It has been rightly said that every sermon should contain the three Rs – ruin by sin in Adam, redemption by the blood atonement of Christ, and regeneration by the quickening power of the Holy Spirit.
We rejoice in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:3). It is indeed the message of God to guilty sinners — that to his own glory God justly saves his people from their sins through Christ’s redeeming blood (Romans 3:24-26; Revelation 1:5-6).
The gospel of Christ Jesus declares that he came to save sinners (Matthew 9:10-13). If all men are not guilty, or if they can work up their own righteousness and salvation, there was no need for Christ to come in the flesh to establish a righteousness for sinners and then die to bestow it on them (John 1:14; Galatians 2:21).
But all men are totally depraved — guilty before God and unable to entertain any righteous notion or perform any righteous action (Isaiah 64:6; Romans 3:9-12). To preach a ‘gospel’ that denies total ruin is to deny the message of the Lord Jesus Christ altogether (1 John 1:7-9).
The gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ declares that his priestly work was absolutely successful (John 17:4-5; Hebrews 10:14). Christ died, not to make salvation possible for all sinners but to make complete atonement for the sins of his covenant people (Hebrews 2:17; 9:12). Those for whom he died shall most certainly be saved (John 6:37; Ephesians 2:4-10).
To preach a ‘gospel’ that denies the effectual and particular redeeming work of Jesus Christ is to deny the gospel of Christ altogether (Galatians 1:6-10).
The gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ also declares that those he died to justify will, in due time, be irresistibly called through the preaching of the gospel (Romans 8:29-30; 2 Corinthians 4:5-6).
This is not reformation and education of the old sinful nature, but rather the revelation and exaltation of the glory of Christ within us (John 16:13-15; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 2:5-6; Colossians 1:27).
This is the regenerating work of God the Holy Spirit, making sinners new creatures in Christ, implanting within them a new sinless nature after the image of God (John 3:5-7; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 4:23-24).
Make no mistake. To deny total ruin by our fall in Adam; or complete redemption by the blood of Christ; or regeneration by the Holy Spirit — is to deny the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ altogether.
The author is pastor of Zebulon Baptist Church, Pikeville, Kentucky.