Implications of the Gospel Message
Back as a telecommunications major during the 1980s, cable tv grew exponentially. In 1987, cable television passed the 50 percent barrier, meaning for the first-time, more American homes were getting TV from cable than from over-the-air broadcasts. Cable news was introduced during that time, as CNN launched in 1980, followed by others.
As part of this explosive cable television growth in the 1980’s, the Good News Network, a network dedicated to good news, was introduced. It came and went, flopping and disappearing within six months!
Today, secular television news is dominated by bad news, as a good news story typically gets a token nod here and there, usually at the end of a broadcast, if at all. Somehow, people seem to be drawn more to bad news, as good news obviously doesn’t get the ratings.
In the spiritual, our message, the gospel, is not only good news. It’s the very best news. Yet, it’s good news based upon bad news. And as we seek to share the gospel, the good news of God’s salvation will only make sense when we share it in light of the bad news of man’s sin.
In 1 Corinthians 15:3–4, Paul articulates the foundation of the gospel message: “For I delivered to you first of all, that which I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried and that He rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures.”
As we strive to effectively communicate the gospel with people, there are both positive and negative implications of how people respond to the gospel.
There are positive implications of the gospel. Believing in Jesus Christ brings a person into a right relationship with God. We are forgiven of and set free from the power of sin and death through faith in Him.
Additionally, Jesus saves us from judgment and saves us to eternal life—“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life” (John 5:24).
Jesus also came to give us life and give it more abundantly (John 10:10). He wants us to understand and know Him (Jeremiah 9:24).
Trusting in Christ means we have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us and as such are able to experience and express the “fruit of the Spirit” found in Galatians 5:22—love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Who wouldn’t want the blessings of these benefits?
Consider also other wonders of His Grace, the salvation He provides, and the future that awaits those who trust in Him by meditating on these Scriptures: Psalm 103:1-5, 8-12, Ephesians 1:3-6, 1 Peter 1:3-5.
And we could go on.
In contrast to the wonders of salvation, there are the painful implications the good news brings for believer and unbeliever alike.
The painful consequences of believing in Jesus are exclusively in the temporal, for God has promised His children a sinless, perfect forever. In heaven “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:4).
If we want to fully identify with Him, then we’re called to identify with Him not only in His victory, but also in His suffering. For example He told His disciples: “A servant is not greater than his master. If the world hated Me, the world will hate you” (John 15:20). Additionally, Jesus said in John 16:33, “In this world you will have tribulation.”
No doubt, each believer has a cross to bear, and humanly speaking, it’s not a warm fuzzy thing to experience and endure. Yet, this is the Jesus way. Yes, in the temporal, following Jesus is no bed of roses. Some of the negative consequences are rejection, misunderstanding, and conflict.
While a missionary in New York City I remember doing phone visits with a 20’s something Jewish man named Aaron, who lived in Philadelphia. His interest in speaking with me was to learn more about messianic prophecy. He was fascinated and thought the subject was “cool.”
After a couple of Bible studies, I stopped him and said, “Aaron, let me tell you something. This is no fun and games. Do you understand the potential consequences of going down this path?” I told him about my coming to faith in Jesus and that because of my faith, my father and I had been estranged for many years. I let him know that if he continued down this road he might discover that Jesus is the Messiah and the fulfillment of these prophecies. I asked if he was prepared to deal with the consequences of what he might discover. If he came to realize Jesus is the Messiah, then would he believe in Him? I explained that if he did trust in Jesus as Messiah, he could lose his fiancée, his family, and his connection to the larger Jewish community.
I was compelled to share Jesus’ words from Matthew 10:34–38 with him. “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be those of his own household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.”
That was the last Bible study we did over the phone, and that was okay. Aaron didn’t call me again and didn’t return my calls. Following the truth has consequences. I tell people that I follow the truth regardless of the consequences because He is the truth.
Temporal pain associated with following Jesus contrasts sharply with the eternal pain of rejecting Him.
In Luke 16, Jesus tells a sobering story of the rich man and Lazarus. He contrasts the experience of the rich man in Hades and the Lazarus in “Abraham’s Bosom,” an expression for heaven. Luke 16:19–31 is a vivid reminder of the eternal consequence of rejecting God’s free gift of salvation. As Romans 6:23 clearly states: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
Jesus taught more about hell than any other person in the Bible. Hell is a reality perhaps not spoken of much in evangelism today, but it is a sobering aspect of the gospel message. When we are saved, we are saved from eternal separation from God.
God’s desire is for everyone to be saved. He pleads with people to trust in Him. For He “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4), and he is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
As we share the good news with others, may we be mindful of sharing the implications of both trusting in and rejecting Jesus. For we need to be faithful, not only in sharing the good news, but sharing also the implications of receiving or rejecting Jesus.
“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news” (Isaiah 52:7).