What are the “three R’s”? In his sermon titled, “The Bible,” Spurgeon recounts a time when an old friend of his explained to him what the three R’s consist of, and why they’re important for the preaching ministry:
If you want to know what you must believe, if ye would be saved, you will find the great things of God’s law between these two covers [of the Bible]; they are all contained here. As a sort of digest or summary of the great things of law, I remember an old friend of mine once saying, ‘Ah! you preach the three R’s, and God will always bless you.’ I said, ‘What are the three R’s?’ and he answered, ‘Ruin, redemption, and regeneration.’ They contain the sum and substance of divinity. R for ruin. We were all ruined in the fall; we were all lost when Adam sinned, and we were all ruined by our own transgressions; we are all ruined by our own evil hearts, and our own wicked wills; and we all shall be ruined, unless grace saves us. Then there is a second R for redemption. We are ransomed by the blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish and without spot; we are rescued by his power; we are ransomed by his merits; we are redeemed by his strength. Then there is R for regneration. If we would be pardoned, we must also be regenerated; for no man can partake of redemption unless he is regenerate. Let him be as good as he pleases; let him serve God, as he imagines, as much as he likes; unless he is regenerate, and has a new heart, a new birth, he will still be in the first R, that is ruin. These things contain an epitome of the gospel.
Ah, “an epitome of the gospel.” Behold the substance and importance of the three R’s — gospel truth. To preach the three R’s is to preach the gospel; to preach the gospel is to preach the three R’s. Man must first know their ruin before we give them the message of redemption; and ruined man cannot and will not see this redemption as precious and true lest they first be partakers of divine regeneration. It is especially the minister’s duty to faithfully, thoroughly, and regularly communicate these three R’s: Ruin (the sinful depravity of mankind); redemption (the grace of God in the salvation of sinners through the cross of Christ); regeneration (the need to be born again, which is closely tied to and leads to repentance and faith). This here is the sum and substance of the redemptive theme running from cover to cover in God’s Book.
Do you preach the three R’s?