The Gospel is not in principle a new thing, a sub-version of the true religion as it has previously been known to the people of God. On the contrary, God promised it before, through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures. It is the fulfillment of hopes which God Himself inspired. “Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” (Rom 1:1-4)
Paul was separated to the gospel as an apostle to declare that the promised Messiah had indeed come in the flesh. “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke…I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” (Jer 31:31-34)
Under the Old Covenant, God’s holy laws were external. But after God made His Holy Spirit available to the Church under the New Covenant, now His laws can be written in our hearts and minds. We can begin to think and act as God thinks and acts, as is reflected in His perfect laws. This writing of the laws in our minds does not occur automatically. Our part is to study God’s Holy Bible and to think about and meditate on God’s laws, while the Holy Spirit shows us the meaning of Scripture and prompts us to act upon what we learn.
The Lord promised that the nation of Israel would be a blessing for all of the families on the earth (Gen 12:2-3). Psalm 2 introduces us to the Messiah of God. Psalm 40 tells of His incarnation. Psalm 22 details His agony on the cross, but Psalm 16 rejoices in His resurrection – by which He conquered death.
It is through faith in Him, that we who believe, have a living hope. David speaks of His knowing that the Lord will not leave him in hell, but understands that the Lord has a plan for His people’s salvation: God’s Son “born of the seed of David according to the flesh”. “For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Ps 16:10-11) Jesus, as a human being “according to the flesh” (Rom 1:3), was a direct descendant of King David, foretold long ago: “There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots” (Is 11:1).
Now Paul adds that the resurrection of Jesus from death to life proves that He was more than just a man: “and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom 1:4). That event, predicted by Jesus Himself (Matt 28:6), established that He was in fact the Son of God. It was a declaration by the power of the Holy Spirit of God—”the Spirit of holiness”—that Jesus, as God’s eternal Son, was in fact God. Who else could have raised Jesus from the dead but God’s own powerful Spirit?
Paul has established the truth that Jesus is fully human and also fully God. As God’s Son, Christ has reigned with God the Father forever. It is only right, then, that we should bow to Him as “Jesus Christ our Lord”, and serve Him as a bondservant. Jesus Himself said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matt 22:37). He also said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15).
But Jesus also knows that as sinful creatures still in our temporary bodies, we cannot live for Him on our own power; He is willing and able to provide that for us. “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4-5)