II ROMANS 2
THE GOSPEL…THE GOOD NEWS
I would urge you to read the first seven verses of the first chapter of the Roman letter as we begin our examination of the text in this great book. This paragraph is filled with words which have a great impact on all who would call themselves Christians. However, as with all words, they only have meaning when one takes them into his mind and examines their impact in the light of who is writing them and what his real message is. No word has any meaning as it lies on the printed page. Only when activated and interpreted by the human mind does it come alive and convey its meaning. The words Paul uses in this book are the most important words in the world, and we should take every key word he uses and examine it with a seriousness that reflects the impact its true meaning has on our souls.
First, I want us to look at the word “gospel”, which is very prominent in its use by Paul in this book. Too often, a “gospel preacher” is thought to be one who quotes a lot of scripture and emphasizes the rules he finds in them. Very often, such a one has memorized a lot of scripture texts without bothering to study and think about what they really mean. This is not what Paul meant when he urged Timothy to “preach the Word”.
Careful thought will reveal that the gospel is not the set of rules that God has revealed for us to obey. Paul says it is something that God promised through the prophets regarding His Son. The only God which was known to the people of the Old Testament was a God to fear. Since He ejected man from the Garden of Eden, God had been unapproachable, and only to be feared. Don’t touch the mountain where God met with Moses, don’t touch the ark of the covenant or you will die, don’t go into the holy of holies, were warnings that every Israelite knew and feared. The wise man ended the book of Ecclesiastes with the words, “This is the whole of man, to fear God and keep His commandments”. However, when God came to earth in the person of His Son, He came to tell man that He loved him and wanted to have a personal relationship with him again, as He had had with Adam in the Garden. He came to tell man that He was willing to forgive his sins and let him dwell in Heaven with Him if man would only place his faith in the Father through Jesus Christ and let Him come into his life to guide and bless him.
Every Bible student knows that the word “gospel” means “good news”. Well, the good news is not what God wants you to do, but what God has done for you. He has been willing to accept you, even though you are not perfect, and to forgive your imperfection by His love and grace, if you will put your trust in Him, accept His Son by faith, and maintain a personal relationship with Him through prayer and striving for the righteousness which is His will, i.e., the “obedience”, which Paul is to say, “comes through faith”. This concept we will discuss later.
So, the “gospel” is not the rules God has given for us to follow. That was what the Old Testament Law was, and it was designed to condemn all who broke it. The “gospel” is the story of what God has done for us, in extending His grace through the death of His Son on the Cross, and offering us forgiveness and a new relationship with Him if we will place our trust in it. It is designed not to condemn us but to forgive us and give us hope.