The Good News that Paul taught!
CONSIDER carefully some facts stated about this gospel of Christ as revealed through the apostle Paul. "It is the gospel of God concerning His Son" (Rom.1:1,2). It was made known to Paul through a revelation of Jesus Christ (Gal.1:10-12). "In it the righteousness of God is revealed" (Rom.1:17). "It is the power of God unto salvation" (Rom.1:16). It is the power that saves the irreverent and unrighteous from the condemnation and wrath of God (Rom.3:21-26), the power that saves true believers from the reign of Sin in their lives (Rom.6:1-23). But specifically, what is this gospel about which so many wonderful things are declared?
The word 'gospel' means simply "good news." Yet what good news is it concerning God's Son that reveals the righteousness of God, which is also the power of God unto salvation?
In its simplest form this gospel is stated in 1 Corinthians 15:1-7 (NIV) as follows,
"Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received (Gospel) I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born."
This gospel is the good news that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and has been raised from among the dead. This gospel is not one fact, but three. It is not only that Christ died for our sins, it is also that He was entombed and that He has been raised from the dead. The resurrection is indispensable. Apart from His resurrection, His death would have no saving value. "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain, you are still in your sins," is the inspired statement found in 1 Corinthians 15:12-19. His resurrection distinguishes Him from all other spiritual leaders. Others have lived, taught, performed miracles and died. Jesus Christ is the only One Who died for our sins, has been raised, and now lives as the Saviour of the world.
In its fullest sense this gospel includes the meaning of the death, the meaning of the burial and the meaning of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. This includes all that the Son of God accomplishes for the entire creation in His death, in His burial, and in His resurrection life. To grasp the meaning of this gospel in its fullest sense it is necessary that we understand the revelation God has given through the apostle Paul as set forth in the Sacred Scriptures.
First, the gospel is revealed in the way God dealt with Jesus Christ when He became sin for us. In the death of Christ on the cross we see God dealing righteously with sin. What a dreadful thing sin is to call forth such a severe penalty! What great sinners we are that we should justly deserve all that Jesus Christ endured! He did not die because of any wrong He had done. "He knew no sin" (2 Cor.5:21). He did not submit to death because He could not help Himself, "No one is taking my soul from me, but I am laying it down of Myself" (John 10:17-18). "Christ died for the sake of the irreverent" (Rom.5:6-9). "He was given up because of our offenses and was raised because of our justifying" (Rom.4:25).
Whatever the penalty of sin is, Jesus Christ endured it to the full in order to become our Saviour. If the penalty of sin is either annihilation or endless punishment then Jesus Christ could not be the Saviour of anyone because He was neither annihilated nor endlessly tormented. And yet He had our sins upon Him. Christ died for our sins! If it were not for the death, the resurrection, and the present life of Jesus Christ the final end of every human being would be death.
Second, the gospel reveals the righteousness which God Himself provides for mankind. Man cannot attain to righteousness by his own efforts because of the devitalizing power of the mortality, or death, which is operating in him. Note carefully the positive and clear statement of Scripture: "Through one man sin entered into the world, and through sin death, and thus death passed through into all mankind, on which all sinned....Sin reigns in death!" (Rom.5:12-21). Because sin reigns in death, man is as helpless to cure himself of his sinfulness as he is to cure himself of the death that is working in him.
God's cure for death and His remedy for unrighteousness, is the life and the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Paul said in Rom. 5:15, (NIV)
"For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man (Adam), how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ."
He also said in Rom. 3:21-22,
"But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God!"Even the
He goes on to say in Rom. 4:4-5 (NIV),
"Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness."
And in Rom. 5:9-7 (NIV),
"Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!"
To those who believe in what Jesus Christ has accomplished on their behalf, Paul declares in 1 Cor. 1:18-31,
"But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord"
Third, the gospel reveals the righteous basis upon which God assures the ultimate salvation of all mankind. (see 1 Tim.4:9-11 and 2:3-7; Rom.5.12-19; 1 Cor.15:20-28, Phil.-2-5-11; Col.1:15-20).
Because of what Jesus Christ has done and will yet do in behalf of all mankind, the righteousness of God assures the salvation of all in due time. The "sacrificial work" of the Son of God has been finished on the cross (John 19:28-30). The "saving work" of the risen Son of God has only just begun and will continue until all have been delivered from sin and death. Note carefully the clear statements of Paul in 2 Cor. 5:14-21 (NIV),
"For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again."
Paul also said in the following verses,
1 Tim. 2:1-7 (NIV),
"I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time. And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles."
"Who gave Himself a Ransom for all, to be testified in due time" (1 Tim.2:1-7). "For even as in Adam, all are dying, thus also, in Christ, shall all be made alive" (1 Cor.15:20.28). "For even as, through the disobedience of the one man, the many were constituted sinners, thus also, through the obedience of the One, the many shall be constituted righteous" (see Rom.5:18,19).
Those who believe the gospel in this life are saved for the eons or ages. They are justified by God's grace (Rom.-3:24). They are reconciled to God (Col.1:21). They receive the Spirit of God and are set free from the dominion of sin in their lives (Rom.8:9-11 and 6:1.23). They will experience the deliverance of their bodies when Jesus Christ returns (1 Cor.15:50-58). They will share the glory and the labor of their Saviour during the coming eons (Eph.2:14 and 3:8-11). Those who do not believe in this life will be resurrected and judged at the time of the great white throne (Rev.20:11.15). God will deal with them justly according to their deeds (Rom.2:1-16). Then those whose names are not in the book of life will be cast into the lake of fire, the second death (Rev.20:15). This, however, is not their final end, for they will be made alive at the conclusion of the eons when Jesus Christ abolishes the last enemy which is death (1 Cor.15:25,26). Then, they too will be justified (Rom.5:18,19), reconciled to God (Col.1:20), and be made immortal (1 Cor.15:22; Rom.8:18-23; 2 Tim.1:9-11). Then, all will be subjected to God the Father and God will be All in all! (1 Cor.15:27,28).
Some believe and teach that Jesus Christ either cannot or will not save all. It is a source of sadness that so many who profess to know Him and to love Him should slander Him in this manner. Surely He does not lack the ability; He has already saved the chief of sinners (1 Tim.-1:15). Neither does He lack the love; "He died for all." What He has promised in His Word, He will certainly do. "Faithful is the saying, and worthy of all welcome (for this are we toiling and being reproached), that we rely on the living God, Who is the Saviour of all mankind, especially of believers. These things be charging and teaching!" (1 Tim.4:9-11).