicea and, upon arrival, promptly slapped Arius in the face. As the story goes, the rest of the council was shocked and appalled, so much so that they were going to remove Nicholas from his bishopric, that is until Jesus and Mary appeared to defend him. According to the same legend, this apparition changed the minds of the delegates who quickly recanted of their outrage.

As you might have guessed, Nicholas was also revered for being a generous gift giver. Born into a wealth family, he inherited the fortune when his parents died. Apparently he gave his vast fortune away. The most famous story involved three girls who were so destitute that they were going to be forced into a life of prostitution. But Nicholas threw three bags of gold through the window as dowries for the young woman.

Over time, Saint Nicholas became the patron saint of nations like Russia and Greece, cities like Fribourg and Moscow, and of children, sailors, unmarried girls, merchants, and pawnbrokers (the three gold balls hung outside pawn shops are symbolic of the three bags of gold).

Christmas and St. Nicholas

In honor of St. Nicholas the gift giver, Christians began to celebrate December 6 (his feast day) by giving presents. The tradition developed over time. For good boys and girls, St. Nicholas would come in his red Bishop’s robe and fill boots with gifts on the night of December 5. For bad boys and girls St. Nicholas was to be feared. In highly catholic parts of Europe, St. Nicholas became a deterrent to erring young children. In Germany, he was often accompanied by Knecht Ruprecht (farmhand Rupert) who threatened to eat misbehaving children. In Switzerland, St. Nicholas threatened to put wicked children in a sack and bring them back to the Black Forest. In the Netherlands, St. Nicholas’ helper would tie them in a sack and bring them back to Spain. In parts of Austria, the priest, dressed up in Christmas garb, would visit the homes of naughty children and threaten them with rod-beatings. At least nowadays, he only checks his list!

Not surprisingly, the Reformers were less than friendly towards the traditions that had been built up around the saints. Luther rejected the saints’ days, believing they were built upon legends and superstitions (and a virulent strain of moralism we might add). In Germany, Luther replaced Saint Nicholas’ Day with a different holiday, Christ Child, or Christkindl. Ironically, Kriss Kringle which derived from Luther’s Christ Child holiday, has become just another name for St. Nicholas.

From St. Nicholas to Santa Claus

The cult of St. Nicholas virtually disappeared in Protestant Europe, with the exception of one country: the Netherlands. If you love Christmas with all the trappings of Santa Claus and stockings and presents, thank the Dutch. If you despise all that, try to ignore my last name for the time being. The Puritans had done away with St. Nicholas and banned Christmas altogether. But the Dutch held on to their tradition and brought it with them to the New World. In the Netherlands Sint Nicolaas was contracted to Sinterklaas. According to Dutch tradition, Sinterklaas rides a horse and is accompanied by his helper Zwarte Piet, or Black Pete. Many people consider Black Pete a racist stereotype derived from slavery, although others claim he is black because he goes down the chimney and gets a face full of soot.

At any rate, it is easy to see how Sinterklaas evolved in America to Santa Claus. Santa Claus became the Santa we know in the United States only after the poem “Twas the Night Before Christmas” was written in 1823. Possibly the best known verses ever written by an American, the poem has greatly influenced the tradition of Santa in the English speaking world and beyond.

Jolly Old St. Nick and Jesus

How should Christians relate to the traditions of Santa Claus? C.S. Lewis embraced them and so included Father Christmas in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Other Christians, fearing syncretism, stay clear of Santa, reindeer, and a tree full of presents. I’ll leave it to you and your family to form you opinions on observing the Christmas holiday (see Rom. 14:1, 5-6). Personally, we try to walk in the middle of the road on this one: we don’t teach our kids about Santa, but we are happy to enjoy It’s a Wonderful Life, a couple Christmas trees, and a little Bing Crosby. And if the kids, picking up bits and pieces from other places, end up listening for flying reindeer landing on the roof, we’re not going to introduce the laws of physics to crush their anticipation. Most of all, of course, we try to press home that Christmas is about Christ.

But if you have a lot of Santa Claus around, why not use him to your benefit and talk about the real St. Nicholas. We don’t know a lot about him, but we know he lived and was revered. According to legend-one of those stories that probably isn’t true, but should be–when Nicholas was little boy he would get up early in the morning to go to church and pray. One morning, the aging priest had a vision that the first one to enter the church in the morning should be the new bishop of Myra. When Nicholas was the first to enter, the old priest, obeying the vision, made the young boy bishop right on the spot. But before he consecrated Nicholas a bishop, the priest asked him a question. “Who are you, my son?” According to tradition, the child whose legend would one day become Santa Claus replied, “Nicholas the sinner.” Not bad for a little boy.

With what little we know about St. Nicholas, it is safe to say he would not be pleased to know he had eclipsed Christ in the hearts of many as the central figure of Christmas. For the Bishop of Myra no doubt knew the angel’s words to Joseph: “Mary will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” So this Christmas, give gifts if you like. We will in our family. Receive them all with thanksgiving. But do not forget what we need most–salvation through substitution. This is one gift the real St. Nicholas would not have overlooked.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Music Monday: O Holy...Nightmare?

By now you have heard the classic Christmas song, "O Holy Night" sung in every music genre. I am not sure there is a rap version but I would not be surprised. How about one that is sung off key? Yes, off key. I am not sure who sings this video but it is just awful. It is so awful that Reliant K has done a little animation to this "singer" singing a classic song. The singing is so bad that all of nature...well watch the video to see and you will understand why this is a holy nightmare.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Book Review: hand in HAND by Randy Alcorn

God's sovereignty and human choice are two truths taught in the Bible yet can be complicated. We have two groups of Christians who have debated about this for years. You have the Calvinists who believe that God is sovereign especially in the choicing of those who are saved. We have the Arminians who believe God is sovereign but man has the choice to accept God or not based on their free will.

Most books on this issue is usually written by one side or the other giving a defense for their beliefs. Usually the author is highly respected theologian on one side of the fense. I am happy to review this book by Randy Alcorn because he is an apologist who is respected by both Calvinists and Arminians. hand in HAND is a book that addresses the issue of God's sovereignty and the man's free will to choose in a way that those who are not familiar with the struggle this doctrine has brought to many Christians for years.

Alcorn does what he does best and that is giving the introductions to Calvinism and Arminism in a user-friendly style. He talks about the difference both sides have on doctrines of the Christian faith such as Predestination, Grace, and for whom Christ died for. Alcorn also gives different views besides Calvinists and Arminians on the sovereignty of God such as Libertarianism and Hyper-Calvinism.

The rest of the book deals with how God's sovereignty and human choice play hand in hand, hence the title of the book. Alcorn also addresses Open Theism and how it is contrary to God's sovereignty which is something Christians need to know. He also addresses God's sovereignty in working all things together for good.

I am really grateful that Alcorn addresses that Christians must always go to the Bible for what they believe. While it is important to study theological systems, they are not breathed out by God. The Bible is breathed out by God. We can quote our favorite theologians till we are blue in the face but if we miss out on what the Bible teaches, then we are people who no longer depend on God's word as the final authority.

This book was a breath of freah air because Alcorn presented his writings in a way that anyone can read on the issue of God's sovereignty. This is a must read for every Christian regardless if you are a Calvinist or Arminian. There is a discussion guide in the back of the book which will be great for small group or one-on-one discipleship.

Thanks Waterbrook Multnomah for letting mew review this book.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Around The Web-December 5, 2014 (Movie Trailer Edition)

Okay, I will admit it, I love movies. I love a good action, comedy, and Sci-Fi flick as much as the next nerd. The movie industry has given us movies to either be struck with awe or drool in our bowl of popcorn. This edition of "Around The Web" is dedicated to a few trailers to movies (some I have already shared on social media) that will be released within the next year that I am looking forward to.

Terminator: Genisys

Tak3n (Taken 3)

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Jurassic World

Finally, the trailer that almost everyone is buzzing about for the last couple of weeks, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Are You Still Thankful?

Last week, our country celebrate Thanksgiving where we take time to reflect on what we are truly thankful for. For some it is good health while for others it could be just to have time with family. With the holiday already a week behind us and starting the Christmas season, one question comes to mind, are we still thankful?

When was the last time you truly thanked God for the blessings He has given you and I am talking just material. I am talking mercy, grace, and the freedom we have in Christ. Are you still thankful for His goodness even after one week when you did not have to worry about what is going on in your life? In the English Standard Version of the Bible, there is about 96 references to giving God thanks, most in the Old Testament.

The Apostle Paul even told us to "give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thessalonians 5:18). No matter what we are going through, we should give God all the praise and thanks because it is a chance for us to grow. Remember what James said, "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" (James 1:2-4).

Now that the Christmas season is here and things are crazy with kids Christmas performance, office parties, and family gatherings, are we still thankful? After this weekend, when you came back to reality, are you still thankful?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Favorite Blogs, Podcasts, and Websites - Part 2

I recently shared a couple of my favorite podcasts that I listen to. This week, I am going to share a few blogs that I visit and hopefully you will do the same. Disclaimer: I read quite a few blogs, so if yours is not on here, don't sweat. I will be posting a few more in the weeks to come (Lord Willing).

The first one that I want to point out is Servants of Grace. My friend, Dave Jenkins, along with a few other writers address theological issues as well as book reviews. What blogger does not like book reviews? Here is a list of contributors to Servants of Grace.

Next we have the blog from Desiring God which is based on the ministry of John Piper. Nuff Said.

The Gospel-Driven Church by Jared C Wilson is next. Jared writes on theology, quotes from books, and talks about upcoming ministry events he is involved in. If you want a good laugh, I recommend you follow him on Twitter as he does live tweets on NFL games he is watching especially if it is with the New England Patriots.

Kevin DeYoung is the writer of DeYoung, Restless, and Reformed. DeYoung addresses current events in the light of Biblical theology. Every Monday he adds a little humor to mix showing while most of his blog is serious, it is okay to have a little fun.

J.A. Medders is the Lead Pastor to Redeemer Church in Tomball, Tx. J.A. writes on church planting and theology.

That is all I will list for today. There are plenty more blogs to be listed. Enjoy these as you wait for the next ones.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

What is Advent?

I was first exposed to Advent during my college days. A family in the church would light a candle leading up to Christmas Day. The only explanation I was given about Advent is that is celebrated the return of Christ. My first thought was, why celebrate His first coming when we should be ready for His Second Coming? After moving to North Texas, I have never been part of a church that celebrated Advent.

For many, Advent seems strange because they don't understand it. Noel Piper, wife of John Piper, has written an explanation on what Advent truly is:

We are a people of promise. For centuries, God prepared people for the coming of his Son, our only hope for life. At Christmas we celebrate the fulfillment of the promises God made—that he would give a way to draw near to him.

Advent is what we call the season leading up to Christmas. It begins four Sundays before December 25, sometimes in the last weekend of November, sometimes on the first Sunday in December. This year it was November 29.

1 Peter 1:10-12 is a clear description of what we look back to during Advent.

Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. (1 Peter 1:10-12)

For four weeks, it’s as if we’re re-enacting, remembering the thousands of years God’s people were anticipating and longing for the coming of God’s salvation, for Jesus. That’s what advent means—coming. Even God’s men who foretold the grace that was to come didn’t know “what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating." They were waiting, but they didn’t know what God’s salvation would look like.

In fact, God revealed to them that they were not the ones who would see the sufferings and glory of God’s Christ:

They were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven.

They were serving us. We Christians on this side of Jesus’ birth are a God-blessed, happy people because we know God’s plan. The ancient waiting is over. We have the greatest reason to celebrate.

The Advent of Christ

This is a devotional written by R.C. Sproul from Ligonier's website:

“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh” (vv. 1–3).
- Romans 1:1–7

If we were to list the biblical texts that are most frequently read and preached on during the Christmas season, we would not likely include today’s passage. After all, it contains no story of the birth of Christ or details about His mother, Mary, or His adoptive father, Joseph. Still, Romans 1:1–7 includes key information about our Lord’s first advent, information that helps us remember His significance in the plan of God.

First, the Apostle Paul refers to “the gospel of God … concerning his Son” (vv. 1–3). The phrase gospel of God does not mean the “gospel about God,” although the good news indeed tells us something about our Creator, especially regarding His love and mercy for His people. Instead, the phrase is possessive. We could reword the phrase as “God’s gospel.” In other words, God owns the gospel. It is His good news, not a message that was invented by human beings. The story of our Lord’s entrance into this world is not a manmade fable but the truth of God revealed by His Spirit (2 Peter 1:16).

Second, God promised this gospel “beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures” (Rom. 1:2). While the work of Christ represented a new act of God in an important sense, we cannot regard His ministry as something entirely new in the sense of something entirely unexpected. Actually, the Lord prepared His people for millennia before the coming of the Messiah via the ministries of the Old Testament prophets.

To find the first prediction of the Messiah, we must go all the way back to the beginning of human history, to the curse of God upon the Serpent shortly after Adam and Eve fell from grace. Genesis 3:15 features the intriguing and cryptic promise that the Serpent will bruise the heel of the seed of the woman while the seed of the woman will bruise the head of the Serpent. This is often called the protoevangel—“first gospel”—because it contains the heart of the gospel promise that is unfolded throughout the rest of redemptive history. The first gospel tells us that the war between the Serpent and humanity will not last forever, that the “seed” of the woman and representative of God’s people must destroy sin and Satan. But the seed of the woman will not escape unharmed, for He will suffer in the process of defeating the Enemy. This prophecy is fulfilled in Christ, who had to die in order to defeat the Devil, and who rose again from the dead to prove His triumph and secure our justification (Rom. 1:4; Col. 2:13–15).

Coram Deo

Today, we expect the second advent of Christ to judge the living and the dead (Acts 1:11; 2 Tim. 4:1). Sometimes we are tempted to be discouraged, to doubt that He is coming back, because it has been almost two thousand years since His ascension. But the people of God had to wait millennia for His first advent, and their faith was vindicated when He was born in Bethlehem. Our faith will be vindicated as well when our Savior comes in glory.

Passages for Further Study

Isaiah 16:3–5
Jeremiah 33:17
Luke 24:13–35
Hebrews 11