At the very beginning of the Epistle to the Romans we step up to a very high place in order that we might look upon the vast expanse of truth contained in the term, “the gospel of God.” In these days we have so diluted the gospel to make it simple, even to the unregenerate mind, that we have altogether failed to grasp the immensity of its meaning. Too frequently we think of the gospel only as that means by which we can be saved and go to heaven. Our Small View The reason for such an interpretation is that I am so much occupied with the benefits that I get; indeed the capital “I” looms so large before the vision of the mind that we usually regard self as the center around which everything rotates. It is well then for us to contemplate “the gospel of God, concerning His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” We want to guard against any attempt to belittle the average Christian’s understanding of this truth. Yet we must come face to face with the situation that, by reducing the dimensions of the gospel to suit our own concept of it, we rob it of its glory. The result of this is that we cease to be worshipers at the feet of the One who is the center of God’s purposes, and we make the gospel something to be weighed and measured by our own mental ability.
Thus the Christian is inclined to become more occupied with the mercies of God that flow into his own tiny vessel, than he is to be occupied with the Man of God’s counsels, who has been appointed Heir of all things, who is the Head and Center of God’s universe, to whom “every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:10-11).
God’s Grand View
The gospel of God then is not simply the way whereby I may be saved; it is far more than that. It is “the gospel of God, concerning His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 1:3). In order to grasp the meaning of this tremendous truth we must travel back in the comprehension of our souls to the very bosom of eternity itself, into the counsel chambers of the Most High, and realize that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit have planned this wonderful scheme of blessing we call Christianity. The central object of all this scheme is not me and my blessings, but “His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
It is a reminder to us of the grand truth which John presents in his first epistle, that “God is love” (1 Jn. 4:8,16). The exercise of that love was eternally operative between the persons of the Godhead. The Lord Jesus referred to that matchless love when He said to His Father: “Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world” (Jn. 17:24). The three persons of the Godhead are mysteriously capable of this exercise of love one toward the other.
Proverbs 8 gives us a beautiful picture of this same truth. Reaching back into the limitless expanse of the eternal age, before the foundation of the world, the one who is the personification of wisdom says this: “The LORD possessed Me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was … while as yet He had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When He prepared the heavens, I was there; when He set a compass upon the face of the depth; when He established the clouds above; when He strengthened the fountains of the deep; when He gave to the sea His decree, that the waters should not pass His commandment; when He appointed the foundations of the earth, then I was by Him, as one brought up with Him; and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him; rejoicing in the habitable part of His earth; and My delight was with the sons of men” (Prov. 8:22-31).
A Combined View
The functions of divine love within the mysterious realm of the Trinity were operative from eternity. There God devised this marvelous plan of Christianity, according to the counsel of His own will; and the Lord Jesus Christ, the Eternal Son of God, is the central object of those purposes of love. We have this truth beautifully developed in Ephesians, where Paul breaks forth in acclamation: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, according as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love” (Eph. 1:3-4). Here we have an expression of the counsels of the Godhead, and it is this marvelous scheme of blessing and eternal love that is declared to us in “the gospel of God, concerning His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
I believe a new day dawns in the Christian’s spirit when, for the first time, he comes to the realization that he, as an individual, forms only a very small part in the great spiritual machinery of the workings of God’s purposes of love. The glory of Christ is the object. God will not be satisfied until He has a universe of which the Lord Jesus Christ is the head and central figure, the One who is worshiped by every intelligent being to the remotest bounds of creation.
It was with all this in mind that Paul was singled out, “a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God … concerning His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” He was a servant indicating that he took the lowest place in relation to the One who is the central figure in this great spiritual drama which he had been chosen to announce. Then he was an apostle, because he must be given the authority from the Lord Himself to announce so grand a subject. Then, in order that his message and his apostleship might be authenticated, he was separated to this gospel, and how far-reaching that expression may be is difficult for us to conceive.
By Tom Westwood
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org