This year our church is actively working to create a culture of evangelism — regularly looking for opportunities to teach the gospel with the intent to persuade.
One of the basic components of teaching the gospel is that you have to know what the gospel is. There are many different biblical ways to articulate the gospel, but one of the ways that I’ve found helpful is to think of it in terms of six key words. And all six of these words are either clearly stated or implied in the greatest paragraph ever written, Romans 3:21-26.
What are those six words?
Grace. Salvation is a gift. There is nothing you can do to merit God’s favor in your life. Justification His gift of grace. And God is the originator of that gift. And that’s why Paul says that believers are “justified as a gift by His grace” (v. 24). Salvation and justification are gratis — free to us and costly to God.
Man. Every person is a sinner that has earned and merited and deserves only God’s wrath. While Paul repeatedly emphasized that in chs. 1-3 of Romans, he condensed that message in 3:23 — “all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory.”
God. God is just (3:21, 25-26). And because He is just He is willing to pour that wrath out on all unrepentant sinners no matter their name, heritage, or position (see also 1:18; 3:5). God is no respecter of persons. So man’s problem is not just that he’s a sinner, but that his sin has merited God’s just wrath.
Christ. Christ is (fully) God and Christ is just (righteous) and Christ as the infinite God-Man could stand in man’s place and absorb the penalty of God’s wrath against his sin. Redemption (being bought out of our sin and our sin debt) happens only through Christ (v. 24) and His atoning blood (v. 25). And in dying for sin, He makes it possible for man to be imputed with His righteousness and declared righteous (v. 24).
Faith. The only way one can appropriate the righteousness he needs is to believe that Christ did what he cannot do — Christ pleased God and atoned for man’s sin through His death on the cross. Paul repeatedly emphasizes the necessity of faith as the means to be justified (vv. 22 [2x], 25, 26, and also vv. 27, 28, 30, 31). One can be justified and saved only through faith in Christ and one must believe to be declared just. If there is no faith, there is no justification.
Hope. Justification not only frees the believer from the penalty and power of sin, but it unites him to God so that he can enjoy Him forever (and if je don’t want to be with Him forever, then he really don’t want His righteousness and he really isn’t saved). Though Paul doesn’t explicitly say it is for the hope of our fellowship with God that we are justified, that fellowship is certainly implied in the text. He gives a gift of salvation and the gift is a gift of love (v. 24), which implies the intent of fellowship and relationship. In declaring men to be righteous, he imputes (accounts) Christ’s righteousness to them so that they might be like Him and with Him (e.g., vv. 26; 8:28-30). And He does this so that He can be our God (v. 29). He justifies men so that they would have the hope and confidence of being with God for all eternity.
That’s our message. It’s as simple as six words. And it’s in this text.