I wonder how they could yell Barabbas instead of Jesus.
I wonder how they sang Hosanna and days later, Crucify him.
I wonder how Pontius could wash his hands of it, as though a dirty conscience could be so easily cleaned.

But — I am Barabbas, sinner set free.
I yell Crucify him as I sing praises with ease.
I am Pontius, who turned a blind eye to glory.
And yet, so Christ still died for me.
Still he died, where I should be,
a perfect love on that tree.
—  J.S.
Good News!

The gospel is good news, but what is the news and what makes it good?

Much of what is sold as “the gospel” is an inferior substitute for the real thing. Don’t be fooled by cheap knock-offs! There is an easy way to distinguish the authentic from the counterfeit. The true gospel is 100% good news. There’s no bad news in the good news. If the gospel you’ve bought into makes you feel insecure, anxious, guilty, and condemned, then it’s no good. Discard it before it kills you!

The original gospel signaled a great joy for all people. It was, and remains, an announcement about a Man. This Man has done not one, but two deeds of supreme and eternal significance. If you have not heard of this Man and His deeds, then this will be good news for you:

1.    Jesus died for you. In the greatest demonstration of love the world has ever seen, Jesus gave His life for us. We had chosen independence from God and reaped the whirlwind. But God loved us so much that He sent His Son to ransom us from the power of sin and death. The Son of God became a son of man and took the punishment that brought us peace. He was rejected that we might be accepted; wounded that we might be healed; cursed that we might be blessed. On the cross He carried our sin and gave us His righteousness. Through Him we have been reconciled to God and our sins are no longer held against us. In the grip of death Jesus cried, “it is finished.” His rescue mission complete, Jesus committed His spirit into the hands of His Father and died.

2.    Jesus lives for you.
 The ransom paid in full, Jesus rose triumphant from the dead. He now sits at the Father’s right hand, a perfect High Priest who ever lives to speak for us. If you believe that Jesus has saved you, then believe that He will keep you for He will never change His mind. He is the Author and Perfecter of our faith and His blood has obtained your eternal redemption. Jesus is not alone in all this. Your heavenly Father loves you with an everlasting love and saving you was His plan all along. In order that we might have a firm and secure hope to cling to, God the Father has sworn a covenant of peace with the Son of Man and neither will ever break it. He has also given us His mighty Spirit – the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead – as a deposit guaranteeing all that He has promised. Through our representative Jesus, and as an expression of His enduring love, our heavenly Father has joined Himself to us, promising never to leave nor forsake us. We stand secure, not on our feeble promises to Him, but on His unconditional and unbreakable promises to us.

The gospel is Jesus and He’s the greatest news in the world!

What should I do in response to the good news?

God has done it all – the only thing you can do is respond. He offers no carrots or sticks, just invitations. Jesus once said, “Turn to God and believe the good news,” and on another occasion, “Come to me all who are weary and find rest.”

What does He want from you? He wants friendship, love, and intimacy. He doesn’t want your toys or your service – He just wants you. He loves you more than you know. Need proof? Look at the cross and the empty grave! He died for you and now He lives for you. His intentions are clear; He wants you to be with Him and enjoy Him forever.

But I’m not worthy

You don’t feel worthy? Then look at the cross! You’ve been redeemed by the most precious commodity in the universe – the blood of God. That’s how much He values you! You are the apple of your Father’s eye and because of Jesus you are highly favored.

If Jesus was speaking to you right now, He might say this: “If anyone opens the door I will come in and dine with him and he with me.” Do you realize Who is knocking on your door? It’s the King of kings! The most beautiful, loving, gracious and mighty person in the universe knows you by name and He’s come to win you with His love. Don’t be distracted by your unworthiness, but be amazed by His grace and respond. The Creator of heaven and earth waits to see what you will do with Him. Will you ignore His overtures or will you say, “Lord, come in!”

How can I respond?

The only thing you can do with a gift is receive it or reject it. God has offered you the greatest gift of all – Himself. This is called grace. What does grace look like? It looks exactly like Jesus. He is grace personified. You cannot earn grace and you cannot buy it. You can only receive it through child-like faith.

One of the most common phrases in the Bible is: “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good and His love endures forever.” What is an appropriate response to God’s goodness and love? It is giving thanks! If you want to turn to God, you could pray like this:

“Thank you heavenly Father for loving me. Thank you for sending your son Jesus to rescue me from sin and death, and thank you for raising Jesus from the dead. I was lost but you have found me. Jesus, be my king, my savior, my friend. Fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may know you more and reign in life with you. Lord, I am yours and you are mine. Thank you for promising to never leave me nor forsake me. Amen!”

What happens now?

If you just prayed that prayer with a sincere heart, then rest assured you are saved. The Bible says so (see Romans 10:9-13)! The gift that God gave us 2000 years ago is now yours forever and you have peace with God. Just take care that no one tries to make you pay for His gift. The only way you can set aside grace is by thinking you have to perform to remain pleasing to God. The truth is you are saved by grace and you are kept by grace. It’s grace from start to finish! Don’t let anyone frighten you into doing dead works, but rest secure in His finished work. Just as you did nothing to earn salvation, there is nothing you can do to lose it.

The best thing is to see your old self as crucified with Christ. You are now brand new and He lives in you. But you are not Him so don’t try to be Him. In fact, don’t try to do anything at all. Just trust. And allow Jesus to live His life through you. If you have questions, just ask Him! He has given you His Spirit to teach you and guide you into all truth.

The adventure is just beginning!

This was taken from Paul Ellis’ blog, escapetoreality.org

Avoid a sugared gospel as you would shun sugar of lead. Seek the gospel which rips up and tears and cuts and wounds and hacks and even kills, for that is the gospel that makes alive again. And when you have found it, give good heed to it. Let it enter into your inmost being. As the rain soaks into the ground, so pray The Lord to soak his gospel into your soul.
—  Charles Spurgeon
Christianity is not about failing, it’s about growing. We’re living by faith in the grace of God, not in ourselves, as if our works qualify us. It’s not about how much we have failed, it’s about being transformed by the revealing of the Father’s heart in Christ, and getting alone with God and allowing our faith in the truth and grace of God to make what He’s shown us our reality.
I’m just going to come out and say it: People don’t go to hell because they are gay. Ever. Never in a million years will God send someone to hell for being gay. People go to hell because they want to be the gods of their own lives. People go to hell because they want to be kings. They want to determine what is right and wrong.

The truth is we are all going to limp across the finish line to some degree. Of course there is victory in Jesus and of course are we more than conquerors through Christ as the apostle Paul says; but even Paul had a thorn in the flesh. Most of us have a spiritual Achilles’ heel. We all will have spiritual bruises, cuts, and sores. Some will limp across the finish line still fighting their addiction to porn. Some will limp across the finish line with their addiction to food. And some will limp across the finish line with their attraction to the same sex.

The issue isn’t whether someone is good or bad, but whether he is repentant or unrepentant. Who is God of her life? Who’s in control? What or who are they pursuing? Are they looking to him or trusting in self? Because I trust that if Jesus’ grace has radically collided with a heart, I believe that person will begin to align themselves with Jesus’ image, looking more like him everyday.
—  Jefferson Bethke, from Jesus > Religion