THE BAD NEWS AND THE GOOD NEWS
Billy Bob and Bubba were best friends. They grew up together right across the cow pasture from each other. Billy Bob and Bubba loved to do dare devil stunts which always began with those immortal words, “hey y’all , watch this!” But most of all, Billy Bob and Bubba loved to play softball. They would play anytime, any where, rain, snow or sunshine.
One day, Billy Bob had a great stunt he wanted to show everyone. It would be his greatest yet. So he yell, “hey y’all, watch this!” But this time Billy Bob did not break a leg or an arm, or skint the hair off his head. Billy Bob died.
Bubba’s heart was broken. What would he do without his bestest friend in the world? Later in the night after the funeral, a bright light shined in Bubba’s bedroom. And he heard his name,
“Bubba! Bubba, wake up!”
“Who is that?”
“It’s me Bubba, it’s Billy Bob!”
“What are you doing here Billy?” He only called him Billy when he was really scared.
“Where are you?”
“I’m in heaven and I have some good news and some bad news.”
“What’s the good new Billy Bob?”
“Bubba, you are not going to believe this. You can play softball all the time here in heaven. The sky is always blue, the grass is green and it is always spring time. We are having so much fun!”
“Billy Bob, that sounds good. What’s the bad news then?”
“Well Bubba, you are scheduled to pitch Tuesday night!”
Life is full of good news bad news situations. It is the same with the Bible. For us it contains both bad news and good news. The fact is, if we do not receive the bad news and understand it, the good news will do us no good.
First the bad news. The bad news is that we are sinners in serious need of salvation. Sin is a word we don’t like to use in our society but if we are to understand our situation and if we want to change our world, we need to understand sin. Sin is the fundamental condition of the human race. Sin has literally wormed its way into our souls.
Sin means that we are in rebellion to God. We hate anything that has to do with God. We hate his demands, we hate his laws, we hate the condemnation that comes when we hear messages like this one.
Paul draws a before and after picture of our life. Before, you were dead in your trespasses and sins. That is what is wrong with the world. It is spiritually dead. They cannot do right! They cannot be moral or ethical or principled! While a lost person can do good deeds, he cannot do them for the right reason. In the Book of Romans, Paul said that we are slaves. The question is, who will be our master? We can be slaves to sin or we can be slaves to Christ. There is no other choice. You will never be your own man because you are spiritually dead. Spiritually dead people cannot make spiritual choices.
The spiritually dead person still has the desire for spiritual things but they don’t have the capacity for it. It is like the person who has lost an arm. They have the desire to reach out but they do not have the arm and cannot reach out. So the spiritually dead creates their own religion because they have the desire but not the ability. They come up with all kinds of crazy religious ideas. They will worship trees or the sun or the earth or even themselves. But they are spiritually dead, and in reality they walk according to “prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.”
Essentially, the sinner cannot change from being a sinner. Being a sinner is our nature. Dr. George Sweeting tells of visiting Niagara Falls during the Spring thaw. Large blocks of ice came over the falls as the river thawed. Many of the blocks held fish, frozen during the dead of winter. Gulls by the score were riding down the river feeding on the fish. One Gull was engrossed in the carcass of a fish, and when it finally came to the brink of the falls, out went its powerful wings. The bird flapped and flapped and even lifted the ice out of the water. But it had delayed too long so that its claws had frozen into the ice. The weight of the ice was too great, and the gull plunged into the abyss. Dr. George Sweeting, in Special Sermons For Special Days
That is the way our sin is. It drives us instead of us driving our sin. We become so engrossed in our sin that we will not let it go. So we go over the abyss. We have no solution for ourselves. We cannot change our nature. But that does not mean there is no hope. That is the bad news, it certainly is very bad news.
But here is the good news, the very best news. The reason it is called the Gospel is because that word means good news. We don’t have to stay dead in our sins! God has done something about sin. But, the fact is, only God could do something about sin. Our problem is spiritual and only God can fix it.
While we were yet sinners, Jesus died for the ungodly. As rebellious sinners the penalty against us was death. Jesus came and died for us. He became our substitute. In that great mystery that was played out on the cross, Jesus became our once and for all substitute. The Bible calls this grace. God’s grace acted on our behalf even while we were sinners.
We need to understand that the work of salvation is completely of God. We have nothing to do with it. As spiritually dead people we can’t do it. Even when we try to do spiritual things, we get it wrong because that part of us is dead. But, notice in verse eight, God supplies everything we need to be saved. Everything comes in one package. First, we are saved by grace. Grace is undeserved love. God loves us even when we were unlovable. He loved us by becoming flesh and dying for our sins. Secondly, we learn that we must come to Christ by faith. Faith is the empty hands of a sinner that receives God’s gift. Even faith itself is not possible, at least, not saving faith. God gives us the gift of saving faith. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God.”
Salvation is a gift from God. It is not the result of our works. We can’t earn it. We can only accept it. Paul emphasizes this. Before, we were lost, we were slaves to sin. Afterwards, we are saved, we are set free, truly free to follow Christ. That is what the world needs, isn’t? The world needs a before and after experience. Why would it make a difference? Well, look at what Paul said; “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” The byproduct of the Christ experience not only saves us, it changes our character and produces good works. Good works, character, virtue, principle, these things are the things we need as a society. These characteristics will come only when others hear about Jesus and come to him by faith. We were made for good works but we can’t do those good works until we come to Christ.
As sinners, we were lost in our sin. We had no future, we were at enmity with God. That is the bad news. The good news is that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.
You must reject your sin, repent of your sin and confess that Jesus is Lord. There is no in between way with God. We reject our old way of life forever and we turn to Christ as our boss and our savior. God does not share us with our sin or with the Devil. It is either God or nothing. We either reject all of our sin and follow Christ or we cannot partake of the good news.
You have experienced the bad news. Now you know the good news. What will you do with Jesus?