The Bible says in Romans 4:23-25: “Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.”
Allow me to share with you some commentary on this passage from the Bible Knowledge Commentary by Dr. John F. Walvoord and Dr. Roy B. Zuck:
Mentioning the Lord Jesus led Paul to state again the Savior’s central place in God’s program of providing righteousness for sinful people by grace through faith. Both Christ’s death and His resurrection are essential to that work of justification. He was delivered over (by God the Father) to death for our sins. Though not a direct quotation, these words in substance are taken from Isaiah 53:12. Also He was raised to life for our justification. Christ’s death as God’s sacrificial Lamb was to pay the redemptive price for the sins of all people so that God might be free to forgive those who respond by faith to that provision. Christ’s resurrection was the proof (or demonstration and vindication) of God’s acceptance of Jesus’ sacrifice. Thus because He lives, God can credit His provided righteousness to the account of every person who responds by faith to that offer.
In chapter 4, Paul presented several irrefutable reasons why justification is by faith: (1) Since justification is a gift, it cannot be earned by works. (2) Since Abraham was justified before he was circumcised, circumcision has no relationship to justification. (3) Since Abraham was justified centuries before the Law, justification is not based on the Law. (4) Abraham was justified because of his faith in God, not because of his works.
Today’s quote is from Horatius Bonar. He said: “The gospel is the proclamation of free love; the revelation of the boundless charity of God. Nothing less than this will suit our world; nothing else is so likely to touch the heart, to go down to the lowest depths of depraved humanity, as the assurance that the sinner has been loved — loved by God, loved with a righteous love, loved with a free love that makes no bargain as to merit, or fitness, or goodness.”
Our topic today is titled “What is the Gospel? (Part 3)” from the book, “So Great Salvation: What it Means to Believe in Jesus Christ” by Dr. Charles Ryrie.
THE KEY ISSUE IN UNDERSTANDING THE GOSPEL
Some of the confusion regarding the meaning of the Gospel today may arise from failing to clarify the issues.
One is, What is it that bars me from heaven? What is it that prevents my having eternal life? The answer is sin. The second issue is, How can my sins be forgiven? I need some way to resolve that sin problem. And God declares that the death of His Son provides forgiveness of my sin. “Christ died for our sins”—that’s as plain as it could possibly be. Sinners need a Savior. Christ is that Savior and the only valid one. Through faith I receive Him and His forgiveness. Then the sin problem is solved, and I can be fully assured of going to heaven.
I do not need to believe in Christ’s second coming in order to be saved. I do not need to receive Him as my present intercessor. But I do need to believe that He died for my sins and rose triumphant over sin and death. I do not need to settle issues that belong to Christian living in order to be saved. I do not need to pledge a portion of my future income in order to be saved. I do not need to be willing to give up smoking in order to be saved. Matters of carnality, spirituality, fruit-bearing, and backsliding relate to the Christian life, not to the issue of salvation. Only the Lord Jesus, God who became man, could and did resolve that problem by dying for us. He had to be human in order to be able to die, and He had to be God in order for that death to be able to pay for the sins of the world.
Keep the key issue in the Gospel clear: We are sinners and Christ died to provide forgiveness for our sins.
THE DIRECTION OF THE GOSPEL
We also must keep the direction of the Gospel clear.
The good news is that Christ has done something about sin and that He lives today to offer His forgiveness to you and me. The direction is from Christ to me. It is never from me to Him. I do not offer Him anything. How could I? What could I possibly offer that would help meet my need? To offer the years of my life is to offer something very imperfect and something that can do nothing to forgive my sin. To vow my willingness to change is to affirm something I will not consistently keep; and even if I could, it would not remove the guilt of my sin.
Of course, when I receive eternal life from His hand, I bow before an infinitely superior Person. But I bow as one totally unable to do anything about my sin. I bow as a recipient of His grace and never as one who donates anything to Him. In salvation I am always the recipient; the donee, never the donor. If I try to donate anything with respect to becoming a Christian, then I have added a work, and salvation is no longer solely and purely of grace. Keep the direction straight, and keep His grace unmixed with any work.