Elements of the Gospel
For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. (Acts 20:27)
There are many Christians who know the meaning of the word ‘gospel’ – good news. However many are preaching bits and pieces of the gospel, very sadly majority is preaching a false gospel that suits the flesh of the fallen man. What is the result? Many thinks they are saved but they are not truly saved, there are the others who are enlightened by the gospel and they have embraced our beloved Savior yet they miss the preciousness of the gospel.
What are the ingredients of the gospel, the elements of the gospel? May be some of you who are listening over the Internet, are Christians for a long time, or listening for the first time. The word gospel is wrapped up with sin, propitiation, reconciliation, grace, love, mercy, redemption, ransom, justification, and imputation. You may have heard the words like propitiation, justification, imputation but what does these words have to do with the gospel? May be you never heard the true meanings and how it is connected to the gospel. My beloved, these words have precious meanings that can truly blessed your heart. I can spend days of spiritual delicacy of explaining these words but let me explain only what you many have not heard propitiation and imputation today as these two so vital to the gospel.
Everything has a beginning so we need to go to the very beginning. Adam was made without sin, innocent, holy and righteous. However, what happened after Adam our fountainhead of mankind disobeyed God?
Ge 2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shall not eat of it: for in the day that thou eats thereof thou shall surely die.
Ro 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.
Man lost fellowship with God; man is spiritually dead towards God. His mind, his heart, his conscious, his body parts all affected by sin. Man needs a righteousness to have fellowship with God. God is infinitely righteous and man needs an equal infinite righteousness to be with God. God gave man the Ten Commandments to obey. The Ten Commandments was written by the finger of God, came from the Holy Righteous God, man can live if he can obey all of the Ten Commandments, he can attain righteousness by the obedience of the Ten Commandments.
Oh, beloved the Ten Commandments did not bail out man; it did not become a savior but came as a strict schoolmaster and a curse to show that we have broken the law of God and in deep trouble. Apostle Paul said in Romans 7:5 our sinful passions were aroused by the Law. The Law of God showed how deeply we have sinned against God as apostle Paul said; “Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin.” (Rom 7:7) Apostle John said, “For sin is the transgression of the law.”(1John 3:4) We can all echo the cry of apostle Paul, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:7) The Law of God showed us how deeply we have sinned against God and we are doomed for destruction. The law of God stripped the righteousness of man showed the true state of man, he is vile and wicked.
As a footnote, it is essential to preach the law to the sinner first before he sees the grace of God. The sinner needs to be bitten by the fiery serpents before they look to the bronze serpent, in the same way, they need to be bitten and stripped by the law, and then they will look for the grace, healing of their souls by looking to our beloved Savior.
John 3: 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
There are times we hear of good people, nice people, righteous people as man see horizontally but God sees the motives and the hearts of men, read Romans 3:9-20. We see from the God’s infinite holiness and righteousness there is no one good, no one righteous as God can see our thoughts, motives and hearts. It is not a good picture; it is ugly and doomed for hell.
Today we hear how God loves the sinners but we do not hear how God is angry with the sinners, we do not hear the other side of the true story.
Many in witnessing say to the sinner, “God loves you and he has a wonderful plan for you.” This is the sugarcoated version of the gospel. The law is not preached as a result unconverted souls are filled in the churches, as they have never seen the bitterness and the double-edged sword of the gospel that ripped self-righteousness. They need to realize of their desperate condition and they are lost, death and hell is around the corner. They need to taste the bitterness of their condition before they taste the sweetness of the living water.
Exodus 15: 22 Then Moses made Israel set out from the Red Sea, and they went into the wilderness of Shur. They went three days in the wilderness and found no water. 23 When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter; therefore, it was named Marah. 24 And the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” 25 And he cried to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a log, and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.
On the bitterness side, we see God is angry with the wicked everyday.
Ps 7:11God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.
Now we need to introduce the word propitiation. It means to appease, meaning to pacify, to make quiet, to make still, to calm a persons anger.
Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
All sin is displeasing to God; he cannot take any pleasure in it, nor look upon it with delight; it is so contrary to his nature. Therefore, God is angry at the wicked everyday. Why? Because they are daily sinning against him. The man who is not born again or the man who is in unregenerate state cannot please God as he is not a new person in Christ, he is living in sin daily and God is angry. The heat of his anger is called the wrath of God. This is the fury and the fierceness of his anger. We see his wrath in the flood of Noah’s days, Sodom and Gomorrah, and other places in the Bible.
Now we have a good picture of the sinful man’s condition and how God is angry with him, let us tackle the word propitiation.
Ro 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.
We know the meaning of the word propitiation, to pacify to make calm, still or to soothe a person. Man committed sin against the holy, righteous and majestic God, God is angry with the sinners. On the other hand, man is enmity and hostile towards God.
Rom 8:7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God.
We have two parties angry with each other, God is angry with man and man is in rebellion towards God and enemies to God. We need a peacemaker, a mediator. What is the job of the mediator? Mediator comes in the middle of the two angry parties and the job of the mediator is to bring reconciliation, so the injured person’s anger (In this case God the Father) would be pacified and God the Father requires satisfaction.
Jesus Christ is our peacemaker as he represented God to man and man to God, he is our only mediator.
Ti 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus
The work of the mediator is to bring reconciliation.
Ro 5:10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
Jesus calmed the anger of God, appeased the wrath of God. Man is not the initiator of salvation but God, himself as he sent the son.
1Jo 4:10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
Now do you see the delicacy of the gospel, oh my friend, have you been whipped by the law to show you are sinner, do you see the fullness of the gospel now as Jesus came as a mediator between God and you to reconcile you to God. There is only one ladder between heaven and earth and earth and heaven; the only way is Jesus Christ.
The word atonement at-one-ment, i.e., the state of being at one or being reconciled, so that atonement is reconciliation. Then you hear the word redemption all the time, the simple verb agorazw, to "buy", is used: so the redeemed are said to be "bought unto God" by the blood of Christ.
Re 5:9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou was slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.
The Greek word exagorazw, which signifies, to buy again, or out of the hands of another; as the redeemed are bought out of the hands of justice. We have not come up to the standard of the law as we have violated the law of God in our hearts, mind and outward behavior. We have transgressed the law and under the curse of the law. Jesus redeemed us out of the hands of the Fathers justice, his wrath. (We are saved from the wrath of God. Rom 5:9)
Ga 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.
Ga 4:5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
Let us see the word ransom is connected to redemption.
The Greek word lutrow is used for ransom, which means a deliverance of a slave, or a captive, by paying a ransom price for the deliverance.
Mt 20:28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
1Pe 1:18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;
19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.
How did Christ satisfy the Father? Let us see this we need to know the word justification and imputation.
"If you, O LORD, kept a record of our sins, O LORD who could stand?" (Psalm 130:3)
The word justification has to do with justice, that one day we have to face the justice of God. We all have to stand before the Judge of the universe, as we are accountable to our Creator. On that day, God will expose all our secret sins, where he will judge by his righteousness. As God is infinitely holy and righteous, his measure of judgment is not according to the our human standard, which even if we get 99% correct still we are failed from the perspective of God, as God's measurement is infinitely perfect. When you see in the Bible we are justified it means that we are made righteous not by our righteousness but by the righteousness of our Lord Jesus.
We need to have 100% righteousness to be with a righteous holy God in heaven, now how did we receive this righteousness? We received by imputation. Imputation means to charge to someone else account.
The Greek word for imputation is logizomai it means to reckon, count, account, compute. Pass to ones account. To charge to another persons account.
"God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Also in Romans 4:22-24, the apostle wrote, "written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead."
Jesus was absolutely holy and righteous, he had a divine righteousness. He was God became flesh. He was born without sin. He obeyed all of requirements of the law as he said “ Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” (Mt 5:17)
At the took the punishment on the cross and died on the cross as a substitute for the believing sinner. This is called the substitutionary atonement as he took the place of the believing sinner.
At the cross, the guilt and the penalty due to the believing sinners were imputed (charged, or credited) to the account of Jesus. Then the righteousness of Jesus was imputed (credited) to the believing sinners account. Now the believing sinner has become righteous, by the righteousness of Jesus. The righteousness of Jesus was transferred or credited to unworthy sinners like us.
We who lowly creatures the maggots of the earth were charged with the righteousness of Christ! Oh! The love of Christ to the believer, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. This is amazing love! We can never understand the greatness of his love for us, how sweet is the living water that came from heaven.
The righteousness, which Adam had in the garden, was perfect, but it was the righteousness of man: ours is the righteousness of God. Human righteousness failed; but the believer has a divine righteousness, which can never fail! The justice of God that was the great barrier to the salvation of sinners does not stand as a barrier anymore. Now the sinner can be pardoned, justified through the blood of Jesus Christ!
Brothers and sisters this is the fullness of the gospel. Without these elements of the gospel, we will not know the fullness and the sweetness of the gospel. We will not see the sweetness of Christ. Do not preach or witness to the sinners God loves you show them they are sinners. First, they are born sinners as David said,
Ps 51:3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Then show them they have violated the Ten Commandments. Have you ever lied? Yes. How many lies do you have to tell to become a liar? Yes, just one lie. Now you are a liar.
Have you ever stolen something in you life? Yes. How many times you have to steal to become a thief? Yes, only once. Now you are a thief.
Have you ever-committed adultery? You may say no. But Jesus said, “But I say unto you, that whosoever look on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28)
Have you ever lusted after someone in your heart? Yes, now you are an adulterer.
We may be honorable among our fellow men but God looks at the heart and our motives. Now in God’s standard, you are a liar, a thief and an adulterer.
Have you ever setup an idol or statue, it could be an image, a saint, a Hollywood star, a sports star, wealth, material things or anything having love and devotion more than the Lord Jesus Christ? Yes, then you are an idolater.
Have you ever cursed the name of God, mocked at God, blasphemed God’s name, murmured at God, used God’s name in idle conversation or taken the name of God in vain? Yes. Then you are guilty and accountable to the Holy Majestic God in breaking the third commandment.
Then show the sinner that he is under the wrath of God and any time he dies, he will be punished in hell, lake of fire for eternity. Then show the sinner the grace of God, how Christ took the punishment on behalf of the believing sinner. How can we escape or ignore such a great salvation.
Heb 2:3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation