One of my own favorite lines I’ve ever written is in my book Champagne for the Soul where I say: “If you don’t know the good news, keep asking and asking until the answer that comes provokes an eruption of joy.”
It’s difficult to say exactly what the Good News is, or to summarize it succcinctly, because different aspects of the gospel may strike us differently at different times. Also, we’re so used to the usual lingo that it may have lost its power to move us: God with us, sins forgiven, salvation by faith, and so on. Yes, yes, we know all that, we’ve heard it all before.
The truth is, the Good News may be expressed in many different ways, all appropriate for different occasions. The way to identify the Good News is not by trying to nail it down—we did that already on Calvary—but by the effect it has upon us. For the fundamental quality of the gospel is that it makes you happy—indeed overjoyed. It should actually set you free: free from sadness, free from bondage, free from all the cares of the world.
This joyful freedom is the identifying mark of the one true gospel, and we should accept no substitute. We’re talking here about the best news the world will ever hear, the Great Good News published by God not only in heaven, but by His own Son on earth. If this Good News doesn’t produce in you an explosion of joy, what will? If this Good News doesn’t make you happy, what good is it? For just as important as having right doctrine is having right feelings. To be a Christian is to inhabit an emotional reality radically different from that of all the world around us.
If you heard any other kind of good news, wouldn’t it put a smile on your face? What is it about the Good News of Jesus that leaves you cold? Is it because you don’t really believe it? Is it because it doesn’t seem to apply to your present situation? Is it because you’re too much of a fundamentalist—that is, fundamentally a pessimist? Or is it because the Good News is not really news because it’s two thousand years old?
What would it take for that old, old news to come to you fresh, as today’s tidings, news for now, hot off the press? What would it take for God’s Good News to so blindside you that it would change your life and and you’d never look back? What if it could change the way you think and feel right now? What if it could actually lift your spirit?
Well, the good new is that it can. Hear the word of the Lord:
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light!” (Is 9:2)
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide and I will fill it” (Ps 81:10).
“Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28).
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Gal 5:1).
Of course I could go on and on quoting scripture. The Good News is on every page. If you really want to know it, open the Bible anywhere and you will find it.
But what is it? What is the Good News?
That is the question. Ask it, ask it, and keep asking until the answer you get blows your stale old mind to smithereens.
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