Tag Archives: Cross

The Gospel (by Ross Penniall)

The Gospel is more than just scandalous. It’s an offense to almost every culture, and will continue to be so for many centuries to come. But say what you must, it is incredibly good news to the people who have come to the end of themselves.

John wrote what is arguably the most famous verse in the Bible: John 3:16. It is so because it captures the heart of the Author, and His love letter, in one easy-to-understand sentence. It doesn’t need a professor to interpret it or a scholar to to unpack its truth. It’s simple: God loved. Jesus came. Men believe. Eternal life is given. John expresses the ease with which one is rescued from eternal condemnation: Believe in God’s one and only Son.

But that should cause one to stop and ask: What does it mean to believe in Jesus? What exactly are we to believe about Jesus that will grant the gift of eternal life to the one who believes?

Allow me to answer these all-important questions for you …



Many don’t like the idea, But God is all-knowing, all-powerful and all-present. He gives and sustains life,  and without Him nothing would exist. He is righteous and holy, perfect in every way. He exists outside of time. He sees all, and knows everything about everyone. Like it or not, He is Lord of all, including us.


We are unholy. We are unable to save ourselves, even though many don’t even believe there is an actual afterlife. We are rebels to the core. We are lost in our sins. We are worshipers of ourselves and live to please ourselves. We are unable to please Him or know Him. We don’t desire Him on any level. We are lost. Our destination is damnation. And truth is, that’s a just sentence, and we are in desperate need of a savior.

Side note: A good doctor doesn’t just give a sick man medicine. A good doctor whips out the x-rays. He displays pictures of the disease. He doesn’t hold back. He calls a spade a spade and gives the sick man a blunt, open and honest diagnosis of how bad it really is, to the point that the sick man is virtually begging for the remedy. One of the reasons why men don’t desire God’s remedy (Jesus) is because they aren’t aware of how sick they really are.


Jesus is God’s remedy for a sick and dying world. He came to seek and save the lost. Jesus paid the penalty for every lost man’s sin, and this for all time. He died for me and He died for you! He took the full brunt of God’s wrath at sin upon Himself. He reconciled God to the world. On the cross, He who knew no sin became sin, so that through Him many would become righteousness. He is the only way to God. He is the only remedy for a lost and dying world.


God is holy. I am unholy. I need saving. Jesus made it possible for me to be saved. That’s the message. The invitation is simple: BELIEVE! Church attendance is not a prerequisite. Neither is obeying the commandments or praying every day. “Quit smoking!” “Stop using foul language!” “Stop watching Internet porn!” “All good advice, but not the Good News. Jesus is the Good News. He lived the life we couldn’t live. He died the death we all deserved to die. He then gives us a salvation we could never earn. Grace is given to those who don’t deserve it. That’s you and me, my friend! And so, man’s response is so simple: just believe. Unwrap the gift and say thanks.


That’s why the Gospel is an affront to just about every culture. Lost men don’t like to be told they are sustained by a loving Creator even if they don’t know or acknowledge it. Lost men don’t like the idea of being told that they are not good enough, no matter how hard they try. Lost men don’t like the idea of being told that they need help. Even those who believe in a God up there somewhere don’t always like the idea that Jesus is the only way to Him. And having crossed that bridge, the thought that we owe no debt or payment in return is scandal all the more. It sounds too good to be true. But it is so good because it is true!

I will never stop enjoying these truths. In fact, we’ve only scratched the surface in understanding how glorious the Gospel really is.



A guest post for SMGN by Ross Penniall – lover of Jesus, lover of life, and lover of SoMuchGoodNews.


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Light preceded darkness


Humankind lives in the shadow of the fall. This is a sadly inescapable fact. Much more important, though, is that we live in the light of the cross also! Both influence our lives, but they are not equal influences.

Light and darkness are not the two great opposing forces jostling for dominance; neither are good and evil cosmic realities locked in battle for supremacy. This might be a popular notion, but nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is that the cross of Christ was already blazing brightly by the time God said, “Let there be light”. This claim can be made with confidence because the cross was the manifestation of the Eternal Covenant agreed upon in the Godhead before creation commenced.

The implications are immense. The Lord took full responsibility for saving us before ever creating us. Father, Son and Holy Spirit knew that should first Adam be created with free moral agency, a second Adam would be necessary. They also knew all that would be required of that second Adam, were He to be redemptive of first Adam and his progeny. In ways too lofty for us even to imagine, each member of the Trinity committed themselves to the redemption-plan and their respective role in it. Nothing was left to chance. No one was put at risk. God Himself, unilaterally, guaranteed the redemption of everything redeemable!

Light outshines darkness for it is more powerful than darkness. This is no coincidence. Light overpowers darkness for it preceded it! Our eternal security lies in these foreordaining truths. In a physical sense light came out of darkness, but in a spiritual and ultimate sense, Light is before darkness ever was!

You and I are saved because of an agreement the Father, Son and Holy Spirit entered into before the beginning. The crucifixion had its date and time, as did the moment in which we believed. These two events make our salvation factual, anchoring it in history. This is good. Even better is that history itself has an anchor in that which predates it – our Triune God. History, correctly understood, will therefore always be His Story!

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Of first importance

One of the tricks of the trade I’ve learned is to always end the day’s writing having made a start on the next day’s work. That way you keep momentum going. Because you’ve already thought through what comes next, even if starting out cold you can warm to the task in no time.

This is an attempt to apply the principle on grand scale. Why not start the next book while wrapping up the current one. What follows is my opening stab at the first chapter of the next in the NOT CONFUSED series. It might still end up on the cutting room floor amongst the out-takes, but at least the crew are on set and the cameras are rolling.

We’re days away from the release of How To Read The Bible & Not Get Confused. Hitting the deadline has been a frenetic affair. The publishers require the final manuscript more than a week in advance, which gives them time to process it through their systems. The clock is ticking and tomorrow is the day of final edits.

Please share the news as the book launches. I’d love to get this material into the hands of everyone on the planet. I’m trusting the Lord to end up is many formats – e-books, print, audiobooks, multiple languages and the like. Hundreds of thousands of copies at least. Trust with me. Pray for me. Help me where you can as your own convictions permit.

Enjoy the preview!

Chapter 1

Jesus instituted a New Covenant in His blood.

This New Covenant was cut as the Lamb of God, falsely accused, laid down His life.

Crucifixion was a gruesome death. It was sadistically crafted to be slow, painful and humiliating. Relief eventually came to the fever-wracked body by asphyxiation. That happened when the body was so traumatised and exhausted that it overcame it’s involuntary fight for oxygen. By then the loss of control of bladder and bowel had removed every last vestige of dignity.

Strong men lived for days on crosses. Jesus died quickly. Not because the authorities needed Him to; which was why they precipitated premature asphyxiation for the two thieves crucified alongside Jesus by breaking their legs. Not because of the heavy scourging which He had endured; the multi-thonged whip was well able to end a life as well, which was why lashes were carefully rationed. And not because He was in a weakened state by nine o’clock when they crucified him. Three trials, trumped up charges, no food, no sleep, a beating and a scourging; most of us would need help lugging our crosses. Jesus was weakened, but not weak!

A weak man doesn’t take time mid-carnage to forgive those who are persecuting Him. A weak man doesn’t ensure that His mother is taken care of. And a weak man certainly doesn’t have the energy to minister to the down-and-outer next to Him. Doing any one of these things under those circumstances would have been remarkable. Jesus did all three. He also declined the pain-relieving opiate offered Him, declared His job done (”It is finished”, He said), and surrendered His spirit as He breathed His last. The world will never again see so consummate a victim, and yet all through His suffering He remained in control. Jesus laid down His life.

He died quickly because of sin. The Lamb of God had the iniquities of humanity laid on Him. Can you ever begin to imagine how to quantify that? How much sin is the whole world’s sin? The Scriptures are unequivocal about this. He died for our sin. He became a sin offering. In that moment of imputation, He became as unacceptable to God as sin is, and received sin’s reward. It’s wages have always been death. We know that the anguish which sin caused Jesus outweighed everything that the murderous crowd and the executioners were throwing at Him. He remained silent through it all, except for, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

Six hours on that cross! Six hours of tumult as the hordes of hades congregated in supposed triumph. Six hours that played havoc with creation. Hours of darkness which proved earth-shattering in the end – literally. Six hours of other-worldliness. The Centurion in charge walked away shaking his head, believing.

Gehenna (our Bibles translate it as hell) was the city dump and the place where the corpses of a destitute criminals were disposed of. Jerusalem had as much of a challenge when it came to sanitation as any other city does. In Gehenna the fire and worm did their work, loved-ones wept, dogs gnashed their teeth, and sulphur was used to mask the smell. Jesus had used its image in His teachings more than once, and Gehenna ought to have become His grave. Joseph of Arimathea stepped in instead, and Jesus’ body was entombed in his brand new rock-hewn sepulchre. Isaiah had prophesied some seven hundred years previously that His grave would be with the wicked and with the rich, and it was.

But the story doesn’t end there. The stone was rolled away. His grave clothes were neatly folded. Multiple resurrection appearances followed. It was explanation on the road to Emmaus, reassurance in Jerusalem, and breakfast in Galilee. More than five hundred people attested to being with Him on one occasion. His resurrection ratified His atoning work. The Lamb of God had done His job. The New Covenant had been cut. It really was finished after all! If the cross was the cheque that paid the debt, then the resurrection was that cheque that cleared the account.

The rest is history. His ascension from the Mount of Olives, His being seated in honour at the right hand of the Father, enthroned. The Lamb of God is the Lion of Judah. The choirs of heaven added a new verse to their hymn – it’s now “Holy” and “Worthy”. Jesus is the Eternal High Priest of the New Covenant. God has spoken. His final word on all matters is Jesus!

This is the Gospel. Paul called it “of first importance”. This book is about why that is so!

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then He appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:3–6)

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