Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Dispelling the Big Lie about the Good News

Some of us view certain delivery methods of the Gospel as negative. How can the good news include bad news? Is this possible?

A threefold problem arises when the good news is delivered, however, no matter what the method because: 1. The Gospel reveals that we are sinners. This is hard to hear. 2. The Gospel proves there is only one way to fix our problem and it is not do-it-yourself. This hurts our pride. 3. The Gospel makes known the fact that our time is limited. We don’t like being pushed to make decisions.

And then the Prince of this world, Satan, gets involved. The father of lies convinces us that if we deliver the gospel leaving out the part that hurts people’s feelings, we will get more converts. In other words, if we do it right—the way Jesus did—we will be successful every time. There is nothing farther from the truth. Yes, Jesus emanates kindness and mercy, but he speaks the truth in love and there are times when the truth hurts.

Let’s first take a look at exactly what the good news entails:

“Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you,
which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this
gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on
to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to
the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day
according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to
the Twelve” (1 Corinthians 15:1-5).

The most negative thing here is the fact that Jesus died for our sins. Why did my sins and your sins nail him to a cruel cross at Calvary?
1. God’s purpose for our lives includes peace and life, but most of us are not having this experience. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10NKJV).
2.We choose to disobey God by attempting to run our own lives. We ignore his way to peace and life which results in separation from God. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23NIV).
3.Through the ages, we have tried in many ways to bridge this gap, without success. “There is a way that seems right to man, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12NIV).
4. Jesus Christ is the only answer to our problem. He paid the penalty for our sins of going our own way. Jesus built the bridge between God and people with a cross. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8NIV).
5. We must trust Jesus Christ to save us from our sins and receive him by personal invitation and we only have one chance—this life—to do so. “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9NKJV).

This represents the greatest of all news! We have a problem that we cannot solve—separation from our holy God. God solved it through giving us his one and only Son, that whoever believes—clings to, relies on, and trusts in him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Paul said the gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes (Romans 1:16). Does that mean if we leave parts of the gospel out it loses power? Isn’t this exactly what Satan wants to accomplish through his lies?
There is even more news to the good news! The Scriptures dispel Satan’s lie that if we give the gospel without any negative connotations we will be doing it Jesus’ way and in turn, be successful every time. Newsflash (that’s really old news)—Jesus did not win every person he spoke to for God. In Mark 10:17-31 Jesus spoke to a rich young man about eternal life. This man did not like being told he was a sinner. He had convinced himself that he kept every commandment since childhood. His pride was hurt because God’s plan for eternal life meant putting God above all of his material wealth that he had worked so hard to attain. Jesus' good news caused a storm to erupt in his heart. He walked away from Jesus sad, without the precious gift of salvation.

Jesus was never politically correct either. He told the woman at the well straight to her face that her religion was wrong (John 4:1-26). But she didn’t walk away sad, she skipped away filled with the living water of eternal life.
Paul said it best when he wrote, “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?” (2 Corinthians 2:14-16) Amen.

1 comment:

Joseph Albrecht said...

As far as "delivery" of the Gospel goes, I think certain methods modify it in a way that turns it into something else. I personally don't know what to think of the very first part of the 4 Spiritual Laws, for example, when it promises to the reader or listener that God has a wonderful plan for their life. In some way I think delivery does matter in this case. A person first receiving the Gospel may expect something entirely different from what the true implications of a wonderful life is through authentic Christian lenses.

It's easy to say I'm biased because of my father, but I think the Way of the Master's use of the law in evangelism has yet to be topped in terms of its utility for the layperson.