For this reason, our consideration of this “good news” must begin with the “bad news” that our culture desperately wants us to ignore.
The bad news of this world comes to us in three basic installments:
1. SIN. Make no mistake: sin is real; it is a plague; and it is everywhere! Greed, hatred, deceit, gossip, selfishness, arrogance, injustice, anger, hypocrisy, discontentment, perversion, abuse, lust, and disrespect, just to name a few.But perhaps the most startling reality of all is the extent to which so many of the same sins we condemn in others actually reside within our own souls! None of us loves God or our neighbor as we should, despite our pathetic attempts to appear better than we are. We all stand guilty of violating God’s moral standards, violating our own moral standards, and wasting our lives pursuing the temporary pleasures of this world rather than the glorious God who created us to glorify and enjoy Him forever. For all this (and much more) we have become God’s enemies, justly deserving of His infinite wrath. This is bad news!
2. DEATH. Sin has devastated our world. The media may succeed in shielding us from the realities of death, aging, disease, disability, and many other forms of loss and pain. But such things are unavoidable. Soon enough, death will arrive at our door to repossess all that we have in this life. How short, miserable, and vulnerable our lives truly are! Admit it: this is bad news!
3. ETERNAL DEATH. Sin and death are each extremely terrifying, but what happens when they combine forces? Jesus Himself taught that when a sinner dies in a guilty condition before God, his soul immediately enters into unspeakable torment in a place called Hell. There the sinner remains in conscious agony until the Day of Judgment when he will be finally cast (body and soul) into the Lake of Fire, forever separated from God’s comforting presence. Nobody enjoys considering this reality, but we must consider it, because Jesus taught it. And that makes it true. Could any news be worse than this?
Okay, now for the good news. As alarming as the bad news may be (and it truly is alarming!), there is a more powerful, more overwhelming reality to consider. It is a news so good that its goodness can scarcely be measured; a news that can look the “bad news” in the eye and easily cast it aside. Want to know more? Well, let’s consider this good news by posing and answering four important questions.
1. What exactly is this good news? Simply put, it is this: “that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3-4). God loved sinners so much that He sent His only-begotten Son to save them. Jesus Christ, the Eternal Son of God entered our world 2,000 years ago as a real man, freely acting as a substitute for sinners, and taking the penalty which their sins deserved. At about the age of 33, the sinless Jesus was nailed to a wooden cross by sinful men (much like ourselves) and crushed by His Father’s infinite wrath against sin. Having fully satisfied this wrath, Jesus rose again from the dead three days later and later ascended into heaven, forever victorious over sin, death, and Hell!
2. How exactly does this work? Some have called Jesus’ saving work “the great exchange,” and for good reason. At the cross, Jesus took upon Himself the guilt of every sin for every sinner who would ever trust in Him alone for salvation. If we trust Him, then He paid the full penalty for all our sins (past, present, and future), reconciling us to God, and making us God’s children. In exchange for our sin, Jesus also gives us His perfect righteousness. You see, unlike any other person in human history, Jesus lived a spotless life of perfect obedience to God in thought word, and action. This is the obedience God demands from us, but which we have failed to perform. As our substitute, Jesus performed it for us, so that we are declared righteous in God’s courtroom and made heirs of heaven!
3. Does this apply to me? Jesus purchased salvation for all who admit themselves to be Hell-deserving sinners and who rely humbly and entirely upon His saving work for acceptance with God. He commands all people to embrace Him as their only hope in life and death. Nobody is exempt from this authoritative offer of mercy. However, as arrogant sinners by nature, none of us wants to admit our guilt. Instead we want to trust in our own righteousness, imagining that we are somehow “good enough” to gain acceptance with God. This is the surest path to Hell. But if God’s Holy Spirit has given you a new heart to recognize the bad news about your sin and to receive the good news about Jesus, then this salvation is eternally yours! Nothing can separate you from God’s love in Jesus!
4. Where do I go from here? Jesus is a Prophet (who declares truth), a Priest (who takes away sin), and a King (who rules, provides, and defends). Receiving Him is a package deal. All who truly accept Jesus as Priest (to remove their sins) will also desire to learn truth from Him (as their Prophet) and to obey Him (as their King). If you truly have a new heart, then, above all else, you will have fallen in love with Jesus Himself, not merely with what He can do for you. You will desire to follow Him, to study His word (the Bible), to commune with Him in prayer, and to worship Him alongside your brothers and sisters in the family of God. Though you will still commit sins each day, you will begin to hate these sins, desire to be rid of them, and gradually increase in obedience to God’s word.
Does the above explanation describe the condition of your heart and life? Even if it doesn’t, we want to speak with you personally about the good news of Jesus Christ and its impact on your life. Click on the “Connect With Us” tab at the top of the page to contact us. Or, if you like, feel free to contact our pastor, Rev. Adam Kuehner, directly via email.
In the meantime, we recommend listening to any of the following sermons on the nature of the gospel, the call to repentance from sin, and our need to trust in Christ alone for salvation.