The gospel is well described by Paul in Romans 3:23-26, where he writes, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
First of all, the gospel declares that we are all sinful, every one of us. We all fall short of God’s perfection and holiness.
However, we are justified by God’s grace through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ. God offered His Son on the cross as an atoning blood sacrifice for us. In relation to the Old Testament way of sacrifice, this act of Christ’s sacrifice satisfied once and for all the wrath of God. It annihilated the system proposed in sections of scripture like Leviticus 16, where the blood of animals was needed to appease God’s disfavor on His children. It also annihilates all systems of religious striving that are dead in themselves, and leads to true religion that seeks to commune deeply with God Himself. In relation to the world, it became a door into God’s presence that is offered to all who would “receive it by faith”. This is God’s grace, because He “passed over former sins”. Because of this act of divine grace, the believer in and follower of Jesus is not viewed by God as being the miserable, helpless sin-addict that he is. He is viewed instead in light of Jesus’ sacrifice, which makes God view Jesus instead of him. This core truth is at the root of true obedience, because we don’t naturally desire to live for and serve a holy, perfect God until we discover His love for us. But Christ’s sacrifice made this relationship possible. Charles Spurgeon articulated this scandalous love well when he wrote, “When I thought God was hard, I found it easy to sin; but when I found God so kind, so good, so overflowing with compassion, I smote upon my breast to think that I could ever have rebelled against One who loved me so, and sought my good.” Indeed, it is “the kindness of the Lord that leads to repentance” (Romans 2:4)