The Gospel Promise of God’s Performance
by Joseph Franks
Adam and Eve needed some good news.
Consider what they had done. They had disbelieved the compassion and wisdom of their Heavenly Father. They had chosen to ally themselves with Lucifer and had defied the clearly stated law of God. Consequently, they brought upon themselves and their descendents spiritual deadness, emotional instability, relational chaos, environmental curse, generational depravity, physical depreciation, volitional pain, and death. And these were only the first consequences on this side of the grave. The Lake of Fire was still to come.
However, it was to these wretches that God delivered the greatest of news — the Gospel Promise of God’s Performance. God set aside the bilateral contract of works and instituted his unilateral covenant of grace. The Holy Judge swore he would go to work on behalf these insolent rebels, and so he did. God pursued and found them. He drew the truth out of their mouths and showed them their iniquity. He then graciously covered them with his temporary substitutionary sacrifice which pointed to the eternal Lamb of God. God then promised he divorce them and their seed from Satan’s family. God would bring them into the victorious family of his Son.
Abraham needed some good news.
Consider what he had done. Though incredibly favored by God, Abraham, in his time of trouble and famine, forsook the Lord who brought him to the Promised Land. Instead, he trusted in the security of a local pagan king. Then, in order to safeguard his own neck, he sold his powerless wife into a heathen monarch’s harem. Some time later, distrusting God’s truthfulness and timing, Abraham argued with his Sovereign Lord about his friend Eliezer. Later, still disbelieving God’s wisdom and timing, Abraham slept with his young servant girl seeking to bring about God’s overdue prediction.
However, at least three times, God delivered the greatest of news to his sinful patriarch — the Gospel Promise of God’s Performance. God covenanted (he did not make a bilateral contract) to make of Abraham great nation; to bless him, make his name great, and cause him to be a universal blessing. (Genesis 12) Later, to this wretched sinner, God again swore to be his shield and his very great reward. God would do the work and cause Abraham to be the father of a special son and a great people. (Genesis 15) Then, one more time, God promised his performance. The Sovereign God guarantee land, descendants, and spiritual blessings to this man and his family. (Genesis 17)
All of us need some good news.
Consider who we are and what we have done. The Apostle Paul presents our bio in his letter to the Ephesians:
- We are dead in our trespasses and sins. (Eph. 2:1)
- We walk in a worldly manner. (Eph. 2:2)
- We follow the Prince of Darkness. (Eph. 2:2)
- We live according to fleshly passions. (Eph. 2:3)
- We are children who earned God’s holy wrath. (Eph. 2:3)
We are people born with a depraved default mode. We come forth from the womb proving ourselves to be infected with the Satanic curse. We are by nature children of the devil. Although we have an innate sense of God given us through nature and conscience, and although many of us have read the sacred text or heard biblical presentations, we do everything we can to squelch and mute it. We deny the truth and pretend we cannot hear God calling out to us. Therefore, God turns us over to more extensive depravity, and we are only too happy to go down that road. Disobeying his law, we become more and more satanic. We persistently eat of forbidden fruit and spit in his face. We worship ourselves, and we are willing to harm any neighbor who gets in our way. And in the process, we become progressively miserable as we heap sin upon sin. Like Adam and Eve, we are spiritually dead, emotionally unstable, relationally dangerous, environmentally cursed, physically depreciating parents birthing a generation even more vile and godless than our own. And these are only the consequences on this side of eternity. Hell is still to come.
However, it is to us wretches that God delivers the greatest of news — the Gospel Promise of God’s Performance. Hear now the Gospel as presented by Paul:
- God delivers grace and peace to us. (Eph. 1:2)
- God blesses us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. (Eph 1:3)
- God chooses us in Jesus Christ before the foundation of the world. (Eph. 1:4)
- God predetermines we will be holy and blameless in his sight. (Eph. 1:4)
- God loves us. (Eph. 1:5)
- God sets us apart for adoption as sons. (Eph. 1:5)
- God gloriously graces us. (Eph. 1:6)
- God blesses us in the Beloved. (Eph. 1:6)
- God expensively pays, buys, secures, or redeems us through his own blood. (Eph. 1:7)
- God forgives our trespasses. (Eph. 1:7)
- God lavishes grace upon us. (Eph. 1:8)
- God grants us wisdom and insight into his over-arching plan. (Eph. 1:8-10)
- God enriches us with his inheritance. (Eph 1:11)
- God providentially brings about all he has predestined for us. (Eph. 1:11)
- God makes us hopeful worshipers living for the praise of his glory. (Eph. 1:12)
- God seals us and guarantees our inheritance with his Holy Spirit. (Eph. 1:13-14)
- God gives us ever growing knowledge of him and his blessings. (Eph. 1:17ff)
- God graciously saves us and makes us alive with Christ (Eph. 2:4-5)
- God waits to show us immeasurable riches in the coming ages (Eph. 2:7)
Oh friends, do you see how we have performed? God has presented a bilateral contract of law to us, and we have done nothing but transgressed the terms. However, God has made a unilateral covenant of grace — the Gospel Promise of God’s Performance. Hear Paul again:
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9)
The Spiritual blessings we enjoy are not based upon our works. They are not based upon our contract keeping, our faithfulness, or even our faith. (Yes, men are saved through faith, but this faith is a gift of God who performs on their dead and faithless soul. Therefore, if you find yourself believing, with your mouth express your gifted faith, come to Jesus and be saved.)
Friends, all our spiritual blessings are the result of God’s unilateral, undeserved, unbreakable, one-way, covenant. The Law tells us how to perform to earn his favor. The Gospel tells us how he performs to favor us. In the Gospel, God is the Promise-Maker and Promise-Keeper; we are merely the unworthy and passive recipients. God is the one who makes and keeps covenant; we are merely the most blessed beneficiaries. God is the one who does all that is necessary for us to be adopted into his royal family. We cannot boast any anything we have done. We can only glory in Jesus’ substitutionary performance on our behalf.
So today, enjoy the Good News of the Gospel. Relax a bit. Relish the Savior’s love. Rest in Christ and count your many, many blessings. The Gospel is indeed the best news possible; it is the promise of God’s performance for you.
And now that you have found joy in God’s performance for you, enjoy glorifying him. Go ahead and perform for him, even though it is all gratuitous.