This post is #2 in a series addressing some issues I feel are integral to the reality of the Gospel (aka Good News). They are an attempt to reaffirm the truths that make it truly GOOD News!:)
I believe the Truth about Jesus — known as the Gospel, which actually means “Good News”– is THE essential fact in all the Universe, past, present AND future! The Life offered by Jesus’ death and resurrection stands as the crux of human history and the necessity for every living soul.
But, we have a problem. There’s this idea that “everybody’s ok”. We’re told that it’s “not right” to say that the way anyone is living is wrong, to “judge” them. We’re told that we should accept people’s decisions and actions and even celebrate them — that this is the way to be “loving”. And, after all isn’t God “loving”? [For more on that idea,check this blog post]
Well, if you’re ok, and I’m ok, then who needs a Savior, really? If everything we do and everything we are is okay, and nothing needs to be “judged” or changed, why did Jesus need to die?? What was the wrath He bore for? Why did He have to be beaten and torn up, far beyond human recognition (see Isaiah 52:14)? Doesn’t that seem a little bit extreme? Couldn’t He have just come down to Earth, been the nice guy that He was, tell us how much God loves us, teach us about God, and then ascend back in to Heaven? Why a gruesome, torturous death [followed by a glorious resurrection]?
Something must have been terribly wrong with our situation, to demand such an extreme sacrifice. Clearly, God thought there needed to be some serious renovation to the human condition. It seems that He even decided to whisper something about this to his friend Isaiah, a few hundred years ahead of Jesus’ birth. “We all like sheep have gone astray . . “
Speaking about Jesus, Isaiah says:
4 Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
I guess God thought some JUDGMENT was needed and necessary here.
The Son of God did not shed His royal blood . . . just to start another religion . . . one of many, that people can choose to take or leave. It wasn’t just another “good idea” that may be “okay for you, but not for me.”
There is no other name that will save people (see Acts 4:12). No one will be truly “ok” without giving their lives over to the One who can make them truly right. You can’t be “good enough” apart from His sacrifice given to remove your sin, transgression, iniquity. Being a devout follower of another “good” religion will still find you as a sheep astray in the wrong pasture, with your iniquity still piled up on you; ripe for His judgment and condemnation. Yes, really. But, those who will acknowledge that they are “not ok”, who will come to the feet of the One who willingly drank the cup of God’s wrath — are freed from ALL condemnation and guilt (Romans 8:1)!! Oh, now THAT’S Good News!!!
And that salvation is offered FREELY to all who will embrace it. No one is forced into it, but neither is anyone swept in by accident. One man (Adam) freely chose to sin. Another (Jesus) freely chose to die for that sin. Now each of us must freely choose whom they will serve: self, or Jesus. Make no mistake. It is black and white.
Contrary to some popular beliefs, the Bible doesn’t say that ALL people are children of God.
9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
11 Jesus is“‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ 12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
To become children of God, we must not merely BELIEVE but also RECEIVE Jesus as He is. He is the pure and holy light of Truth. Children of God are those who embrace Jesus, the true Light, and thus become children of Light, living in his holiness and truth. There’s a transfer out of darkness (the ways of this fallen world) and into light (God’s kingdom).
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light
1 Peter 2:9
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,
So, Jesus’ death and resurrection are GOOD NEWS that EVERY person must CHOOSE to embrace or reject. In doing so, we declare our allegiance to walk in His Kingdom of Light, or to stay lost in a kingdom of darkness. A serious transfer happens here. A major CHANGE, to become children of God who dwell in Light. We are provided with what we COULD NOT do for ourselves — a remedy for our lost-astray-ness; peace (because punishment has been taken); freedom from transgressions (sin) and iniquities (brokenness/sickness) because they were all laid on Jesus; and NEW LIFE (because He died!). I LOVE THE LIGHT!
The state of humanity [apart from Jesus] is broken, fallen, wrong. But, God is SO good He decided to make the provision and pay the price for redemption, ALL BY HIMSELF — and to make it available to all people. Awesome! We all need Jesus!
So, (if) we have received such a great grace — we are forgiven! Double awesome! It is just forgiveness that we have received? Right standing with God is GREAT. But, when we receive and embrace this marvelous Light in the person of Jesus, are we the same person, now forgiven, or something more? – – – – that’s for the next post! 🙂