When we preach the gospel to guests and to believers alike, we are effectively communicating both bad news and good news. There has to be a connection between the two, a symmetry between diagnosis and cure. If we are not careful, a slight misdiagnosis can have terrible consequences.
Problem: I’m not good at all.
Solution: I need the good news of the Gospel or I am hopelessly lost. 100% dead in trespasses and sins. Apart from Christ we can do nothing. The problem points us to Christ as our only hope.
But what a difference a slight misdiagnosis can bring…
Problem: I’m not good enough.
Solution: I need to try harder, perhaps combined with accepting some sort of grace offer, but recognizing that that brings with it a responsibility to start to get my act together and to make this the week that evidences a change in direction, a new leaf, a new resolution, a breakthrough, a deep commitment, a stronger push. I look to God to give me the spiritual juice I need to make my attempt at holiness.
What a difference! Not good at all? Or just not good enough? The world and the devil would love us all to buy into the second one. Guests hearing this will recognize the need for digging deeper and becoming the better me. Believers hearing this will find resonance in their flesh which continues to live in the lie of independent god-like status.
The bad news is bad. Really bad. Probably worse than we’ve dared to imagine! And that is great news.