THESIS: It is very important to [mentally] divorce the gospel from its implications and entailments. [Do NOT divorce these in your life and practice–that is James 2 hypocrisy!]
Specifically, he mentions a God-Man-Christ-Response(abbv. GMCR) presentation of the gospel i.e. God is holy; Man is sinful; Christ died on the cross to pay the price of our sins; Man needs to repent and put their faith in Christ to be saved. However, there is another way to look at the gospel: Creation-Fall-Redemption-Restoration(abbv. CFRR) i.e. God created the world good; The world fell through sin; Christ redemptive work on the Cross to reconcile the world; God will restore the world by bringing in the new heavens and the new earth. It seems quite clearly from Mark Dever’s post that he is favouring and insisting on the primacy of the GMCR presentation(by calling it the Gospel).
1. We usually end up using some combination of GMCR and CFRR in the end e.g. we are not able to explain the present state of the world without referring back to the Fall event. Furthermore, the CFRR approach is a healthy corrective to the perception that Christianity is only concerned with spiritual salvation. The coming of the new heavens and the new earth shows clearly that God’s redemptive purpose is wholesome and complete and not compartmentalized. Furthermore, the CFRR provides a great backgroud to understanding GMCR especially for biblically illiterate people. It should be noted that the GMCR approach already assumes a lot of Christian worldview to begin with.
2. However, it is very tempting (for myself included) to talk about CFRR all day long without ever getting near GMCR. (hence the discomfort Mark Dever spoke of). In the GMCR approach, we have to speak of God’s wrath, judgement etc. We have to speak of sin in a personal way. (There is a version of CFRR which speaks of sin and evil in a structural, societal, systematic way that never gets personal) God is angry at sin not only in a general way. His wrath is personal, it remains on those who rejects the Son (John 3:36)
3. Related to point 2, the advocates of CFRR are usually not good at majoring on penal substitutionary atonement. Christ’s death is portrayed as a paradoxical victory over the forces of evil and darkness(the Christus Victor model) but not as a propitiatory sacrifice to turn away the wrath of the God. But this is a false either/or. We are not compelled by scripture to choose one over the other, rather, we are to embrace both as being taught in scriptures. On the other hand, it is not merely a matter of balance, a mere matter of proportion e.g. giving both perspective equal time. To cut to the chase, the perspective on the Cross as victory over the forces of evil and darkness is based on penal substition. Paul puts them together in Col 2:14-15 “…by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” It is by cancelling the record of debt, it is by dealing with our personal sin on the cross, that Christ gave us victory over the forces of darkness. It would take me more words to be clearer on my thoughts on this. But these are some reflections as I have it now.