Wednesday, January 23, 2013

God's Home Run

"I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes" (Romans 1:16, NKJV)

     Recently I thought of an illustration to show how vital and important each part of the gospel is to the whole. Think of the Gospel as God's home run - "the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes" (Romans 1:16). According to 1 Corinthians 15:1-5, the gospel of salvation has four action words (notice the four verbs in bold print):
  1. Christ DIED... (1 Cor. 15:3)
  2. He was BURIED... (1 Cor. 15:4a)
  3. He was RAISED... (1 Cor. 15:4b)
  4. He was SEEN... (1 Cor. 15:5)

     God hit a home run when Christ died, was buried, was raised, and was seen. If a preacher removes the resurrection appearances from the gospel it would be like a baseball player hitting a home run and stopping at third base! Major League Baseball official rules say that when a batter hits a home run he has to physically step on all four bases. If the player doesn't tag all four bases the home run doesn't count. This is why all the teammates wait at home plate to congratulate the runner. Only after the runner tags home plate can the team put the run on the scoreboard. The Scriptures tell us that after Christ was raised on the third day He appeared to His disciples. In baseball terms, Jesus rounded third and tagged home. Not only did Christ hit "the walk-off home run" (the game-winning home run) - He tagged all the bases and scored it!
     So to recap the baseball illustration, God hit a home run when:
  1. Christ DIED for our sins - Jesus hit our sins out of the ballpark (John 19:30) and rounded 1st base,
  2. Christ was BURIED in a tomb - Jesus rounded 2nd base,
  3. Christ was RAISED on the third day - Jesus rounded 3rd base,
  4. Christ APPEARED to His disciples - Jesus physically tagged home plate in the presence of His teammates (John 20:30-31) and scored the winning run!
     Free Grace theologian William R. Newell writes the following in his commentary on Romans 1:16:
"this good news concerning Christ’s death, burial, resurrection, and appearing, ‘is the power of God unto salvation unto every one that believeth.’ There is no fact for a preacher or teacher to hold more consistently in his mind than this.” (Newell, Romans Verse-By-Verse, pp. 18-19.) 
“Again we repeat that it is of the very first and final importance that the preacher or teacher of the gospel believe in the bottom of his soul that the simple story, Christ died for our sins, was buried, hath been raised from the dead the third day, and was seen, IS THE POWER OF GOD to salvation to every one who rests in it – who believes!” (Newell, Romans Verse-By-Verse, p. 19, emphasis his.)


Anonymous said...

Seems to me that the core elements of the Gospel are the first and third, whereas the second and fourth provide supporting evidence of those two fundamental truths: Jesus died (as evidenced by the fact that He was buried) and rose again (as evidenced by the fact that He appeared to so many eyewitness).



Jonathan Perreault said...

Hi MW,

Thanks for those thoughts. In this article, I'm not talking about "the core elements of the Gospel" - I'm just talking about "the Gospel" plain and simple.

Here's something to think about: All four parts of the Gospel “provide supporting evidence” for various aspects of the Gospel. Notice the following examples:

1.) CHRIST DIED (1 Cor. 15:3) - Proof of His Sacrificial Love (Romans 5:8)

2.) CHRIST BURIED (1 Cor. 15:4a) - Proof of His Sinless Perfection (Isa. 53:9)

3.) CHRIST RAISED (1 Cor. 15:4b) - Proof of His Full Deity (Acts 17:31; Rom. 1:4)

4.) CHRIST APPEARED (1 Cor. 15:5) - Proof of His Bodily Resurrection (Lk. 24:39; Acts 1:3)

In other words, the proof (the "supporting evidence") is in the Gospel!

Remember Romans 1:16 says that the Gospel "is the power of God unto salvation". Notice what Christian apologist Justin Martyr (c. 100 - 165 A.D.) has to say about the power of proof. He writes:

"For every proof is more powerful and trustworthy than that which it proves; since what is disbelieved, until proof is produced, gets credit when such proof is produced, and is recognised as being what it was stated to be."

(Justin Martyr, "Extant Fragments of the Lost Work of Justin on the Resurrection", The Writings of Justin Martyr and Athenagoras, Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, Editors, Ante-Nicene Christian Library: Translations of the Writings of the Fathers Down to A.D. 325 [Edinburgh: T and T Clark, 1867], Vol. 2, p. 341.)