Good News

Good News

A friend of mine recently posted this quote on Facebook:

“The Gospel is good news not good advice. Advice = what we should do. News = report of what was done for us.” Tim Keller

The truth expressed in this recitation caught my attention and immediately brought a scripture to mind.

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.” Romans 1:16, 17

Why these verses? Because the word “gospel” means GOOD NEWS! The good news of the gospel is all about what God has done for us in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our response to that good news isn’t about things we need to do. Our response needs to be one thing – BELIEVE.

One of the biggest problems with this is that we’ve been trained to DO! “Give me something to do, Lord!” We’re accustomed to thinking things like – only those who work hard get ahead; idle hands are the devils workshop; put your nose to the grindstone; God helps those who help themselves; etc., etc. And, there’s a ring of truth in these statements. When there’s a job to do and we roll up our sleeves to apply diligence to it, good things are accomplished. But when it comes to our redemption, there is no more work to be done!

When we start working – doing – laboring – to bring about our redemption, we’re saying in affect that what Jesus has already done wasn’t enough. We’re adding our labor to His death, burial and resurrection, assuming that His sacrifice + our labor = our salvation, healing and deliverance. But the true “formula” is this: salvation = Jesus sacrifice + NOTHING!

Now, I realize this brings up some interesting questions. I can’t possibly anticipate them all in this article, so allow me to address just one.

James 1:22 tells us to BE DOERS. “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” Of course, this is absolutely true. Be a doer of the word! This doesn’t contradict what we’ve been discussing. On the contrary, it points us to the heart of the matter. The focal point on doing the word, when it comes to our redemption, is faith. We must believe. Christians are believers. We believe God’s Word. We believe the Gospel. We believe that Jesus’ death, burial, time in hell and resurrection paid the price in full!

Most of the New Testament – especially the Epistles – were written to address this question of “doing”. What separates religion from true Christianity? Lists of do’s & don’t added to the gospel. The Apostle Paul had “teachers” following him from city to city, telling people that they must believe in Jesus, AND … get circumcised, keep the law, remember the Sabbath, etc., etc. I’m sure it was frustrating for him at times. In fact, he got quite angry with the Galatian church for leaving the freedom of the gospel and returning to the pains of religion.

So, enjoy the good news! Believe it with all your heart. As the psalmist said, don’t forget all the benefits. [Psalm 103]

I’ll close with the Tim Keller quote again: “The Gospel is good news not good advice. Advice = what we should do. News = report of what was done for us.”

Got Milk?

Got Milk?

I Peter 2:1-3 – Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, 2as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, 3if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

Understanding a few key words in these verses makes a huge difference in extracting what Peter, by the Holy Spirit, was trying to say. First consider the word “desire” in verse two. It means to long for something with all one’s being. Peter’s admonition: “This is something you’ve got to have!”

And what is this very important commodity? “The pure milk of the word.” In using the words “pure milk,” Peter is emphasizing uncontaminated, undiluted, fundamental truth! Make sure the teaching you receive is pure and nourishing. And don’t read God’s Word with preconceived notions. Seek truth.

This brings us to the last phrase in verse two, “that you may grow thereby.” The purpose of reading, studying and even meditating in our Bibles is not merely to learn more but to grow, i.e. to become more mature in our faith.

In our discussion groups we have explored the difference between knowing something intellectually and actually experiencing it. Knowing about something or having collected data on a subject doesn’t transform our lives. Transformation is in the growth process and requires more than information. Truth must be applied to our lives to elicit real change.

Spiritually speaking, one doesn’t become mature based merely on how long it has been since he first accepted Jesus into his life. You could have been born again thirty years ago and be a spiritual kindergartner. Conversely, you might have come into the Kingdom a short time ago and yet show huge signs of growth.

Here’s my point: be sure that you never stop growing (spiritually)! My title here makes reference to the TV commercial, “Got Milk?” The truth is that we have milk – at least we have access to it. There’s no reason for any of us to be without a Bible. We give them away free at church. Yet again, it’s not just owning a Bible … or even reading it. Sorry to say but some Christians read their Bibles daily and aren’t growing a lick!

Our attitude toward God’s Word is one key. King David wrote a psalm (the longest chapter in our Bibles) just to express his enthusiasm over God’s Word. With him, reading Old Testament scrolls was not something he was obligated to do. He felt privileged to peruse the laws and commandments. Is Bible reading a chore or a joy for you? It makes a difference!

Another key is getting Bible truths written in our hearts. Intellectual “head knowledge” won’t change your life. Whatever is written on our hearts sets the boundaries of our lives. [Proverbs 4:23] Head knowledge might impress some, but biblical principles etched into the heart create victorious lives.

As I said, David understood these principles. In Psalm 119:11 he said, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You!”

The writer of Hebrews in the New Testament agrees. “For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 [AMP]

So, … “Got Milk?”