The good news of the gospel

Published 10:22 pm Friday, November 13, 2015

By Dr. Thurman R. Hayes Jr.

It was Aug. 14, 1945, in Times Square. Two young people, an American sailor and a nurse, delirious with joy, spontaneously locked lips in a passionate kiss. A photographer happened to be present to capture the moment. Originally it was buried on page 27 of Life magazine, but eventually it became iconic. Why? The “Times Square kiss” photo captured the reaction to good news. It was VJ Day. Americans had just received the news that World War II was over.

Good advice doesn’t cause people to react with delirious joy. If someone had been standing on a Times Square corner peddling good advice, people would not have celebrated like that. But good news can result in rapturous joy, and it is good news that is at the heart of Christianity. In fact, the word “gospel” means precisely that: Good News.

Email newsletter signup

What is the Christian gospel? The Apostle Paul sums it up: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins … that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day.” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)

First, the good news is that “Christ died for our sins.” The Bible says that we are all sinners. We may be people of high ideals and values, but we all fall short of God’s law, which is to love him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and love our neighbors as ourselves. Isn’t it odd that we would have an innate ability to discern right from wrong, but an innate inability to live up to it? Why is that? It’s because all of us were born with a sinful nature. We are not just sinners because we sin — we sin because we are sinners.

God is holy and righteous, and therefore he must judge sin. What would we say about a human judge who refused to punish the guilty? We would say that such a judge does not belong on the bench! Should we think that the pure and holy God merely winks at our sins? No, God cannot leave sin unpunished.

But here is the good news at the heart of Christianity: God, because of his great love for us, took on flesh, lived a perfectly sinless life, obeyed his own law in our place, and then died in our place, suffering his own righteous punishment against sin. Jesus was “pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5).

But how do we know that Jesus really did that for us? How do we know that he was the Savior and not just a martyr? Because he rose from the dead. The resurrection proves his identity.

So Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead. That is the good news. What must we do with it to be saved? Believe it! “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him may not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). In the original Greek of that verse, the word “believe” literally means “believe into.” That means it is more than intellectually assenting to a set of facts about Jesus. It is about trusting in Jesus, personally committing ourselves to Jesus as our Savior and King. Have you done so?

Dr. Thurman R. Hayes is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Suffolk. Follow him on Twitter at @ThurmanHayesJr.