Getting the Gospel Right - Romans 1:1-7

Today I want to speak to you on getting the gospel right. We will start by reading Romans 1:1-7.

 

"Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 1:1-7).

 

The renowned theologian and author R.C. Sproul, who recently went to be with the Lord, told me that whenever he would teach a Systematic Theology course in seminary, he would always begin each semester by asking this question: What is the gospel? He confided with me that he was amazed at how few seminary students could give a correct and clear answer to this question. What an important question to answer right. To be wrong about the gospel is to be wrong about everything that matters. You cannot be right with God and be wrong about the gospel. We have to be right about the gospel if we are to be right with God. Getting the gospel right is that important.

 

There is no better place to get the gospel right than in the book of Romans. This is the apostle Paul’s magnum opus. It is his greatest epistle. Romans is placed first among the 21 epistles in the cannon of Scripture. This is not because it was the first epistle written, because it was not. But it is placed first, immediately after the Gospels and the book of Acts, because it towers over the landscape of the rest of the epistles. It is the most important epistle of all.

 

The great Reformer, Martin Luther, said of Romans, it is “a gateway to heaven,” “an open door into paradise,” “the chief part of the New Testament,” and “the very purest gospel.” Luther also stated, “every Christian should know [Romans] word for word, by heart…[and should] occupy himself with it every day, as the daily bread of the soul.” According to Luther, Romans “can never be read or pondered too much. The more it is dealt with, the more precious it becomes, and the better it tastes.”

 

The Gospel of Jesus Christ

A central theme of the book of Romans is found right here in these opening verses. Paul throws his cards down on the table and turns them over at the very beginning. There is no doubt what this chief of all books is about. It is about the gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

In the opening prologue, Romans 1:1-17, we see the gospel mentioned five times. In verse one, “the gospel of God.” In verse nine, “the preaching of the gospel of His Son.” In verse fifteen, “I am eager to preach the gospel.” In verse sixteen, “for I am not ashamed of the gospel.” In verse seventeen, “for in it,” referring to the gospel. This book is all about the gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

In reality, the entire book of Romans is found in condensed form here in this opening prologue. The entire forest is found in this seed, right here at the very outset of this remarkable book. I cannot think of a better way for us to start this New Year than for us to reaffirm our understanding and commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ. As we look at these verses, my goal today is to look at verses 1-7. I want to begin in verse one, and I will set before you several headings that will help us in getting the gospel right.

 

I. The Meaning of the Gospel (1:1e)

Number one, I want you to note the meaning of the gospel. We see it at the end of verse one, “the gospel of God.” It begs that we ask the question: What does the word “gospel” mean? “Gospel” a compound word in the original language, meaning two words that come together as one. It is the Greek word euangelion. The eu at the beginning means ‘good.’ Someone might give a eulogy, which means ‘a good word,’ at a funeral. You can hear the Greek word angelion in the word angel, meaning a ‘messenger or message.’ When those two Greek words come together, the word gospel simply means ‘the good news, the good tidings, the glad tidings.’

 

The gospel is the good news of salvation through the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, to rescue us from the wrath of God. Romans 1:18 says, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men…” God is angry with the wicked every day. It is through the gospel that sinners like you and I are delivered and rescued from the wrath of God. You will never hear anything better than the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is not just good news, it is the greatest news that will ever enter your ear and come into your heart.

 

Martin Luther said:

 

Evangel (gospel) is a Greek word that means a good message, good tidings, good news, a good report, which one sings and tells with rejoicing. So when David overcame the huge Goliath, the good report and the comforting news came among the Jewish people that their terrible enemy had been slain, that they had been delivered, and that joy and peace had been given to them; and they sang and danced and were happy because of this.

 

So the evangel (gospel) of God…is also a good message and report. The gospel has resounded in all the world, proclaimed by the apostles. It tells of a true David who fought with sin, death, and the devil, overcame them, and thereby delivered, without any merit of their own, all those who were held captive in sin, were plagued by death, and were overpowered by the devil. He made them righteous, gave them life, and saved them.

 

This is what the gospel means. It is the good news of our deliverance from destruction, of our rescue from wrath. It should cause our hearts to rise up with joy and bless the name of the Lord.

 

II. The Source of the Gospel (1:1)

Second, I want you to note the source of the gospel at the end of verse one. Who is the author of the gospel? From whom does it come? Paul says in verse one, “Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart…” Paul wants us to know that he is only the messenger. He is not the author, but simply one who has been sent as an ambassador to bring this gospel message. It does not originate with him.

 

When Paul says at the end of verse one, “for the gospel of God,” it means not only that the gospel is about God – meaning His holiness, His love, His wrath, and His righteousness – but also that this gospel is God’s gospel. It has come down from the throne of God above. It means that God is the source of the gospel. He is the author of the gospel. He is the architect of the gospel.

 

The gospel is God’s solution to our dilemma. It is the good news that has come down from the infinite genius of God.  If we divided up into small groups today and met nonstop for the next ten thousand years brainstorming a plan of salvation, we could have never designed the gospel message. It could have only come from the sheer infinite genius of God.

 

Who but God could have designed this gospel message? That God would send the second Person of the Trinity, His only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, into this world to rescue us. Who but God could have designed this? That He would be born of a virgin. That He would live under the Law, and with perfect obedience keep the Law that you and I have broken day after day. Who but God could have designed this? That He would go to the cross and be lifted up to die. That all of the sins of all the people who would ever believe in Him would be transferred to Him, and that He would bear our sins in His body upon the cross. Who but God could have designed this? That He would be taken down from the cross, buried in a borrowed tomb, and on the third day be raised from the dead. That He would ascend on high and whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Who but God could have designed this gospel message?

 

No denomination could have designed it. No church could have crafted it. No seminary could have scripted it. No board of elders could have ever come up with this plan. Only God could have come up with this solution. The source of the gospel is God Himself. That is why to receive the gospel is to receive God Himself. To reject the gospel is to reject God Himself. God is the source of the gospel. That is why there is a zero tolerance policy for any tampering with the gospel. No church, theologian, or pastor may add to the gospel, take away from the gospel, or try to tweak the gospel. This is the gospel of God.

 

III. The Exclusivity of the Gospel (1:1)

Third, I want you to note the exclusivity of the gospel. As we look at verse one, note the last four words: “the gospel of God.” You see the definite article, “the” in “the gospel.” This speaks to the exclusivity of the gospel, meaning there is no other gospel. The gospel is never couched as “a” gospel, as if it is one of many paths that lead up the proverbial mountain that leads to God. There is only one gospel, and it is God’s gospel, which He has revealed to us. The definite article “the” is not in the original language here, but neither is the “a.” It is to be understood that “the” is implied by the reader. It is found in verse nine and verse sixteen. Every time the gospel is mentioned, it is mentioned as “the gospel,” implying the one and only gospel.

 

1 Corinthians 15:1 refers to that which is of first importance, “the gospel.” Galatians 1:7 speaks of “the gospel.” The only time “a gospel” is ever mentioned in the Bible, it refers to “a gospel contrary to what you received” (Galatians 1:9), for which men who preach or believe it will be eternally damned. “The gospel” is spoken of in Ephesians 1:13, Ephesians 6:15, Philippians 1:5,7,12,16,27, Colossians 1:5,23, 1 Thessalonians 2:2, 2 Thessalonians 1:8, 2 Timothy 1:10, etc. and etc. It runs rampant throughout the entire New Testament. The gospel is always presented as the one and only gospel.

 

We need to understand this. There are many roads to hell. There is only one road to heaven. Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6). Peter said as he stood before the Sanhedrin in Acts 4:12, “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.” 1 Timothy 2:5 says, “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” There are as many mediators as there are gods – there is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.

 

We live today in a politically correct world that is tolerant of every religion as having some part of the truth, making some contribution to the overall body of religious knowledge. The fundamental core value today seems to be tolerance. I fear this has had a hypnotic effect upon those of us in the church. It has lulled us to sleep to accept this worldly philosophy at times. Let me be crystal clear. There is only one way to God, and that is through Jesus Christ the Lord. Every other religion is a path to hell. We are not just dogmatic about this, we are bull-dogmatic about this. It is the exclusivity of the gospel. I trust that this day, your faith is in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, for there is salvation in no other name.

 

IV. The Antiquity of the Gospel (1:2)

Fourth, as we come to verse two, I want you to note the antiquity of the gospel. What Paul wants us to know in verse two is that the gospel is not a trendy new message that has only recently come onto the scene in New Testament times. Paul wants us to know that the gospel is rooted and grounded in the fertile soil of Old Testament Scripture.

 

“Promised Beforehand”

 

In verse two, Paul begins, “which,” referring to the gospel, “which He [God the Father] promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures.” This refers to times long ago, throughout all the centuries of Old Testament history. This gospel was preached, taught, foreshadowed, prophesied, and promised throughout the pages of the Old Testament from Genesis to Malachi. It was announced to Adam and Eve in the garden. It was believed by Abraham. It was recorded by Moses. It was pictured by the Levitical sacrificial system. It was proclaimed by the prophets. This is not a new way to heaven that has just now emerged in New Testament times. Paul wants us to know that the gospel is not ‘Plan B’ in the New Testament. It is not an addendum to the first testament. There is only one way of salvation in both the Old and New Testament, and it is exactly the same gospel message.

 

Anytime anyone anywhere has been saved, from the dawn of human history to the last of the elect to be saved, it has always been by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. There was not an Old Testament way of salvation that is different from the New Testament way of salvation. There was not an Old Testament path to God, and now there is a New Testament path to God. There was not a Jewish gospel in the Old Testament, and now a Gentile gospel in the New Testament. No, there was and is and will always be only one way of salvation, which was “promised beforehand through His prophets.” There is no other way to be right with God.

 

“By Faith Alone”

Whether you are in Old Testament times looking ahead to the coming of Christ, or whether you are in New Testament times looking back to the coming of Christ, we are all saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. It is all about Christ. That is why, when Paul comes to the end of this prologue in verse 17, he affirms salvation is by faith alone. You will note in verse 17 that he says, “as it is written,” and he then quotes the prophet in Habakkuk 2:4, “but the righteous man shall live by faith.” Again, Paul is driving this truth into the board of our minds. The Old Testament gospel is the New Testament gospel, and it is the only gospel.

 

Later in Romans 4, Paul will establish the doctrine of justification by faith alone. He is like an attorney in a courtroom who calls to the witness stand and submits as evidence for our understanding Abraham and David as examples for how to be made right with God in New Testament times. The way that Abraham was saved is the way that David was saved, and is the way that you and I are made right with God. It is through this one gospel. This is why it is so critically important that we get the gospel right. Because there is no other rope to grab hold of. There is no other path that leads to God. There is no other access to the throne of grace but through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

V. The Subject of the Gospel (1:3-5a)

Next, we will note the subject of the gospel in Romans 1:3. As we begin in verse three, please note the word “concerning.” The gospel concerns what will follow in verses 3-5a. This is the substance of the gospel. This is the subject of the gospel. This is the alpha and the omega of the gospel. The gospel is rooted and grounded in the person and work of Jesus Christ. John Calvin said, “The whole gospel is contained in Jesus Christ.” As we look at verses 3-5, verse three gives us the person of Christ, verse four gives us the proof of Christ, and the beginning of verse five gives us the provision of Christ. It is all in Christ, because if you have Christ you have everything. If you do not have Christ, you have nothing. “He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life” (1 John 5:12).

 

“The Person of Christ”

Paul begins with the person of Christ in verse three. What makes verse three so remarkable is that this is one of the rare passages where we find both the deity and the humanity of Christ joined together. He says in verse three, “concerning His Son.” The gospel concerns the eternal Son of the living God, the second Person of the Trinity, who is coequal and coeternal with the Father. Hear this again, the gospel focuses and concerns itself with Jesus Christ. That is why Paul said, “we preach Christ crucified” (1 Corinthians 1:23). He also said, “I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).

 

We may say, “Wait a minute Paul. You wrote 13 epistles in the New Testament. You covered the full counsel of God. You addressed all ten major areas of theology. You addressed bibliology, theology proper, Christology, pneumatology, angelology, anthropology, soteriology, hamartiology, ecclesiology, and eschatology. Paul, you covered the full gamut. Why would you say to us that you determined to know nothing among us except Jesus Christ and Him crucified, when you said to the elders in Acts 20 that you have declared the full counsel of God?” The answer is that out of every area of theology, the lines rise and intersect at the highest apex in the person and work of Jesus Christ. He is the very heart and heartbeat of the gospel. In Colossians 1:28, Paul puts it this succinctly, “we proclaim Him.” That was it for Paul. That was the sum and the substance. He preached Christ.

 

A few years ago, when I was preaching at Shepherd’s Conference, I did a radio interview with Todd Friel. At the end of the interview, he asked me to tell everyone what the gospel was. I launched into the virgin birth, the sinless life, the substitutionary death, the bodily resurrection, the present enthronement, and the imminent return of the Lord Jesus Christ. I remember after the interview was over, I ran into John MacArthur and Al Mohler. They asked what I had been doing, and I told them about the interview. They replied, “Ok, what is the gospel?” Shortly after, I flew to Ligonier and was sharing with Dr. Sproul about the interview, and he asked me, “Ok, what is the gospel?” We should be able to wake up at 3:00 in the morning and, within two seconds, give the gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

If you know anything, you have to know the gospel. You cannot be saved without the gospel. You cannot be a witness for Christ without the gospel. You might say, “Well, I will just live it.” People will go to hell thinking you are a good person. No one can be saved apart from the gospel.

 

Romans 1:3 tells us this is the gospel “concerning His Son.” Verse four also tells us “the Son of God.” This points to His deity, that He is truly God. Jesus Christ is as much God as God the Father and God the Spirit are God. Then as verse three continues, we see the uniqueness of the Son of God. There is no one else like Him. No one else could have been the Savior. We read in verse three, “who was born.” Eternal God without beginning was born? He was born of a descendant of David, according to the flesh. This is the virgin birth. He came in the lineage that had been clearly marked out through centuries past by the prophets.

 

He was truly God and truly man. He was not half-God and half-man. He had to be this way in order to be our mediator. A mediator stands between two parties who have had a falling out, who are at enmity with one another, or who are at war with one another. A mediator has to be equal to both sides in order for there to be no impartiality. Jesus had to be truly God to represent God to us, and He had to be truly man to represent us to God. No one else could have stood between God and the human race and been the mediator to bring about reconciliation of the two. No one else could have propitiated the righteous anger of God toward us. No one else could have redeemed us out of the slave-market of sin except one who was truly God and truly man.

 

You see, we could not lift ourselves up to God by our own self-righteousness or by our own good works. God must come down to us because we cannot ascend up to God. That is what God has done in the person of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus entered the human race. He got into our skin. He became one of us, that He might lift us up to the heights of the throne of grace by His sinless life and substitutionary death. It is the Person of Christ. He is the very heart and soul of the gospel. Whenever you give a witness to someone, you must get to Christ as soon as you can. Spurgeon said, “The more gospel we would preach, the more of Christ we must preach.” There is no gospel outside of Jesus Christ.

 

“The Proof of Christ”

Note in verse four, the proof of Christ. It says that He was “declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead…” This is the ultimate apologetic. This is the ultimate validation that Jesus Christ is exactly who He claimed to be. Jesus said in John 2:19, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” By this He was referring to the temple of His own body. Jesus also said, “Just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40). In Mark 9:31 Jesus said, “The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise three days later.” The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead affirms His deity.

 

In reality, the resurrection was a Trinitarian resurrection. Notice at the end of Romans 1:4, “according to the Spirit of holiness,” which is a Hebraism for “by the Holy Spirit.” We see in Scripture that God the Father raised Him from the dead (Acts 13:30), our verse here says God the Holy Spirit raised Him from the dead, and God the Son said that He would raise Himself from the dead. Jesus said, “I have authority to lay [my life] down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father” (John 10:18). We see all three Persons of the Trinity active in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

 

Notice the last four words of verse four, “Jesus Christ our Lord.” What Paul is saying is so vitally important that he gives all three names for Christ, lest there be any misunderstanding of who is the subject and substance of the gospel. “Jesus” is His saving name. It means “Jehovah Saves.” Matthew 1:21 explains, “You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Jesus is His saving name. That is the mission.

 

“Christ” is His strong name. It means “the anointed one.” He was anointed with the power of the Holy Spirit in Luke 3:21 as He inaugurated His public ministry. He was endued with power from on high in order to carry out His enterprise of salvation. He is the Christ, the anointed One, the One who was endued with supernatural power, even to hang upon the cross in His humanity.

 

“Lord” is His sovereign name. Here, the Greek word kurios is used, meaning ‘despot, ruler, Lord over all.’ It is also used in Philippians 2:10-11 as Paul declares, “That every knee would bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Paul belabors this at the end of verse four, as if to take a pen and underscore it before our eyes. “Jesus Christ our Lord” is the subject and substance of the gospel. John 4:42 tells us, “this One is indeed the Savior of the world.”

 

“The Provision of Christ”

Then in verse five, we see the provision of Christ. We have seen the person of Christ, the proof of Christ, and now the provision of Christ. Verse five begins with “through.” The word “through” means ‘a means or a channel.’ It is like a pipe with something flowing through it. “Through whom,” “whom” is a personal pronoun. Paul is not talking about a ‘what’ but a ‘whom.’ We are talking about not just a plan, but a person. We are talking about the person of Jesus Christ. “Through whom we,” the “we” refers to all believers, “have received grace.” Underline the word “grace.” There is nothing we can do to work for our salvation, we can only receive it. This grace is not a reward for the righteous, it is a gift for the guilty that can only be received with the empty hand of faith. “Through whom we have received grace.” We did not earn it. We do not deserve it. We have not merited it. We did not work for it. God’s grace is freely given as a gift.

 

This grace is saving grace, sanctifying grace, strengthening grace, serving grace, and sustaining grace. It is grace upon grace. It is multiplied grace. It speaks of the saving and sanctifying grace of God upon all of our lives. It is all through Christ. Let me put it this way, there is not one drop of grace outside of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the only mediator by which the grace of God comes down into our lives. It is all coming through this pipeline, through this exclusive channel, through this one and only means of the person and work of Jesus Christ.

 

This is the subject of the gospel. The more we talk about Christ, the more gospel we have to speak to others. We can give our testimony and tell others what God has done in our lives, but that is only the front porch to get into the castle of truth in the gospel of Jesus Christ. That is only the drawbridge to get us across the mote to get into where the treasures are in the person of Christ. Charles Spurgeon said, “A sermon without Christ is an awful thing.” We could say a witness without Christ is like a day without the sun, a night without the moon, the ocean without water, the skies without the stars. A sermon without Christ is an empty well that mocks the traveler or a cloud that never rains. Christ is the Savior of sinners. He is the subject of the gospel.

 

VI. The Goal of the Gospel (1:5b)

I want you to see the goal of the gospel. In verse five Paul goes on to say, “to bring about the obedience of faith.” The obedience of faith means the obedience that springs from faith. In other words, true saving faith produces obedience. It actually produces obedience at the moment of conversion. It is not something that happens three or four years later. Obedience happens at the very second of conversion, because the gospel itself is more than just a free offer and an invitation. It is that, but it is more than that. The gospel is a divine command. When Jesus says, “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17), “repent” is in the imperative mood. It is a command. Saving faith is obedience to the command of Scripture to believe in Jesus Christ. Unbelief is disobedience because God commands all men everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30).

 

At the moment of conversion, genuine, true, saving faith immediately produces the initial harvest of obedience as one submits their life, denies themself, takes up the cross, entrusts their life to Christ, and walks through the narrow gate. Faith is the root, obedience is the fruit. The two cannot be separated. True faith always produces obedience. It always produces a transformed life.

 

John Stott writes, “Paul looked for a total, unreserved commitment to Jesus Christ, which he called the obedience of faith. This is our answer to those who argue that it is possible to accept Jesus as Savior without surrendering to Him as Lord.” If there is no obedience, there is no faith. It is just talk. It is just raising a hand, walking an aisle, signing a card, and getting wet. True, saving faith immediately comes under the Lordship of Christ and obeys Him even to receive the gospel.

 

VII. The Scope of the Gospel (1:5c)

As we continue in verse five, Paul says, “among all the Gentiles.” Again, we are back to the exclusivity of the gospel. There was not one way to be saved in Rome, and then a different way for the Asians to be saved, or a different way for the Russians to be saved. No, this one gospel is to be preached to all the world, and it is to be received among all the Gentiles. All tribes, all tongues, all nations, all peoples. The gospel is for everyone. If you are breathing today, you need to believe the gospel. It is offered to you.

 

VIII. The Sake of the Gospel (1:5d)

Then note the sake of the gospel at the end of verse five. Here is the ultimate, highest purpose of the gospel. It is for the fame of the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. He says, “for His name’s sake.” The gospel is for the honor and glory of the Son of God. That He would have a bride in heaven. That there would be more voices in the Hallelujah Choir. That throughout all the ages to come there would be more fervent worshipers who would magnify the excellence of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the purpose of the gospel. Getting us out of hell and into heaven is somewhat peripheral.

 

At the very heart of the gospel is that the Son of God would have a chosen bride who would be conformed into His image and who would sing His praises throughout all the ages to come. The gospel is the means by which this would come to pass. The sake of the gospel is that Christ would be known, that Christ would be embraced, that He would be worshiped, that He would be honored, that He would be obeyed, and that He would be followed. The gospel is what puts us onto the right path.

 

IX. The Success of the Gospel (1:6-7a)

Next, I want you to see the success of the gospel in verse six and the first part of verse seven. “Among whom you,” the “you” refers to all believers, “also are the called of Jesus Christ.” In the Bible there are three calls. There is the call to specific ministry, we saw that in verse one. Paul was called to be an apostle. But as it relates to salvation, there are two calls. R.C. Sproul said to me several times, “a good theologian makes careful distinctions. He knows how to slice a subject and make distinctions.” When we come to the matter of the call of Jesus Christ, there is the external call and the internal call.

 

The external call is the voice of the preacher, the voice of the Sunday school teacher, the voice of the mother or father, the voice of one who would give a witness. As we say out loud, “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21), that is the external call. It can go only to the ear and no further. No one will ever be saved until there is this second call.

 

The second call is the internal call of the Holy Spirit of God. Many theologians refer to it as the effectual call, meaning cause and effect – this cause will always bring about this effect. The eternal, effectual call is the call of the Holy Spirit. It is not made with an audible voice, for it is much louder than an audible voice. The effectual call apprehends and lays hold of the one who is called, and in that moment overcomes all resistance, conquering the heart and drawing that one to Christ. It opens the heart and takes out the old heart of stone and puts in the heart of flesh. It writes God’s word upon the tablet of the heart and puts the Holy Spirit within, causing that one to now walk in His statues. The Spirit of God, in that split second, grants repentance and faith. The sinner cries out, “Lord Jesus, have mercy upon me, the sinner.”

 

In this process, the conception took place before the delivery. God had already been sovereignly at work in that heart. All those whom He foreknew He predestined, and whom He predestined He called, and whom He called He justified, and whom He justified He glorified (Romans 8:29-30). There are no dropouts along the way. There are none added along the way. The group He began with in eternity past is the group He will conclude with in eternity future. God will have His way with His people.

 

When the gospel is preached, it will have a reception. The gospel will never go bankrupt. The gospel will never go unheeded. There will be many who will reject it. But all those whom He foreknew and predestined, He will call into the kingdom, and He will justify them, and He will one day glorify them. This is the success of the gospel.

 

Our responsibility is to grab as much seed as we can in both hands and scatter it as far and as wide as we can. By the way, that is what the word ‘broadcasting’ means. It is to scatter the seed of the gospel far and wide. We leave the results with God. God has already purposed and decreed that there will be a response to the gospel.

 

X. The Blessings of the Gospel (1:7b)

Finally, I want you to see the blessings of the gospel as described in the second half of verse seven. Paul says, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” The order of these words is important. The grace of God brings about the peace of God. We must first experience God’s grace through salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ before we can have God’s peace.

 

Note that in verse seven, Paul does not say peace with God, but peace from God. It is not the objective peace with God that we find in Romans 5:1, “having been justified by faith, we have peace with God.” But rather this is the subjective peace of God, meaning the inner calmness of heart and internal tranquility of the soul. This is also found in Philippians 4:6-7 as Paul declares, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Only those who know God the Father through His Son, Jesus Christ, experience this grace and know this peace.

 

Conclusion

As I conclude, I want to ask you, does there need to be a response in your heart today to the gospel? Have you believed in Jesus Christ? Have you entrusted your life to Him who is the only Savior of sinners? Have you entered through the narrow gate? Have you been born again by the Spirit of God from above? Have you laid hold of Christ by faith?

 

If you have never believed upon Jesus Christ, I give you the external call at this very moment on behalf of the King who has sent me as His ambassador to send out the glad tidings and the good news that God will receive sinners into His kingdom. God has thrown open the gates of paradise and the Savior is standing in the gateway saying, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). Jesus says, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water’” (John 7:37-38).

 

Have you ever come to Christ by faith? Come to Christ. It is more than an invitation. He is commanding you today to step out of the shadows and darkness of your unbelief and to enter into the light of His grace and His mercy. He will receive you. He has not come for those who are well. He is a physician who has come for those who are sick. He has not come for the righteous, He has come for the unrighteous. He has come for those who are just like you. If you will come to Christ, He will gladly receive you. Come to Him in humility and submission and saving faith, and He will gather you in and never let go.

 

Let us close in a word of prayer.

 

Father, as we now conclude, we crown You, yet again, with our praise, and give You the honor and glory that belongs to You alone. Thank You for designing the gospel. Thank you for revealing it. Thank You for making it known to us, that we would be made right with You. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen. 

Dr. Steven J. Lawson

Dr. Steven J. Lawson is President and founder of OnePassion Ministries, a ministry designed to equip biblical expositors to bring about a new reformation in the church. Dr. Lawson hosts The Institute for Expository Preaching in cities around the world. Dr. Lawson is also a Teaching Fellow for Ligonier Ministries, where he serves on its board. Moreover, he is Professor of Preaching and oversees the Doctor of Ministry program at The Master’s Seminary, where he also serves on its board. Dr. Lawson is also Professor in Residence for Truth Remains, a work designed to promote and proclaim God’s written Word. Further, Dr. Lawson serves as the Executive Editor for Expositor Magazine published by OnePassion Ministries.