The Message of the Bible in 240 Words…

…from of First Importance

The message of the Bible in 240 words

God is the sovereign, transcendent and personal God who has made the universe, including us, his image-bearers. Our misery lies in our rebellion, our alienation from God, which, despite his forbearance, attracts his implacable wrath.

But God, precisely because love is of the very essence of his character, takes the initiative and prepared for the coming of his own Son by raising up a people who, by covenantal stipulations, temple worship, systems of sacrifice and of priesthood, by kings and by prophets, are taught something of what God is planning and what he expects.

In the fullness of time his Son comes and takes on human nature. He comes not, in the first instance, to judge but to save: he dies the death of his people, rises from the grave and, in returning to his heavenly Father, bequeaths the Holy Spirit as the down payment and guarantee of the ultimate gift he has secured for them—an eternity of bliss in the presence of God himself, in a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

The only alternative is to be shut out from the presence of this God forever, in the torments of hell. What men and women must do, before it is too late, is repent and trust Christ; the alternative is to disobey the gospel (Romans 10:16;2 Thessalonians 1:81 Peter 4:17).

— D. A. Carson
“The Biblical Gospel” in For Such a Time as This: Perspectives on Evangelicalism, Past, Present and Future, ed. Steve Brady and Harold Rowdon
(London: Evangelical Alliance, 1986), 80

First importance | Always Abounding

Today in the chrono read we got to one of my all time favorite chapters of the Bible which has become one of my central life themes:

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day, in accordance with the Scriptures…

I love this. So does Paul – he says it should be of “first importance” = the number one thing in your life and ministry at all times. The person and work of Jesus Christ – his perfect life of obedience, the cross, his resurrection – all the gospel – should be of primary importance in our lives. It is so easy to get distracted into other secondary issues. Isn’t it?

There is determination that Paul demonstrates too.

v10 – “but by the grace of God I am what I am…I worked harder than any of them…though it was not I but the grace of God within me”
This is the concept of “grace driven effort” that I’ve talked about before, DA Carson, and Matt Chandler have too. We are responsible to work as hard as we possibly can in our pursuit of Godliness, but all the while realizing it’s only by the grace of God that we can work, and he produces fruit in us.

v58 closes the chapter with some great challenges:

  • Therefore (because of the Gospel which is of first importance and everything that is promised as a result)
  • be steadfast (see Col 1:21-23: stable and steadfast)
  • immovable (the orig word here can also be defined as f ‘firmly persistent’)
  • always abounding (not ‘sometimes doing some things’ but ALWAYS ABOUNDING)
  • in the work of the Lord
  • knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (he will reward us for our work done here in Heaven with him, our sins are judged on the cross and paid for if we are in him, but our works will be judged by him.  So, are we ‘always abounding?’)

M