Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Better than good news

Romans 5:21 So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God's wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (New Living Translation)

How the Gospel is indeed goodnews
In the passage above, the New Living Translation captures the essence of what the Holy Spirit is saying through the Apostle Paul in regards to the power of the Gospel.  In Romans 1-3 we see that mankind is incapable and unwilling to please and love God.  As Paul lays out the "bad news" of mankind's moral, spiritual and legal calamity before a Holy God, he then spends Romans 3:21-5:21 arguing for how God sent Christ to acomplish salvation.  The Goodnews is that by grace through faith in Christ, a sinner is declared right in God's sight.  God is no longer mad and now the sinner can be by position a true son.

Is the Gospel only "goodnews"?
To know that the Christian is brought into right standing with God - both legally (justification), relationally (adoption) and morally (reconciliation) - is good news.  But is the Gospel only concerned with what takes place at salvation in regards to my positional standing?  As we enter into Romans 6, we will discover that the Good News is really Great News. 

Why the Gospel is Great News: The Abundant Christian Life
As a Christian, do you have to be subject to sinful patterns or "baggage" from your pre-conversion days?  Can you really help it when you do something that you know is wrong, or is that particular sin pattern "just the way it is"?  As a Christian, is your new identity in Christ an ideal to strive for, and nothing more?  Romans 6 tells us some great news: the answer to all of those questions is a big "no"!  The Gospel's great news flows from the fact it is goodnews that saves me from the bad news.  The great news is that as a Christian, you are becoming in experience who you already are in position. 

3 questions that aids in living out your day to day Christian walk in victory
Romans 6:1-4 poses three questions. We can take the questions raised by Paul and put them into modern day terms to aid us in understanding the great news of the Christian message:

1. Do you have the right to sin? No! Romans 6:1-2
Anytime we sin, we assume we have the right.  We presume on God and choose to operate as if He were not present in that given area.  What the Gospel does is "take away" my right to sin.  Through the word of God and the cross, a new kind of thinking governs my heart.  I conclude that as a child of God - "I don't have the right to sin".  Which leads to the second question....

2. Do you have to sin? No! Romans 6:2
Paul's emphatic answer to this question is an emphatic "no".  The necessity to sin characterizes the uncoverted human heart.  Once a person becomes converted by grace through faith in Christ, though the presence of sin is not taking away, the power of sin's dominion is.  In other words, though I'll never reach the point in this life where I'll never sin again, the last time I sinned, I did not have to.  

Sin's penalty is removed in justification as the Father declares me righteous at the moment of saving faith..  Sin's power is removed in sanctification as I become more and more like Christ by the Spirit's inner working.  Sin's presence will be removed in glorification when I'm with the Lord in Eternity.  For the Christian, sin is a choice, not a necessity. 

3. Can you have victory over sins? Yes!  Romans 6:3-4
This final question summarizes Paul's statements concerning the believer's identification with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  To know that you and I do not have to be in bondage to our "hang-ups", "baggage", "hidden sins" and "bad attitudes" is liberating.  When you and I identify with what Christ did for us by faith, the event of salvation becomes the experience of sanctification.  The cross that is the tool of salvation now becomes the tool of cleansing and conformity to Christ or "sanctification". 

I would urge you to ask yourself these three questions throughout the course of the day.  Paul is giving us the prescription for living out the Great news of the Abundant Christian Life.  As he notes in Romans 5:21, sin's deadly grip doesn't have to run the show, for Christ in His Grace is the new authority and source for Abundant Christian living.  That is how the Good News is truly Great News!