“A Summary of the Gospel”

By Evan D. Burns

In the third letter of “Letters on Systematic Divinity”, Andrew Fuller pondered the miracle of Christ’s Incarnation and what it means for the Word to be made flesh and dwell among us.  He made three observations from 1 John 1:1-3 about the God-Man, Jesus Christ:

What is it that is denominated the great mystery of godliness? Is it not that “God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory?” It is this that the apostle John introduces at the beginning of his gospel under the name of “the Word:” “The Word was with God, and was God; by whom all things were made, and who was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” It is this upon which he dwells in the introduction of his First Epistle….  Christ is here described, 1. As to what he was in his pre-incarnate state; namely, as that which was from the beginning, the word of life, and that eternal life which was with the Father. 2. As to what he became by his incarnation: he was so manifested that his disciples could see him, and look on him, and handle him; and thus be qualified to bear witness of him, and to show unto others that eternal life that was with the Father. 3. As having opened a way in which those who believed in him were admitted to fellowship with God, and with him, and were commissioned to invite others to partake with them. I have long considered this passage as a decisive proof of the Divinity of Christ, and as a summary of the gospel.[1]

[1] Andrew Gunton Fuller, The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, Volume 1: Memoirs, Sermons, Etc., ed. Joseph Belcher (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 692.


Evan D. Burns (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is on faculty at Asia Biblical Theological Seminary, and he lives in Southeast Asia with his wife and twin sons.  They are missionaries with Training Leaders International.