Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Key Words of the Gospel

I want to say how much I appreciate the faithful Bible teaching we receive in our church. Both services on Sunday were an excellent example of that. What an encouragement it is to hear the truth of the gospel proclaimed. Of course many other churches are faithfully teaching God's word as well and it is an encouragement wherever it is proclaimed.

In the morning we heard about the wrath of God. Now that is not a topic heard much these days. But in order to understand the gospel it's necessary to understand that the wrath of God is a real manifestation of his character. The Bible clearly teaches that God is angry with the wicked every day (Psalm 7:11); those who don't believe are condemned already (John 3:18); and those who don't believe the son shall not see life but the wrath of God abides on him (John 3:36). These last two quotes were made by Jesus, the one who people claim is so meek and mild he wouldn't hurt a flea. Those are words of judgment are difficult to swallow, but to ignore them is to ignore the whole message of Christianity and to risk eternal judgment.

In the evening service, our pastor took us to Romans 3:21-26, weaving our study of these verses within the communion service. Verse 23 reminds us that everyone has sinned and has come short of God's glory. No matter how good we think we are, we fail to reach the standard God has set. And it is for this failure to reach the standard that God's wrath is upon us.

Verses 24-26 give us three key words that are crucial to understanding the Christian message. The first such word is justified. To be justified means to be declared righteous by God. God cannot just overlook our transgressions because that would violate his holiness and justice. But by sending Jesus Christ to bear God's judgment against sin, he is "free" to declare believers righteous while at the same time maintaining his justice. Romans 3:26 explains it this way, "to demonstrate at the present time his righteousness, that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus." He is able to show mercy and maintain his justice at the same time.

The second key word is redemption. Redemption describes what took place in the Roman culture where slaves were put on the auction block for sale to the highest bidder. From time to time someone would pay that price for the slave and then set the slave free. The slave in such a case had been redeemed. That is what God has done for those who trust in him. The death of Christ on the cross and the payment he made in dying purchased our freedom from our slavery and bondage to sin and Satan. We've been set free.

The last word is propitiation. This is not as common a word to most people as the preceding two. To propitiate means to appease or regain favor with. The wrath of God is upon us and something is needed to appease that anger. There is no gift or offering we can provide that is great enough to placate God's anger against us. The good news is that Jesus Christ is the propitiation. His death appeases God's anger and allows God to look favorably upon us.

By understanding the greatness of God's wrath and the tremendous graciousness of God's provision for our salvation through these three key words, we can cast ourselves upon God's mercy knowing that his promise to save us will be kept. Have you personally come to know God's saving mercy and grace in your life? If not, why not call on him for mercy today. The Bible says that "whoever calls on the name of the Lord, will be saved." Romans 10:13

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