The Glorious Gospel
“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 to faith; as it is written,
‘BUT THE RIGHTEOUS SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.’ ”
Well-meaning Christians often describe Christianity as a wonderful life full of countless blessings, joy and happiness; but in reality this is not always the case.
In an effort to make God and the gospel sound more appealing, faith in Jesus is often presented as the only way to be happy in life. Again, this is not always true and more importantly - it is not the message of Jesus.
The facts are; there are many things in life, many lifestyles and attitudes, which bring great happiness, joy and fulfillment to people who live without faith and who do not acknowledge God.
Psalm 73 speaks about this in detail.
You don’t need to be a follower of Jesus to lead a satisfied life, and there are many people who are highly moral and ethical without believing in God or Jesus.
Even within false religions outside of Christianity, many people find fulfillment, joy and happiness.
The pleasures of sin are very real and yet eternally destructive. The best example of our sin is like being a drug addict. At first taking drugs gives us a great feeling and pleasure but as time goes on we need harder drugs and greater quantities to get the same high which starts a downhill spiral into great pain and misery not only for the user but for family, friends and the community.
This is the same cycle with all sins like pride, selfish ambition, career, money, fame or even worshiping a person instead of God.
So why do we proclaim that Jesus is the only way to be happy? The reason is we misunderstand the message of Jesus, and we misunderstand the gospel.
The message of Jesus is not a call to happiness, joy and fulfillment in this life; it is a call to salvation and eternal life.
The answer is found in the definition of the gospel.
What is the gospel? It is the power of God for salvation to everyone who trusts in Jesus.
Our happiness, joy and fulfilment is based on being loved and accepted by God Himself. This is what transforms us from being people who are desperately trying to find heaven on earth through fulfilling our desires and those who have peace based on the hope of spending eternity in the presence of God and seeing His beauty, perfection and all that we can ever want to feel complete satisfaction and fulfilment.
The good news of the gospel is the forgiveness of our sins and the adoption as God’s very own children. The deep understanding that God unconditionally loves us, that He is our Creator, Redeemer and Father, and that He has a perfect plan for our life and for all eternity.
However, there is great joy, happiness and fulfilment in our personal relationship with God through faith in Jesus but it is not the happiness and fulfilment the world gives. It is a "joy unspeakable and full of glory" as Peter describes (1 Peter 1:8). It is the hope and longing described in Hebrews 11 and the joy we will feel when we finally see His face.
It is crucial to give our undivided attention to this most important topic which has unimaginable eternal consequences; that we may clearly understand the good news, its significance in the center of human history and the most valuable thing we will ever possess in this life and in all eternity.
The book of Romans is a magnificent exposition of the gospel, and a perfect summary and commentary of God’s plan of salvation.
I encourage you to read it regularly, over and over again and let it saturate you with its frightening reality and glorious truth, that you may be filled with the glory of God and transformed into His likeness. I guarantee you will never find it repetitive but you will see new glories with every new reading.
After an introduction of Paul and his mission, the first two and a half chapters illustrate how all people have fallen short of the glory of God and how we find ourselves enslaved to sin, undeniably guilty before God and unable to save ourselves from God’s wrath and judgment.
We see that we cannot keep God's commandments and Laws, and that the Law of God acts as a mirror in which we see how truly sinful we are and just how far we fall short of the beauty and perfection which God requires of us.
Then from chapter 3 to 11, the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul launches into the glorious good news about how God has saved us by His great mercy and grace as a gift in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus.
Finally, chapter 12 to the end of the book contains instructions on how we should live and respond to the mercy of God in Christ.
The message of the gospel is firstly about eternal salvation. It is about life after death and salvation from the wrath and judgment of God.
Its not about being happy and fulfilled in this life; although there is great joy, fulfillment and peace that comes with faith in Jesus but that is not the primary purpose of the gospel - it is the eternal salvation of our souls.
God is incredibly angry with people because we are not what were created to be. We do not reflect His glory which means we do not love God with all our heart, mind and soul, and we don’t love people with the perfect love in which God created us to live.
We are not the people God created us to be, but we have become the very evil we should not be, because of our rejection and rebellion against our Creator.
The perfect, loving and holy image of God in which we were created has been marred, corrupted and de-faced; and this is what is means to fall short of the glory of God.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)
The heart of man is unrepairable without God's intervention and any casual overview of human history undeniably demonstrates the horrific evil which provokes God to bring His judgment upon the world - which is actually an act of mercy on God’s part because His judgments are like a re-boot of the world by causing people to acutely see the horror of their evil and thus force the world to reform its ways.
“For when the earth experiences Your judgments the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.” (Isaiah 26:9)
But, in our ignorance and rebellion, the world always falls back into its default position of unrighteousness and ungodliness; suppressing the truth of God and replacing it with the futility of our own ways. And the outcome is always the same – pain and suffering, injustice, enslavement and death.
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18)
“What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; as it is written, "THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE; THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD; ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS; THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.” (Romans 3:9-12)
The Glorious Gospel
It is into this scene of utter hopelessness in a world that is literally filled with fallen human hearts, enslaved to darkness and selfish, sinful desires; that the good news of salvation breaks through.
God is calling people to be saved from the final judgment which is coming upon all the evil and corruption of this fallen world. Saving people to inherit the new heavens and new earth with full rights as children of God, born again in Christ as a new humanity, no longer enslaved to sin, but transformed in Christ into the perfect image of God.
The good news is that God has done a wonderful thing by sending Jesus to die on the cross as the atoning sacrifice for our sin and rebellion. That God has legally justified us so that His judgment and the condemnation coming upon all people will not touch us.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a sacrifice of atonement in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness… so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:23-26)
This is why we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ and there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ.
This is all the work of God. It is His initiative and free gift to make us right before Him and reconcile us to Himself.
“For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. How much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” (Romans 5:6-10)
The Love of God
This is the love of God, that He took it upon Himself to save us and spared no expense but gave His most precious possession – His One and Only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ – that we might live forever with Him.
A free pardon of all our sins and offenses so that we may have confidence to come to God without fear of His judgment and condemnation but approach Him as His dearly beloved children.
“BLESSED ARE THOSE WHOSE LAWLESS DEEDS HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN, AND WHOSE SINS HAVE BEEN COVERED. “BLESSED IS THE MAN WHOSE SIN THE LORD WILL NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT.”
The gospel in one sense is the message that God has adopted us as His children and He is our Father in heaven. The God of all creation has adopted us by sacrificing His One and Only Son on our behalf.
“The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” (Romans 8:16-17)
This is what the gospel asks us to believe – to trust in the promise of God that by the death and resurrection of Jesus we are saved.
Not that our faith or belief has any power in itself but it is our response of trust in what God has declared to be the way of salvation.
Our faith in Jesus, our belief and trust in what God has declared in and through Jesus is how we enter into the salvation that God has already accomplished.
We do not have to be holy and righteous to be accepted by God because we can’t be holy and righteous by our own efforts. All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory, and the word “fall” means we continuously fail to meet God’s requirements.
The important thing to understand is the expression, “In Christ”.
Our salvation and everything we are is either in Adam or in Christ.
Adam was our representative as the head of the human race and we have directly inherited the consequences of his actions which was rebellion against God, and thus all who are in Adam come under the condemnation of his sin.
This is often seen as unfair because we think we would have not done the same thing as Adam. But the fact is our own personal acts of sinfulness bring God’s wrath against us.
And again, the good news is that in Christ we inherit all the blessings of Christ, so that all His righteousness becomes our righteousness and in turn because we are born again by the Holy Spirit of God; we now have a new nature, and just like we had an overwhelming desire to sin in Adam, so now we have an overwhelming desire to be righteous in Christ.
In Christ we are no longer in Adam but we now have a new head as our representative before God and all Jesus' righteous actions are now ours. And as a result, we actually become more and more righteous like Jesus, as we grow in the grace and knowledge of God in Christ.
“But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” (Romans 6:17-18)
Time will fail us to look at the rest of Romans and the many themes and topics it covers but I hope this gives you a taste of the gospel and some of its glories, and I hope and pray you will dive in and bathe yourself in the promises of God, the love of Jesus and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. "But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)
God Bless you as you read and trust His Word…