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Gospel Definitions: Graeme Goldsworthy

“The gospel is the word about Jesus Christ and what he did for us in order to restore us to a right relationship with God.”

- Graeme Goldsworthy, According to Plan 

“The gospel is the event (or the proclamation of that event) of Jesus Christ that begins with his incarnation and earthly life, and concludes with his death, resurrection and ascension to the right hand of the Father. This historical event is interpreted by God as his preordained programme for the salvation of the world…

“It cannot be stressed too much that to confuse the gospel with certain important things that go hand in hand with it is to invite theological, hermeneutical and spiritual confusion. Such ingredients of preaching and teaching that we might want to link with the gospel would include the need for the gospel (sin and judgment), the means of receiving the benefits of the gospel (faith and repentance), the results or fruit of the gospel (regeneration, conversion, sanctification, glorification) and the results of rejecting it (wrath, judgment, hell). These, however we define and proclaim them, are not in themselves the gospel. If something is not what God did in and through the historical Jesus two thousand years ago, it is not the gospel. Thus Christians cannot ‘live the gospel,’ as they are often exhorted to do. They can only believe it, proclaim it and seek to live consistently with it. Only Jesus lived (and died) the gospel. It is a once-for-all finished and perfect event done for us by another.”

Graeme Goldsworthy, Gospel-Centered Hermeneutics: Foundations and Principles of Evangelical Biblical Interpretation (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006), 58-59.

“First, in order to understand the place of the gospel in biblical theology, tentative definitions of both gospel and biblical theology are called for. One way to define the gospel is in the terms Paul uses in Romans 1:1-4. Here he states four crucial things about the gospel.

“Verse 1. Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, First point: it is God’s gospel, which is probably self-evident. However, the epistle to the Romans implies that this gospel is God’s solution to his own problem of how to justify the ungodly. Verse 2. [The gospel] which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, Second point: it is the gospel of the Old Testament prophets and cannot be regarded as replacing or discarding the Old Testament antecedents to the coming of Jesus. It means that Jesus is the fulfilment of prophecy. This fact alone makes biblical theology necessary. Verse 3. [The gospel] concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh Third point: it concerns the Son of God whose lineage goes back to the theologically significant figure of David. We may infer from this that, though there can be no gospel without the Father or the Holy Spirit, its focus is on the incarnate Son. This Davidic lineage also points to the structure of biblical theology in redemptive covenant and kingdom history. Verse 4. and [he is the Son who] was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead.

“Fourth point: the defining moment is the resurrection which, of course, implies the death of Jesus which, in turn, implies the life of Jesus. The resurrection fulfils the promises concerning the rule of the son of David. The gospel, then, is God’s message of the person and work of Jesus, testified to by the Old Testament, and coming to its climax in the exaltation of Jesus.”

- Graeme Goldsworthy, from his lecture at Southern Seminary titled “The Necessity and Viability of Biblical Theology”

Categories: Gospel Definitions

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