The Heart of the Gospel

But God commends His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. (Rom 5:8-10)

I believe the above text of Scripture captures the very essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ. All of human history finds its pinnacle in the death and resurrection of the Son of God. I’ll attempt to break down the heart of this glorious gospel verse by verse.

But God commends His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.

The Gospel always begins with God. God is the giver and sustainer of life and of all creation. I wouldn’t be sitting here telling this most wonderful tale if not for the God, who upholds all things by the word of his power. All men everywhere owe God a debt of gratitude for every single breath of life they have ever enjoyed. God is due all glory from his creation. If men will not cry out his praise then the rocks we stand upon surely will. God is glorified in his creation.

God’s glorious attribute of love lies at the golden gates of the gospel message. God is love. He so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him shall never perish but have everlasting life. God’s love is incomprehensible, its borders cannot be defined. His love is manifested in his grace to all men. God’s grace is about his mercy and compassion on lost sinners who cannot do anything to save themselves.

Sin is the reason the relationship between God and man has been severed. Sin is why we need a savior. Yet the inspired Apostle Paul says here that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Men do more than commit occasional sins, sins that are an affront to a Holy God. Men are sinners. We are depraved in every part of our being. We were born in this fallen, corrupt state. Every thought of our minds and desire of our souls is sinful. We are an affront to a holy God, a stench in his nostrils.

However, while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Men’s sins are forgiven them only because of the righteousness of Christ. A gracious act of God preceding any good, humble act of any person results in our right standing before God. Christ lived a perfect, sinless life. As a result he could then die for our sins rather than his own. As the second Adam, Christ stands as a substitutionary sacrifice for sin for all who will believe.

Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.

Jesus Christ’s shedding of blood on the cross atoned for the sins of countless multitudes from every tongue, every tribe and every nation from every age. His blood washes away the blot of our sins and purifies our souls. This represents God’s act of forgiving and removing our sin from us as far as the east is from the west. We are purified by the regeneration of our hearts by the work of the Holy Spirit, granting us repentance, faith, a longing for a full knowledge of God and a compliance with his calls for holiness. And this only by the blood atonement Christ offered.

The song ‘In Christ Alone’ has a wonderful verse speaking of the death of Christ;

And on that cross as Jesus died

the wrath of God was satisfied

The glory of the cross consists, in part, of the full cup of God’s wrath, that he has prepared to pour out full strength upon all sinners. That cup has instead been poured upon Christ. In the garden of Gethsemane Jesus prayed to the Father that this cup should pass. He knew full well what terrible fate awaited him. It wasn’t just the cup of his suffering that caused him to sweat beads of blood, it was the cup of God’s justice against all wickedness and rebellion. Jesus bore God’s full wrath against sin upon his shoulders at Calvary. The magnitude of Jesus’ suffering no man can truly fathom. Satisfaction for God’s justice against transgression was made that day on Golgotha, outside Jerusalem

For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son,

The blood Jesus Christ shed, the full wrath of God he bore, the application of his blood, and the imputation of his righteousness were all means to an end. The divine accomplishment of the Trinity is reconciliation between God and man. It is the restoration of friendship and fellowship. God did all this while every single one of us had turned aside and gone after our own way, despising in our hearts the Creator who has so lovingly planned and executed our redemption. It is the dawn of a new relationship. Reconciliation includes the incredibly humbling aspect of adoption. Believers who have put their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are now children of God. As children they are heirs of God’s kingdom. Never mind that your grandmother gave the lion’s share of her wealthy estate to your brown-nosing brother or conniving cousin. You have inherited eternal life! You will live in perfect peace in a new Heaven and a new Earth where there will be no more sorrow, no more death and God will wipe away every tear. We shall make our homes in the warmth of the brilliant light of the New Jerusalem, that eternal Celestial City we are all making our pilgrimage towards. There the Father and the Son shall dwell among us. He will be our God and we shall be his people. The saints shall bathe in the light of his glory and we shall rule and reign with Him forever and ever.

much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

When I read this portion of v.10 I immediately cleave His life into two distinct parts. First, we are saved by the life of Jesus up to the very moment of his death on the cross. From the moment of conception in Mary’s womb to his very dying words, Jesus never sinned. He live a perfectly righteous life, fulfilling every jot and tittle the law of Moses demanded. He is the only person in the history of the world to accomplish this feat. His righteousness not only consisted of outward obedience to the ordinances, but he lived by the two great commandments. He loved the Lord his God with all his heart, mind and strength and he loved his neighbor as himself. He could do this because the seed of God dwelled in him. He was not born with the corrupt sinful nature of man and when confronted with the temptation in the wilderness by Satan he overcame every trial by relying on God’s word. When the hour of his passion came upon him he submitted himself to the will of God and became the Lamb of God. His perfect life, without a single spot or blemish allowed him to fulfill God’s plan of redemption. He had no sin of his own. By his righteousness many sinners would be made righteous. We are saved, in part, because of his perfect life.

Secondly, we are saved by Christ’s resurrection life. Had Jesus not raised up from the dead, then, as Paul states in 1 Corinthians 15:14, our faith is worthless and we have believed in vain. The resurrection is central to the Christian faith. First, it validated Christ’s entire earthly ministry. It proved he was no charlatan or huckster, using slight-of-hand to dazzle the masses. It demonstrated he did not manipulate the crowds into a frenzy of mass hysteria to pull off his signs and wonders. No, rising up three days after an agonizing death on a Roman cross could not be staged. Throughout his ministry he taught his disciples that he must die and be raised to life. The fact that Jesus not only predicted the impossible, but also performed it validates every teaching he ever uttered. He claimed to be Son of God and that the only way to the Father was through him. His resurrection cements these words as God’s truth. Abide by these truths and we shall live. Turn away from them and we shall be condemned.

Christ’s resurrection as the first fruits of the resurrection from the dead on the last day merits an unshakable confidence in every believer that he too shall live again after bodily death. As he is, we shall become at the last trumpet. Our hope is in the resurrection power of God to make us into new creations, free from the bondage of sin.

Of course, these verses do not live in isolation but are part and parcel of Paul’s lengthy discourse on the gospel message. Paul discusses that all God’s redemptive blessings are accessed by faith. In verse 1 of Romans Chapter five Paul states,

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Faith is man’s access key to the above described treasures of God’s grace. A few verses down in verse 15 Paul says this of grace;

For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. (Rom 5:15)

It is by grace through faith that we are saved and it is offered as a free gift. Even the faith we exercise in Christ as we turn from sin is a gift of God’s grace.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, (Eph 2:8)

In summary, it is by the regeneration of our wicked hearts that we obtain and exercise faith in order to receive Christ’s redemptive grace. This grace came through Christ while we all were God-hating sinners. Jesus redeemed us from the wrath of God. He has granted us new hearts and has clothed us in his righteousness that we may stand before God on the day of judgment, justified by his blood. God has reconciled us to him as adopted members of his family.

The heart of the Gospel lies in the first verse I expounded. But God commends His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. This little verse describes both the magnitude of God’s love and mercy as well as the power of Christ’s blood to utterly dissolve the chains of our bondage to sin. His sacrifice has freed us to serve God with a pure, undefiled heart.

Truly, truly, I say to you, Whoever practices sin is the slave of sin. And the slave does not abide in the house forever, but the Son abides forever. Therefore if the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed. (Joh 8:34-36)

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