What IS the Good News?
“Hopitaly Vaovao Mahafaly” means “Good News Hospital”. Literally it means the hospital with news that makes you happy. What is this “Good News”, this news that makes you happy?
Each morning and evening we have a short service in the ward (each morning there is one in outpatients too), and often we start by asking the patients and their relatives if they know the name of the hospital. A few do. So then we ask if they know why it is called the “Good News Hospital”. Occasionally someone will reply that if they get better and can go home healed, then it will be good news. Of course this is true – but supposing they don’t get better, is there any good news for them?
Health is good news – but it is only temporarily good news. It has a “best before” date. Another day of illness will come – and one day death will come to each one of us.
At the Good News Hospital we do have some good news to talk about. But it is not something that brings only short-lived happiness. This happiness is permanent. Indeed it gets better with time, and is best of all at death. It is the real “happily ever after” story.
It is the Good News of how we can know God personally. It is the most wonderful message in the world.
We would like to explain it to you. Please take time to read this. It is very important indeed.
There are 4 things we need to explain.
Then there are 4 things that we believe will help you to understand this message better.
Finally, once you are convinced about the message, there are 4 things you need to do in order to make it yours.
FOUR THINGS WE NEED TO EXPLAIN.
All these things are not just our ideas, and we did not make them up in our head. They are truths that God has revealed in the Bible. We will say more about the Bible later.
There is a God. Just one God. Who is He? What is He like?
God is the Creator. He is the one who made the world. When we look at the size and scope and intricacy of the world and all that is in it, we can see that God is very wise, and very powerful and very great.
God is Holy. He is perfectly good. There is nothing bad in Him. He is absolutely pure. Nothing that is bad can ever approach Him
God is Loving. He is kind, compassionate and full of love. He cares deeply about the world He made and the people in it.
God is Just. He will not allow evil to continue unchecked. He must, and will, punish wrong. He cannot ignore selfishness and pride and hatred. He will, one day, put everything right.
God made man. What is man like?
Man was made in the image of God. Men and women are much more than animals. We are not just biological processes. We have an existence that in a way resembles God. We have an eternal soul which God made so that we might live in a close relationship to Him.
Man was made male and female. God made us to be men and women, with all the differences and complementarity that that means. We have different gifts, different roles. It is not a question of superiority or inferiority. God made us this way so that human society might function well. In giving the first woman to the first man, God established His plan for the pattern of marriage and family.
Man was given responsibilities and work to do. God, in His kindness, gave us a world to look after. He put all kinds of treasures in it. He made all kinds of potential for good. And He gave us the responsibility to care for it. Work is not a kind of second best use of time that we must endure in order to have leisure. God made us to work, and then gave us a special day, one in seven, especially for us to rest and enjoy Him.
Man was given a rule to keep. The first man and woman were called Adam and Eve. They were placed in a garden where they had freedom to eat whatever they liked. However there was a limit. There was one tree whose fruit they were not allowed to eat. This was to show that God was in control. He allowed them, with this rule, to show their love for Him through obedience.
What is sin? What has it done?
Sin came into the world. Sin was not part of the world God made. God’s enemy, Satan, came into the world that God had made, bringing in sin. Satan spoke to Eve. He suggested she should eat the fruit that God had told her not to eat. He said it would be good for her. He said that God had not really told her not to eat it.
Sin is disobedience. Eve listened to Satan instead of obeying what God had said. She and her husband both rebelled against God. Their relationship with Him was severed. God then put them out of the garden. And ever since then, man has been estranged from God.
Sin affected everyone and everything. The entire human race is descended from the first man & woman. Sin has been transmitted to all of us. We do not need to teach children to do wrong – they do it naturally because of the root of sin in them. Sin has spoiled everything in the world. Sickness and disease, accidents and disasters, poverty, misery and death all have their root in sin. Man is rebellious. He has rebelled against the way God set up the world. He has rebelled in the issue of male and female. He has rebelled in the issue of work and rest. He has rebelled in the issue of rules and submission to authority.
Sin leads to judgement and hell. Sin is not a small matter. It is the worst thing in the world for all of us. When we die we shall stand before the justice bar of God. Our lives will be open before Him. There will be no place to hide, no technical acquittals, no excuses. We shall be judged guilty and sentenced to everlasting hell. And we shall all deserve it.
Sin is the most terrible thing that has ever existed.
Who is He? What has He done?
Jesus is the Son of God. He has always existed. He is one with God the Father. He was with God the Father at the creation. About 2000 years ago He left the glories of heaven to come to this earth. He was born a man. His mother was Mary. He had no earthly father. He was the Son of God. He was a man like no other man. He was perfect, sinless. He showed us what man had been intended to be like. More than that, He showed us what God is like.
Jesus came to the earth with a mission. He did not only come to show us what God is like. He came to bring us back to God. He came on a rescue mission. He came to do what we can never do. He came to open a way for us to go to God. He came in love and compassion.
Jesus accomplished His mission through His death. He lived quietly on earth for 30 years. Then for 3 years He showed who He was, the Son of God, through His teaching and miracles. Finally He was taken by wicked men and put to death. He was cruelly suspended on a cross of wood until He died. Yet He died voluntarily. He is God and He could have freed Himself from the cross. But He chose to suffer and die. He did it for us. When He died on the cross He was taking all our sin on Himself. He took on Himself the punishment from God that our sins deserve. Though He is God, on the cross He was separated from God the Father by our sin, which He took on Himself. God was punishing our sin – but He was punishing it in His Son.
Jesus died on that cross and was buried. On the third day He rose from the dead. He came back to life and showed Himself to many witnesses. He had conquered death. He had conquered sin. He had conquered hell and Satan. After 40 days he ascended back into heaven where today He reigns as king. One day He will come back to this earth in triumph and glory. It will be the end of this world. He will make a new heaven and a new earth where all is good, all is joy, all is peace, all is love, all is glory for evermore.
Jesus offers salvation. He offers it today. This is the Good News. He offers forgiveness for all our sins. He offers a new life, a new start. He offers it to all those who will truly and humbly acknowledge their sins before Him; to all those who are really sorry and want to leave their lives of sin and follow Him; to all those who will stop trying to justify themselves and will trust in all that He has done to save them. This is the Good News. It is eternal life. There is no other message like it in the whole world.
FOUR THINGS THAT WILL HELP YOU TO UNDERSTAND THE MESSAGE
1. The Bible
The Bible is the Word of God. It is the way in which God communicates His truth to us. It contains all we need to know about the Good News, about the way of salvation.
It is made up of 66 different books.
The first 39 books are called the Old Testament. They were written during the period before Jesus came to earth.
The other 27 books form the New Testament and were written after Jesus came to earth. The first four of these books, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are called the Gospels. They describe the life of Jesus on earth.
We encourage you to get hold of a copy of the Bible and start reading for yourself.
You could start by reading the first few chapters of the first book of the Bible, Genesis. They describe how God created the world, and how sin came in. After that it would be good for you to move to the New Testament and read the life of Jesus in Mark or John.
As you read, ask God to help you to understand.
God is everywhere. We can pray to Him anywhere. There is no special holy place that we need to go to in order to pray. Find a quiet spot anywhere and you can talk to God there.
Remember that you can only pray through God’s Son Jesus. You cannot get to God through any other holy people. You cannot get to God through statues or through fetishes or through sacrifices or ceremonies.
If you sincerely call upon Him He will answer you.
3. Books to help
There are many books that have been written to help us understand the Good News. Here are a few we recommend:
- Does God Believe in Atheists? John Blanchard. Evangelical Press. ISBN 0 85234 460 0
- Cure for Life. Bernard Palmer. Summit Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1 9010 7407 2
- The Resurrection: The unopened gift. Gerard Chrispin. Day One Publications. ISBN 1 903087 27 9
4. People to help
Perhaps you would like to correspond with someone or speak to someone about all this. If so please write to us and we will try to put you in touch with someone in your area who can help you. Our address is:
Good News Hospital
FOUR THINGS YOU NEED TO DO IN ORDER TO MAKE THE GOOD NEWS YOUR OWN
1. You need to repent of your sins.
This means that you acknowledge that you are really wrong. It means not being sorry for yourself, but acknowledging that your sin is your own fault and you are guilty and have no excuses.
It means that you are sorry because you have offended God. You are not just sad that you are in danger of hell – but that you really regret what your sin has meant to God.
It means turning round and leaving your sin. There is something active you need to do. Perhaps there are particular sins you are involved in. You must abandon them. You must take steps to put things right with others. You cannot just carry on with your sins.
2. You need to trust in Jesus
You must put all your trust in Jesus. It is no good trusting in your good works, or in your worship, or in your service, or in gifts that you may make. Your only hope is to be in Jesus. Trusting in Jesus is what becoming a Christian is.
You must ask Jesus to be your Saviour. A Saviour is someone we desperately need when we are in terrible danger. You need to plead with Jesus like a drowning man crying out for help. Not because Jesus is slow to respond, but because you need to be really serious about asking Him to save you.
3. You need to take a stand
Becoming a Christian involves a radical change of life. It is not just adding a little bit of religion. It means that you will take your stand before your family and friends and colleagues. They need to know that you are following Jesus now.
Part of the way in which the Bible urges us to take our stand as a new Christian is to be baptised. Baptism doesn’t save us. It doesn’t even make us more holy or more Christian. But it is the way in which Jesus asks us to acknowledge Him.
Then you need to live as a Christian. Your whole life will need to be reshaped. You will find the pattern as you look at the life of Jesus in the Bible, and as you read the teachings of the Bible. The Bible will become your daily food as a Christian, and prayer will be your daily breath.
You need to join a church. Becoming a Christian is becoming part of the family of God. You need to take your part in that family as you join a local church. Make sure you find a church where the Bible is loved and taught and the Good News that you have read about here is proclaimed.
4. You need to persevere
Some people do make a sort of start in the Christian life, but it is not real. It is just the emotion of the moment. It is perseverance which will show if you have really trusted in Christ.
Becoming a Christian is the start of a walk with God that goes on for eternity. You will be tempted to turn back. You will be tempted to give up. There will be struggles. There will be battles. We are not promised an easy road. But Jesus is with us, and will enable us to persevere, as we trust Him. He will bring us at last to His eternal kingdom. We shall be free from sin and from everything that is bad news for ever. What a day of rejoicing and what a day of Good News that will be!