Study 8 GOD’S METHOD OF SAVING MEN
GREAT STATEMENTS OF THE GOSPEL
by Francis Dixon
(Key verse: Romans 1:16)
This verse reveals the theme of the Letter to the Romans: “the gospel”. It runs through all scripture and will be the theme in heaven throughout eternity.
The word ‘gospel’, which means ‘good news’, occurs many times in the New Testament. It is described as “the gospel of God” (Romans 1:1); “the gospel of Christ” (Romans 1:16); “the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4); “the gospel of your salvation” (Ephesians 1:13); “the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15). Paul was not ashamed of this gospel. How could he be? – because as the result of believing it he had been saved and his life had been transformed. He was therefore able to say, “I am proud of the gospel” (Weymouth’s translation) – proud to believe it as a man (Acts 27:25), to confess it as a Christian (Romans 10:9-10), to proclaim it as a witness (Acts 22:15), to contend for it as a good soldier (Philippians 1:27), and to suffer and die for it as a martyr (2 Timothy 4:6-8).
There were many things that Paul could be proud of, but he counted all these things as rubbish compared with the knowledge he had received of his Lord and Saviour through the gospel. Look up Philippians 3:3-8, and notice five facts:-
1. THE SOURCE OF THE GOSPEL
What is its origin? It comes from God Himself (Romans 1:1), and literally reads “the gospel out of God”. So the gospel is good news from God. We learn at once the difference between the gospel of God and the religion of man. Man’s religion always begins with man; God’s gospel always begins with God. The source of the gospel determines its character – it is God-like, noble, great, and it is for our good to receive it. It is reliable and up-to-date, because anything God says never needs revising. The gospel is not a religion but a revelation from God Himself – His complete and final word to man.
2. THE SUBJECTS OF THE GOSPEL
What is the gospel about? If it is good news, what is the news? Romans 1:3-4 answers this question for us. It is about “Jesus Christ our Lord”; it is God’s declaration concerning the Person and work of Christ. We have a statement here concerning our Lord’s real humanity (verse 3), His deity (verse 4), and His Name, “Jesus Christ our Lord”, declares Him to be our Saviour, Sanctifier and Sovereign – compare 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. This then is the gospel: God has sent Jesus Christ, His only Son, into this world to die on the Cross for our sins. God raised Him from the dead, and He is now a living Saviour exalted at His right hand (Hebrews 7:25-26). The gospel message is the declaration of the glorious Person of Christ, of His finished work, and of His present saving power, and it is exactly adapted to man’s need.
3. THE SUFFICIENCY OF THE GOSPEL
It is “the power of God for…salvation…” Man’s first need is salvation – to be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20), to be forgiven (Colossians 2:13), to be justified (Romans 5:1), to receive eternal life (Titus 3:7); and the gospel is sufficient because it is not simply good advice about something that man has to do in order to be saved, but it is the good news that God has done, in and through His Son, all that is necessary for our salvation. The gospel is God’s power to save and transform the sinner into a saint; to deliver us from “the wrath of God” (verse 18), to clothe us with “righteousness” (verse 17). There is no human need that the gospel cannot meet, and no sinner too sinful for the gospel to save.
4. THE SCOPE OF THE GOSPEL
It is for “everyone” (verse 16) – for Jew and Gentile. There is no social, moral or age barrier to hinder anyone from accepting the gospel (Matthew 11:28), so this is good news for you.
5. THE SIMPLICITY OF THE GOSPEL
The gospel is good news from God to man. To enter into the benefits we have to believe this good news, to receive it and to rejoice in it. We are saved by faith by believing! Faith is simply acting upon God’s Word; He tells you that you are a sinner, and you believe it, not only because of what your own heart tells you but because of what God tells you (Isaiah 53:6; Romans 3:23). He tells you that He put your sin on Christ and crucified Him in your place (Isaiah 53:5-6; 1 Peter 2:24), and you believe this; He tells you that He raised the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead as a sign that by Him all who believe are justified (Romans 4:25), and you believe this. You rest completely on His word about the work that has been done for your salvation, and you trust the Saviour to save you, and as you do this you are saved.
Salvation is simply by believing? Do you believe? – look up and compare John 1:12; John 3:16; John 3:36; Acts 16:30-31; Romans 10:9-10. Now look up Acts 28:24 – to which class do you belong?