In his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul quoted from the prophet Isaiah and presented what could be seen as a kind of distilled summary of the Gospel:
“Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense, and whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame” (Romans 9:33).
As we look carefully through the window of this verse and consider these words, we can see at least seven interwoven components of the Gospel.
1. The Gospel is news to behold. It is a divine announcement of good news, about what God has done for humanity in Jesus Christ. The Gospel is not mainly about what we need to do for God, but rather about what God has already done for us through Jesus.
2. The Gospel is God-centered. It is what God has done, as He said, “Behold, I lay in Zion…" This is why the Gospel is often referred to as the “Gospel of God” (Romans 1:1; 15:16). The Bible tells the story how God created people, from His overflowing love, to bring Him glory by enjoying Him forever. But we all have sinned against God, and our sins have separated us from God. Still, God has never stopped loving us. He had a plan to send His Son, Jesus Christ, to restore our broken relationship with God.
3. The Gospel is Christ-centered. Its essential focus is on the “stumbling stone and rock of offense.” The stumbling stone is a reference to Jesus Christ. He is also sometimes called the “chief cornerstone” in the Scriptures. The Gospel tells of Christ — His person, life, work, death, resurrection, and future coming. People respond to Jesus by building their lives on him, or by stumbling over his words and claims.
4. The Gospel is cross-centered. The Greek word for “offense” is skandolon, from where we get our English word ‘scandalous.’ Why is the cross so scandalous, so offensive? Because the message of the cross flattens our pride and puts all of us on the same level ground — all of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The cross shows us the weight of our sin, and the holiness and righteousness of God. But at the same time, the cross shows God’s mercy and grace. It displays a scandalous kind of love that God would send His only Son to die for our sins.
5. The Gospel is grace-centered. It is for “whoever believes on Him.” The message of the Gospel is something to believe and receive, it cannot be earned or worked for because it is a gift of grace. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
6. The Gospel is personal. It is for “whoever believes on Him…” The Gospel comes to us individually, as we are invited into a living relationship with God through trusting in Jesus. This message is for whoever believes on Him.
7. The Gospel is eternally securing. “…Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” The idea of being put to shame is a reference to the ultimate judgment of God. This promise means that those who have trusted in Christ have obtained a salvation that is secure and will last forever.
Surely, the Gospel is both grander and deeper than what is written here! It is greater but not less than this — the good news that is God-centered, Christ-centered, cross-centered, grace-centered, personal, and lasts forever.