Their Devotion, God’s Design – Acts 2:42-47

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved (Acts 2:42-47).

God’s Wisdom – James 3:13-18

Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace (James 3:13–18).

The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill – Lessons Learned?

I’m nearing the end of listening to the podcast series on the Rise and Fall of Mars Hill. It has struck me to the core in more ways than one. I’ve recommended it on Facebook multiple times, but I feel like an echo chamber doing so. I can hear myself shout it from the mountain tops but I’m not sure anyone hears.

Why does this affect me so much? Because I lived through and went through a similar experience but on a much smaller scale. Smaller in terms of it was a small church, but larger because it was a small church. What I mean is that we were not in some distant relationship to the issue like many at Mars Hill. Of course, there were those there that probably had it worse than us. They experienced firsthand the abuse Driscoll dished out, and then they lost their jobs, they lost their church, and they lost their friends in one failed swoop.

I see how narcissists simply move on. They do damage, they defend, they deflect, and then they trample. It’s easy for them. It was easy for Driscoll. He has moved on. He is now pastoring a new flock in the Phoenix metro and most of them probably have no clue who he is or what he’s done. He’s a great storyteller, as the podcast has repeatedly told the listener, and he really is. I went to Mars Hill once while in Seattle and it was really cool at the time.

Yet, Mark moves on. He left the bus after it had rolled over many and left a mountain behind it. Narcissistic leaders are not new, and sadly Driscoll isn’t the first and he certainly won’t be the last. What motivates these people? I don’t know, but it is probably insecurity. It probably stems from Daddy or Mommy wounds. Maybe it’s from childhood trauma or a sense of bravado that needs to be the center of attention. No matter the cause it’s a real thing, and when these guys get into a leadership position, and they always end up in leadership positions, they tend to steamroll people and leave dead bodies in their wake.

I wish I could write more. I wish I could write more eloquently about the issues, and about how the damaged people are still damaged, and yet the Driscoll’s of the world move on. We were “lucky” I suppose. We didn’t depend on them for our livelihood, and we had other friends. We landed at other solid churches, and we never blamed God or questioned our faith. We questioned people, and we should question people, because it’s the people doing ungodly things that hurt others, not God Himself.

And the hope is that God uses it for blessing others. How can we forget those that have suffered far worse than us? How can we forget what Paul went through at the hands of others, or our Lord Jesus Christ so that we might receive His benefits? I don’t think I’m like Jesus by the way, but I want to be. I will work at it, and I’ll work at being able to be a blessing to those that have suffered at the hands of an authoritarian leader. If God sees fit to use me this way.

If you haven’t, I encourage you to listen to this whole series. It is really done remarkably well, even to the amazing production level that Driscoll himself sought. How ironic.

No matter what seek Christ and stay close to Him. He is a comfort in the deepest storms. He is worthy of our earthly suffering. No matter what.


The Need to Control People

I once heard Joe Theismann say, “it’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.” I understand the sentiment. It’s a “nice” statement. Being nice is not a biblical position, but it is a biblical position to be kind. Kindness has the connotation of virtue, and of being useful. Nice, according to Webster’s 1828 dictionary is softness or delicate. Modernity has told us it’s nice to be nice, but the Bible has a different solution to properly deal with people given the context necessary to deal with them. We can’t always be nice, but we must be truthful and loving, and sometimes love is not received well.

We started our summer vacation and that included a trip to Iowa. Yes, I know, who goes to Iowa for vacation? We have now lived in New Mexico for three years. It was a planned trip, and we had a desire to see many friends. The time spent with them has been sweet, and renewing affections for them and us was unnecessary, the affections have never left.

We also knew there was the possibility of encountering our old “friends” from Grace Fellowship (GFC). If you are new here you can brush up on who they are here, here, and here. In short, they are the church we were members of for nine years. When we left the church, I was serving as a Deacon and we were in good standing. We had never been under any discipline. We attended faithfully (of course that was required) and we gave faithfully and abundantly to the ministry (God loves a cheerful giver as we were reminded of every week). But we were giving to the Lord, not to them, although they were charged with the stewardship, I digress…

In the six or eight months leading up to our departure, I began having conversations with the pastor, Mike Reid, about legalism. The church was going through a lack of joy phase, admitted by the elders, and certainly experienced by our family. As time progressed it became evident, that they had zero intention or desire to make any course corrections. They were firm in their resolve, we might say, to stay the course. The course, of course, was not just legalism. It was far worse and looking back it was hard to imagine just how bad it really was and still is. I expect this post may help shed some light on those skeptics, or the ones that might think it’s time for us to get over it. I’ve addressed that topic as well previously; you can find that article here if you are so inclined.

The week we’ve spent in Iowa has been surreal. It’s a great place. It’s beautiful, it’s green, it’s friendly, it’s almost everything you would want in a place to live, except for the roads, the winters, and the cultish, or dare I say cult, “The Church of Davenport” that we once called home. I’ve not come to that distinction lightly. It took a long time for me to call it a cult. The more I’ve studied, read, and discussed the issue with others far more advanced than me, I can come to no other conclusion. The audio below will hopefully convince you as well.

Since coming to see the beauty of Christ in the gospel I have given myself to seeking the Lord and living as God calls me to live. I fail often. I get back up and seek again. The one thing I’ve never sought to do is be willfully ignorant nor rebellious to His word. I know what the Bible teaches about most major doctrines. I understand many theological nuances. I am well-studied on many topics. I understand my own weaknesses and shortcomings. But I would never knowingly dishonor the Lord through my actions. That is what I’m being accused of doing by writing these articles and appearing on the Apologetics Live podcasts to expose GFC.

What I can’t get my mind around is whether Mike Reid thinks the same thing. I’ve tried to reconcile his salvation with his actions. He has stated that I’ve questioned his salvation. I certainly do urge him to examine himself. Just as he has urged so many to examine themselves.

What I find reprehensible are his actions.  

It is after all, “by their fruits that we will know them” (Matthew 7:20). What are the fruits of Mike Reid and Grace Fellowship’s actions? These are just a few.

He has a poor reputation in the community and abroad. I would say that every church in town knows of GFC and knows how they act. It’s not just that they are active in the open air. I have no issue here, but it is that Mike himself is thought of as being imbalanced. I have personally spoken with several pastors locally, and many others nationally that know of him and know what he does. This alone should disqualify him from ministry.

“Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil” (1 Tim. 3:7).

He is not above reproach. He has a loose tongue and often says things that are unbecoming of a pastor. Those that have been around him when he is in a casual setting know this about him. I’ve written before about how he asked my wife if “all her parts were still working” while riding in the car with another man. It is disgraceful to say something like this, but then never to recognize just how boorish this is and never come back and say something. “You know Jen, that was inappropriate of me, I’m sorry.” He can’t do that because this would show weakness from a man that touts holiness.

“Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us” (Titus 2:7-8).

I could say so much more, but I’ve been fairly exhaustive in my critiques in previous articles.

The main crux of this article is to highlight our encounter here in Iowa with a man from the church while in a grocery store on our very first night here. I’ll call him Peter for the sake of this article, but that’s not his real name. Jen and I anticipated the possibility of running into someone from GFC while here. It was simple really, we agreed to say hello in a friendly manner. We wouldn’t seek a conversation, but we would be polite, and kind. There were no internal motivations on our part as we have been accused. If we saw Mike Reid or one of the other elders, I had planned to be, “not as nice” and would say something to the effect, “how long will you go on hurting people?” I think an appropriate response to what they’ve done in their fourteen years. There is a well-attested list of those damaged under their “ministry.” 

On our first night, we went into Hy-Vee (grocery store chain) to pick up some milk. Moments into the store I saw Peter walking my way. My wife was ahead of me and she turned and pointed at him, but I had already seen him. I said, “Hello, Peter.” He turned and looked at me, probably quite surprised as you will hear in the audio. He was caught off-guard. He returned the hello and then stopped to talk. I believe he was ready to extend a hug to me, but I offered my hand instead, and he took the handshake. We spoke for a few minutes, he introduced us to his sweet daughter, five years old, as she willingly informed us. We exchanged a few pleasantries and asked a few questions, and he did the same. There was nothing nefarious, and in hindsight, his actions to be kind back to us were keeping with his instincts and his love for others.  

He and I were once friends. He respected me, and I liked him. We did a lot for his family. Jen did a LOT for them. But we did it because we loved and cared for them, not out of a sense of obligation.

As we departed the store Jen and I said, I’m betting the church knows by now that we are here. We also discussed we hope he doesn’t get in trouble for talking to us because we knew if he told Mike he would have some serious questions to answer to. I’ve been on the receiving end of those situations. You do something inadvertently or violate the rules, or don’t do something you should have, and you’ll get a call into the pastor’s office, or a meeting with the elders and a firm rebuke. “I need to love you more than that Kev,” Mike has told me before. I cringe to think of Peter getting the beat down when he was caught flat-footed by us. We didn’t do anything to hurt him or them intentionally. I hope it is an opportunity for him to reflect on the lack of grace at the fellowship “church.” Perhaps, an opportunity to see what we saw so many years ago now, and actually think for himself rather than being told what to do and think.

That happened on a Friday night and Monday morning someone sends me a text and says, “Hey, check this out.” He had no idea we were in the Quad Cities, and I don’t know how he came across it, but as I listened, I knew immediately what it was all about, because I’ve seen it play out more than once. I’ve seen grown men either make some sort of a mistake toward the church or ask too probing of a question and then end up “repenting” over their egregious sins toward the elders. I would have to believe Peter got up and confessed his sins of “ministering to us” that night in the store. I’m sure he sought the elder’s forgiveness and the congregation’s forgiveness for not honoring his lord and savior, Mike Reid.

After all, this is all about Mike. It is his reputation that was offended. It was his leadership that is being threatened. What I found most shocking, was his insistence that everyone in the church be on guard and ready to defend HIM. He was very clear that this was about HIM and HIS reputation, and the people that had interactions were not ready to stand up for their poor ol’ pastor who is being treated so terribly. 

Does that sound harsh?

In my non-professional view, however, supported by others that are in the know, Mike fits all the descriptions of a narcissist. If you listen to this recording it exhibits narcissistic behavior. He is controlling, he demands obedience, and he is afraid of losing a grip on these people. Did I mention he is controlling, not to mention his visible anger? It rolls off his tongue. To post this monologue publicly exhibits his narcissism as he twists the Scriptures to fit his own needs.

I will cite some examples but there are many. He says that we have been “put out” of the church. I stated above that we left while in good standing. Our being “put out” was after we left. So, his claim that we were put out is only to make it sound good to him and the congregation. As if, they had done it biblically. No, we LEFT the church. It’s like getting fired after you quit. No employer with a shred of intelligence fires someone after they quit because then they are liable for unemployment, but GFC excommunicates’ people like it’s going out of style. They fire them after they quit.  

He says we are the chief revilers and slanderers, and in effect, is hoping God strikes us down. Here again, Mike uses the Scriptures to meet his needs. He refuses to look at all the things he has been accused of. Not just by me, but by fourteen years of victims of his “ministry.” For there to be true reviling and slandering these things must have no basis in truth. If I went out and said he was a bank robber I would be reviling him and slandering him, but he’s not a bank robber. What I have said via the written or spoken word is true and if anyone would like to contradict those statements I’m willing to stand behind them and provide evidential support.

The truth is that he just doesn’t like the exposure. It’s easy to say I’m the slanderer and in this, he becomes the slanderer of me. He is the reviler, he is the slanderer, and he is the divisive one, and this is what narcissists do best. If I’m a believer and Peter is a believer, we are both members of the universal church and unless there is good reason to believe that I am in unrepentant sin then Peter has every right to greet me with a “holy kiss” and doesn’t need to cower because his pastor has been offended that I’ve exposed his hypocritical lifestyle. Peter did the right thing. He handled the situation with grace and love because he knew it was the right thing to do. Sadly, it probably didn’t end up that way. I only pray he realizes it someday.

In his rousing monologue linked below, Mike gave explicit instructions to his congregation on how to deal with us if they see us in public. We attended a high school baseball game and saw one of the leading men of the church. He is a man that is not afraid to tell you what he thinks. He is not afraid to offer a stern rebuke. I saw him walking straight toward me. We would have been difficult to miss. He approached and was within touching distance then took a hard left turn never making eye contact although I was looking directly at him.  

I’m sure he had to consider if the confrontation was worth it or not and decided it wasn’t by the fact he didn’t engage. He has plausible deniability. I’m confident he saw us. He has a reputation that I’m sure he wants to protect. That is probably more important than Mike’s honor, or so I theorize, perhaps the congregation doesn’t fully agree with Mike on this issue? Will others engage us if they see us while we finish our days here? That’s hard to say.    

I write this hoping that others will read these words and understand the dangers that abound. These dangers are especially real in what parades itself as Orthodox Christianity. Abuse abounds. Narcissism abounds. Legalism is only one branch of the tree. At the root lies an authoritarian leader that needs his ego stroked. Mike Reid loves to have his ego stroked, he loves, or demands to be called pastor. He loves it.

Please take the time to listen, and don’t hesitate to ask questions. I desire to be very careful with my words. To be exact in my accusations, and not to accuse without good cause. I’m not the arbitrator of who is saved and who isn’t, but I think if someone consistently hurts people and calls themselves a pastor, they better be prepared to examine their testimony of faith and see if it aligns itself with the Scriptures. It seems to me they are self-deceived. The track record is long and speaks for itself, and many have testified to its validity.

“Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear” (1 Tim. 5:19—20).

Lord help us stand against tyranny and abuse in the church so that they may fear the repercussions of their actions.

Listen to audio here: The audio is of poor quality, but that is in the original.

Original is located here. It starts just before two minutes and ends at sixteen minutes.


A Theology of the Gospel in the Old Testament


“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1).[1]

Where did the gospel message first begin? The Gospel of Mark points to John the Baptist as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy regarding the gospel. If John fulfilled this prophecy, the gospel had a previous beginning point.

Jesus said these remarkable words, “Beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27). The critical, exegetical work of the Lord Jesus Christ tells us the gospel begins with Moses and that it is throughout all of the Old Testament.

To uncover the gospel in its totality requires starting at the beginning and showing that the Bible is a unified book bound together by the common theme of God’s good news declared to sinful man. If this thesis statement is true, there should be overwhelming evidence of the gospel message throughout the Old Testament as it points to Christ. This paper seeks to provide examples of the gospel throughout the Old Testament, which points to Christ as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). 

The First Gospel

“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel’” (Gen. 3:15).

When sin entered the world through the serpent’s deceit, God cursed mankind and all of Adam’s posterity (Rom. 5:12). The Apostle Paul declares Adam was a type of the one who was to come (Rom. 5:14). The obvious question to ask is, who is this one? Genesis 3:15 sets the answer to man’s sin problem and reconciliation with God in motion. C.H. Spurgeon said, “This is a most glorious promise, the first and only until the time of Abraham.”[2] What is revealed in this verse is nothing less than a divine promise of deliverance. Adam plunged humanity into sin and death through his act of rebellion. God saw the need in the immediate, as He had seen it before time began in the promise of a Redeemer. The great evangelist George Whitefield captures the predicament and the Divine’s answer to the problem:

An amazing scene of divine love here opens to our view, which had been from all eternity hid in the heart of God! Notwithstanding Adam and Eve were thus unhumbled, and did not so much as put up one single petition for pardon, God immediately passes sentence upon the serpent, and reveals to them a Savior.[3]

            The Lexham Bible Dictionary states Genesis 3:15 as the first gospel or protevangelium: “PROTEVANGELIUM Latin term meaning ‘first gospel.’ It refers to the promise of Gen 3:15 that the ‘seed of the woman’ would conquer the ‘seed of the serpent.’ This concept is applied to Jesus as Messiah (see Rom 16:20; Gal 3:16, 19, 29).”[4] In the opening chapter of Genesis, God had pronounced His work in creation as good, but after Adam and Eve’s creation, He pronounces the entirety of His work, “very good” (Gen. 1:31). Genesis chapter three sees the introduction of the serpent, the devil of old, and the manipulator of Eve as Adam stands by and observes the scene (Gen. 3:6). Immediately, things have changed, “then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths” (Gen 3:7). They immediately experienced something previously unknown: guilt, so they hid from God.

In the gospel message, the concept of guilt is an essential element. For Adam to know of his need for grace and mercy, he must understand he has violated God’s standard. God is not a harsh and capricious God, so He approaches Adam. K.A. Matthews offers a reason for God’s approach: “God is depicted as a gentle father seeking out his own. The means of uncovering their deed (like the serpent’s means of entrapment) is interrogation rather than charge and denunciation. The effect is pedagogical and permits the guilty to witness against themselves by their own admissions.”[5]

God metes out the consequences of their sin through a series of curses. First to the serpent, then to the woman, and finally to Adam, but within the middle of the curses is the gospel’s promise. In His great love, God has paved a path for forgiveness and reconciliation through the offspring; the seed of the woman will come as a promised deliverer.

Abraham’s Gospel Defined

“For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith” (Rom. 4:13).

            Spurgeon said the gospel’s promise has been silent since the Garden, but not without types and allusions. Types and allusions are given to the reader through God closing the doors of the Ark, as one example, the Ark being a type of Christ and Jesus the narrow gate. God’s revelation is progressive, and as so, He unfolds history in humanly understandable bits and pieces. Understanding the worldwide flood as a manifestation of God’s justice yet the salvation of Noah and his family representing His mercy is imperative to form an accurate understanding of God in all His attributes.

The world has continued its steady decline since the flood, and it is apparent it needs the gospel. Robert Gonzales writes, “Yahweh’s judgment on the Babel endeavor did not eradicate human sin any more than his worldwide Flood erased antediluvian evil (8:21). Instead, it resulted in the dispersal of sinful people-groups throughout the ancient world.”[6] God continues to reach out to the Sons of Adam and covenant with him. The covenants begin with Adam and continue throughout redemptive history, but Adam’s progeny continues to break the promises. God is undeterred in His actions toward mankind, and as revelation continues to progress, God again initiates, this time with a Chaldean named Abram:

Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen 12:1-3).

            The gospel message is revealed to Abraham in a promise from God to bless him and to make his offspring more numerous than the stars in all the heaven, and God sets His love upon him, not only in material blessing but through faith (Rom. 4:9, 22; Gal. 3:6; Jam. 2:23). “And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness” (Gen. 15:6). There are significant theological implications in the salvation of Abraham. The text articulates that salvation is by God’s grace, not works. Abraham believed the LORD, but the belief exhibited here is initiated by God. Abraham was not seeking God; God was seeking Abraham (Gen. 15:1). Matthews provides a succinct explanation:

The narration describes Abram’s response as belief (trust) in the Lord. The Hebrew construction translated “believed” (heʾĕmin + prep.) means to place trust in someone with confidence (e.g., Exod 19:9; 1 Sam 27:12). The general idea is reliance, and the orientation of the person’s trust is the future. The LXX renders the Hebrew by episteusen, “[Abram] believed.” There is no exact equivalent in the Hebrew for Greek’s pistis (“faith”) and pisteuō (“believe”), but this verbal form (hiphil) of the word ʾāman comes closest. Here Abram’s trust is placed in the Lord (bĕyhwh), whom he believes will carry out his promise (cp. Exod 14:31; Jonah 3:5). The text emphasizes that Abram entrusted his future to what God would do for him as opposed to what he could do for himself to obtain the promises.[7]

            Abraham’s faith was predicated upon God’s intervention, not his acting upon God’s work, as many confuse the roles of faith and works. R.C. Sproul adds, “When Abraham believed the promise of God, God counted him righteous, so Paul is arguing that works did not justify Abraham, nor was he justified by circumcision.”[8] Whether Old or New Testament, the gospel message must be consistent with the root cause being faith. Sons of Adam have no ability within themselves to reach up to God for salvation, and God must always do the reaching first.

Isaiah’s Gospel

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone” (Is. 9:2).

To whom does the gospel message extend? Is it only for the Jew or for the Gentile as well? God promised redemption for His people, but in defining His people was, the gospel limited to only Jews. Isaiah seems to clear this up, and being a comprehensive prophecy of the gospel message, the prophet explains that this message will come to all nations. The Gospel of Matthew explains that this fulfills Isaiah’s prophecy of Jesus residing in the region of Galilee (Matt. 4:14-16). The message of Isaiah is replete with references to the nations of the world: “He says: ‘It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth’” (Is. 49:6). When confronted with the truth of the world’s salvation (John 3:16), Nicodemus should have hardly been shocked. How did this esteemed teacher of the law miss something so obviously spelled out in Isaiah? John Calvin drives home the point:

He now adds, that this labour will be efficacious, not only among the people of Israel, but likewise among the Gentiles; and so it actually happened. Moreover, when the preaching of the Gospel produced hardly any good effect on the Jews, and when Christ was obstinately rejected by them, the Gentiles were substituted in their room. And thus Christ was “appointed to be a light of the Gentiles, and his salvation was manifested to the very ends of the earth” (Acts 13:47).[9]

            The gospel message is a thread that runs through the entirety of Isaiah, just as it does through the entirety of the Old Testament, and from the appointing of the prophet, there is an immediate theme of conviction, repentance, and atonement, all necessary elements to the gospel call (Is. 6:4-7). Immediately the prophet volunteers to the heavenly call and receives the instruction that the people will not listen, a common New Testament reference (Cited Matt. 13:14, 15; Acts 28:26, 27; [Mark 4:12; Luke 8:10; Rom. 11:8]. While Isaiah is abounding with the gospel message, the Servant Songs provide a glorious view of God’s message of salvation to man.

            It would be challenging to pick just one song in this incredible series. J. Nicholas Reid describes it like this:

So it is with the Servant Songs of Isaiah. These passages—Isaiah 42:1–9; 49:1–7; 50:4–9; and 52:13–53:12—make reference to the Servant of the Lord, and each could, like a single mountain, command attention that extends well beyond the treatment given here. In fact, one might feel the temptation to dwell only with one song without reference to the others. Another temptation might be to collapse each passage into the other, rushing from the victory of 42:1–9 to the suffering of 52:13–53:12.[10]

            Can one passage possibly due justice to God’s eternal plan to reveal His Son to the nations in all His glory? While the songs bring amazement, Isaiah 52:13-53:12 has captured the imagination of many throughout history. It culminates in that epic statement, “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed” (Is. 53:5). This prophecy describes the brutal death the Servant would suffer, but it also proclaims the gospel. Christ suffered that His people might have peace with God. He bore the sin reserved for man. The innocent man dies for the guilty. Penal, substitutionary atonement perfectly defined.

            Isaiah’s gospel is clear. It is evident and apparent that God declared the good news through this point in redemptive history, and as it unfolds, He continues to show the same message through the minor prophets.

Jonah’s Gospel

 “Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, ‘Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me’” (Jon 1:1-2).

Jonah is a prophet of God that appears to be in a crisis of faith. Jonah’s mission is to go to Ninevah, but he rebels, as the story quickly reveals. Can a gospel message be found in a rebellious man called to proclaim the good news to a wicked nation? The evidence is readily available that Jonah wanted nothing to do with God’s commands, and while he ultimately completes his mission, the gospel is intended for Jonah as much as for the Ninevites.

Bryan Estelle, in his book Salvation through Judgment and Mercy: The Gospel According to Jonah, writes,

In short, it seems that the author of Jonah has God intending the fish to rescue Jonah. The fish is not a means of punishment but of snatching from drowning. Jonah is saved in spite of his recalcitrance, and thus he experiences the pity and mercy of God. Hence the climactic exultation “Salvation comes from the Lord” (2:9) is a fitting conclusion to the psalm. [11]

Estelle makes an excellent point. God mercifully provides a fish to save Jonah from certain death, and this shows He is a God that rescues sinners, those hardened against His commands. Estelle, quoting Jacque Ellul, draws a comparison between Jonah and the scapegoat[12]:

What counts is that this story is in reality the precise intimation of an infinitely vaster story and one which concerns us directly. What Jonah could not do, but his attitude announces, is done by Jesus Christ. He it is who accepts total condemnation.… It is solely because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ that the sacrifice of Jonah avails and saves. It is solely because Jesus Christ has accepted malediction that Jonah’s acceptance has something to say both to the sailors and to us.[13]

            The comparison between Jonah and Christ is applicable since Jesus Himself drew the parallel between Jonah’s time in the fish to Christ’s time in the grave (Matt. 12:40). Jonah is a type of Christ and falls short of the antitype, Christ. Jonah’s gospel message shows the tender mercies of a loving God that saves despite human failures and human rebellion. Jonah is a prophet in crisis, going through a crisis of faith, but Jonah’s story is not about Jonah and how he overcomes his problems and saves the day. The gospel of Jonah shows how God condescends to save the unworthy: “Salvation belongs to the LORD!” (Jon. 2:9). Matthew Henry summarizes the gospel succinctly: “Jonah’s experience shall encourage others, in all ages, to trust in God as the God of their salvation; all that read this story shall say with assurance, say with admiration, that salvation is of the Lord, and is sure to all that belongs to him.”[14] The gospel message may be veiled in the Old Testament through types, shadows, and illusions, but in Jonah, the gospel stands out as a bright light in a dim room.


When Jesus declared the entirety of the Scriptures spoke of himself (Luke 24:27), he declared the gospel message from beginning to end. The Old Testament Scriptures provide shadows and types and, most importantly, clear examples of the gospel message. The gospel message permeates throughout the Old Testament. The Lord Jesus Christ declared that this message begins with Moses and runs consistently through Malachi.

The examples listed above are only a few compared to God’s provision. What of the redemption of Ruth by Boaz showing him as a kinsman-redeemer, Rahab’s deliverance and her inclusion in the lineage of the Messiah, or the love shown by Hosea to Gomer. The reader of the Old Testament Scriptures need not look far to find countless examples and far too numerous to articulate in such a limited space.

God has not left the world without directions. These directions lead to the cross of Christ, whether in the Old or the New Testaments. The cross and the gospel are the central themes of God’s design to bring glory to Himself. God has declared the answer, which is found in the work and person of Jesus Christ. It is the critical work of the exegete of God’s word to root out these gospel jewels for the edification and benefit of the hearer, to proclaim with joy that salvation is of the Lord. The Old Testament concludes with a gospel promise, just as it began with one in Genesis 3: “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts” (Mal. 3:1).



Barry, John D., et al., eds., “Protevangelium,” in The Lexham Bible Dictionary, Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016.

Calvin, John and William Pringle, trans., Commentary on the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, vol. 4., Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010.

Ellul, Jacque, The Judgment of Jonah, trans. Geoffrey W. Bromiley, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971, quoted in Bryan D. Estelle, Salvation through Judgment and Mercy: The Gospel according to Jonah, ed. Tremper Longman III and J. Alan Groves, The Gospel according to the Old Testament (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2005.

Estelle, Bryan D., Salvation through Judgment and Mercy: The Gospel according to Jonah, ed. Tremper Longman III and J. Alan Groves, The Gospel according to the Old Testament Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2005.

Gonzales, Robert R. Jr., Where Sin Abounds: The Spread of Sin and the Curse in the Book of Genesis with Special Focus on the Patriarchal Narratives, Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2009.

Henry, Matthew. Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994.

Mathews, K.A., Genesis 11:27–50:26, vol. 1B, The New American Commentary, Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2005.

Sproul, R.C., Romans: An Expositional Commentary, Sanford, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing, 2019.

Spurgeon, C.H., CBS Spurgeon Study Bible, Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017.

Tabletalk, “The Servant Songs of Isaiah,” accessed May 16, 2022,

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.

Whitefield, George, Selected Sermons of George Whitefield, Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1999.

[1] All Scripture citation in this work are taken from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016) unless otherwise noted.

[2] C.H. Spurgeon, CBS Spurgeon Study Bible (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 5.

[3] George Whitefield, Selected Sermons of George Whitefield (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1999).

[4] John D. Barry et al., eds., “Protevangelium,” in The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).

[5] K. A. Mathews, Genesis 1-11:26, vol. 1A, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1996), 240.

[6] Robert R. Gonzales Jr., Where Sin Abounds: The Spread of Sin and the Curse in the Book of Genesis with Special Focus on the Patriarchal Narratives (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2009), 95.

[7] Mathews, “Genesis,” 166.

[8] R.C. Sproul, Romans: An Expositional Commentary (Sanford, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing, 2019), 104.

[9] John Calvin and William Pringle, Commentary on the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, vol. 4 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010), 17.

[10] Tabletalk, “The Servant Songs of Isaiah” accessed May 16, 2022,

[11] Bryan D. Estelle, Salvation through Judgment and Mercy: The Gospel according to Jonah, ed. Tremper Longman III and J. Alan Groves, The Gospel according to the Old Testament (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2005), 66.

[12] The scapegoat is a name given to one of two goats. The scapegoat is sent into the wilderness by Aaron as a sin offering. See Lev 16:8–22.

[13] Jacque Ellul, The Judgment of Jonah, trans. Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971), 36–37, quoted in Bryan D. Estelle, Salvation through Judgment and Mercy: The Gospel according to Jonah, ed. Tremper Longman III and J. Alan Groves, The Gospel according to the Old Testament (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2005), 59–60.

[14] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 1527.