“But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
St. Paul claimed that what he had preached was not according to man, but according to what God had given him to preach. The Gospel was his message. And what is the Gospel? Essentially, the good news that your sins are forgiven in Christ. This is THE Good News which surpasses all others. The word Gospel comes from the Greek word, euaggelion. Translated, the word literally means, “good message/news.” The latter part of the Greek word for evangelism is related to the word for angel or messenger.
Such news of sins forgiven in Christ is not man-made at all. Man’s doctrine is that of quid pro quo, reciprocation, “you get what you deserve,” more work=more pay, less work=less pay.
One of Jesus’ parables illustrates this (Read Matthew 20:1-16). Towards the conclusion, in giving an explanation, Jesus says, in part, “Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things?” (Matthew 20:15). Here, Jesus is speaking of (as) the landowner who pays the workers equally, even though some worked longer hours than others. Such an action by the landowner in the parable doesn’t “make sense.” Those who “have borne the burden and heat of the day” should get paid more than those who only worked for “one hour” (Matthew 20:12). This is how things “are supposed to be in the world.” Work longer and harder, get paid more and be recognized. Yet, in the parable that Jesus told, such doesn’t happen. The landowner gave to all equally.
The parable is a picture of the “kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 20:1). And such a parable illustrates the distinction between the way the world works and the way that God works. The world seeks equity, justice, and fairness. God, on the other hand, seeks mercy and compassion (Hosea 6:6; Matthew 9:13; 12:7). Instead of giving what we deserve, God gives forgiveness through His Son. Instead of condemning us as sinners, God saves us from our sin, in Jesus. And instead of punishing us as wrongdoers (as we are), and breakers of His Holy Commandments, God has compassion on us and declares us as righteous, through faith in Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:9).
Through faith in Christ, you have peace with God (Romans 5:1). Apart from Him, yes, God will give you what you deserve. Outside of Christ, you alone will bear your sin and its just penalty (Romans 6:23a). But in Christ, having faith in Him who died and rose again, God considers you righteous before Him and having no sin.
St. Paul says it this way, “Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: ‘Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, And whose sins are covered; Blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin’” (Romans 4:4-8).
This is nothing but Gospel! This is not the teaching of man or of the world. But it is the teaching of God. Christ is your Savior. Thanks be to God! It’s not up to you. Your salvation is sure in Christ! This is the Gospel. Amen.
“The doctrine of the Gospel…is the revelation of the Son of God…” This is a doctrine different from all others. Moses does not reveal the Son of God; he discloses the Law, sin, the conscience, death, the wrath and judgment of God, and hell. These things are not the Son of God! Therefore only the Gospel reveals the Son of God. Oh, if only one could distinguish carefully here and not look for the Law in the Gospel but keep it as separate from the Law as heaven is distant from the earth! In itself the difference is easy and clear, but to us it is difficult and well-nigh incomprehensible. For it is easy to say that the Gospel is nothing but the revelation of the Son of God or the knowledge of Jesus Christ and not the revelation or knowledge of the Law. But in the conflict of conscience and in practice it is difficult even for those who have had a lot of experience to hold to this for certain.
Now if the Gospel is the revelation of the Son of God, as it really is, then it certainly does not demand works, threaten death, or terrify the conscience. But it shows the Son of God, who is neither the Law nor a work. But this simply cannot persuade the papists. Therefore they make a “Law of charity” of the Gospel. But Christ is the subject of the Gospel. What the Gospel teaches and shows me is a divine work given to me by sheer grace; neither human reason nor wisdom nor even the Law of God teaches this. And I accept this gift by faith alone.
This sort of doctrine, which reveals the Son of God, is not taught, learned, or judged by any human wisdom or by the Law itself; it is revealed by God, first by the external Word and then inwardly through the Spirit. Therefore the Gospel is a divine Word that came down from heaven and is revealed by the Holy Spirit, who was sent for this very purpose. Yet this happens in such a way that the external Word must come first. For Paul himself did not have an inward revelation until he had heard the outward Word from heaven, namely, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?” (Acts 9:4). Thus he heard the outward Word first; only then did there follow revelations, the knowledge of the Word, faith, and the gifts of the Spirit.” (Luther’s Lectures on Galatians, LW 26, p)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, grant me to abide in Your Holy Word, rightly dividing the Word of truth, acknowledging that Your Word is Your Word and not mine own. Amen.
Filed under: Bible-Holy Scripture, God-The Holy Trinity, Justification & Sanctification-The Christian Faith & Good Works, Law & Gospel-Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth, Salvation-Soteriology, Son, Theology & Doctrine |