I’m kind of a happy ending type of person. If you tell me you’ve got good news for me, and you’ve got bad news for me, and ask which I want to hear first . . . bring on the bad news first. Start me low . . . finish me high. Maybe that’s why Romans 3 causes me to soar! It starts off bad . . . but oh, it ends so good! I got bad news . . . and I got good news.
I probably would agree with those who contend that many in the church today have lost touch with the gospel. Not its message per se . . . but its magnificence. Not that you need the gospel to be saved . . . but that you can’t get over the gospel now that you are saved. Not that it was “our ticket to heaven” . . . but that it is the living dynamic by which we can know heaven on earth. I wonder if part of the reason we’ve lost the awe of the good news is that we have lost the “oh no!” of the bad news.
. . . as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12 ESV)
Ok . . . I said give me the bad news first . . . but did it have to be so bad? Pretty much! Not much wiggle room with “none” . . . “not one” . . . “not even one.” How much righteousness do we bring to the table in and of ourselves? Zero . . . zip . . . zilch . . . nada . . . not a thing. And who are we talking about again? Everyone . . . all have turned aside . . . all, declares the inspired Word of God, have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23).
Sit back and noodle on it for a bit. Think back to that time when, by God’s grace and through His Spirit, you became aware of the depths of your need and the hopelessness of your situation. Though eternity had been placed in your heart (Eccl. 3:11), the realization that you had no chance of attaining eternity was crushing. Think back as the convicting work of the Spirit brought understanding as to the depths of your sin . . . and started to dimension the degree of separation from a holy God. Bad news!
But . . . O’ glorious three-letter word . . . BUT!!!!
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it–the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. . . . and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith. (Romans 3:21-22, 25a ESV)
That’s what I’m talking about! Kill the lament music . . . bring on the praise . . . bring on the wonder . . . bring on the worship. Now that’s good news!
A righteousness of God has been revealed . . . the gift of justification has been graced . . . the redemption of sin stained souls has been made possible through the atoning blood of God’s precious Son . . . and it has been made available to all who will believe it and receive it by faith. Not of works, lest any person should boast.
And this good news isn’t just a past headline . . . it is the banner under which I enter into the day. It is the hope I have of not completely crashing and burning in defeat to the old man which continues to war within me . . . it is the joy of knowing that in Christ I can again this day boldly approach the blessed throne of God within the very holy of holies and know a communion which is, literally, out of this world . . . it is the foundation upon which I have any aspiration of walking in a manner worthy of my calling such that He might be glorified in and through me.
Yeah . . . the bad news is really bad . . . may I never forget the “bondage of Egypt.” But oh, the good news is so good . . . and, by God’s grace, may I not lose touch with the wonder of my deliverance . . . and the glorious beauty of my Deliverer.
Thanks be to God for His inexpressible gift! (2Corinthians 9:15 ESV)