Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 10 April 19:
Note: Here is a short video overview of the first four chapters of Romans: https://youtu.be/ej_6dVdJSIU
Romans 1:1 — “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God….”
Paul uses the word “gospel” four times in the first chapter of Romans, a word that is used over 90 times in the New Testament. Paul says that he has been set apart for the gospel, that he serves with his spirit “in the gospel,” that he is eager to preach the gospel, and certainly not ashamed of the gospel which is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” Jesus preached the gospel and then called us to preach the gospel to “all creation.” So, what is the gospel?
Without digging into the entire word study (though recommended if you have the time), the word “gospel” means “good news.” So, what is this good news for which Paul and so many others have been willing to give their very lives to share? Most Christians will say that the good news is that God has provided the way to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Yes, but from what are we saved? Most Christians would answer, “saved from our sins.” However, first and foremost, we are saved from God Himself, from His wrath against us as sinners —
“The gospel is called the ‘good news’ because it addresses the most serious problem that you and I have as human beings, and that problem is simply this: God is holy and He is just, and I’m not. And at the end of my life, I’m going to stand before a just and holy God, and I’ll be judged. And I’ll be judged either on the basis of my own righteousness–or lack of it–or the righteousness of another. The good news of the gospel is that Jesus lived a life of perfect righteousness, of perfect obedience to God, not for His own well-being but for His people. He has done for me what I couldn’t possibly do for myself. But not only has He lived that life of perfect obedience, He offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice to satisfy the justice and the righteousness of God. The great misconception in our day is this: that God isn’t concerned to protect His own integrity. He’s a kind of wishy-washy deity, who just waves a wand of forgiveness over everybody. No. For God to forgive you is a very costly matter. It cost the sacrifice of His own Son. So valuable was that sacrifice that God pronounced it valuable by raising Him from the dead–so that Christ died for us, He was raised for our justification. So, the gospel is something objective. It is the message of who Jesus is and what He did. And it also has a subjective dimension. How are the benefits of Jesus subjectively appropriated to us? How do I get it? The Bible makes it clear that we are justified not by our works, not by our efforts, not by our deeds, but by faith–and by faith alone. The only way you can receive the benefit of Christ’s life and death is by putting your trust in Him–and in Him alone. You do that, you’re declared just by God, you’re adopted into His family, you’re forgiven of all of your sins, and you have begun your pilgrimage for eternity.” (R.C. Sproul)
After Paul’s opening greetings and overview of the gospel which “is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes,” the gospel of “Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace,” he immediately turns to “the wrath of God [being] revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.” It is the awfulness of God’s wrath that warrants the urgency for salvation and displays the true magnitude of Gods mercy, grace, and love through Jesus Christ.
Unfortunately, too many have lost perspective of the Holiness of God and the seriousness of God’s wrath. God’s wrath doesn’t preach well today. Sinners are often characterized as merely misguided “victims” of circumstances, and sins are just “mistakes,” no longer something for which a person can be held totally accountable. Today’s more popular God has little if any wrath, rather affection all the time; He is now accepting and tolerant of anyone and everyone because “He understands that we are just human.” However, the good news is only as good as the potential bad news — the looming wrath of God. Where there is no sin, there is no need of a savior, the good news becomes seemingly less relevant, certainly not worth sticking your neck out for. Remember, the first recorded word preached by both John the Baptist and Jesus was “repent,” a word uses 65 times in the Bible but less and less from pulpits.
“The preaching of divine wrath serves as a black velvet backdrop that causes the diamond of God’s mercy to shine brighter than ten thousand suns. It is upon the dark canvas of divine wrath that the splendor of His saving grace most fully radiates. Preaching the wrath of God most brilliantly showcases His gracious mercy toward sinners.” (Steven Lawson, Tabletalk Magazine, Ligonier Ministries)
– Revelation 4:8 — Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!
– Revelation 8:13 — Then I looked, and I heard an eagle crying with a loud voice as it flew directly overhead, “Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 10 Apr 19: Proclaim the whole Gospel message to someone today.