How would you write a summary of the Christian gospel? The book of Romans, in some ways, is exactly that. It’s Paul writing to the Roman church laying out the gospel of Jesus Christ that he preaches in wonderful technicolour. Its more than mere facts – Paul explores what the gospel means for us here and now. It’s wonderful! If this is Paul’s magnum opus on the gospel, then it’s only fitting and right that in the first chapter Paul lays out what the gospel is. Let’s follow the highlights:
The good news is what God promised long ago.
Christianity didn’t arise in a vacuum – we are the result of God’s dealing with humanity ever since the fall – and in particular we are inheritors of the promises God made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David … all of the patriarchs of Israel.
It’s about God’s Son, who was born into King David’s line according to human descent.
One of the promises God made to David was that one of his descendants would always sit on his throne. Jesus is that promised heir by right of his human lineage. But if he is God, then he also has a prior right to rule. After all, he made all things and sustains all things. In fact, in Israel’s early history God made it very clear to them that he was their king.
But we know he is God’s Son because God proved it by raising him from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit.
How do I know that Jesus is all that he claimed to be? Because he was resurrected from the dead. The resurrection is God’s justifying Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God. If Jesus were not raised from the dead – as he said he would be – then he would not be the Son of God; he would be merely another man. But the gospel speaks of the truth that he was – and presents eyewitness testimony to that fact.
Jesus is our Christ – our Rescuer. And he is our Lord!
Not only is he the King and the Son of God, Jesus is also the one who rescues us from the power of sin and death! WOOOOO-HOOOOO! He is the only one worthy of all of our allegiance.
The gospel isn’t something to be ashamed of.
Though the temptation is sometimes real – it is foolishness to so many. But if the gospel is true, then it is the very best news. And why be ashamed of the very best news?
The gospel is God’s power at work, saving all who believe.
The gospel can’t be stopped. Anyone who puts their trust and hope in Jesus Christ the Son of God will be saved. Jesus promised that nobody given him by God can be snatched from his hand. God is powerful to save, if only we would trust him to do so.
The gospel tells how God makes us right in his sight – by faith, just as the prophets said.
God saves us by faith. This is a difficult word to translate. It means a couple of things, I think. We are saved by the faithfulness of God to us. He was faithful and just and rescued us whilst we were still far from him. But it also means that we are saved by putting our trust in God. If we don’t ever trust God enough to entrust him with our lives… how horrible to be set free from jail, and yet refuse to trust the one who comes to lead us out!
Father, thank you for the gospel. Please help me to not be ashamed of it. Thank you that you have done it all. Help me to keep on trusting you. Thank you that you are completely faithful. Just… thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.