April 25, 2017

Good news, good news!

Much of the New Testament is so consistent in thought that it is possible to pick two passages and run them together. While this ignores context and proper exegesis, and could be extremely silly, this morning’s two passages combine to say this:

“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand. (1 Corinthians 15:1) I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’” (Romans 1:14–17)

Because Paul was so passionate to tell others the good news, his writing often does just that. In some places, he gives a condensed version:

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15:3–4)

In other places, he writes very long sentences. He also inserts the gospel in sections that are mostly about something else because the gospel is his passion.

The devotional writer has a passion for the gospel too. He explains five things that characterize it. His list may be correct, yet God can use many ways and many methods to deliver His message to those who need to hear it. He may do it all at once, or in stages. That is, when sharing it, God might put on my heart only part of this list because He knows the hearts of those who listen. Sometimes one thought is all they are ready to hear. They need to chew on that truth before they are ready for the next one.

Scripture says the same truth in several ways also. Here are the five that today’s devotional says are essential to hearing God’s good news:

First, the gospel honors the holiness of God and His desire to see His righteousness fulfilled. We cannot do that, but Jesus did, and Jesus became our righteousness.

Second, the gospel teaches that Jesus died as a sacrifice to satisfy God’s justice. He took on Himself the penalty of sin that we deserve.

Third, the gospel declares that salvation is by grace through faith. We can do nothing to earn or deserve it; Jesus secured it for us — and therefore no one can boast or rest on their own efforts!

This is because the gospel is the work of Christ alone. There are no additional conditions, good works, or anything else God wants from us. The good news is free to all; the only thing that can exclude anyone is unbelief.

Last, the gospel is complete in Christ. He declared “It is finished” from the cross. The debt is paid, salvation is accomplished. Those who believe it are saved forever, rescued and kept by the almighty power of God. We are secure now and for eternity.

I’ve been thinking how belief affects values, and values influence behavior. With this good news, I cannot help but imagine what believing the gospel would do in our crazy, unpredictable world. Such a foundation would change values and behavior big time!

As for me, Jesus is my righteousness. He give me options I never had before. I can now choose how I live and who I will rely on for the decisions I make. I have the capacity to live a godly life.

Jesus bore my penalty. I no longer need to fear death or the wrath of God. I am free to live without any threats about the end of it or of impending judgment.

Jesus saves me. My efforts are futile. This is a confidence builder but also humbling. There is no place for pride or a poor-me false humility. He becomes the focus, and He takes care of selfish motivations while He is at it.

Jesus is not only the object of my faith, but a worthy object. He did it all and is worthy of all worship and praise. I can rest in the reality of a joyful relationship with Him, the King of kings and Lord of lords. He is my assurance that God loves me. I am in His kingdom and in His family, secure, and with an eternal purpose.

Jesus also keeps me from being anxious that I will mess up and lose this blessed gift. What can I do to lose that which I didn’t do anything to gain? Again, He takes care of it all. I am free to live as God intended me to live.

Dear Lord Jesus, someone said that a person needs to hear the gospel every day. If there is no preacher, I can always preach it to myself, and when I do, I can sense Your smile and hear You say, “Amen.”

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