The Centrality of the Gospel in Preaching 15
Redemption is Christ purchasing our salvation through His shed blood (Acts 20:28; 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20; Galatians 3:13; 4:4, 5; Ephesians 1:7; Col. 1:14; 1 Timothy 2:5, 6; Titus 2:14; Hebrews 9:12; 1 Peter 1:18, 19; Revelation 5:9), Propitiation is Christ enduring the righteous wrath of God in place of sinners (Exodus 25:17; Leviticus 16; Hebrews 9:1-5; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 John 2:2; 4:1), and Justification is God declaring the sinner righteous on the basis of the imputed righteousness of Christ based upon His substitutionary atonement on the cross (Romans 5:1-10; 10:1-9; 2 Corinthians 5:21). All three are contained in the gospel.
The threefold blessing of redemption, justification, and propitiation, centered in the gospel of Jesus Christ and His substitutionary atonement on the cross, are applied to the sinner through the instrumentality of God given faith. It is the power of the gospel of God to accomplish the miraculous in raising the spiritually dead to spiritual life (Ephesians 2:1-10). God gives sinners the ability to believe the gospel, thereby enabling them to repent of sin and turn to Christ for salvation thereby receiving the imputed (credited) righteousness of Christ on their behalf.
In 2 Corinthians 5:21 Paul states, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21, ESV).
In Philippians 3:7-9 the apostle explains, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith (Philippians 2:7-9, ESV).
Romans 9:30-33 states, “What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written, Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”(Romans 9:30-33, ESV).
As one commentator explains:
Romans 1:17 is the key verse of the letter. In it Paul announces the theme: “the righteousness of God.” The word “righteousness” is used in one way or another over sixty times in this letter (righteous, just, and justified). God’s righteousness is revealed in the Gospel; for in the death of Christ, God revealed His righteousness by punishing sin; and in the resurrection of Christ, He revealed His righteousness by making salvation available to the believing sinner. The problem “How can a holy God ever forgive sinners and still be holy?” is answered in the Gospel. Through the death and resurrection of Christ, God is seen to be “both just and justifier” (Rom. 3:26). (The Bible Exposition Commentary Romans, 1:16)