Archive for the ‘Good news’ Category
Early in Abraham Booth’s Glad Tidings to Perishing Sinners he has one of those delightful summaries of Scripture phrasing that some authors do so well. In this case, he’s trying to demonstrate the way in which the word “gospel” is used and understood in the Word of God. Here is a beautiful blizzard of phrases emphasising that this is joyful news indeed:
The Gospel, then, is glad tidings, as will more fully appear, by the following induction of particulars. For it is that most interesting part of sacred Scripture which is denominated, by Evangelists and Apostles, the truth—the truth of Christ—the truth as it is in Jesus—the truth which is according to godliness—the faithful word—the word of the kingdom, or of the reign—the word (ο λογος) of the cross—the word of the Lord’s grace—the word of God’s grace—the word of reconciliation—the word of righteousness—the word of life—the word of salvation—The doctrine of Christ—the doctrine of God our Saviour—The gospel of the kingdom, or the glad tidings of the reign—the glad tidings of Christ—the glad tidings of the Son of God—the glad tidings of God—The glorious glad tidings of Christ—the glorious glad tidings of the blessed God—The glad tidings of the grace of God—the glad tidings of peace—the glad tidings of salvation—The grace of God—the grace that bringeth salvation—and, the salvation of God. The gospel is also denominated, The word of faith—the faith—the common faith—the faith in Christ—the faith once delivered to the saints—the mystery of the faith—and, the most holy faith.
The publication of the gospel is called, The ministry of reconciliation—the ministry of righteousness—and, the ministry of the Spirit—Preaching the Son of God—teaching and preaching Jesus Christ—preaching the forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ—preaching peace by Jesus Christ—preaching the unsearchable riches of Christ—and preaching the faith—Proclaiming (κηρυσσειν) the kingdom, or the reign, of heaven—proclaiming the glad tidings of the reign—proclaiming deliverance to the captives, recovering of sight to the blind, and the acceptable year of the Lord—proclaiming Christ—proclaiming Christ crucified—Bringing glad tidings of good things—and, sending the salvation of God to the Gentiles.—Such is the gospel, and such the nature of evangelical preaching, as represented by the inspired writers: all which unite in the general notion of joyful news.
These are fearful words to most of us, and rightly so. To be told that you have heart disease is to be told of a fundamental threat to life. Sometimes the only options are radical surgery and a complete revolution in our lifestyle. Most of us – were we or one of our family members in such a position – would be very quick to do whatever was necessary to put the situation right. After all, our life would be on the line.
But there is a yet more terrible heart disease which we are often all too ready to ignore, but which kills us all. Even as you read, you are suffering from this heart disease, and you need to know the symptoms, diagnosis and cure.
Its symptoms are very evident. Are you self-centred? Are you envious of what others have? Do you lie and cheat? Do you curse and blaspheme? Do you get drunk? Have you ever stolen? Do you want or have you had a sexual relationship with someone who is not your husband or wife? Are you often angry? Do you hate someone? Do you never go to worship God? Do you ignore Sunday, God’s day, and do whatever you like? Do you think nothing of Jesus Christ? Are you disobedient to your parents? If any or all of the above symptoms are present, then you suffer from this heart disease
The diagnosis is equally plain. “From within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man” (Mark’s Gospel, chapter 7, verses 21-23). In other words, you have a sinful heart that is contrary to God and his law, and for which you deserve to be condemned and punished. In one sense, you are already dead: dead in trespasses and sins.
Critically, then, is there a cure? Yes! God has provided a means to be healed from this most terrible disease of sin, but it requires radical surgery and a complete revolution in lifestyle. In Psalm 51, verse 10, we find a man with a sinful heart crying out to God, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Only this can save you from your sins. You need a new, clean heart from God, and you need to depart utterly from all your sinful ways.
Consider what is at stake: with your terrible heart disease of sin, you have only misery and condemnation to come. Get a new heart from God: he is rich in mercy to make men who are dead because of sin alive together with Christ. Come, then, to Jesus Christ, and you shall have everlasting life.
The gospel of Christ in general is this; It is the good tidings that God has revealed concerning Christ. More largely it is this: As all mankind was lost in Adam and became the children of wrath, put under the sentence of death, God, though He left His fallen angels and has reserved them in the chains of eternal darkness, yet He has thought upon the children of men and has provided a way of atonement to reconcile them to Himself again. Namely, the second Person in the Trinity takes man’s nature upon Himself, and becomes the head of a second covenant, standing charged with sin. He answers for it by suffering what the law and divine justice required, and by making satisfaction for keeping the law perfectly, which satisfaction and righteousness he tenders up to the Father as a sweet savor of rest for the souls that are given to Him. And now this mediation of Christ is, by the appointment of the Father, preached to the children of men, of whatever nation or rank, freely offering this atonement unto sinners for atonement, requiring them to believe in Him and, upon believing promising not only a discharge of all their former sins, but that they shall not enter into condemnation, that none of their sins or unworthiness shall ever hinder the peace of God with them, but that they shall through Him be received into the number of those who shall have the image of God again to be renewed unto them, and that they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.
Jeremiah Burroughs, Gospel Conversation, 3-4.
Would you like a real change?
Would you like new surroundings? A new house, a new room, or new clothes?
Would you like new relationships? New friends, new colleagues, even a new family?
Would you like a new you? A new appearance, enlargements and reductions, a new nose or chin, a new waistline, or renewed health?
Would you like a new life? A completely fresh start, being a different person altogether, sweeping away everything that is, leaving it all behind, and starting over entirely?
One way or another, many of us would like – or may even long for – a makeover of some kind. We would truly love to change something about us and our lives.
Most of these changes are – at best – what you might call ‘cosmetic.’ That is, they are mere changes in appearance, manipulating externals without ever altering reality. As a result, they rarely make us happy. If you like, many of the changes we try to make are like re-arranging the deckchairs on the Titanic: making a doomed vessel more pleasing to the eye.
You probably know by experience that such changes make little lasting difference. At best, they solve problems temporarily. At worst, they lock us into a downward spiral of more and more extreme changes, each one more desperate, expensive, or humiliating than the last. In either case, they present no final solution to problems.
Why is this?
It is because whatever you do and wherever you go and whenever you change outwardly, what you carry within you remains the same. We carry our issues, our personalities, our problems, our sins, with us wherever we go.
What you need is the most radical change of all: an extreme makeover that lies utterly outside your own power of will or money to accomplish, but a change that will once-and-for-all alter everything about you for the better. It is a change that begins on the inside and works its way out, radically altering in lasting fashion our thoughts, feelings, desires, words, and deeds.
It is called “new creation.” It begins with the essential you, the heart and soul of who and what you are, and – over the course of time – works itself through your whole being. It is a new life that will reach its climax with a new body in a new heavens and a new earth.
Would you like such a change? Do you long for an extreme makeover of this sort? This is no gimmick or fable, no lie or scam. This is God’s own truth, his free and sincere offer: “If anyone is in Christ,” says the Bible, “he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
Would you like a fresh start? There is nothing to pay, no forms to fill out, no waiting list, and guaranteed results. Faith in Christ brings new life in him. It is the only true solution to the otherwise empty search for a new you.
Reader, you have heard of the necessity of coming to Christ; also of the willingness of Christ to receive the coming soul; together with the benefit that they by him shall have that indeed come to him. Put thyself now upon this serious inquiry, Have I indeed come to Jesus Christ?
1. Thou art in sin, in the flesh, in death, in the snare of the devil, and under the curse of the law, if you are not coming to Jesus Christ.
2. There is no way to be delivered from these, but by coming to Jesus Christ.
3. If thou comest, Jesus Christ will receive thee, and will in no wise cast thee out.
4. Thou wilt not repent it in the day of judgment, if now you come not to Jesus Christ.
5. But thou wilt surely mourn at last, if now thou shalt refuse to come.
6. And lastly, Now thou hast been invited to come; now will thy judgment be greater, and thy damnation more fearful, if thou shalt yet refuse, than if thou hadst never heard of coming to Christ.
Most of us like to think that we are good people. After all, there are so many other people who are much worse than us. We think we know what is right. We often want to do what is right, but it is hard to do the right thing. Why do we do things that we know are wrong? And why do we feel bad inside when we do things that we know are wrong? How do we measure goodness? And how good is good enough?
The Lord God, who made you and takes care of you, has told us what is right and wrong. One day we will all have to face Him. He will judge everything that we have done, everything that we have said, and even everything that we have thought. Jesus said, “Be ready, for the Son of Man [Jesus Christ] is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matthew’s gospel, chapter 24, verse 44). How can you be ready? Will you be good enough?
Take a moment to read God’s Ten Commandments:
1. You shall have no other gods before Me.
2. You shall not make for yourself a carved image – any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.
4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
5. Honour your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.
6. You shall not murder.
7. You shall not commit adultery.
8. You shall not steal.
9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.
10. You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbour’s.
How do you compare to this standard? You might think you can make fun of the standard: “I’ve never coveted anybody’s ox or donkey!” You might think it easy to point to the things that you haven’t done: “I’ve never murdered anyone”. But Jesus taught that the Ten Commandments go much deeper than we imagine. They are as much about our thoughts, our hearts, our attitudes, as they are about what we physically do (if you have a Bible, you can find this in Matthew’s gospel, chapter 5, verses 17-30). Jesus said, “whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment” (Matthew 5.22) and “whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5.28).
No wonder the Bible teaches that “there is none righteous, no, not one” (the letter to the Romans, chapter 3, verse 10). We have all broken the Ten Commandments: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3.23). Is any one of us good enough for God? No!
But that is not the end of the story. Why did God write these Ten Commandments if none of us can keep them? The Bible answers this question. God says that the Ten Commandments – God’s holy law – is our “tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (the letter to the Galatians, chapter 3, verse 24).
How does Jesus Christ fit in, and what does it mean to be justified by faith?
Jesus fits in because “when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law” (Galatians, chapter 4, verse 4). Jesus Christ, being both God and man, obeyed the law of God perfectly. He lived according to the law, and is the only man who never broke one of God’s Ten Commandments in his thoughts, words, or deeds. Read the accounts of His life in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and you cannot find one instance when He sinned: He was never less than perfect in all that He thought, said and did. But what does that have to do with us?
The Bible teaches that we all have a sinful nature. After all, nobody needs to be taught how to do wrong things – it is the way we are, and we act in accordance with it. But the Bible promises that “through one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous” (Romans 5.19). That verse is talking about Jesus, and means that somehow sinners like us can benefit from the perfect and sinless life that Jesus lived.
If we are to face God in judgment and not be damned for our sins – condemned for all the things that break God’s law – then we need the holiness and perfection of Jesus. This is what it means to be justified: for God to declare us to be right in his sight. For that we need a perfect righteousness. How do we get this righteousness? Through faith in Jesus Christ, his righteousness is put to our account. Then, “justified by faith, we have peace with God” (Romans 5.1). Peace with God! If your conscience tells you that you have done things wrong, and must one day face God, what would you not give to know peace with God?
Don’t try and have peace with God by trying to be better, by trying to keep God’s Ten Commandments better. We cannot keep God’s law: “No one is justified by the law in the sight of God” (Galatians 3.11). That sends us to Jesus Christ for the answer to the question, “What must I do to be saved?” God’s answer is this: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.” This salvation is “by grace . . . through faith” (Ephesians 2.8). “By grace”: it is the gift of God, and not something that we can earn or deserve. “Through faith”: repenting of our sins, and trusting completely and only in Jesus Christ. He lived the life that we should have lived, but could not. He died the death that we deserved, being punished by God for the sins of His people.
Examine your life, examine your heart. Consider the standard of God’s Ten Commandments, and compare yourself to it. Listen to your conscience. Then repent of your sin, and ask God to save you through Jesus Christ.
Gary Brady, on one of his myriad blogs, outlines a sermon by Benjamin Beddome suggesting at least eight sinful reasons why some will not come to Christ.
- Some men will say they have no need to come to Christ.
- Others imagine they are already come to Christ; and the act being performed, they have no need to repeat it.
- Some previous engagement is another excuse which sinners make for not coming to Christ.
- Some say they have tried but cannot come to Christ.
- Others who are deeply bowed down in spirit, do not so much plead their inability, as their unfitness and unworthiness.
- Some stumble at the austerities of religion, and the dangers to which it will expose them.
- It is the fear of some that if they do come to Christ, they shall either be rejected, or dishonour him.
- Many who do not come to Christ now, purpose to do so hereafter.
Gary fills out the headings with Beddome’s good, sound, Scriptural sense. Read it all.