Theology of Work - Lesson 7

Salvation: Elements of the Gospel

Gerry Breshears
Theology of Work
Lesson 7
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Salvation: Elements of the Gospel

Lesson 7 - Salvation: Elements of the Gospel


  1. What God does


Acts 2:22                  Jesus is Emmanuel


     Acts 2:23                  Jesus was crucified


     Acts 2:24-32                  Jesus was raised from the dead


     Acts 2:23                  Jesus was exalted


Acts 2:34                  Jesus has poured out the Holy Spirit



  1. How we respond


Acts 2:37                  Convicted


Acts 2:38                  Repent (Acts 26:20, Matthew 3:8)


Acts 2:41                  Trust


Acts 2:41                  Be Baptized


  1. What the results are:


Acts 2:38                  Forgiveness of sins


Acts 2:38                  Gift of Holy Spirit:  New life


Acts 2:46                  Hew Community


Acts 2:47                  New Mission


                           New Hope: Heaven


The Spirit-Empowered Gospel (Acts 2)


Adapted slightly from chapter 1, Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears, Vintage Church, Crossway, 2009.


Acts 2 is widely appreciated by Christians across varying denominational traditions and theological persuasions as the record of the dawning of the New Covenant Church. Jesus poured out his Spirit to begin and to commission the church—the community of Holy Spirit regenerated and empowered people who continue the ministry of Jesus.

Some people ask, “What is the gospel?” and then proceed with their own speculations, as if God never revealed it to us. A better answer is to read the Bible! There we find Peter’s sermon in Acts 2, which summarizes the gospel, the power center of the mission of the church. The gospel pattern of Acts 2, as well as of other Scriptures, breaks down into three aspects: (1) Revelation, or what God did; (2) Response, or what we do; and (3) Results, or what God gives.[1]


Revelation: What God Did


Peter begins by affirming that Jesus fulfills the promises of a divine Messiah, God come among us as accredited him by miracles, signs, and wonders (v. 22). Next, Peter declares that Jesus died on the cross according to God’s prophetic purpose (v. 23). Peter proceeds to emphasize the reality that God raised Jesus from death in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy (vv. 24–32). Peter concludes with the two final acts of God exalting Jesus to the right hand of the Father in triumph over the spiritual powers and pouring out the Spirit in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy (vv. 33–35).


Response: What We Do


The first thing we are to do in response to God’s revelation is realize our need for salvation, crying “what shall we do?” That leads us to repent (vv. 36–37). Repentance is the Spirit-empowered acknowledgement of sin that results in a change of mind about who/what is God in my life, what is important, and what is good and bad. This is followed by a change of behavior flowing out of an internal change of values. The second response is to accept the revealed message about Jesus by Spirit-empowered faith (v. 41). Faith means taking God at his word and trusting my life and eternity to the truth of his revelation. All of this is seen in the act of baptism which is the visible expression of our connection with the death and resurrection of Jesus through repentance and faith (vv. 38, 41).


Results: What God Gives


Peter immediately announces the gift of forgiveness of our sins, which is the result of the propitiatory death of Jesus (v. 38). This gift flows into justification, or the imputed righteousness of Jesus. Peter goes on to the second gift, the Holy Spirit and the new heart and new life of Christ (v. 38). This is regeneration, or the imparted righteousness of Jesus, is for living a new life as a Christian with, like, for, to, and by the living Jesus. The third gift is membership in the body of Christ, the new community of the Spirit called the church. This community is a supernatural community where God’s power is seen from miracles and supernatural signs to the sharing of possessions among the community members and giving to all in need (vv. 41–47).


This full and robust biblical understanding of the gospel is incredibly important. There are many truncations of the gospel in today’s church. Some overemphasize the missional aspect of the church and in so doing abandon the theological truth that Jesus is God who came in the flesh to die and propitiate the just wrath of God toward sin. Others overemphasize the experiential aspect of the church and focus almost exclusively on renewal and worship while neglecting God’s missional calling for the church to be incarnational like Jesus and actively involved in their community and its culture. Perhaps the most common overemphasis is the confessional reduction of the gospel to Jesus’ death, forgiveness of sin, and imputed righteousness leading to eternal life in heaven. While this is true, it neglects Jesus’ exemplary life, resurrection, imparted life of regeneration, and the rich life of the missional community of the church on the earth until we see him face to face.

Tragically, many Christians have lost the understanding of the new life of the Spirit. They do not preach or live the regeneration of believers. Rather than living out a joy-filled life flowing from their deepest desire to be like Jesus, they settle for being sinners saved by grace, obligated to do all they can to keep the law of God by duty rather than delight. Subsequently, they have lost the double gift of imputed righteousness, which accompanies our justification, and the imparted righteousness of the indwelling Spirit, which accompanies our new heart and regeneration. On the cross God did a work for us by saving us through the death of Jesus in our place for our sins. At Pentecost we then see that God does a work in us through the Holy Spirit in our hearts for our regeneration. Together, both our eternity and every step along the way can be filled with hope, joy, purpose, and passion if we see the relationship between the cross and Pentecost.

God promised a new covenant when Messiah came: “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.”[2] In the Bible, “heart” does not usually refer to the physical organ but rather the metaphorical center, seat, and sum of who we are. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” Therefore, if our life is a river, it flows from the wellspring of our heart. The regenerating work of the Holy Spirit in the heart as the source of the Christian life and Christian church;

People who are regenerated are repeatedly spoken of throughout the New Testament as new people with a new identity, new mind, new desires, new emotions, new power, new hope, new joy, new love, new passion, and new freedom to live a new life. Therefore, by the Spirit’s power and our heart’s desire, we live for, like, through, by, and with Jesus Christ for God’s glory and our joy. We live our as missionaries for Jesus in the world by loving our neighbors. We also gather together as the church to grow together in love for our spiritual brothers and sisters, all of which is done out of love for God because he has loved us so well.


[1]            These three organizational points are adapted from Steve Walker, pastor of Redeemer’s Fellowship, Roseburg, OR. The same basic outline can be seen in Luke 24:46–47; Acts 10:39–43; 13:26–39; Romans 4:22–25; and 1 Corinthians 15:1–8.

[2]            Ezek. 36:26–27.


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We are created in God's image and God invites us to be co-workers with him. By developing and using the spiritual gifts God has given us, the tasks we perform when we work have eternal significance in themselves. We also have opportunities to interact with our co-workers, promote justice and enjoy times of rest.

So what is God calling you to do? Is his calling only for pastors and “professional ministers” or is it something that applies to all of his people? Dr. Gerry Breshears, professor of systematic theology at Western Seminary, explores key questions such as who God is, what he has created people to be, how being the image of God affects the way we approach work, and what is the role of spiritual gifts in our job. This course will expand your vision of what work is all about, as you come to see yourself as God’s co-worker and representative.

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