Summary: With American society becoming more pluralistic, it is ever more important for believers to understand the simplicity of the gospel. This message explains what the gospel is and the three phases of salvation: justification, sanctification & glorification.
Our text this morning is Rom 1:15-16. In that passage Paul says, “So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also. 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek."i
My subject is very simply: the Gospel.
I. What is “the gospel of Christ” that Paul refers to in this passage?
A. It is Good News.
The Greek word translated “gospel” is euaggelion. We get our English words evanel, evangelize, evangelical from that word. It is a combination of two words: eu which means good and aggelos which means messenger.ii That word is transliterated as angel in our English language. Angels primary function as messengers. So the gospel is a good message; it is a declaration of good news.
Why is that so important; because Satan has convinced a lot of people that it is really bad news? If the world really thought the gospel is good news, they would fill up the churches today. They would be knocking doors down to get in. They would tear the roof off if necessary to hear message. But “god of this world” blinded to truth.iii Instead they have been convinced by the devil that our message, the biblical message, is bad news. It stops good time. It restricts activities and reduces their pleasure. It binds them up with rules and regulations they don’t want. So there is an upfront prejudice against message because of these preconceived ideas. The devil has also taken advantage of religious teaching that simply gave people rules and regulations and gave them nothing more. But according to Galatians (1:6-9) that is not the true gospel but a legalistic perversion of the gospel.
The gospel is good news because brings a lasting answer to all your problems. It delivers you from bondage of sin that will ultimately destroy. It sets you on course that is for your highest good. It provides for you all things that pertain to life and godliness.iv It transforms your wants and desires so that they line up with God and His created purpose for you. And it turns you from a pathway of self-destruction to a pathway of eternal life, joy, and peace. In John 10:10 Jesus characterized the devil as a thief set out to steal from you what is good and ultimately destroy you. “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” The NIV says, “…I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” The gospel is a message of hope. The gospel is a declaration of God’s provision to meet your deepest needs. The gospel is good news for anyone who will hear it and receive it.
B. The gospel is good news ABOUT JESUS!
Paul opens 1Cor. 15 with these words, “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you….” Then he gives a condensed form of message. 1Cor. 15:3-4 “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.” The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus are absolutely essential to the gospel.
Without that, there is no good news. When so-called Christians abandon those truths, they are no longer Christians in the biblical sense. They may still call themselves Christians. But their message is no longer the gospel. Their message is a lie and departure from truth. Anytime a preacher denies the literal reality of Jesus’ death on cross for atonement of sin or if a preacher denies the bodily resurrection of Jesus, he has denied the faith. It does not matter how sweet he says it or how friendly his church is. It doesn’t matter if thousands feel uplifted by services or everybody just seems to love one another. If Jesus atoning death and literal resurrection are not affirmed, then gospel not been preached.
1Timothy 4:1 warns that in the last days “some will depart from the faith.” 2Thes. 2:3 says there will come a “falling away” or an apostasy. I don’t know what pressures will cause this to happen. The Timothy passage talks about seducing spirits and doctrines of devils. There are already social pressures in America to compromise these truths. It is rapidly becoming politically incorrect to stand up for biblical standards. If the culture continues on its current course, it will become harder and harder, more and more costly. We will have to be more and more anchored in our faith; we will have to be more firm in our commitment to Lord as the tides of public opinion turn against us. The result will be some who turn from the faith and some who turn to the Lord more wholeheartedly than ever. Middle of road will be a difficult & lonely path to navigate.