God is the Gospel: Seeing the Glory of God in Jesus Christ
Two weeks ago we began our Membership Series: Belonging in Christ. These sermons are foundational for membership at Hope. We are asking that if you miss the membership services, that you listen to the podcast. The first sermon was “Who is Jesus?” Together, we saw through scripture that Jesus is God of very God, who had become man. He is preeminent, meaning of first importance, in all things, as the Creator and sustainer of all the cosmos. Thus, as firstborn, he inherited the cosmos as the Son of God. He is the head of the body— the Church, and we are united together in Him. That is why we are called the body of Christ; because of our unity in Him. And it is all about Him, for all things are from Him and to Him and through Him, to the praise of His glory.
We must keep in front of us the truth that all things are from Christ and to Him and through Him as we ask the question: What is the Gospel? The gospel is as encompassing as the cosmos, yet as precise as a scalpel. The Bible proclaims the gospel is the gospel of Jesus Christ (Mk 1:1), or the gospel of God (Rom 1:1) or the gospel of the Kingdom of God (Matt 4:23); not the gospel of humanity. It is the gospel for humanity. But the gospel is God-centered, not man-centered. God is the primary actor in the gospel, and the one for whom the gospel story points to as glorious.
Church, it is my personal mission, as an under-shepherd of the body of Christ, that you know the glorious gospel of Jesus, and can articulate it! May it become your passion, your obsession, your daily delight, for if you understand the gospel it will infiltrate every aspect, every action and objective you purpose to do!
But for many church-goers, this isn’t the case. Is this you? Would you be honest enough to admit that the gospel is not your passion? And, truth be told, you have trouble articulating, or even sharing your faith? And God, and his church, are merely one of many balls kept in the air, because in all honesty, life revolves around you— you are the center of your solar system, and God and the gospel and His church orbits around you. You fit him in when convenient, as long as he doesn’t interrupt your plans for your leisure.
We have it backwards, don’t we? Shouldn’t God be the center of life’s solar system? I believe on main reason we have it backwards is because our understanding of the gospel is too small; it’s myopic. I believe it to be true of most Western Christianity, that our view of the gospel is myopic.
How do Christians have a myopic view of the gospel? The word gospel means good news. It’s actually, a good message, as delivered by a herald. And that message has been truncated, both in how we present the gospel, and the ends— the purpose, or reason, we communicate that news to be good. We see one aspect of the gospel, mostly that we are saved from the wrath of God.
This is true, in the gospel is the message that we are saved from eternal punishment. However, we are near sighted in our view of the cross if this is all we see. If in the cross of Christ we only see a pardon from the consequence of our sin, then we view the gospel as little more than the game of Monopoly, where we’ve received a get-out-of-jail-free card, and we are free to roam about the game board of life. The cross, then was just a commodity that bought our freedom to continue doing what we are doing. Heaven is a pain-free place with family, and friends and leisurely pleasures after I die. Don’t get me wrong, the gospel is not less than the cross of Christ, by which you and I were reconciled and the wrath of God was absorbed. However, it is so much more! We miss the point, the big picture of the gospel if all we see is escape from punishment. While concentrating on the stream of light shining through the trees, we miss the sun! This happens with a myopic view of the gospel. But when we step back and see with panoramic vision the true focal point of the gospel we see this: Jesus, the Son of God—who is God, arrayed in glory and splendor and majesty.
God is the gospel. The gospel message itself, creation, fall, redemption, and glorification, and everything the cross purchased for us, proceed from —and lead to— the One who is truly the good news, the One whose glory we were made to behold and praise: Jesus, the Son of God. God is the gospel! That is the point I am going to make today.
So, we are going to outline the gospel message in Scripture, then show its full and rightful culmination in Christ, and then glory in God, our Savior, the One by whom and for whom we are saved.
We have several passages we are going to read today, so I won’t have you stand for the reading, but let’s stand now and pray as we ask God to make clear to us His gospel in His word. [pray]
The gospel is all-encompassing. It’s simple, yet complex. Bigger than the cosmos, yet is narrow like a surgical blade. The best way I know to give you both an all-encompassing view, and yet one that will cut away sin, is to first paint with broad strokes, then, like Bob Ross, zoom in and paint some detail, and then in the end, we will stand back and look at the whole canvas and see it’s purpose.
Broad Strokes: Creation, Fall, Redemption, Glorification
Did you know the written Gospel begins in Genesis 1 and ends in Revelation 22?
 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.  The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.  And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.  God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. (ESV)
 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” …  And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. (ESV)
All of the acts of God reveal His character. We see that God is a Creator, that he created the world in wisdom and with order. Proverbs 8 speaks to this. He created mankind not because he was lonely— but to display his glory!
Isaiah 43:6–7: I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” (ESV)
God created man and women in his image; male and female he created them! God is a relational God, and the plurality of gender reveals a plurality of persons in the Godhead. Furthermore, notice the command to Adam and Eve in His image, and the command was to multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. When pagans make idols, what do they do? They create these little images to put in their house which points to their god and its glory. When God made mankind in His image, he sent them to fill the earth, to cover the earth with his image, and remind creation of His glory.
The creation of mankind, in the image of God, was for the spreading forth of the glory of God. This is essential to the gospel. We must understand that our personhood, our being, our kind was made to image forth the glory of God. It’s about Him. It’s from Him. And it’s to Him.
Also, all indications in Genesis 1 & 2 lead us to believe that mankind walked and talked face to face with God. God brought all the animals to Adam. God put Adam into a deep sleep, took a rib, and brought Eve to him. And in Genesis 3:8 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day…
There existed with man and God the ability to communicate, face to face. But mankind didn’t last long in our original state, did we? No one knows the time elapsed from creation to Adam and Eve’s sin in the garden, but it appears to be less than 9 months, for Cain and Able were yet to be born. This is…
Satan, disguised as a serpent, came to the garden of Eden and deceived Eve. Afterward, Adam joined in. God had given one command: Do not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Believing God was holding out, Adam and Eve took the fruit and disobeyed God. It was then that sin and shame entered the world. They hid from God, and hid their bodies from each other, knowing they could not face Him in their sinful state. Sin effected their relationship with God, and with each other! They could no longer see him face to face.
God then pronounced the curse, the consequence of this action, upon Satan, and upon humanity, his image bearers. Genesis 3:14–15
 The LORD God said to the serpent,
“Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.
 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head,and you shall bruise his heel.”
 To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband,but he shall rule over you.”
 And to Adam he said,
“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (ESV)
This curse was far-reaching, effecting women in childbirth, man in the toil of the land. The covenant of life with God now had an endpoint, and death entered mankind and to dust he and she will return. All of creation was subject to the curse because of sin.
This is why pain, and hurt, and death, and cancer, and world hunger, and war-mongers, and genocide, and rape, and murder, and evil words, and anger abound; because sin came into the world and infested everything. It sunk into the heart of man. Genesis 6:5: The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (ESV)
…For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin,  as it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one;  no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” (ESV)
AND we have no hope of justifying ourselves!
Romans 3:19–20 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.  For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
Friends, the gospel speaks to pain, to death, to injustice. These things are irrational, and are against the grain of how we were created. The gospel of Jesus is the only thing that can speak to it, for it is the only means by which we can understand it. When people ask: How can there be a God with this kind of pain and suffering? We need to remember that the gospel answers this question. The gospel explains pain and suffering. The gospel explains why we, as humans, aren’t ok with it. The very question we are afraid of is the very question for which the world needs our answer: the gospel of Jesus.
So, Creation, Fall, now Redemption (or Restoration).
Did you NOTICE that God first pronounced the curse to Satan!
 The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.  I will put enmity between you and the woman,and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (ESV)
Do you hear the sound of victory? “He shall bruise your head…” This is called the protoevangelium- the first gospel. God preambles his curse upon humanity with the first promise of Redemption. Satan’s goal was to destroy the image, the glory bearers of God, but instead, God will destroy all evil. And, he will do it through the Offspring of man! How could it be that a Son of man would be powerful enough to destroy Satan, a created but spiritual being? The kind of being whom, as we later read, was called the prince of the power of the air?
Good question. God promised to crush Satan through an offspring of woman. Let’s follow the thread. In Genesis, God appeared to Abraham. He called him to away from worshiping his idols and to worship himself. He gaves him the covenant of circumcision, and then promised an heir, an offspring, through his wife, Sarah: (Genesis 17:16) and said, “I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.” (ESV)
What unfolds is God choose a people whom will be his representatives on earth. He began redeeming humanity from the curse! Whereas the earth was created to be full of the knowledge of God, and through sin, the world was blind to that knowledge, now through a people, God was making himself known! And the promised people came through Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, then the 12 tribes, through the 12 sons of Jacob. The whole time, God, through the patriarchs and the prophets, was progressively revealing the nature and person of the Offspring, the Christ!
This is what Paul explained in Galatians 3:15-16
“The promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, ‘And to offsprings,’ referring to many, but referring to one, ‘And to your offspring,’ who is Christ” (v. 16). - Galatians 3:15–16
So, the people of Israel point to God’s restorative plan for humanity, that God would once again dwell with man. But, he would do so through the Offspring, who would become King, the One for whom and through whom and by whom the cosmos was created. I just summed up the entire history of Israel. It was very truncated, there’s so much more. But know this: all of the OT points to God’s restorative plan to make for Himself a people, a bride, whom will dwell with Him for all eternity. But in order for that to happen, Satan must be destroyed. The head of the serpent must be crushed…
In John 1:8 we read, “The reason the Son of God appeared was rto destroy the works of the devil.” 1 John 3:8
Remember the curse brought death to mankind. It removed Adam and Eve from the garden, from beholding God face to face, and instead brought them death. Mankind was made to live eternally with God. How do we do that? This is where the gospel message might get more familiar:
 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.  And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. (ESV)
I want to draw our attention to a couple words in this well known verse. First, God gave His Son. His Son is the promised Seed who will crush the head of Satan. No mere man can crush the head of the spiritual forces of darkness, save the King of Light. God and God alone. Jesus is fully God! And the instrument by which he crushed the head of the serpent was the cross. By death, Jesus defeated death.
 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.”  But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.”  Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. (ESV)
Friends… He became a curse…
 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (ESV)
The scalpel of the Gospel is the cross of Christ. How are we redeemed from the curse of God? How are the sinful desires of the flesh cut away from our hearts?
How are we made right before God? By the propitiation of Christ on the cross.
 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,  whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.  It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (ESV)
Because God is just, he must be just in how he deals with humanity. This is the complaint of the the serpent! That’s why he’s called the accuser! How does a righteous God deal with the wayward and sinful image bearers he made for his glory? He becomes one of them, and bears their punishment for their sin. And His payment is powerful, so much so that 1 John 2:2 says He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. (ESV)
God has reconciled the world to himself in His Son. What a powerful gospel. What a glorious God.
John Piper wrote of Jesus, in his book, “God is the Gospel, “…the climax of the glory of his life on earth was the way it ended. It was as if all the darker colors in the spectrum of glory came together in the most beautiful sunset on Good Friday, with the crucified Christ as the blood-red sun in the crimson sky. And it was as if all the brighter colors in the spectrum of glory came together in the most beautiful sunrise on Easter morning, with the risen Christ as the golden sun shining in full strength. Both the glory of the sunset and the glory of the sunrise shone on the horizon of a lifetime of incomparably beautiful love. This is what Paul meant in 2 Corinthians 4:4 when he spoke of “the glory of Christ.” It is the glory of a person. But the person displays his glory in words and actions and feelings.
Back to John 3:16: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in Him… The word in has the idea of believing into… It is not mere mental assent. Satan had a mental assent of Jesus, believed he lived, breathed, and was deity. But he did not believe into Him. Believing into is a portal, an entrance. You believe if you believe yourself into Jesus, you are being united with Jesus. You are part of the people of God if, and only if, you are united with Him!
Romans 6:5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
If we have died with him we will raise with him! But we must be united to Him! Marriage points to this! Marriage is supposed to point us to the gospel, that as two are united and become one flesh, we are united to Christ! We are one with Him. We know Him, and He knows us.
Third, eternal life… we need to understand how Jesus defined eternal life. Yes, we believe in a physical resurrection. Yes, that was included in his definition. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” John 11:25
But he defined eternal life in John 17:3, “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
We must understand that eternal life is bigger than a life free of the effects of the curse. It is a life knowing the most glorious persons in the universe! It is knowing God, and the Christ whom He sent! The treasure of the gospel is knowing God! This is the salvation that Paul proclaimed in Philippians 3:7–11:
 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.  Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ  and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,  that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (ESV)
The treasure of eternal life is knowing Jesus the Christ! He is so glorious, so wonderful, such a treasure, that the disciples all suffered martyrdom and exile. Peter, crucified upside down. Paul- beheaded. John, exiled to an island. And many more martyrs like Stephen who was stoned, and even to this day, Christians die for the glory of seeing Jesus their Lord.
This is why Paul wrote Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
And in 2 Corinthians 4:17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.
Paul wanted to see GLORY! Do you?
This is Glorification!
The Bible speaks of we who believe as having been glorified.
Romans 8:29–30  For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.  And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
Look, we’ve spoken already, and will speak again to greater lengths of what it means to be foreknown, and predestined. For now, know that God did not choose you as His own based on an arbitrary lottery system. That’s not consistent with God’s character, nor is it consistent with the Gospel. To be foreknown carries the idea of Psalm 139. He has searched us and known us. He formed our inward parts in our mother’s womb. He saw our frame when we were being woven together in the depths of the earth. He wrote out our days, before there was one of them.
To be predestined is the outworking of God calling you, whom he made to bring to himself, before the foundations of the earth. Do we understand it? No. It makes no sense. It’s not based on my works, but his love. Can we accept it? Yes.
And what we see is those whom he predestined, he calls to himself. This is what Jesus speaks of in John 10. My sheep know me. They hear my voice, and they come to me. We who come to Him, who believe into Him, he justifies. And all whom he justified, he glorified. Do you see the past tense there? It’s as good as done. By the work on the cross, yours and my justification and glorification before God is DONE. It WAS Finished on the cross.
And now, the gospel is coming to completion as we are being made into the image of his Son. How? By doing what we were made to do in the first place: behold God, face to face. Remember in the garden, Adam and Eve walked with God, and saw God face to face.
Moses asked to see God’s glory… God’s response: “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” Ex 33:20
Isn’t it interesting. Moses asked to see God’s glory, and God responded that he cannot see his face and live. His glory is in knowing him, face to face. Through the gospel, we behold God, face to face… Through the gospel, we are restored to our intended purpose: beholding the glory of God.
[Explain context BRIEFLYcontrast law and gospel] Look at 2 Cor 3:18:
 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (ESV)
The gospel brings us into God’s presence, and we stand in grace, beholding God! And He is so glorious, beholding him sanctifies and glorifies us, transforming us into His image by the power of the Spirit!
2 Corinthians 4:3–6
 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.  In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God…  For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (ESV)
That’s some gospel! We get to see and know the glory of God! That’s the end for which we were made: to be brought to God: 1 Ptr 3:18: For Christ also sufferedb once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God,
This was the stated purpose of Jesus before he went to the cross: Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. (John 17:24)
And that is what we will be doing for all eternity, beholding the glory of God, knowing the Father and the Christ whom he sent. This is the culmination of the gospel:
Revelation 22:1–5: Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.  No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. (ESV)
So, there are really only two types of people here. Those who see the glory of God in the gospel, and those who don’t. Maybe you’re sitting here and thinking, “Bob, I have a mental assent to the gospel, but I haven’t seen Jesus as glorious… what do I do?”
The answer is the gospel: Repent, and believe. Ask God to open your eyes to see the beauty of the glory of His Son. I invite you to come pray with me during this next song.
For the church, those who see the glory of the gospel in the face of Jesus Christ, what is our response? To love the glory of the gospel. To love and look to the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. To keep looking, seeing, beholding! That our face would reflect, like a mirror, the glory of the gospel to the world around us! That’s why the face of Stephen shone like an angel! The glory of God, as he was beholding him even when he was stoned to death.
This is our testimony folks. A gospel that brakes at mental assent is no gospel. A gospel that sees and pursues knowing the glory of Jesus in all things, that transforms, that glorifies, that is the gospel we proclaim through Christ crucified.