Paul Was A Gospel-Man
Written by R. Scott Clark |
Wednesday, July 27, 2022
Paul was “set apart” for the Good News that Christ has saved sinners. Christ justifies sinners. He sanctifies sinners and he glorifies sinners by sola gratia, sola fide. Does that scandalize you? That is a warning sign, is it not? If it scandalizes you, if that sounds a little Antinomian to you, then perhaps you are not yet a gospel-man like Paul.
Paul Was A Gospel Man
Gospel means good news and Paul was a “gospel man.” I am uncertain where I first heard this expression but it is a good expression because it captures a basic orientation to the faith. There are those Christians who are perpetually glum, whether about the state of the world (this is a big pothole into which it is easy to fall) or about the state of their sins. To be sure, there are plenty of examples in the Psalms and elsewhere of believers reckoning with both and crying out to the Lord, but there is a difference between realism and honesty before the Lord and others about the state of things or the state of one’s soul and perpetual, relentless misery. I am increasingly convinced that those whose spiritual environment (e.g., church, Christian friends, the spiritual culture in which one lives) is dominated by the law (e.g., “do this” “you need to get better at that”) tend toward glumness. Eeyore (the fictional donkey in Winnie the Pooh) is amusing because he represents such a contrast to the generally upbeat characters in the stories. Christopher Robin is generally cheery. Of course, Pooh, so long has he has had his honey, is cheery. Eeyore is the exception and we only have to bear with him briefly.
A gospel-oriented spiritual culture makes a real difference in a congregation and in one’s outlook generally. Paul was a gospel-oriented Christian. To be a gospel-man, of course, means that one is utterly committed to the Good News of Jesus Christ. Paul was that. He brooked no corruption of the good news by anyone, not even by a fellow apostle (e.g., Peter. See Gal. 2:11–14). When the Apostle Peter compromised the gospel by refusing to eat with Gentile Christians (for fear of offending the Judaizers), the Apostle Paul rebuked him publicly and to good effect. If the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15) happened after the rebuke, then we see the fruit of it. Peter stoutly defended the gospel against the Judaizers and insisted on their full inclusion into the visible church. After all, in Christ the dividing wall (contra the Dispensationalists) has been torn down (Eph. 2:11‐22). In Christ there is no Jew nor Gentile (Col 3:11; Gal. 3:28–29).
Because he was a gospel-man, Paul preached the Good News. He preached the law in its three uses (pedagogical, civil—contra the theocrats, we never see him calling any magistrate to enforce the 1st table—and the normative, i.e., as the rule of the Christian life) but the thing that got him into trouble with the civil authorities, with the Jews, and with some Christians was that he was relentless about preaching the good news. We may infer from Romans 6:1 that some were accusing him of antinomianism. “The Doctor,” Martyn Lloyd-Jones, is famous for his comments on Romans 6:1:
If your presentation of the Gospel does not expose it to the charge of Antinomianism, you are probably not putting it correctly. What do I mean by that? Just this: The Gospel, you see, comes as this free gift of God–irrespective of what man does. Now, the moment you say a thing like that, you are liable to provoke somebody to say, “Well, if that is so it doesn’t matter what I do.” The Apostle takes up that argument more than once in this great epistle. “What then,” he says at the beginning of chapter 6, “shall we do evil–commit sin–that grace might abound?”… So, let all of us test our preaching, our conversation, our talk to others about the Gospel by that particular test…If you don’t make people say things like that sometimes, if you’re not misunderstood and slanderously reported from the standpoint of Antinomianism, it’s because you don’t believe the Gospel truly and you don’t preach it truly.