Bad News Before Good News
The Gospel simply means “good news." And the Gospel of Jesus Christ is certainly good news. But in order to understand how good the good news is, we first need to understand how bad the bad news is. When the Gospel is viewed in light of the bad news, it highlights how good the good news is.
We need to start from the beginning in order to understand how things got so bad with us and the world. In the beginning God created everything good. And God created the first two human beings good: Adam and Eve. God created Adam and Eve in his own image in true righteousness, holiness and with dominion over all the other creatures. God’s purpose of humanity was that they would glorify God by enjoying him in relationship for all eternity.
However, Adam chose to rebel against God. By this act of sinful rebellion Adam plunged himself into a state of sin and misery along with the rest of humanity. As Romans 5:12 teaches about the effects of Adam’s first sin, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” So every single person sins and falls short of God’s glory, as Romans 3:23 teaches, “… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God …”
God’s Perfect Standard
But God is perfect and his standard for righteousness is perfect. Matthew 5:48 says, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” God who is a perfect being must have a perfect standard of righteousness, otherwise he would not be a perfect being. God will not let into heaven anyone being imperfect, because He is so holy, good, and just that he cannot even look upon sin in an approving fashion. As Habakkuk 1:13 says of God, “You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong.”
The Penalty of our Sins
To make matters worse for us: We have all sinned against God, an infinite being. So we deserve an infinite punishment. We have all sinned against the greatest possible being, so we deserve the greatest possible punishment. God being perfectly just must punish our sins. As Matthew 25:46 clearly describes the punishment of the unrighteous: “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
The Gospel: God Sending Jesus to Fulfill his Perfect Standard of Righteousness
God being loving and gracious sent His only begotten Son to take on a human nature to fulfill his perfect standard of righteousness for us. Galatians 4:4-5 says, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” Jesus Christ perfectly obeyed God’s Law in our place. At every point where we have sinned in our lives, Jesus was perfect. So Jesus Christ’s righteousness is transferred to us such that God counts us as perfectly righteous. As Paul writes in Romans 5:19, “For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous.”
The Gospel: God Sending Jesus to take the punishment for our Sins
As described above, God must punish our sins, and He did when Jesus Christ was sent to the cross. When Jesus Christ was on the cross, our sins were transferred to him and he was punished in our place. As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:2, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” So there was a great transaction that took place on the cross: our sins were transferred to Christ so that his righteousness could be transferred to us. After Jesus died in our place he was buried, and then he physically rose again on the third day to show his victory over sin and death.
The Gospel: We Receive Salvation by Grace Alone through Faith Alone
What makes the good news so good is that we do not receive this amazing gift of salvation through doing better and trying harder. We receive this gift of everlasting life and righteousness by trusting in Jesus Christ. As John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” We receive salvation by grace through faith alone, as Paul writes in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” God views us as righteous even though we are ungodly at times and we struggle with sin.
The Gospel is Good News because….
It’s because the Gospel tells us that we are eternally loved, accepted, and vindicated by God forever and ever. As Paul says in Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” God will never stop loving us even though we fail him daily, as Paul writes in Romans 8:38-39, “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
All we need to do is come to Jesus by faith and repentance in order to have eternal peace, rest, and joy in Christ in heaven for all eternity. As Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." And that is truly good news for exhausted people who are heavy with burden and guilt!