[forthright] The Essential Outline: The Main Points

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From: "Forthright Magazine" <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Mon, 27 Nov 2006 11:40:32 -0200
Forthright Magazine
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Straight to the Cross

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COLUMN: Final Phase

The Essential Outline: The Main Points
by J. Randal Matheny, editor

"Give it to me in a 100 words or less."
Considering the sound-bite post-modern that he
was, I suppose it could have been worse. But how
to reduce the gospel to a paragraph?

Now that I think of it, the gospel writers did it
all the time. The New Testament is laced with
summaries, compact statements of the gospel
message. Like Paul's in Romans 1:2-4.

   "This gospel he promised beforehand
   through his prophets in the holy
   scriptures, concerning his Son who was a
   descendant of David with reference to the
   flesh, who was appointed the Son-of-God-
   in-power according to the Holy Spirit by
   the resurrection from the dead, Jesus
   Christ our Lord" (NET).

In his Daily Study Bible, William Barclay wrote
that Paul sets forth here in its "most essential
outline" the gospel he preached. As the apostle
opens his letter to a church he has never visited,
he signals some of the important themes he will
develop and forms another marvelous summary of
what the gospel is all about.

THE OUTLINE

What points make up the essential outline on
Paul's mind when he writes to the Romans?

1. Prophecy.

We have no secretive God, but one who tells us
ahead of time his plans and intentions. With the
Lord's promise through the prophets, we know the
Good News was a long time in preparation, the
special project of a God who wouldn't take no for
an answer.

So that these promises wouldn't get lost, he had
them written down in holy scripture. The heart
might forget them, but God puts in writing for us
that he will not lose track of his plan.

2. The Incarnation.

God became man. That simple statement hides the
most powerful paradox of all, the murkiest of
mysteries, the toughest theological conundrum. And
sparkles with the brightest of hopes, with the
deepest laugh of joy, with love's purest stream.
The eternal God gave himself a beginning. The
limitless Lord fenced himself in. The invisible
Spirit was seen, touched, and diapered. The
timeless Divinity rose with the sun, slept at
night, watched the clouds for rain, lived by the
calendar.

The Creator called a woman mom and a man dad. He
who breathed life into a motionless body listened
to parents tell of their ancestors. All because a
rescue mission reached the hour of execution and
the rescuer need descend into the muck and mire to
extract the perishing.

As David's descendent, Jesus pulled together all
his Father's promises to make good on the goodness
of God.

3. The Resurrection.

Jesus rose from the dead. God proved the mission
was a success. The first of many laid aside his
burial shrouds to live again and frighten guards
to death, as the Giver of life ripped from death
its prey and breathed life again into an expired
body. The king of terrors met his match in the
Lord of life. The cry "Jesus lives" became the
seal of the Spirit, divine proof that God still
worked and works today.

4. The Spirit.

Words mean everything when the Spirit makes them
so. When God appoints, the Spirit acts. In tandem
with Father and Son, the Holy Spirit speaks and by
speaking makes light appear, history turn out
right, dead men walk, and cowards charge into
battle. Hear from him no jibberish, but perfect
sense. Flows from him, not confusion, but the
fount of peace. He signs no treasonous truces, but
carries a friendly sword. He says little of self
to reveal the Master and cast the beams of sight
upon the Father.

5. The powerful Lord.

The final word is Jesus. The definitive work is
his. The law required of men what they could not
do; the gospel bestowed upon them what they could
not give. From cradle to crown, from humbled
servant to highest throne, from wood shavings
under his feet to death and sin and the grave as
his footstool, he is the Son of God with power,
who completes his Father's work, who works while
it is day, who has food to eat besides what lies
on a plate. He is the powerful Lord, who
accompanies every effort for good, upholds the
weak, retreads the weary, embraces the lonely,
heals the wounded, calms the fearful, and
enlightens the bewildered.

Not merely a thousand voices blend in unison with
his name upon blasphemous lips, but a million
hearts wholly consecrated to do his will move in
concert to fulfill his greatest desire, the
obedience of faith.

Next week, "The Essential Outline: The Bottom
Line."

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