The Great End and Design of the Gospel

A Gospel-Driven life is God-centered and man effacing. All self-boasting is excluded by the Gospel. Faith is a self-emptying, Christ-exalting grace!

True saving faith embraces Christ with all His merits and makes Him its own, and no longer looks for anything apart from Christ (see Belgic Confession, Article 22: The Righteousness of Faith).

By grace (God’s divine favor) we are saved through faith (receiving and resting), not as a result of works but as a gift of God so that no one may boast (Eph. 2:8-9).

The gospel glorifies Christ and humbles man!

As the Westminster Larger Catechism states in Q. 155,

    “The Spirit of God maketh the reading, but especially the preaching of the Word, an effectual means of enlightening, convincing, and humbling sinners; of driving them out of themselves, and drawing them unto Christ….”

Walter Marshall in The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification writes, “This is the doctrine which glorifies God, and abases the creature; which is a mark of its truth,” (p. 136).

In Romans 3:27, Paul reveals why God freely justifies sinners. “Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith.”

God justifies sinners freely so that all boasting is excluded.

Man cannot earn salvation by his own works or merit. “For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law,” (Rom. 3:28).

God owes salvation to no one as their just due. Paul declares, “4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness…,” (Rom. 4:4-5; see also Matt. 20:1-16; Romans 9:6; Eph. 2:8-9; 2 Tim. 2:9-10; Titus 3:4-7).

Faith means that a sinner receives justification; man does not work for justification. Justification excludes all works. Faith embraces the merits of Christ alone (Rom. 3:28; Gal. 2:16; Philip. 3:8-9).

Indeed, God would be not be unrighteous if He gave sinners the condemnation they deserve (Dan. 9:7; Rom. 3:4-5). Yet, in His grace, He has chosen to save sinners and thus His righteousness is exalted through man’s unrighteousness.

Paul in Romans 5:20b-21 writes, “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Man is saved then not by his own righteousness but by the righteousness of God (Rom. 3:21-26). Jesus’ righteousness alone, for us (pro nobis), is the only ground of justification.

There is nothing in man that moved God to save him. “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” (Rom. 5:8, cf., v. 10).

There is nothing in man that makes him deserving of grace. “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…,” (Rom. 3:23). “…we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind,” (Eph. 2:3).

But God!

But God! (Praise the Lord!!!) “4 …being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved-…,” (Eph. 2:4-5).

We are saved by grace because God wants to remove all reasons for boasting on our part so that all the glory belongs to Him alone (cf., Eph. 1:6, 12, 14). Such is the great end and design of the gospel.

Yet, all who are of a legal spirit are ignorant of this great end and design. As Ralph Erskine teaches,

    They are ignorant of the great end of the gospel, which is, to humble and abase the creature to the lowest, and to raise and exalt grace to the highest: that no flesh shall glory in God’s presence, but he that glorieth, shall glory in the Lord; “In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.” That is the great end and design of the gospel: but the legal spirit is ignorant of that design, (Law-Death, Gospel-Life, p. 88).

The gospel proclaims that salvation (the whole package) is from God, through God and to God. “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen,” (Rom. 11:36).

And so we must conclude (contrary to much popular thinking and teaching within Evangelicalism today) that our lives are not about ourselves but about Him.

The great end and design of the Gospel is to humble and abase man to the lowest, and to raise and exalt the grace of God to the highest.

“Glory to God in the highest…,” (Lk. 2:14a)!

The design of the Gospel is not to display the prominence of man but rather to display the greatness of Christ and Him crucified so that in the coming ages He (God the Father) might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:10).

The Gospel takes dead aim at the glory of God.

“…far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Gal. 6:14a)

Soli Deo Gloria!

3 Responses to The Great End and Design of the Gospel

  1. Fantastic summation of the Gospel!! Spot on!!

    Soli Deo gloria INDEED!

  2. […] What then is the Gospel and why is it important? Following are a few thoughts that I offered in response to the question (for a more fuller discussion see What is the Gospel? and The Great End and Design of the Gospel). […]

  3. […] muse « Blood: thicker than creed Salvation unto His Glory January 9, 2008 Fonville:  “We are saved by grace because God wants to remove all reasons for boasting on our part so […]

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