If you were asked: “What do you want, the good news first or the bad news?”, which would you choose?
I myself am a bad news first kind of person. I believe often times we have to understand the bad news in order for the good news to make sense. I believe the perfect example of this is seen in regards to the Gospel.
In week two of our series “Church Words” we chose to spend time defining the word Gospel. The point of this series is to identify and explain words that we frequently use in church circles, but that we often times don’t fully understand. The word Gospel is used a massive amount in the new testament and we even call the first four books of the new testament “the Gospels”. This being the case, it is very important that we understand what the word “Gospel” fully means. When we examine the word Gospel the simple definition is “Good News”. This opens up the obvious question, “What’s the good news?”
To answer this from scripture, one of the clearest explanations of the Gospel is found in the book of Romans. Bible scholars have grouped a collection of scriptures from Romans that they call the “Roman road”. The “Roman road” presents the Gospel in a clear and simple way.
The road starts with the passage Romans 3:23:
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
It is here that we find the bad news. We are all sinners. No one is good, we all fall short of what we were created to be. One sin is enough to disqualify you from perfection and so we are all together sinners deserving of the due penalty. What is the penalty for sin? Romans 6:23 answers this for us:
“The wages of sin is DEATH…”
As we discussed last week, Sin has caused a divide between man and God. Our sin caused a break in the relationship between us and God. Sin is a major problem because it causes death and eternal separation from God.
The common question is, “if God loves us cant he just look past our sin?” Unfortunately for us God cannot simply overlook our sin. Our God is a loving God, but he is also Good and Just. The penalty for sin is death and if God simply overlooks our sin than justice is not being done.
Think of this in terms of a court case. The penalty for murder is life in prison. If a man who is convicted of murder is found to be guilty, the judge must give him the penalty due for his crime. A judge would not be considered good or just if they let the man go because he was a “nice guy” or because he liked him. Similarly, we are guilty of sin. We all have intentionally chosen at one time or another to disregard God and do our own thing and we are held accountable for those actions. God cannot simply overlook our crime, justice must be served.
This is indeed very bad news, but the second portion of romans 6:23 is where our good news begins. Paul continues:
“The wages of sin is death… BUT the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord ”
Hold on a second, didn’t we just say God cant overlook our sin? Doesn’t it make Him unjust to gift us eternal life? Well lets take a look back to Romans 5:8 to answer this valid question.
“God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
We see here the magnificence of God’s plan. There is no greater example of God’s love and justice. In love Jesus came down to us and took on human flesh. Fully God and fully man, Jesus came and lived a perfect life. Because Jesus never sinned, he never had to die, but he chose to lay down His life to pay the debt that we owed. Jesus gave His life to pay the price for our sins, and because of His sacrifice we no longer have to be separated from God. This is the free gift that we are offered, but we are still responsible for receiving it. A gift that is given still must be received for it to make a difference. How then do we receive Jesus’ gift of forgiveness? Paul explains in romans 10:9
“if you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
We are saved by grace through faith. Jesus did all the work, we are called to believe He is who he claimed to be and that His death was sufficient to pay for our sin. This gift of salvation is offered to everyone and the first step to entering into eternity with God is simply admitting you are helpless to save yourself. Without Jesus we are destined to spend eternity separated from God, but through believing in His death and resurrection we are given new life.
Take the time today to consider whether or not you believe in Jesus and if you do, spend time in prayer admitting to God that you are guilty of sin, that you need Jesus to save you, and thank Him for the promise that if you admit your need for a savior He is faithful to save.