When my son was a little boy, he and I entered a “father-son” sports contest. We played against other boys and their fathers. Before the contest we had never played this sport together. As we began, I told him a way to aim the ball more precisely. He took my advice, and his scores improved. He became very excited. He could not remain silent about the lesson he learned. Even though it lowered our chances to win, he ran to his friends, the other boys in the contest, and told them the wonderful news of a way to increase their scores.
The story of Jesus is often called the gospel or the “good news.” In fact, it is the greatest news the world has ever heard! If we believe it, like my son after he learned a way to succeed in sports, we cannot remain silent. It is exciting!
What is “good” about the good news?
Long ago, a Christian apostle named Paul wrote a letter to the church in Rome. He explained the good news in the first part of the letter. He said he was proud of the good news because it has God’s power to save everyone who believes.
Before we can really appreciate the good news, we must know about the very bad news. From the beginning, man has known God exists and has known good things to do. But man has turned from God and chosen to live like animals, doing whatever they desire. We see this in our world today. Paul says God has given up on such people, and he shows his anger by punishing them. (Romans 1)
Other men want to please God by keeping laws and by following rituals. But no matter how hard they try, they break these laws. They want to be right with God, but they fail. God is patient and kind, waiting for these people to change. We see these people today as they try to follow the many religions in our world. They may not be punished now, but they will see God’s anger on the Day of Judgment when they will be punished. God will consider them the same as people who do not try to keep laws. (Romans 2)
Whenever we break God’s laws, whenever we do wrong, it is a sin. Paul sums up the bad news: All people have sinned and are not good enough for God’s glory. (Romans 3:23)
No man can make himself right. A person is made right through God’s gift of his son, Jesus, who died to forgive our sins, was buried, and rose from the tomb. (His tomb remains empty.) By faith in Jesus, we are saved. This is great news! (Romans 3:21-24)
How are we to respond to this great news?
Paul explains what happened when Christians in Rome were baptized. They were buried with Christ in baptism. Their old man of sin died on the cross with Christ. When they rose from the waters of baptism, they were new people. They were no longer to live in sin. (Romans 6) When we hear and believe the good news today, we, too, should be baptized and start a new life.
Christianity is the only religion today in which God became man, saved us by paying the price for our sins, proved his claims by rising from the grave and ascended to be our advocate in the presence of the Father. How easy it is to accept the grace of God! This is the good news that we are excited to share!