by Steven Chan
- We like to share good news with our family and friends. This morning I received a photo from a friend sharing with me his joy on the occasion of his daughter’s graduation. The other day I saw on Facebook, someone sharing her joy for her husband’s outstanding achievements. It is good to share such good news.
- The apostle Paul was similarly motivated to share good news with others. He wrote thus: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” (Rom 1:16-17)
- The word “gospel” is translated from its original Greek word, “euaggelion” which means “good tidings” (Thayer) or good news. Paul was not ashamed of the good news concerning salvation for everyone.
- Why was Paul eager to share this good news of salvation for everyone? He gave us his reasons.
- “For it is the power of God to salvation”: The God whose power caused the world to come into existence such that the Psalmist declared “the heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork” (Psa 19:1) and “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well” (Psa 139:14), this God has used His great Power to save mankind from a spiritually lost state with eternal consequences. His great Love for man motivated Him to make a way of escape for man (John 3:16; Rom 5:8; 1 Cor 10:13). Paul was motivated to share this good news because it has the backing of the greatest power in the universe, the power of God.
In times past, some excitedly shared the good news of getting “above market returns” on their investments by buying bonds that were rated as “investment grade” but later these investors lost their investments because the “solid backing” underlying those bonds was found to be “sorely lacking”! But such is not the case with the good news that Paul preached. It has the backing of the God who created the universe – the “hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began” (Titus 1:2). “He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” (Acts 17:31) Jesus was “declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” (Rom 1:4)
- “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed”: Paul elaborated on this in Rom 3:21-26: “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
Importantly, this plan for man’s salvation was authored by God Himself – our Creator and the One to whom each one of us will have to give a account of our lives on the Day of Judgement (Rom 14:12).
Given that God is the One to whom we are accountable, it is only reasonable and logical that His requirement for justification and sanctification must be satisfied in order for man to be declared righteous by Him. Man’s own works of righteousness falls short of God’s requirements: “not by works of righteousness which we have done” (Titus 3:5) and “by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight” (Rom 3:20).
No amount of good works that man can do can offset or erase or remove the sins or wrongs that we have committed against God. It is a vain effort to win the favour of God. Paul noted sadly about the Jews who had rejected Jesus Christ: “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.” (Rom 10:3)
Paul explained further: “that no flesh should glory in His presence. 30 But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” (1 Cor 1:29). He also wrote thus: “He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
The gospel or good news is that God was the One who planned the scheme for man’s redemption which cost the sacrifice of His beloved Son on the cross, so that man can be declared “righteous”; it is in this gospel that His righteousness is revealed: that’s how man can be justified. The bestowing of all our goods to feed the poor, and the giving of our body to be burned cannot earn our salvation from our sins although some men think such sacrifices would be adequate – but who can tell us with 100% certainty that God would be satisfied with such sacrifices? Do they know the mind of God?
- “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed”: This scheme of redemption was not formulated by Paul or by some men. It was “revealed” by God Himself. No man can know the mind of God – unless God chose to reveal to man what is in His mind:
“But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.” (1 Cor 2:10-12)
Most of the world’s religions represent man’s own efforts to find a way to heaven. But man’s knowledge is limited and man cannot know what is in the mind of God our Creator (Isa 55:8-9; Prov 14:12). The good news is that we don’t have to find our own way to heaven. The good news is that God has “revealed” to us the way to heaven: “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6). “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, 4 God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?” (Heb 2:3-4)
The Bible is God’s revelation to Man: “prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet 1:21). “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim 3:16-17). We will do well to follow the way that God has shown us.
- “For it is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek”: The good news is that God’s way for our salvation simply requires us to believe Him, that Jesus is the Son of the living God (John 20:30-31; Rom 5:1) and to trust and obey Him. According to Thayer: The word “faith” from the original Greek word “πιστεύω” (pisteuō) is: “used especially of the faith by which a man embraces Jesus, i. e. “a conviction, full of joyful trust, that Jesus is the Messiah — the divinely appointed author of eternal salvation in the kingdom of God, conjoined with obedience to Christ“.
God does not require man to bestow all his goods to feed the poor, and to give his body to be burned to earn his salvation from his sins or wrongdoings. God requires man to put our faith in Him, to trust and obey Him. The good news is that salvation is available to us as it is as close as to our mouth:
Paul explained in Rom 10:6-17: “But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down from above) 7 or, “‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that 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. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” 14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” 17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
In the above passage, Paul emphasized the good news of salvation is that one does not have to go and ask Jesus to come down from heaven or to go and ask Jesus to come up from Hades; rather the word of salvation “is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach)”. Man needs only to “confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead” unto salvation.
Jesus declared the terms of salvation very clearly in Mark 16:16: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16). On the day of Pentecost, Peter preached and urged those believed to “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). After the Ethiopian eunuch confessed his faith in Jesus as the Son of God, Philip “commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. 39 Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing.” (Acts 8:38-39). Note very carefully that the Holy Spirit only took away Philip the evangelist after the eunuch had been baptized and not immediately after the eunuch confessed his faith in Christ. The Holy Spirit tells us clearly when the believer is saved or have his sins forgiven. Paul told the Philippian jailor that he needed to believe in Jesus in order to be saved (Acts 16:31) and after having spoken the word of the Lord to him, the Holy Spirit-inspired Scriptures tells us: “And immediately he and all his family were baptized. 34 Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.” They were said to have “believed in God” after they had obeyed the command to be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins. Paul himself called upon the name of the Lord to be saved by being baptized to wash away his sins (Acts 22:16).
It did not take a long time for these people to be saved, having their sins washed away by the blood of Christ (Rom 5:9; Acts 22:16). The 3,000 on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, the eunuch in Acts 8, the Philippian Jailor in Acts 16, all were baptized immediately after they believed. It is truly good news to know that salvation is near to our mouth (requiring us to confess Jesus as Lord) and near to our heart (requiring us to believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God) and then to be baptized by immersion in water for the forgiveness of sins.
- “The just shall live by faith”: The good news is that those who have been justified by faith should continue to “live by faith”, i.e. putting our trust in Him and being submissive to His Will. Paul wrote thus: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Gal 2:20). “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor 5:7).
This means that God wants us to continue to trust Him (Heb 11:6) and to rely on Him and His word of truth and wisdom (Acts 20:32), believing His promises that He will not forsake us (Heb 13:5-6) and that He will bless us (Rom 8:31-32) – that He “Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess 5:23).
- The good news is that God loves us and He has put in place a scheme of redemption for us. His invitation to man is to cast our burden on Him because He cares for us (1 Pet 5:7) as we exchange our heavy yoke of sin with His easy yoke – easy because His grace will help us (2 Cor 12:9; Heb 4:16): “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matt 11:28-30). He is our Shepherd (Psa 23; John 10:14). He “Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. 25 For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” (1 Pet 2:24-25).
Let’s not be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. For it is the power of God for salvation of man. It is revealed to us by God through His Spirit-inspired prophets and apostles. It has God’s backing. He has provided His assurance for us by raising Jesus from the dead. It is truly good news for everyone. Let’s share it. Let’s proclaim it. There’s no greater news than the gospel of Jesus Christ.