The First Gospel

If someone were to ask you to point to the first time the promise of the Gospel is mentioned in scripture, where would you go? Most would flip to the most well known verse in scripture, John 3:16. Perhaps those who are a little more Bible savvy would go to Isaiah 53 and the suffering servant. But what if I told you that the same chapter that contained one of the darkest moments in history also contained one of the most glorious promises? As we looked at briefly in the last blog, Genesis chapter 3 tells us of the fall of humanity. We learned that Adam and Eve were given covenant obligations and they failed to keep those obligations. By their disobedience, not only were they separated from God, but all of humanity would suffer by inheriting a sinful nature. This was a bleak and dark forecast leaving all of us without hope...but, God.

Just a matter of moments after Eve confesses her sin, the Gospel breaks through as a beacon of light. God curses Satan, designating the serpent to his belly (Gen 3:14) and then announces the coming redeemer. “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). This verse is often referred to as the protoevangelium, meaning the first Gospel. In this verse we see the preview of what is to come, with Christ.

This pronouncement of the Gospel is the signal for a new covenant. No longer is man under a covenant of works, but a covenant of grace. Does this mean that God has lowered his standards of obedience and holiness? Absolutely not. Then how is this covenant any different than that of the one made with Adam? The Westminster Larger Catechism question 31 points us to the answer:

Q. 31. With whom was the covenant of grace made?

A.   The covenant of grace was made with Christ as the second Adam, and in him all the elect as his seed.

This covenant is made with God himself. The great covenant maker is also the covenant keeper. Jesus Christ himself will enter into the covenant of works that Adam failed to keep and obey on our behalf. Jesus will take on human flesh to live a sinless life so that his righteousness will be imputed to us. We have all fallen in Adam, but by faith we can live in Christ (Romans 5). We can have confidence that Jesus has not and will not fail. He perfectly obeyed his Father, reversing the damage brought on by the first Adam.

Reading Genesis 3:15 should bring the Christian great assurance and hope. Our savior was promised long before we were born, even long before our parents were born, in fact he was promised before the foundation of the earth (Rev 13:8). God was not surprised at our sin and Jesus was not plain B. If you struggle with assurance of your salvation and whether or not God loves you then I suggest meditating on this verse. God loves you because he loves Christ, and if you are in Christ then you can have assurance that Jesus has obeyed on your behalf and succeeded where you have failed.

Seeing the Gospel presented here in Genesis 3 is imperative for understanding God’s covenant dealings with his people and the unfolding metanarrative of scripture. As we continue our look at the various covenants made throughout scripture we must remember that the Gospel is the foundation from which these covenants flow. There is not two peoples of God nor are there two plans of salvation, one for the jews and one for the Christians. No, Christ is the savior for all who believe, regardless of dispensation. That my friends, is good news.