The Bad News and the Good News
The Bad News
Has anyone ever told you, “I have good news and bad news, which one do you want first?” Normally, we choose the bad news first, so that the good news seems all the better. The Bible—God’s words to mankind—also contains bad news and good news for every person.
The bad news is that we are weak, ungodly sinners (Romans 5:6-8). We need to understand what that means before we understand the good news.
We are sinners. If you’re a swimmer, it means you swim a lot, you enjoy it, and you’re good at it. We are called sinners, because we sin a lot, we enjoy sin, and we’re good at sinning. God, who sees and knows everything, once looked down at humanity and observed that “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). What is sin? Sin is lawlessness; the disregarding and disobeying of God’s law in thought, word, or action. Whether you think of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-17) or the Two Great Commandments (Mark 12:29-31), no one has perfectly kept the law of God. We have all hated people, lied, lusted after someone who isn’t our spouse, failed to love God with all our heart, and been envious of our neighbours. Sin is in our very nature. We can’t get away from it, and if we’re honest, we don’t naturally want to. From the goody-two-shoes religious churchgoer, to the hardened, drug-pushing gang member, we have “all sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
We are ungodly. To be un-something is to be the opposite of it. We are called ungodly because we exhibit the opposite of God’s character. God is perfectly pure in his holiness, but we are stained and unclean in our sin. God is righteous and always rules with justice, while we bend and break rules and take bribes when it’s convenient for us. God is merciful and gracious, but we tend to keep grudges and cut ties with people who hurt us. God is loving, which means he always works for our ultimate good at his own cost, but we often only “love” people when they please us. God is angry at sin, but we often approve of sin and even watch it as entertainment. God is so unlike us that we can’t even bear to be in each other’s presence. God is “holy, holy, holy,” and “of purer eyes than to see evil, and cannot look at wrong” (Isaiah 6:3; Habakkuk 1:13).
We are weak. Grande Prairie is full of strong, young, hard-working people. But the Bible tells us that we are all spiritually weak—we cannot help ourselves or rescue ourselves out of the spiritual danger we’re in. We are spiritually helpless, blind, deaf, and crippled. We can’t do enough good to outweigh our bad in God’s courtroom. We can’t change our own hearts so that we desire God and his righteousness. This leaves us in a dangerous situation. Because God is holy and righteous, he must punish ungodly sinners like us, and his punishment is the eternal death of hell. This is bad news! Is there any hope for us weak, ungodly sinners?
The Good News
Amazingly, the Bible shares good news with us as well. The word “gospel” means good news, and the gospel is the message about who Jesus is and what he has done.
Jesus is strong to save. What we are unable to do, God does through the work of Jesus Christ. God knew we were helpless, but he chose to rescue many through Jesus Christ. Hebrews 7:25 tells us that Jesus “is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him.” This is the very reason Christ came to us: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tim 1:15).
Jesus is the perfect Son of God. Jesus lived a perfect human life. Jesus is “holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens” (Hebrews 7:26). In fact, Jesus is not just a godly man, but he is God himself in human flesh. There is one God in three persons: the Father, Son, and Spirit. The Father initiated our salvation, the Son came into the world and became fully man to rescue mankind, and the Holy Spirit applies Jesus’ saving work to sinners. So in Jesus’ earthly life, we see complete perfection walking among us.
Jesus paid for sin. God must punish our sin because he is just. However, he made a way to punish sin and forgive sinners. This is the central truth of the gospel: Jesus, as a perfect substitute, with no sin of his own, bore the sins of those who believe in him and was punished in their place at the cross. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus died in the place of weak, ungodly sinners, to powerfully save them from their guilt before the Holy Judge. Then he rose from the dead, showing he had made the payment in full. Now he stands in heaven as Lord, awaiting the time when he will come back and judge the world in righteousness.
To sum up the good news, Jesus died for weak, ungodly sinners: “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8).
What should you do in light of this news? Scripture says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). True belief involves repentance (turning from sin to God) and reliance upon Christ alone to save you. Remember, you are weak, but Jesus is “mighty to save” (Isaiah 63:1). Turn to him as the only Lord and Saviour! Trust in him alone to wipe away your guilt and transform your heart! But a warning here: it is not enough to simply say you trust in Jesus and then live your life like you used to. If God has changed you, you will live for him. Jesus is seeking disciples: those who learn from him and follow him. You must become a learner and a follower, learning from the Bible (God’s own words), seeking him in prayer, devoting yourself to worshipping him and fellowshipping with his people in a local church, and being a part of his mission to make other disciples.