Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Facts Which Constitute the Gospel

"We set out not to study human creeds, but the Bible, and we agreed to let the Bible interpret itself and mean what it wants to mean." - B. H. Carroll, from "The General Foreword" to his classic set: An Interpretation of the English Bible.

B. H. Carroll (1843-1914), the late founder and first president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and author of An Interpretation of the English Bible, offers some keen insights in regards to "the facts which constitute the gospel." Carroll affirms that the biblical gospel includes the four facts of Christ's substitutionary death, burial, resurrection, and appearances. Notice what he says in his commentary on the passage in 1 Corinthians 15:1-11:

     "This chapter commences with the statement of the facts which constitute the gospel. The first fact, 'Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures.' Three ideas are involved in that fact:
    1. Christ actually died. It was not a mere trance; it was actual death.
    2. It was a vicarious, substitutionary, expiatory death. 'He died for our sins.'
  3. He died for our sins 'according to the Scriptures' - that the Scriptures of the Old Testament and New Testament up to the time of his crucifixion clearly foretold his actual, substitutionary, and expiatory death.
     The second fact in the gospel is that he was buried - he was dead and buried - and that was according to the Scriptures. The Scriptures testified that he would be buried. The third fact is that on the third day, according to the Scriptures, he rose from the dead; and the fourth fact of the gospel is, that risen, he was visible to men, recognized by men, and identified by men.
     Paul goes on to tell of the numerous appearances, including an appearance to him. He was buried, he rose again, he was visible after death with spiritual evidence, and his body was identified. In other words, John says, as if to anticipate many foolish statements, 'We don't know what we shall be, but we do know that when he comes we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.'
     The next thing that Paul presents is that this was not merely a preaching of his, but all the apostles preached it, as verse 11 of that chapter shows. And the next thought is that they did not originate it. He says, 'I have delivered unto you that which I also received, and you received it from me.' That was according to the sign which Christ submitted: 'He died, he was buried, and was raised.' The next argument that he makes is that every Christian in the days of the apostles believed what he said, 'As I delivered it, so you received it, and that so believing it, you are saved by it,' making it a doctrine of salvation."

Excerpted from B. H. Carroll, An Interpretation of the English Bible (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1973), 17 Vols., Vol. 13, pp. 246-247, bold added.

Note: This 17 volume set was first printed by the Fleming H. Revell Company in 1913. Broadman Press bought the copyright in 1942, and it was reprinted by Baker Book House in 1973.

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