Thursday, January 26, 2006

5 Observations Concerning the Promise of the Gospel

"For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day." (John 6:40)

The promise has implicit within it a proclamation of the sufficiency of Christ. I have discussed this before. How else could God ground this promise unless the foundation upon which we stand is sufficient for every sinner, even the worst? How could God make such a promise if Christ was only partly sufficient and something was additionally required of us or only some kinds of sinners would find Him to be enough to reconcile and justify them before God? The promise screams, "Christ is more than enough for every case, even yours." Christ saves. His merits are boundless, and His blood covers.

The promise has implicit within it a proclamation of the sufficient of Christ over and against all of our self-sufficiency. The promise tells us that Christ is sufficient, that the merit found in Him is abundant and saving, and that those who rest upon it are saved; therefore, it also implies that those who do not recumb upon Christ but continue to rest upon themselves and their own merits, have no salvation. No standing of righteousness exists outside of Christ. No self-sufficiency will ever stand before the just and Holy Judge.

The promise has implicit within it a proclamation of permission. There is an openness implicit within the promise, a welcoming. It draws the awakened conscience, by the Holy Spirit. This is not to be confused with a proclamation of ability. The promise does not proclaim that men are able to believe in Christ, but it does tell a sinner that he *may* come, though trembling, and rest fully upon Him. No sinner has any reason, given the promise, to think that he should be turned away.

The promise has implicit within it a definition of the nature of saving faith. The tense of the verb "believe" use many times indicates present-tense, continuous action. It is a faith that perseveres, it abides, comes to Christ, not just once like signing on the dotted line, but as a manner of existence. It is characterized by feeding upon the Bread of Life. This is not to say that faith always remains in the same strength or doesn't experience times of darkness where it seems the light has been all but extinguished, but it does mean that true faith, by God's grace, perseveres. This truth guards us against the errors of some who teach that believing is a singular act, a "decision" of sorts, and that according to that one act you are forever saved.

The promise has explicit within it a proclamation of definitive assurance, for we know that God cannot lie -else He would cease being God. It is not "some of those who believe in Christ shall be saved." It is "all of the ones believing." The flies in the face of systems, such as Roman Catholicism and even many shades of evangelicalism, which would have us believe that Christ is not enough -you can believe in Him, but if you do not also do... you will not be saved. Yet God makes no room for this nonsense. The apostle Paul reminds us of this in chapter 3 of his epistle to the Romans: "But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it-- the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction..." (Rom 3:21-22) Again, there exists that precious word "all". It is a small word, but it carries with it no small measure of good news to the poor and afflicted sinner. Righteousness is imputed to all who believe. Here lies the foundation of our hope: the promise of God, which itself bears witness to the sufficiency of Christ and heaps our weary souls upon Him.