Almost 2000 years ago a man named Jesus came from the wilderness with a startling message. He told everyone who would listen, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” Even though it was first delivered long ago and far away, that message remains at the core of everything that we do and say here at Westside Baptist Church—but in order to explain why, we have to go all the way back to the beginning.
In the beginning, there were no planets or stars or people. There was nothing and there was no one except God—until God began to speak. His speech created space and time and earth and water. He created birds and beasts and whales and trees. He created humans. Everything that God made, He made very good. He placed Adam and Eve, our first parents, into a beautiful garden where they had everything they would ever need. He only gave them one rule—not to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. They needed to realize that they were creatures and not the Creator.
Adam and Eve had it really good in that garden—but an evil being disguised as a snake convinced them that they didn’t have it good enough. God had said they would die if they ate from the tree but the snake said that God was making things up. According to the snake, God was holding out on them. If they would only eat from the forbidden tree they would know just as much as God did—and they wouldn’t have to be creatures anymore. They could be in charge. Adam and Eve swallowed it all down. They rebelled.
Their disobedience spoiled the beautiful world that God had made. God couldn’t let rebellion that ugly go unpunished. He had promised death for rebellion. If God hadn’t kept His word, He wouldn’t have been good Himself. As rebels, Adam and Eve had to die. Yet God wasn’t done with the world that He had created. He refused to wipe His hands of the mess that Adam and Eve had made. He promised that there would come a day when one of Eve’s children would fix what they had messed up. Rebellion would not have the last word.
It’s a long story between Adam and Eve in the garden and the proclamation in Galilee. Adam could never have known how much evil his disobedience would unleash. Things went from bad to worse as rebels continued to be born to rebels. No matter what God did, no matter how many messages He gave or promises He made, things just didn’t seem to get better for very long. But God didn’t stop making promises. In fact, the worse things got, the bigger those promises became. He promised that He was going to fix what was wrong with the world. He promised that He was going to restore everything that Adam’s sin had broken. Best of all, He promised that He was going to fix the root of the whole mess—the rebel hearts that every human since Adam has had from birth.
When Jesus showed up in Galilee that day, He made the startling announcement that the time for the fulfillment of the promises was at hand. He told people to believe in the good news, which is what the word gospel means. He announced that He was the Messiah God had been promising ever since the catastrophe in the garden. More than that, He announced that He was God’s very own Son. He was a child of Eve but He was not a son of Adam and He, unlike everyone else that had ever been born, was not a rebel. He had come to put things right with the world.
People struggled to believe Him. He healed a whole lot of people—they got excited about that—but He refused to stay on their agenda. They wanted Him to deal with what they thought was wrong with the world. They wanted Him to deal with the people who oppressed them. They wanted Him to prove Himself by fulfilling the promises that they were most excited about and He refused to cooperate. He was on His Father’s agenda—not theirs.
They were just like Adam and Eve in the garden. They didn’t want to let God be God. They wanted to decide the difference between right and wrong for themselves. Because Jesus revealed the evil hearts underneath all of the works that looked so good to others, they hated Him with a passion. They manipulated the Roman governor to put Him to death as a traitor against the state—even though everyone knew He was innocent. They thought that they were finished with Him and His “good news.”
But Jesus had known what He was talking about. His enemies thought He was bearing their hatred in His agonizing death on a cross but all the while He was in reality paying the price for human rebellion against God. Because God is just, He must punish rebellion with death. He cannot ignore the penalty for sin—but He can and He did take that penalty on Himself in the Person of His Son Jesus Christ. His payment is what made possible the new-heart humanity God had promised. Jesus wasn’t a rebel. Unlike every child of Adam ever born, He didn’t deserve to die for His own rebellion. He died for ours.
Death did not have the last word on Jesus. Three days and three nights after He was put in a borrowed tomb, He came back to life. He was victorious over death! The victory He won wasn’t just for the disciples that were around back then, but for everyone everywhere who, acknowledging that they deserve the wrath Jesus suffered for them, is willing to turn from their rebellion and accept His finished work as their only hope. When Jesus ascended back up to heaven about forty days later, He commanded His disciples to tell the whole world about the good news of His victory. We, as His disciples today, have the continued proclamation of that good news at the center of everything we do. He hasn’t fulfilled every promise yet. We are still waiting for His return for final deliverance from all the consequences of human rebellion—but the biggest promise of all has been fulfilled. What is most wrong with the world, surprisingly as it may seem, has, for those who will accept it, already been set right.
Jesus’ good news, for all willing to believe it, is that He has paid the price for your rebellion. He is offering you, if you will turn from your rebel ways and accept His free gift, not just a clean slate but a new heart. Even while this world groans under the consequences of Adam’s rebellion, He is offering you a life that is already filled with the light of the new creation that is on its way. He is offering a promise that, if you will believe in Christ alone for your salvation you will not have to bear the punishment that your rebellion deserves. No matter what you have done, no matter where you have been, this good news is for you. Have you believed it?
It is impossible for this short article to answer all of your questions about the good news of the gospel. If you would like to know more, please use the contact information below to let us know!