This post is the last part of a review of a training held in October on “The Four Great Pillars in the Lord’s Recovery: Truth, Life, the Church, and the Gospel” (see below for links to prior posts in this review). The truth brings in life, life produces the church, and the church announces the gospel, which is the spreading of truth. Truth is what is in the word coming forth with fresh light. To speak the truth is to proclaim the gospel.
During this meeting in the training, we sang hymn 817 in which every verse ends “The Lord hath yet more light and truth to break forth from His Word.” These words are from a farewell address by John Robinson as pilgrims were departing Holland (where our training was held) to stop in England on their way to New England. Lord, shine on us afresh every time we open Your word and move in us to speak Your word to other people.
Paul’s gospel includes the entire book of Romans. He calls it “my gospel” in verses 2:16 and 16:25. The gospels of Matthew through John present Christ in flesh, outside of us, on earth, before His death. In Romans Paul presents Christ as the Spirit, within us and in heaven, in resurrection.
The focus of Paul’s gospel is the wonderful Person of Christ: “…the gospel of God…concerning His Son, who came out of the seed of David according to the flesh, who was designated the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness out of the resurrection of the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1:1, 3-4). This Christ in resurrection is the Spirit as the ultimate consummation of the Triune God who lives in all His believers (8:9-11). The consummation of His living within us is the corporate divine sonship, the Body of Christ, expressing Christ in full.
The Contents of Paul’s Gospel
The entire book of Romans is Paul’s gospel. In this high gospel there is no mention of perdition, heaven, or prosperity. There is justification, then sanctification, then the Body of Christ, and finally the local churches. We, the sinners, are forgiven, justified, reconciled to God, and accepted by God. Nevertheless, these actions are only the first part of the gospel, not the whole. These actions make us sons of God and members of Christ, having God’s life and nature with the Triune God dwelling in us. By cooperating with His indwelling, we are gradually renewed and transformed (12:1-2). Eventually we will reach maturity in life, be conformed to Christ, and be glorified as sons of God (8:29-30). As such sons we are corporately the Body of Christ (ch. 12) which is expressed practically on earth in the local churches and in their fellowship with one another (ch. 16).
Sonship in Romans
The book of Romans begins with God’s only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, who came into humanity as the seed of David. Through death and resurrection He “was designated the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness” (1:3-4). In His divinity He is the Son of God from eternity past. But He put on humanity in incarnation. By the operation of the resurrecting Spirit, this humanity was uplifted into the divine sonship (read more in 1:4, note 1).
God has predestined all of us unto sonship (Eph. 1:4-5). His choosing of us in eternity past is for the purpose to make us His sons. His justifying and reconciling us is for the purpose to make us His sons. His regenerating us is for the purpose to make us His sons. The end result is that we will “be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the Firstborn among many brothers” (Rom. 8:29). The many sons of God are the many brothers of the firstborn Son.
The Center of Romans
The center of Paul’s gospel is Romans chapter 8. Here he unveils the dispensing of the Triune God as life into the tripartite man. This is the focus of God’s economy: God coming into us to be our life so that we may be His corporate expression. This is experiential. The law of the Spirit of life (v. 2) is the Triune God operating in us. He first makes our spirit life (v. 10) then spreads to make our mind life (v. 6), then to impart life to our mortal body (v. 11) and to enable us to put to death all our natural living (v. 13). By this spreading of life within, we mature from children (v. 16) to sons (read more in 8:14, note 3). The goal of this expanding dispensation is our conformation to the image of God’s firstborn Son (v. 29). Lord, daily spread Yourself in our entire being until we fully express You.
A few bloggers are cooperating for this review. Here are their prior posts. You are welcome to add your own comment.
- The Four Great Pillars in the Lord’s Recovery: Truth, Life, the Church, and the Gospel (ITERO 2011) (agodman.com)
- The Progressive Issue of “Holding to Truth”—Four Great Pillars (holdingtotruth.com)
- Being Sanctified by the Truth to Move Out of Ourselves for the Oneness (holdingtotruth.com)
- The Truth: How to Find It and Why It’s Awesome (Clark’s Bible Blog)
- The Tree of Life (holdingtotruth.com)
- The Flow of Life with the Ministry of Life out of and for the Magnificent House of God part 1 and part 2 (agodman.com)
- What is the kingdom of God? (holdingtotruth.com)
- How to Build the Church (newjerusalem)