Brian G. Hedges has written a book that I am really enjoying entitled, “Christ Formed in You: The Power of the Gospel for Personal Change“. Part of the reason I am enjoying it so much is that it is helping me in our study of Galatians at Calvary Baptist Church. It helps flesh out our understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ and makes practical some of what we are learning “doctrinally”. I want to continue to post key thoughts or summaries from each chapter. Shepherd Press sent it to me as a review copy; I will tell you upfront that this is one book you should own, read and put into practice.
Chapter Two (the Key to Transformation: the Gospel)
Hedges begins this chapter with a quote from Tim Keller that really got my attention:
The gospel is not just the minimum required doctrine necessary to enter the kingdom, but the way we make all progress in the kingdom.
This chapter is basically a summary of the gospel of grace of Jesus Christ. Hedges is concise but thorough, deep but readable. He holds the cross high, as it should be, in the discussion of what the gospel is. In his discourse, he speaks to the achievements of the cross:
- Substitution – Jesus died in our place (he took on our guilt and bore our penalty in our place)
- Propitiation – Jesus appeased the wrath of God in our place
- “The beauty of propitiation is that our just and holy God is more satisfied with the obedience and death of Christ than he is grieved and angered by our God-belittling sins.” (p.47)
- Redemption – Jesus paid the price of our ransom (we are free in Christ)
- Reconciliation – Jesus made it possible to be friends with God
- Some of my favorite verses in Scripture are 2 Corinthians 5:17-21
- Triumph – Jesus was victorious over sin, Satan and death
Hedges then moves from the cross to the Resurrection and speaks to the implications of the power of the Resurrection:
- The Resurrection is Physical – Jesus physically raised from the grave into “glorious, physical life.” (p.50)
- The Resurrection is Eschatological – Jesus’ resurrection “…inaugurates, the day to come.” (p.51) 1 Corinthians 15:20-26
Jesus’ physical resurrection from the dead was the ultimate undoing of the tragedy of sin. In raising Jesus from death, the Father publicly vindicated his Son’s work on the cross. God’s future kingdom invaded the present age with triumphant power. (p.53)
I really appreciated the fact that Hedges then spent some time discussing what a lot of us fail to include in the telling of the Gospel: the Triumph of Christ’s Exaltation. All things were “put under the feet” of Christ, Eph.1:1923). This phraseology has the idea of victory over one’s enemies, Hedges explains. What also is included is the demonstration of what God’s “…original purpose and intention for human beings and their relationship to the created world.” (p.54) Christ, being fully God and fully man, resumes that lordship at the Father’s right hand.
His exaltation to a place of authority is something we will share. We are beneficiaries of the restoration of humanity that Christ accomplished through his resurrection. When Scripture tells us that we can anticipate being made like him, this is essentially what it means. (p.55)
Hedges begins to close the chapter with a brief description of the work of the Spirit:
We are dependent on the Spirit for every inch of progress in our pursuit of holiness and transformation. (p.57)
This explanation of the gospel demands a response and Brian reveals the how the reader should respond to the gospel: through repentance (turning from sin and turning to God) and faith (trusting Christ and relying on his accomplishments). I appreciate these thoughts from Hedges as he wraps up chapter two:
Genuine faith is always a repentant faith. And true repentance is always a believing repentance.