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Jim Humphrey

The Apostle Paul wrote “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” Romans 1:16 “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, the just shall live by faith.” Romans 1:17.

The word “gospel” in verse 16 is translated from the Greek “euanggelion” (G2098) found 77 times in the New Testament (NT), meaning “good or glad news.” In the NT it is used in reference to three distinct gospels:

  1. God’s everlasting gospel of grace, mercy and salvation existing from the beginning, i.e., Abel, Hebrews 11:4, Abraham, Galatians 3:8, and continuing throughout time to His righteous judgment at the end, Revelation 14:6 – 7.
  2. The gospel of the Kingdom of heaven on earth that God promised Abraham and David for Israel, as preached by Jesus on earth, Matthew 4:23; Acts 1:3 – 9, and again to Israel by Peter and those with him, Acts 3:20 – 21; Acts 8:25.
  3. The gospel revealed to the Apostle Paul for us during this age of Grace. Paul calls it variously: the Gospel of the Grace of God, Acts 20:24; the Gospel of God, Romans 1:1; the gospel of His Son, Romans 1:9; the gospel of Christ, Romans 1:16; the gospel of peace, Ephesians 6:15; the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 Thessalonians 1:8. Paul refers it as “my gospel,” Romans 2:16; Romans 16:25; 2 Timothy 2:8 as well as “the gospel of the uncircumcision” (the gentiles) committed to him while the gospel of circumcision (that of Israel’s Kingdom) was committed to Peter, Galatians 2:7.

The gospel Paul preached, in simple terms, is that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23, meaning all men and women naturally stand unrighteous before God; but all anyone has to do to be righteous before God and be saved to eternal life is to believe from the heart that Christ died for their sin/s, that He was buried and rose again, according to the Scriptures, 1 Corinthians 15:1 – 4. Paul was not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ even though most Jews and many Gentiles harassed, beat and tried to kill him because of it. Israel did not believe Jesus was their Messiah and God’s Son and therefore handed Him over to the Romans to be crucified. Then Paul came along and reiterated the same thing about Jesus’ Messiahship and Sonship; but furthermore, that Christ fulfilled the Law of Moses and died, was buried and rose again to save them from their sins. They rejected Paul’s message outright, claiming it necessary to follow the Law, even though they did so hypocritically.

The Gentiles didn’t believe the Gospel of Christ as it ran counter to their idol worship, which included sexual immorality and provided a livelihood to many of them; and it didn’t fit their human wisdom/ reasoning. “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:21 – 24. Today, the Gospel of Christ is still a stumbling block to most Jews and foolishness to most Gentiles, and even though many Gentiles may “intellectually” believe Christ died for them, they never-the-less rely for their salvation on their own ethical/ moral behavior, or on one or more of their religious beliefs, which are works, rules, laws, rites, rituals, church membership, etc.

Paul wrote that the Gospel of Christ has the unlimited power of Almighty God to give salvation to any Jew or Gentile who truly believes it, Romans 1:16. “For therein (the gospel of Christ) is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, the just shall live by faith.” Romans 1:17. The righteousness of God is the fact that God is right in His Being and in everything He does. “From faith to faith” refers to the individual faith of each of those in the past who believed and obeyed what God told them. God’s Word (instructions) was different to Abel, than it was to Noah or Abraham or Moses for Israel. They each believed and obeyed God’s specific Word to them and He counted them righteous because of their belief and obedience. Paul quotes Habakkuk 2:4 with the phrase “The just (righteous) shall live by faith” in Romans 1:17 and repeats it in Galatians 3:11 & Hebrews 10:38, so we know faith in God’s Word has always been a requirement from the beginning. But we must ask just how the righteousness of God was applied to those who believed and obeyed God before the Lord Jesus Christ revealed the Gospel of Christ to the Apostle Paul.

None of those who believed and obeyed God’s Word to them prior to the Apostle Paul were aware of the real reason God could recognize them righteous. They knew nothing about the Gospel of Christ, which God later revealed to Paul. They had no idea that God Himself would fulfill their faith and provide them righteousness by coming to earth as a Man to die the most horrendous death possible, that of the cross, be buried and rise from the dead. Faith is defined in Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the substance (or confidence) of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Abel, Noah, Abraham, Moses, etc., had faith, which was the substance or confidence for which they hoped (their eager anticipation), it was the evidence of what they could not see. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God, Romans 10:17, even if they didn’t know how God would accomplish what they hoped for and could not see.

In Hebrews 11, After listing the witnesses to faith, the Apostle writes: “And these all, (Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, etc.) having obtained a good report (“obtained a good report” is translated from one Greek word, “martureo” (G3140), which means having been witnesses) through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.” Hebrews 11:39 – 40. Those in the past had to wait for God to finish His work of redemption so they, along with we who believe today, can be made perfect. Please read the following passage in Romans 3:21 – 26 carefully: “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; v. 21, Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: v. 22, For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; v. 23, Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: v 24, Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; v. 25, To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” v. 26.

The phrase “his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God” in verse 25 contains several unique words that I’ll define: 1) “remission” is from the Greek “paresis” (G3929) found only here in the NT; according to Thayer it means “passing over, letting pass, neglecting, disregarding.” 2) “past” is “proginomai (G4166), used only here, meaning “to arise or come before, happen before;” 3) “forbearance” is “anoche” (G463) found only twice, here and in Romans 2:4, meaning “toleration, forbearance.” Thus, God passed over the sins of those who believed and Obeyed His Word in the past through His tolerance/forbearance and He did this “To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” Romans 3:26. “At this time” was when God revealed the “Gospel of Christ” to the Apostle Paul for every believer, past and present.

Let us contemplate the Second Person of the Godhead Who is the Word of God, John 1:1 – 2, Who we now know as the Lord Jesus Christ. He always existed. At some point in eternity He created time “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” Hebrews 11:3. This means the second person of the Trinity spoke this universe into existence out of nothing; He also holds everything together, Genesis 1:1 – 3; Ephesians 3:9b; Colossians 1:16 – 17; Hebrews 1:2b. He created Adam and Eve and walked and talked with them in the Garden; it was He who killed the animals from which He made clothes for them after they sinned; it was He who instructed Abel what kind of sacrifice to bring; it was He who spoke to Abraham and all those mentioned in the OT. And, think about the fact that from eternity past He knew what a shameful, terrible, brutal punishment He faced when He would come as a man in the fullness of time, Galatians 4:4, to suffer and die on the cross to save all those He spoke to from the beginning of time. The Godhead knew all this but never revealed it to anyone until Paul, Romans 16:25 – 26; Ephesians 3:2 – 5 primarily because Satan and his minions would never have allowed Jesus to be crucified if they had known His death, burial and resurrection would not only save Gods’ believers past and present but would also seal Satan and his minion’s fate in hell for eternity, 1 Corinthians 2:6 – 8; Revelation 20:10.

In Romans 2:12 we read: “For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;” then verses 13 – 15 are a parenthesis explaining verse 12. The thought of verse 12 continues in Romans 2:16 “In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.” This means the “secrets” (from the Greek word kruptos, G2927 meaning concealed, private, inward, hidden secrets) of all non-believers from throughout the ages will be judged by Jesus Christ when they stand before Him at the Great White Throne, and that judgment will be based on the Gospel of Christ revealed to the Apostle Paul. “And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:11 – 15.

Today, men and women have a choice, either to believe the Gospel of Christ revealed to the Apostle Paul and stand righteous before God and be saved or not believe and be judged by Jesus Christ for their sin/s based on the Gospel of Christ.

 

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