Peter BeckPeter serves as assistant professor of religion at Charleston Southern University where he teaches church history and theology. While serving as senior pastor in Louisville, Ky., he completed his PhD in historic theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His dissertation, The Voice of Faith: Jonathan Edwards's Theology of Prayer, is soon to be published. He, his wife Melanie, and their two kids, Alex (12) and Karis (7), live near Charleston, SC. Peter's goal for his teaching and writing ministries is "love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith" (1 Tim 1:5).
- 2009 May 11
The news these days isn’t always so good. There’s the economy. There’s the swine flu, I mean H1N1. There’s growing terrorism in the
If the only news you get is bad, it’s hard to feel good. Worse, the news media thrives on bad news. They “sell papers,” if you’re old school and remember what those were, by creating a need in the reader to get the most up-to-date data. We saw that recently with the Swine Flu pandemic. For a week news of its spread covered the Internet as though we were seeing the resurgence of the Black Plague. This morning when I checked, there was but one story on the flu on one of the major news outlets website. Did it go away? Have we all been miraculously healed? Or, did something worse, I mean better, come up? I’d be comfortable saying that it was the latter.
Satan thrives on bad news as well (no, I’m not comparing the media to Satan though some have and will). He will remind Christians of how bad we once were. He’ll plant seeds of doubt as to your salvation. He seeks to undermine your faith in God by pointing out all the godlessness in society. He wants you to think God has lost control because that’s the only way Satan can keep control. Very often he uses those big, bold, and bleak headlines to accomplish his mission.
Well, things do look bad on the surface. People are losing their jobs. Some are struggling with health issues. But, it’s time for Christians to put a positive spin on it all. God hasn’t lost control. God isn’t on vacation. God doesn’t throw in the towel. God wins in the end.
Paul takes that message and puts a very personal spin on it in his letter to the Philippians. There he writes, “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:3-6).”
Did you hear that? Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, locked away in a prison of his own bad news, was “confident” that God will finish what He has started. Sure, you’ll stumble. Yes, life with be difficult. Unfortunately, bad things do happen to good people. But, God will finish what He has started.
God will save those who have believed. God will sanctify those who He has called. Not only does God win in the end, He’s at work right now. God hasn’t lost control, He’s exercising for our benefit even now. God won’t rest until He’s done with us. That’s good news that you can count on.
Paul makes the same argument in the book of Romans. In verse 28, Paul writes, “God works all things for the good of those who love him.” Notice, God doesn’t work some things for good. God works all things for the good of His saints.
And then, even more powerfully, Paul continues, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified (Romans 8:29-30).” In this theologically-loaded passage are riches of spiritual significance and promise. Note the tense of every verb in these two verses. They’re all past tense. In God’s mind, these things are already done.
You see, the Gospel is called the “Good News” for a reason. The good news doesn’t end with salvation. The good news follows us every day of our Christian lives. As the Psalmist wrote, “surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life (Psalm 23:6).” Now, that’s good news indeed.