The Centrality of the Gospel in Preaching 11
The church must remember the gospel is the power of God. The gospel evidences and contains God’s inherent power, virtue and nature. The gospel is mighty. God’s power, virtue, excellent nature and might are thereby reflected in the very essence of not only the gospel’s message but its ability to change people’s lives. This is why the gospel must be central in preaching.
What does the gospel accomplish with its inherent power? Romans 1:16-17 states that the gospel is the power of God for salvation. Salvation (σωτηρία / sōtēria) means deliverance, preservation, safety from the molestation of an enemy. The enemy in question is sin. Salvation refers to not only the past deliverance from sin’s penalty, the present deliverance from sin’s power, but also a future deliverance from eternal condemnation and sin’s presence.
Nothing but the gospel of Jesus Christ can accomplish this saving work by God. No self- help programs can ever hope to replace the ability to not only save a soul, but also to restore a human life like the gospel. Nothing else but the gospel can eliminate the enmity that exists between the One, True Holy God and sinful man thereby providing reconciliation (Romans 5:1-10; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21).
The gospel rescues the sinner from sin’s guilt (Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14), sin’s moral pollution (Romans 6:6; 17; 7:21-25a), sin’s bondage (Romans 7:24-25; Galatians 5:1) and sin’s punishment which involves alienation from God (Ephesians 2:12), the wrath of God (Ephesians 2:3) and everlasting death (Ephesians 2:5-6).
The gospel brings the redeemed into a state of righteousness (Romans 3:21-26; 5:1), holiness (Romans 6:1-4; 12:1-2), freedom (Galatians 5:1; 2 Corinthians 3:17) and blessedness meaning eternal fellowship with God (Ephesians 2:13), becoming a recipient of the love of God (Romans 5:5) and enjoying everlasting life from God (Ephesians 2:1-5; Colossians 3:1-4).
As Dr. William Hendrickson in his commentary on the book of Romans writes, “To be saved, then, means to be emancipated from the greatest evil, and to be placed in possession of the greatest good. The promised blessings pertain to the past, present, and never-ending future. Justification, sanctification, and glorification are all included. The state of salvation is opposed to the state of perishing or being lost.”
What is the scope of the power of the gospel? The text continues by saying the power of the gospel is for salvation “to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16 ESV).
The gospel is available to all types of people. The prerequisite and instrumentality to receive the blessings of salvation is God given, saving faith. The sinner, who presently and actively commits to, trusts in, depends upon, and worships Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord will be saved.