Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Three Facets of the Gospel: Kingdom, Cross, and Holy Spirit

I've posted here so infrequently that, each time I do, I feel like I need to write a new introductory post, explaining what I'm intending for this blog. I've been blogging a long time, but have lately had trouble fitting it into my routine. I'm pretty sure now though that I'll be able to post at least on a weekly basis. I'm going to shoot for Tuesday as the day for that weekly post, so let's consider this the first in that series.

 Now Tuesday posts are only the baseline, and I think now that I will be able to keep to that schedule, but perhaps from time to time I will be able to do more. Those baseline posts will consist of an ongoing discussion concerning the gospel as we find it in the New Testament. In other words, how does the New Testament use this term, gospel? What is the content of that term as it is used in, especially, the "Gospels" of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Above and beyond this baseline, I will occasionally be linking to similar content at other blogs and such. I don't get around the blogosphere as much as I used to, so that's going to be a hit or miss kind of thing.

 In the past few months I've read two books that have been a big help to me. Scot McKnight's The King Jesus Gospel, and N. T. Wright's How God Became King. I'm going to reread them now, beginning with the McKnight book, and I'll be blogging about what I find there. I think McKnight is right on about what the gospel actually is and is not. We have been prone to some misguided teaching on this matter. Many would readily suggest, in answer to the question, what is the gospel?, that it is all about Christ dying for our sins. In other words, they would equate the gospel with the doctrine of justification and leave it at that. I would say that's a mistake, and with McKnight I would say getting this matter right is very important to how we talk about Jesus with others.

I would say that the cross is only one facet of the gospel. Essential, not the whole matter.You cannot speak of the gospel as it is presented by the New Testament without speaking of the kingdom of God, first and foremost (as Jesus himself made clear). Second, you can't speak of the gospel without speaking also of, yes, the cross of Christ. As I say, essential. But thirdly, it seems to me, the gospel or good news in the New Testament has much to do with the Holy Spirit. The Book of Acts, especially, has much to say about that. 

So there you have it: Kingdom, Cross, and Holy Spirit. I'll call them facets of the New Testament gospel. This will be the theme of my future Tuesday posts.


Anonymous said...

Your three facets of the gospel do reveal themselves early in the Gospels. John the Baptist speaks of a coming kingdom and king who will baptize with the Spirit. When Jesus is baptized, the heavens open and the Spirit descends upon him, anointing him as the Christ (king) of the new kingdom of (from) heaven. Then the Spirit leads him into the stark wilderness where Satan will test the new king (the son who pleases his heavenly Father) with the pursuit of the prosperity and power of the kingdoms of earth. The poor king passes the test, and will please his Father through the lowly way of servanthood and suffering (ending in the cross). Then he begins to call disciples to follow him; they will be his kingdom; he will be their king. He teaches them that the "poor in the Spirit" will be blessed with the presence of the kingdom of (and from) heaven.

Robert Spencer said...

Nice summary. Indeed, these three themes run throughout the New Testament. But when we speak of the good news, we often equate that with the Cross-work of Jesus, his dying in our place, and leave it at that. I think it's pretty clear that the New Testament gospel is more than that.