The 21-Word Gospel

If you want to share the Gospel in the quickest, most succinct manner, start with Romans 6:23. It may be the clearest single verse in the Bible to encapsulate the truth of the Gospel, a beautiful and hard-hitting summation of the whole of Scripture in 21 words (ESV):

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

For: When you see the word “for” or “therefore,” find out what it’s there for. It is building on a previous thought. In this case, the verse follows Paul’s explanation of the differing “fruit,” or results, of pursuing a life of either sin or righteousness. This verse condenses his description.

the wages of: Result of, or in this case, the penalty for … We typically think of wages as money received or paid for work performed, but it is better thought of as the result of something. We understand that an activity has a cost, whether it is time or money or something else. Have you ever heard someone say a particular activity took an “emotional toll” on them? That is a cost.

sin: wrongdoing or missing the mark … The Bible is clear that every human being is born in, and with, sin. It is part of our nature since the fall of Adam and Eve. It also envelopes our behavior from the first breath. When we don’t get what we want, we cry, throw a tantrum or get angry. As we grow, we create more inventive (selfish? diabolical?) ways to get our way. All of it breaks the law or misses the mark of God’s standard, the Ten Commandments.

is death: This covers spiritual death, which is separation from God now and forever, and also eternal torment in the lake of fire that results from rejecting Christ for salvation (Rev. 20:11-15). Both outcomes are exercises in misery. Sin causes this, because God is holy, pure and righteous. He can have no sin in His presence.

but: perhaps our favorite word in all of the Bible … It means there is something more, something better to come, than a death sentence.

the free gift: a benefit that costs a person nothing to receive … This is an easy concept to understand. A free gift is not a payment for services. On your birthday, you don’t receive presents after handing $20 bills to the givers. They don’t call you a week ahead to get your credit card number so they can buy your gifts. They give out of their love and kindness. It costs them, but it is free to you. In the same way, God gives out of His perfect love and kindness, and a sinner does nothing to earn it. There is one more facet to a gift: It is useless unless received, opened and enjoyed by the recipient.

of God: the giver of the free gift … Human beings cannot earn it, pay for it or do anything to be worthy of it, the Bible says. It comes solely from the hand of God, out of His goodness, grace, mercy and justice.

is eternal life: never ending … If spiritual death is separation from God, spiritual life is spent in His presence. For undeserving sinners—every one of us—this is too good to be true. Yet it is true. God has made a way for us to be with Him for eternity. That place is marked only by joy, peace, kindness, goodness, worship and all things pertaining to His holiness. Noticeably gone is any vestige of the plagues of this world.

in Christ Jesus: union with the author of eternal life … John Piper lists 13 profound truths from Scripture on what it this means, such as being chosen by God before creation, redeemed, justified, given His righteousness, become a new creation and a son of God, seated in the heavenly places, made holy, supplied with all needs, receive the peace of God, and made alive at Christ’s coming. Piper marvels: “Union with Christ is the ground of everlasting joy, and it is free.”

our Lord: exalted to the place of master of believers’ lives … To those who believe, we willingly surrender to Christ out of love and gratefulness for the salvation He secured, and place His desires above our own. Therefore, our lives are marked by obedience to His commands with the goal of bringing glory to Him in all that we do, think and say. This results in true joy, peace and purpose. This life is not our own, we’ve been bought with a price.

Romans 6:23 brings a truth so profound, we cannot exhaust the riches of its meaning. All praise to Him for His sure promises.

 – Randy Franz

Every follower of Christ is called to grow spiritually mature. Paul tells the Christians in Rome that “those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” He also wrote to the Church of Philippi that they were to be “confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Read more

In the second chapter of The Hole in Our Holiness, Kevin DeYoung writes, “Why did God save you?”  It is a good question.  Of course there are several different answers: because God loved us (John 3:16) and for the glory of His name (Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14), are probably the first two that come to mind, but there is third reason that deserves consideration Read more

In the first chapter of The Hole in Our Holiness, Kevin DeYoung uses humor to write of his disdain for outdoor camping.  He admits that, “Camping may be great for other people, but I’m content to never talk about it, never think about it, and never do it.”  He uses that attitude to link to how most people think about holiness. Read more

The Hole in Our Holiness


One of the advantages and privileges of being in full-time ministry is the opportunity to spend more time in prayer, devotions, as well as reading and studying the Bible.  It also gives me the time to read other books that are spiritually helpful. Read more

In our daily walk with God, we should often stop and wonder at the grandness of the relationship that God wants to have with us. It is not an elusive God that puts forth his hand to us. It is not an aloof uninterested God whose heart breaks at our every stumble. It is certainly not a selfish God who gave his only begotten son to bear sacrifice on the cross in order that we might be redeemed. Read more

God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. Therefore, follow these steps and you can be saved. Read more

Is the Christianity we teach and preach and experience in our western culture actually unbiblical? Read more

Static: “pertaining to or characterized by a fixed or stationary condition, showing little or no change: a static concept; a static relationship.” (

Do you ever feel that you are running in place? Your arms and legs are wildly pumping; you exert tremendous energy, yet do not advance forward? Read more

Review from last post…

Instead of defeating their enemies, Israel put them to “tribute”: a payment by one ruler or nation to another in acknowledgment of submission or as the price of protection. Instead of obeying the Word of the LORD they felt like they had a better solution. Why defeat them if you can have them work for you and to help make your life easier? Read more