Good News

With so much bad news around -is there any Good News? 

What is the Good News Message of Jesus Christ?

Before we look at Jesus, let's take an honest look at where we're at ourselves -in the following questionnaire:
Q. Are you a Christian?
• I was brought up in Ireland.
••• Great -but that doesn't mean you are a Christian by default.
• My parents always went to church.
••• That doesn't make you a Christian.
• I believe in doing good & helping others.
••• That’s great, but so do most people. That doesn't make you a Christian.
• I was baptised and confirmed.
••• So are millions of people who don’t really care about Jesus Christ. That doesn't automatically make you a Christian.
• I pray & believe in God.
••• Most of us in Ireland say this, but that doesn't make me a Christian. Many people think they are Christians but rarely bother about Jesus.
• Well, what is a Christian, then?
••• Let's examine the whole story of God's relationship with humanity, from the very beginning……where we see some good & bad news 

In the beginning: Some Bad News after a Good Start
In the beginning of time, when God created human beings, he made them perfect and good and sinless. He wanted us to have relationship with Him and look after the earth.
God did not make people robotic. He gave us an incredible gift, free will, to choose between right and wrong, good and bad. He did not want to force us to love him. He wanted us to love him freely.
But people chose to disobey God; they chose wrong. We all have. We preferred to please ourselves rather than God. We sinned. And so sin entered into the world from the beginning of human history. It is a disease we all have, because "all have sinned" (Romans 3.23).


What sin is..
Evil, wrong and sin are there in the life of everyone born into the world. We see this in all the hatred and violence, greed and selfishness in the world. We see it as we look at our own lives, if we are really honest with ourselves. It is a part of our very nature. I sin when I come short of God's standard. "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
If the pass mark for an exam is 40 and you get say, 39 marks, you have failed. If someone else gets 5 marks, he has failed too. It is no good you saying, 'I did much better than the one who got 5.' You have both failed.

You may think you are not so bad, better than most, but that's not the point, for not one of us has come anywhere near God's perfect standard - Jesus Christ. We can't even come up to our own standards. We may not have done anything especially wicked. We are sinners because we are just not good enough.

I sin when I do what I want. 

The Bible says, "Each of us has turned to his own way" (Isaiah 53:6).
Doing what I want; this is the cause of our trouble, unhappiness and quarrels.

Sin is not just killing, stealing, or telling lies. I sin when I live to please myself rather than God.

I sin when I can't be bothered with God or with other people; when I say, 'I'm my own boss; it's my life; I can do what I like with it' - this is SIN - I in the middle - me first.

I sin when I do not love God with all my heart. Jesus said, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment' (Matthew 22:37-38).

Not one of us has loved God like this. We have all broken the great commandment. We are all self-centred rather than God-centred.

Worse News: What sin does (Our actions have consequences)
Sin spoils Sin is like an ugly blot on a clean page. Being selfish, lazy, thoughtless, telling lies and dirty stories ruins your character. Sin destroys the happiness of a home and friendship.

Sin spreads
Sin is like weeds in a garden; if not rooted out, they will soon overrun it. Little acts of dishonesty and disobedience soon become habits we cannot break.


Sin separates Sin is like a thick cloud which blots out the sun. That is why God seems miles away. He is pure and holy. He hates sin. He cannot and will not look at sin. It blocks the way to him. Sin cuts you off from God in this life and in the life to come. Be quite clear about this; hell is a grim and dreadful reality for all who reject Jesus Christ in this life.

What are you going to do about it? You cannot remove the barrier. You cannot save yourself. Trying to help others and doing good cannot remove this barrier either. If sin results in our being cut off from God, is there no hope for us? Has God washed his hands of us?

Good News: God has a vital Rescue Plan
God is love. He proved his love for us, by sending Jesus into our world - fully human and fully God. 'God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life' (John 3:16). Jesus did not come just to show us what God is like and live a perfect life. He came to remove the barrier between us and God.
God's character is like a coin with two sides: justice and love. His justice rightly condemns us, for sin must be punished. His love makes him long for us to become his friends again. On the cross, his justice and his love were perfectly satisfied. Sin had to be punished, so God in his love sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to die in our place, bearing the death penalty our sins deserved.

That is why he cried from the cross, "My God, my God why have you forsaken me". The full punishment for our sin was taken by Jesus. As a man once put it, 'He carried the can for everybody.' Jesus suffered the agony of being cut off from his Father for us.

Just before he died, Jesus said, 'It is finished!' This was not a cry of defeat, 'I've had it!' No, it was a cry of victory, 'I've done it! The debt of man's sin is paid.' The way back to God is now open.
His work of saving you from hell and eternal destruction is finished. The barrier of sin has been blasted away. Jesus died for us, his body was put in the tomb and a great stone pushed across the entrance. But he rose from the grave - he is alive. He won the victory over sin and death.

The way to God is now wide open.
Do you want to live an easy-going, 'do-as-you-like' life? Do you want to remain dissatisfied and only know the empty, passing pleasures of the world? Then don't read any further. Carry on just as you are; don't bother about Christ.
But remember this: one day you will realise too late that you have missed the best in life, wasted your life and ruined your own soul. To live without Christ is to die without him. To die without him is to spend eternity without him. But if you want a life that satisfies, that has purpose and meaning, a life that demands the very best in you and, above all, a life that is pleasing to God - this is what God requires of you. Forgiveness and eternal life are not automatic; there is your part.



Now -Your Part

Something to admit That you have sinned in the sight of God. Be deeply sorry for your sin. Hate it and be willing to turn from every thought, word, action and habit that you know to be wrong.

Something to believe That Jesus Christ died on the cross bearing all the guilt and penalty of your sin.

Something to consider That Jesus never promised it would be easy to follow him. Expect opposition, sneers and misunderstanding. Every part of your life, work, friendships, time, money, must all come under his control.


Something to do Accept Jesus Christ into your life to be your Lord to control you, your Rescuer to cleanse you, your Friend to guide and be with you.

So many miss this last step and thus never come to know Jesus Christ. Perhaps no verse in the Bible makes this last step clearer than Revelation 3:20. Jesus is speaking,

'Look, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him....'

Jesus Christ waits outside the door of your life. He will not force his way in. He wants to be asked in. The handle is on the inside; only you can open the door. You become a true Christian when you open the door of your life to Jesus Christ and let him come in and live in your heart and life.

Have you ever taken this step? Perhaps you have never realised before that there was anything for you to do. You can be baptised, go to church, yes, even read the Bible and pray, and still leave Jesus Christ outside the door of your life. Face this question honestly.

Is Christ outside your life or inside? Will you let him in or keep him out? You cannot ignore Christ's invitation for ever. Time is fast running out.

If you ignore him and reject him now, at  the Day of Judgement when we must all stand before him he will ignore and reject you. 'I do not know you, depart from me.'


But if you are ready thoughtfully to open the door of your life to Jesus Christ, then find a place where you can be quiet and alone.


Think of Christ's love for you: the cross, the shame and pain, his body nailed to the cross, his blood shed, all for you. Think of what he saves you from: eternal destruction, separation from God for ever, which is what hell is. Think of the shortness of this life: after death there will be no more opportunity to turn to Christ. It will be too late.

Think of Jesus Christ knocking now, asking to come into your life. You want him to come into your life, or perhaps you want to make sure he has come into your life. It might help you to say this prayer below, phrase by phrase, quietly, thought- fully, thinking carefully what you are saying, and what you are doing. (This is not a ‘magic prayer’ -It is an example to aid you in approaching God. You can pray, using your owns words. The important thing is to be real with God). 


Lord Jesus Christ, 
I know that I have sinned in my thoughts, words and actions
There are so many good things I have not done. 
There are so many sinful things I have done.
I am sorry for my sins and turn from everything I know to be wrong.
You gave your life upon the cross for me.
Gratefully I give my life back to you.
Now I ask you to come into my life.
Come in as my Rescuer to cleanse me.
Come in as my Lord to control me.
And I will serve you all the remaining years of my life in complete obedience.
Amen

Christ in you

If you have prayed like this and meant it, you have asked Jesus Christ to come into your life and he has come. He will now live in your heart by his Holy Spirit.

Don't rely on your feelings; you may not feel a different at the moment. 

Trust his sure promises.

'If any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him....' (Revelation 3:20)
'He who believes has eternal life.' (John 6:47)
'I am with you always, even to the end of the age.' (Matthew 28:20)

You are now a member of God's Kingdom, a child of God's family, born again, part of his Body the living church - all people who trust in Jesus, whatever their nationality, background, or intellect.


The way ahead

You have begun the start of a new life. You have in Jesus Christ a Friend and Master,  God Almighty who is for you -but also in the forces of evil- you have a deceitful and strong enemy. So you need to grow strong as a Christian. You need food, air and exercise.

Food
The Bible is the Christian's food. It is a living book and through it God will speak to you. Read it every day.

Air
Prayer is the Christian's air. Talk to Jesus Christ naturally as to a close friend, yet respectfully remembering who he is. Spend time alone with him daily.


E X E R C I S E
Worship
Join a local bible believing church at once. (See map here for christians near you). Never miss meeting with other Christians. Church meetings are usually on Sundays and there could be mid-week bible studies or prayer meetings which will help you grow.

Witness

Tell one other person within the next 24 hours (or as soon as possible) what you have done, that you have surrendered your life to Christ. Don't be ashamed to be known as a Christian at work and at home.


Enjoy
Though the Christian life can be tough sometimes -God is always with us. He enjoys relationship with us -may you enjoy relationship with Him.
(Adapted from N. Warrens -Journey to Life)