“A Favour” ( Romans 4: 4-5, KNOX ) by Carley Evans

Ever done a favor for someone; perhaps even for a stranger, someone who may have knocked at your window at a stoplight to ask for money? Paul says this is what God does for us, strangers, even enemies. God does a favor for us! He makes sinners “just men.” We are not due this favor; we do not earn it. In other words, our salvation is not a reward. Rather it is a favor.

The reward given to one who works to earn it is not reckoned as a favour, it is reckoned as his due. When a man’s faith is reckoned virtue in him, according to God’s gracious plan, it is not because of anything he does; it is because he has faith, faith in the God who makes a just man of the sinner.

We gain God’s favor by recognizing, if you will – by believing that it is a favor. We recognize and believe God does us this favor “according to [His] gracious plan.” Paul says that “it is not because of anything [we do].” Yes, it’s a favor.


“According To The Scriptures” ( 1 Corinthians 15: 3-4, HCSB ) by Carley Evans

La conversion de Saint Paul by Luca Giordano (...
La conversion de Saint Paul by Luca Giordano (1690), Museum of Fine Arts of Nancy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Paul tells the church at Corinth that which is of most importance — good news that he is given; not a story he conjures but news he receives from God Himself. The truth Paul is given, he passes on to others. He writes:

“3 For I passed on to you as most important what I also received:

that Christ died for our sins
according to the Scriptures,
4 that He was buried,
that He was raised on the third day
according to the Scriptures.”

This good news, says Paul, is “according to the Scriptures.” From before the beginning of the world, God devises His plan and reveals it over time through His Word. God gives this news to Paul on the road to Damascus and through experiences and further revelations. Every piece of information Paul receives, he verifies through the Scriptures.

The key, says Paul, to understanding this good news is to acknowledge Christ dies for our sins, is buried, and is raised again to life on the third day — all “according to the Scriptures.” Amen.

“The Good News” ( 2 Corinthians 5:21, NIV 1984 ) by Carley Evans

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“God made Him — [that’s Jesus, His Son who is also fully God] — who had no sin —[a man who is perfect, without blemish, totally pleasing to God] — to be sin– [to become sin itself] — for us —[that’s those who believe the good news]–, so that in him —[in Jesus’ accomplished redemptive work] — we might become the righteousness of God — [holy and blameless in God’s sight.]

And that’s the good news.

“Simply The Good News” ( Hebrews 9: 15, ESV ) by Carley Evans

The English Standard Version of Hebrews 9:15 reads, “Therefore He [Christ] is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.”

The King James Version of Hebrews 9: 15 reads, “And for this cause He [Christ] is the mediator of the new covenant, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they who are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.”

The Holman Christian Standard Bible version of Hebrews 9:15 reads, “Therefore, He [Christ] is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance, because a death has taken place for redemption from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.”

Our redemption from the transgressions committed under the old or first covenant occurs because of a death. The death of Jesus makes Him the perfect mediator of a new covenant under which we — who are called by the Holy Spirit — are given our promised inheritance. That inheritance is guaranteed by the seal of that same Holy Spirit, who is known to us as the third person of the triune God.

Everything is purified by blood under the old covenant, and so also under the new testament. But, rather than the blood of bulls and goats, our purification is purchased by the blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. “Consequently, when Christ came into the world, He said, ‘ Sacrifices and offerings You have not desired, but a body have You prepared for Me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings You have taken no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God, as it is written of Me in the scroll of the Book.” (Hebrews 10:5-7)

In doing God’s will, Jesus fulfills the Law. Jesus “does away with the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Hebrews 10:9-10)

“The Good News” (Romans 10: 11, John 14: 6; ESV) by Carley Evans

Paul writes, “For the Scripture says, ‘ Everyone who believes in Him will not be put to shame.’ ”

Jesus says, “I Am the Truth, the Way, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but through Me.”

Paul writes, “The Word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart.” (Romans 10: 8)

Our hearts carry our belief in Jesus as Lord and Savior. With our mouths, we confess our belief. As we privately believe and publicly confess this belief, we are first justified and then saved. “For everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10: 13)

Salvation can’t be that simple, say many. Paul says it is.

Words may emerge from the mouth, but if the heart does not hold the belief behind the words, they do not save. The heart may believe, but if the mouth fails to confess openly this belief before others, then that belief is fruitless.

Paul says, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” (Romans 10: 10 – 11)

Then Paul reminds us “how beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Romans 10: 15)

“Come; See For Yourself” (Luke 2: 16 – 20, ESV) by Carley Evans

When I get good news, I want to share it.

So it is with the shepherds who rush to find Mary and Joseph in the nearby manger, seeing that the Christ child is born just as they were told by the angel.

The shepherds worship God, praising Him for His gift of salvation in progress.

Then, they go out to tell others of the good news. This is a natural inclination of people — the desire to share the good we have found in our lives. The best sharing is that which emerges from within; not an artificial trumpeting, but a soft voice saying, ‘Look here at what great event has happened among us! Come and see for yourself!’

‘Jesus is born!’

“The Sign Of God’s Favor” (Luke 2: 11 – 14, ESV) by Carley Evans

The baby in the manger is the sign from God which Israel awaits. Prophets through the ages are speaking of this event, and when it comes an angel announces to shepherds that in the city of David, the Christ is born.

The good news is for the world, but specifically for men and women upon whom God’s favor rests.

Some protest that God should not show favor, but He has from the beginning. He favors Mary to carry the Christ child; He favors Joseph to be Jesus’ earthy father. The angel appears to specific shepherds in fields nearby. Jesus Himself chooses the twelve disciples from among many others.

And, all know that Israel is God’s chosen nation, which emerges from one man, Abram who is also chosen by God from among others.

The baby in the manger, wrapped in cloths, is the sign of God’s favor not only to the Israelite but to the Gentile beyond.

And suddenly with the angel is a heavenly host praising God.