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Day 268 – Thru the Bible
Today we continue in Luke.
Luke 2 – This familiar Christmastime story contains a depth of gospel meaning that we may not see at first glance. Rather than bringing fear, which is the appropriate response to seeing the glory and greatness of God, the gospel (the “good news”) is described by the angels as “great joy that will be for all the people.” It is a message of joy because a Savior and Lord has arrived to save and reign over us, including even those not born of Jewish descent. It is a message of joy because this Savior and Lord is the One who brings peace and acceptance from God Himself.
To receive the good news of the gospel is to come to understand that, despite our background and failures, God reaches out to us with the loving message of peace. Receiving the gospel is not just understanding an abstract idea but it is believing by faith that the glorious God of the universe is now pleased with us and speaks peace into our personal lives. The result is release from fear and entry into freedom, joy, and an eager seeking after our Lord.
In Simeon’s words we see the universal scope of the gospel. Now in Jesus, God’s plan from the beginning of creation is being accomplished—the spreading of His grace to all the earth, to Jew and Gentile.
Yet this gospel which corporately unites all people together also divides all people at the level of the heart. Because Jesus is God in the flesh, to face the gospel of Jesus is to face God. And to face God is to have our thoughts and hearts opened and revealed (Hebrews 4:12). This will result in a fall for any who are proud or opposed to Jesus (Luke 2:34). But for those like Simeon who see Jesus and respond to Him with hope, there is great news! This story invites us to see Jesus rightly and receive Him at the level of the heart as Savior and Lord, holding back nothing because God sees and knows all things, even what is in our hearts (Psalm 139:1–6).
How do you find your hope in this Story?
Luke 3 – Experiencing the forgiveness of sins, which is a foundational part of the gospel, comes to us through repentance. John offered a baptism that was not a magical ritual but represented a turning from sin on the part of the one being baptized. This is a matter of the heart. It is bad news for those who wish to earn God’s favor by religious actions. It is good news if we are willing to receive and experience the gospel at the level of the heart, turning away from our sins toward God.
John’s command to bear fruit that corresponds with repentance shows that there is both a true and a false kind of repentance. The false kind of repentance has some appearance of good but comes from an unhealthy, non-fruit-bearing tree and from those who may be called a “brood of vipers.” These images both speak of the inner person. This is a heart issue, not just a behavioral one. The viperous people who have a false repentance are trusting in their heritage, standing, and past acts (“we have Abraham as our father”). There is a real gospel warning here—not against weak faith or imperfect piety, but against a false repentance based on self-reliance.
John’s various instructions regarding repentance are very informative for applying the gospel to our lives. There is no cookie-cutter formula for what gospel application looks like for different people in different walks of life. What is consistent in these assorted instructions is a heart-level truthfulness and a treating of others as we would want to be treated (6:31). The considerations that form the second greatest command of the Old Testament law—to love our neighbor as ourselves (10:27; Deuteronomy 6:5)—also inform gospel application with regard to relating to one another, demonstrating the consistency of God’s heart throughout the Bible.
A clear indication of authentic repentance is we are pained by our sin (apart from God we are not bothered by our sin). Knowing this how do you have assurance of your true repentance?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
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