has as its major theme salvation by grace alone,
through faith alone in Christ alone. It rings with
the heartbeat that "God commends His love toward us
in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for
us." It proclaims a message that Christ bore our
sins in His own body on the tree, and it sings a
song of praise, "Unto Him that loved us and washed
us from our sins in His own blood."
The heart and soul of
Biblical Christianity is, "The Son of Man came not
to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give
His life a ransom for many." Therefore, we proclaim
with all of our soul the gospel of Jesus Christ is
"the power of God unto salvation." Indeed, there is
no other gospel. There is no other song. There is no
other message of salvation. There is no other name
given under heaven whereby we may be saved.
How may we be sure that
it is "the power of God unto salvation"? It is
simply by submitting ourselves continually to its
cleansing and renewing influence in our lives. It is
God's kind of life as we enjoy the deep communion
with the living God. The Lord Jesus Christ is with
us, our Friend, our Savior, our Sanctifier, or Lord
and Master. From the depths of our conscience we can
witness, "He loved me and gave Himself for me." It
is "the power of God unto salvation to everyone that
believes." He gives power that nothing else or
anyone else can ever bestow.
The Gospel is the power
of God unto salvation to everyone who believes,
without any distinction of sex, age, condition of
birth, country of residence, etc. Without exception
anyone who believes on Christ will be saved. What a
mighty Gospel we preach. It is universal in its
scope, though its saving power is limited only to
those who believe on Christ.
THE PREACHING OF THE
The "Gospel of Jesus
Christ" is good news centered on the person and work
of Jesus Christ.
Eager to preach the
When you are in love you
can't keep to yourself the joy of your heart. You
want to tell others about the love of your life.
When God comes into your life through the person of
His Son Jesus Christ you can't keep it to yourself.
You want to tell everyone about Him.
I am debtor to the world.
"I am under obligation" to the lost world (v. 14).
Literally, Paul says, "I am a debtor." We have a
debt of love. We are constrained by the love of God.
We want to serve Christ because of what He has done
for us. We can never pay back a debt of grace. We
serve out of the goodness that God has placed in our
hearts. Because of His work of grace in our hearts
we want to take the gospel out of the realm of
self-edification and share it with the world.
Robert Haldane reminds
us, "The Gospel, which is the word of God, is quick
and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword.
By it, as the word of truth, men are begotten by the
will of God, and through the faith of the Gospel
they are kept by His power unto salvation. The
exceeding greatness of the power of God exerted in
the Gospel toward those who believe, is compared to
His mighty power which he wrought in Christ, when He
raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own
right hand, Eph. 1:19. Thus, while the preaching of
the cross is to them that perish foolishness, to
those who are saved it is the power of God" (Romans,
The joy of preaching is
the joy of sharing from the overflow of your study
of God's Word and your encounter with the living
Christ. The preaching of the Gospel is like the in
exhaustible experience of deep-sea pear divers who
dive into the ocean and come up with hands full of
big beautiful pearls. Every time they come up they
know there are many more where they have come from.
So it is with the Word of God each time we go down
we come up with an inexhaustible supply of radiant
gems from God's Word. I firmly believe that when a
person is truly saved God puts in their hearts a
hunger for the deep things of God, and you can find
it only in the study of His Word.
1 Corinthians 15:1-5
defines the gospel of Christ as the proclamation of
His death, burial and resurrection.
Everything God does is
based upon the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the
cross. Jesus Christ died for our sins. Who is Jesus?
He is the Son of God, the Lamb of God, the eternal
Bright and Morning Star; He is our substitute who
died in our place on the cross. Romans 5: 6, 8 says,
"For while we were still helpless, at the right time
Christ died for the ungodly . . . . But God
demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while
we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
How can God justify the
person who believes on Christ? Romans 3:24, says by
"being justified as a gift by His grace through the
redemption which is in Christ Jesus." The apostle
Paul uses figure of a prisoner who has been taken
captive and a ransom price has to be paid before he
can be set free.
Because of the fall of
Adam we are bankrupt spiritually. All we had was
sold and we were left naked, and poor, and
miserable. We had no means of ransoming ourselves.
It was just then that Jesus Christ stepped in, stood
sponsor for us, and in the place of all believers,
paid the ransom price that from that hour we might
be delivered from the curse of the law and the
vengeance of the wrath of God and go free, justified
by His blood.
Jesus paid our ransom
payment in full, and He paid it all at once. No debt
remains. When Christ redeemed His people, He did it
thoroughly. He left nothing lacking. Not a single
debt was left unpaid. Not one penny would be left to
be settled later.
C. H. Spurgeon said it
best: "God demanded of Christ the payment of
the sins of all His people; Christ stood forward,
and to the utmost penny paid whatever His people
owed. The sacrifice of Calvary was not a part
payment; it was not a partial exoneration it was a
complete and perfect payment, and a complete and
perfect remittal of all the debts of all believers
that have lived, do live, or shall live, to the very
end of time. On that day when Christ hung on the
cross, He did not leave a single penny for us to pay
as a satisfaction to God; He did not leave, from a
thread . . . that He had not satisfied. The whole of
the demands of the law were paid down there and then
by Jehovah Jesus, the great high priest of all His
people. And blessed be His name, He paid it all at
Christ did not take out
installments at the awesome debt. He paid it in
full. Once and for all Jesus Christ gave Himself as
a sacrifice. He counted down the price of our
redemption and paid it in full and said, "It is
finished!" Christ suffered all that we ought
to have suffered as a payment for our sin debt.
Because it is paid in full, all who believe on Him
are set free. The work of ransom was done completely
by Christ and without a helper.
Because Jesus Christ paid
the ransom in full, He left nothing for Himself to
do, or for us to complete. He did not put us on
installment plans to earn our salvation. He did not
have to come again and die over and over again like
the lambs of Israel's sacrifices. The ransom of all
His people was paid in full and a receipt was given
to them and Christ nailed that receipt to His cross
and said, "It is done. It is done. It is paid in
full. They are nailed to the cross."
God was satisfied with
that payment and proved it by raising Jesus from the
Jesus was satisfied with
the payment and ascended into heaven.
You and I are satisfied
with the payment when we put our personal faith in
the death of Jesus Christ to make us right with God.
Can you imagine for a
moment what it must have been like when the mighty
Conqueror entered into the gates of heaven at His
ascension? I can see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David
and all the redeemed saints, come to behold the
Savior and Lord! They were redeemed on credit
waiting for that day when their payment would be
paid in full. By faith they proclaimed the message
of eternal hope in the coming of the Lamb of God who
would take away the sins of the world. What a sight
that must have been! No Roman general ever had such
a great triumph. No one ever saw such a majestic
sight as when Christ returned to heaven.
Imagine the pageantry of
a whole universe, the sovereigns of the entire
creation gathered together, heavenly creatures such
as cherubim and seraphim, all heavenly powers of
creation, and God the Everlasting One pressed His
Son to His bosom, and said, "Well done, well done!
You hast finished the work which I gave You to do."
No wonder the apostle
Paul shouted, "But thanks be to God, who always
leads us in His triumph in Christ, and manifests
through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him
in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to
God among those who are being saved and among those
who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to
death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And
who is adequate for these things" (2 Corinthians
Praise God for the
opportunity to preach the gospel of salvation
through Jesus Christ.
THE POWER OF THE
"The Gospel is power in
the hand of God," said Haldane. "It is power . . .
which God employs to accomplish a certain end."
The Good News of Jesus
Christ is the power of God unto salvation (1 Cor.
1:22-25). Some people still think it is nonsense and
foolishness, but to those who are being saved it is
the power of God unto salvation. That is why I don't
stop and argue with people about it; I just preach
it. God the Holy Spirit is the greatest apologist;
He can take care of Himself. Everyone is dead
spiritually and mentally and personally, until He
awakens the spirit and brings man to believe on
Christ and receive His new life.
"Salvation" is a
comprehensive term. In this passage the words
"life," especially eternal life" and "salvation" has
the same meaning. The sinner who is justified by
faith will live. He alone is righteous in God's
sight. The sinner who is declared by God to be
righteous or justified will be saved. Eternal life
begins with justification and continues throughout
eternity. Salvation includes sanctification and
reaches its consummation in final glory when we
stand before God in Christ Jesus.
It is the power to
change people's lives
We were dead in
trespasses and sins. The wages of sin is death. Sin
and depravity paints an ugly picture in the Bible
and in real life. Read for yourself the first three
chapters of Paul's letter to the Romans.
Sinners need the Savior
who can deliver us from our sins. I do not want to
be reincarnated into a future life of sin and
depravity. I want the power of the Gospel to change
my life right now and be found with new life in
Christ for now and eternity.
The Gospel of Jesus
Christ reveals God's way of righteousness. It is not
a way determined by man, or by an external
consideration, but by God. It is what is right,
conformable to right, pertaining to right as God
determines it to be right. God is the standard. Paul
uses the concept of righteousness in the Old
Testament, and it is a key word in Romans.
The Hebrew idea of right
and wrong was put in forensic terms. In the Hebrew
mind the right and wrong is settled before a judge.
It is not in the sense of a moral excellence as much
as a legal standing before God. The Hebrew word
"righteous" (saddiq) means simply "in the
right." The word "wicked" (rasha) means
"in the wrong." Therefore, for the Hebrew
Jehovah is always in the right because He is not
only sovereign but self-consistent. He can never
contradict Himself. He is the source of
God is the goal and
standard of integrity. It is His norm that man must
live up to. God is always righteous, and we are
righteous only when we are in the right relationship
How does a person stand
right in the sight of a holy God? God vindicates His
own righteousness when He declares the believing
sinner righteous based on the atoning work of Jesus
Christ. God has revealed His personal righteousness
in the Law and in the person and work of Jesus
Christ. It is a declared righteousness. God declares
the believing sinner to be in a right relationship
with Himself. God acquits the believing sinner based
on the substitutionary atoning death of Jesus Christ
for that sinner.
It is good to remind
ourselves the distinction Paul places on
justification, sanctification and glorification in
his understanding of salvation. Failure to do so
leads to confusion in the Christian life. By
justification by faith Paul means the initial act of
God's saving grace when we put our faith in Christ
as our Savior. God puts the person who believes in a
right relationship with Himself. Sanctification
follows and continuously works in our lives.
Glorification is that final day when we stand
complete in Christ before God the Father.
Justification by faith is the simple response of the
believing heart to the Word of God in Jesus Christ.
Salvation depends not on sacraments, not what is
done by any priest, or individual, but on what
Christ has done for the believing sinner. This
teaching in God's Word sets every individual face to
face before a holy God and forces us to deal with
our sin and depravity God's way.
Omnipotent power of
The apostle Paul teaches
us the gospel is the inherent, omnipotent power of
God operating in the salvation of the sinner who
believes on Christ. The gospel is God's power
resulting in salvation to the one who believes on
the saving work of Christ. The gospel is the power
of God. This power of God is demonstrated by what it
does. It is divine energy in itself. It is the work
of God in the sinner. The good news of salvation is
energized by the Holy Spirit. The gospel is the
message which the Holy Spirit in sovereign grace
makes operative in the heart of the believing sinner
who is elected to salvation before the foundation of
Take a few moments and
look back over your life. Draw a mental time line
from the day you were born up until today. Can you
pick a time when God came into your life and changed
you? Was there a time when He put a hunger in your
heart for more of Him? Was there a time when the
Holy Spirit put a hungering and thirsting in your
heart for God's righteousness? Was there a time when
you became acutely aware that one day you would have
to stand before a holy and righteous God who will
not tolerate sin in His presence? Did it make you so
unbearably uncomfortable that a Godly fear grasped
your soul? Is there a time and place where you know
beyond a shadow of doubt that the Holy Spirit
brought you to a sense of spiritual life and birth?
Have you been born spiritually? Have you been born a
What was your life like
before you put your faith in Him? What changes have
taken place in your life since that day? Is there a
difference between your life before you believed on
Christ and since then? Has the Holy Spirit put a
hunger in your heart to become more like Jesus
Christ? What was your life like before Christ came
into your life? What changes has He brought into
your personal life since then?
have the power to change a depraved life
Philosophy of the new age
movements, humanism and socialism cannot change a
depraved heart. Only God can raise the dead!
The gospel is not advice
to good people. It is not a message to sinners
suggesting that they lift themselves up by their
bootstraps. It is power that lifts them up out of
the condemnation and guilt of sin by giving them
spiritual life. Paul does not say that the gospel
brings power but that it is God's power to save
sinners. It is the power of God at work in the
believing sinner energizing and giving God's kind of
life. When the gospel enters the sinner's life, it
is as thought the very fire of God had come upon him
and He gives eternal life. The result of the power
of God in a sinner's life is salvation. It is
altogether God's work, not something man does.
The apostle Paul makes it
absolutely clear the message of the gospel is the
power of God unto salvation. Faith comes by hearing.
God saves the sinner through the message of the
gospel. God's power is operative unto salvation
through the gospel alone. It is the gospel that is
God's power unto salvation.
The writer of Hebrews
tells us the word of God is living and powerful (cf.
Heb. 4:12). Use the Word in the presentation of the
Gospel because it is the omnipotence of God working
THE PLAN OF THE 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 man shall live by faith" (Romans
Salvation is for
everyone who believes
The gospel is universal,
but it is not universalism. It is available to
everyone who will call upon His name and believe on
Jesus Christ for salvation. However, it does not
teach that everyone will be saved regardless of what
they believe. All religious roads do not lead to
heaven. Some will take you to hell. The restriction
is indicated by the words "who believe." Salvation
is not the possession of any unbeliever, or someone
who believes in a false god. Each person must make
it his own by an act of faith.
However, it is not man's
faith that gives the gospel its power. The apostle
Paul makes it clear that it is the power of the
gospel that makes it possible for the sinner to
believe. It is the power of God that is at work in
the saving gospel.
The power of God unto
salvation is applied through faith. It is "to
everyone that believes." This is the
foundation-principle in Paul's life. "The just shall
live by faith." It is the person who is righteous by
faith that will live.
The only kind of
righteousness God offers to the sinner is His own
righteousness. When the sinner accepts God's
righteousness he is assured that God will stand
behind it for all eternity. Therefore the sinner
will stand in a right relationship with God forever.
The sinner's guilt has been taken away for all
eternity because of the work of Christ on the cross.
But the saved sinner also is clothed with the
positive righteousness of Jesus Christ. This is his
new standing with God. It is an eternal relationship
with God in grace. The work of Christ saves and
keeps the sinner saved for all eternity.
However, we must keep
clearly in mind that the same righteousness of God
that saves the believing sinner also condemns the
unbelieving sinner for all eternity who rejects
God's grace and mercy.
The source of our
righteousness is the grace of God, and the means is
by faith in Jesus Christ.
Salvation is only
to those who believe on Christ
The gospel is the power
of God because it leads you to Jesus Christ. The
plan of God is "there is salvation in no one else;
for there is no other name under heaven that has
been given among men by which we must be saved"
(Acts 4:12). Jesus said, "I am the way, and the
truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but
through Me" (John 14:6).
The reason for such a
plan is very simple. Jesus Christ is the only person
who was ever qualified to die as a substitute in the
place of another person. If you and I died for sins
we would only be paying the price for our own
sinfulness. It would be impossible for us to die in
the place of another to pay for their sin debt. We
do not have the righteousness to ransom anyone,
including ourselves. "He [God] made Him [Jesus
Christ] who knew no sin to be sin [a sin-offering]
on our behalf, so that we might become the
righteousness of God in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21).
He was the only person qualified to die in your
place, and pay to redeem you.
The apostle Paul tells us
in Romans 1:17, "For in it the righteousness of God
is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written,
"But the righteous man shall live by faith."
There is only one way we
as sinful persons can ever stand just before a
righteous and holy God. Paul uses the figure of the
judgment bar of God. Justification is a forensic
term. It is employed always in a legal sense. A
prisoner is brought to the court of justice to be
tried. In God's Supreme Court we are all tried and
found guilty. No other appeal can be made. In human
courts the King or Queen, or President can grant a
pardon, but they cannot justify the guilty sinner.
We can be pardoned, but not even royalty or the
highest legal authority can wash our character
clean. The criminal is just as much a criminal when
he is pardoned as he was before.
But before the Lord God
we who are proven guilty can be justified. Even
though the verdict has been brought against us,
guilty as charged, yet God can justify us.
How can a just God
continue to be just and justify the believing
sinner? There is only one way and that is what the
gospel of Jesus Christ is all about. Jesus Christ,
our substitute took all our guilt upon Himself and
died for us. He changed places with us. Remember, He
paid our sin debt. He ransomed us. Because the
penalty has been paid in full God can declare us
acquitted. Justified! Set free! "The wages of sin is
death." But Jesus Christ put me aside, and stands in
my place. When the guilty plea is entered, Jesus
Christ says, "Guilty, Your Honor." He takes my guilt
to be His own guilt. The One who was without sin
became my representative for sin and died in my
place. Jesus Christ was executed in my place at the
Jesus says, "Punish Me. I
have placed My righteousness on that person, and I
have taken that person's sin on Myself. Father,
punish Me, and consider that person to have been Me.
Let Him reign in heaven; let Me suffer for Him." Now
God can save us because the penalty has been paid in
full. Christ says, "I am his substitute. The
believing sinner shall take My place; I will take
his or hers."
The moment you believe on
Christ God the Father looks at you as if you were
Christ. He accepts you and me as if we were His
only-begotten Son, full of grace and truth. He gives
to us the crown of life in heaven. He takes us to
His bosom forever and ever. We are "being justified
freely by His grace, through the redemption which is
in Christ Jesus."
The moment you believe on
Christ you are pardoned at once. The believing
sinner stands a guiltless man or woman in the sight
of God. He ceases to be guilty in God's esteem. To
be "justified by faith" does not mean to be "made"
righteous, but to be "declared" righteous. God
declares the believing sinner acquitted on the basis
of the substitutionary death of Jesus. God changes
people in the crucial point of their relationship
with Him. He removes the barrier that separates man
from Him. It is an act of grace. The creator God
accepts us as His own simply through faith in His
Son. In justification God does not change us, but
accepts us as we are. He does change us once we have
been accepted, but this new acceptance with Him
comes first. Progressive sanctification takes place
over a lifetime as we learn to live by faith in
Christ and walk in the Holy Spirit. If you believe
in Christ He will not let you live as your flesh
desires. His Spirit will constrain you to mortify
its affections and lusts. If He gives you the grace
to make you believe, He will give you the grace to
live a holy life afterward. If He gives you faith,
He gives you good works afterward. Our standing with
God is by grace through faith. This is the
foundation basis for everything else that happens in
our Christian life.
What is this saving
faith? It is the attitude in which we acknowledge
our complete insufficiency to gain a right
relationship with God, and we rely utterly on the
all-sufficiency of God in Christ. We cease all
self-assertion, even by way of effort after
righteousness, and trust in Christ alone to make us
right with God (Rom. 3:20, 22, 24, 28; 4:2-3, 13;
Moreover, something else
wonder has taken place in God's court. The moment we
believe we take Christ's robes of righteousness and
are clothed in them. In the moment when Christ takes
our sins, we take Christ's righteousness. When God
now looks upon the sinner who was dead in sins, He
looks upon him with as much love and affection that
He ever had for His only begotten Son. He takes away
our filthy garments and clothes us in His royal
raiment. That is imputation. If a man is to live in
the presence of God, he must be clothed with the
divine righteousness of Jesus Christ. Our filthy
rags of self-righteousness are placed on Christ our
substitute, and His garments of perfect
righteousness are placed on us. Christ takes our
sins; we take Christ's righteousness. The basis is
our substitution. We go free justified by His grace
because God can find no fault with His own imputed
righteousness. The redemptive work of Christ is the
ground upon which the righteousness of God is
"reckoned" or "imputed" to the believing sinner.
I love what C. H.
Spurgeon once said, "Those who are once justified
are justified irreversibly. As soon as a sinner
takes Christ's place, and Christ takes the sinner's
place, there is no fear of a second change. If
Christ has once paid the debt, the debt is paid, and
it will never be asked for again; if you are
pardoned, you are pardoned once forever. God does
not give a free pardon . . . and then afterward
retract it and punish man . . . He says, 'I have
punished Christ; you may go free.' And after that we
may 'rejoice in hope of the glory of God,' that
'being justified by faith we have peace with God,
through our Lord Jesus Christ.' . . . . In the
moment they believe, their sins being imputed to
Christ, they cease to be theirs, and Christ's
righteousness is imputed to them and accounted
theirs, so that they are accepted."
Has the great exchange
taken place in your life? The person who is made
right by faith in Christ will live by faith in Him.
To be justified by faith is to enter into a new
relationship with God, not because of the works of
his hands, but because of his utter faith in what
the love of God has done through the death of Jesus
No one can summarize this
great truth better than A. M. Toplady in "Rock of
"Not the labors of my
Can fulfill thy law's
Could my zeal no languor
Could my tears forever
All for sin could not
Thou must save, and thou
1:14-17 The Power of God
Life in Romans