Christians proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ because it is good news. And what makes it so good? The reason why the Gospel is good news is because of who God is, what he has promised, and what he has done. Let’s take this apart one-by-one.
Who God Is
God is simple. All that is in God is God. So John says, “God is light” and to show the simplicity of God’s nature he continues, “and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). No dark cave or shadowy area exists in God. He is light—all light. And anything else said of God’s nature is God. He simply exists as light, love, holiness, and so on. These attributes really amount to one thing: God. From our point of view, however, we see God as loving, or holy, or enlightening. So we call him love, holy, and light.
The same is true about the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In a great mystery, the one God of Israel eternally moved from a Monad, to a Dyad, before Divinity came to rest at a Triad. And from eternity Divinity has rested as three somethings. And God revealed the three to be Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. So we use this language to speak about the Triad, the Trinity.
And God always (eternally) moves outward and gives of himself. He gave the Son life in himself (John 5:26). And Son comes from the Father, and the Spirit proceeds from the Father. God immovably moves outward from the Father, the source—to the Son who is begotten and the Spirit who proceeds.
And now that we’ve glimpsed at who our God is. We can see that he is a God who always wants to share his goodness, love, holiness, and light with us. Before all time, he planned to send his Son for us and his Spirit to dwell in us (Eph 1:4). In his infinity and eternality, the Son of God has always been the lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8).
What God Promised
God created the world, therefore, to share himself with it. So he created humanity in his image. And he aimed to unite humanity to his divinity through the incarnation of divinity (John 1:1, 14). The enfleshing of the divine Word fulfills God’s first word of promise: the seed of the woman shall crush the head of the serpent (Gen 3:15). With Abraham, we learn that God will bless the nations through Abraham’s offspring.
While the signs and shadows of the blessing and offspring made their way through Israel’s history, we learn of the reality to which these promises pointed through the incarnate Word. As Paul notes, the offspring is Christ and the blessing results in the Holy Spirit (Gal 3). So the Father always promised Christ and his Spirit, always intended to share himself with humanity.
The goal partly was to bring humanity into communion with God. Our high priest prays to his Father “that [the people of God] may be one, even as we are one” (John 17:11). And this happens practically through the sevenfold perfections of unity that Paul relays to the Ephesians, “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (4:4-6).
The promises of God not only tell us where we come from but also where we are going. In the Old Testament, God promised Abraham the land so that he and his progeny might learn to rest in God’s promises. Yet Israel never entered into her rest finally and fully. As the psalmist recounts, “Therefore I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest'” (Ps 95:11).
That rest remains for the people of God in Christ. And we experience true rest when the city of God appears at the convergence of heaven and earth (Rev 21). And it was in this heavenly city that Abraham placed his hope. The promised land was a sign that pointed to a reality beyond local geography.
But in order to see this clearly, we need to read the New Testament literally. Consider the following four quotations from Hebrews:
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. (Heb 11:8-10)
If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. (Heb 11:15-16)
And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect. (Heb 11:39-40).
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect. (Heb 12:22-23)
Abraham and the Patriarchs knew about the promised land yet identified the fulfilment of the promise with the city of God. When Isaac left the land he was promised to gain a wife in Mesopotamia (Gen 24), he did so because he desired something better than local geography. He desired “a better country, that is, a heavenly one.”
Yet neither the patriarchs nor all Israel (Ps 95:11) received “what was promised.” The reason being is that God provided something better so that apart from us the Old Testament saints could not “be made perfect.” Yet through the work of Christ (Heb 12:1-2), the patriarchs and the rest of the Old Testament saints made it to the real promised land, “to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.” And it is here where the righteous Old Testament saints were “made perfect.”
In summary, God has promised to send his Son into the world to defeat the serpent, to bestow the Spirit on us to perfect his work, and to usher us into the rest of his heavenly city.*
What God Has Done
God sent his Son into the world to fulfill his ancient promises. And so Paul can say, “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory” (2 Cor 1:20). So Christ fulfils what is promised, the crushing of the serpent’s head, being the source of blessing, and drawing the world into the new covenant.
He does this by visiting Israel as YWHH (Luke 19:44 with John 1), inaugurating a new covenant, living a perfect and vicarious life, dying a substitutionary and atoning death on the cross, defeating death by the resurrection, and triumphing over Satan who rules by the fear of death.
And lastly God sent the Holy Spirit into the world to bring his work to perfection: “And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee” (2 Cor 1:21-22). The Holy Spirit is God’s guarantee that we participate in the new creation. And the Spirit leads us and will perfect God’s work in us.
So the Father sent the Son into the world for us and then the Spirit. And by the Spirit, we come to Christ who shows us the Father. Salvation comes down from the Father, while sanctification goes back up to him. And in the New Heavens and New Earth, we will live in God’s triune light. For in the city of God, we will have no need for the sun. God’s light will illuminate all, and we will bask in it.
In sum, these three things foundationally but certainly not comprehensively sketch out why the Gospel is such good news. God eternally shares himself with us, and so he has done so by sending Christ and then the Holy Spirit for us and for our salvation. And he did so to fulfill his ancient promises to his people Israel who apart from the Gospel would never have been made perfect. But they now are as they wait at the holy city of God in heaven. Yet when this city descends from heaven, then all saints from all times will together walk in light as He walks in light.
And so that’s why the Gospel is so good.
*Certain readers will be curious as to my millennial position. I am premillennial. In another place, perhaps, I will show how Hebrews’ teaching coincides with a premillennial reign of Christ over the earth.