In Romans 1:16, Paul writes, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes.” The gospel has miraculous, life-changing power in the life of anyone and everyone who believes it. I have experienced its life changing power, and I believe that those who knew me back then who also know me now can also attest that I have changed for the better. (Still not perfect, but certainly better than I was!).
But what is the gospel? What is this message Paul described as having dunamis, dynamic power? Before we go further, let’s note that the word gospel means good news. If there is good news, we need to understand what the bad news is. After all, there must have been some well-known bad news o make this good news seem “good.”
So, here is the bad news. As Donald Trump would say, you are a disaster. I too am a disaster. Mankind is deeply and fundamentally flawed. If history doesn’t make this obvious, listen to the evening news. If that doesn’t convince you, do what Darth Vader told Luke to do: “Search your feelings; you know this to be true.” The Bible gives us example after example of human frailty, even in the so-called heroes of the faith. Jeremiah 17:9 tells us, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” Psalm 14:3 tells us, “There is none righteous, no not one; there is none who understands, there is no one who seeks after God.” Isaiah 59;7-8 reports concerning those who should know better, “Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood.”
Consider this: even those who reject God as a source of universal truth have some sort of moral code by which they live. But even those who claim (for example, atheists) that they live according to their own set for morals FAIL TO LIVE UP TO THEIR OWN STANDARDS.
Romans 3:23 puts it this way: “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” For a working definition of sin, let us say that it is anything that falls short of God’s perfect standard of character and conduct. If you are not perfect as God is, then you are flawed and broken. Romans 6:23 tells us that the wages of sin is death. There must be a just penalty for sin, and the just penalty is death. God cannot be called just if he merely ignores the wickedness of the human heart.
Death, by the way, does not refer to immediate physical death. The alternative to the wages of sin (death) is God’s gift of eternal life. When God created humans, He created us as eternal beings. If God created us as eternal beings, and those in Christ will enjoy eternal life, then the consequence of rejecting Him is eternal death; that is, an eternity of corruption and separation from God. Yes, this seems hard. But Jesus, full of grace, spoke of eternal consequences. In Mark 9:43-44 He said, “Better for you to enter life maimed, rather than having two hands to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched, where, ‘Their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.'” In Matthew 8:12 He refers to, “Outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Can you imagine the misery of an eternity tormented by the memory of your worst decisions, agonized by your most shameful desires — there very ones that fail to satisfy you now when you give in to them?
So, you are fundamentally flawed and have sinned against yourself, others, and a holy and perfect God. For that sin, there is an eternal penalty. And God, who is just, must execute that penalty, which is death.
So where is the good news n all this? Back to Romans 3:23 for a moment: “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.” There is a gift; you didn’t buy it, you didn’t earn it, and you don’t deserve it. To be worthy of it, you must be unworthy. Are you prepared to admit that you are unworthy?
Beginning/in Romans 5:5 the gospel is expressed thus: When we were without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. . . . God demonstrates His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
The gospel is that God loves you despite your sin and failures, and He has satisfied the debt that guilt demands of you through the blood of Jesus, His only begotten Son. Through that sacrifice He invites you to share His life eternally. Admit you need it. Receive what He did for you. Invite Him in to your heart tonight.