The too good to be true news

This word gospel is a radical term. Prior to and outside of the Bible, we only have two examples of this Greek word euaggelion, which was translated “gospel” being used in Greek literature. That’s because it’s a superlative. It actually means more than just good news. It means too-good-to-be-true news or “glad tidings”.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith as it is written — The just shall live by faith (Romans 1:16-17).

This word gospel is a radical term. Prior to and outside of the Bible, we only have two examples of this Greek word euaggelion, which was translated “gospel” being used in Greek literature. That’s because it’s a superlative. It actually means more than just good news. It means too-good-to-be-true news or “glad tidings”.

Since there was virtually nothing too good to be true until Jesus came, it was hardly ever used. But once Jesus came along, they started using gospel to refer to what He was preaching and demonstrating: God isn’t judging people. He is not even angry anymore. For instance, the Lord extended mercy to the harlot taken in the act of adultery. (John 8:3-11.) Christ’s message and the way He loved people unconditionally were both too good to be true.

The Jews of Jesus’ time were very religious. They had been raised under a works-oriented, performance based, legalistic, judgmental religious system. Therefore, they persecuted anyone who preached the true gospel. Why? The gospel- salvation by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ— was just too good to be true. So when Paul said it’s the gospel—this too-good-to be-true news of the Lord’s unconditional love—that is the power of God to change people’s lives, the religious folks’ immediate response was, “Well then, what about God’s wrath? You need to let people know there’s a hell, that God is just, and He’s going to send people there. You need to use fear to scare people out of hell.” That was the religious concept of the day.

I recall during my school days we used to have people who would come from one of the organizations whose focus was to minister Christ in schools. These people had a very noble idea of ensuring that our children would grow in the knowledge of Christ. However, some of them would show movies of people burning in hell. At the end of the movie, they would ask us as students, “Who wants to receive Christ?”. The whole school would respond to the altar call not because they really wanted to receive Christ, but it was out of fear of burning in hell. This is why some people up to now have a wrong impression of the true nature of God as a loving Father.

Please note, hell is a real place, and I do tell people about it. Those who don’t believe on the Lord Jesus Christ will go there because that’s the choice they made, but that’s not the core message of Christianity. It’s a truth, but it’s not good news, and it’s definitely not the gospel. God’s goodness—not the fear of hell—is what leads people to repentance. (Rom. 2:4.)

However, the message of most of our churches has been for so long, “Believe on Jesus so you won’t go to hell.” That’s the wrong message. It’s a true message, but it’s not the gospel. The good news that truly releases God’s power and draws people to Him in droves is the gospel: God is good and He loves you. Through Christ’s atonement, everything you need for abundant life—both in heaven to come and on earth here and now—has already been provided (2 Peter 1:3).

 All you must do is believe and receive. This is what we should be preaching.

 Paul addressed this matter of the wrath of God in Romans 1:18-20- “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God has [past tense] shewed it unto them”

In other words, the reason why you don’t have to preach the wrath of God is because people already know in their heart that they aren’t in right standing with Him. That’s why they’re afraid of death. In their heart, they know their eternity is on the line and they aren’t sure how they relate to God. This is saying that the Creator placed within His creation a homing device. There is an intuitive revelation of the existence of God on the inside of every human being who has ever breathed on this earth.

Some may argue, “I don’t believe there is a God. I don’t feel Him. I have no conviction, no awareness of God at all. He has never touched me. I’m totally godless.” They’re lying through their teeth. How do I know? I believe God’s Word more than what people say.

The truth is every person who has ever breathed has a revelation of the existence of God. Verse 20 goes on to say: For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen (not obscurely or vaguely, but clearly seen), being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse. No one will ever stand before God and say, “But I never heard. I never knew You existed.” Even if they haven’t heard a preacher preach to them, they have had this inner witness and they’ll be accountable according to the revelation they have. This is true of every person. When atheists tell me, “I don’t believe in God,” I just go ahead and talk to them as if they do. They say, “I told you, I don’t believe in God” and I answer, “I know what you said, but it’s not true. You’re lying.” I’ve kept talking like this to many people who have claimed not to believe in God.

Somewhere in the conversation, I end up pricking this little part of them that already had this knowledge of God. Then all of a sudden they open up and start admitting it. Psalm 46:10 says: Be still, and know that I am God. When you get still, you can hear this homing device. When you aren’t occupied with anything, it will start drawing you to God. That’s the reason why—prior to salvation— people don’t like to be still. They call it being “bored” or “lonely” among other things. Although they use many different terms to describe it, this homing device in their heart is what is speaking to them.

What does it say? “You know this is not right. You shouldn’t be living this way. There has to be more to life than this. Where did I come from? Where am I going? Who created me?” In order to drown this out and ignore it, they have to saturate their eyes and ears with radio and television. They must constantly keep themselves busy with something or this homing device will talk to them and convict them over their lifestyle.

You were born with it, and it stays with you throughout your entire life. But the rest of Romans 1, beginning with verse 21, reveals progressive steps you can take that will diminish or stop this intuitive knowledge of God from drawing you home to Him. You can actually reach a place where your heart becomes hardened so much over a period of time that you can’t hear this homing device, this revelation of God anymore.

This explains why some people have hardened hearts because their conscience gets seared. Romans 1:21, gives four reasons why one loses their sensitivity towards God:

“Because that, when they knew God, [l]they glorified him not as God, [2] neither were thankful; but [3] became vain in their imaginations, and [4] their foolish heart was darkened”

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