What Is The Good News?
Have you heard the good news? If you’re like me someone has approached you and asked you that question. Maybe you rolled your eyes and said you weren’t interested (like I did). Maybe you said that you have, and it’s great (like I did). Maybe you said no (like I did) and got several different versions of that news (like I did). Maybe if you were that last person, that made you wonder what the good news really was.
I’m quite sure that the few people who gave me their good news truly believed it was the good news. I’m sure one of them gave me the actual good news, but the fact that I received different news led me to doubt any of them were right.
Naturally, if you’re reading this, you may doubt that I know the answer to this question. For the record, I don’t know anything. This has nothing to do with my knowledge and my wisdom. Those are terrible references. This good news comes not from me, but from the Word of God.
Here’s a quick outline:
1) Man was dead in sin (Genesis 3).
2) The price of sin had to be paid. That price is blood, and the sacrifice must be of one who is without blemish (Deuteronomy).
3) Jesus Christ came from Heaven to Earth and died to pay that price (Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, and John 19).
4) Christ was raised from the dead, which broke the bonds of death and gave victory and justification for those who believe in Him (Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, and John 20).
A brief tangent:
Notice how the good news takes us from the beginning of the Bible to the end. The Bible is the story of God and his work in the lives of humanity. To truly understand that work and understand God, one must read the whole thing.
That seems silly to have to say. If there was a movie out there one wanted to talk about, he’d watch the whole movie. If one wanted to talk about a book, they would see fit to read the book. Christianity (perhaps religion as a whole) is the only thing people seem to feel completely at liberty to discuss without actually understanding what it is. Why? I don’t have the answer. I have theories, but I honestly would like readers to look in themselves and ask, why am I so resistant to read this book before discussing it.
Now, there are those who say, “I’m not interested in reading it, and I don’t want to discuss it.” As a mortal, rational thinker, I couldn’t really argue with you. If you aren’t interested, you aren’t. However, for those of you who find yourself saying, “Well I think this is who God is,” or, “To me, God is …,” I humbly request you spend some time with his own testimony about Himself.
I’ve actually already covered the first item on the list in great detail in Chapter 12. To review, a person may want to show they’re comparatively better than another mortal man, but compared to a perfect and Holy God, we fall short. We are not perfect. We have sinned. Our sin condemns us.
That’s not very good news. On its own, no. However, most of the best things happen in bad situations. To reword that, we feel the most joy when a situation turns out right when it looks like its could end at its worst. The good news starts with the fact that we needed salvation.
The second item on the list simply informs us of the price that must be paid to redeem one from sin. If none of us are perfect, none of us is able to pay the price. I discussed this in Chapter 12 as well. The price had to be Christ. He had to endure all the pain and suffering we deserved in order for us to be redeemed.
That leads us to the good part of the good news. He did. Christ willingly came. God, because of his abounding love for us, sent His Son down to Earth to pay the price for our sins so that we could be saved. He died, and the price has been paid, once for all.
However, death, while the payment for sin, still isn’t quite as great as it could be. I mean, redemption from sin is the most important thing we could ever have, but like an old TV informercial, “Wait! There’s more!”
The resurrection of Christ is the defeat of death. This is how we can have faith that we will have perfect, bodily resurrection if we are indeed in Christ. His resurrection broke the bonds of death and guarantee our eternity when Christ returns. Again, our redemption is by grace and is wonderful in and of itself, but to be redeemed and guaranteed eternal life? That’s good news.
So why does the good news have to include these four elements? There are a few answers to this.
First, we have to understand how much we need Christ. According to a 2003 poll conducted by the Barna Research Group in Oxnard, California, two-thirds of Americans believe they will go to Heaven, implying they believe in such a place. Of that number, which, according to the survey holds from the previous decade, half of them believe they will go to Heaven because they can earn it by good deeds.
This is why I needed Chapter 12. Without a clear understanding of why we needed salvation, we can’t possibly appreciate Christ’s glorious gift.
Second, these four things together complete the news. This is something I do know. I teach it for a living. Any news story has four essential elements: The who, the what, the when and the where. The why and how give us context. So any time we can get all six elements, we can be assured the audience has complete understanding.
If this were a story one of my students had to write, the good news would read something like: “Jesus Christ died on the cross in the First Century A.D. in Jerusalem to pay the price for the sins of humanity and was raised three days later for humanity’s justification.”
Where is the how element? I usually tell students to save that for what’s called the bridge of a news story: “Christ, the only perfect, blameless human in all of existence, was the only person able to pay for the sins of humanity as God’s own perfect passover lamb.”
This is basic news principles used to explain what the good news and why one needs it in its entirety to understand it.
The last reason the good news has to include these elements is that it gives us our hope and the assurance that our hope is possible. We hope in eternal life. To simply say that Christ was raised from the dead is cool, but I can name at least two people who never actually died (Elijah and Enoch). I can name another few who were raised from the dead (Jairus’ daughter and Lazarus). There are more, but I can actually name those two. Jesus was also raised. However, only Christ died and lived again. He did so and never died a second time (Lazarus the Jairus’ daughter did).
This is significant because if Christ could die for all of our sins, then his resurrection is also ours if we believe in Him. Think about it. As our substitutionary sacrifice, he paid the price we couldn’t pay. So His resurrection, His eternal life, can also be ours.
To forget about Christ makes the equation invalid. Without Him, we don’t have the proper payment for our sin. Without Him, we only have at best a second batch of years until we die again.
The problem comes when people know Heaven exists, but they want to find other ways to get there. Here is where everything comes to simple binary logic. A person either believes they are perfect and they can impress a perfect and holy god with some perfunctory acts of service, or a person realizes they are not perfect and they can’t do a darn thing to impress a perfect and holy god.
We can dress that binary math up any way we want, but it all comes down to one of those thoughts. I’m obviously of the latter mindset. This book is my attempt at a reasonable way to express that. When I break it down to those two, it can seem cold, but sometimes people need to be confronted with the choice they’re making. For those who don’t believe in a Heaven, there’s no real point in debating how to get there. So this chapter provides a foundational look at the doctrine of salvation.
For our panel: If we decide to accept the good news, how do we move forward? In your experience, what causes people to resist accepting the good news? How should one respond to hearing other interpretations of that good news? Why are those other interpretations dangerous?