What is the Gospel?
The Holy Scriptures define the gospel in the following way.
- I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved… For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time. Then he appeared to James, then to all of the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely birth, he appeared also to me (I Cor. 15:1-8).
Elsewhere it is described and its explanation is included man’s response, which is faith.
- So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith” (Rom. 1:15-17).
This causes us to pause and requires each one of us to consider several important things about such a declaration. To whom is it directed. Why is it required? What does it mean to “live by faith?” Why do we even need good news because after all, “I am a good person.”
God’s wrath is coming upon mankind for our sin against his moral law
The Holy Scriptures continues by declaring that God’s wrath is coming upon mankind for their ungodliness and unrighteousness. Specifically, humanity has exchanged the worship and serving of the creator God for the worship of creation. This has resulted in wickedness throughout the whole created world.
- For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men… Although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him… they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things… Therefore God gave them up to a debase mind…. They were filled with with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice, envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness, gossip, slander, hating of God, insolent, proud, boasting, inventing of evil, disobedience to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, and ruthless (Rom. 1:18-32).
Many would agree with this condemnation, after all hell and the wrath of God is reserved for Satanists, pedophiles, murders, rapists, and those who commit mass genocide, such as a Hitler or Stalin type figure. It is very interesting though that some of the above vices seem to point their ugly fingers at ourselves. The Holy Scriptures, then, takes an unexpected turn. To our shock, it declares that our condemnation as judge is actually upon ourselves as well.
- Therefore, you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself (Rom. 2:1).
- Because and in accordance with our conscience, we are practicing the very same things (Rom. 2:2).
- Our hard and impenitent hearts are storing up wrath for ourselves on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed (Rom. 2:5).
This un-repentance combined with disobedience assures that mankind, you and I, will be punished when the day of wrath occurs.
- But, for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, to the Jew first and also the Greek (Rom. 2:8-9).
Some could say that the Holy Scripture’s condemnation is only upon the heathen or upon the man who seeks after and desires to fulfill his pleasure. What about the good man or the religious man? The Holy Scripture continues its condemnation on all people by asserting that the the Jew, the one who has been entrusted with the very revelation of God also stands condemned. God’s wrath is also coming upon them because they too break the law of God.
- But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God… you who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal?You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law (Rom. 2:17-24).
This leads to the conclusion that all humanity, Jew and Gentile, wicked and self-righteous, stand condemned before God.
- For we have already charged that all, both Jew and Greek, are under sin, as it is written: “None is righteous, no not one; no one understands, no one seeks for God…” Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight” (Rom. 3:9-11, 19-20).
This condemnation will eventually lead to damnation in an eternal death. That is an eternal separation from the creator God.
- For the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23a).
God’s gift of salvation to escape his wrath is through faith in Jesus Christ
The good news is that God has provided another way. That way is through His Son’s obedience to God’s moral law and his death on the cross for our sins.
- But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law – the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe (Rom. 3:21-22).
- For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith (Rom. 3:23-25).
- For if Abraham was justified by his works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness” (Rom. 4:2-3).
Paul states that God’s moral requirement was fulfilled by Jesus and we can have it credited to our account when we have faith in him. That is to say in our weakness and inability to fulfill the moral decree of God, Jesus succeeded. His work is given to us so that we stand before God, the holy and great judge, righteous and holy. At the same time, Jesus takes our sins upon his own person and absorbs that wrath that is due to us. This is what the concept “propitiation” means. It has two senses. The first is the wiping away of sin. The second is the appeasing of the wrath of God. This is a gift that is given purely from the grace of God. Paul says in fact that it is an incredible love that God has for us.
- For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly… God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:6, 8).
The only response that is required of us is that we must receive this gift in faith. What exactly does that faith or belief look like? The Holy Scriptures describe it clearly a little later in his epistle.
Abraham is also the example of faith. His faith did not waver, it fully trusted in the promise of God, and it grew.
- “… in the presence of God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. In hpe he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations… He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead, or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised (Rom. 4:17–21).
The Holy Scriptures also state:
- Because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved (Rom. 10:9).
There are two components to this verse. First, you have to confess, or admit that Jesus is Lord. The term “Lord” conveys the imagery of servanthood. When you declare someone to be your lord, you are declaring your submission, allegiance and obedience to him as his servant. This is equivalent to the concept of repentance elsewhere in the Scriptures (Mark 1:15). In repentance, one turns 180 degrees away from his sin and following his own path to submitting to Jesus and clinging to him for guidance, leadership, and his righteousness. The second dimension is an acknowledgement and belief in the reality that Jesus has literally been raised from the dead. You must accept this reality because it assures you that one day you too will be raised from the dead and experience life in the age to come.
The Result of our Faith in Jesus the Messiah is Reconciliation with God, Escape from the Coming Wrath, and Enjoyment in Eternal Life
In addition to our declaration of being in the right before our God, we will the escape from the wrath of God that is going to be poured out upon humanity.
- Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God (Rom. 5:9).
Furthermore we are reconciled with the Creator God. He restores us to a right relationship of fellowship and intimacy.
- For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life (Rom. 5:10).
This reconciliation covers our shame and is restoring our glory and honor, which is very glory of God.
- Through Jesus we have obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (Rom. 5:2-5).
Lastly the Adamic curse of death is broken. God promises to grant us eternal life and our enjoyment of living in his presence forever. We no longer have to fear death or the known. As children of God we hope in the life to come.
- So that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom. 5:21).
- For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom. 6:23).
- We ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies (Rom. 8:23).
Our Call to live life as Servants to Righteousness
Upon becoming united with Christ in faith, our condition is that sin no longer has control over our lives. We are now commanded to live a life pleasing to God. This is an answer for those who wish to have salvation but also to continue in their sinful practices. True conversion leads to sanctification and righteousness. The Holy Scriptures asks if we should continue to sin so that God’s grace can abound? The answer is emphatically, “Let it never be!”
- Rather, You must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus… Present yourselves to God as those who those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness (Rom 6:14).
God enables us to accomplish this through the gift of his Holy Spirit.
- You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him… If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus form the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you… If by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live… For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (Rom. 8:9-14).
From this vantage point we also see that our relationship to God must be seen within “sonship” language. When we are reconciled with God we become in a figurative sense his children. This gives us both a great sense of assurance but also calls us to a high calling. As sons, we are provided for and taken care of by our heavenly Father. He loves us, protects us, and gives for us an inheritance (Rom. 8:14-17). We are secure in him because of our union with his Son by faith. However, as sons we are also called to obey and emulate our heavenly Father, and so that begins with submitting to his church. Therefore, as new believers in Christ, children of God, you must seek to join yourself to his body which is the church for ministry, spiritual growth, and submission.
- For by the grace give to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body of Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace give to us, let us use them. (Rom. 12:3-6).
One day God will conquer the Devil and bring about the Restoration of All things
The Holy Scriptures declare at the conclusion of his epistle that soon God will destroy Satan under our feet and then will come to reality that promise from Gen. 3:15 that the Serpent’s head will be destroyed and we will see the restoration of the world and live in peace with God.
- The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus, the Messiah, be with you (Rom. 16:20).
- Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith – to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus, the Messiah! (Rom. 16:25-27).
What must I do to be saved?
- Admit that you have broken the moral law of the Creator God. That you are a sinner and worthy of the wrath of God, that your sin has brought upon you guilt, and that you are under the dominion of death fearfully awaiting your own destruction, which will most assuredly come.
- Admit that you in your own power cannot save yourself or keep the law of God and that it is only through the power of God through faith that you can be saved.
- Repent of your sins and believe in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the Messiah, God’s eternal Son. Accept him in faith as your Lord and Savior.
I have cried out to Jesus in repentance from my sins and sinful lifestyle and have turned to him in faith. What must I do now?
- Praise God that he has removed your guilt. You are now his child who has passed from death unto life.
- Seek out a local body of believers. Jesus is the head and his body is the church (Eph. 1:15-23).
- Ask the church leadership to baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as a public proclamation of your faith in him and his union with you (Matt 28:18-20).
- Ask the church leadership to disciple you so that you can become mature in Christ (Matt 28:18-20).
- Begin to minister and to use your Spiritual gifts in the local church (Rom. 12:3-8).
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