A note from Jeff: Andrew was the best man in my wedding, so that should give you some idea of our relationship. He's currently the High School Pastor at Rolling Hills Covenant Church. He's taught me more about Christlikeness than just about anyone.
The gospel is good news now because it assures me I'm forgiven.
Creative, I know.
When Jeff asked me to write this post, I could think of a lot of answers. I thought of how the gospel is good news today because God gives me Himself as the best and final gift of the gospel, and I rejoice in that regularly. I thought of how the gospel matters to me today because it means that I don't need to find my approval in my work or in positive feedback from the high schoolers I pastor, since I am already approved of in Christ. And I thought of how the gospel matters to me today because it means that I am adopted into the family of God, the Church, and I love my church and am grateful for it every day.
All of those would be true answers. But beneath all of them, and what hits me hardest today, is that the gospel is the good news that sinners can be forgiven. And I am a sinner.
Part of God's good work in my life has been to show me, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that I am a sinner. It is not only that I am aware of my thoughts and actions, but that I am aware that many of those thoughts and actions are idolatrous and offensive to God. I live in the daily knowledge of my lust and pride and laziness and selfishness and insecurity and anxiety and covetousness and financial foolishness and lovelessness and lack of compassion for those around me and lack of compassion for the poor and lack of hospitality and on and on and on.
Apart from Christ, that's my identity: a pretty nice guy if you met me, sure, but a guy who fails in all of those ways I just listed and many more. I'm aware of them. I know the things I've thought and done.
And what's really terrifying is that I will one day stand before the living God in all of His majestic holiness, and were He to take an account of my thoughts and actions, He would certainly look at me and say, "Andrew Faris, you are guilty before me of countless sins and you have no place in my Kingdom." And I would nod my head in terrible agreement. I would not even begin to begrudge Him of His rightful declaration and judgment.
But praise God, that is not what He will say! The gospel is the good news of Romans 5:6-9:
"For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person--though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die--but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God."
I love that: the "right time" (v. 6) is "while we were still sinners" (v. 8). Jesus didn't wait for us to clean ourselves up and try harder. Far from it! At the cross, Jesus saw all of my sin and died in my place, taking my sin on himself. And he rose again in victory over it on the third day.
But he doesn't just take my sin. He also gives me his own righteousness:
"For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Cor. 5:21)
Incredible! A sinner, rightfully condemned before the Father, now stands with the very righteousness of Jesus Himself. I am that sinner, and I know it. So today, I walk in the load-lifting freedom of total acceptance before the God of the Universe because of the righteousness of His Son in my place.
I've always liked how the great old British preacher, Charles Spurgeon, says it:
"I know what the devil will say to you. He will say to you, 'You are a sinner!' Tell him you know you are, but that for all that you are justified. He will tell you of the greatness of your sin. Tell him of the greatness of Christ's righteousness. He will tell you of all your mishaps and your backslidings, of your offences and your wanderings. Tell him, and tell your own conscience, that you know all that, but that Jesus Christ came to save sinners, and that, although your sin be great, Christ is quite able to put it all away."
Yes! I know about all my mishaps and my backsliding, my offences and my wanderings. I know that I am a sinner, and I know that I am thus disqualified before God. But Jesus Christ came to save sinners, even though my sins are great.
And that's good news for this sinner today.