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The First Announcement

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
December 13, 2022 12:01 am

The First Announcement

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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December 13, 2022 12:01 am

The birth of Jesus Christ was not first declared by angels near Bethlehem or prophets in ancient Israel. Today, R.C. Sproul shows that the Savior's arrival was originally promised by God in the Garden of Eden.

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Today on Renewing Your Mind... R.C. Sproul explains how God fulfilled His promise. To begin with the very first promise of the Old Testament of the coming Messiah. It's a promise that is somewhat veiled in mystery and has engendered no small amount of debate and controversy, but it is significant because it's called the first Messianic promise of the Old Testament, and sometimes it's called the proto, p-r-o-t-o, evangel, e-v-a-n-g-e-l, which simply means the first gospel. Or sometimes it gets even a little bit more technical and it's called the proto-a-1-galeon, where here the full Greek word is just brought right over into the English language by way of transliteration.

Now, what do we mean by the proto-evangel or the proto-a-1-galeon? The word a-1-galeon is the Greek word for gospel, and let's see what it means in its origin. It begins with two letters, e-u, which serves as the prefix, and this prefix is not foreign to us. Remember that about 40% of English words in the English language come ultimately from the Greek language, so it's not all Greek to us at this point.

But this little prefix, e-u, occurs frequently in the English language, but you could think of some words that start with the letters e-u. What's a euphemism? A euphemism. A euphemism is a nice way of describing something that's not necessarily very pleasant. It's like when you go to the dentist and you're sitting in the dentist's chair and he says to you, now this may cause you a little discomfort. What's he saying to you? This is going to hurt.

It might hurt like crazy, but he's using a euphemism and good way of describing something that's basically negative. Or we think of something that is euphonious. What is something that is euphonious?

It sounds good, doesn't it? Or a eulogy. One is a eulogy given usually at a funeral where the minister stands up and gives some good words about the deceased person. And so we see this little prefix e-u simply means good. Now, the root of the word, angelion, is the word that we also get a word almost directly from it, which is the word angel. We read about angels in the New Testament.

You know something really extraordinary that sometimes we overlook about the New Testament and its teaching? The word angel occurs more often in the New Testament than the word love. The word angel occurs more often in the New Testament, believe it or not, than the word sin. So just numerically, in terms of frequency, the New Testament speaks more about angels than it does about sin and about love.

I find that extremely interesting. But in any case, the word angel is used to describe those created spirit beings that minister in the immediate presence of God, the angels and the archangels, the cherubim and the seraphim and all of that. But also we find angels performing a function that's very important to biblical history, particularly when it comes to the advent of Christ. If we look at the New Testament record of the teaching of Jesus, we know that before Jesus is born, His birth is first announced by the angel Gabriel. It's the angel Gabriel who comes to Zacharias and talks about the birth of John the Baptist. It's the same angel Gabriel who comes to Mary and announces to her that she is going to have a baby. It's the angels that appear to the shepherds in the field outside of Bethlehem declaring the birth of Jesus. We see angels ministering to Jesus after His experience of temptation in the wilderness.

We see angels guarding the tomb on the day of resurrection and so on. Now, in this case, the angel serves as a messenger for God. And so when we talk about the A1 Galen, we're not describing a good angel, but rather the word means good message or good announcement, or what we normally translate this to mean good news. So the gospel, in a nutshell, is called good news. It's news because it's information that is not something that is trite and worn out, but it is an announcement of something new. That's why we call newspapers newspapers because they announce what's new in the world.

And in this case, it's good news. It's the supremely good news, the announcing of the coming of the Redeemer into the world. So when we speak about the proto-Evangel or the proto-A1 Galen, we're talking about the first announcement of good news. And the text that is considered to be the first gospel text of the Old Testament is that text found in the book of Genesis in the third chapter in verse 15 where we read these words, And I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed.

He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. Now there's much that is cryptic about this announcement. This first gospel does not say specifically where God is speaking to Adam and Eve and says, I know that you have sinned and you're in big trouble and so on, but don't worry about it because someday I'm going to send a Savior who is Christ the Lord into the world to redeem you of your sin.

It's not spelled out in those terms. In fact, ironically, the first announcement of the gospel is not even announced to Adam and Eve. They're merely eavesdropping on this announcement. They're overhearing, presumably, what God is saying about the future because the words that contain what is called the first gospel are not addressed to them. The words are addressed to the serpent. And obviously to the serpent, the message is not good news. It's bad news.

It's the worst of all possible news that he should ever hear. And so it's almost a misnomer to call this a first gospel because gospel means good news, and it's only indirectly good news because it's bad news announced to a bad guy, and then by inference is good news for us. Now again, to underline that irony, the actual context in which this first gospel, so-called, is given is in the context not of a promise of blessing, but in the context of a divine curse.

We'll look at that in a second, but I've mentioned in the past the words from joy to the world is it where one of the frames is far as the curse is found. That throughout the Old Testament there is an acute awareness of the Jewish people that they are living in a fallen world, a world that has come under the curse of God because of sin. After the first sin, the woman receives a malediction from God for her involvement in the first sin. The curse that befalls her chiefly consists in the travail and pain that will attend the bearing of children in her lifetime. And the man is likewise cursed chiefly with respect to the difficulty of his labor. Insofar as the world, nature itself, will resist his efforts to survive, to dress and till and cultivate the earth, now instead of the earth gladly and willingly bringing forth the fruit of the labor of the man, the earth now resists with thorns and briars and weeds and droughts and floods and all of those problems that we have in eking out survival as human beings. And we're told in the New Testament that the whole creation groans together waiting for the redemption of the children of God so that not only are Adam and Eve placed under this malediction, but everything over which they are given dominion suffer the consequences of their corruption as well. And so the Bible speaks of all creation in travail, in pain, and it uses the metaphor of childbirth, that the world is in travail. It is in the pangs of labor waiting to produce the fruit of that labor which is the manifestation of the children of God. But specifically here, we're concerned about the curse that is pronounced upon the serpent who appears in Genesis as the tempter, the seducer, the one who challenges the trustworthiness of God's Word and entices our first parents to commit the first transgression of cosmic treason against their Creator. Let's look at the full import of this curse. In verse 14 of chapter 3 of Genesis, we read these words. So, the Lord God said to the serpent, because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle and more than every beast of the field.

On your belly you shall go and you shall eat dust all the days of your life. Now, I don't know what the serpent looked like before he received this curse, but presumably the serpent that appeared to Adam and Eve did not crawl on his belly, did not eat the dust as part of his diet. I don't know about you, but I'm creepy around snakes. I don't like snakes, I don't like rats, and I don't like spiders.

I recently was in a hunting camp where it was not exactly spotless, and it was not the Ritz Hotel. And one of the problems we had in the camp was a problem with rats. In addition were these great big spiders crawling around inside, and they were competing with the roaches for attention. And that was bad enough, and I thought, I'm tired of being in this room where I'm seeing all these creepy things. So, I walked outside and I came around the corner and there was a five-foot snake crawling away.

I said, what am I doing here? I just don't like snakes. I have friends who have snakes as pets and they seem to enjoy them, but not me.

I really don't like them. In fact, just a couple of days ago I was driving up the street from my house and there was a car stopped on the other side of the road, but out far from the curb enough that it made me wonder what he was doing stopped basically in the middle of the street. But I wasn't too alarmed by it, but as I came abreast of his car, I suddenly looked down in front of me and there on the road right in front of me was a rather sizable eastern diamondback rattlesnake. I didn't run over the snake on purpose, but it was too late for me to swerve, and I just kept on going and I heard the crunch as my front right tire went over the serpent's head and crushed him. And I just kept on going. I looked in my rearview mirror and I saw the guy that was sort of halfway parked in the middle of the street pull his car out and drive over into my lane and run over it again.

So he had obviously seen it and had seen my car coming. He was just waiting for the opportunity to do this thing that I had already done accidentally was to kill that rattlesnake. I don't like rattlesnakes at all.

I don't know of too many people that do. But in any case, the curse is pronounced upon the serpent and it says, you shall eat dust all the days of your life. Now notice what God says to the serpents in Genesis 3.15, and I will put enmity between you and the woman. Now this is also fraught with irony because the gospel, the good news is substantially a message about redemption. In fact, as we've already seen recently in another series, it is a message of reconciliation. The good news is not about warfare or conflict or enmity.

The good news is about peace, about the cessation of warfare, about the end to enmity and reconciliation. Yet the context of the first gospel includes a promise of enmity, but it is a promise of enmity that will exist between the woman and Satan. That Satan is now defined as our mortal enemy. But God doesn't stop there, and this is what makes it good news. He says, I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed.

And that, if you look carefully at the grammar, does not refer simply to all of her future descendants, but it looks ahead to one specific descendant from the woman, that one who is the seed of the woman, which the New Testament declares over and over again is Christ, who is born of the seed of woman. And the greatest enemy the serpent ever has is Christ. The greatest enemy Christ ever has is the serpent.

One of the theories of the atonement, there are many strands to the biblical view of the atonement, is that articulated by the Swedish theologian Gustav Aulein in his famous book Christus Victor, where he focuses on that aspect of the cross, wherein in the drama of redemption, Christ is victorious over the dominion of the evil one. But that enmity was established at the very beginning, and so that God establishes enmity between the promised seed of the woman and the serpent who beguiled us, though its bad news for the serpent is incredibly good news for us. And then the curse continues, he shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heel. Now the promise is this to the serpent, that the one who is the promised coming seed of the woman, this one is going to crush the head of the serpent.

Though in the process of that crushing, the heel of the seed of the woman will be bruised. And in the drama of the cross in the New Testament, we see the crushing blow that Christ, the descendant of Eve, delivers to Satan. And in the drama of the cross in the New Testament, we see the crushing blow that Christ, the descendant of Eve, delivers to Satan.

But He does it at great expense. He doesn't do it without injury and pain to Himself, because the Redeemer will be a suffering Redeemer. This, the first promise of the coming Christ, this the first announcement of the gospel. That promise was made thousands of years before Christ came, yet God fulfilled His promise in the fullness of time. We serve a God who is trustworthy and true. Thanks for listening to Renewing Your Mind on this Tuesday.

I'm Lee Webb. This week we are pleased to feature R.C. Sproul's series, Coming of the Messiah, where he looks back at Old Testament prophecies to see God's thorough and exact plan for our salvation.

We'd like for you to have this series. Contact us today with a donation of any amount, and we will provide you with a digital download of all five messages. Plus, we'll send you a copy of Dr. Stephen Nichols' book, Peace, Classic Readings for Christmas. In it, Dr. Nichols looks at hymns and ancient church fathers to help remind us of the true meaning of Christmas.

You can request both resources when you go to or when you call us at 800-435-4343. As we heard in today's message, Dr. Sproul talked about the proto-evangel, or the first proclamation of the gospel. That theme also runs through Dr. Nichols' book, and I asked him why the Bible concentrates so heavily on Jesus' genealogy, taking it all the way back to Adam. So we do see these genealogies in the Bible. We see them in the Old Testament. We see them in Matthew.

And our tendency may be to read through them quickly, but that would be a mistake, especially when it comes to the one in Matthew, because it's very important to see who this Jesus is. And when we see this genealogy, we recognize right away we're going all the way back. And by all the way back, I mean all the way back to Genesis and back to the fact that Jesus is ultimately the seed of Adam. Now this takes us to Genesis 3.15.

We know the story. Here's Adam and Eve. They're in the garden, God created.

Not only was everything good, but as it is finally pronounced by God, everything is very good. But of course, there's the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and Adam and Eve are given the command, and they, in their assertion of autonomy, violate God's law. And they say no to God, and they partake of the fruit. And of course, this brings that consequence, crashing down upon them, of the fall and sin. And so we have this prophecy there in Genesis 3.15.

Sometimes it's called the euangelion or the first proclamation of the gospel. And the serpent will bruise the heel, but the seed will crush the head of the serpent. And it was a long time in coming for that seed.

The decades became centuries, and the centuries became millennia. But eventually, that seed came, and that was Jesus. And so with the genealogy, we go back to Adam.

But we also go back to key people like David. And so we see the promise that was given to David, the covenant that was given to David there in 2 Samuel 7, that there would be a Davidic king on the throne forever. Well, that wasn't Solomon, and it wasn't the kings to come after Solomon.

Again, we had to wait centuries, but there it was, and the fulfillment of Jesus. It was Spurgeon who said, isn't it interesting, in all of history, only one child was born a king. The children are born princes, but not Jesus.

He was born a king. The other beautiful thing of the genealogies is the women. And so we have Ruth in the genealogy.

This is very fascinating. She's not an Israelite. And what a testimony to the graciousness of God to include Ruth, not only in that beautiful story of the book of Ruth, but to be included in the genealogy of Jesus. So don't skip over that genealogy.

It's very important to Jesus' identity, and it's very important there in the beginning of Matthew's gospel. Well, I'm sure you'll want to have a copy of Dr. Nichols' book Peace. Classic Readings for Christmas. You can request it along with Dr. Sproul's series Coming of the Messiah when you contact us today with a donation of any amount. Let me give you our contact information.

Again, our web address is, and our phone number is 800-435-4343. We do hope to hear from you. Well, God's promises were fulfilled in time and space when Mary was told she was going to have a baby, but that was difficult to understand, especially for Joseph. Joseph came to the same conclusion that you and I would come to if a woman came to us and told us that she was pregnant. He did not make any assumptions that this thing was caused through a virgin conception. I hope you'll join us tomorrow as we continue Dr. Sproul's series Coming of the Messiah here on Renewing Your Mind. God bless you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-13 13:05:20 / 2022-12-13 13:13:16 / 8

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