Good News

mtgospelbWe live in an age where words and definitions are twisted. Calling oneself a Christian or an evangelical or a fundamentalist can unpack a truckload of definitions and baggage. Here at theMangoTimes we often speak of "the gospel." Unfortunately, even a simple term like "the gospel" has been beaten up by so many, that the word itself has lost some definition.

The first four books of the New Testament?...those are called the gospels. Is that what I am referring to on theMT when I say "the gospel?"
The life of Christ is also often referred to as the gospel. Is that what I mean? The life of Christ?

For the purpose of theMangoTimes, I want to define what it means when I refer to the gospel or quite literally the good news!

The Bad News
If the gospel (God's story) can begin to be defined as the good news, what then is the "bad news." Scripturally, God defines the bad news in the third chapter of the book of Romans. It is in this passage where the apostle Paul discusses our current state.
Romans 3:23 "For all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God"

Simply put, Paul says that we are all sinners and we fall short of God's standard: His glory. It's not even good enough to say that we are ambivalent to God, because elsewhere the Bible describes us as enemies of God. Whether we believe it or acknowledge it, the Bible says that we are engaged in active resistance to God and His will.

The Really Bad News
As if being in active rebellion to God as a sinner is not enough, God declares what we will earn for our rebellion. Again, in the book of Romans, God shows us where our sin will lead us.
Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin are death, but the gift of life is eternal life in Christ Jesus."

If we remain in our sin, if we remain separated from God, as an enemy of God, it will lead us only one place: death! The Bible goes on to say that this is an eternal separation from God and His involvement in our lives.

The Beginning of the Good News
The best thing about the gospel is that it is begins and ends with God and His grace. Even better is that God makes the first move. In the fifth chapter of Romans, the Bible says this:
Romans 5:8 "God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

He didn't wait for us to clean up our lives or deal with our own sin. It says that in loving us, God sent His son to die for us.

Our Response to the Good News
While we were sinners and separated from God, He moves to save us through the death, burial and bodily resurrection of His son Jesus Christ to redeem us for our sins. That is more than good news, that is great news! Yet, it may cause some to assume they are puppets on some cosmic string. Not the case at all. God is looking for a response.
Romans 10:9 "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved."

Jesus Christ is not just a savior, but Lord. Therefore He expects us to acknowledge Him as such.

How Then Shall We Live?
In a few short paragraphs, I've shown how the bad news becomes good news. I've shown how a life apart from God and pointed to death can be a life unto God that points to salvation. The remaining question is simple: What do we do with our lives once they have been redeemed back to God? Keeping in the book of Romans, Paul answers that very question.
Romans 12:1-2 "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

This verse is clear. "In view of God's mercy," or "because of what God has done," therefore do these things. Notice again, we do these things as a direct result of what God has already done for us.

I can't make it any easier than these verses. The gospel is clear. The good news is that we were sinners and God saved us through the life, death and resurrection of Christ. We need to turn to Him through confession and repentance for salvation. Simple. Gracious. Merciful. Yet, this will be a stumbling block for many who hear this message. It's my hope that this post contained words of life for you.

Quietly Making Noise,
Fletch