The Good News in Summary

One of the most impactful pieces of biblical scholarship on my own thinking has to be Salvation by Allegiance Alone: Rethinking Faith, Works and the Gospel of King Jesus (Baker 2017) by Dr. Matthew Bates. As part of his goal to explain what “faith” is in the New Testament, he provides a wonderfully clear explanation and incisive summary of what the gospel actually is. Over the last couple of years re-examining my own understanding of the faith and trying to determine what are its core tenets, Bates’ summary of the gospel was exactly what I was looking for. It perfectly captured in a clear and concise manner what I had come to consider as the very centrepiece of the Bible and the foundational message of the faith. Now using his summary of the gospel as a template, which you can read here, I have attempted my own below.

This is the good news from God to the world about his kingdom:

He has anointed his Son Jesus as king!

He was promised in the Scriptures,

Born the offspring of David,

Died for sins in accordance with the Scriptures,

Was buried,

Was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,

Appeared to many, and

Is seated at the right hand of God as Lord.

He will come again as judge and

Whoever believes in him will be saved.

(Romans 1:1-4, 1 Corinthians 15:1-8, Isaiah 52:7, Mark 1:1, 2 Samuel 7:14; Psalm 2:7, 2 Timothy 2:8, Acts 2:34-36, Psalm 110:1, Romans 2:16, 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10, 1 Timothy 4:1, Romans 1:16, Romans 10:9, 13, Joel 2:32.)

Now Dr Bates is an actual New Testament scholar and is obviously infinitely more competent at this than I am, a lowly Bible nerd. So why have I as a layman felt the need to essentially regurgitate his superior work with a few minor changes? Now in subsequent posts, we will explore the differences and my rationale for making those changes but until then I will make a few remarks about the process.

As I have already alluded to, I was already in the process of trying to pin down exactly what the gospel was. Up to that point, the work of NT Wright and to a lesser extent Scot McKnight had been my main influences. When I came across Bates’ work, which took a lot of inspiration from the aforementioned scholars, it provided the quantum leap forward in my understanding. What particularly impressed me about Bates’ was his care and precision in disentangling the gospel from important but actually distinct theological issues such as justification, which had often (and understandably) been conflated with the gospel. He pointed out how this had ended up obscuring some important and consequential things, especially regarding the nature and content of the gospel message. Bates’ diligence compelled me to carefully hone my own understanding of the gospel and the journey has been very rewarding.

Christians assume they know what the gospel is but Bates’ and others have shown we often have rather woolly concepts of what it is, which actually have significant ramifications for both the church’s theology and practice. I therefore encourage every believer go on this journey through Scripture, especially because it is about discerning the precise nature of what we actually believe. It’s the difference between a driving instructor explaining how driving works and finally getting behind the wheel and figuring it out for yourself. No matter how wonderful your instructor is, nothing beats getting in the actual seat. Fortunately, with Bates’ work it’s like an elite professional race driver sitting beside you as your instructor.

3 thoughts on “The Good News in Summary

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