Last week we began our examination of the subject of what the good news of Scripture is. I have chosen to look at this message through the pen of the Apostle Paul.
Here’s what Paul wrote, “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again …
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15; 17-19, NIV84).
We saw last week that God acted in love to remedy our irreconcilable differences we have with Him. In short, He is godly and we are not. God is God and we are not God, therefore we are not like Him; we are ungodly.
It is our ungodliness that erected the barrier of irreconcilable difference. But God, in love, rather than letting the barrier stand, did something about it. Jesus died a substitutionary death so that you and I could live.
Let’s not argue the merits of a substitutionary death here. Many feel that someone having to sacrifice for them is really cruel and unusual punishment. Jesus did not have to die, He chose to die. He was not forced into this role, He willingly assumed this role. He is the only one who could have acted in this way, since we Christians believe He was the God we actually sinned against.
Think of it this way: if someone does something wrong to you, do I have the right to tell that person, don’t worry about it, all is forgiven? No. The only person who can rightfully forgive is the one who has been offended. If someone wrongs you, only you can determine whether or not you will forgive them.
Since our offenses are against God, only God can forgive us and that is what He has done through Jesus the Christ.
While we could not reconcile with God, He stepped in and reconciled with us; put us back in a right relationship with Himself by paying the penalty incurred out of His own resources.
Paul tells us that what this means specifically is that, “God through Christ doesn’t count men’s sins against them!” If God isn’t counting your sins against you, you shouldn’t hold your past against you, unless your standards are higher than God’s.
Now we skip back up to verse 17 and by removing our sins, that is, not holding them against us, the person who accepts Christ’s sacrifice on their behalf “he is a new creation; the old is gone, the new has come.”
This does not mean that you are the same old person only with a new beginning, rather it means that when you place your faith in Jesus Christ, you become a brand new creation with a brand new beginning. That is the great news of the gospel.
If you take this step of faith, you become a brand new person (in God’s eyes) and He gives you a wonderful new task: you who are reconciled now get to tell people about God’s reconciliation. Reconciled people reconcile people.
If God doesn’t hold your sins against you, you shouldn’t hold your sins against you (unless your standards are higher than His) and if God is holding other people’s sins against them, we shouldn’t hold other people’s sins against them, unless of course our standards are higher than Gods.
This is the message we teach as being the good news. If you thought Christians and their message was bad news, look again — we bring good news.
Or rather, we should be bringing good news. Sometimes, because of our own sin and failures, it is too easy for us to add to the caricature of Christians being people who are disputatious, mean-spirited and against everything.
Dr. John Pearrell is pastor of Gateway Community Church in Covington. For more information, visit www.gatewaycommunity.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.