Like many other families in the States, we enjoyed fireworks a few weeks ago. As long as we can keep our hearing intact, my children love fireworks. But their reaction this year was off the charts.
One of my daughters was awestruck. She clapped, laughed, and shouted in delight. She cheered just as loudly at the end as she did at the beginning, thrilled at each explosion as if it were her first. It was 20 minutes of pure enjoyment—she did not hold back, and she was not embarrassed.
Lack of Joy
Adults rarely express such unashamed joy. Exuberance just isn’t cool; and we, of course, must be cool.
This distance makes sense in our culture, but life should be different within the church. Though we have the best of all reasons for joy, some Christians are the least joyful people around. We’ve taken sober-mindedness (see 1 Peter 1:13) in the wrong direction.
A Dangerous Immunity
We’ve developed a dangerous immunity to the wonder of the gospel. Though the good news about Jesus is serious and important, it should produce rejoicing not reluctance.
In most evangelical churches we hear the gospel a lot, and we start to tune out. We treat the most glorious, earth-shattering news like numbers on a stock ticker. If we’re honest, the gospel bores us at times. And nobody shares a boring message.
The gospel we believed at the beginning of our Christian lives is the same gospel we need every day. The good news about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is what should energize our obedience and fuel our hope. The gospel is not the door to the house of God’s kingdom—it is the whole house. We live and move and have our being in the shelter of what God has done for us.
Some people, when bored with one message, add to that message or turn to another. Instead, we need to cultivate wonder at what God has done, how he accomplished it, and what it secures for us. In other words, the solution is not less gospel but more.
With the eyes of faith, and with the Spirit’s help, we need to look at the gospel again. We need to consider our sin and our hopeless state without Christ. We need to meditate on what Jesus gave up in coming to earth, his spotless obedience, and his suffering. We need to ponder the cross, the tomb, and the resurrection. We need to look forward to the new heavens and earth, new bodies, and the end of the curse.
If you need to wonder afresh at the gospel, read through the two lists below. They are not exhaustive, but they survey how Spirit-inspired authors in the New Testament talk about the gospel. I grouped them into two categories. What is the gospel? And what does the gospel do?
If you find yourself bored with the gospel, listen to the way God describes its function and glory. Then dive back into the Bible and ask God to restore to you the joy of his salvation (Psalm 51:12).
The gospel is
- to be believed (Mark 1:15)
- a reason for long life (Mark 8:35)
- a reason for leaving land and family (Mark 10:29)
- to be proclaimed to all nations (Mark 13:10)
- the message by which Gentiles believe (Acts 15:7)
- a reason for Paul to be set apart (Rom 1:1)
- the power of God for salvation (Rom 1:16)
- something to obey (Rom 10:16)
- a means of spiritual fatherhood (1 Cor 4:15)
- about the glory of Christ (2 Cor 4:4)
- veiled to some people (2 Cor 4:3)
- true (Gal 2:5)
- about salvation (Eph 1:13)
- the occasion for partnership (Phil 1:5)
- to be defended (Phil 1:16)
- the word of truth (Col 1:5)
- a means of calling (2 Thess 2:14)
- a means of bringing life and immortality to light (2 Tim 1:10)
- eternal (Rev 14:6)
- reveals God’s righteousness (Rom 1:17)
- predicts God’s judgment (Rom 2:16)
- provides strength (Rom 16:25)
- blesses (1 Cor 9:23)
- provokes counterfeits (2 Cor 11:4, Gal 1:6–9)
- belongs to God (2 Cor 11:7)
- must be entrusted to others (Gal 2:7)
- was preached to Abraham (Gal 3:8)
- involves mystery (Eph 6:19)
- bears fruit (Col 1:6)
- gives hope (Col 1:23)
- comes in power and the Holy Spirit, with conviction (1 Thess 1:5)
- brings suffering (2 Tim 1:8)