The Essence of the Gospel

Succinct and comprehensive, from John Fonville:

God created man in a perfect place, with perfect relationships, both vertically and horizontally. He ruled His kingdom by His Word. By creation, Adam was the son of God (cf. Lk. 3:38) bearing His Father’s image (Gen. 1:26) and God was his Father. Man, then, was created to enjoy unbroken fellowship with God his Creator and Father.

Tragically, this intimate, familial relationship was destroyed by the Fall (Gen. 3). Rather than believing God’s Word, Adam believed the lies of satan, disobeyed and forfeited God’s blessings as Father for God’s cursings as Judge. As a consequence, Adam, along with Eve, was banished from the garden, where God’s presence and blessings resided.

No longer God’s obedient son, Adam was now a disobedient son (Eph. 2:2), a child of wrath (Eph. 2:3). He was a member of an alien family, estranged and cut off from his Father’s household. Now subject to death and corruption, Adam and all his posterity live as slaves in a new household with an abusive Father (Jn. 8:44). Adam’s desires were no longer bent toward submitting to His loving Father’s will, but rather toward his new murderous, lying father’s will (Jn. 8:44).

“That God the Father would desire and determine to redeem and adopt disobedient sons to Himself and welcome them into His household is the essence of the Gospel.”

And so, having been cut off from his Father by nature, God had every right to end history at this point. But, God is a gracious God (cf. Eph. 2:4, “But God…!”). Therefore, out of sheer grace, God promised to restore disobedient sons (cf. Gen. 3:15). Because God the Father is a promising God, He would one day adopt disobedient sons back to Himself, causing them to willingly and gladly submit once again to His rule and reign (cf., Ps. 36:7-9; Jer. 31:31-34; Ezek. 36:27).

Thus Paul writes these astounding words in Galatians 4:4-7:

    “4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”

That God the Father would desire and determine to redeem and adopt disobedient sons to Himself and welcome them into His household is the essence of the Gospel (cf. Burke, Adopted into God’s Family, p. 196). This is not only Pauline Christianity it is the essence of the Christian message.

Adoption is the remedy for man’s alienation and estrangement from God the Father. Because of Christ (cf., Gal. 1:4; 2:16, 20; 3:13-14), we are no longer slaves (Gal. 4:7), no longer disobedient sons (Eph. 2:2), no longer children of wrath (Eph. 2:3) but rather adopted sons, enjoying all the privileges and blessings as members of God the Father’s household!

Peter serves as a pastor-teacher, at home and abroad, resourcing gospel-centred communities.

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