So What’s the Good News?
The word “gospel” is used over 75 times in the New Testament part of the Bible? Have you ever wondered what this word means? It simply means “good news”, that’s is! But wait a minute, exactly what is this “good news” all about, I mean, how good is this “good news”? I will explain as simply as I can why we should be overjoyed about the good news that Jesus Christ came to bring us, and why it should radically change the way we relate to God and to one another. Wait and see, you’ll feel like a child again! The image to the left summarizes the “good news” as best as any picture, statue, or medal that I have ever seen. I recently discovered this crucifix by my bedside table as I was struggling in my own life and wondering how close God was to me in my struggles. Look carefully at the crucifix and ask yourself if you have ever seen one like it because I haven’t. One arm of Jesus is nailed to the cross and his other arm is embracing someone at the foot of the cross, most likely His beloved disciple John. But John represents you and I, so the “good news” is simply and beautifully depicted in this crucifix, which I have named “The Good Shepherd Crucifix”. Here are the two main points conveyed by this image:
(1) Jesus died on the cross to conquer Sin and Death. He won the ultimate victory in the greatest battle that the Universe has ever known – the battle between the forces of Good and Evil.
(2) Jesus promised to be with us until the end of time. He comes to our help whenever we call on Him, just like a good shepherd comes to the rescue of his sheep when they go astray and bleat for help.
Jesus wants us to become like children again in our relationship with God, just like the relationship that Adam and Eve had with God in the Garden of Eden before they sinned. Remember Jesus’ words as recorded in Matthew 18:3: “Truly, I say to you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” Adam and Eve were innocent and childlike in their trust in God, much like little children are with their parents. They also enjoyed what is known as the “beatific vision”, that is, they saw God face-to-face! After they sinned, they lost the beatific vision, they were no longer childlike in their relationship with God, they tried to become self-sufficient and independent, and generally life became much more difficult and even miserable. Their relationship with each other and with God became strained, they fell prey to illnesses, work became a struggle, and women now had to bear pain in childbirth! This is a tall order for wanting our independence from God and wanting to be our own bosses! Life could have been so much simpler and worry-free if Adam and Eve had remained childlike in their relationship with God.
So here is the “good news” in a nutshell: Jesus can restore you and I to that original childlike relationship with God if we want it – that’s it! But He leaves the decision up to us. All we have to do is to believe that Jesus has overcome the world and all of its allurements, our weak flesh and all of its temptations, and of course, the Devil and all of his tricks and deceptions. These are the three highways that lead to spiritual death: the world, the flesh, and the Devil. Jesus has conquered all three of these by coming to earth, taking on flesh, and resisting all the temptations of these three forces without ever committing a single sin! He has won the battle for you and I, and He wants us to call on Him anytime anyplace to fight our battles, so that we can have the victory in His name and go to Heaven not Hell! But you must believe in the depths of your heart that you are week and powerless in your struggle against sin. Any belief or trust in your own strength is a sign of pride and independence from God.
The choice is yours:
(1) Will you choose to become like a child again in your relationship with God, and let Jesus fight your battles for you so that you can go to Heaven one day and enjoy eternal happiness? OR
(2) Will you choose to ignore Jesus’ offer and fight your own battles with the world, the flesh and the Devil, and risk going to Hell one day and suffering eternal damnation?
Here are some practical tips for becoming more child like in your relationship with God, the way He meant it to be, right from the very beginning:
– Call on Jesus as soon as you are in trouble in any way, by simply saying with all your heart, “Jesus Good Shepherd I need you!” Don’t be independent and try to fight the battles on your own because you’ll lose more battles than you’ll win.
– Talk to Him throughout your day as you would to a very close friend. Share all of your joys, successes, frustrations, sorrows etc. because remember, He wants to have an intimate friendship with you even more than you want it!
– Know that He loves you no matter what happens. Even if you fall into sin, don’t run away from Him, but run toward Him and ask Him for forgiveness. His greatest attribute as God is His mercy.
Now I don’t know about you, but that’s the greatest news that I have ever heard in my life, period! Heaven knows that our world desperately needs some good news, given all of the bad news that surrounds us every day. So go ahead and dare to be a child again with God; you’ll soon start to wonder why you took the harder road of independence from God all these years. Adam and Eve must have wondered the same thing too after they sinned. Our world has suffered the terrible consequences of our desire to be independent from God, and the rest is history as the old saying goes: violence, wars, death, diseases of every kind, mistrust, family breakdown, human and animal abuses on many levels, injustices, poverty, hunger, famines, social unrest, incompetent and corrupt governments, civil wars, pollution, environmental disasters everywhere, nuclear weapons that threaten to destroy the very planet we live on, and the list goes on.
God is waiting for mankind to surrender and say: “We should never have rebelled against You and tried to run our own lives. We should have remained childlike in our relationship with You because the world would have remained perfect, just the way You created it. We are very sorry for what we have done to You, to ourselves, and to our world. You know best and we obviously don’t.” It is my dream that every man, woman and child on our planet will one day cry out with one voice: “Please forgive us, and come and be our King, our Father, and our God.” God would then transform our world into the new Heaven and the new Earth. But alas, we know how this story will end from the Bible: mankind will rebel right up until the end, and Jesus Christ will make His glorious return when we least expect it, and whether we want Him to return or not. Then He will separate the sheep from the goats. The sheep will be those people who chose the first option that I mentioned earlier in this article, and became childlike in their relationship with God. The goats will be those people who remained obstinate and independent of God, and fought and lost the battle against the world, the flesh, and the Devil. So which option will you choose: sheep or goat, Heaven or Hell, eternal happiness or eternal damnation? The time to choose is NOW and not tomorrow, because tomorrow may never come!