Rev. Jonathan Latham

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; 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)

Authentic Christians are motivated by the Gospel — Good News — of Christ to live life differently from the rest of the World. Their faith in Jesus as Savior impels them to honor Him by living according to His will. But why is it called “Good News?”

When Paul wrote his letter to the Romans, most people worshiped a myriad of gods. There were water gods, air gods, earth gods, sun gods, and so on — by the thousands. Along with them were the demigods and various magical creatures that supposedly inhabited the earth. No one could act without considering supernatural creatures or gods that could cause one to be cursed.

Fake gods could not show love to their adherents. If something was wanted or needed, the poor worshiper had to bribe idols with sacrifices or use some sort of magic to force that deity to do their bidding. Everyone understood that these deities did not care to involve themselves lovingly with their worshipers. The adoration of these gods was primarily fear-based. People believed that offending a god would cause flooding, crop failures, plague or other horrible situations. The Apostle Paul observed this when preaching at Mar’s Hill in Athens. He saw a monument dedicated to the unknown god. The people probably placed it there to avoid accidentally angering some thin-skinned god or goddess.

Those who wrote about these pagan deities described them as flawed beings who, though very powerful, often acted capriciously. Like the people who worshiped them, false gods acted with very humanlike greed, malice and jealousy. There were no set rules or points of reference to live by that would please all of these competing powers. For the average person, there was no salvation before or after death. A mighty warrior or exalted personage might think to obtain, by personal prowess or by acts of virtue, a place in the heavenly Elysian Fields. But, for everyone else, there awaited only the shadowy existence of eternal sadness in Hades.

Today’s belief systems are much different. The world system has no authoritative source to determine what is right and wrong. What was yesterday’s norm is today’s evil. Since society, rather than God, sets the rules, right or wrong will always be fluid. Like Pilate said to Jesus,” What is truth?” The World does not know “truth” because it has no reliable standard by which to live.

For this reason, the news of a loving Savior, who willingly died to make it possible for unworthy people to go to Heaven, is indeed “good.” In addition to a future life in Heaven, authentic Christians have a reference point guiding their lives in a lost world. That “reference point” is Christ and His Word — the Bible. Christians are inspired to live according to His words, His example and His Spirit. “Live by Faith” means the Christian will choose to follow Him, rather than listen to the guidance of the world.

Such faith often faces ridicule, but it never faces defeat. The Lord Jesus Christ has already won the victory over sin and death. And thus, faith in Jesus brings us is very good news.

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