For some time now, I have been wondering what I used to tell people in Gospel meetings as a worker, what the “Good News” of the Gospel really was. And I’m not sure I ever did. I preached in likely thousands of Gospel meetings and those meetings were supposed to be aimed at the “sinner” or the “outsider”. (My last 5 years, however, I pretty much quit doing that and gave up any semblance of a “sermon-nette” and just talked about what the Lord and I were working on together and hoped it resonated with folks. From what I could tell, it seemed to.) I remember talking about why we needed Jesus but mostly took His parables and used them to help folks identify where they were at with God at that time in their lives.
Nothing wrong with those topics at all. But now I wonder why I never had a 4 week or 10 week series on the Good News of the Gospel. I know the reason why: because at that point, I didn’t know what it truly was either. How could that be? Because I was teaching what I had been taught all my life about the Gospel, and that was, that Jesus was my Savior BUT there were still a number of things I had to do in order to truly secure my place in heaven because what He did wasn’t enough obviously. Gives me chills to even write that now because it is so not true. The Good News then was that Jesus was 100% human and 100% divine when He walked on this earth and that meant He understood our suffering and our feelings and longings. And if we were ever going to become like Him, we had to strive very, very hard to not sin because, by golly, He never sinned and so we could at least try to not either. (I literally saw two young men almost loose their minds trying to be “perfect” when they were young workers. It was tragic, the pressure they put on themselves, but that was what the “system” promoted.)
Having the desire not to sin is not a bad thing at all. But the REASON for that desire is what was wrong. Enter the Good News. I’m going to share a quote from “The Imperfect Disciple” by Jared C. Wilson:
“We think we know what will do the job of making us holy: us doing the job of making us holy. And seeking holiness is integral to discipleship. But more central to our discipleship is the news that actually makes Christianity Christianity: we are holy not because of what we’ve done but because of what Jesus has done. That is why the good news is so good! The essential message of Christianity isn’t “do” but “done”. The good news is NEWS, not instruction, and it announces to us not “get to work” but “it is finished”.
That is TREMENDOUS news if you ask me! It is a totally different mindset than what is taught in the meetings church. Telling folks what Jesus did and still does is the Good News. What we don’t have to do. The Gospel of Grace is the Good News. The Good News that is almost too good to be true but it is true. The Good News that we don’t have to work to be saved or complete the check list the workers gave us subliminally. Instead, we do good deeds out of a place of love and thankfulness; never obligation. It just comes from a totally different place.
The Good News is that Jesus was God when He walked this earth. How? Who knows! His ways are way past ours and even if He did give us a chapter or two on how the specifics of that worked, we still wouldn’t be able to wrap our minds around it. But there are many, many verses that tell us He was God in the flesh when he was here. The Good News in that is that because He was God, He couldn’t have sinned and that is why we will never be able to be perfect! He doesn’t expect us to be. He just wants us to keep looking at Him and finding Him in the Bible everywhere and in creation everywhere and by doing that and beholding His Glory, we will be changed into His image!
2 Cor 3: 17-18 “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate[a] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
I’m on a roll now but I can see how there easily could have been a 10 week series on what the Good News really was and is! But the fact that I didn’t know then what I know now explains why Gospel meetings were often so dry and flat (mine included). Not always but often, they really were. I sat in alot of meetings that, at the time, were very inspiring and touching and I left those meetings, wanting more than anything, what they were talking about.
We (the workers, bless our hearts) were straining to find something to say and oh man, we worked HARD to prepare something for those Gospel meetings. Our messages evoked a feeling in the listeners of what could be, but sadly, seldom actually was. I remember feeling strongly about some things and desperately wanting the reality of it in my life but it never quite was. Because even though we were given the formula for how to be the perfect professing person, the formula left Jesus out of most of it and so it couldn’t have worked. But He is EVERYWHERE in the Scripture and the Good News is everywhere and messages about Him should have been a joy to give and not nearly as much work to prepare for. It should have been bubbling out of us, truly. Those angels announced the “glad tidings with great joy” to the shepherds and that should be how the Gospel is always presented.
Just writing this, I am in awe of what I/we have in Christ. How life makes sense because of what the Word says. And how much pressure is off of us because of believing in Jesus. Life is hard, yes, but knowing what we know now sure helps. A lot. I can rest in Him now knowing that He sees everything and is always with me and He knows my sinful heart and has not given up on me. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus.