For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”Romans 1:16-17 ESV
Do you ever feel like you’ve walked into the middle of conversation even though you’ve been there for the whole conversation? Words and ideas thrown around as if you know what they’re talking about. You force yourself to stay interested until the confusion becomes disinterest and isn’t there something else I could be doing?
I feel like this a lot.
But this is important and, thankfully, simple.
What is the Gospel of Jesus Christ? What do the Greeks have to do with it? Who are the righteous people?
Let’s sort it out to understand the Gospel, how simple it is and what it means for life.
The word itself, gospel, is Greek. It means good news. What’s the good news?
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…1 Corinthians 15:3-4 ESV
Christ died for our sins. He was buried and He rose again to new life. Simple enough, but it still leaves a question, or two, for those who lost the plot. Namely, why is this good news?
First, the bad news. We’re all going to die.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.John 3:16 ESV
Yeah, but we knew that already. Jesus isn’t just talking about “kicking the bucket.” He’s talking about dying in our sin(1)John 8:24 ESV and ending up in hell(2)Matthew 25:41-46. That’s worse news. The good news is God doesn’t want us to die in our sin, so Jesus died for us.
Why did Jesus die for us? God made the law there can be no forgiveness of sins without the shedding of blood(3)Hebrews 9:22. Since we are all sinners(4)Romans 3:23 we all require a sacrifice, but any sacrifice we could make is just as tainted with sin(5)Hebrews 10:1. We needed God to make a perfect sacrifice and Jesus is the perfect sacrifice(6)2 Corinthians 5:21, Hebrews 9:11-14. By this sacrifice he fulfilled the Law of God(7)Mathew 5:17, John 19:30.
To top it all off, Jesus rose from the grave to prove beyond the shadow of a doubt He is God. Jesus death brought forgiveness, but Jesus resurrection brings new and eternal life with God.
That’s the good news. We are sinners deserving of God’s wrath, but God loved us so much he sent his Son to take our place. Through Jesus’ death our sins are forgiven. Jesus is our salvation.
Wait…only Jews and Greeks can be saved?
When Paul talks about the Greeks, he’s simply referring to everyone who isn’t Jewish. At that time, thanks to Alexander the Great, everyone spoke Greek, even the Jews and Romans. They had their own languages as well, but Greek was the language of trade and education. It became shorthand for the Jews to refer to the rest of the gentile world as Greeks. Romans were Greeks. Barbarians were Greeks. It was all Greek to them.
Extrapolating Paul’s words, he’s saying the Gospel brings salvation to Jews and, literally, everyone else.
This includes me and you. Today. Christ brings his salvation to us. Forgiveness. Redemption. It’s all right there in is His Word and His baptism.
Who are the righteous people? Those people who belong to Jesus Christ through repentance, faith and baptism.
Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.Acts 2:37-39 ESV
To live by faith is to live a life worthy of the Gospel(8)Philippians 1:27. If you knew someone who laid down their life for you(9)John 15:13 what could you do to honor their sacrifice? Knowing it was Jesus who did this for you and rose again to give you eternal life; what can you do to live a life worthy of His sacrifice?
The Gospel Sets You Free
A final word on the Gospel. It is God’s gift to you.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.Colossians 2:8-1 ESV
We cannot earn God’s grace. We are not saved by our works, neither do we keep our salvation by our works. Our salvation is in God’s hands.
How can we live lives worthy of the unearned, undeserved Gospel of Jesus Christ and his unending grace?
Hint: Follow Jesus’ example.