Now the presupposition of this Gospel, you will perceive, is a deep and keen sense of human sin and that in the aspect of guilt.  The reason why Paul’s heart was filled with such joy at the thought of a reconciled God was that his heart was oppressed with a sense of guilt in the presence of a just God.  A holy and righteous God, he knew, could not possibly look upon him, or his partners in guilt, without abhorrence and indignation.  In his conscience the wrath of God was revealed against the abounding iniquity of men.  O wretched men that we are, his soul of souls cried out, who shall deliver us from this mass of sin?  It was because he felt so deeply and keenly the guilt of sin, and knew so clearly the depth and heinousness of his own and of the world’s guilt, that he broke out with such rejoicing at the sight of a reconciled God, and made the proclamation of His reconciliation his Gospel—the substance of the glad tidings which he bore to a sin-stricken and hopeless race.  The underlying conception of sin,—of sin oppressing, of sin removed—thus dominates the passages which are now engaging our attention.  Why should Christ,- -the ’One’—need to die for men:  and why is it glad tidings; that all for whom He died, died with Him?  Why should the Gospel of reconciliation be announced as manifesting itself precisely in the non-imputation of men’s trespasses to them?  Why above all should the exhortation to be reconciled with God be supported by the great declaration that He who knew no sin has been made sin for us?  Is it not clear that underneath all Paul’s Gospel lies the most profound and poignant sense of sin, and that his Gospel consists precisely in a proclamation of relief from the intolerable burden of guilt?   This then was the word of reconciliation, the ministry of which was committed to him:  that the righteous wrath of God against sin has been appeased and the face of God has been turned to us again clothed in a smile of favour.

Warfield, Benjamin B., The Gospel of Paul,  A Sermon from The Saviour of the World: Sermons preached in the Chapel of Princeton Theological Seminary.  New York: Hodder and Stoughton, 1913.

Continue Reading on