Sunday, 31 July 2011

If the bad news isn't really bad then the good news isn't really good!

Quite a long title but it catches what I want to talk about here. There's a big tendency today to tone down the Scriptural teaching regarding the state and danger of mankind. There is huge pressure to soften the harder truths of the Bible, and to sweeten the bitter pill the Word of God commands us to swallow.

Who wants to be told they are the worthy objects of divine wrath? Who likes hearing they are hell-deserving sinners, incapable of gaining merit with God or earning acceptance by Him? Nobody likes that kind of thing, so tweak it a wee bit - you're empty, life and love has disappointed you, but Jesus won't let you down - He gives purpose, and forgives your mistakes. He hates sin only because it damages you and makes you unhappy, but He loves you just the way you are and wants to give you something better than you have now, a greater happiness than you've ever experienced. Now there's a message that people will warm to! But the problem with that message is it will bring God no glory and do the sinner no good, because it's not the Gospel of God. Of course there are elements of truth in it, but as set out above it completely obscures what we're like and what God is like. By reducing the horror of the bad news we reduce the greatness of the good news.

Consider Paul's presentation of the Gospel in the book of Romans - he spends almost three chapters humbling man's pride, exposing man's guilt, silencing man's excuses, overruling man's objections until we are left with nothing to say, nothing to plead - we stand silent with our heads bowed, guilty before a righteous God. It is then that Paul tells us that this God against whom we have sinned, this God whose wrath is against us, has moved in grace to provide a way by which our record can be cleared - he has provided a sacrifice to pay sin's penalty, and through Christ we can have the debt cancelled! After such a thorough exposure of our guilt and helplessness, this revelation of the way of salvation causes us to breathe a sigh of relief, and fall on our knees in gratitude to such a gracious God, whereas the toned down "Gospel" causes people to give Jesus a try to see if He really does make life even more fun and exciting.

The Gospel doesn't offer a buddy to make you feel good, it offers a Saviour to rescue helpless, hell-deserving sinners who feel the seriousness of their crimes against God. If that describes you, then turn to Christ, He will save you, and in addition, He'll grant you power and peace and all these wonderful extras!