“The Good News of Jesus”
Hello and welcome to "Key to the Kingdom." My name is Bret McCasland. It does not matter who we are or where we live in this world, we could all use some good news. We need something that is positive and encouraging instead of negative and depressing. In our lesson today, on "Key to the Kingdom," we will focus on the very best news that has ever been communicated to mankind. It is the greatest story that has ever been told, and it continues to be shared with people all over the world. The story is found in the Bible. It is the good news of Jesus Christ, the one and only son of God. The story highlights the amazing love of God and the great sacrifice of His Son. Oh, no matter how discouraged or disheartened we are because of the worlds problems, the good news of Jesus brings joy to our hearts. It lifts our spirits and gives us a reason to live and a hope for eternity. Perhaps you have already heard and received this good news. If so, that's great. If not, I hope you will stay tuned for the next few minutes as we hear again the wonderful story of Jesus. I invite you now to open your heart and your Bible.
Every day, we hear about all kinds of negative things happening in our world. We turn on the television and hear those news reports. We look to the Internet or the newspaper and we read those stories. Yes, there are all kinds of negative things happening everywhere, in our communities, in our neighborhoods, and around the world; the injustices and the abuse; the crimes, and the murders, and the immorality. And, on and on we can go talking about the negative things of this world. We don't like to do that, do we! We want something that is good and something that is positive. We want to think about and to hear stories about that which lifts our spirits, something that brings a smile to our face and inspiration to our hearts and also gives us some hope for the future. Yes, we need some good news! I want you to take a look at this list, a good news list, as it sets the stage for our lesson today.
The list of things that is scrolling behind me is what I might consider to be a list of good things. You may or may not agree with the list. You might even have a list of your own. The point is this, however: We are all in need of something good. We need some good news. We need some good things to happen to us and to our family members. We need more good days than bad days. Oh, there are hundreds of songs that lead us to focus on good things. There are all kinds of YouTube messages, inspirational quotes, and motivational speakers that emphasize something good. We like being around good people who do good things for others. We like to eat good food or watch a good movie on television. We might even have a list of good things which have happened to us in the past, or we hope will happen to us someday in the future. Yes, there are lots of things to talk about when it comes to the matter of good news. Let me ask you some questions. What is at the top of your good news list? What do you consider to be the very best news you have ever heard? Let me put it this way, what is your definition of good news? I don't know how you answer that question, but my answer can be stated in only two words, and they are Jesus Christ.
Oh, no matter what kind of good news list we might be able to put together, the very best news we could ever hear, receive, or share, revolves around the story of Jesus Christ. It revolves around the story of who He is and what He has done for us. But, what is that good news message all about? What is it, in a summary, that we could say about the good news? Some call it the gospel message; and, that's true. Some refer to the good news of Jesus Christ as His death and burial and resurrection. That is true, as well. If I were to give a summary statement of the good news of Jesus I would state it like this, "The good news is salvation, that is offered through God's son Jesus Christ." Now, that is good news, isn't it! That is good news we all need to hear and respond to; how that, God loves each and every one of us, and that through His son Jesus we can experience salvation from sin. We can also be saved for something good and positive, and that is a place in God's family and a place in God's kingdom, even here upon the Earth, as we minister and serve and represent Him. The announcement of that good news message is something that Jesus himself proclaimed when He began His public ministry. Over in the gospel of Mark, in chapter 1 verses 14 and 15, we find these words: <After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” He said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”> A man by the name of John was preparing the way for Jesus. He was preparing the hearts of people to receive Jesus Christ. But in that preparation, he made the announcement, "There is coming a time when I won't be here any longer. My role will decrease and Jesus' role will increase." And according to this statement, we notice that now John is in prison; his time is coming to an end. And so, Jesus makes His appearance in the world. At about the age of 30, He begins to go and to minister and to serve and to share, and He is increasing. And as He does, the first thing He does is make the announcement, "The time has come. It is time for you to repent, or to turn your hearts to Me, and to believe in Me." Yes, the good news of Jesus is now being announced and proclaimed everywhere, and the people have the opportunity to respond to it. We notice right after that, here according to Mark chapter 1, in verse 16 and following, that Jesus is there near the Sea of Galilee. He's walking around it and He encounters two people by the name of Peter and Andrew. They are brothers. They are fishermen. That's the way they make their living. And Jesus said, "Leave those nets behind and I want you to follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men instead of fishers of fish." And immediately, both Peter and Andrew begin to follow Jesus. And Peter, especially, is interested in Jesus and he becomes a very close friend and follower. Peter hears the messages of Jesus, he witnesses the miracles, and Peter's life is changed. He sees firsthand, really, that indeed Jesus comes from God and He has a ministry and a message that is far superior to anything else. When I think about the impact Jesus had on this man named Peter, I think about what happened to him. Peter became a great spokesman for the Lord. And, he wrote two letters, which are found toward the end of the New Testament. They bear his name; 1st Peter and 2nd Peter. I want us to spend our time today thinking about some statements that Peter made in regards to Jesus and the impact that Jesus had upon him, and how that it is still the good news message for you and for me today. First of all, in 1st Peter chapter 1, in verses 10 through 12, we find that the good news begins with Jesus fulfilling the Old Testament. That's what Jesus did. He fulfilled the prophecies that we read about in the Old Testament part of the Bible. Oh, prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel, and a host of others, looked forward to the time when someone would come as the Christ. Someone would come as the Messiah, and He would make things much better. And that was the role of Jesus. He fulfilled that with His ministry, with His coming into the world. Perhaps that is one reason why Jesus stated, there in Mark chapter 1, "The time of salvation has come. It's time for you to repent and to believe in Me." In other words, the fulfillment is taking place right now. Yes, the people looked forward to that time. They were anticipating the Christ, the Anointed One, the Chosen One from God, to come and to transform their lives, perhaps even to set up another kingdom. And Peter states, there in chapter 1 verses 10 through 12, that Jesus is it. He is the fulfillment of that Old Testament prophecy. Here is something else that Peter pointed out in his letter. It is found in chapter 2 and verse 6. The good news of Jesus invites one to believe in Him. Notice these words: <"For in Scripture it says: 'See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.'"> And then, listen also to verse 7: <"Now to you who believe, the stone is precious."> Peter simply tells us, if you trust in Him, that's a good thing. If you believe in Jesus Christ, that's a good thing because He becomes the cornerstone of your life. He is precious to you. He is valuable. He is important. In fact, He not only is valuable and important but He changes people's lives. We also notice, there in verse 6, Peter states, "When you trust Him, when you believe in Him then you will never be put to shame." I like that. If I believe in Jesus Christ as the one who has come from God there is no need for me to be ashamed of Him. There is no need for me to be in fear because I know I am on His side. And that reminds me of something that Jesus himself said in His public ministry, over in Matthew chapter 10 and verse 32, "If you acknowledge Me before others then I will acknowledge you before My Father in heaven." That's good to know, isn't it, that if we let other people know that we believe in Jesus and belong to Him then He represents us to our Heavenly Father. And, on that day when we stand before the Judgment Seat of the Lord, Jesus will say, "Yes, I know him, yes, I know her, because that person is one of Ours. He or she belongs in Our family because they confessed Me, they believed in Me, they acknowledged Me as Your son, Father." So, we can, on that occasion, hear the words, "Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joys of My kingdom." Yes, the good news is about believing in Jesus Christ. Here's something else: The good news centers on Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection. Now, Peter highlights that in several places here in 1st Peter. Let's look, first of all, at chapter 1, verses 18 through 21. He writes, <For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through Him you believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and glorified Him, and so your faith and your hope are in God.> When I think about those verses, there's a couple of things that jump out at me. First of all, we notice there in verse 18 that what Jesus did has redeemed us or set us free; from what, from our empty way of life. What Jesus did by giving His life upon the cross sets me free from living a life without any purpose, or meaning, or significance. It sets me free from being held captive to the way I'm living now; and, it gives me the freedom to live in Him and to enjoy abundant living here upon the Earth and to anticipate a future home with Him in heaven. I notice also that it is with the precious blood of Jesus Christ that He did that. And when Jesus died upon the cross, it was His blood that took away the stain of my sin, and now I can put my faith and my hope in God the Father. Yes, Jesus Christ redeems me. He sets me free from an empty way of life. And now, I have the hope of a new way of life that is found in God the Father, the One who allowed His son, Jesus Christ, to purchase my salvation. Here is something else Peter mentions in regards to what Jesus did. It's over in chapter 2, verses 24 and 25. <He himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.> Another great message, another good news message, that Jesus, through His death on the cross, the wounds that He bore in His hands and His feet, the crown of thorns on His head, all of that brought about His death, but they also brought about my healing. I have been healed of my sin problem. And now with that, I can return to the Shepherd, the Overseer of my soul; and, that is God the Father. I can become, now, a part of His family and enjoy His presence in my life. Here's one more statement. Look at chapter 3 and verse 18. <For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.> Envision for just a moment what that looks like in your life. Think about, perhaps, how that you are outside of God's family, that you are separated from Him. You feel all alone and lost in this world. But then, think about what Jesus did for you. Through His death on the cross He brings you into God's presence where you can enjoy His fellowship and be a part of His family. Yes, the good news story of Jesus Christ, according to Peter, is found in His death, burial, and resurrection. Here's something else. The good news of Jesus saves people. Again, we find that here in 1st Peter chapter 3. Notice these words, chapter 3, beginning with verse 20. <God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also -not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.> Peter states that we are saved by the resurrection of Jesus Christ; that, as Jesus died, was buried, and then rose again from the grave, we too can rise up from water baptism and embrace a brand-new life in Him. Oh, as the floodwaters lifted Noah and his family above a world full of sin, so now we come out of water baptism to live a new life in Jesus Christ. And, that's the symbolism, that's the illustration that Peter makes for us. Now, that is the good news story that Peter presents throughout his letter. Oh, obviously there are some people who highlight one of those things over the other, but we know from all of these statements that they all work together in order to bring about our salvation. Knowing Jesus as the fulfillment of the Old Testament, believing that He died upon a cross, was buried, and then rose again, understanding that through that we are brought into fellowship with God. Being baptized into Jesus Christ and to begin a brand-new life in Him are all part of the good news story of Jesus Christ. We cannot have one without the other. Nothing is more important than the other, but they all work together in order to bring about our salvation, in order to bring about the opportunity to be a part of God's family. Yes, that is the good news story of Jesus Christ that Peter presents here in the letter of 1st Peter. That's a great message! But here's one more thing I want to share with us in regards to Peter and the influence that Jesus had upon him. As I mentioned a moment ago, Peter was a follower of Jesus, one of the three closest friends and followers that Jesus had throughout His ministry. He walked with Jesus. He heard His messages, His teaching, His parables, His stories. He witnessed the miracles. He was right there. One day, while Peter and other disciples were walking with Jesus up to the north of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus asked them an important question. He said, "Who do people say that I am?" Well, Jesus did not ask that for His own sake, for information. He knew. He knew what people were saying about Him and what they thought about Him, but He wanted to hear it from His disciples. And they said, "Oh, some people say you are a prophet, or John, or you are one from the past. They don't know for sure, in other words." And then Jesus asked this question, "Who do you say that I am?" And it was Peter who responded with these words, from Matthew chapter 16, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God." Yes, Peter knew without a doubt that Jesus was the one who had come from God. He was the Messiah, the Anointed One. He was someone very special, God's one and only son. On another occasion something similar happened, according to John's gospel in chapter 6. Many people were leaving Jesus. They no longer wanted to be His follower because they did not understand nor appreciate who He was or what He was doing; so, they left. They looked for somebody else to follow. On that occasion, Jesus turned to His disciples and He asked the question, "Will you also go away?" And it was Peter who responded, in verse 68 of that 6th chapter, <"Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that You are the Holy One of God."> What a great confession. Peter stated, "You are it. You are the Holy One of God. You have come from our Father in Heaven. Really, we don't have anybody else to go to. There is absolutely nobody else that we can find that has the words of eternal life. You have them, and we are going to stick right here with you." And indeed, still today, we can look the whole world over for someone else to follow, but no one else has the words of eternal life like Jesus has them. He's the only one who can offer life and salvation to you and to me. Other people, other deities, other gods, whatever you want to call them, they try to offer something, but their promises are empty and void, and they have absolutely nothing to offer compared to the offer of salvation and eternal life from Jesus Christ. Perhaps that is why this very same man, Peter, stated, in Acts chapter 4 and verse 12, "Salvation is found in no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved." Yes, the words of Jesus Christ bring about your salvation and mine. He is the One, He is the Author, He is the Originator of your salvation, and mine, and in Him we find that eternal life. Oh, the good news message of Jesus Christ brings hope to all people, and that message is left for you and for me today. Those who did not believe in Jesus put Him to death so that those of us who do believe in Him might live. And that is something I hope you know and understand and can apply to your life; that, you put your faith and your trust in Jesus Christ, you turn to Him and you experience that new birth, rising up to walk in a brand-new life with Jesus and to enjoy the fellowship with God. Yes, that's why Jesus died, to set us free from sin and to bring us into God's presence. The good news story of Jesus Christ is far better than any good news list any of us might be able to put together. It far exceeds any kind of good news and positive things that we can share or that might happen in our life today. And I hope that you will make that good news story the first priority in your life. We began with what Jesus stated in Mark chapter 1, "The time has come. Repent. Believe the good news." That's the way I want to end, today. I hope that you will do that; to recognize, perhaps, that the time has come in your life to do that very thing, to turn away from the things this world has to offer, an empty way of life, and to believe in Jesus Christ, to give your life to Him and to experience a new life that God has in store for you through His one and only son, Jesus Christ.
Thank you for joining us for today's lesson. The story of Jesus Christ brings life, inspiration, and hope to every person on this Earth. Indeed, it is the greatest story that has ever been told. If you want to know more about this good news message, please contact us at keytothekingdom.com. On the website, you can watch this or other messages from God's Word. You can enroll in a free Bible study or even view short devotional messages. There are a number of other things which I believe you will find helpful in your walk with the Lord. Again, all of them are free and require no commitment of any kind. You might also want to call the number on the screen to request the same free Bible study. Leave your name and address and we will send one to you through the mail. The study consists of six lessons, and it will assist you in knowing more about the Lord and His good news message. If we can serve you in any way, please don't hesitate to contact us. Thank you again for tuning in to today's broadcast. And, I invite you to join us next time as we study the Bible on "Key to the Kingdom."