The Promised Gospel (Rom. 1:2-4)

Artistic Representation of King David

In the ancient world, there was a standard way people began letters: they announced who was writing, then who they were writing to, and then attached a greeting.  You see that here in Paul’s letter to the Romans.  He begins by announcing who he is (1:1-6), then says who he is writing to and adds a blessing (7).  So these verses that we are looking at this morning are very much a part of the introduction to the letter.  However, they are not unimportant.  Paul’s introduction is doing what a good introduction is meant to do; he is giving the readers a reason why they should read on.  And in doing that, he is highlighting some very important features of the message he is going to be giving them.

That message of Paul and the message of the church is the gospel, the gospel of God.  He will be unpacking the gospel in a very systematic way in the coming chapters, but the fact that he pauses here to tell us something about the gospel is meant to help us see why what he is going to be writing is so important and why we should apay attention to it.  What does he say?

You will see that he says basically one thing in verses 2-4: he tells us that the gospel of God is a promised gospel.  You see that in verse 2.  What is the gospel of God?  It is that “which he [God] had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures.”  And then what follows in verses 3-4 is an unpacking of what or who was promised.  But this is the main idea: the gospel is a promised gospel.

Now that makes me ask the following question: why does Paul focus on this aspect of the gospel?  Why did he think that this was so important that it merited a place at the very beginning of the letter and where he is trying to get buy-in for what he is going to write?  What’s so important about this, and then why should we care?

The fact that Paul thought this was important is not only signaled by the fact that he puts this on the front burner, in the introduction.  He actually refers to the fulfillment of God’s promises multiple times throughout this letter.  For example, as he begins to unpack the gospel in terms of the righteousness of God through faith, he says, “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference” (3:21-22).  Do you see what he is saying there?  He is saying that the gospel which tells us how we can become righteous before God is “witnessed by the law and the prophets;” that is to say, it is something foretold and promised by the OT.  He does this sort of thing throughout the letter, but before moving on I want to point out that he ends the epistle on this note.  In the final doxology, Paul writes of “my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ,” which he goes on to say is “according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith” (16:25-26).  Once again you have Paul saying that the gospel is the revelation of something witnessed to, foretold in, promised by “the scriptures of the prophets.”  The question we need to understand is why was this so important to Paul and should it be important to us?

So to answer that question, I want to ask three questions of these three verses, and they all have to do with the fact that the gospel is a promised gospel.  We need to understand these promises.  So first, we want to ask, where are the promises found?  Next, what are the promises saying?  And finally, why are the promises so important?

Where the promises are found

The apostle Paul makes it very clear where they are found, because this gospel, he says, was “promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures” (2).  Now by “his prophets,” Paul is not just referring to what we think of as the major and minor OT prophets, like Jeremiah and Isaiah.  They are of course included, but my point is that they are not the only ones.  In fact, I believe that Paul is referring to the entire OT canon of Scripture by “his prophets.”  So, for example, the apostles also thought of King David as a prophet and the psalms as prophetic literature.  Peter does this in his sermon on Pentecost in Acts 2.  He quotes from Psalm 16 and applies it to Jesus arguing that David spoke those words as a prophet (Acts 2:30).  In the next chapter the apostle Peter talks about how God has spoken by his prophets since the world began and then puts Moses in that number (3:21-22).  So all the OT is prophetic literature.  All the authors of the OT, from Genesis to Malachi, wrote prophetically. 

But then notice that he says specifically that they are “in the holy scriptures.”  What are these?  Sometimes you will hear people make an argument that in Paul’s day there was little agreement on the boundaries of what composed the Holy Scriptures for the Jews.  But that’s not actually what you see in Paul himself or in the NT as a whole.  There is certainly no fuzziness here.  When Paul refers to the Holy Scriptures, he expects his readers to understand what he means.  This implies, it seems to me, a definite body of literature, with definite boundaries.  The question is, of course, how do we know it is the OT in our modern Bibles?  

The answer to that question is to look to our Lord.  In Luke 24:44, our Lord is teaching his apostles, that “all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.”  Notice that tripartite division of the OT: it is the same recognized by orthodox Jews down to the present day: the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings (of which the Psalms was the largest book in the Writings and therefore was a part standing for the whole).  When you compare this division to the way the first century Jewish historian Josephus categorizes the canon of OT Scripture in his day, it is the same list of books that we have (though organized, granted, in a slightly different way).

And notice, by the way, that our Lord says there what Paul says here: that all the OT was prophesying about him.

These Scriptures are Holy Scriptures.  Not “holy” in a loosey-goosey sort of way, like liberal scholars like to think of the Bible, so that when you add in all their qualifications you’re just left with a bunch of holes and no holiness.  Our Lord said that not even a word, not even a syllable, of the Scriptures could be broken (Jn. 10:34-35).  God is speaking in Scripture, even when the text doesn’t explicitly say, “Thus saith the LORD” (see for example, Mt. 19:6).  The Bible is our burning bush.  Of course, what God says is true: as Paul will say in chapter 3, “Let God be true but every man a liar” (Rom. 3:4).  In other words, the Scriptures are Holy Scriptures because they are God’s Scriptures, recording the writings of God’s prophets who prophesied about God’s gospel concerning God’s Son.  As such, they are divinely inspired (the words of Scripture have God as their ultimate author), wholly infallible (the words of Scripture cannot fail of their purpose), and completely inerrant (the words of Scripture contain no errors or mistakes).

Don’t miss the fact that they are Scriptures.  The Greek word there is “writings.”  These are holy writings.  God’s word about his plan for the salvation of his people are preserved for us in these writings.  We don’t have to mine the depths of the earth or look into the farthest reaches of space to find God’s words to us.  They are right here, in the books of the Bible.  We noted last time that Paul is an apostle of Jesus Christ, and as such he also spoke the words of God.  In fact, the apostle Peter puts his writings in the category of Scripture when he says, “our beloved brother Paul . . . according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction” (2 Pet. 3:15-16).  So for us, the holy Scriptures are not just the OT but the NT as well.

I think all this is important for this reason: sometimes you will hear people talk about the hiddenness of God. Now I don’t want to downplay the very real difficulty of wrestling with some painful problem, and it seems like God is far from you. In fact, in the Bible itself, we have testimony to this reality, as when David writes, “But be not thou far from me, O Lord: O my strength, haste thee to help me” (Ps. 22:19).  He was saying that, I think, because it did feel like God was far from him.  In fact, that Psalm begins with the cry, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (1).  It felt like that.  And we can feel like that.  We can feel like our prayers aren’t going anywhere.  God can feel hidden.

But my friend, don’t miss the fact that while it may seem like God isn’t near because it doesn’t seem like God isn’t saying anything to us, the fact of the matter is that he is speaking to us in the words of Scripture.  As Paul will say later about the gospel, “But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach” (Rom. 10:6-8).  In other words, God is not hidden at all. He has revealed himself to us plainly and he presents himself and his mind and plans and thoughts in the pages of his word.  And these words are sufficient for us, as Paul explains, enough to make the man of God mature, thoroughly furnished for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17).  

So you see, the problem is not that God is hidden.  The problem is that sometimes we don’t like the way he revealed himself.  But that’s not God’s fault; that’s our fault.  We may say, like Casey at the bat, “That’s not my style,” but a strike is a strike, whether we like it or not.  God’s truth is God’s truth whether we like the way it was delivered or not.  In the story of the rich man and Lazarus, our Lord says that when the rich man in hell asked Abraham to send Lazarus back from the dead to warn his brothers to repent of their sins, this is what Abraham said: “And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead” (Lk. 16:31).  In other words, such is the real power and clarity of God’s word in the Scriptures, that if God’s word won’t persuade you, you won’t be persuaded even by a dead man rising from the dead.  If we reject God’s word, the problem is not in the Scriptures; the problem is in us and our sinful rebellion against God.

My friend, don’t despise God’s word in the Scriptures.  Don’t go looking for revelation elsewhere.  God has spoken; he has made promises, and these words and these promises are written and preserved for us in the pages of the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments.  Ask the Lord to open your eyes to its truth.  Ask him to soften your heart to its realities.  What a precious and infinitely valuable thing the Holy Scriptures are, for they are God’s good and true word to us.

What the promises are saying

The promises are “concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord” (3).  The gospel is about Jesus Christ, who is our Lord, who is God’s Son.  It’s important that we remember this.  The gospel is not a new law.  It is not first and foremost an announcement of something we must do.  It is first and foremost and announcement of the person of Christ and what he came to do.

This means that the proper response to the gospel is faith in Christ.  It’s not confidence in ourselves.  It’s not feeling good about ourselves.  It is looking to and putting our confidence in Christ.  He is the good news.  He is the one God sent to save us from our sins (Mt. 1:21).  He is the one who can give us new life.  He is the one who by his death inaugurates a new covenant that gives sinners new hearts and the forgiveness of sins, who brings us back into a saving relationship with God. 

But of course then the question is, as our Lord himself put it to the people in his day, “What do you think of Christ?  Whose Son is he?” (Mt. 22:42).  This is not an unnecessary question to ask because there are so many ideas about the person of Christ.  Some still say he is just a prophet.  Some say he is a created being, albeit a powerful one.  Some say he’s an angel.  Some say he was a martyr, an example, a great teacher.  Or some say he was a lunatic and a liar.  What does Paul tell us about Jesus Christ?

God’s Son

Paul says that the one the gospel is about is first and foremost God’s Son.  What does he mean by that?  Does he mean that Jesus Christ was adopted by God just like any other child of God?  Or is Christ God’s son the way Adam was (see Luke 3:38)?  In other words, is he God’s son either through creation or salvation?

The answer to all these questions is no.  For Jesus is God’s eternal Son, and he is God’s Son in a way that is qualitatively different from being a child of God either through creation or salvation.  Even the enemies of Jesus understood the implications of this claim.  In John 10, our Lord makes this remarkable statement: “I and my Father are one” (10:30).  The response of his enemies was to take “up stones again to stone him” (31). Then comes this interchange: “Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?  The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God” (32-33).

Notice that the Lord never rebuts their conclusion: the conclusion that Jesus being God’s Son (see also verse 36) means that he is making himself God.  This is not a derivative sonship.  This is not something which puts Jesus on a level lower than the Father in terms of deity.  To be God’s Son in the sense of which Jesus understands himself to be is a claim to deity.  It is a claim to be God.

Paul himself glories in the fact that believers are sons and daughters of God, because God has adopted us into his family (Rom. 8:14-18).  However, he does not put Jesus in the same category.  He is God’s “own Son” whom he sent into the world.  I think it’s important for us to hear that.  Listen to Paul’s words in Romans 8:3, “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.”  Jesus is uniquely God’s Son – this is the reason he is called “the only begotten Son” in John’s gospel (cf. 1:14,18; 3:16).  And God sent his Son; he didn’t send him to be the Son or to become the Son.  He sent him who was the Son.  The Son as such came into the world.  He is the Son of God, co-equal and co-eternal with the Father.

Also the fact the Jesus is called Lord in this context is also proof of his divinity.  Lord is the name in the Greek OT for the name of God.  For example, Paul writes of Jesus, “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:9-11).  But this is a quote from Isa. 45:23: “I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.”  This is God speaking, the Lord of hosts, and Paul consciously is applying that to the Lord Jesus.  He is God, the Lord Jehovah.

You might put it this way: because he is God’s Son, he is our Lord.  

Now why is this important?  This is important because to reject Christ is to reject the one who is your Lord.  That’s not okay.  We’re talking about the one who is your King and to whom you owe allegiance.  But it’s also important for this reason: you cannot hang the weight of the salvation of sinful men and women around the neck of another merely human being.  It should make sense to us that it would take a Divine person to bear the punishment due to the sins of men.  No man can fully pay for their own sins, let alone the sins of another, else hell would eventually be emptied.  But that is not the case, according to the Bible.  We cannot pay the debt of our own sins; God must intervene, and the good news of the gospel is that in Christ God did.

David’s Son

But that is not all.  He is not only God’s Son, but also David’s son: “which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh” (3).  He who was truly God as God’s Son was also truly man as David’s son.  As the hymn puts it:

'Tis the long-expected Prophet,
David's Son, yet David's Lord;
by His Son God now has spoken;
'tis the true and faithful Word.

We need God to rescue us from our sins.  As the OT refrain puts it again and again, salvation is from the Lord.  And yet we need someone like us to take our place at the bar of God’s judgment and stand in for us.  In other words, since only a man could take the place of man and only God could take the judgment of God, we need a God-Man to redeem us from the penalty of our sins.  And that’s what Paul is saying here, as John also put it, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (Jn. 1:14).  Jesus Christ is God’s Son and so he is truly divine; he is also David’s son and so he is fully human.  And therefore he is able to save us from our sins.

But why David?  Why David’s son?  The reason is because God made a promise to David.  He promised him that one of his sons would be the Redeemer-King who would save Israel.  The promise is recorded for us in 2 Samuel 7: “And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established forever” (16).  The prophets take this up and expand upon it.  Isaiah, for example, puts it this way: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this” (Isa. 9:6-7).  The prophets who give us God’s promises foretold of the seed of David that he would bring about salvation and the kingdom of God.  Paul is saying that Jesus is that son of David; he is the fulfillment of all the Messianic prophecies of the OT.

I like to put it this way.  After Adam and Eve rebelled against God, God could have destroyed them but instead he gave them a promise.  It is what theologians call the proto-Evangelium, and it was a promise that the seed of the woman could crush the head of the serpent (Gen. 3:15).  In other words, a son of Eve, a member of the human race, would undo the evil brought into the world by the sin of Adam.  

Then in Genesis 12 and following, we read of another promise.  It is the promise to Abraham, that in his seed all the nations of the earth would be blessed (Gen. 12:3).  In other words, a son of Abraham, a member of the tribes of Israel, would undo the evil brought into the world by the sin of Adam (and our sins) and would crush the head of the serpent.

But then in 2 Sam. 7, as we have seen, and in the prophets who followed, we see that the promise was narrowed even further.  The promise has narrowed from a son of Eve to a son of Abraham to a son of David.  He would be the one who would crush the head of the serpent.  Who is the Messiah?  Who will save us from our sins?  It is a son of David, a son of Abraham.  Which is why the NT opens with these words: “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Mt. 1:1).

The Son of God in Power

However, this is not all that the OT promised.  Yes, it promised a King who would reign.  And yet at the same time it promised that the servant of the Lord would suffer and die an atoning death, as we read in Isaiah 53.  How do you put those two things together?

They come together in the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Our Lord was born of the seed of David according to the flesh so that he could stand in our place and take the punishment due to our sins.  In doing that he had to die.  According to God’s moral order, blood had to be shed for the forgiveness of sins.  Sin is no light thing like we tend to make it out to be.  The end and fruit of sin is death, and to redeem us from sin Jesus had to die for us.  But if death and sin is conquered, then death must be followed by life.  The one who died must come to life again.  And that is what we see in Jesus.  He died, yes.  But he did not stay dead.  He rose again.  He ascended into heaven and took his throne.  He reigns.  As the apostle Peter told the crowds on the Day of Pentecost, “This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Until I make thy foes thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:32-36).

This brings us to Paul’s next words: “And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (4).  The point of this is that as the son of David, the Son of God would ascend to heaven and take his throne.  This is, I think, a reference to the ascension and enthronement of the Incarnate Son.  

The word “declared” here in verse 4 is elsewhere translated as “determined” or something like that.  It carries the sense of “appointed.”  So, for example, in Acts 17, Paul in his sermon to the philosophers uses this word twice: in verse 26 it is translated as “determined” and in verse 31 as “ordained.”  So that is the way we should understand the word “declared” here.  It’s not saying that the resurrection declared the Sonship of Christ in the sense of proving it, though that is true enough as far as it goes.  Paul is saying that upon his resurrection, God the Father appointed the incarnate Son to a position of power and glory.  We should read this together: he is appointed to be the empowered Son of God.  In other words, the eternal Son who had become flesh and humbled himself to the point of death on a cross rose and ascended to heaven to take his throne in power.  The one who had been so humiliated was now glorified.  It is the reality Jesus is referring to in the Great Commission: “All power has been given unto me in heaven and on earth” (Mt. 28:18).  Or what our Lord is referring to in his high priestly prayer: “Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee. . . . And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was” (Jn. 17:1, 5).  The incarnate Son whose glory and power was in many ways veiled is now unveiled in his enthronement at the right hand of the Father.

In light of this, it’s important to see that it’s not just the resurrection of Jesus that is in view in verse 4.  Some translations will put it like this: that our Lord “was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead” (ESV).  But that is not what the text says.  The word “dead” there is plural in Greek.  It could be translated “by the resurrection of dead persons.”  I think what Paul wants us to see is, yes, Jesus rose from the dead, but he is not the only one who will rise from the dead.  He is the first-fruits of those who will be raised.  The Son of God in power will raise all his people from the grave.  He demonstrates that he is the enthroned Son by raising all his people from the dead.  As our Lord himself put it: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live” (Jn. 5:25).  Or as Paul put it to the Corinthians: “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:20-22).

Thus, the “Spirit of holiness” is surely the Spirit of God, though the word “spirit” isn’t capitalized in the KJV.  I think it should be.  For this is what Paul will say later in this epistle: “if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you” (8:10).  Jesus has ascended and poured out his Spirit.  The Spirit is given to his people.  That, by the way, was the point of Pentecost.  And as that Spirit is the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, we can be sure that he will raise us from the dead as well.  Is this not a glorious reality?  Is this not a comforting and strengthening reality?  Can you not see why Paul would not want to wait to tell us about these precious truths and promises?  And this brings us to our last point: why the promises are so vital.

Why the promises are vital

These promises are vital because they tell us at least two things about God and the gospel.  They tell us about his grace in salvation and his sovereignty over history.

God’s Grace

The fact that the gospel is a promised gospel is a pointer to God’s grace in salvation.  The promise points us to the fact that salvation from sin and its consequences is something given to us not something we earn.  The promise is not a promise like, “If you do this, then I’ll do this.”  No, the Bible makes it very clear that God’s promises are entirely on his side, as if he is saying: “I promise that I’ll do this for you.”  In fact, Paul contrasts law with promise: “For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise” (Gal. 3:18). Promise is not law; it is not a works-based thing.  It is gracious in its character.  It is a product of God’s free favor towards us in Christ.  It is God promising to do something for us.  It is God telling us that salvation is a gift, something that we don’t earn by good works but something that we receive by faith (Eph. 2:8-9).

If we ask how God can do this, how God can receive sinners who are not holy as he is holy, the answer is in Jesus and what he has done for us.  He perfectly kept the law that we broke.  He completely satisfied God’s wrath against us for our sin.  It is because of who Jesus is and what he has done that we can be saved.  Salvation is by grace because it is by Christ.  

This is vital, utterly necessary, because if you don’t see this you are going to end up making the gospel into a works-based, twelve-step program. But that’s not what the gospel is.  The gospel is the gospel of grace.  It is the announcement of God’s free favor in Jesus Christ.  Be reconciled to God, not through your own merit but through the merits of his Son.  Don’t look to yourself but look to Christ.  So that’s the first thing.  The promise points us to God’s grace.

God’s Sovereignty

Second, the promise points us to God’s rule over all history.  God’s promises take place in history.  They are fulfilled in the complicated twisting and turning of human events, working themselves out through families of Abraham and David.  And just to show us how sovereign God is, he often doesn’t fulfill his promises in the way we would expect.  He does it again and again in utterly surprising and unexpected ways.

Take, for example, the promise that the Son of God would accomplish God’s purpose of salvation through the line of David.  Very well: we see that David himself was not the person men would have picked.  Jesse his father didn’t even think to bring him around when Samuel the prophet came looking for the next king of Israel.  But then you see David’s failures, and yet God doesn’t give up on him.  But we would have!  And then you see the failures of his son Solomon, the first in a succession of miserable failures, so that eventually the kingdom splits, and then both kingdoms end up going into captivity because of their sins against God.  The glorious tree of David that once stood tall is now reduced to a stump.  How then does the Christ come into the world?  Not in the palace of kings, but lowly in a manger, born to parents who are barely noticed by the people around them.  Jesus was not welcomed into the world by a retinue of important people, but by animals and shepherds.  But, my friends, he is the King, your King and mine, and our Savior.  This is the way God works.  His ways are not our ways nor his thoughts our thoughts.  As the hymn puts it, he works in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform.

He can do this because he is in fact sovereign over history.  When men try to get things done the way they want them done, they often have to work on a grand scale.  Wars are not usually won by one or two soldiers but by thousands of them, not by a bullet here and there but by bombs all over the place.  But God does not need to do things in such a great way to get his purposes fulfilled.  He is not tied to our limitations.  He doesn’t have to work in earthquakes or volcanoes: he can work in his still, small voice, in his quiet and often imperceptible ways.

Jesus didn’t march into Jerusalem at the head of an army to overthrow the Romans.  If he had, he would have had all his enemies on his side.  He would have been popular.  But that’s not what he did.  He came on a donkey to a city that said, “Who is this?”  And then a few days later they crucified him.

The point is that we would never have done it that way.  But God did.  And the point I’m trying to make is that God doesn’t have to do things in ways that we would expect because he really is in control.  He doesn’t need the might and wisdom of men to get the job done; he can accomplish redemption and bring about his kingdom through his Son who was despised and rejected by men.  He can spread his gospel and turn the world upside down through a bunch of ragamuffin fishermen.  God is sovereign over history; we know this because his promises are worked out in history and they always come to pass, even when we least expect them.  

It's important and vital that we see that, right?  Especially in our day when everything seems to be going wrong, when our culture is careening towards the cliffs of insanity as fast as it can.  We need to remember that none of this is proof that God has taken his hand off the wheel.  The seed promised to the woman at the dawn of time has come, and we can be sure he will come again.  We can be sure that he will bless his church and that the gates of hell will not prevail against it.  And that should give us confidence and peace and hope in a world gone mad.

What do you think of Christ?  What do you think of the gospel?  Is it good news to you?  Whose promises are you going to bank your life on – those who promote the wisdom of this world or the promise of God in Christ?  My friend, don’t put your hopes in the powers that be.  Put your hope and trust in God through Christ.


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