Throughout this season of Lent (which leads up to Easter), we will be studying the Penitential Psalms; as we see our sinfulness, we’ll also see how blessed we are to have Jesus Christ as a Savior. Our devotions during this season take a different angle – we will hear everyday from John Piper’s tremendous booklet 50 Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die. As the title states, we’ll focus on Scriptural reasons for Christ’s death, increasing our thankfulness along the way!
John Piper is a very gifted and accomplished author – please go to www.desiringgod.org for a treasure trove of resources for Christian living!
The word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18
I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16
Gospel means good news. It’s news before it’s theology. News is the reporting that something significant has happened. Good news is the announcement that something has happened that will make people happy. The gospel is the best news, because what it reports can make people happy forever. What the gospel reports is the death and resurrection of Christ. The apostle Paul makes the news quality of the gospel plain:
I would remind you . . . of the gospel . . . that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day . . . and that he . . . appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive. (1 Corinthians 15:1-7)
The heart of the gospel is that “Christ died for our sins . . . was buried . . . was raised . . . and appeared to more than five hundred people.” The fact that he says many of these witnesses are still alive shows how factual the gospel is. He meant that his readers could find some witnesses and query them. The gospel is news about facts. And the facts were testable. There were witnesses of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection life.
The tragic thing is that, for many, this good news seems foolish. Paul said, “The word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). This is the power that Christ died to unleash. “The gospel . . . is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).
Why is the death of Christ not seen as good news by all? We must see it as true and good before we can believe it. So the question is: Why do some see it as true and good and others don’t? One answer is given in 2 Corinthians 4:4, “The god of this world [Satan] has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.” Besides that, sinful human nature itself is dead to true spiritual reality. “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him” (1 Corinthians 2:14).
If anyone is going to see the gospel as true and good, satanic blindness and natural deadness must be overcome by the power of God. This is why the Bible says that even though the gospel is foolishness to many, yet “to those who are called . . . Christ [is] the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24). This “calling” is the merciful act of God to remove natural deadness and satanic blindness, so that we see Christ as true and good. This merciful act is itself a blood-bought gift of Christ. Look to him, and pray that God would enable you to see and embrace the gospel of Christ.