The Good News (2)

“God promised this Good News long ago through his prophets in the holy Scriptures. The Good News is about His Son. In His earthly life He was born into King David’s family line, and He was shown to be the Son of God when He was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Romans 1:2-4 NLT

So what is this Good News Paul was talking about? Here we are right at the beginning of a long letter, and he starts to talk about Good News. As we follow his thinking we find an amazing thread that starts in Genesis and is still there in Revelation. And it doesn’t even end there. The Good News about Jesus is simple but costly. And one word sums it up – love. God’s love. But there’s a journey involved in how to get here.

We have to start with God and His character. He is a God of love of course, but He is also a God who hates evil. Of course, He’s our Provider. Our Shepherd. And many other things that are contained within the character belonging to the Person who created the universe, our planet, and everything within it. But there can be a problem for many, because they want to extract those features in God’s character that they like, but reject those that they don’t. Deuteronomy 7:9-10 reads, “Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands. But he does not hesitate to punish and destroy those who reject him”. People like the bit about God’s unfailing love, but are not so keen on the punishment and destruction side of God’s character. God is a God of purity and holiness, and within Him, or near Him, there can be no evil. One day He will have to judge all mankind to separate the righteous from the wicked. Two of Jesus’s parables worthy of note – the Wheat and the Tares, and the Sheep and the Goats. But we read in John 3:36, “And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.” In Revelation 20, we will find out what will happen to evil, sin and wickedness at the end of time.

There is this dichotomy between those who love God and those who reject Him. There is no middle ground. One way will lead to eternal life with God in Heaven, and the other to eternal life with the devil in hell. A stark and sobering choice. 

But here is the bit where God’s love prevails. He realised that mankind was incapable of living to a standard of holiness and purity that matched His. And He devised a plan before the creation of the world, that would involve His only Son and a remedy for sin. This plan, having been implemented, was the Good News that the Apostle Paul kept banging on about. A plan riddled with love and grace.

So what was God’s plan? The most famous verse in the Bible sums it up. “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16). And we see how events panned out during the thirty or so years that Jesus was on this planet. It started with His birth to a young peasant girl in Palestine, conceived by the Holy Spirit. God’s only Son, Jesus, was born. And the climax was when Jesus was crucified on a Roman cross at a place called Calvary, thirty or so years later. There, He took on Himself all the sins of mankind. So in response, God could look at those of us who have accepted the sacrifice of Jesus and believed in Him, and instead see us as being righteous and sinless. That has to be Good News! But the Good News doesn’t end there. On the third day after His death, Jesus was raised from the dead, resurrected to be able to return to Heaven. And we read in Hebrews 1:3b, “… When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honour at the right hand“. And we read in Hebrews 7:25b, “…. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf”. 

Paul devoted his life to telling any who were listening (and many who didn’t) about why the News of God’s plan was Good. There is coming a time of judgement. How that will happen is clearly shown in the vision given to John, the one which he wrote down in the Book of Revelation. Jesus went on to talk about judgement in John 3:17-19. “God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil“. We read the story of the End Times in Revelation, the episodes of plagues and natural disasters, all imposed on mankind to grab their attention and encourage them to make the right choice. But sadly, and inexplicably, “people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil”. 

Like Paul, we pilgrims must devote every opportunity to share the Good News. There is no other way, because “He is Jesus Christ our Lord“.

Dear Father God, we thank You that there is Good News to share in a season of bad news. Please bring our way those who you want to hear it, and we ask for the boldness to tell our stories of Good News, as Your Spirit leads. In Jesus name. Amen.

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