Gospel-Driven Blog’s New Home

June 28, 2009

Gospel-Driven Blog has a new home!

The name of the new blog is Paramount Blog, which is the blog of Paramount Church. The name of our church and blog come from 1 Corinthians 15:3 where Paul said, “I delivered to you as of first importance (i.e., paramount) what I also received…” Our name seeks to capture and emphasize the gospel, which is the foremost truth of the Christian faith and life.

Even though the name and location has changed, the content and focus remain the same, which is the gospel!

I would like to thank everyone who has spent the last couple of years reading and following Gospel-Driven Blog. It has been a great joy to hear from so many of you. Nothing is more joyous than to hear how the Lord, through the gospel, has brought so much encouragement and freedom to so many.

Gospel-Driven Blog will remain. However, all new articles, quotes, etc… from this day forward will be posted on our new home. I would be very grateful for your prayers as we move forward in planting Paramount Church.

Church planting is a tremendous privilege and huge responsibility. Like Paul (2 Cor. 2:16), I frequently find myself asking, “Who is sufficient for these things?” The obvious answer is, “No one!” Neither gospel ministry nor the Christian life can be accomplished by human ability or human means. Apart from the grace of God, we are absolutely useless. We can claim nothing from ourselves, except our sin and misery.

Thus, Paul goes on to explain, “5 Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life, (2 Cor. 3:5-6). Our only sufficiency comes from God, who by His grace through the gospel and the Holy Spirit, has made us competent and given us life.

The gospel is always the issue. Here Paul extols and magnifies the dignity and sufficiency of the gospel. I am what I am and I serve in the capacity that I serve by grace alone (1 Cor. 15:10).

There truly is nothing more notable or glorious in the church than the ministry of the gospel. The gospel is paramount! It is my prayer that as you read Paramount Blog, you will continue to be encouraged and liberated by the Good News of Christ. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ so that the gospel becomes paramount in your life for God’s glory and your eternal joy. (2 Thess. 3:5)!

Gospel blessings!

John Fonville


Gospel-Driven Quote of the Week

June 24, 2009

“Extol and magnify God’s mercy, who has adopted you into his family; who, of slaves, has made you sons; of heirs of hell, heirs of the promise. Adoption is a free gift. He gave them power, or dignity, to become the sons of God. As a thread of silver runs through a whole piece of work, so free grace runs through the whole privilege of adoption. Adoption is greater mercy than Adam had in paradise; he was a son by creation, but here is a further sonship by adoption. To make us thankful, consider, in civil adoption there is some worth and excellence in the person to be adopted; but there was no worth in us, neither beauty, nor parentage, nor virtue; nothing in us to move God to bestow the prerogative of sonship upon us. We have enough in us to move God to correct us, but nothing to move him to adopt us, therefore exalt free grace; begin the work of angels here; bless him with your praises who has blessed you in making you his sons and daughters.”

Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity, p. 240


What the Gospel Is and Isn’t

June 18, 2009

What is the gospel?

“There is nothing more notable or glorious in the church than the ministry of the gospel,” so wrote John Calvin (Institutes, 4.3.3.).

Yet, regrettably, there is also nothing more misunderstood and so easily distorted. There is a great deal of confusion among believers about what the gospel is. It is quite easy for the gospel to become mixed with other vital truths that are related to it but that are not part of the gospel itself.

Therefore, before answering what the gospel is, we must answer what the gospel is not, so that people are not required to believe more than is necessary for salvation. On the other hand, we must answer what the gospel is so that people know what is necessary to believe for salvation.

What is not the gospel?

The gospel is not man’s response to it. The gospel is not about what man does but rather about what Christ did. Faith and repentance are the proper responses to the gospel (Mk. 1:14-15) but neither faith nor repentance are part of the gospel.

The response demanded by the gospel is not the gospel. The gospel is not simply calling on people to make a decision. Establishing man’s alienation from God and his need of the gospel is not the gospel. Calling people to repent of their sins and to trust Christ is true and necessary but neither is the gospel. Calling on people to obey and live upright moral lives is not the gospel.

The distinction between the content of the gospel and its demands must be kept utterly distinct. To confuse one’s duty with the gospel is to leave the impression that the essence of the gospel and the Christian faith is what a man does rather than what God has done in Christ (2 Cor. 5:19).

The gospel is not the new birth. People often hear preachers telling people, “You must be born again!” However, this is neither the gospel nor something man is capable of doing. Regeneration (Jn. 3:3-8) is the glory of God’s amazing grace that reaches down and brings a dead heart to life. In regeneration the grace of God enables the sinner to receive and rest in Jesus Christ as He is freely offered in the gospel. It is therefore closely related to the gospel (and faith) but it is not the gospel.

The gospel is not the work of the Father or Holy Spirit. God is Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. All three persons of the one God are intimately involved in the gospel, but their roles are different. For example, the Father sends the Son (Jn. 4:34) and the Holy Spirit testifies of Christ and baptizes believers (Jn. 15:26; Acts 1:5). Yet while preaching of the Father’s love (e.g., Jn. 3:16) or the Holy Spirit’s witness of Christ in men’s hearts are all true and necessary for the gospel to be the gospel they are not themselves the gospel but rather fruits of the gospel.

D.A. Carson provides the following helpful summary concerning the importance of understanding what is not the gospel:

    “By contrast, the first two greatest commands—to love God with heart and soul and mind and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves—do not constitute the gospel, or any part of it. We may well argue that when the gospel is faithfully declared and rightly received, it will result in human beings more closely aligned to these two commands. But they are not the gospel. Similarly, the gospel is not receiving Christ or believing in him, or being converted, or joining a church; it is not the practice of discipleship. Once again, the gospel faithfully declared and rightly received will result in people receiving Christ, believing in Christ, being converted, and joining a local church; but such steps are not the gospel.

    The Bible can exhort those who trust the living God to be concerned with issues of social justice (Isa 2; Amos); it can tell new covenant believers to do good to all human beings, especially to those of the household of faith (Gal 6); it exhorts us to remember the poor and to ask, not “Who is my neighbor?” but “Whom am I serving as neighbor?” We may even argue that some such list of moral commitments is a necessary consequence of the gospel. But it is not the gospel. We may preach through the list, reminding people that the Bible is concerned to tell us not only what to believe but how to live. But we may not preach through that list and claim it encapsulates the gospel…

    Failure to distinguish between the gospel and all the effects of the gospel tends, on the long haul, is to replace the good news as to what God has done with a moralism that is finally without the power and the glory of Christ crucified, resurrected, ascended, and reigning, (Themelios, 34.1, April 2009).

What is the gospel?

The gospel is the saving event of Jesus Christ (i.e., Messiah), which is rooted in the Scriptures concerning His life, death, burial and resurrection.

It is the proclamation concerning this past, perfect, finished historic event of what God in Christ did for sinners for which they could not do for themselves.

In I Corinthians 15:1-4, Paul provides one of the clearest and succinct summaries of the gospel in the Bible. He reminds the Corinthian church of what is of paramount importance concerning the gospel.

Christ’s Death- 1 Cor. 15:3b

The gospel announces that Christ died on the cross for sinners and paid in full the penalty they deserved for their sins (Rom. 5:8; 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:13; Col. 2:13-14; 1 Pet. 2:24a). He died on the cross as the sinner’s substitute for the life sinners do live but shouldn’t.

In order to qualify as an acceptable sacrifice for sinners, Christ had to be personally perfect (Heb. 9:14; 1 Pet. 1:19). The Scriptures teach that Christ lived a perfectly obedient and sinless life on behalf of sinners (1 Pet. 2:22; 1 Jn. 3:5). He lived the kind of life for sinners that sinners don’t live but should (Matt. 5:48).

Christ’s Burial- 1 Cor. 15:4a

The gospel announces that after Jesus’ death, He was taken down from the cross and laid in a tomb (Acts 13:29). Jesus’ burial certifies the reality of His death and points forward to the reality of His resurrection.

Christ’s Resurrection- 1 Cor. 15:4b

The gospel announces that Christ rose from the dead on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures and appeared for forty days to a host of eyewitnesses (1 Cor. 15:4a-7; see also: Matt. 28:1-10; Mk. 16:1-8; Lk. 24:1-12; Jn. 20:1-10; Acts 2:24-32).

The death of Christ, the forgiveness of sins, faith and the preaching of the gospel are futile without His triumphant resurrection (1 Cor. 15:12-19). Therefore, the resurrection is the central fact of the gospel. Christ’s resurrection (and subsequent ascension, cf. Acts 1:9) completes the gospel.

The resurrection vindicated Jesus’ teaching, His sinless life and atoning death. In the resurrection, God the Father proclaims that He is fully satisfied with Christ’s atonement for sin. On the cross, Christ cried, “It is finished,” and in the resurrection God the Father proclaimed, “It is accepted!”

The resurrection was the fulfillment of OT prophecy (Acts 13:30-37). It declared Jesus to be the Davidic Messiah, the Son of God in power (Rom. 1:4; cf. Jn. 20:31), the risen Lord of the world (Acts 2:22-36, cf. Matt. 28:18) and is thus the basis for the believer’s justification before God (Rom. 4:24).

What is your response?

The gospel is not a value-neutral historic event (e.g., like knowing who won the first American Idol contest). As noted previously, the gospel demands a response. How then will you respond? Will you believe the gospel? Will you trust in Jesus alone to forgive your sins?

The gospel’s invitation is free. You do not have to delay. You do not have to prepare yourself to come. All that a man brings to the Lord in salvation is his sin, sheer disgrace and emptiness.

Jesus calls you to freely believe in Him who justifies the ungodly (Rom. 4:5). He does not require you to be godly before you believe. Jesus is a kind, gracious, merciful saving Lord. If you come, He will receive you. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” (Matt. 11:28) is both Christ’s invitation and promise.

* Copyright Paramount Church 2009


Paul: The Spiritual Abolitionist

June 15, 2009

Click here to download and read, Paul: The Spiritual Abolitionist (Not Man’s Gospel!, Part 16), an exposition of Galatians 2:1-10.


Gospel-Driven Quote of the Week

June 15, 2009

“A message that merely advocates morality and compassion remains sub-Christian even if the preacher can prove that the Bible demands such behaviors. By ignoring the sinfulness of man that makes even our best works tainted before God and by neglecting the grace of God that make obedience possible and acceptable, such messages necessarily subvert the Christian message. Christian preachers often do not recognize this impact of their words because they are simply recounting a behavior clearly specified in the text in front of them. But a message that even inadvertently teaches others that their works win God’s acceptance inevitably leads people away from the gospel.

Moral maxims and advocacy of ethical conduct fall short of the requirements of biblical preaching…

A textually accurate discussion of biblical commands does not guarantee Christian orthodoxy. Exhortations for moral behavior apart from the work of the Savior degenerate into mere pharisaism even if preachers advocate the actions with biblical evidence and good intent.”

Bryan Chapell, Christ-Centered Preaching, pp. 268-269


Paul: The Spiritual Abolitionist

June 8, 2009

Click here to download and read, Paul: The Spiritual Abolitionist (Not Man’s Gospel!, Part 15), an exposition of Galatians 2:1-10.


Gospel-Driven Quote of the Week

June 7, 2009

“By contrast, the first two greatest commands—to love God with heart and soul and mind and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves—do not constitute the gospel, or any part of it. We may well argue that when the gospel is faithfully declared and rightly received, it will result in human beings more closely aligned to these two commands. But they are not the gospel. Similarly, the gospel is not receiving Christ or believing in him, or being converted, or joining a church; it is not the practice of discipleship. Once again, the gospel faithfully declared and rightly received will result in people receiving Christ, believing in Christ, being converted, and joining a local church; but such steps are not the gospel.

The Bible can exhort those who trust the living God to be concerned with issues of social justice (Isa 2; Amos); it can tell new covenant believers to do good to all human beings, especially to those of the household of faith (Gal 6); it exhorts us to remember the poor and to ask, not “Who is my neighbor?” but “Whom am I serving as neighbor?” We may even argue that some such list of moral commitments is a necessary consequence of the gospel. But it is not the gospel. We may preach through the list, reminding people that the Bible is concerned to tell us not only what to believe but how to live. But we may not preach through that list and claim it encapsulates the gospel.

The gospel is what God has done, supremely in Christ, and especially focused on his cross and resurrection.

Failure to distinguish between the gospel and all the effects of the gospel tends, on the long haul, to replace the good news as to what God has done with a moralism that is finally without the power and the glory of Christ crucified, resurrected, ascended, and reigning.”

D.A. Carson, Themelios, 34.1


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