Why is the gospel of Jesus Christ truly good news?
You’ve probably heard that the word “gospel” literally means “good news.” It doesn't always seem like those of us who say we follow Christ actually live like we believe it’s good news. We might know it. But does it affect our day-to-day lives in a holy-smokes-this-following-Jesus-thing-is-awesome way? Sadly… not as much as it could… or should.
I don’t think it lacks daily impact because we don’t believe it. I think it’s essentially an issue of not remembering. We need reminders. Life is full of distractions. It’s noisy.
I shared the following reminders yesterday at my home church. (I’ll be speaking there this Sunday too. If you’re in the Seattle area, come say “hi.”) My pastor just started a long series on Romans. He’s done all the setup and my assignment was to unpack Romans 1:16-17. As I soaked in these verses, it hit me that Romans IS a reminder. The audience consists of Jews and Gentiles who already believe. Paul is reminding them of what they – and we – believe. And why it is really, really good news.
Here they are:
Reminder #1: The gospel is the power of God.
It’s so tempting to focus on the word “power” when we see this sentence. Maybe it is my American mindset, but my eye is just drawn to that word. Power. We want it. We feel like we don’t have enough. We think we would certainly use it more effectively than whoever holds the power right now.
But what struck me this week is the phrase “of God.” The more I thought about it, the more I realized this is really good news. The gospel doesn’t depend on me. The gospel doesn’t depend on you. (Let that sink in a moment.) God is the one holding the power. As it should be. The gospel depends on God.
Tomorrow morning as you look in the mirror, say these words (out loud): The success of this day does not depend on me. God’s got this covered.
Reminder #2: Salvation is an event… and a process.
Salvation isn’t just something that happens when we “pray the prayer.” The word used for salvation carries two meanings. The first is deliverance/rescue (event). The second is preservation (process). We are both saved and being saved.
That is why Paul can tell the Christians in Philippi tocontinue to work out your salvation. After the event of salvation, there needs to be a working out – or exercising – of our salvation. As we enter into the process of salvation we are reminded that since God invented the whole idea of salvation, He also recognizes that every one of us is a work in progress. Good news indeed.
Reminder #3: Salvation is for everyone.
Don’t know that there is any better news than this one. The gospel is good news for everyone…or it is not good news for anyone. It is good news for the person who is rejoicing. It is good news for the person who is hurting. It is good news for the person who feels whole. It is good news for the person who has ongoing health challenges.
God’s nearness, love, restoration, healing, peace, guidance, protection, correction, forgiveness, and presence through Jesus is good news…for everyone.
Reminder #4: God has made me righteous.
After you read these next words, pause for a second (or an hour!) and let them sink in: You are new. You have been made righteous. The truest thing about you is not your sin. The truest thing about you is that – in Christ – you are the righteousness of God. (II Cor. 5:17-21)
When you struggle with a certain sin, thought pattern, or bad habit, refuse to believe the lie that “you are just being who you are deep down.” That’s a lie. Deep down you have been changed. The struggles you face are not who you are. Righteousness is now your defining characteristic.
Reminder #5: I live by faith.
In our society, we too frequently insert the word blind in front of the word faith. We speak of faith as something that we can never know but just need to believe.
Now…there is certainly an element of not knowing that accompanies faith. After all, if God was small enough that we could understand Him, He wouldn’t be big enough to save us and restore us!
However, a key principle woven throughout the word faith is the principle of placing our trust in something – or Someone – that has been proven trustworthy. From the beginning of all time, God has proven Himself trustworthy.
Isn’t it good news that we don’t have to know everything or understand everything before God will be in relationship with us? (I actually had a smile cross my face as I typed that last sentence.)
What else reminds you that the gospel is truly Good News?