In my reading this morning these words arrested me:
And I am sure that when I come unto you, I shall come in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ (Rom. 15.29).
This is Paul writing to the Romans about a trip their way he hoped to make. And he knows he will come to them “in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.”
The blessing—this is the promise God gave Abraham.
And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed (Gen. 22.18).
Paul with Holy-Spirit illumination points out that the seed of Abraham is Christ.
He saith not, And to thy seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ (Gal. 3.16).
Christ—and those in Christ—this is the seed of Abraham (Gal. 3.29). And so here is Paul, a man in Christ, coming to those among the nations to bless them with the blessing of Abraham.
What is the blessing of Abraham?
Shortly after the Spirit had fallen at Pentecost Peter was speaking to the people in a portico of the temple. He reminded them that they were “the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham: And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed” (Acts 3.25).
What is this blessing? Peter continued:
Unto you first God, having raised up His Son Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities (Acts 3.26).
“Unto you first…” He was speaking to those who were Jews by nature. Before long this blessing would go forth to the Gentiles too—God’s promise of old to Abraham now being fulfilled.
But does not our breath catch in our throat when we discover the reach of this blessing? Not only how wide its reach—that those who embrace Jesus Christ, whether Jew or Gentile, are a people blessed with the blessing of Abraham—but the depth of its reach as well, and its height. All too often we Christians view God’s blessings within the narrow confines of earthly prosperity—something even the most wicked of men can enjoy. Here Peter says that the blessing of Abraham consists in God’s Son Jesus turning men and women from their iniquities.
This is a profound statement. These ones are blessed in that sin no longer has dominion over them. They are free from the bondage of sin. This is the blessing of Abraham! And there is a fullness to this blessing… so great a fullness, and with such staggering implications (just read prayerfully through Romans 5.12-21), that one can scarcely take it in.
Sin has wrought utter havoc in the family of Adam, and terrible sorrow. But there is Good News. Exceedingly good news! We need not be subjects of the domain of sin and death! One has come who brought into being a totally different domain—the domain of the blessed, of those who are now free from sin and all its ruin. This is what “the blessing of the Gospel” is all about.
No more let sin and sorrow grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground.
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found.
The blessing of the Gospel is not a message in word only. It is not mere theory.
For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance… (1 Thes. 1.5).
The Gospel is a message in the power of the Holy Spirit that proves, that demonstrates, the reality of the victory of Jesus Christ over the whole realm of the law of sin and death. We really ought to be beside ourselves with joy for this, and I suspect that the reason we often are not is that we just don’t see the powerful far-reaching implications of this Gospel… and have not been impacted by it all that much. There is a Gospel that stops the workings of the law of sin and death in its tracks. There is a Gospel that in the fullness of its blessing means the dominion of grace and righteousness and eternal life.
It’s the blessing of Abraham—which in another place is revealed as the promise of the Spirit of God.
Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (Gal. 3.14).
How does Jesus Christ turn people from their iniquities? Yes, first by dying upon a Cross to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
But then He ascends to the right hand of the Father in order to receive for us the Promise from the Father—the Holy Spirit of promise—and comes again in the power of the Spirit, that you and I might live the blessed life that is free from sin, victorious over all.
Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He hath shed forth this which ye now see and hear (Acts 2.33).
Brothers and sisters, let us not settle for less than this Gospel. Theory will not cut it in this hour. Paul could say, “I’ve got the goods.” He was sure that when he arrived in Rome it would be with “the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.” Let us earnestly seek God in this hour for this same Blessing, the Blessing of the Gospel—the kind of Gospel Paul had—a Gospel not in word but in power. For we too, like Paul, are called to be emissaries of this Blessing… “far as the curse is found.”