There is good news for fallen humanity

What is this good news? God is willing to forgive our sins! The Scriptures reveal what God has done so He can forgive sinful people without compromising His own righteousness.

“God made man upright” (Ecclesiastes 7:29); He “created man in His own image” (Genesis 1:27). But “sin entered the world” through Adam (Romans 5:12) and now: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Sin separates man from God (Isaiah 59:2). “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

God remedies this sad situation by assigning His righteousness to people on the basis of their faith, and by allowing His sinless Son to suffer the penalty for the sins of mankind in their stead.

None of God’s servants in the Old Testament were without sin. But they trusted and obeyed God. This is called living by faith. “The just shall live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4).

This has a twofold meaning. A servant of God lives his life on the basis of his faith (he does not draw back but “believes to the saving of the soul” - Hebrews 10:37-39) and God gives him life on the basis of his faith (not on the basis of his own righteousness - Galatians 3:11). He lives by his faith and he lives by his faith! God enhances and upgrades his faith to righteousness.

Paul refers to this double meaning when he states that in the gospel “the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith’” (Romans 1:17).

For example: “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. ... Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God” (Genesis 6:8, 9). “Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did” (Genesis 6:22). Although Noah lived an exemplary life based on his faith, he was not without sin. He needed the grace of God and God was gracious to him because of his faith.

“By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith” (Hebrews 11:7). Because Noah based his life on faith, he became an heir of the righteousness God gives to believers.

In the tenth generation after Noah, a man lived whose name was Abraham. “He believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). God promised Abraham that all nations would be blessed by one of his descendants (Genesis 22:18; Galatians 3:16). Paul says that the gospel (the good news) was preached to Abraham when God gave him this promise (Galatians 3:8). Jesus said, “Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad” (John 8:56).

“By faith Abraham obeyed” (Hebrews 11:8). When God passed this promise on to Abraham’s son, Isaac, He explained: “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws” (Genesis 26:4, 5). Although Abraham lived a life of faithful obedience, he was not without sin. But “faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness” (Romans 4:9). God booked Abraham’s faith as righteousness.

Jacob, the grandson of Abraham, had twelve sons whose descendants became the twelve tribes of Israel. Four hundred years after the time of Abraham, the Israelites had become a numerous people as foreigners in Egypt, but also an enslaved people.

They prayed for help and God sent Moses to rescue them from slavery. Moses was the liberator and law-giver of Israel. He said God would send them another Prophet, a (liberator and law-giver) like himself, and that only those who listened to that Prophet would be God’s people (Deuteronomy 18:15-19; Acts 3:22, 23; Acts 7:37).

About 500 years after the exodus from Egypt, David became the second king of Israel. Because of David’s faith, God promised that he would have a descendent who would establish an eternal kingdom of peace and righteousness (2 Samuel 7:12-16; Isaiah 9:6; Daniel 2:44).

Through the centuries God sent prophets who predicted the coming of this King, referred to as the Messiah or the Christ, which means the Anointed One.

Successive powerful kingdoms were established by the Babylonians, by the Medes and Persians, by the Greeks and by the Romans. About 1000 years after the death of King David, when Augustus was emperor of Rome, a baby boy was born to a virgin by the power of God’s Spirit. His name was Jesus. On the day of His birth an angel declared that He was the promised King: “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).

About 30 years later John the Baptist began to preach that the great King was coming. To get ready, people were to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins (Mark 1:4).

When Jesus was baptized by John, the Holy Spirit came upon Him and God testified from heaven: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:16, 17). John the Baptist testified: “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).

During three years Jesus performed miracles and preached the good news that the kingdom of God soon would come with power (Mark 9:1). His powerful teachings and His miracles confirmed that He was the promised King.

The prophets had foretold that the Christ would suffer, that He would be rejected by His own people, and that He would be killed. These prophecies were fulfilled in the life of Jesus.

The Jewish leaders were jealous because Jesus was popular with the people. They imprisoned Him and turned Him over to Pilate, the Roman governor, to be crucified. Pilate wanted to release Jesus because he knew that He was innocent. But under pressure he gave in to the cries of the mob, and had Him crucified.

Jesus was without sin (Hebrews 4:15). Thus, He did not have to die as punishment for sins of His own. He said, “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again” (John 10:17, 18).

As the sinless Son of God, Jesus could have called more than twelve thousand angels to rescue Him (Matthew 26:53). But He allowed himself to be crucified to endure the punishment for the sins of mankind, He “bore our sins in His own body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24).

Jesus died to free us from the grasp of sin and death. His sacrifice enables God to forgive our sins without compromising His righteousness. God’s justice demands that sin be punished. He sent His own Son to meet this requirement in our stead.

When Jesus died, His followers thought He had failed. They had not understood the predictions of the prophets and of Jesus himself. Not only would Christ die, He would also rise from the grave! (Psalm 16:8-11).

“The Lord is risen indeed!” (Luke 24:34). To the apostles He “presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:2, 3). “He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once” (1 Corinthians 15:6).

After His resurrection, Jesus went back to heaven and took His place at the right hand of His Father. Before He ascended into heaven, He commanded His followers: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned (Mark 16:15, 16). They were to tell the whole world that God is willing to forgive sinful people if they believe in Jesus, turn away from a life of sin, and become His disciples.

Jesus said, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:46, 47).

Ten days after Jesus went back to His Father, the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles at Jerusalem. They proclaimed that Jesus is the Christ. When the hearers realized that they had crucified the promised King, “they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?’ Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’” (Acts 2:37, 38). “Those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them” (Acts 2:41). God’s salvation had come. There was good news for fallen man.

The believers went everywhere preaching the good news of salvation by the blood of Christ. They proclaimed that God “commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). Those who believed were baptized to wash away their sins (Acts 22:16).

Baptism is an immersion in water as a participation in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus: “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3, 4).

Now, two thousand years later, millions call themselves Christians, but are they real followers of Christ? Jesus said: “Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many” (Matthew 24:11). Paul said it is not good news when people accept “a different gospel,” when people “pervert the gospel of Christ” (Galatians 1:6-9).

In our time, most of those who claim to be Christians, follow traditions and dogmas of men rather than the gospel of Christ. They are like people God described in earlier times: “In vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Mark 7:7). Such people reject God’s good news of salvation and replace it with a man-made imitation.

Baptism of believers by immersion for the forgiveness of sins is replaced by rituals that are worthless because they are different from the baptism Jesus commanded. A valid baptism must be based on personal faith and a personal decision to turn away from sin and follow Christ. It must be based on the same good news preached by Christ and His apostles.

Although apostate people have perverted many aspects of the original faith, God’s word does not change. The good news of salvation by the blood of Christ is just as powerful today as it was in the first century.

People who believe in Jesus and repent of their sins, who confess their faith in Christ, who are baptized for the forgiveness of sins, are saved by the grace of God. Their faith is imputed to them by God as righteousness (Romans 4:11, 24).

Jesus is “the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:9). The promise is for all. “For ‘whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved’” (Romans 10:13).

“Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

This is good news for sinful people like us!

Do you want to be forgiven by God and to inherit eternal life? Turn away from sin! Believe in Jesus! Confess your faith and be baptized in His name for the forgiveness of your sins! Then you will be sanctified, made holy, and dedicated to God. You will be a citizen of God’s kingdom, a member of His church. Amen.

Roy Davison

The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982,
Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers unless indicated otherwise.
Permission for reference use has been granted.

Published in The Old Paths Archive