IN Luke 24:44-49 our Lord gave to His disciples, just before He ascended to the Father, a precious summary of gospel truth.
He began: “These are the words which I spake unto you while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and in the Prophets and in the Psalms concerning Me.” Here is the fulfillment of prophecy, and notice how He includes the whole of the Old Testament Scriptures: the Law, the Psalms, the Prophets. For a right view of the gospel, we must start with Genesis. After He said this, we read that “then opened He their understanding that they might understand the Scriptures.” “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God,” and our Lord is the true key to the Scriptures.
He said next, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day.” The gospel begins with “It is written”—it is a revelation of God and is built upon recorded facts in His Word. And the twin gospel facts are the death and resurrection of our Lord—so Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4. So it is declared in Romans 4:25: “Delivered for our offences and raised for our justification.” And so does baptism set forth the twin facts of our death with Christ to sin and our resurrection to walk in newness of life. Calvary and the open tomb must always go together.
With these two glorious facts to proclaim, our Lord said next “that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” Remission of sins is made possible through His shed blood, but before it can become effectually ours there must be repentance—a change of mind about sin, self and the Savior—and a turning from darkness to light. The “repentance” note has been left out of much of our preaching. It is elemental to point out the blessed grace of God, with pardon offered freely to all, but God commands all men everywhere to repent, and we dare not do less.
“And ye are witnesses of these things.” Witnesses of His death and resurrection. The disciples had seen Him die, but all who believe are witnesses of these things in experience. He also said that we are witnesses unto Him, but before we can witness to we must be witnesses of these facts in our own lives. We cannot witness to something we know not of. That is the tragedy of much preaching today; it is a speaking about these facts without a warm personal experience of them.
But the weakness in much testimony is implied in our Lord’s next word here: “And, behold, I send the promise of My Father upon you; but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem until ye be endued with power from on high.” It is not enough even to be witnesses of these facts if we speak them without the power which must accompany them. The early church had the facts, but had to wait for the fire. We today need not wait for Pentecost to come, but we do need to tarry in order to get right with God and yielded to Him. It is not that He must be coaxed; it is not His reluctance, but our rebellion, that hinders the blessing.
Putting all these words together, we have the gospel summary: prophecy fulfilled, the Word written; Calvary and the resurrection; repentance and remission; witnessing and the power of the Spirit.