Saturday, April 7, 2012

Christo-centrism

     The Gospel is Christo-centric. That is to say, Christ is the center of the Gospel. He is the subject of every verb in 1 Corinthians 15:3b-5. William R. Newell affirms: "The gospel is all about Christ. Apart from Him, there is no news from heaven but that of coming woe! Read that passage in I Corinthians 15:3-5: 'I make known unto you the gospel which I preached unto you: that Christ died, Christ was buried; Christ hath been raised; Christ was seen.' It is all about the Son of God!"[1]
     In light of this exegetical truth it becomes clear that there is no incongruity between trusting in Christ and believing that He "died for our sins" (1 Cor. 15:3) or that He "appeared to Cephas and then to the twelve" (1 Cor. 15:5). Let me explain it this way:

     I'm trusting in Christ who died for me (1 Cor. 15:3; cf. Isa. 53:5-6)
     I'm trusting in Christ who appeared to His disciples (1 Cor. 15:5; cf. Isa. 53:10)

     In other words, my faith is in the historical Jesus of Paul's Gospel (1 Cor. 15:3-5) - not in a Jesus of the imagination![2] The Gospel involves God acting in and on the world in history - in real life historical events in time and space, not in a vacuum.
     Consider the Scriptures! Paul's Gospel "was promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures" (Rom. 1:1-2, 10:15-16). For example, Psalm 22 is a Messianic Psalm. In The Scofield Reference Bible, Dr. C. I. Scofield writes:
Psalm 22. is a graphic picture of death by crucifixion. The bones (of the hands, arms, shoulders, and pelvis) out of joint (v. 14); the profuse perspiration caused by intense suffering (v. 14); the action of the heart affected (v. 14); strength exhausted, and extreme thirst (v. 15); the hands and feet pierced (v. 16); partial nudity with the hrt to modesty (v. 17), are all incidental to that mode of death. The accompanying circumstances are precisely those fulfilled in the crucifixion of Christ. The desolate cry of verse 1 (Mt. 27.46); the periods of light and darkness of verse 2 (Mt. 27.45); the contumely [insults] of verses 6-8, 12, 13 (Mt. 27. 39-43); the casting lots of verse 18 (Mt. 27.35), all were literally fulfilled. When it is remembered that crucifixion was a Roman, not Jewish, form of execution, the proof of inspiration is irresistible....At verse 22 the Psalm breaks from crucifixion to resurrection; fulfilled in the "God to my brethren," etc., of John 20.17. The risen Christ declares to His brethren the name, "Father."[3] 
     Similarly, in Isaiah chapter 53, a chapter which C. I. Scofield affirms is one of "the evangelistic messages of Isaiah (Isa. 53),"[4] the prophet Isaiah prophesied that after the Messiah's resurrection "He shall see His followers" (Isa. 53:10, Berkeley Version; cf. Jn. 12:23-24, 14:18-19, 16:16-22, 20:19-21:14). Are we now supposed to ban the resurrection appearances of Christ from the Gospel because they are a fulfillment of the Gospel according to the prophet Isaiah?[5] 

May it never be!


ENDNOTES:

[1] Newell, Romans Verse-By-Verse (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publishers, 1994), p. 6.

[2] Gary Habermas affirms that "the 'gospel' is being used here of the facts which one must believe concerning Christ, for faith is placed in Him, not in the facts themselves." (Habermas, "Dealing With Doubts - Part 3, Factual Doubt," The John Ankerberg Show website, http://www.jashow.org/Articles/_PDFArchives/practical-christianity/PC2W0406A.pdf, accessed April 15, 2012, italics added.)

[3] Scofield, The Scofield Reference Bible (New York: Oxford University Press, 1917), p. 608, footnote 3; p. 609, footnote 1.

[4) Scofield, What Do the Prophets Say?, pp. 57-58.

[5] For more information and further discussion see the article: "The Romans Road Leads to Isaiah 53".


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