The Essential 'Bad News' of the Gospel
This Letter to the Romans unpacks what the Gospel means. It is the ‘good news’ message of how to be saved from God's wrath (Romans 1:16). But before the good news can make sense, people need to understand the bad news that God is intensely opposed to every manifestation of wickedness (Habakkuk 1:13). He cannot tolerate it. People who persist in thinking, communicating, and doing what is offensive to God will encounter the full force of God's judgement.
Without that bad news, the good news is meaningless. If God accepted our godlessness, then there would be no problem. But our sin arouses the anger of the Creator who made us and sustains our life in this world. And, to make the bad news even worse, the creation, in which we live and on which we depend, is sufficient evidence that God has extreme power at His command. So those who refuse to live by the truth should expect to experience His severe wrath in judgement (Colossians 3:5-6). And deep inside everybody's conscience, we know that is the truth.
But, say many, what is truth? It was Pilate’s problem too (John 18:38). Whenever anybody treats truth as irrelevant, they become conscience-dead to reality (Psalm 36:1-4). Persistently ignoring what God says is true, believing that sinning is good, will harden the soul against God and encourage others to do the same (Romans 1:32). But truth has not changed or gone away; it has merely been temporarily suppressed like a lion by a tranquilising dart, or like the sea held back by coastal defences until an overwhelming storm tears them down to bring destruction.
God has not changed truth or hidden it; it is His character (John 14:6; 1 John 1:5). It is expressed in the created world, the inspired Scriptures, the church and most clearly in Jesus Christ Himself. On the Final Day, none of us will be able to offer any excuse for not knowing that we are accountable to God: and those who have persisted in wickedness will not enter heaven (Revelation 21:27). That is why everybody needs to hear the gospel of God's grace. To hear that Jesus has already been punished for our wickedness so that God will fully forgive us when we repent, is wonderful news indeed. Please do not forget that many of our friends and colleagues cannot see a reason to believe the good news, because they enjoy supressing the truth and nobody has told them the bad news of God's wrath.
© Dr Paul Adams