1Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— 2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. 5 Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake. 6 And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. ~ Romans 1:1-6 (NIV)
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” ~ Romans 1:16-17 (NIV)
The Gospel is God’s message that He promised through His prophets to the people of Israel for centuries before the coming of Jesus Christ.1 This means that it wasn’t invented or derived from any human source. It also means that God had planned for this message to be proclaimed long beforehand. But what is the Gospel?
According to Romans, the Gospel is the message about Jesus Christ.2 Specifically, it is that Jesus Christ is a descendent of David who was raised from the dead by the Holy Spirit and declared the Son of God. To be declared the Son of God is not the same as being declared God the Son; in other words, while Jesus is indeed the incarnate and eternal second-person of the Godhead, what Paul is saying is that Jesus’ resurrection declares something more particular about Jesus.
Jesus is the Son that God promised through His prophets who would be the eternal king in David’s line whose reign will never end. Jesus’ resurrection from the dead confirms this identity and demonstrates that He is Lord over all creation. This Gospel is expanded upon in Romans, showing us a Lord that was crucified and died for our sins and took God’s wrath.3 Jesus is the crucified king who has now been raised in power and declared Lord. This message about Christ demands a response, and that response is faith and obedience to Him.4 As Paul puts it near the start of the letter, he is calling people to the obedience of faith (or the obedience that comes from faith).
The Gospel matters because it is the heart of what we believe. Jesus Christ’s identity and achievements shape our identity and conduct in life. Faith is the only proper response in the amazing love of a saviour who died and was raised for us. Obedience matters because of Jesus’ lordship and our union with Him. And ethnic boundaries between Jew and Gentile are broken down because the Gospel is for Jews and Gentiles – through faith in Jesus Christ we are all one in Him.
Christians do not move away from the Gospel, and Christians should not be ashamed of the Gospel. Paul gives two primary reasons why this is the case:5
- It is God’s power to save anyone who believes in it;
- It reveals God’s character to us.
The Gospel is how we as lost and condemned humans can be reconciled with a Father who loves us but remains just and righteous. The Gospel is how we can know who God is. For, as we see what God did for us in Jesus Christ, we see God’s righteousness, His love, His grace, His foreknowledge, His grand plan with Israel, and His vision of what a new humanity that is redeemed and renewed by the Holy Spirit is to look like.
It is because of how amazing the Gospel is that we have absolutely no reason to be ashamed of it. In fact, proclaiming the Gospel of God is a high, priestly calling.6 Priests were intercessors who mediated God’s people’s ability to enter the presence of God. Paul calls His task of proclaiming the Gospel a priestly duty, demonstrating that it is through the Gospel that people can return into God’s favourable, loving, and adopted presence as His children. Mission is fueled by the Gospel. It is a privilege that we are called to be part of this task, and we should honour those who work hard in order to partake in making Christ known.7