Glad Tidings of God

 •  11 min. read  •  grade level: 6
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith” (Rom. 1:16-1716For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. (Romans 1:16‑17)). Such were the words of one who knew in his own soul the power by which God had wrought in him through the gospel — a gospel not received from man, but which had been taught him by the revelation of Jesus Christ (Gal. 1). Look at that man as he goes on his way to Damascus, with authority from the high priest, breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord! The eye of the Lord is upon him, and his career of wicked persecution must come to an end. Suddenly a light from heaven, brighter than the noonday sun, bursts upon him in his murderous path, and the proud, persecuting Saul of Tarsus lies upon the ground, a poor, broken sinner, ready to obey the voice of Him who had been the object of his bitter hatred.
Reader, there was power there. It was the power of God. The proud persecutor was broken in pieces before God, and led to own Jesus Christ as Lord. Henceforth, the Lord Jesus became the object of his life. For Him he gave up everything, counting all loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord. “Christ, and Him crucified” was now his theme. Man, whether Jew or Gentile, was only a poor sinner, but Christ was the Savior of sinners. “If one died for all, then were all dead: and that He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again” (2 Cor 5:14-1514For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: 15And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. (2 Corinthians 5:14‑15)). Nothing but the power of God could avail for those “dead in trespasses and sins.” But there was One in whom the power of God was manifested. It was He who died and rose again — who abolished death, and destroyed him who had the power of death, who also ascended on high leading captivity captive. Through the grace of God Saul of Tarsus was brought to the knowledge of Him as the Deliverer, and he who before was a blasphemer and a persecutor, now proclaimed salvation through Jesus.
“This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” 1 Tim. 1:1515This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. (1 Timothy 1:15). Such were his words. Blessed saying! Worthy of all acceptation! He came into the world; that was grace. He came to save sinners; that was power as well as grace. It was worthy of all acceptation, for the chief of sinners, the ringleader was saved. If the chief was saved, who need despair? If he found grace, surely there is grace for any poor sinner. If the power of God was equal to his salvation, surely it is enough for any, or for all. And this is what the Apostle would have us learn from his own conversion.
“Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting” (1 Tim 1:16). What a pattern! The chief of sinners! The boldest and most zealous blasphemer of the name of Jesus, and persecutor of His disciples! Yet in the grace of God, and through divine power, saved! Yes, more than saved. The power of God wrought in him, and raised him up a pattern for believers — the chief of the saved, may we not say? the boldest and most zealous servant of Christ, the champion of the truth and defender of the faith. Not only was the grace of God displayed in the chief of sinners, but also the power of God in his deliverance. Let us not forget it. The grace of God flows out to the poor sinner in the gospel — it is the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:2424But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. (Acts 20:24)) — but the gospel is also the “power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” Is a poor sinner saved? — it is all grace, the result of the pure love of God. But divine power wrought in his salvation. The same power that wrought in raising Christ from among the dead, and setting Him at God’s right hand in the heavenly places, also has wrought in those who believe in Jesus, quickening them with Christ, raising them up and seating them in Him.
If I am “dead in trespasses and sins,” I want not only atonement in the presence of God meeting the question of my guilt, and the precious blood of Jesus blotting out “trespasses and sins,” but I also want divine power to give me life, and bring me out from among the dead. How do I get that power? The precious bloodshedding of Jesus is the basis on which that power is put forth. God has found such wonderful value in that blood, that it is now His delight — and righteousness too — to put forth His power for the salvation of the sinner. He puts forth that power through the gospel. It is the gospel of God. Through His Son He declares it. It is the voice of the Son of God. The hour is now come when the dead hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear live. “He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but is passed from death unto life.” The voice of the Son of God is in the gospel. Have I heard that voice in the gospel? Have I heard the Son of God, speaking in the gospel to me a sinner dead in sins? Then I live; I have passed from death unto life. His precious blood-shedding is the basis of all. But I have heard the voice of the eternal Word, and it has proved the power of God to bring me out of the chambers of death.
I look at the cross. There I see Jesus dying — shedding His precious blood. That is atonement. There the claims of God about sin are all met. The will of God is done, and God is glorified. Christ, the second Man, entered the gates of death, and destroyed him that had the power of death. He fought the battle, won the victory, and came forth bearing the keys of death and hell, and ascended leading captivity captive. It is the power of God put forth on the ground of the precious work and sacrifice of Christ. All is unfolded in the gospel, and through the grace of God all avails for the poor sinner who believes in Jesus. The grace of God meets the sinner in his extreme need — in the depth of his ruin — cold in the death of sin — not a pulsation in the heart toward God; there it meets him, and not only gives him clearance from guilt, but also everlasting life, and everlasting deliverance from the power of death. The gospel brings not merely clearance from guilt — full and everlasting forgiveness of sins; but it also gives complete deliverance from the position and state in which it finds the sinner. It brings him out of death, and delivers him from the power of sin in the old and evil nature, and sets him free to walk in the presence of God and communion with Him, in the power of a new life, and in the energy of the Spirit of God, by whom he has been sealed as the workmanship of God — a new creation in Christ Jesus. Not only so, but it reveals to him heaven opened, and Jesus entered in — a Man in the glory of God; in whom he too, a believing sinner saved by grace, has entered into the presence of God, and found a place in the delight God has in His own Son, Heaven’s beloved One.
And then, dear reader, all this is in the righteousness of God. Were it not righteous, the power of God could not be put forth. Grace reigns through righteousness. The precious work and sacrifice of Christ deserve it. God puts value on the blood of His dear Son, and according to that value He acts for the sinner in grace. It is righteous to do so. And it is the righteousness of God. It has its source in Him, and is according to His nature. The gospel reveals it. Precious revelation! Reader, may your heart and mine prize it! It is ours at an immense cost! But it is just like God to bestow it, for God is love! Love is the very essence of His being — love infinite as His being, love that springs up unbidden, and flows forth in rivers of mercy. Yet that love was barred by sin. Sin was in the way of its reaching the sinner. Righteousness and holiness forbade its bringing salvation to the sinner without the removal of sin. But love was not to be baffled, and the Lord Jesus became the expression of it — the expression of God’s heart, on the cross, in putting away sin according to the claims of divine holiness. God was glorified. The blood was sprinkled on the throne. Its claims were eternally vindicated. Love is now free to flow on in its course unhindered. And what rivers of love are now flowing from the blood-sprinkled throne of God! and flowing, too, in righteousness! The gracious love of God flows down to the poor sinner, lifts him out of his shame, and gives him a standing in divine righteousness before God. It is not the righteousness of man, but of God. It is not what man has wrought for God, but what God gives to man. Wondrous gift! Reader, is it yours? What righteousness for a poor sinner! Righteousness bestowed freely in God’s unspeakable love! More, as to righteousness, the sinner could not have. Nor could God give more, or ask more, for it is His own. It is perfect, divine. And it is just what is suited to the presence of God. God is bringing sinners to Himself; but He is also bringing them there according to His own nature. He is filling His own table with guests, but He will have them worthy of Himself — the best robe on them. He is finding His joy and delight in man brought into His presence and glory, but brought there according to His own perfection, in His own nature, in His own likeness, to be partakers of His own everlasting joy. For this, divine righteousness alone is suitable. This righteousness the gospel reveals. It is God’s righteousness revealed on the principle of faith. The poor sinner does not merit it. It is given freely. All is grace. Works have no place. It is on the principle of faith, not of works. And it is revealed to faith. It is not only by faith, or on the principle of faith, but it is to faith; it applies itself wherever faith exists. No matter whether Jew or Gentile, it applies itself alike to both. The great question is not whether the sinner is Jew or Gentile, but whether he believes. The righteousness of God applies itself wherever there is faith. No matter what his circumstances, no matter how deep his guilt, no matter how deep his ruin and shame, the moment the poor sinner believes the gospel of God’s grace, he gets a standing in divine righteousness in God’s presence. It is grace from first to last. It is divine, not human. It has its source in the infinitude of the love that dwells in God’s bosom.
The gospel is the power of God by which he is brought into the blessed consciousness of God’s unfathomable love, and of his standing in divine righteousness in the presence of God, where His precious love is shed on all around. Reader, have you known this power? Can you say, “I stand in the presence of God, in divine righteousness, saved from guilt, from wrath, from the power of sin, a possessor of eternal life, a partaker of the divine nature, meet for His presence forever, and a sharer of the everlasting joy of my Father’s heart”? Can you say this? Then, I say, you have known the gospel as the power of God unto salvation. Precious knowledge! May our hearts treasure it! and in God’s presence drink from the overflowing joy of His bosom!
“O gracious Father! God of Love,
We own Thy power to save –
That power by which the Shepherd rose
Victorious o’er the grave.
“Him from the dead Thou brought’st again,
When, by His sacred blood
Confirmed and sealed for evermore,
Th’ eternal cov’nant stood.
“O may Thy Spirit guide our souls,
And mold them to Thy will,
That from Thy paths we ne’er may stray,
But keep Thy precepts still!”