Godspell: God's Good News, Part 1
In the first century AD in a time of severe persecution of the early church and Christians by the rulers of the Roman Empire, the Apostle Paul, being anything but politically correct, stated unequivocally, "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile."1
But what is the gospel that Paul was not ashamed of and was so convinced of its reality that he was prepared to face persecution and death? As Webster's Dictionary explains, the meaning of "gospel" is "Godspell, God story, or good news." Thus, the gospel is the good news about God's plan of salvation for mankind.
First, the Gospel is a message about God. The gospel is not a message about religion. It's about having a right relationship with God. Religion, or "religiosity" tends to want to fix us from the outside in. God wants to fix us from the inside out. The first can become an impossible burden. The latter is what brings freedom. Neither is the gospel a set of rules and regulations. It is experiencing God's love, acceptance, and forgiveness—and learning to communicate these to every life we touch.
It helps to realize that God isn't out to zap us for the wrongs we have done. In fact, no matter what we have ever done or have failed to do, God loves us with an everlasting love and has a wonderful purpose for our lives—for this life as well as the next! As Jesus said, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."2 And again, "My purpose is to give life in all its fullness."3
Second, the Gospel is a message about sin. Many people understandably ask, "If there is a God and if he is a God of love, why does he allow so much suffering, sickness and sorrow in today's world?" Without sounding too simplistic, this is because we have all sinned and separated ourselves from an infinitely holy God.4 It's not that God left us, but rather, that we left God and separated ourselves from him. In so doing, we separated ourselves from his protection.
Another misconception about God is that he is out to punish us for our sins when, in fact, we bring sin's punishment on ourselves because sin has its own natural consequences. If we try to break the universal law of gravity, for instance, we can't. It will break us. Neither can we break God's universal moral law. When we do, it breaks us and, besides its painful effects in this life—suffering, sorrow, sickness and physical death—its ultimate and tragic consequence is spiritual death, which is not the cessation of life, but a life after death that is eternally separated from God in the place God's Word calls "hell,"
To be continued….
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you for your "good news" message that you have for me in that, no matter what I have ever done of have failed to do, you love me unconditionally and totally. Please help me to grasp this truth in the very depth of my being. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name amen."
1. Romans 1:16 (NIV).
2. John 3:16 (NIV).
3. John 10:10 (TLB) (NLT).
4. Romans 3:23.