I’m not sure when or how I got a copy of the Good News Bible. It was not allowed. There was only one approved version of the Bible and don’t you dare listen to those radio preachers. So I never heard the Good News, in fact most of it was bad news. If you don’t stop or start doing you will go to hell.
I was told the gospel was Acts 2:38, those three steps to salvation: repent, be baptized every one of you in Jesus name, and receive the Holy Ghost. You couldn’t say Holy Spirit, that was new-fangled and not in the approved version of the Bible. I can still see in my mind’s eye the huge wall size poster replica of stairs I painted for my Sunday school class depicting the three steps to heaven. Why kids, do these three steps and never make a mistake and you might, if you are “perfect” and never cut your hair, go to heaven. But you’ll never know for sure. God can be awful mean sometimes.
By the late 80’s to early 90’s, I rebelled. After years of crying, praying, and never understanding why I couldn’t be good. I started listening to the radio preachers, who gave me a glimpse in to the Good News. Then in 1995, I began reading in earnest my Good News Bible and learned that the gospel is not Acts 2:38 but Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection for me. This gospel or good news is what I had missed all those years. It wasn’t my effort to save myself but His effort on the cross to save me that would get me to heaven.
And now I want to remind you, my friends, of the Good News which I preached to you, which you received, and on which your faith stands firm. That is the gospel, the message that I preached to you. You are saved by the gospel if you hold firmly to it—unless it was for nothing that you believed. I passed on to you what I received, which is of the greatest importance: that Christ died for our sins, as written in the Scriptures; that he was buried and that he was raised to life three days later… I Corinthians 15:1-4