Around 15 years ago I received the shocking news that a close friend had died. We had chatted over the phone, just the previous day. Then she was gone. Her sudden passing was saddening, but not devastating. For she trusted in Jesus, and possessed the eternal hope of salvation by faith. Reflecting on that truth, I was able to rejoice in the midst of tragedy (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Confronted by the worst kind of announcement many of us will ever hear, I was comforted by God’s good news, a greater and more significant announcement—the most important news any of us will ever hear.
Life Is Full of Good and Bad News
Understandably, we like good news. That might be news of employment, promotion, marriage, birth, or academic achievement. These things are worth celebrating. They are desirable. In contrast, none of us eagerly anticipate bad news. That might be job loss, divorce, personal rejection, illness, and severe financial challenges. Such news is devastating. But some of the bad things we go through in life occur because God allows them to happen, in order to fulfil his purposes. “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). We rest assured that in the midst of turmoil God loves us so much that he gives us the good news, the gospel, as an anchor when inevitable bad news arrives.
God gives us the good news, the gospel, as an anchor when inevitable bad news arrives.
If you will allow me to briefly testify: God’s good news in the gospel brought drastic personal change, it turned my life upside down, providing meaning and purpose. In it I found a true, sure identity. The gospel is never easy to hear and believe. For it made me realise both how vulnerable and wicked I was, in desperate need of help, unable to save myself. “But God, being rich in mercy because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:4-5). Living in light of God’s good news, I have experienced unsurpassed love, a fixed hope, lasting peace, searching forgiveness, deep joy, and true contentment.
Live out of the Christmas Announcement
At Christmas we considered some of the Old Testament pointers to this gospel. One prophet promised: “Unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). In Isaiah 52:7 we read, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion ‘Your God Reigns.'”
Those promises and the ancient announcement of Christ’s birth are good news for all of life.
Although this was a promise from God for the people of Israel, that he would rescue them from their enemies, it also anticipated God’s ultimate liberation of sinners from the bondage of sin, to be achieved through the suffering of a servant (Isaiah 53:11). One was promised, by God, to bear all our grief and sins, to die for the lost. These verses, usually more emphasised around Christmas, remind us of the best announcement our world has ever heard: the birth of Jesus Christ. Below I will attempt to show you why those prophetic promises and the ancient announcement of Christ’s birth are good news for all of life.
The Gospel News isn’t Abstract, or Impersonal
At the very centre of God’s gospel is a person, the second person of the Trinity. He is God, the Son; Jesus, the Messiah; and the gospel embodied. Jesus was born miraculously by the virgin Mary, to rescue all people from their sins (Matthew 1:18-25). In the person of Jesus, God came to meet our greatest need, the forgiveness of sins. By living the obedient life we couldn’t and dying the death we should have, he saves us from God’s righteous judgment. As Paul writes, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
At the very centre of God’s gospel is a person. The gospel embodied.
God did all of this for us, because of love. Unconditional love. “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Moreover, God in his great love grants faith that enables us, by his Spirit, to put our trust in Jesus and be saved. “By grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of work so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). So at the heart of God’s gospel is a person, and he invites all to come to him and find rest (Matthew 11:28-30).
The Old Gospel Lasts into Eternity
But can the good news cease to be good? Absolutely not. It will remain forever, throughout history and eternity. The apostle Peter reminds us of this great truth. He writes: “God in his great mercy caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for us, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3-6).
Good and bad news will be part of life, so we must find our greatest comfort in God’s ancient gospel.
Despite the many instances of good news that cause us to rejoice, as well as bad news that constantly disturbs our lives, the gospel is incomparably great and glorious news. It’s for all seasons, and it will never spoil. Momentary good news as well as the bad will always be part of our lives on this earth. We must find our greatest comfort in God’s eternal and ancient gospel. So we must continually seek to set our eyes on that, not letting lesser good news distract us. And when bad news comes, we must cling to it all the more.