How could Paul be so sure about this good news, when it has been opposed or misunderstood by so many through the centuries? What perversion was so serious that Paul could speak as strongly as he did to the Galatian believers? Through the years, I’ve asked many Christians what they consider to be the essence of the good news. The responses have included things like the atonement, the Second Coming, and eternal life; almost every aspect of the Christian faith. But if God is the way His enemies have made Him out to be, eternal life would not be good news, would it? Whether any doctrine, even the Second Coming, is good news depends on the kind of person we believe God to be.
I think, therefore, that the most fitting and truest answer to that question is one that a good friend gave me years ago: “The good news is that God is not the kind of person Satan has made him out to be.” Coming back to an earlier text, Paul related the good news to the issues in the Great Controversy when he suggested that if even an angel from heaven should come with a different version of the good news, we should not believe him. Instead, let him be outcast or accursed (based on Galatians 1:8-9).
It seems, at first, incredibly dogmatic, almost arrogant, for Paul to speak like that. What if your pastor, at the end of the sermon this weekend, should say, “If anyone of you in the audience should disagree with my sermon, let Him be condemned to hell!” Would we think that perhaps the pastor was in need of a vacation? What do we make of Paul talking like this? Let’s not forget that it was an angel from heaven who began the circulation of misinformation about God. And that same angel from heaven masquerades as an angel of light in order to deceive you and me and turn us against our God (2 Cor 11:14-15).
Throughout this book we have spoken about Satan’s charges; that God is arbitrary, exacting, vengeful, unforgiving, and severe. He even charges that God has lied to us when He says that sin results in death. He says that God is selfish, not worthy of our love and trust, and not respectful of our freedom. At some length we have considered the way God replies, not in claims, but in demonstration. Remember how humbly God took His case into court, the court being the family of the universe? The good news is that God has won His case. The whole universe now agrees that Satan has lied about our God. “It is finished,” Jesus said (John 19:30).
By the life that He lived and the unique and awful way He died, Jesus demonstrated God’s righteousness, answered all the questions, and met any accusations leveled against God. Paul said he was proud to be a bearer of this good news. He also links the good news with the cross in 1 Corinthians:
Christ did not send me to baptize. He sent me to tell the Good News. . . . For the message about Christ’s death on the cross (emphasis supplied) is nonsense to those who are being lost; but for us who are being saved it is God’s power (1 Cor 1:17-18, GNB).
Note how he combines the good news with Christ’s death, and also God’s power to save. He uses similar language in Romans 1: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel [the good news]: it is the power of God for salvation. . . . For in it the righteousness of God is revealed. . . .” (Rom 1:16-17, RSV). The good news, power, God’s righteousness, and the cross are all tied together. And there’s nothing new about this. This was the everlasting good news in Old Testament times as well:
Let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight, declares the Lord (Jer 9:24, NIV).
Let’s combine them all together now. The good news is about God. It’s about His righteousness. It cost the death of Christ to prove it. This good news about God’s righteousness has great power to move people, if they’re willing to listen. It has great power to win them back to repentance and faith. It has great power because it is the truth. It has great power because it is such good news.