The Good News
May 28th, 1972 @ 8:15 AM
THE GOOD NEWS
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Corinthians 15:1-3
5-28-72 8:15 a.m.
On the radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor, and proud to be that, of the First Baptist Church. I would rather be the undershepherd of this church than to be the prime minister of Great Britain, than to be the president of the United States, than to have all the gold in Fort Knox. I am the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, which is the highest honor any man could ever have, and to think that God gave it to me. Is not that wonderful? I am not bragging. I am just telling you what I think about the situation.
And the title of the sermon is The Good News, The Good News. The gospel, the gospel; that is a beautiful and interesting word; we are going to read it in just a minute in the fifteenth chapter of the first Corinthian letter. The Greek word is euangelion, euangelion—Eu, e-u, eu—that means in the Greek language, that means “beautiful, well, good,” eu. And then angelos, your word “angel” comes from it; angelos, messenger, angelos; euangelion, the good message, the beautiful message, the glad tidings; the good news, the gospel. Paul writes to the church at Corinth in chapter 15 of the first epistle:
Moreover, brethren, I make known unto you, I define for you the gospel, the euangelion, the glad tidings, the good news, which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
By which also ye are saved … For I delivered unto you, first of all
Doesn’t mean first in the sense of chronology but emphasis, importance:
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received—namely, what is the gospel, the good tidings—that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.
[1 Corinthians 15:1-4]
What is the gospel? The gospel is that Christ died for our sins [1 Corinthians 15:3], that Christ was raised for our justification [1 Corinthians 15:4; Romans 4:25], and as he continues on in this chapter, that Christ is returning again with a sound of a trumpet, and the saints shall be raised incorruptible, and all of us shall be immortalized, translated, changed, raptured, glorified, and sanctified in heaven [1 Corinthians 15:42-55]. That is the gospel! When we send out a missionary to preach the gospel, what does he preach? If he preaches the gospel, that’s what he preaches: that Christ died for our sins [1 Corinthians 15:3], that He was raised for our justification [Romans 4:25], and that He is coming in glory [Matthew 24:30-34]. That is the gospel. When you go to church and a man preaches the gospel, what does he preach? That’s what he preaches, if he preaches the gospel: that Christ died for our sins [1 Corinthians 15:3], that He was raised for our justification [Romans 4:25], that He is coming again in glory from heaven [Matthew 24:30-31]. That is the gospel.
“I make known unto you the gospel, for I delivered unto you that which also I received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scripture, that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” [1 Corinthians 15:3-4]. Now in this fifteenth chapter he likens, that symbolism is likened, the glorious revelation of the gospel is likened in baptism; and he says, “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?” [1 Corinthians 15:29].
The gospel is illustrated, it is symbolized in the ordinance of baptism. We are buried with the Lord in the likeness of His death, and we are raised with the Lord in the likeness of His resurrection [Romans 6:3-5]. The ordinance of baptism presents, it dramatizes, it shows forth the gospel: death, burial, and resurrection.
And Paul declares, “I delivered unto you, first of all, that which I also received, how that Christ died, was buried, was raised again” [1 Corinthians 15:3-4]. That is, he is avowing to us he is not an originator, he is not an innovator, he is not an inventor. His message was given to him, and he just delivers it; that’s all a minister of Christ ought to do, and that’s all that he ought to be. No originator, no inventor, he is a deliverer of a message that he himself has received. He doesn’t think it up, he doesn’t speculate concerning it, all he does—if he’s a true messenger of Christ—is to deliver it. “For I deliver unto you the message which I have received” [1 Corinthians 15:3].
You know, I can remember when the king of England was addressing the American people. His speech was about, oh, five to eight minutes long, and the papers the next day said that while preparation was being made for the delivery of the message of the king of England to the American people, that the cable broke, and in consternation they had no time in frustration. They had no opportunity to repair the damage for the delivery of the message across the ocean. And the paper said that a technician picked up the cable with one hand, and the other end of the cable with the other hand, and the message passed through him, through his body, and was delivered to the American people. When I read that, I thought, “That’s exactly what a true minister of Christ is.” He is a deliverer of a message from heaven! It passes through his brain, his heart, his mind, his soul. It is not something he invents. It is not something that originates in him. It comes from God and he delivers it just as Paul says: “My brethren, I define for you, I make known unto you the gospel, for I have delivered unto you that which I have received [1 Corinthians 15:3]. Namely, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures [1 Corinthians 15:3]; He was buried, and the third day He was raised for our justification [1 Corinthians 15:4; Romans 4:25], and some, glorious, triumphant day, He is coming again in power and in glory” [Matthew 24:30-31].
Well, Paul calls that the euangelion, the gospel, the good tidings, the great wonderful news, the good news [1 Corinthians 15:1]. Let me show you that word that’s exactly that word, but you don’t recognize it because of the translation. When the angels came from heaven to announce to the shepherds the birth of Jesus, the angel said, “Behold, I bring you glad tidings, which shall be to all people. For there is born unto you, in the city of Bethlehem, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” [Luke 2:10-11]. Now there you have that euangelion; “Behold, I bring you euangelion, glad tidings,” it’s translated there, “I bring you the gospel,” the angel says. “Behold, I make known unto you, I declare unto you the gospel, the good news!” [Luke 2:10]. Isn’t it a shame that most of the times we have difficulty recognizing that?
Oh, in how many instances does the gospel seem to be anything but happiness, and gladness, and glory, and good news? Isn’t that a shame? Oh, we have such funereal reactions, and we have such lugubrious repercussions, and we have such melancholy faces; and people look at us and say, “You know, that religion, I tell you if you got a real case of religion, oh boy, that’s like, that’s like getting real sick.”
I heard of a little girl, a little girl who was vivacious, and active, and alive, and happy, and she was reprimanded for it. And the little thing went outside so crushed, and she saw a donkey with a long, long, long face. She put her arms around the neck of the donkey and said, “Donkey, you sure have a good case of religion. You’re the best Christian I’ve seen.” Oh, isn’t that a shame?
Or people think of religion, of the Christian faith, as being nothing but a series of dull, stupid, dry sermons. Isn’t that terrible? Or they think of the Christian faith as being irrelevant to life. It’s something set behind stained-glass windows, or under a high steeple, or has to do with those that are just a little off balance. You know, they’re just out by themselves and the stream of life passes them by. Oh, how different, “I declare unto you the gospel,” the euangelion, the good news, the God spell, the God story, the good story.
I make known unto you the good news, how that Christ died for our sins . . .
[1 Corinthians 15:3]
He was buried, and He was raised for our justification.
[1 Corinthians 15:4; Romans 4:25]
and He is coming again in triumph and in glory.
The good news!
You know, I remember in the battle of Bataan, when our armed forces in the Philippines were forced into Corregidor, and made their last stand there. And, of course, they were overwhelmed. And then came the dark days of the death march on Bataan, when the surviving prisoners of the American forces were forced to march, and many of them, so many of them died. Then they were cruelly and horribly imprisoned.
And the newspapers gave the story when MacArthur returned, the first thing they did was to plan for the freedom of those American prisoners of war, the men who marched from Bataan. And the newspapers said that the first that those imprisoned American soldiers knew of the presence of the American liberating forces was when the wire-snippers began to cut the wire of their encampment, of their imprisonment. And when they heard the noise it frightened them. They didn’t know what to think or what was happening, supposing the Japanese were planning all of them for execution. And when the wire-snippers began to be heard, and the prisoners on the inside of the barricade were so deeply disturbed, the American soldiers said to them, “Steady men, steady men, steady there. The Yanks are here!” And the men were liberated.
And then the newspapers described how MacArthur’s army all stood at attention as the prisoners from Bataan and Corregidor marched in honor to liberty and freedom. That’s good news, isn’t it? That’s the gospel. It’d be that way today if somehow we could liberate the prisoners of war, our American men who have fallen out of those airplanes and then captured in North Vietnam. Wouldn’t that be good news? “The Yanks are here. The Americans are here, and you’re free.” That’s good news! That’s the gospel!
Did you know, at the turn of the century was one of the greatest revivals the world has ever seen? The Welsh revival, led by Evan Roberts—and in reading descriptions of that revival, I have read so many times where the whole nation, the whole country of Wales, just started singing. And the men would walk down the streets singing, and they’d come out of the mines singing, and they’d join hands and arms and just walk through the villages of Wales singing. And here is a song. Here’s one of those songs that came out of the Welsh revival. It is entitled “The Good News.” Listen to it.
The Lord was slain on Calvary!
That’s the news! that’s the news!
To set a world of sinners free,
That’s the news! that’s the news!
‘Twas there His precious blood was shed,
‘Twas there He bowed His sacred head,
But now He’s risen from the dead,
That’s the news! That’s the news!
His works reviving all around,
That’s the news! that’s the news!
And many have salvation found-
That’s the news! That’s the news!
And since these souls have caught the flame,
They shout Hosanna’s to His name,
And all around they spread His fame,
That’s the news! That’s the news!
Where’er we meet you, you always say,
What’s the news? What’s the news?
Pray what’s the order of the day?
What’s the news? What’s the news?
O! I’ve got good news to tell!
My Savior has done all things well,
And triumphed over death and hell;
That’s the news! That’s the news!
[from “What’s the News,” author unknown, the Ulster Revival of 1859]
How do you like that? How do you like that? It’s good news. “Brethren, I make known unto you the gospel, the glad tidings, the euangelion, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; He was buried, and the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures” [1 Corinthians 15:3-4].
Well, in a moment, let’s look at it. Why is it the good news? One, one: our sins are taken away, our sins are taken away. Christ died in our behalf, for our sins [1 Corinthians 15:3]. Our sins are taken away. “As far,” says the Bible, “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us” [Psalm 103:12]. If one went west and one went east and they kept going, they could go forever. Isn’t that right? They could go forever, one going east and one going west, to the infinity beyond this way and the infinity beyond that way. That’s how far God has removed our transgressions from us. Christ died for our sins. “For God hath made Him to be sin for us, Him who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” [2 Corinthians 5:21]. That’s the good news. He has taken our sins away!
You know, driving around Dallas, in my visiting, I turn on the radio, and there is a popular song that they’re singing now. If I had thought I was going to use it in the sermon this morning, I’d have listened to it more carefully. I can’t quite recall the words, but I know the sentiment. The sentiment is––and by the way, if somebody knows the words of that song between now and the next service, I wish you would give them to me––the sentiment is: “I want to go down to the river, for there’s a Man there, a’walking on the water. His name is Jesus and He’s baptizing to wash our sins away.”
Now that’s a rock song, a popular song on the radio now. I like that song. And if any of you know the words to that, I wish you’d bring it to me. In fact, at the next service, I might even sing it, you can’t tell. Wouldn’t that be something? That be worth turning on your television for, wouldn’t it? But the sentiment of it is correct. “Let’s go down to the river. There’s a Man there walking on the water. He’s baptizing and washing our sins away.” That’s the good news. Christ died that we might be free from our sins.
What’s the good news? Here’s a second reason why it’s the good news: He has conquered death and the grave [1 Corinthians 15:25-26]. The rest of this chapter is about that, the fifteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians [1 Corinthians 15:54-58]. Did you know there are many critics, many students of the Word of God, who think the high-water mark of all revelation is the fifteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians, the introduction to which I’m preaching out of today?
The good news: Christ has conquered death and the grave [1 Corinthians 15:54-57]. The last enemy, “He must reign until He hath put all enemies under His feet, and the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” [1 Corinthians 15:25-26]. To the Christian, death is nothing but the hands of evil grasping after this old man Adam, this natural body, to destroy it. And in God’s triumph, it’s but God’s way of giving to us a better body.
This I say unto you, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
But, I show you a mystery: We may not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead in Christ shall be raised incorruptible.
[1 Corinthians 15:50-52]
And death now to the Christian, to the believer in our Lord, is nothing but the avenue by which God gives us in exchange a more glorious body. “It is sown,” he says, “in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown in natural body; it is raised a spiritual body [1 Corinthians 15:42-44]. That’s the good news. Christ has conquered death and the grave [1 Corinthians 15:55-57].
What’s the good news? Why, the judgment is passed. As the apostle writes in Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus.” You know, I like the lilt of some of these choruses that we used to sing: “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart.” Remember that chorus? Remember one of the stanzas of it? “There is therefore now no condemnation down in my heart.” “There is therefore now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus.” The judgment is past. It’s over with [John 5:24; Romans 8:1].
You know, I can remember when I was a boy in far northwest Texas, I can remember an alert that would come to the town, and every able bodied man in the town would be out there fighting a prairie fire. I have seen those fires on the horizon, miles and miles of those raging flames, leaping from acre to acre and mile to mile; a prairie fire, a disastrous thing. You know, they said to us, “The way to preserve your life, if you’re ever in the path of a vast prairie fire, is to start a fire around you. Start it around you, let it burn the prairie grass all around you; then when the flame comes and the prairie fire rages, stand in the midst of the burned out place, and you’ll be saved, and you’ll be safe.”
The judgment has already passed. That’s the way it is with us. That’s the good news. “There is therefore no condemnation,” you can translate that word, “judgment.” “There is therefore no judgment to those who are in Christ Jesus” [Romans 8:1]. You will never face a judgment, a condemnation. All that we will face is the day when we receive our rewards at the bēma of Christ [2 Corinthians 5:10]. But for us, the judgment is past. It’s done. It was done at Calvary [Luke 23:33-46]. All our sins paid for, the judgment is over for the child of God [Romans 8:1].
In preparing this message, I read a sermon. It was from Dwight L. Moody. He could tell some of the most marvelous illustrations in the world. The story that Moody told was that, in an Ohio prison, in the state penitentiary of Ohio, the announcement was made that they were going to keep secret records of the inmates of the penitentiary. And at such and such day, after such and such period, the governor was coming, and he was going to give six pardons to six different men, men who had fine behavior.
Well, the time passed, and the governor came, and all the men were there gathered before him. And the governor stood up and he was going to give six pardons to six men. They were going to be free. Six of them were going to be free that day. Well, instead of announcing the pardons the governor took advantage of the occasion to make a speech, and he talked, and he made the speech, and he talked, and he said other words, and the men became more tense and more tense because six of them were going to be free. Finally, the chaplain stood up and walked over to the governor, and said, “Governor, if you don’t mind, announce the six men; and then go on and make your speech, because the intensity here and expectancy here is beyond what the men can bear. Six of them are going to be free.” So the governor acquiesced, and he announced the first man.
“Reuben Johnson, Reuben Johnson, will you stand up and come and get your pardon?” And the governor held it in his hand. And there was no Reuben Johnson to stand up, nor did any man reply. So the governor repeated, “Reuben Johnson, will you stand up? Here’s your pardon.” And no Reuben Johnson stood up.
Now the chaplain knew the man well. So the chaplain pointed out to him, and said, “Reuben, that’s you!” And this life-termer so did not expect it. He’d been imprisoned so long it was a way of thinking in life for him, that when the chaplain pointed out to him and said, “Reuben, it’s you,” he thought there must be another Reuben Johnson.
So the man turned his head to see who that Reuben Johnson was. And the chaplain came and said, “Sir, Reuben, it’s you! It’s you! Stand up!” And Reuben Johnson, hesitatingly and unbelievingly went up to the front, and received from the hand of the governor his pardon. Well, when the service was over, the men were told to stand up and to march back into their cells. And when the men were told to stand up and march back into their cells, Reuben Johnson stood up, as he always had through the years, and took his place in the line of men to march back into his iron cell.
And the chaplain came over to him and put his hand on him, and said, “Reuben, step out of that line! Reuben, don’t you know? You’re not a convict any longer. You’re a free man! You’re a free man, Reuben! You’re going out these walls and out these gates a free man, Reuben. Know it! Realize it.”
And when I read that from Moody, I thought, “Isn’t that the way we are? Isn’t that the way we are?” We all still think, “O God,” and we live in prisons, and we live behind iron bars, and we’re burdened down, when Jesus has already set us free. All we need to do is just to rejoice in it. And that’s why it’s the good news, and that’s why the Christian ought to shout, and sing, and clap his hand, and pat his foot, and just rejoice forever in God. It’s the good news.
Brethren, I make known unto you the good news, the gospel which I preached unto you, wherein ye are saved.
For I delivered unto you the most marvelous message in the earth, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures;
He was buried, and the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures.
[1 Corinthians 15:1-4]
And some glorious day He is coming again in victory, in triumph, in heavenly power [Matthew 24:30-31]. That’s the good news, the good news, the happy news, the glad tidings. What’s the news? That’s it, that’s it.
I must be in a good humor today, I tell you. Oh dear! O Lord in heaven, God bless us. Well, let’s sing a song, let’s sing a song. And while we sing that song, to rejoice in our salvation, the good news, a family, a couple, or just you, out of this balcony round, on this lower floor, come and stand by me. “Here I am, and here I come.”
You know, that’s one of the most glorious sights in the world, to stand here in this pulpit, this is a Memorial Day weekend—this is a holiday weekend, three days—you’d think, well, the church would be half empty. No! This church is jammed to the back, to the topmost row; isn’t that glorious? Isn’t that good news? It is for me. It is for me. Oh, the Lord be praised; may Christ be exalted, and honored, and magnified. And if you’ve got it in your soul to love Jesus too, come, and welcome. A family, a couple, or just you, as the Spirit of Jesus presses the invitation to your heart, come now, make it now, do it now, while we stand and while we sing.