Christianity and theology

So Heavenly Minded and No Earthly Good?

Last week we began looking at individual eschatology and some of the reasons why this doctrine is rarely discussed among Christians. Today, we pick up by considering the spiritual benefits that come when we constantly reflect upon the glory to come.

One of the lies that the world wants Christians to believe is that they can be “so heavenly minded that there are of no earthly good.” However, the opposite is true. Christians can never be of earthly good until they are heavenly minded. John Calvin writes, “If that hope (of going to heaven) be deeply seated in our mind, it is impossible that it should not lead us to devote ourselves wholly to God. On the contrary, they who do not cease to live to the world and to the flesh never have actually tasted what is the worth of the promise of eternal life.

A Christian should always live with one leg in this life and another up in the air ready to step into glory. Our prayer should always be like that of Jonathan Edwards, “O God, stamp my eyeballs with eternity.” Indeed, may God stamp eternity not just on our eyeballs but also on our minds, ears, hands, soul, feet, and the whole of our being so that the hope of glory should always before us.

The spiritual benefits that come with constant contemplation of the future glory include: a motivation to pursue holiness in our daily lives. How can a Christian contemplate about the land in which he will sin no more and deliberately live in sin? How can we contemplate the eternity in the presence of our Holy Father and willfully give ourselves to sin? Just as sin will keep us from reflecting on heavenly glory, reflecting on heavenly glory will also keep us from sin. Moreover, the author of Hebrews reminds us that without holiness (in this life), we won’t see God in heaven (Heb. 12:14).

Second, constant reflection of heavenly glory is a sign of true conversion and adds to the assurance of our salvation. This is what Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 1. In the chapter, Paul writes that one of the reasons he is convinced that the Thessalonians are truly saved is that they are constantly living with the hope of glory. “For we know, brothers, loved by God, that he has chosen you because…” He mentions various reasons and at the end of the chapters adds one more reason: “(you) wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come” (1:4, 10).

Third, constant reflection of our blessed hope will make us resist getting comfortable in this world and conforming to its standards. It will enable us to realize that this life is just but a tent. “For we know that if our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in heavens” (2 Cor. 5:1).

Fourth, constant reflection of heaven will bring comfort in times of trials and afflictions. When a believer considers what Christ has prepared for him in heaven, the sorrows of this world would seem as a fleeting shadow. The sorrows will be like labour pains, which last for a while and turn into greater joy when a baby is born. Apostle Peter writing to the persecuted Jewish Christians comforts them with the truth of heavenly glory and says, “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you” (1 Peter 5:10).

Lastly but not least, constant reflection of our eternity in heaven fosters love for our neighbors both believers and unbelievers. Knowing that we will spend eternity with our neighbors who are Christians changes how we treat each other here on earth. It will often, by the grace of God, lead us to love them as we love ourselves. For our unbelieving neighbors, a constant reflection of our future glory motivates us to share the gospel with them because we realize that without faith in Christ they can’t taste this glory but will be subjected to the eternal wrath of God.

But how can we cultivate this constant reflection of heaven in our daily lives? This is what we will look at in the next post, the Lord willing.

 

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Christianity and theology

Let’s Take Time to Talk About Individual Eschatology

In the coming weeks, the Lord willing, I would like us to take time on this blog to study what the Scriptures teach about individual or personal eschatology. Eschatology is a theological term and is derived from two Greek words, eschatos and logos, which when combined basically mean “the study of the last things.”

There are two aspects to the study of last the things. The first aspect is called individual or personal eschatology and the second one is called world or general eschatology. In the coming weeks we will focus on the former. This means that we will concentrate more on death and what happens after a Christian has closed his eyes in this life and opened them in the next.

In my Christian experience, I have noted that personal eschatology is one of the doctrines that are least discussed among Christians. It is also rarely preached in our churches. Yet in many Reformed and Presbyterian congregations, every Lord’s Day we confess our strong belief in this doctrine by reciting the Apostles’ Creed and say, “I believe in…the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.”

There could be a number of reasons why we rarely talk of death and the life after. First, I would argue that even for us Christians it is often hard to talk about death, let alone our own death, because it makes us and those we are talking to feel very uncomfortable. Yes, we know that we have been liberated from death’s power (John 11:25). Of course, we fully understand that death is a defeated foe (1 Cor. 15:54-57), but still because death is very unnatural to us (since man was initially created never to die until sin entered the world) we experience a certain type of uneasiness to talk about it. We would rather bury our head in the sand, as it were, and discuss other doctrines.

Second, related to the first reason, we hardly think or talk about personal eschatology because we often view it as distant. Not many Christians, more especially, younger Christians tend to think that today might be our last day on this earth. We often think that God will grant us many years to live in this world before he calls us to glory or the Lord Jesus comes again. But the truth is that none of us knows for certain. The Lord does not guarantee us the next minute (James 4:14b, 15). The Scripture also reminds us again and again about the brevity of life. Just consider some of the words it uses to describe our life: vapor (James 4:15), flower (Psalm 103:15), and handbreadth (Psalm 39:5). Our lives are indeed very short; therefore, we always need to be ready to either die or see our Lord coming in glory soon.

Third, we hardly discuss personal eschatology because sometimes we are so much consumed with the blessings that the Lord has given us here on earth and in the process forget the glories of the life to come. This is truer in places and nations that are very prosperous by our worldly standards. For example, for the four years that I have lived in North America, I have observed how easier and more comfortable life is for many people here than for many in my beloved continent of Africa. Sadly, some Christians are blinded by the plenty and pleasantness of this life hence forget that the glories of heaven can never be compared to anything here on earth. I do not say this to instill an unnecessary sense of guilt for my Western brothers and sisters; however, this is the reality that we all need to face and guard against (1 Tim. 6:6-10).

Fourth, on the other hand, some due to poverty and suffering, they experience in this world, tend to focus more on what the Lord can do to deliver them from these ills and in the process forget the glories of heaven. This is very true in many places like my continent of Africa where the so-called prosperity gospel continues to grow in leaps and bounds. One would think that poverty and suffering would cause people to think of heaven more, but this is not always the case.

Lastly but not least, we don’t discuss personal eschatology as much as we ought to because a good number of Christians are ignorant of what the Scripture has to teach us on this subject. If you are to go out on the streets and ask those who profess to be Christians on what happens during death and after, you will get various responses and some might not even be biblical. For instance, consider how common it is to hear among Evangelical Christians statements like, “The deceased is now looking down from heaven on us with joy” or “Heaven has gained another angel.” These statements reveal our ignorance on the subject.

So, because of these reasons, I strongly believe that we need to take our time and study personal eschatology so that we are not ignorant of God’s design for our future as individuals. Furthermore, if we constantly think of heaven or the Second Coming of Christ, our relationship with Christ here on earth would be enhanced even more. That’s what will look at in the next post, the Lord willing.

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Christianity and theology, Sound Teaching

Biblical Prophets Vs. Today’s Prophets

A couple of days ago, the social media was awash with a prophecy coming from the West Africa, Nigeria in particular. The so-called Prophet TB Joshua predicted the outcome of USA 2016 Elections. He stated that a female candidate would win. This was a reference to Hilary Clinton. However, come early this morning, the “prophecy” has proved to be another false prediction.

Now this is not the first time that prophets in my beautiful and beloved continent have predicted falsely. They are a number of instances that can be cited, but that is beside the point of this post. I am writing mainly to express my concern over some people’s unhealthy fascination with prophets.

Prophets have become so popular in Africa that they are regarded as semi-gods, which is certainly against the Second Commandment. Prophets have also become the elite and one of rich groups of people, monetary wise, at the expense of their poor followers. But this is very different from the picture we see of Biblical prophets both in the Old and New Testament.

The Biblical prophets were often unpopular. Their message was very offensive to those rebelling against God. The Biblical prophets were not crowd-pullers as our “prophets” today. They were not business magnets as the prophets our time. When one was called to be a prophet in the Bible, it often meant putting your life in the harm’s way.

While it was not all glamour and glitter for the Biblical prophets, it’s all a bed of roses for the contemporary “prophets.” The biographies of modern “prophets” stand in sharp contrast to the biographies of Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, and John the Baptist just to mention a few examples.

Looking at this fact, one thing is certain: the prophets like those in the Bible no longer exist. Without repeating what I have stated again and again, the ultimate fulfiment of the office of Biblical prophets is found in Christ (Hebrews 1:1-2). Jesus Christ is the Prophet par excellence. He is the only prophet we need today. In fact, he is not only the Prophet but also the Priest and King forever.

Now back to the prophecy of TB Joshua. His so-called prophecy should bring to mind Deuteronomy 18:20-22:

But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’  And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?’ when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.

Now we know how we should respond to TB Joshua and all the so-called prophets.

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Christianity and theology

Happy 499th Reformation Day!

Happy Reformation Day!

Today we celebrate 499 years since the Protestant Reformation began. We need to thank the Lord for his faithfulness and goodness to his church.

As I was reflecting on the Reformation, I thought of the common saying, “ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda (latin for “the church reformed, always reforming”). No doubt this one of the abused sayings in the Church today. Often it has been used to argue that the church needs to keep reforming or changing according to times.

For instance, I heard one arguing for female leadership in the church basing on the phrase. The argument went something like this: the church has been led by male leadership over the centuries, but now it’s time to embrace female leadership because the Church is reformed and always reforming.

What an abuse of this well-meaning phrase. The Church does not reform with times, it reforms with the word. Christ reforms his Church by the work of the Holy Spirit through the Word. Ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda secundum verbum Dei (the church reformed, always reforming according to the Word of God).

When the Old Testament church was deformed, God used the word to reform it (Nehemiah 8). The Pharisees also deformed the Church with their man made rules and Christ used the word to reform it (Matt. 5:17-20). The same thing happened in the 16th Century. God used his Word to Reform his Church. Reformation without the word is not Reformation at all. If the church is reforming without the Word, it is actually deforming.

Happy Reformation with the Word!

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Christianity and theology

He Abhors Not the Virgin’s Womb

The second hymn on the list is “O Come, All Ye Faithful.” Originally written in Latin by Francis Wadde (1711-1786) but translated into English by Frederick Oakley and William Brooke in 1841. The second verse of the carol goes:

God of God, Light of Light

Lo, he abhors not the Virgin’s womb:

Very God, begotten, not made

Have you ever wondered how it was like for God to freely choose to humble himself and become a baby in a womb? The all-powerful God becoming a helpless baby who is fully dependent on her mother. How incomprehensible this is! Little wonder then that Francis could not also help but marvel as well and say, “See he does not despise his state of being a baby in Mary’s womb.”

Probably, Francis had Philippians 2:6, 7 in mind as he wrote down these lyrics: “Who (Christ), though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”

Christmas is a really wonder, but it is not a wonder that leaves us confused. Instead, it fills us with gratitude and adoration. So, O, come all you who believe in Christ and let’s us adore him. Adore him not only on December 25 but all the days of our lives.

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Christianity and theology

…Far as the Curse is Found

It’s Christmas season once again, and the airwaves are filled Christmas hymns and carols. Although not all these hymns and carols are sound, there are some that have deep and sound theological truths. As we approach Christmas I would like us to take some time to reflect on these songs.

The first hymn on the list is Joy to the World which was composed and written by Isaac Watts in the 18th Century and is based on Psalm 98. The third verse goes:

No more let sins and sorrows grow,

nor thorns infest the ground;

he comes to make his blessings flow

far as the curse is found,

far as the curse is found,

far as the curse is found.

What a wonderful truth we have in these lyrics. When sin entered the world through Adam, it brought a curse on human race and the rest of creation (Gen. 3:14-19; Rom. 8:19-22). However, Christ came to reverse the curse so that man could be reconciled with God. He redeemed us from the curse by becoming a curse himself on our behalf (Gal. 3: 13).

Now through him, the curse is removed and we enjoy all heavenly blessings in him (Gal. 3:14; Eph. 1:3). This is why Watts declares that Christ came to make his blessings flow far as the curse is found. In Christ, all those who were once cursed are declared righteous and there is no single part in their life that remains under a curse, for they become a new creation in him.

Oh, what a great message of joy we need to carry to the whole world.

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Christianity and theology

If They Cannot Believe the Scriptures, They Will Never Believe…

Some months ago, a Ghanaian online newspaper carried an article of a woman who claims that she went to hell where she saw world leaders and celebrities who died some time ago. She claims that Jesus took her to hell and later brought her back to life to warn people so that they should repent and believe in Christ. Her story can be accessed on this link, http://www.reportghananews.com/i-saw-whitney-houston-gadhafi-in-hell-and-they-gave-me-messages-woman-narrates-her-2nd-visit-to-hell/

Now, this is not the first time for me to read or hear stories like these. Dozens of books and movies have been written and produced of people who went either to hell or heaven or both and were sent back by Jesus to share their experience so that people can believe in Christ and escape hell . Whether these stories are real and true is another topic for another day. However, in this post, I would like to highlight this important truth: If people cannot believe in Christ through the preaching of the gospel, they will never believe in him through these stories.

Why am I saying so? Because the Scriptures say so. In Luke 16:19-31, we read a story of a rich man and Lazarus. Both of them died and were buried. Lazarus was carried by angels to the side of Abraham (Paradise/heaven). The rich man went to Hades (hell) where there was torment.

The rich man later made a request to Abraham who was in heaven with Lazarus and said: “I beg you, father (Abraham), to send him (Lazarus) to my father’s house – for I have five brothers – so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment”(v.27).

By this request, the rich man is asking that Lazarus who had died should come back to life and share his experience of hell and heaven to his own people. Lazarus’ experience should act as a warning to unbelievers so that they should believe in Christ or else go to hell when they die.

Abraham responded: “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them” (v. 29).

“Moses and Prophets” here refers to the books of the Old Testament (see also Luke 24:27) since by the time Jesus was narrating this story, the New Testament had not yet been compiled. In other words, Abraham is saying, “Those people have the Bible, let them believe it.”

The rich man replies: “No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent” (v. 30).

Here now comes an important answer from Abraham. “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets (Bible), neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead” ( v. 31).

In other words, Abraham is saying, “If they cannot believe the Bible, even if someone should rise from the dead and warn them of hell, they will never believe.”

Friends, this is an important truth for us. Let’s not underrate the sufficiency of Scriptures in our lives. God has given them to make us wise unto salvation through faith in Christ (2 Timothy 3:15). For sure, no single person can be saved without hearing the gospel (Gospel is a synonym for Scripture). Apostle Paul drives this point home in Romans 10:8-17: “But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching…So, faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

Personal experiences of hell or heaven alone can never save anybody. This is why I am reiterating that the Church should remain faithful in preaching the gospel and never let the so called experiences of hell or heaven take her eyes of the main thing which is the preaching of the Scriptures or the gospel.

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Christianity and theology, My Life as a Christian

My Thoughts and Prayers for the Persecuted Church

This morning as I thought and prayed for fellow Christians who are being persecuted for their faith in Christ and His word worldwide, especially, in Iraq and Syria I was reminded of the following passages of Scripture:

Revelation 6:9-11: “When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on earth? Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until who were to be killed as they themselves had been.”

Matthew 5: 10-12: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Matthew 5:44: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

Romans 12: “Bless those who persecute you; bless them and do not curse them.”

1 Peter 4:16: “If anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?”

1 Peter 5:10: “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

John 16:33: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Father, may you watch over and protect your Church. May you keep Her faithful and bold even in times of persecution. In Jesus Christ’s name, Amen!

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Christianity and theology

Does Every Christian Have a Special Guardian Angel?

I guess you have heard of the notion of guardian angels before. Those who believe in guardian angels state that every Christian has an angel assigned to them by God to care and protect them. This belief is not recent. Church history shows that it dates back so many centuries ago. In fact, some early Church Fathers like Origen and Chrysostom in third and fourth centuries respectively believed and taught about guardian angels.

Those who advocate for the belief in guardian angels cite Matthew 18:10 and Acts 12:15 as their biblical basis. In the first verses of Matthew 18, Jesus speaks to his apostles about humbling themselves like children. Then he later says to them: “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven” (10).

In the first verses of Acts 12 we find Jesus’ disciples praying in the house of Mary (the mother of John Mark) for Peter who has been put in prison by the Jewish religious and government leaders. However, when a girl reports to them that Peter is released from prison and is standing outside the house in which they were in, the disciples disbelieve her and say, “You are out of your mind.” But the girl insists but still they dismiss her and say, “It is his angel!” (15).

Now, do these verses teach that each Christian has a particular guardian angel? I do not believe so. In the case of Matthew 18:10, we should understand the “little ones” and “their angels” in a collective sense rather than individualistic sense. In other words, the verse states that angels who minister to these little ones and can also minister to every believer see the face of God the Father (not a particular angel of a particular little one sees the face of God the Father). In the case of Acts 12:15, we should understand it to mean that the believers thought that at this particular time God had sent this angel to probably encourage them and they referred to this angel as “Peter’s angel” implying an angel that was sent to them for the cause of Peter whom they were praying for.

It is important to guard against the belief of guardian angels because it can easily lead to the worship of angels which is prohibited in Scripture (Rev. 22:8, 9). Herman Bavinck observes, “The problem with the doctrine of guardian angels is that it leads to veneration and worship, a practice apparently referred to in Colossians 2:18.” If a believer is so occupied with the thoughts of a special angel who cares and protects them, they stand in danger of obliterating God in their minds as a sole sustainer and preserver of their lives and instead accredit this sustenance and preservation to an angel.

Having said this, it is important to point out that the Bible does teach that angels do minister to God’s people (but not a particular angel specifically for a particular Christian). Angels are ministering spirits (Heb. 1:14). So, God uses angels to help believers in various ways. For instance we read in Psalms 34:7 and 91:11 that they watch over believers. Angels also intervene is some special ways in some events of God’s people (Isaiah 63:9; Daniel 6:22; Acts 5:19). They also execute judgments against God’s enemies (Genesis 19:1, 13; 2 Kings 19:35; Matthew 13:41).

So, yes God uses his angels to help or minister to his people but God never sets aside or assign a particular angel to a particular Christian. This belief is hardly supported by Scripture and can easily lead to worship of angels which the Bible prohibits. I fully agree with the Belgic Confession Article 12 which clearly states: “He (God) also created the angels good, to be His messengers and to serve His elect (all believers).”

I also agree with John Calvin when he writes:

“But whether individual angels have been assigned to individual believers for their protection, I dare not affirm with confidence… Indeed, those who confine to one angel the care that God takes of each one of us are doing a great injustice both to themselves and to all the members of the church; as if it were an idle promise that we should fight more valiantly with these hosts supporting and protecting us round about!”

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Christianity and theology

The Bible is The Gospel.

Recently on Facebook, I was involved in a discussion with a friend who argued that the Gospel is different from the Bible. He defined the Bible as the books written by holy men under the guidance of the Holy Spirit so that what they wrote may be trusted and obeyed as God’s Word. On the other hand, the gospel is the news that God who created heavens and earth came into the world as human being in the person of Jesus of Nazareth to suffer full punishment and eternal death on behalf of sinners so that they can be forgiven and have eternal life and live in righteousness free from sin and its effects.

He then argued that the Church should focus more on the Gospel  because one can be saved without the Bible but not without the Gospel. I should say, here, that the debate involved lengthy writings which I am unable to include into this article but the above summary really sums up the main argument of my friend.

The Bible is the gospel and the gospel is the Bible. The terms “Gospel” and “Bible” are synonyms. At the center of the Bible or the gospel is Jesus or to borrow the words of Sinclair Ferguson, “Jesus is the heart of the entire Bible.” However, I have often noted that some easily see the gospel in the New Testament more than in the Old Testament.  In this article, therefore, I will endeavor to show the gospel in the Old Testament and by doing that  prove that the entire Bible is the gospel hence we cannot distinguish the gospel from the Bible.

 First, let’s turn to Christ himself who clearly taught that the Old Testament is the gospel.  In Luke 24, Jesus was speaking to his two unbelieving and fearful disciples, Cleopas and his friend, on the walk to Emmaus and the passage states that Christ used the Old Testament to explain the gospel to his disciples.  “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself,” (Luke 24:27). Please note very well that “Scriptures” in the verse refer to the Old Testament since by this time the New Testament Canon was not yet complete.

 Later Jesus appeared to the eleven Apostles and rebuked them for their lack of faith and said to them: “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled,” (Luke 24:44). Then please note carefully again what Christ says regarding the Old Testament Scriptures in Luke 24:46-47: “Thus it is written that, the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. Pause for a moment! Is this not the gospel? And where is it found? Right there in the Old Testament. 

Jesus here is showing us that the “gospel” which my friend described as Christ’s  work of saving sinners and enabling them to live a life of righteousness is found from Genesis to Revelation (now that the New Testament Canon is complete). From the first book of the Bible to the sixty-sixth one, salvation from sin and eternal life of righteousness in Christ is the main teaching, especially, after the fall. 

Secondly, we have a first presentation of the gospel in Genesis 3:15.  God speaks to the Satan in the form of serpent that led our first parents into sin and says: “And I will put enmity between thee (serpent) and the woman (Eve), and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and though shall bruise his heel.” Theologians and Bible Scholars have called this passage “protovangelion” a Greek word for “the first proclamation of the gospel.” From this passage up to Revelation 22:21, the message of the Bible is the gospel that Christ will and has crushed the head of Satan and overcome death and  sin that once conquered our first parents in the Garden of Eden and the fallen man can now live abundant life  in Christ. Jonathan Edwards puts it better when he writes:  

Christ and his redemption are also the great subject of the history of the Old Testament from the beginning all along; and even the history of creation is brought in as an introduction to the history of redemption that immediately follows it. The whole book, both the Old Testament and New, is filled up with the gospel; only with this difference that the Old Testament contains the gospel under a veil, but the New contains it unveiled, so that we may see the glory of the Lord with open face. (The History of Redemption (Grand Rapids: Associated Publishers and Authors Inc.) 164-165).

Thirdly, the fact that the gospel runs throughout the Bible is further confirmed in the fact that the Old Testaments saints were saved through faith in Christ just as we are.  For instance, Abraham, way back in Genesis, was justified by faith in Christ (Romans 4) and in Galatians 3:15, Apostle Paul tells us that Abraham believed because the Gospel was preached to him. Where was the gospel preached to him? Right there in the Old Testament. John Calvin has expounded this truth better and said:

“The old covenant fathers, who were formerly regenerated, obtained this favor through Christ, so that we may say, that it was as it were transferred to them from another source. The power, then, to penetrate into the heart was not inherent in the law, but it was a benefit transferred to the law from the gospel. (John Calvin, Commentaries on the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah and the Lamentations (Grand Rapids, 1950), 4:131).

When you and I open our Bibles, all we ought to see is Jesus because he is the center of the Bible. Jesus is the center of gospel. There is no way one can read the Bible or the Word of God without seeing Jesus on every page because Jesus is the Word (John 1:1-5). Therefore, the gospel and the Bible are not two different things but one. These two words are synonyms and it is impossible to distinguish them. The Old Testament is the Gospel pointing us towards Christ while the New Testament is the Gospel pointing us back to Christ. Both the Old and the New Testaments are the gospel.

Postscript: Heidelberg Catechism  Answer to  Question 19 also clarify that the gospel and the Bible are one thing:

God began to reveal the gospel already in Paradise (Gen. 3:15); later God proclaimed it by the holy patriarchs (Gen. 22:18; 49:10) and prophets (Isa. 53; Jer. 23:5-6; Mic. 7:18-20; Acts 10:43; Heb. 1:1-2)  and foreshadowed it by the sacrifices and other ceremonies of the law; (Lev. 1-7; John 5:46; Heb. 10:1-10and finally God fulfilled it through his own beloved Son (Rom. 10:4; Gal. 4:4-5; Col. 2:17).

 


 

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