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The True Meaning of the Gospel


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This was the whole reason God the Son became a man: “He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted” (Heb. 2:17–18). “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (4:15).

Those statements show that divine mercy extends far beyond empathy merely for our physical sufferings. Of course, the lovingkindness of God includes a heartfelt concern for our temporal, earthly, physical welfare—but it is infinitely more than that. Both the compassion of God and the earthly work of Christ must be seen ultimately as redemptive. In other words, our Lord’s tenderest mercies are concerned primarily with the salvation of our souls, not merely the suffering of our bodies.

. . .

Those physical healings were vivid displays of both Jesus’ power and His compassion. They were proof of His deity and living demonstrations of His divine authority. They established His unlimited ability to liberate anyone and everyone from the bondage, the penalty, and the consequences of sin. As such, the healing ministry of Jesus was illustrative of the gospel message, a true expression of divine compassion, and a definitive verification of His messianic credentials.

But physical healing was neither the central point of His message nor the main purpose of His coming. Again, He came to make propitiation for sin and to purchase redemption for sinners. And He did that by suffering in their place—dying for their sins.

. . .

The true meaning of the gospel—and its central truth that God is a saving God—is bound up in an accurate understanding of that famous prophecy in Isaiah 61:1–3, which Jesus read aloud in the synagogue in Luke 4:18–19: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” The “poor” whom He promised to bless are “the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3). The “captives” to whom He proclaims liberty are “those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives” (Heb. 2:15)—meaning those who are in bondage to sin (Rom. 6:17). The “blind” who recover their sight are those who “turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified” (Acts 26:18). And the “oppressed” who are set at liberty are those who were formerly under the oppression of sin and Satan (10:38).

In other words, what the gospel announces is something that the physical healings merely symbolized—something more vital, more lasting, more momentous, and more real than temporary relief from the pains of earthly affliction. The gospel gives us the only true, abiding remedy for sin and all its guilt and repercussions.

—John MacArthur, None Other (Reformation Trust, 2017), 117–120.



Posted 2018·04·20 by David Kjos
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Posted in: John MacArthur · None Other

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