Proclaim the victory of Jesus.
C.H. Dodd wrote up a summary of the earliest Christian preaching as reported in Acts. Listen to these and ask yourself: Who’s the subject here?
- “God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer” (Acts 3:18; 2:16; 3:24).
- This has occurred through the ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus, of Davidic descent (Acts 2:30-31), “a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs” (Acts 2:22).
- “God raised him from the dead” (Acts 2:24; see 3:15; 4:10), making him Lord and Christ (Acts 2:33-36), and “exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel” (Acts 5:31).
- God has given the Holy Spirit to those who obey him (Acts 5:32). “Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear” (Acts 2:33).
- Christ “must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything” (Acts 3:21; 10:42). Having suffered as Messiah and having been exalted as Messiah, he would return as Messiah to bring history to a fitting consummation. So:
- “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38) (Oden, 220-221).
Or how about C.H. Dodd’s summary of Paul’s gospel proclamation in all of his letters:
- The prophecies are fulfilled, and the new age is inaugurated by the coming of Christ.
- He was born of the seed of David.
- He died according to the Scriptures, to deliver us out of the present evil age.
- He was buried.
- He rose on the third day according to the Scriptures.
- He is exalted at the right hand of God, as Son of God and Lord of quick and dead.
- He will come again as Judge and Savior of men (Oden, 221).
When was the last time you heard these things in a gospel presentation?
The Scriptures and the church fathers and the faithful church around the world and the Reformers all point to the same thing when they preach the gospel: they point to the victory of Jesus. They preach about it. It’s not us convicting our hearers that their lives are messed up and then us introducing Jesus as the cure. This is not a cosmic deodorant commercial we’re in. This is the gospel. We’re not selling anything. We’re not even convicting or persuading anyone. That’s the Holy Spirit’s work. And our failure to understand that leads to the point we’ll make in our next post—that by our actions in proclaiming the gospel we sometimes show that we don’t understand salvation very well at all.