Faith & Insight: Genuinely good news
It’s been awhile since New Year’s Eve was greeted like the end of a marathon. 2020 has been rough for all of us: disastrous and tragic for many, not likely to be missed. Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s famous poem about the new year never seemed more appropriate:
“Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.” (In Memoriam)
Of course, Tennyson ends on a more hopeful note, but we bid 2020 farewell with the same enthusiasm.
We all hope for better times, good news in the new year. We’re weary of the yearlong pandemic, the nonstop political turmoil, the necessary restrictions on our activities.
Even discerning what is truly happening proved a special challenge in 2020. We were required to sift through poisonous partisanship and wild conspiracy theories in our quest for the truth.
It’s still possible to communicate and understand truth clearly and unambiguously. The God of the Bible hasn’t created this current confusion. We can discover genuinely good news in God’s word for the new year and the rest of our days.
The apostle Paul boiled down this good news to several historical facts that were observed, recorded, and now communicated to us: “I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said.” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4 NLT)
We’ve been made in God’s image, which means we were made for relationship with our creator. However, our own behavior, attitudes, even our very nature alienated us from God.
The good news is God resolved this impossible dilemma for us by sending his one and only son. Jesus Christ exchanged his perfect life for our broken, sinful one when he died as our perfect substitute on the cross. His death and burial were facts noted by the government authorities of his time.
Jesus’ resurrection, which proves the payment for our sins and brokenness has been accepted, is also historical fact: “He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve. After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he was seen by James and later by all the apostles. Last of all, as though I had been born at the wrong time, I also saw him.” (1 Corinthians 15:5-8)
Paul uses the witness of scripture, eyewitness accounts, and personal testimony to verify and establish the good news. Our response is one of faith: not a leap into the unknown, but faith based on facts. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved,” Paul said at another time (Acts 16:31).
Faith in Jesus begins the relationship with God we were made to have. We can chart a new course from here forward, no longer held captive by the sinful impulses that can enslave us, and rest assured that life continues in God’s presence after these bodies of ours wear out.
Being right with God and beginning life anew with him is certainly good news. Tennyson ends his poem with this hope in mind:
“Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.”
Don Baumann is Outreach Pastor at Hilltop Community Church in Carson City.