The Unchanged Gospel
And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord.
There is an interesting thought here that is worthy to note by way of parenthesis. Luke wrote that both Zechariah and Elizabeth were walking blamelessly in all of the commandments and statutes of the Lord. What is so significant here? The language Luke uses here speaks of the doctrines of justification (sinful man is declared righteous in the sight of God) and sanctification (sinful yet justified man is made righteous by the power of God). There are a few interesting things here.
This is before Christ has atoned for sins – before He has even been born. Christ has not died for sins and covered anyone in His righteousness. However, just as Moses, Jacob, Abraham, David (Matt. 22:41-46) and others looked forward to the coming atonement of Christ and were counted righteous in God’s sight, so did Zechariah and Elizabeth.
What strikes me as so interesting here is that when we look at the uncommonness of Zechariah as more-than-just-a-certain priest, we see that he understood the Old Testament to be pointing to a coming Lamb of God. As noted earlier, this was why he was an uncommon priest – he was a devout priest who believed God’s word.
This passage tells us that there is always a remnant church. There are always some who believe. The contrasting people of Zechariah were the other common priests who are shown to be hypocritical and self-righteous in the following chapters.
This is a vital point because it shows the continuous teachings of God. It shows that the gospel has not changed. This is the whole message of the Bible – the Lamb of God will be punished for the sins of man. Jesus and the New Testament church is not in conflict with the true faith of Israel. In fact, it is the true faith of Israel. Zechariah and Elizabeth accepted the gospel gladly because they were looking for the coming Lamb.
This is not a new religion. This is the same gospel of the Old Testament beginning in the early chapters of Genesis. John MacArthur said it like this:
“God’s law, man’s sin, faith in God, repentance for sin, justification which is imputed righteousness, sanctification which is imparted righteousness which changes you, obedience to God’s law, worship of the true and living God, that’s all carried from the Old into the New intact, continuity is there.”