Saturday, April 7, 2012

Christo-centrism

"Men talk about building upon Christ, and not upon the Scriptures; but they know not what they say; for our Lord continually established his own claims by appealing to Moses and the prophets. They would be Christo-centric, they say: I only wish they would. But if they take Christ for a centre, they will inevitably have the Scriptures for a centre too; and these men neither want the one nor the other." - Charles Haddon Spurgeon
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 not trusting in myself but in Christ who died for me (v. 3)
I'm not trusting in the disciples but in Christ who appeared to them (v. 5)2

In other words, my faith is in the historical Jesus of Paul's gospel - not in a Jesus of the imagination!3 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, in Isaiah chapter 53 the prince of prophets foretold that after the Messiah's resurrection "He will see His offspring" (Isa. 53:10, literally "seed"; 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?4 Tragically, this is exactly what some are doing.


ENDNOTES:

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

2 Notice the similarity: Christ died for man (v. 3); Christ appeared to man (v. 5).

3 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.)

4 For more information and further discussion see the article "The Romans Road Leads to Isaiah 53".


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