The Good News Jesus Has for You

By Scarlett Stough

Preface: This article is adapted from a talk given to the group of women who attended the Women in Christ Women’s Retreat in February of 2009. Since most of these women have been Christians for many years, my talk focused more on the Gospel as we live it out rather than on giving it to those who are new to it.

Most of us come from a culture that has discouraged us from telling others about Jesus and the gospel. We were taught that this was men’s responsibility, or it’s the Preacher’s job. As a result, we may have neglected retaining this message in our minds and hearts. Perhaps, we’ve heard the word “gospel” so many times, that it may seem stale to us--old news instead of exciting good news.

We don’t have to allow this good news to become stale.

The primary way we can keep the “Gospel” from becoming stale is to remember life before we heard the Good News about Jesus. We need to remember that the good news is not a what; the good news is a Who. Jesus is the Gospel. He is the good news. He is the one who intercedes to save us out of all that threatens to destroy us. Salvation isn’t just “religious speak.” We were dead. Jesus offers life. We were slaves. Jesus offers freedom. We were criminals. Jesus offers pardon and rehabilitation. We broke the laws of the Ruler of the universe. Death was the consequence and the penalty. We were as good as dead.

Jesus is not just another religion. He is God. He proclaimed himself to be the I AM. God became flesh, dwelt among us, offered his life in place of ours. He not only offers a complete pardon; he makes a new life possible as part of the family of God. He replaces our destructive thoughts and actions with himself through the Holy Spirit.

This isn’t just theory for me. Jesus stepped into my life and rescued me, more than once. I can be confident that he has done the same for you, but the only story I have to tell is my own.

I don‘t want to go into the details, but I did not feel safe as a child. I also want to say that my childhood was not totally grim. There were good things and happy memories as well. Parents do the best they can with what they have to give. Fear has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I was the oldest of five children. I remember a warm day when I stood outside my home wishing I had an older brother who would stand up for me and protect me. Jesus became that older brother.

Three of my siblings abused alcohol and drugs. Of the two who attempted suicide, one died of a self-inflicted gunshot. I’m the only one who is still married to my first and only mate. Was I somehow better equipped than they were? No. Except for the grace of God, my life would look the same. Jesus saved me. He rescued me. He gave me a new life.

Jesus is the good news of my life. Through his teachings I have been learning a different way to see other people and a different way to solve problems. I am definitely a slow learner! But God is patient and does not quit.

Life in Christ is not trouble free. He stated that we would have troubles in this life, but he promised he would always be with us; he promised we would have everything we need for entrance into his kingdom. Troubles with Christ are bearable. Without Christ, we still have troubles. Without him, those troubles are just troubles. With him, troubles endured shape the character of God in us. The good news has hope for eternity. The Good News in your life gives you hope for now and always.

The gospel of Jesus Christ does not have to become stale.

When we keep in mind that Jesus called himself the Bread from Heaven, the Bread he offers us is always fresh. In his model prayer he tells us to ask for our daily bread. I believe this does include our physical survival needs, but I also believe we are asking Jesus to be our daily bread that sustains our spiritual lives. We feed on him by storing up his teachings in our minds and applying them in obedience in our everyday life. When we fail, and we do fail, God’s grace is renewed every morning. We get a fresh start every day.

Another way we keep the good news fresh in our hearts is to remember that we are saved by faith in Christ not by that obedience which is only our duty. Paul tells us that if we think we are justified by keeping the law, we have fallen away from God’s favor. When we rely on our own futile efforts, we move further away from the grace of the Lord Jesus who saves us. Paul got into trouble because people misunderstood what he was saying. They thought he was saying, “Go ahead and sin. It doesn’t matter. We’re saved by our faith.” But he wasn’t. He went to great lengths of long sentences to clarify what he meant. We cannot save ourselves by our own righteous acts. Only God can rescue us. Only God can make us righteous. The only way to God is through Jesus. Life comes from him and not from what we know or do.

Grace means that God loves us the same on the day we yell at our kids as on the day we treated them graciously. We still have the same access to his throne room in prayer on the days doubt has us in its grip as when we feel certain that he exists and will reward us for seeking him. God loved us while we were yet sinners. We still sin. He still loves us. He is still molding and shaping us. Jesus still intercedes for us. He is changing us day by day as we trust and yield.

We can see a type in our family life. We don’t love our children less when they are still soiling their diapers. We know, when the time is right, we will teach them to use the potty. We are God’s children. He doesn’t love us less because we have not achieved complete spiritual maturity.

Another way the gospel stays fresh is to realize that Jesus lives to intercede for us today. No matter how long we’ve been Christians, Jesus is still our Good News. We continue to believe that he is the Son of God who died for our sins, was resurrected, and lives to intercede for us even now. We never at any point have to save ourselves. As Paul wrote:

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2:6-7)

We also keep the Gospel alive by passing it on to others. The January, 2009, issue of Christianity Today has a cover graphic with the words Marketing Jesus. I’m glad that Christians are considering that treating Jesus like a brand or a product to market might not be such a good thing. Billboards that try to market Jesus as if he were a dairy product (Got Jesus!) do not present the complete Jesus. Jesus is God, Creator, Savior, Lord, King, Elder Brother, High Priest, Teacher, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, Son of Man and Son of God, descendent of David and the great I Am. I realize it is an attempt to get a consumer society’s attention. But there has to be a better way.

The same issue has an article that cautions Christians to remember that the most “profound social problem” is the need to be reconciled to God. Yes, it’s good to feed the poor and relieve suffering as you have means and opportunity, but the most pressing human need is our need to be reconciled to God. Those good works can be an opportunity to give the message of reconciliation, but we mustn’t substitute good works for it.

The most effective way of preaching the gospel is living it. Paul’s advice to women who were married to unbelievers was to be a light by their attitude and behavior and not by trying to argue them into it--good advice for any of us with any unbeliever. My sister says she believes in God, but she is not a Christian. I realized that she needed to see the gospel before she could hear it. She’s already been subjected to the attempt to cram it down her throat by well meaning friends.

But we do need to be prepared to speak when we are asked. When we stay “prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have,” we can’t help but keep Christ and his good news upper most in our minds and hearts.

The Good News for us is that we were rescued by Jesus who ran into the burning building of our lives and carried us to safety. We continue to put our trust in him to keep us safe. We have an Elder Brother who loves every one of us. He never ever says, “Now you have to rescue yourself. You’re on your own now.” He assures us, “I will never leave you; I will never forsake you.”

I hope each of us will take home with us a renewed dependence on Jesus for the strengthening of our faith and for continuing to grow into his likeness by practicing his teachings. I hope we will allow the Gospel to root us and build us up in Christ.

Handout Sheet of Gospel Scriptures Prepared by Scarlett Stough for the women’s retreat February 6-8, 2009