The purpose of this message is to help us stay focused on the development of the Gospel of Christ throughout the Bible. The Bible is full of exciting stories of people and nations. It is full of meticulous details about genealogies, laws, and ceremonies. History, culture, poetry, and philosophy abound in the Bible. None of this will profit you unless you get the main point.
The Word of God must be understood and explained in the context of the Gospel of Jesus Christ / the Gospel of Grace!
Our Scripture reading reveals what was in the heart of Jesus Christ as He was approaching death on the Cross. He did not look at the cross as a termination, but rather as a beginning of glorious things (John 17:1-5). The heart of the Father was also being revealed in this prayer. His gracious benevolent plan for man was about to take on power - resurrection power (John 17:6-13).
Christ's intercessory prayer reveals a plan to use men, sanctified by the truth and the power of the resurrected Christ. They are being sanctified (set apart) for the purpose of gathering others into the family of faith (John 17:14-20). Through their words, future believers will be united by faith, in a relationship of love and unity with the Father, with the Son, and with each other (John 17:21-26).
This prayer, in the seventeenth chapter of John's Gospel, reveals the greatest divine force that overcomes evil - love (John 3:16; I John 3:16; 4:7-21; I Corinthians 13:1-8). Christ was foretold by the Word of Truth. He came to be the truth and fulfill God's will. He told the truth, so that others could take that truth to others, like you and me (John 8:30-32; Matthew 28:18-20). That's why we have a Bible. That's why we need to read it, believe it, share it with others.
We will be dividing the entire Bible into five categories that are distinguished by five words. It is a simple approach, but it is essential to getting the proper sense of direction that you need to understand and to help others understand what the Bible is basically about. Sharing the Gospel today is more than just giving a quick lesson on the atonement of Christ and justification by faith. People are not trusting the Bible and not grasping its major theme. They have been conditioned to see the Bible as a book that is invading society and trying to control it - that Christians are trying to take over the world morally and politically. The Bible is being used as a weapon to win arguments about many issues.
The word "Gospel" means "good news" - which makes no sense, until you can show people the intention of God to love and bless us through His Son, Jesus Christ. With God's help, we want to start giving people the correct impression of the Bible. So, let's use five simple words to us get started.
1. The Old Testament (Genesis - Malachi) = Preparation
Man brought sin into the world and needed a savior. God promised to send a savior who would save people from their sins. The Messiah would come. They just didn't know His name yet (Genesis 3:1-24; Isaiah 7:14; 9:6-7; 53:1-12; Psalm 2:1-12; Proverbs 30:4).
2. The Four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) = Manifestation
The promised Savior, Jesus, came (Matthew 1:18-23; John 1:45). He is the Messiah (Christ, the anointed One), the Son of God. This means God became a man. Jesus is God manifest in the flesh (I Timothy 3:16; John 1:1-14, Colossians 2:9). Jesus fulfilled God's law perfectly; then died to pay the ransom for our sins. He rose from the dead and gave His followers the mission of telling others the Gospel ("good news"). He is coming again, to gather His own people and to judge the earth (I John 1:1-3; 3:5, 8; 4:9, 14; John 2:11; Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 24:44-48; Galatians 1:3-4; 4:4-6; Acts 17:30-31).
3. The Book of Acts = Proclamation
The disciples of the first church spread the Gospel from Jerusalem to Judea, Samaria, and the Roman Empire (Acts 1:8; 8:1-5; 11:1, 18-26). As people become followers of Christ, the church multiplied into many other churches (Acts 13:1-4; 14:21-27; 16:4-5).
4. The Epistles or Letters (Romans - Jude) = Explanation
As churches grow, they have problems and questions. The Apostles (especially Paul) wrote letters to instruct Christians and churches what they should know and what they should do. These letters would deepen their understanding and help them to pass on the Gospel to future generations. The same letters help us today. Most of the letters were written to churches found in the book of Acts (I Corinthians 4:17; 7:17; 11:16; 16:1, 19; Galatians 1:1-2; Colossians 4:15-18; I Thessalonians 5:27; I Timothy 3:14-15; Romans 16:1-16, 21-24; II Peter 3:14-18; Jude 3).
5. The Book of Revelation = Consummation
This book brings everything to a climax: the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies, the Church Age, Christ's Kingdom on earth, the cosmic battle between God and Satan, God's final judgments, the end of the world, the Lake of Fire, a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 1:1-8,18-19; 4:1; 19:11-16; 20:1-15; 21:1-8; 22:12-21).