What is the Gospel? #2: Fulfilment

SEVEN-FOLD SUMMARY OF THE GOSPEL

What is the gospel?

The gospel is:

1: the announcement of good news concerning the glory of God in King Jesus

2: bringing to conclusion the story of Israel in his

3: life, death, resurrection, & return (which)

4: brings victory over sin, Satan and death, (which)

5: brings salvation by grace to all who 

6: repent and believe in Jesus as Lord and Saviour, 

7: following Him unashamedly with hope through suffering and life

2: BRINGING TO CONCLUSION THE STORY OF ISRAEL

The second summary statement is perhaps the most neglected component of the gospel but helps us root the gospel in the whole of the Bible. The gospel is the ‘conclusion to the story of Israel’. The backstory of the gospel is found in the OT. It is very easy to forget this, and yet it is clear whenever we read our NT.

Let me offer three examples. (And these are by no means the only ones!)

Mark 1:1-3

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’” (ESV)

Mark starts his ‘gospel’ by saying it’s about Jesus. But then launches into the OT to show his readers and hearers that Jesus is the fulfilment of OT prophecy. He uses the ancient Jewish convention of joining two Scripture references together,[1] quoting from Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3.

The Malachi passage[2] shows the Lord coming with purifying fire and judgement. A theme we cannot ignore when it comes to the gospel, and one we’ll look at later. But the Isaiah passage is interesting because it tells us of this comforting news of the messenger telling us of God’s deliverance. A few verses later in Isaiah 40, it also speaks of a herald proclaiming good news.

Verse 9 reads: ‘Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!”’

Mark goes to a passage right at the beginning of his gospel to show how Jesus is the fulfilment of these OT prophecies, quoting a passage that talks about good news! In Mark’s eyes, not only is Jesus the conclusion to Israel’s story (he comes to bring deliverance), his conception of the gospel comes from the Hebrew Scriptures too!

To make things even clearer, the first words Jesus proclaims in Mark’s Gospel are: ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel’.[3] (ESV). Jesus knew the gospel was about fulfilling the OT too!

Romans 1:1-4

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord’

Romans has rightly been heralded as the most detailed explanation of the gospel and salvation in the NT. It is a systematic treatment of the gospel being ‘the power of God for salvation’ (1:16) – but in our excitement about sin, justification by faith and grace, we gloss over what Paul says at the beginning about this gospel.

He says this gospel was ‘promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures’ and Jesus ‘was descended from David’. Right at the beginning Paul says this gospel is the conclusion to Israel’s story. It fulfils what God had promised through the prophets of the OT. One of those promises is the one given to David – that he would always have a son on the throne and his kingdom would be great and eternal.[4]

Later, after exile, the anticipation was that a king would come from the line of David – a Messiah – who would save his people and usher in a glorious new kingdom. God’s rule would once again be established through the coming of God’s chosen one.

The good news concerning God in his Son has its starting place in the pages of the OT. We cannot unhitch Israel’s story from the story of Jesus.

1 Corinthians 15:3-4

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures’

Paul’s way of reminding the Corinthians of the gospel (v1) is to focus at first on two main events which are crucial to the story of the gospel: Christ’s death for our sins and Christ’s resurrection. (And we will explore these in more detail under point 3). But notice that both of these events are ‘in accordance with the Scriptures’.

Though Paul might have had specific texts in mind, he is saying, ‘look to all the Scriptures’. Yes we can plunder Isaiah 53 and look to Psalm 22 and Psalm 16. But all the Scriptures point to this good news. Good news that Jesus fulfils. He is the conclusion to Israel’s story.

This is something Jesus himself told his disciples in Luke 24:44-47:

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.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

Fulfilment

Though we don’t have time to go into every detail of how Jesus fulfils and brings to conclusion the story of Israel, we can at least trace lines back as far as Genesis 1-3 and talk about God as our glorious creator, our rejection of God and how Jesus is the promised seed of the woman who will crush the serpent’s head.

We can talk about Genesis 12:1-3 and Genesis 15 and 17 and talk about how Jesus is the fulfilment of the promises given to Abraham. We can talk about Exodus-Deuteronomy and how Jesus is the true Israel who perfectly obeys God and fulfils the Law, the true Passover lamb, and the perfect sacrifice – as well as our great High Priest.

We can talk about Deuteronomy 18:15-18 and see how Jesus is the Prophet who is greater than Moses. We can talk about 2 Samuel 7 and see how Jesus is the son of David – God’s anointed one – fulfilling the promises to David. We can talk about Jesus being the true temple, God’s glorious presence on earth. Isaiah’s servant of the Lord. Daniel’s ‘son of man’… and much more!

When we read our OT we should see the anticipation of gospel promises and the story of Israel coming to a conclusion in the story of Jesus. A story we are now part of in the church!


[1] This is called Gezerah Shewa – see Darrell Bock, Recovering the Real Lost Gospel: Reclaiming the Gospel as Good News (B&H Publishing, 2010), Kindle location 1645.

[2] See Malachi 3:1-5 ‘Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years. “Then I will draw near to you for judgement. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.’

[3] Mark 1:15

[4] Read 2 Samuel 7

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