The Good News & the Bad News
When is the last time you shared the gospel with someone? I’m talking, laid out the whole thing, from sinner to salvation? Maybe even drew a diagram on a napkin?
That long, huh? Me too.
As the wife of a pastor and a homeschooling mom who is in seminary, my interactions with non-Christians have been limited in recent years. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t share the Good News. It just means that I am more often sharing the Good News with people who need a reminder of it rather than a first-time introduction.
Let me explain.
If ‘gospel’ means ‘good news’ (and it does), then what exactly is the Good News? The gospel of Jesus Christ is this:
1. You and I are sinners (Rom. 3:23).
2. Our sin separates us from God, who is holy (I Pet. 1:15-16).
3. The punishment for sin is death (Rom. 6:23).
4. We cannot bridge the gap between us and God on our own. No amount of “being a good person” will make us holy enough to be in God’s presence (Eph. 2:8-9).
5. So God, who loves us very much, made a way for us (He gave us something we didn’t deserve; this is called grace). Jesus, fully God and fully man, lived a perfect life on earth and then died in our place (Rom. 5:8).
6. But Jesus did not just die; He rose again from the grave! He conquered death! (Acts 2:32)
7. When we admit our sinfulness and repent, trusting Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf to reconcile us to God through the forgiveness of our sins, we can be saved from eternal separation from God and be guaranteed eternity with Him (Eph. 1:13-14).
8. As saved believers, we receive the Holy Spirit and are made new creations, continually growing to be more like Jesus (2 Cor. 5:17; Rom. 8:5-6).
This is indeed good news. But wait, there’s more! [Imagine my best infomercial voice here.]
The gospel is not just about securing our eternal destination. The gospel is good news about who we are and how we can live right now. Today. And every one of us needs to be reminded of this regularly. Even Christians need to be reminded of the good news that:
o Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we are no longer condemned (Rom 8:1). We are saved by grace and made holy and blameless in God’s sight (Eph 1:4). We can shake off shame like a dog escaping from bath time!
o Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we are no longer slaves to sin. Romans 6:18 says that you and I “have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” While we still have a sin nature, we are not powerless against it. We can live by the Spirit and experience life and peace (Rom 8:5-9)!
o Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we can no longer live in bitterness and unforgiveness of others (Eph. 4:32). The more aware we are of the depth of our own sin - the more humbled by the enormity of God’s gift toward us - the less likely we are to rehearse the sins of others and cling to bitterness like butter on a biscuit. We can forgive as we have been forgiven…lavishly (which is also the way I spread butter on my biscuits, coincidentally).
o Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we need not fear tomorrow. The same One who conquered death and rose from the grave is Lord over our future. Nothing is impossible with God (Matt 19:26) and nothing can separate us from His love (Rom 8:35-39). We are safe in the hands of our shepherd (Psalm 23).
The reality is that even someone who has been a Christian for decades needs to be – as my friend Jordan calls it – “gospeled.” We need our brothers and sisters in Christ to point us toward the cross and remind us of the magnitude of God’s love and grace toward us. We often need a refresher course in the hope available to us (Eph 1:18) and the eternal destiny awaiting us (Phil 3:20).
But we also need to be reminded of the sin that put us in need of rescue in the first place. While Christians are often shy about sharing the Good News, we are often even more reticent to share the Bad News. We like to believe that we are basically good people. And while it’s uncomfortable to contemplate our own sinfulness, it’s even more difficult to remind others of theirs. But the Bad News is what makes the Good News so sweet!
Who is the better friend to you – the one who tells you about the piece of spinach stuck between your two front teeth or the one who lets you spend the whole dinner party that way, only to discover it when you get home?
Thank God for friends who will tell us about the spinach between our teeth! And likewise, we can thank God for friends who will gently point out an area of sin in our life before it hijacks us completely.
Let’s be the kind of people who share both the Good News and the Bad News with those we love. Let’s be truth-tellers and gospel-proclaimers that “spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Heb 10:24). Let’s be brothers and sisters in Christ who faithfully point one another toward Christ. He is the best news we could ever share!