Jesus’ good news, then, was that the Kingdom of God had come, and that he, Jesus, was its herald and expounder to men. More than that, in some special and mysterious was, he was the kingdom.
In the world to which the Apostles preached their new message, religion had not been the solace of the weary, the medicine of the sick, the strength of the sin-laden, the enlightenment of the ignorant: It was the privilege of the healthy and the instructed. The sick and the ignorant were excluded. They were under the bondage of evil demons. This people which knoweth not the law are accursed, was the common doctrine of Jews and Greeks. The philosophers addressed themselves only to the well-to-do, the intellectual, and the pure. To the mysteries were invited only those who had clean hands and sound understanding. It was a constant marvel to the heathen that the Christians called the sick and the sinful.
If the good news of God’s grace is to be truly heard, the bad news concerning man’s sin must be preached. If the “Yes” of God’s grace is to be truly heard, God’s “No” to sin must be proclaimed.
Theologians tell a story to illustrate how Christ’s triumph presently benefits our lives: Imagine a city under siege. The enemy that surrounds they city will not let anyone or anything leave. Supplies are running low, and the citizens are fearful. But in the dark of the night, a spy sneaks through the enemy lines. He has rushed to the city to tell the people that in another place the main enemy force has been defeated; the leaders have already surrendered. The people do not need to be afraid. It is only a matter of time until the besieging troops receive the news and lay down their weapons. Similarly, we may seem now to be surrounded by the forces of evil – disease, injustice, oppression, death. But the enemy has actually been defeated at Calvary. Things are not the way they seem to be. It is only a matter of time until it becomes clear to all that the battle is really over.
We’ve become too polite. We don’t laugh and cry with God. We’ve forgotten the excitement of the Good News. What greater sign of the extraordinary, lavish marvelous love of God than the incarnation! God so loved the world and all of us in it that God himself came to live with us as one of us! Is it so good that we’re afraid to believe it?
The Gospel is good news of mercy to the undeserving. The symbol of the religion of Jesus is the cross, not the scales.
The Gospel is open to all; the most respectable sinner has no more claim on it than the worst.
The law breaks the hard heart, but the gospel melts it. A stone duly broken, may be still a hard stone; but the gospel melts.
The Gospel is not a new law. It is not a code of morals or ethics. It is not a creed to be accepted. It is not a system of religion to be adhered to. It is the good news that God will forgive and accept any person who trusts His provision of the crucified and risen Christ as the answer to their rebellion and sin.