Focal Passage: Romans 1:16-17; 2:5-11; 3:9-12
We often need “do overs” in life. This summer I picked up the game of golf. More than any other sport, golf teaches the principle of humility. While trying to improve my game, I would often approach the ball with visions of excellence, only to dribble the shot a few yards away, then humbly ask for a “mulligan,” a “do over.”
How many times in relationships have you said something that you wished you could take back? The greatest “do over” of life is the need for salvation. Over the next six weeks, we will study the gospel in-depth.
What is the gospel? It is amazing how many of us struggle to define the gospel with confidence. Often, the answer you hear for this question is, “the gospel is the good news of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.” That is true. This is the greatest story ever told! However, the gospel is more than this. The gospel also teaches us how the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ will transform every aspect of our lives. That is the power of the gospel. This is the focus of this series of lessons.
The first step toward spiritual transformation is to realize a problem exists that you cannot fix. Humanity’s natural tendency is to assume all problems can be solved through force of will, determination, teamwork, or ingenuity. Most people in today’s society assume that people are basically good and everyone goes to heaven. This is not what the gospel teaches us. The Bible shows how we all have a problem, a sin problem.
The gospel reveals God’s holy righteousness. Romans 1:16-17 tells us that the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. This passage also demonstrates the gospel’s focus. The gospel primarily displays and reveals the righteousness of God. It is the breathtaking story of how a righteous, holy God can save and be reconciled to sinful man. Our Lord is a “faithful God without prejudice; He is righteous and true” (Deuteronomy 32:4). But how can a righteous God save sinners? The answer, Romans tell us, is through faith. The only way for sinful man to become righteous is to place total dependence upon God for a solution that only He can provide.
The gospel proclaims God’s just wrath. We are frequently confronted by situations involving both good and bad news. Whenever presented with the option, many of us choose the bad news before the good news. The gospel is a bad-news-first story. Not only does the gospel proclaim God’s love; it also displays His wrath. Romans 2:5 teaches us that our sinful natures store up God’s wrath for ourselves, reserved for the Day of Judgment. The only way to truly experience God’s love and reconciliation is for God to transfer the wrath reserved for you to someone else. Through the gospel God transfers His wrath reserved for you to Jesus, and covers you with His Son’s righteousness.
The gospel declares humanity’s sinfulness. In Romans 3 Paul considers the scope of sinfulness in the human race. It does not matter the ethnic or religious background, family heritage, or socioeconomic class, all mankind is under sin. There is no one who can claim righteousness before God on his or her own merit. Therefore, the first step toward gospel transformation involves realizing our desperate and helpless state as sinners exposed to God’s righteous wrath. We must come to realize that we all have a problem (a sin problem) that we cannot fix without God’s help. Are you humble and desperate enough to ask God to help you?
— Moore is the director of church relations at Union University in Jackson. He also serves as minister of education at First Baptist Church, Dresden.