How both the bad news and the good news spur us to preach God’s news.
We want to share the news about Jesus with others. And we know that we should. But how can we motivate ourselves and others to do it!?
One way is to rely on different techniques. To concentrate on the how. To think about better procedures, programs and presentations. These are important and have their place. But we need to keep focusing on the why – to be centred on the Cross. That’s because the Cross allows us to see how bad the bad news is on the one hand, and how good the good news is on the other. This will then spur us on to share God’s news with others.
The Cross shows us how bad the bad news is. Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me” (Luke 22:42). We know that the Father did not remove this cup from Jesus. Was the Father not willing to save his Son from the Cross? Or was he not powerful enough to save Jesus from the hands of the Jews and Romans? Of course not! The Father loves the Son and was more than willing to save his Son from a gruesome death (John 3:35). The Father is also powerful and was able to save his Son (Matt 26:53). The reason why the Father did not remove the cup from Jesus is because there was no other way. If humans were to be spared from facing God’s cup of anger, then Jesus needed to drink it instead. The Cross was necessary for sinners to be saved.
This clarifies how bad the bad news is for sinners. If sin needs Jesus’ death in order to be atoned, it must be serious. Very serious. Sin is not something we can erase with the click of a mouse. God is holy. He needs to deal rightly with us when we do not rightly deal with Him. This is why the consequences of sin are so horrible (2 Peter 2:4-10, Matt 8:12, 18:9). The judgement will be eternal (2 Thess 1:9, Is 66:24, Matt 25:41) and God will be actively judging sinners (Deut 32:22, John 3:36, Rev 14:9-11). The proclamation of this reality goes against the grain of our society. There is so much pressure to be ‘tolerant’, ‘nice’ and ‘politically correct’. And while these attributes have good roots in the biblical concepts of forbearance, kindness and truthfulness, they have often been distorted to justify avoiding any bad news (especially about judgment). Yet the Cross reminds us that sin is serious and has terrible eternal consequences. And these will be experienced not only by people who reject Jesus (John 3:36), but also by those who have only experienced the revelation of God in creation and are yet to hear about Jesus (Rom 1:18-21). It is by growing in our understanding of their judgment that we will be moved to compassion and spurred on to do anything we can to get people out of their predicament (2 Tim 4:22-26, 2 Pet 1:3-4).
Similarly, appreciating how good the good news is spurs us onto sharing God’s news. The good news is that the Cross enables believers to face God’s love rather than judgment (Rom 5:9), experience eternal peace rather than punishment (Rev 21:1-4), have Jesus as their Saviour and Lord rather than just their judge (Acts 17:30-31) and be God’s cherished sons rather than enemies (Gal 4:5). Take a moment to picture one of your currently unbelieving friends instead living joyfully for Christ and being welcomed by him on the last day – what a goal to pray for! How can we not long for as many people as possible to hear, receive and rejoice in this good news!
So let’s encourage ourselves and each other to focus more on the why rather than the what, when, how and where of evangelism. The Cross shows us how bad the bad news is for people who reject or do not know Jesus. It also shows us how good the good news is for those who trust in Jesus! Mighty God, as we grow in our acceptance, understanding and approval of these truths, spur us on to share the news with families, friends and foreigners. May that be our heartfelt prayer.