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The Heart of the Gospel



“For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law” (Romans 3:28).

Being dead in sin, man is unable to save himself.

As we’ve seen this month, the most serious problem facing the human race is not the destruction of the environment, crime, or the threat of nuclear war; it is sin. The former threaten us with physical death, the latter with spiritual death. Thus it follows that the greatest news ever known is that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15). Hell may be the destiny of man, but that is not the desire of God’s heart. Peter notes that the Lord “is patient . . . not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

Because of His great love for sinners, God sent His Son “to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). Since God’s gracious gift of salvation is appropriated by faith, it is not surprising that justification by faith is the theme of Romans (see Rom. 1:16-17). The apostle shows that all men are guilty before God and in need of justification (chaps. 1—2). He then describes justification in chapters 3—4. Then he presents the results of justification in chapters 5—6.

Two key words are associated with justification in Romans: grace and faith. In Romans 3:24 Paul declares that we are “justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus,” while in verse 28 he says, “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.” The promise of justification to Abraham, Paul notes, was “by faith, that it might be in accordance with grace” (Rom. 4:16). Faith and grace are both linked to justification again in Romans 5:1-2: “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand.”

In this day of doctrinal vacillation, I pray that you will stand firm in your commitment to the doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for His mercy and love in saving you when you were dead in sin (Eph. 2:4-5).
  • Ask Him to help you walk worthy of your salvation (Eph. 4:1).

For Further Study

Read Romans 1—6, noting what it teaches about man’s lost state and God’s gracious provision of salvation.



From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.com.