We’ve all seen little religious leaflets someone leaves at our front doors or in restaurant bathrooms; or, from time to time we see them being blown about on downtown sidewalks on a windy day. Sure you’ve seen them: the kind a zealous religious person hands to you as you round a street corner or you find shoved under the windshield wiper of your vehicle at a mall parking lot.
Most such leaflets begin by telling you the “good news” about how much God loves you, but then go on to stress in gory, vivid detail that because you are a terrible sinner, God is going to cast you into a fiery hell in which you will burn forever as punishment for a comparably brief lifetime of sin. Human lifetime of sin—punishment forever… Oh, it’s true they also tell you about a way out of such terrible doom, but often the major emphasis of the leaflet is on your horrible, everlasting punishment in hell if you don’t “get right with God.” I suppose the writers of such leaflets are trying to “scare the hell out of you” and make you plead with God to break you out of hell in some cosmic jail break.
Whoever provided you that type of leaflet probably had the best of intentions—but such intentions all too often translate into brazen audacity to think the emphasis upon everlasting punishment is “good news” that will literally scare the hell out of you and make you turn to God because He is so loving. Forget about that kind of so-called good news. It’s not!
But there is honest-to-God good news for you. And it comes from the same Bible the “bad news” people get their information from. It’s all a matter of the Bible reader’s point of view. Same Bible, two widely differing views. This teaching is about the good news view. I’ve summarized most of the information in this teaching from dozens of references throughout the Bible. If you don’t believe the Bible, that’s okay. Just read along anyhow. It’ll only take a few minutes of your time and could possibly make some sense to you. Maybe. Maybe not.
Here are a couple of facts most thinking people know almost instinctively. The first fact is we are all mortal, human sinners and are going to die. Please note I didn’t say we’re all going to die and then burn in hell forever. I merely said we’re all going to die; if you don’t believe that, you may want to rethink your position, because so far everyone who has ever been born has either died or is destined to die. I don’t think any of us will be the exception to the rule…. The second fact? What about sin? Okay, let’s just put it this way: we all violate rules and act against our consciences—some, more than others; can you accept that concept of sin? And we’re all mortal—meaning we will all die. So far this doesn’t sound like very good news, does it? In fact, it sounds like the “bad” good news we mentioned above. But keep reading. Good news is on the way….
In the Bible, God assures us we’re in this sin-full, death-full condition through no fault of our own. God places the human responsibility for our condition upon an incident that occurred in the lives of our primordial and remote ancestors, Adam and Eve. They turned against God in our remote past; all their descendants—including you and me—became subject to mortality and death. Most people don’t like to hear that background and history of sin, but that’s just the way it is….
We didn’t “choose” Adam and Eve as our first ancestors. We had no choice at all in the matter. We had no choice in our mortality and being placed on “death row.” Yet we sin, suffer mortality, and will die simply because we were born as the human descendants of Adam and Eve. Oh, it’s true that when we sin, we always exercise our own volition; we sin willingly and experience the consequences. Nevertheless, death will come to each of us, not because we chose to be born as mortal, sinful human beings, but simply because we are here on planet earth—through no choice of our own.
In fact, God claims direct responsibility for placing the entire human race in the condition in which we find ourselves. Yes, God made us mortal sinners! God placed us in the world to experience both good and evil for very specific reasons. I’m going to put it to you bluntly: It’s God’s responsibility you are a mortal sinner who will die some day! This still isn’t sounding like very good news, is it? But at least it presents a radically different—and more hopeful—view from the traditional biblical view you may have heard or read. The good good news is still on the way….
Okay, in a nutshell, here’s the “good” good news: Through the death of Jesus on the cross some 2,000 years ago, God has already potentially provided salvation for all of us from our dying condition as mortal sinners. Yep, it’s all taken care of. Bought and paid for. Totally. Completely. He is responsible for our being in our sinful, mortal condition. He’s fully responsible. So…it’s his job to get us out of the condition we find ourselves in. And that’s what he’s done. God assures us that because of Jesus’ virgin birth, sinless life, cruel death, and resurrection from death on our behalf, we will all be set free from sin, “overcome” death, and experience immortality in an eternal, loving relationship with God.
Through what Jesus accomplished on our behalf, God has already set us free from our mortal dying condition, forgiven us of all our sins, and reconciled us to himself. That has been his intention all along. Those have always been his plans and purposes for every human born since Adam and Eve. Those were his intentions for you even before you were conceived and born.
God left nothing to chance. Remember, none of us had any choice in becoming mortal sinners. But, being sinners, we have all sinned through our own volition, choosing to sin. Nothing we do can change our mortal, sinful condition. Also, there’s nothing we can do to make ourselves righteous (“right with God”) or earn God’s good favor toward us. From the very beginning, God placed all humans in this “school of hard knocks” we call life, subjecting us to a mixture of good and evil, with the same final goal in mind—that each of us will of our own volition ultimately choose to love him and have fellowship with him. Such qualities as goodness, love, joy, peace, righteousness, and the like cannot be truly appreciated without experiencing their absence, their loss, or their opposites.
Again, in providing salvation from our sinful, mortal condition, God has left nothing to chance. God’s salvation from our sin is totally his work on our behalf. It was fully accomplished by Jesus’ obedience to God, his death on the cross, his resurrection, and his ascension back to heaven where He is presently seated at the right hand of the throne of God. That’s the sheer beauty of God’s plan. Jesus died for every human ever created. God’s intention has always been to ultimately reconcile to Himself every human being ever born on this planet. He will be satisfied with nothing less. Every single one of us will be set free from our sin and mortality in due time.
If the Bible teaches anything, it’s that God saves us totally by grace. What is grace? It means God has done it all because he loves us all—freely, with no strings attached. He has taken the initiative totally and completely. God has done all that needed to be done on our behalf to free us from sin and rescue us from death. Why? Because he loves each one of us—you!—completely totally, unconditionally, and eternally. He loves you because his very inherent nature is love. Just because of Who He is, He cannot not love you.
There are no conditions we have to perform or live up to in order to be saved. All humanity has potentially already been saved because of what Jesus did on our behalf over 2,000 years ago. We don’t have to weep and moan over our sins, be baptized, tithe, join a church, speak in tongues—whatever. We are saved simply by believing—having faith in—the good news about Jesus of Nazareth.
But even that last statement is not completely true. Faith—belief—is not a condition; it’s the result of what God has done for us. Even the faith we need in order to believe is not something we can conjure up ourselves. Faith to believe is given us by God. Yes, you already have the faith you need to believe and accept God’s awesome love for you. There is nothing we can do to “qualify” for salvation, “earn” God’s forgiveness, or impress upon Him to give us faith. Nothing!
According to God’s eternal plans and purposes, he has worked it out so some people will freely receive this gift of salvation during this mortal life. All others will be saved later in their own order before time ends and eternity resumes. But all humans ever born, each in his or her own order—before time ends—will receive the salvation secured by Jesus on the cross. I urge you to get in on his great salvation now. Why wait until later when your sins might have to be purged out of you? Such waiting is pure foolishness in light of all God has done to save you. After all, He gave His only begotten Son so that whoever (that’s you!) believes in Him shall not perish but have his very own LIFE implanted in them. Get in on his full and complete salvation now, not later! That’s the wise thing to do….
So what, specifically, is this good news from God? Jesus, God’s son, died and rose from the dead, and he did it for you! Jesus actually lived for 33 years here on planet earth. Jesus actually died; that’s one of history’s most well-established facts. His death secured forgiveness of our sins. Jesus was actually raised from the dead by God; that’s an historical fact, too. His resurrection made us completely righteous and sin-free—from God’s eternal perspective and vantage point.
As far as God is concerned, He sees us as already totally forgiven sinners and completely righteous. Not only that, but God already perceives us as completely reconciled to himself. To be reconciled means God sees to it that we become best friends with Him. There is no condemnation for anyone ever again—only peace and friendship between God and each of us.
Jesus accomplished all this for us while we were still sinners. In fact, this full and complete salvation was planned even before God created the world. God has no backup plans. There is no “Plan B.” There is just the one plan—worked out by God before the world was created, and accomplished by Jesus 2,000 years ago. The sin of Adam and Eve did not take God by surprise, causing him to have to scramble around and wrack his brain to come up with some alternate plan of salvation.
Hey, God is God. He is absolutely sovereign. He knows the beginning from the end and everything in between. He is working out all things according to his eternal plans and purposes. His intention has always been to fully reconcile all humanity to himself. In fact, even God’s enemies are fulfilling all his intentions. Good and evil are both necessary to fully reveal God and his goodness and love for each of us. We will come to realize and appreciate the interplay of good and evil in our lives only after we have died and are ushered into his awesome presence. We’ll finally see the “big picture” as God has seen it all along.
You may have been informed that billions of people are going to spend eternity in “hell” because they are not saved in this life. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Bible does not teach that. Period! That would mean God is a failure—either unable to save those he wants to save, or unwilling to save all he could have saved. That’s not good news. That’s bad news. That’s not what the Bible—properly understood—teaches.
“Hell,” as most people have learned to envision it in our day and age, is medieval, dark ages fiction foisted on people to keep them in line in an attempt to “scare the hell out of them.” Oh, don’t misunderstand me: there is a state of being called hell, but it serves an entirely different purpose than what you’ve been taught. It’s a “place” of fiery burning, painful cleansing, purging, correction, and discipline, not a never-ending place of punishment for sin. Such hell-fires will not burn forever, but only until the end of the long eons of time when the fires will die out for lack of “fuel,” when the last person subjected to them finally yields to their cleansing and confesses Jesus Christ as Lord to the glory of God the Father!
Thus, it can be said that all humanity will ultimately come to God either “through the cross” or “through the fire,” both being part of the eternal work of Jesus’ birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension back to heaven. Jesus proclaimed that if He were lifted up on crucifixion’s cruel cross, He would draw all humanity to Himself as iron filings are drawn to a magnet. When He shouted on the cross “It is finished!” He was proclaiming that His provision for the salvation of all humanity became at that very moment in time and eternity an accomplished fact.
At this very moment—in some way known only to you and God—He is drawing you to Himself; He has been doing so all along, He is doing so now, and He will continue to do so as long as it takes for you to give up your pride and yield your stubborn will to receive his full and complete, gracious, free salvation.
You may have been taught that people can refuse God, eternally resist God’s will, even choose to remain lost forever. Again, nothing could be further from the truth. If it’s the will of the sovereign, almighty, and all-powerful God that all humanity be fully reconciled to Himself—how could that not happen—if God is really that kind of God?! How can any mere human being eternally resist God’s will? Salvation is a free gift to everyone from a good and loving God, paid for with the awesome, eternal sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross 2,000 years ago.
What do we have to do to be saved? Nothing! Jesus is the Savior; we aren’t. He is the one who saves. We cannot save ourselves. He’s the good shepherd who seeks and finds every lost sheep: us. Me. YOU! Jesus doesn’t seek and save us provisionally, potentially, or conditionally. He actually seeks for, finds, and saves every lost sheep—and returns them to God’s sheepfold.
Are you a sinner? C’mon, be honest. Yes, you are. Are you going to die? Same answer. But God has included your salvation in his eternal plans and purposes. Jesus died for you and rose from the dead for you. Believe it. When you do, that doesn’t save you; that’s merely when you receive the salvation God has already provided you. Reconciliation and peace with God are already yours now—this instant. Just receive them by faith! This is the real good news!
Forget about the bad news. There’s enough of that going around. Just accept all that God has done for you. And then move on, enjoying your new relationship with God to its fullest and enjoying your new-found peace and fellowship with God. He’s done all that needs to be done for you. Receive it. Enjoy it.
And then spend the remainder of your life here in time and, later, in eternity in an ever-growing relationship with an awesome God who loves you and made plans to save you long before time and eternity ever began.
One bright day when all the vast eons of time have ended, eternity will resume, the wheels of mortal life shall all stand still, all death and sin will be swallowed up in victory, and God will be All in all!
That, my dear reader, is Good News!
One of my readers—not a Jesus-believer—wrote to me: “Hey, I’ve never before been able to even remotely relate to the christian god who would ‘save’ about 5% of humanity and condemn the other 95% to a never-ending hell for sins they committed during a very brief lifetime here on earth. But the kind of God you’re teaching about in this teaching, well, I could almost come to believe in Him! Tell me more!”
NOTE: This teaching is a summary, condensation, and paraphrase of dozens of biblical texts. They were not cited or footnoted in the teaching so it would be more readable and flow more easily. Such biblical texts will be furnished to the reader upon request.
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Revised and Updated January 2019