The gospel is always better news than you think.
The word “gospel” literally means “good news.” But I think we’re a little jaded by what passes for “good news” in the world around us.
We live in a world of over-hyped promises. We are constantly told that this new product will change our lives, that this new online tool will transform us, that this new workout plan will give us more results with less effort, that a new relationship with complete us. We can easily get jaded.
And we can easily bring this attitude into our Christianity. We can get used to the gospel. We can do our best to “Amen” on Sundays, while inwardly admitting that it doesn’t sound quite as good this year as it did last year. Or at least, quite as good as something else we want to do on Sunday afternoon when we’ve paid our dues at church.
But the gospel is not hype. The gospel doesn’t get old. The news of the gospel gets better and better.
Don’t believe me? Here are 7 reasons the gospel can and should sound better to our ears every year:
#1 -We Understand The Gospel Basics Better
It’s true that you can condense the gospel message down into something like “Jesus died for my sins.” That’s beautiful and true. But as life moves on, sometimes this basic truth gets fuzzy and obscured and as we go over these basics again we find them more beautiful and true than we remembered.
In the Old Testament God constantly drew his people’s attention back to their salvation, again and again, so they would not forget. In the New Testament, Peter the Apostle says that he is writing to the saints to “stir you up by way of reminder” (2 Peter 1:13). We tend to forget and rehearsing the good news of the gospel helps us remember.
It’s good news.
#2 – We Understand Its Implications Better
The Bible doesn’t simply tell the basic story of the gospel, it explains its implications for every area of life. We’ve all seen the TV infomercials where the announcer keeps shouting “But wait there’s more!” as another set of knives or a collectible plate is thrown into the bargain.
Inevitably the hype doesn’t live up to the product. But in the gospel, we find “But wait there’s more!” to be truer than we know.
I grew up in the church world I had the gospel down cold: who God is, why we’re sinners, why we need Jesus, how to respond. (It helped that I got prizes in church and at AWANAs for this kind of stuff.)
But then as a teenager, I tried reading John Stott’s “The Cross of Christ.” I didn’t understand half of it. But I do remember one chapter in particular where Stott walks through several images Scripture uses of the gospel’s work: reconciliation, redemption, propitiation, justification.
I learned that Jesus not only paid for my sins but he reconciled me to God. I learned that not only did Jesus die for me, but he redeemed me and payed a precious price to purchase me back. It was like the gospel went from black and white to technicolor.
That’s good news.
#3 – We Know The God Of The Gospel Better
The gospel is fundamentally a story about God, and as we grow in our relationship to God we grow to see more and more why the gospel is such good news. We rejoice that Peter tells us that Jesus died “the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18).
We are restored to relationship with God and as we walk with him daily, as we know him better, all that he’s done for us in the gospel becomes even more beautiful.
When my wife and I were first married I gave her a ring. It was a symbol of our relationship and our commitment. It told our story. But after being married for 8 years that ring means even more now than it did then.
Our story of meeting and falling in love means more because we know each other better. The joy of what I’ve found in my wife increases each year. In a similar and deeper way the gospel that brings us to God is more precious each passing day because God is more precious to us.
That’s good news.
#4 – We Know Ourselves Better
There’s a shocking progression in Paul the Apostle’s letters. Look at how he refers to himself as each year passes: In 1 Corinthians 15:9 he refers to himself as the “least of all the apostles.” In Ephesians 3:8 he refers to himself as “the very least of all the saints.” Last, chronologically, he referred to himself as the “chief of sinners” (1 Tim 1:15).
Paul goes from thinking he’s the least of the apostles, to the least of all Christians, to the chief of all sinners. Why? Because Paul knew himself better each year.
If we truly know ourselves, the gospel will always be better news because we’ll look at ourselves and think, “Jesus died for me?”
I don’t want to negate the fact that God’s spirit is at work in us as Christians. We are being made new. We are being shaped into the image of Christ. But as part of this process, we learn to see our sin more clearly and to hate it more deeply. ”
This should grow a sense of wonder and gratefulness that we were one of the “world” that “God so loved” that he “gave his only son” (John 3:16). We should spend each year amazed that God’s justice for our sin is forever satisfied and that therefore there is “no condemnation” for those of us in Christ (Rom 8:1).
That’s good news.
#6 – We See Our World Better
There’s a pop culture stereotype that people don’t want to go to heaven because they don’t want to sit around and play harps for eternity. Our culture adopts a “I hope they serve beer in hell” mindset that there’s too much fun to be hard here to worry about what comes next.
Even as Christians, at times, we can think “If I only I could have Jesus and still get that one thing then I’d be happy. Okay one more thing after that.”
But the longer we are here, and the more we see through the true lens of Scripture, the more we see that this world is profoundly broken. We see that money doesn’t buy happiness. We see that carnal pleasures last for a moment but lead to a lifetime of hurt. This all helps us to see the world rightly and when we do, we can be grateful we have something better in store for us.
That’s good news.
#7 – We Suffer and Long For Better
No one enjoys suffering, but it can be a gift if it draws us to see and feel the truths of the gospel better. Paul even says that we can rejoice in our sufferings because ultimately that suffering produces hope (Rom 5:3-5).
How is that possible? Well, one of the reasons this happens is that suffering refines us and points us toward the day when all suffering will end.
The eternal benefits of the gospel sound, at first, far off. But suffering has a way of bringing them closer to us. The pronouncement that “he will wipe away every tear from their eyes” sounds even better after we’ve cried some tears, after we’ve mourned, after we’ve experienced pain (Rev 21:4).
When we look at see what Christ has purchased for us, for all eternity, we rejoice all the more.
That’s good news.
#7 – We See Glimpses of Glory That Will Only Get Better
Have you ever experienced something so profoundly beautiful it’s hard to put it into words? This happened to me last summer as I stood on the beach looking up at the stars.
I held my wife’s hand. We pointed out constellations with my parents and my sister. In that moment, the beauty of God’s creation and my family collided. I remember thinking, “I wish I could just stay here forever.”
The best parts of our life here on earth should make us long for eternity, and this only furthers and deepens the good news of the gospel. It’s only because we have Jesus we have hope for good things, with God, with other people we love, without end. That’s good news.
It’s Always Better News
Don’t let the gospel get old. There’s more to discover. There’s more to learn. With each passing year it should grow brighter and more beautiful.
If you want to hear this story again, if you want to convince yourself that the gospel is always better news, I’d love to help. I’ve written a short, free book laying out the basics of the gospel. My hope is to stir you up as a Christian by way of reminder. You know this. But you also need this.
If you read the book would you do me a favor? Could you pass it on to someone that doesn’t know the gospel as better news yet? That’s my other hope–that it would help people who don’t know the gospel see why it’s such good news.
In a world full of “guarantees” that never come true, I can guarantee you this: this gospel is good news and only gets better.