The good news of the Gospel is good because of some really bad news. We have been pronounced guilty before . . .
an absolutely good being,
an absolutely holy king,
an absolutely righteous judge,
an all seeing, all knowing sovereign
who knows every thought and intention of our hearts, every behavior of our past, every secret and private action that breaks His absolutely perfect law. He has rendered His verdict–all of us are guilty, all of our righteousness is like a filthy rag in the presence of such perfection as our God (Isaiah 64:6, Zechariah 3:4, Romans 3:10-18). And this is why becoming a Christian is a surrender to a King and all attempts to earn or pay for His mercy and grace.
The debt cannot be paid. It can only be enjoyed and shared with others.
And this is why Bonhoeffer is absolutely right on page 21 of his book Life Together.
” . . . the Christian is the man [or woman] who no longer seeks his salvation, his deliverance, his justification in himself, but in Jesus Christ alone. He knows that God’s Word in Jesus Christ pronounces him guilty, even when he does not feel his guilt, and God’s Word in Jesus Christ pronounces him not guilty and righteous, even when he feels that he is righteous at all.”
Bonhoeffer, LIFE TOGETHER, p. 21-22.