A Preferred Gospel Presentation Starting Point
It is common for Christians, in evangelizing with the Gospel message, to begin with the fall of man (Gen 3). They reason, “We must tell people the bad news in order for them to understand the good news.” We agree with the rationale, but is this the best place to begin?
Bad news is not easily taken in by people hearing a story. Bad news may be true, but it still has a negative projection to begin. In addition, the bad news of the Gospel message is both general to humanity and very personal. In other words, the bad news finds its application with the person hearing the presentation. How quickly are prideful, arrogant human beings offended by being told the truth about themselves?
Every Gospel presentation is constrained by a certain amount of exposure to the hearer. Brief presentations have their place and so do long chats in a coffee house. A Gospel minister must have his one minute, two minute, five minute and hour-long Gospel to tell. We must be ready regardless of the circumstances. The presenter may be in a favorable or a hostile environment. Any number of variables must be considered.
It is the proposition of this article that the Gospel of God begins with God and not man. More specifically, the Gospel begins with the eternality of God. Stated another way, the Gospel message begins before Creation.
The eternal God, by definition, has always existed. The Bible reveals one God in three Persons, all of whom share in the attribute of eternality. Before the incarnation of the second Person (Jesus Christ), all three were eternal Spirits. God has always been, is, and always will be…God.
In the eternal good pleasure of God, the Trinitarian Godhead counseled together and then decreed that which shall come to pass according to the will of God. This decree from eternity included the Creation of the physical universe. The sheer size of the universe is meant to impress, and it should. The earth, therefore, is a puny speck of dust in comparison. Still, the earth serves as center stage for God’s grand drama.
God set the stage for this drama during the seven days of Creation and rest (Gen 1–2). The drama however was authored before the building of the stage. In fact, the script was complete. The Alpha and the Omega knew the end of the story of time and space as well as the beginning. It is infinitely difficult for one to grasp the attention to detail God employed in declaring all things that exist and all events that would occur. No bird falls from the sky by random chance. No hair on any person’s head is unaccounted. Every day of each person’s life is ordained by God our Maker.
As the architect and builder of everything, God has designed everything, engineered everything, and He works everything. Paul wrote, “For from Him, and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory. Amen. (Rom 11:36).” In this case, “all things” literally means “all things without exception.”
In the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God (Acts 2:23), He predestined some people to election as adopted sons of God (Rom 8:30; Eph 1:4–5). He wrote their names in the Lamb’s book of life before the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8; 17:8). God the Father gave these chosen people to His Son (Jn 6:37; 17:2, 6, 24), and it was for these that Jesus was enfleshed to secure them for Himself, with an eternal redemption, as the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world (Rev 5:6, 12).
All that has been presented here, thus far, is Gospel, and we have not yet considered the bad news. The “pre-fall” news is entirely excluded from most people’s presentation. It is my argument that it is vital to the big picture and too many questions are raised by the exclusion of this information. Men do not know they are evil, until they see God is holy.
God does all things for His glory, so that even “the bad news” is designed to glorify Him and display His attributes for us to ponder. God passes over the reprobate in eternity, blotting their names out of the book of life before Creation. In time, the reprobate are born as sons of Adam with original sin (Ps 51:5; Rom 5:12–21).
Created as responsible creatures, the reprobate manifest as guilty sinners and unbelievers. Their purpose is to show God’s attributes of holiness, righteousness, justice, judgment, wrath, patience, anger, etc. They do not belong to Christ (Jn 10:26) because they were not given to the Son by the Father. Therefore, Jesus did not redeem them at the cross, having made no purchase of them with His precious blood. They were not bought for a price (1 Cor 6:20; 7:23) nor given the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:9).
In conclusion, the Gospel of God begins with a view to the eternal God, who is sovereign (all wisdom and all power) to accomplish His decreed will, derived from His eternal good pleasure. God is God. There is no one beside Him. None are position to share His glory.
Man-centered theology loves to focus on man. God-centered theology loves to focus on Christ, seated in glory at the right hand of majesty. The eternality of the holy One is the beginning of the Gospel, fallen creation is the problem, Jesus Christ is the centerpiece, and the work of the Holy Spirit is the climax, with the new heavens and the new earth as the resolution.
My dear reader, the next time you are graced with a Gospel opportunity, start with God, focus on Christ, and finish with the Spirit. May your message be as Trinitarian as the Godhead you are presenting because God is the Gospel from beginning to end.
Spokane Valley, Washington
April 15, 2022