THE SIMPLICITY OF THE GOSPEL
The simplicity of the gospel is what the nation of Israel failed to
understand when it came to the doctrine of Justification.
Now, this doesn’t mean you need to completely understand this doctrine in order to be saved. But…. when a sinner hears the full gospel they are on their way to understanding this wonderful doctrinal truth. This Biblical truth is vital for a genuine faith in a genuine gospel. This doctrine is vital for one’s salvation….. In its simplest form. Michael Horton said “The gospel isn’t, What Jesus would do? Now go and do it. The gospel is, What Jesus has done? Now believe that.” Paul explains that man’s righteousness and man’s works are a failed means of salvation. Paul said this same reality in his letter to Galatians. “For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them." Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for "The righteous shall live by faith." But the law is not of faith, rather "The one who does them shall live by them." Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree"— so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.” Gal 3:10-14
Paul uses two examples of impossibilities to save you by your righteousness and workings. (v5-v7) It’s impossible for a man or a woman to justify themselves before a holy God in salvation. It’s impossible to justify yourself by the law or works. Just as it’s impossible for a person to ascend into the Heavens to pull the Messiah down to earth. The only way for Christ to descend from Heaven is by the power of the Omnipotent God, who is sovereign over everything. This is why it’s equally impossible in our self-righteousness and workings to descend into the grave and bring Christ back from the dead.
We know that no matter how virtuous a person
is they cannot gain eternal life.
“Justification” simply means “is an act of God whereby He pronounces a sinner to be righteous because of that sinner’s faith in Christ.” There is nothing in man that causes God to justify him, including our repentance and faith. Repentance does not pay for sin, it only acknowledges our sin. Just as a criminal remorse for their crimes does not satisfy the just demands that the law requires. Your faith does not pay for your sins. Only the blood of Jesus Christ can pay for your sins. This explains why a person can have a weak faith and still be justified. The answer to self-righteousness is what Paul says next…..that the true child of God walks by faith in the perfecting work of Christ in salvation. Paul says something that brings great comfort and rest! (v8) “the word is near you” In Biblical terms Paul is saying “it’ within your grasp, its right in front of you.” Moses reminded the Israelites as they tried to do all things in their own strength. “It is not in heaven, that you should say, 'Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?' Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, 'Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?' But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.” Deut 30:11-14. This is good news! Because this means that you and I do not have to ascend or descend to find this saving grace…. It is within our grasp. But sadly as Geoffrey Wilson said, “The sheer perversity of unbelief is shown by the many who prefer to undertake an impossible odyssey rather than put their trust in an accessible Christ.”
The Simplicity Of The Gospel Is A Genuine Faith. (V5-V8)
The “material principle” of the Reformation was this principle of “Faith alone.” If Christ does the work that saves so that we are saved by grace alone, then human works and merit are excluded: salvation is by faith alone. With every other means of approaching God is stripped away, and recognizing our utter inability to contribute anything to our own salvation. This means we abandon ourselves to Christ, resting in Christ alone to save us.
Faith is a necessity in Christ for without it our faith
is nothing more than “me centeredness.”
Righteousness based on faith and not the Law is greatly different. We cannot obtain salvation by the Law; the GOOD NEWS is that we don’t have to. That’s why Paul says what he says in (v6-v8). The justification that we receive by faith comes to us only through the blood of the Lamb, who took our sins and the punishment we deserved upon Himself. “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.” Rom 3:23-28. In Romans 5:1 Paul reminds us, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Rom 5:1
Our faith is not in our working things out, but our faith is completely in the person of Jesus Christ. Saving faith recognizes that righteousness does not come from ourselves; it is by God grace alone through faith alone that we are saved. When we say that we are justified by faith, we do not mean that faith itself is what justifies us.
It is not the virtue of faith that makes
us right with God.
God makes us right with Himself by His grace, through the atoning death of his Son. The accused person is set free from the sentence of condemnation and to vindicate him or her as righteous. So in other words!….. Faith is the empty hand of the soul stretched out to receive God’s gift of righteousness in Christ. Ours is simply to receive the gift….. and that receiving is what we mean by faith. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Eph 2:8-9. Our works contribute nothing to the perfect work of Christ on the cross, which is itself the gift of God’s lavish grace.
Although faith is required for salvation,
but it has no power in itself to save.
Faith merely receives the righteousness of Jesus Christ offered in the gospel.
If man were able to save himself by his works, then salvation would not be a gift of God’s grace.
“And mankind would have
something to boast in”
That’s the point Paul is trying to make here…this is why the gospel is so near to you and me…..who believe by genuine faith. If we have a true faith, it will immediately and necessarily be manifested in a changed life. If no change follows from our profession of faith, all we have is a profession of faith. In other words we do not possess the real thing, we become counterfeit disciples. The true evidence of real believing faith will manifest a changed life through the gospel confession. Works in the life of the believer don’t save you or justify you, they only authenticate a transformed life in Christ. That is why Paul could say “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Gal 2:20. The simplicity of the gospel is what Paul “proclaimed, that is the word of faith” (v8) This was the hope for Old Covenant followers who look forward to that day when they would taste His redemption.
That they could claim God’s grace simply
by receiving it in faith.
This was Job’s hope in his sufferings. “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!” He was righteous because he walked by a living faith. Job 19:26-27
The Simplicity Of The Gospel Is A Genuine Confession. (V9-V13)
Our genuine faith produces a genuine confession that Jesus is Lord without hesitation. “Confession” often renders to “profess”. It properly means, “To agree with something which others speak or maintain. In this case what Paul preaching about Christ and the gospel.” Confession or profession expresses our “agreement or concord with what God holds to be true, and what He declares to be true.” True confession can only be professed when it first has attached itself to the heart of the sinner. (v8, v9, v10) What the heart believes, the mouth confesses. That was evident in Paul’s conversion. “And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; and taking food, he was strengthened. For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus. And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, "He is the Son of God." And all who heard him were amazed and said, "Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?" But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ.” Acts 9:18-22
I can truly affirm that as a reality in my own life. When Christ got a hold of my life I was completely shattered into a million pieces. But as I was being shattered into a million pieces, I was being made new! Not so that I could go on doing what I always did in my sin and rebellion; but to be born again as a vessel of honor for His glory. A genuine confession is the results of a genuine faith. And that genuine faith confession is the fruit of one’s transformed life. “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Matt 10:29-34
But here is the danger or the warning for those
who profess with their mouths and not their heart.
We would do well to remind ourselves that even the demons believed and they trembled, but not unto salvation. “…And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. And crying out with a loud voice, he said, "What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me." Mark 5:1-7
If we were honest with ourselves we would acknowledge that there are many people seating in pews who have a profession of faith with us…… as the demons. Paul Washer said when speaking of the demons, “Satan and demons have an acute knowledge of the person and work of Jesus Christ and accept them as absolute realities. They know He is the Son of God, that He died on Calvary for the sins of His people, and that He rose again on the third day. However, their knowledge and recognition of the realities of Christ do not lead to their salvation. They are not saved by what they know to be true, but rather they are condemned by it.”
Paul gives evidence here that true saving faith begins from the heart and from the heart one confesses and believes that Jesus truly did the things that Paul explains here in the (v9-v10). The simple gospel that Jesus died and rose again to save sinners from His eternal wrath. See to confess as Paul says here is to believe/know in our heart from the innermost being. From our deepest part we believe that everything Jesus said He did, He did, so that we could attain salvation in Christ alone.
Here is a quick test to see if you truly believe from the heart to what Jesus truly said…….
He is the Eternal God and the Creator of the universe.…… John 1:1-2
He is the Life and Light of all men……… John 6:35; 8:12
He is humankind‘s only Savior………. John 14:6
He is the absolute Sovereign of the universe…….. Matt 28:16
He will determine the eternal destiny of all men…….. Matt 16:27; 25:31-46
He is more valuable than the combined wealth of this world….. Matt 16:26
He is to be loved above all other persons and things…….. Luke 14:26
He is to be radically followed and obeyed no matter the cost….. Luke 14:27-33
He will judge His people’s service to Him and reward them accordingly….. 2 Cor 5:10
How you respond will determine whether it’s mere head knowledge
of Christ our true saving knowledge of Christ.
See the simplicity of the gospel leaves an eternal scaring on the sinner who confesses with his or her mouth. It’s like the two people on the road to Emmaus who encountered Jesus. They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?" Luke 24:32. It’s this burning desire that confesses from heart that Jesus is Lord
“Lord” means “Kurios” in the Greek, which means “Master”…..Jesus is God. Here it means to acknowledge Jesus as Lord, that is, as having a right to rule over the soul. Matt 28:18, Jude 1:4; Rev 17:14. We need to understand this word especially as we approach the text of Romans 13 in the coming weeks. History has revealed that genuine belief in Jesus is more radical and costly for those who follow “Kurios”. Why?
In the Roman world, there is only one lord, and his name is Caesar. According to history even to mention the possibility of another lord, was “political treason” this would result in exile or execution. For the Jews there was only one Lord, and His name was “Yahweh” To give the title of ‘’Lord’ to another was blasphemous and worthy of death. We read in John’s gospel this interaction with the Jesus and the elites. “The Jews said to him, "Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, 'If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.' Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?" Jesus answered, "If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, 'He is our God.' But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad." So the Jews said to him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?" Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am." So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.” John 8:52-59
Greek scholar A T Robertson wrote what it meant to declare that Jesus is Lord, “No Jew would do this who had not really trusted Christ. No Gentile would do it who had not ceased worshipping the emperor.”….. He went on to say, “One is reminded of the demand made to Polycarp that say “Kurios Kaisar (Caesar is lord) and how each time he replied “Kurios Lesous” (Jesus is Lord).” History tells us that as Polycarp took his position at the stake, the proconsul, knowing the frailty of the old man’s frame, took pity upon his victim and gave him an opportunity to recant. “Swear, and I will release thee – reproach Christ.” And his faithfulness paid the penalty for His loyalty with his life. His last words before he died were, ““Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He never once wronged me; how then shall I blaspheme my King, Who has saved me?”
The present state of the church in 2022, some, if not many, use this term “Jesus is Lord” flippantly or irreverently. But know this!..... “No Jew or Gentile in the early church said it who did not mean it. May that be true of each and every one of us? A genuine confession will face this fallen world and its leaders and say “Jesus is Lord” Even if that means losing your job, your bank accounts, property, fame, and possibly your life. He must get pre-immense because He is our justification of salvation. A genuine confession is not about what you think or feel. It’s about what I know about Christ and who I am in light of His glorious truth. This is the confession that you and I cannot afford ignore from the heart.