Summary: In order to see how good the Good News is, we need to understand how bad we really are.
I’ve got good news and bad news
Text: Ephesians 2:1 – 5
By: Ken McKinley
I doubt that there is anyone sitting here today that likes to get bad news. I also would bet that there isn’t anyone here who likes to give bad news. Sometimes when we have to give bad news to someone, we try to balance it out by giving some good news as well. I’m sure we’ve all heard the old adage, “I’ve got good news and bad news, which do you want to hear first?” And believe it or not, even pastors sometimes have to deal with the conflict of good news and bad news.
- Well pastor, the good news is that you baptized seven people today in the river. The bad news is that you lost two of them in the current.
- Well pastor, the good news is that John Doe thinks your sermons are intellectually stimulating. The bad news is that John Doe also thinks that Sponge Bob Square Pants is intellectually stimulating.
- Well pastor, the good news is that church attendance rose by 15% in the last two weeks. The bad news is that you were on vacation during that time.
Now that can be pretty funny, or pretty sad, depending on how true they are, but in all of those scenarios the good news never outweighed the bad. Fortunately, in Scripture when we come across the Good News and the bad news, it is the Good News that always wins out.
The problem is; like I said, no one wants to hear the bad news, so what often times happens when we come to Scripture, we have people who simply sweep the bad news under the carpet in order to avoid the negative feelings we might have when we hear the news. But if we do this we are doing it at our own risk, because if we downplay that bad news then the Good News doesn’t seem to be all that Good anymore.
In our text this morning, we read about bad news, and this news is so bad that for centuries people have denied its truth, or downplayed it to the point where the Good News seems for all intents and purposes, unnecessary. If we deny the tremendous hopelessness of our condition without Christ, we then deny the tremendous work He has done in order to save us. You see; you can’t worship God for who He is, unless you understand what He has done, and in order to understand what He has done, we need to understand what needed to be done, and in order to understand what needed to be done, we need to understand the true depravity and sinfulness of the human race.
So what is the bad news? The bad news is that we were dead.
The trouble with being dead is that there are no degrees of being dead. You can’t be partially dead, you can’t be 50% dead. You are either dead or alive. And people will hear this and say, “Dead? Why I feel fine. How can I be dead?” But in the area that matters the most, in the soul, there was a problem, and still is a problem with much of mankind. And that problem is that they are spiritually dead.
I’ve done my fair share of funerals. I’ve seen people die, and I’ve seen people who were dead, and let me tell you that no amount of shouting, no amount of encouragement, no amount of wishful thinking is going to get that person to sit up and talk to you and respond to you. Well in the same way, with respect to God, we have no ability or power to respond to Him.
And that’s what Paul is saying. He’s telling us that we were dead in trespasses and sins. I like to hunt, deer, pheasant, quail, dove, whatever… I also like to fish. But let me tell you something. If I’m out hunting or I decide to go fishing at a pond I see on the side of the road and I see a sign that says “No Trespassing,” that means that I can’t go there. That is a line that I shouldn’t cross. If I do, then what I’ve done is deliberately broken the law and deviated from the right path. So when Paul talks about trespasses, he’s saying that we’ve gone off in another direction than we should’ve. We’ve crossed the line and strayed from God’s righteous requirements. When Paul talks about sins, he’s talking about how we miss the mark of God’s perfect standard. Even when we try our very best, in our own strength we can never meet the perfect standard of God… we will always fall short. And it’s because of these things that we are spiritually dead. Trespasses and sins have caused us to be alienated from God, and because we are alienated from God, we cannot possibly please Him. Even if we are doing good things, like giving to the poor, helping widows, helping orphans… if you are alienated from God because of your trespasses and sins, all of those things are not going to get you any closer to Him, and none of those things will reconcile you to Him. And Paul says, this is the condition all of us were in before we came to Christ.