What Is the Good News?
Here is a question which everyone should consider well. Christians should consider it for their own sakes and for the sake of those still outside the personal awareness of God's love in Christ. Those still unaware of God in Christ have every right to ask if there really is any "good news" to be told. And when they ask, their answer should be more definite than merely to say the "good news" is the Gospel, or a plan of salvation, or a means of eternal life.
Exactly what is the "good news"? What is the Gospel?
How were the hopes and fears of all the years met in the ancient town of Bethlehem where Jesus was born? What does that really mean? What does Christianity actually have to offer a man? We need to pinpoint the "good news" carefully.
Surely there is nothing worthwhile in a life without hope.
There is nothing worthwhile in a life riddled with fear.
Indeed it would be good news to anyone if it were a fact that in one event in the birth of one person hope could spring to life and fears could be met and done away with. But is this true? Were the hopes and fears of every person met in the birth of Jesus Christ that first Christmas? Have we allowed this to be the central fact
of the good news? Or have we tucked it into the side pocket of mere theological concept? In attempting to explain the Gospel, have we limited it to mere religion and divorced most of man's everyday life from God? Why is it that we get bogged down in pious attempts to sell certain promised "effects" of religious belief, when we have access to the very Cause of the "good news"?
In other words, why do we go on selling salvation and the victorious life, when the Saviour Himself said, "I, if I be lifted up... will draw all men unto me?"
The "good news" has always been, and will always be, that God is discoverable. He is not asking us to follow Him with no notion of what He is really like. He went to the greatest lengths to show Himself as He is. He seemed determined to leave no loopholes. God Himself has already done everything in His power to make Himself known to us.
This is the "good news."
The only possible way to find out how our hopes and fears are met in Him is to discover His true character. The more I see down into the heart of God, the more rapidly my fears melt away. The more I see of His intentions toward the entire human race, the higher hope springs within me. The more I learn of Him, the more able I am to accept the inner rest which Jesus promised.
We stop too soon in His great invitation to everyone, "Come to me all you who labor and are heavily burdened and I will rest you." Jesus said much more: "Take my yoke upon you and learn of me." As plainly as possible He explained that He understood that no one can rest in a relationship with another person about whom he knows little or nothing. God Himself, through Jesus Christ, was urging us to find out what He is really like. He knew He could bear inspection.
He longs to reveal Himself to anyone. And revelation from God is not a static, abstract thing. Men and women
discover God from entering into a personal relationship with Him. We learn of God as we learn of each other. By being together. When Jesus urged us to learn of Him, He did not mean that we were to sit down and wait for spiritual lightning to strike. Christians do not have to labor for the Zen Buddhist's satori or stage of enlightenment. We are to come to Him expectantly and allow Him, with the cooperation of our open hearts, to show us through a living relationship with Himself what He is like.
We have already said that a trip through the Old Testament demonstrates the necessity for God's invasion of human history. He came because He knew we would not be able to find out enough about His true nature any other way. He came to erase forever the ugly marks on the hearts of His loved ones who struggle with distorted ideas of a God of vengeance. He came to strike vengeance from the vocabulary of humanity, on His part and on ours. When we finally see Christ as God in the flesh, we are enabled to let go even the desire for vengeance. Once we see that God is love, once we catch on to what Jesus strained every nerve to show us about the true nature of the Heavenly Father, we no longer fear vengeance. And we are no longer driven to avenge ourselves.
Once we look deeply into the heart of God as we see it in Jesus Christ, we are enabled to forsake the luxury of hatred and self-pity.
Once we know something of God's real intentions toward all mankind in Jesus Christ, we begin to see that all that matters ultimately is that a God like this is in charge!
The success or failure of all of life is directly dependent upon our knowledge of what God is really like. Therefore, the heart of the "good news" is that God's heart has been laid open for us to see His true nature. The "good news" is that God is what Jesus declared Him to be. The "good news" is the very nature of God Himself.
Chapter Four || Table of Contents