Jeremiah 38:3-4 [Jeremiah:] “And this is what the LORD says: ‘This city will certainly be handed over to the army of the king of Babylon, who will capture it.’” Then the officials said to the king, “This man should be put to death. He is discouraging the soldiers who are left in this city, as well as all the people, by the things he is saying to them. This man is not seeking the good of these people but their ruin.”
The Gospel the Church is called on to proclaim to a lost and hope-less world is GOOD NEWS (which is what the word ‘gospel’, ‘eu-angelion’, means!). But the GOOD news can only be understood and embraced if we first of all proclaim the BAD news.
The BAD news is that our SIN has placed us under the WRATH of the HOLY God who made us in his image. When we ACCEPT this BAD news we realise we need someone to rescue us from such a plight – and the GOOD news is that our loving Creator HAS PROVIDED us with such a SAVIOUR – the Lord Jesus Christ, his own Son. “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).
As Jesus himself said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17). Unless we accept the BAD news that we are SINNERS, we will have no place in our hearts/minds for the GOOD news that there IS a Saviour.
The trouble is, our contemporary self-affirming, ‘good-news-only’, ‘don’t mention the S-word’ society/culture has an automatic ‘reject’ button on the BAD news, and therefore has NO PLACE for the GOOD news – which makes our task of bringing it the good news (GOSPEL) so difficult and seemingly irrelevant.
That’s exactly how it was in Jeremiah’s Judah 2,700 years ago! The Sovereign LORD had a wonderful Plan for his Covenant People (“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” – Jeremiah 29:11), a Plan which would involve some short-term disciplinary hardship, but all they wanted to do was to ‘put to death’ the messenger commissioned to tell them!
We should not be surprised, only saddened, by the efforts that are being made today to silence, undermine, distort, misrepresent, ‘put to death’, the Church’s clear message of God’s Judgement, AND the message of loving, confident HOPE that accompanies it because of what Jesus has suffered in our place on the the Cross to SHIELD US from God’s wrath. How sad it is that people are missing out on the GOOD news because they don’t want to hear the BAD news that MUST precede it to give it meaning and context.