Friday, April 3, 2015

The Good News Of Jesus Christ

Go into the whole world and proclaim this message: “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”

What truth is that? Well, I’ll tell you. It’s this: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son. If we are going to look at what God meant by this, we have to look to why He bothered to give His Son Jesus to the world. But we also have to look to the cross Jesus died on. We have to look at what was essentially the electric chair of the Roman world, the cross. It was a method of torture for the worst criminals. Roman citizens could not be crucified because of the privilege of their citizenship. I want you to look at the cross. Come to the cross. This message of the cross is for everyone. Christ is alive! Of all the things you will ever see or hear, there is only one message that will change people’s lives and hearts. There is a way, if you come by the way of the cross. We receive our freedom purchased by the ransom at the cross.

Wait, ransom? Ransom is an interesting word. Today it mostly means the redemption of a prisoner or slave or goods for the price demanded. An older meaning of the word is a means of deliverance or rescue from punishment for sin, especiallythe payment of a redemptive fine. Actually what Christ did on the cross was a combination of both of those. Each of us was found guilty for sins we have committed and we are required to pay the price for what we have done. When you think about today’s modern climate and the whole thought process behind whether to pay terrorists off to buy back an abducted person you realize the government has to think clearly about whether to ever pay the ransom. In Christ’s case He willingly paid the ransom price without being asked, and the payment? His own death! The ransom price to pay for the whole world.

I want us all to understand the meaning of this cross. Not the cross that hangs on a wall or around someone’s neck but the real cross of Christ. The cross expresses the great love of God for man. It is scarred and blood-stained. His was a rugged cross. His real purpose for coming was to die! I know that many will react with confusion or horror at this message but it is the truth. And with all my heart I want to leave you with the truth that happened on this cross. With the life of Jesus hanging on that cross God said “I love you! I love you! I have loved you with an everlasting love!” He loves you and he is willing to forgive you of all sins.

On our churches we have a cross. It’s embossed on our Bibles. It’s an ornament that we wear around our necks, Christians and non-Christians. Research shows that objects that are a regular part of our lives begin to lose their impact on us as symbols when we look at them all the time. And apparently it happens with crosses, too, if we are not careful to keep their symbolism and meaning very alive. I have wondered, since the cross is a symbol of torture and execution if what we should do is rotate our necklaces and symbols with other methods of execution once in a while. So sometimes we should wear electric chairs and sometimes we should have tools of beheading. Other times we should wear a noose. Okay, I’ve said this to make a point and I’m not sure I’m really suggesting this, but I want us to talk about the meaning of the cross till we understand it.

But when we talk about the depth and the real meaning of the cross it becomes an offense! Why is that? The cross is offensive because it confronts people. What it confronts us with is our sin problem and, it is a confrontation that all of us must face. Our sin problem is that our sin has to be paid for in this moral world we live in. Christ died on the cross to pay for our sin but He doesn’t force that gift on us. We have to individually choose to respond to and accept that gift. It is a beautiful gift that will impact our entire eternity but we have to accept it. God is a gentleman always and He will not force that gift on anyone.

We are people with different backgrounds and we have various needs. And we are all objects of God’s mighty love, to the point that he gave his son, his only son to die upon a cross. The cross was the most terrible form of execution by the Romans for criminals. And Jesus endured all that in our place because of our sins. We deserved the cross. We deserve hell. We deserve judgment and all that that means.

I know there are many people who dispute this. People do not want to hear that they are sinners. To many people it is offensive. The cross is offensive because it directly confronts the evils that dominate so much of this world. You see the Bible teaches that all of us have done wrong. We have all gone astray. We’ve everyone turned to our own way of doing things, even if it is at someone else’s expense. And when we turn to our own way we go astray from God’s way. And that includes the whole human race. Every one of us, the 7.2 billion souls that are now alive, have turned away from God.

And that is why the world is in such terrible danger right now. It’s not dangerous so much because we have atomic bombs. It’s dangerous because of the human heart behind the bombs. Hearts filled with hatred, envy, strife, greed, lust and all the other things that could pull the trigger.

One reason the cross is offensive to people is because it demands. It doesn’t suggest. It demands a new life style in all of us. Sin is a disease in the human heart. It affects the mind and the will and the emotions. Every part of our being is affected by this disease. How can we break this bondage? How can we be set free? God helps us break those chains. The Bible says: “If any man is in Christ he is a new creature. Old things pass away. Everything becomes new.” Christ can make you a totally new person. It sounds inviting and it sounds impossible. But it is the most real invitation you will ever get. From a God who can back up His promise.

On that cross God was laying our sins on Jesus. Christ’s crucifiers not only put nails in his hands but before that they had scourged him. A Roman scourge was a terrible thing. They took whips embedded with little pieces of glass and stone pellets on those whips and beat a person almost to death. And then they took an extremely heave cross and made him carry it which in his weakened condition was almost impossible. Jesus was finally assisted by someone who a guard ordered to do the carrying or he might not have made it to a place outside of Jerusalem. And then they put nails in his hands.

If you decide to Google the mechanics of crucifixion you will find it to be true torture. The victim finally is asphyxiated because he can’t get enough air in his lungs. But even that was not the real suffering. The real suffering is when God’s anger toward sin was poured down on Christ’s head. In the Bible it says (Matthew 27) that the earth turned dark for three solid hours while God was pouring down the punishment for sin on Jesus’ body. You can feel some of Jesus’ anguish in this ordeal when he said: “My God my God why have you forsaken me!?” In that terrible moment he and God the Father were separated.

Not long after Jesus made that statement his life on this earth was going to end. But, I want to take a station break and talk about what happened RIGHT at the moment He died. It amazes me every time I read it. Here’s how it happened.

“At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, ‘Surely he was the Son of God!’”

I don’t know about you but I think I would have liked to have been one of those guards. And be there to watch people pop out of tombs and walk around. Every time I read this passage I think of God the Father watching the whole thing and being incredibly proud of His Son having giving such an amazing gift to mankind. Call me a goof, but I can’t help but wonder if the Father couldn’t help Himself in His joy over what had just happened that he had to raise a few people from the dead to show people how real His Son was! And that believing in His Son was going to have earth shattering consequences in their lives not unlike tombs opening up! I really think He did it to give us hope for our futures. And hope for right now. Wander through Matthew 27 in the Bible sometime if you want some encouragement.

What still amazes me in all this is that Christ was a willing victim. Christ willingly shed his blood. A decision made before time began that Jesus would live as a human being and die for all mankind was accomplished in that willing act. And the shedding of that blood carries with it God’s very life. The shedding of Christ’s blood is the meeting place between God and man. The Bible says without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. And that is what Christ was doing on the cross. He was essentially paying reparations to God for our sins.

Jesus did a lot on that cross the day he gave his life for mankind. He was paying for rape, and murder, and torture and kidnapping and human trafficking and heinous crimes but he was also paying for mean spiritedness and selfishness and petty things that we think, say and do every day. He paid for it all. What Christ accomplished on the death row of all humankind was to offer us forgiveness for all we had done and even would do in the future. It was the greatest single action with the greatest consequence of all time. The cross and the resurrection of Christ offer forgiveness of sins. It offers a whole new life and actually offers you eternal life if you come to the cross by turning from your former direction away from God and by an act of faith turning toward Him and accepting His amazing gift.

There is no other way to be saved from the consequences of our own sin except through the cross of Christ. We actually have no ability to make this payment on our own, much as we might like to. The plan that the Father and His Son, Jesus, came up with before time ever began was that Jesus would pay for our sin through human sacrifice. Him! The God/man. Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me”. The only way to the Father; Father God; is through His son Jesus Christ.

Now why Jesus? He’s the only one who was born into this world without sin, but more than that He was the only righteous one. The Father wanted someone without sin to pay for the sins of the whole world and the only human who has ever existed who filled that bill was Jesus. And when you come to him and accept His gift of eternal life (yours to accept or reject!) you become clothed in his righteousness. Another way to explain that is that God now looks at you the way He sees Christ. And since Christ is sinless and without even a blemish on His soul, guess what? That is how God sees you! Squeaky clean and beautifully new! God no longer sees your sin, he no longer sees your own heart, he sees Jesus’ heart. But with your beautiful new heart all wrapped up in Jesus.

Now I don’t understand everything about how this all works. There are many things about the cross and about salvation/us being rescued that I do not understand. And I am not told by God that I have to understand it all. I’m told by Him that I need just a mustard seed’s worth of faith (a really small seed!) to believe. And the best thing is anybody can believe! This gift is open to all! A blind man can believe. A deaf man can believe. An old person can believe. A young person can believe and that word ‘believe’ means commit. I commit my life totally to him.

Jesus Christ from the cross says: “I will save you! I will forgive you! I will change you! I will make you a new person if you come to the cross by repentance/turning away and faith.” Come to Christ!

When you come to Christ you come by the way of repentance. To repent means to change, to turn from your sins and turn to Jesus Christ and say: “I’m a sinner, I need forgiveness and I know that you are the only one that can change me”. You will eventually see your life change, but this is a process that the Lord assists you with every step of the way. He does NOT leave you in your own mess without a way of escape from a lifestyle that for many of us was in real opposition to His ways.

The Bible says that in spite of our rebellion and rejection God loves us. And actually He always has. From before the world and time even began. He loves us so much that He gave his son to die for our sins. And when Christ died on that cross he became guilty of lying, he became guilty of slander, he became guilty of jealousy, and he became guilty of the filthiest dirty sins. Jesus lived the life I could not live and he died the death I should have died. Christ took the hell that you and I deserve in to his own body.

Now God said: ‘Receive Him! Believe in Him! Put your trust and your confidence in Him and I will forgive your sins and I will guarantee you eternity in heaven. It’s all yours and it’s all free. All you have to do is receive it.”

Today I’m asking you to put your trust in Christ. I’m going to ask you to pray this prayer, sentence by sentence as you read along on the page here. “Dear Heavenly Father I know that I’m a sinner and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe your Son died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins. I repent of my sins. I invite you to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow you as my Lord and Savior. In Jesus name, Amen.”

He’s alive! I’ve given my life, not to a dead Christ, but to a living Christ. And he’s given me a song to sing. I have reason for existence. When I prayed this prayer it was as though the God of the whole universe had shown up. And the first thing I noticed was that he is so good and so holy and so wonderful, too wonderful for words.

I know where I’ve come from. I know why I’m here. I know where I’m going. Do you?

God loves you!

For God so loved the World

That he gave his one and only son

That whoever believes in him

Shall not perish

But have eternal life

John 3:16

Mark Phelps


  1. Thank you for sharing! It's for sure the truth! May God Bless you for sharing HIS WORD!!!!

  2. Thank you Michelle! May God Bless you too, a wonderful mother to your children!!