WHAT THE GOSPEL IS
In Romans Paul builds a construct for us to understand the gospel.
- God’s wrath is revealed against all unrighteousness. (1:18)
- Every human being has rebelled against God and is in position to be judged by him. (2:1-8)
- No human being will be justified by works. (3:19-20)
- The solution to this problem is Christ’s death on the cross as a propitiation for our sins. (3:23-25)
- The way we participate in this solution is by faith in Jesus’ work on the cross (3:26, 4:5)
In other words, the gospel can be clearly taught in four words: God, man, Christ, response. If we understand these four truths, we will be able to guard the message of the gospel faithfully. We will be able to share our faith better.
GOD, MAN, CHRIST, RESPONSE
We must first understand God. When Moses asked God what his name was he said something quite profound—more than Moses bargained for: “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion, and sin, yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished.” (Ex. 34:6-7). There may be no better scripture that so succinctly describes God’s character. Here revealed is a full spectrum of God’s being. And it is vastly important that we come to grips with God as he says he is. He does not leave the guilty unpunished. I wish I could go more into this, so I’ll just say this: it’s impossible to love the gospel without knowing what the gospel saves you from.
You can’t get a feel for the depths of our wickedness until you gaze into the awe-inspiring holiness of God. There are several accounts of Bible characters coming before a holy God and you know what they all do? They fall on their face and confess their unworthiness. It’s almost a backward thing, but the best way to come to grips with your sin is to contemplate God. That cuts people down to size. The second step to understanding the gospel is embracing the fact that sin has separated us from God; that each person has rebelled against him and is therefore under his wrath. This is where all humanity stands—no one will escape his judgment—all will stand before the throne to give an account. And unless there is a solution to our problem, we will be damned.
Glory to God, there’s a solution. And the solution is Christ. In the beginning of Genesis 3 Moses describes the fall of mankind into sin and rebellion. In the very same chapter, God speaks to Adam and gives the first declaration of hope. The very first hint of the gospel. It’s called the proto-evangelium—“He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” It is the promise that someday there will be an answer to the problem of sin. The head of Satan will be crushed. And that crusher is Christ.
Paul said that this was a trustworthy saying, “that Jesus Christ came to save sinners.” Christ is the solution to our sin problem. The Bible says that through faith in Jesus Christ we are forgiven by God, we are reconciled to God, we are regenerated into a new creation, and God’s wrath is totally and completely removed from us. Jesus bore it for us. To those who respond to the gospel in faith God treats like his sons and daughters—he is relentlessly for them. Christ is the mediator between God and man.
A faithful gospel presentation always ends with an opportunity for response. The call to repentance and faith is an urgent thing. We do not know how long we have to live. We don’t know when that appointment comes—the appointment that is followed by judgment. This is vital to understand. No one gets saved until they respond to the gospel. Hearing it won’t save you. Knowing it won’t save you. Belief saves. It’s not good news for you unless you believe it.
This post is the continuation of a series: