The Experience Of The Gospel
Imagine it’s a very hot day. You’ve been walking for ages, on a hike perhaps, or maybe your car has broken down on a country road and you’re walking to get help, and your water has run out. You’re very thirsty, your throat is parched, and your lips are dry. Your tongue is sticky and swallowing feels as though your throat won’t open again for your next breath.
However it happens – perhaps a passing hiker or a car that pulls over – someone supplies you with a full bottle of fresh cold water. Think of experiencing the water flowing down your throat into your stomach as you gulp from this bottle. Think of that feeling. The Bible says in Proverbs 25:25, “Like cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.” – The experience of hearing good news is likened to the experience of cold water to a thirsty soul.
Good News For The World!
The Bible says God has good news for the world! If ever ‘good news’ should bring refreshment, surely it’s the kind God has for us! In the Bible, it’s often called ‘The Gospel’ which simply means ‘Good Message’ or ‘Good News’. God’s message is not bad news, or heavy news, or burdensome news, or scary news, or painful news, or uneasy news, but good news! So, if we truly know the good news, it shouldn’t feel like anything mentioned above – it should feel very refreshing, nice and wonderful, and we should be happy about knowing it.
What is your experience of the good news God has for you? Is it the experience of ‘cold water to a thirsty soul’? We might think we have the good news, but if a beautiful, refreshing experience is something foreign to us, do we really? Please note: our experience of the good news is certainly not the only thing that determines whether we understand it properly, but it is a necessary thing! The Bible is full of people who rightly understood the good news of God, and how they experienced it is recorded for us. By reading about how they experienced and reacted to it, we can see what the good news did to people and thereby compare it with our own experience. If we have none of the appropriate Gospel feelings or emotions, we must ask ourselves if we have appropriate Gospel understanding.
To summarise the good news: It’s about God loving people and saving people to Himself.
Experience The Message
Many people, ever since the world was created, knew and experienced this staggering message. How did they feel about it?
“My heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because He has dealt bountifully with me” Psalm 13:5-6; “Because God is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.” Psalm 16:8-9; “May we shout for joy over your salvation, and in the name of God set up our banners!” Psalm 20:5; “O LORD, in your strength the king rejoices, and in your salvation how greatly he exults!” Psalm 21:1; “My soul will rejoice in the LORD, exulting in His salvation.” Psalm 35:9; “My lips will shout for joy when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed.” Psalm 71:23; “Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to Him with songs of praise.” Psalm 95:1-2; “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation; He has covered me with the robe of His righteousness.” Isaiah 61:10.
Is this our experience of the Gospel? Is this how we feel about the salvation of God – a greatly rejoicing and exulting soul? If we cannot relate at all with these sorts of feelings towards the Gospel, then we need to question whether we really know it in the way these people did.
God’s salvation reached mankind in the most beautiful and breathtaking way: God sent a Saviour among the human race to lead them back to Himself. This Saviour was God’s own Son, Jesus Christ. The precious heart of the good news is God sending His Son Jesus among people to save to them.
Let’s examine the experience of people who heard the news that the Saviour Jesus was born into the world:
“Wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him”… And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshipped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.” Matthew 2:1-11
“And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord”…And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen.” Luke 2:10-20
What are your feelings towards the news that Jesus the Son of God has come into the world as your Saviour? Even of Abraham, who lived 2000 years before Jesus, Jesus said, “Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” John 8:56. But this is not all. During his ministry, Jesus proclaimed the good news of his salvation in this way:
“Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30.
Is this our experience of coming to Jesus Christ? A weight lifted off our shoulders? A light burden? An easy yoke? Rest in our soul? These are the results of truly knowing Jesus. These are the results of truly knowing the good news of the saving work of God in Jesus. If you’ve never known this experience of the Gospel, then the good news is you can! Jesus says you can when you truly know him!
One particular woman who lived in Jesus’ time heard these words of Jesus and reacted to them in this way:
“One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. And behold a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment.” Luke 7:36-38
Jesus explained that the love of this woman was in response to her experiencing the great love and forgiveness she knew was available in Jesus. Jesus responded to her by saying, “Your sins are forgiven… Your faith has saved you; go in peace” Luke 7:48-50. Here is yet another experience resulting from true contact with the Gospel in Jesus; overwhelming, tearful emotion of gratitude for great love, forgiveness, salvation and peace.
Let’s conclude by stringing together some of the other experiences and emotions resulting from the Gospel throughout the New Testament:
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ… and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God… because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.” Romans 5:1-5
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13
“In Jesus, we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.” Ephesians 3:12
If we have no idea what it means to feel any of these emotions towards the Gospel, then perhaps we need to seek to know it a bit better. Even the thought of having these sorts of feelings and emotions springing from the Gospel can seem like a dream! But we must trust the word of God that they can be experienced, and then prayerfully seek to know the Gospel in its beauty. How wonderful it would be if we had this to help us through life!
Whoever you are, whatever you are going through, whatever burdens you are carrying, whatever heaviness is in your heart, please know there is a wonderful message of good news – for you! The Gospel is beautiful. Although it’s a message of great depth, almost too wonderful to be grasped, it nevertheless has been grasped, and can be grasped, in such a way that it will be as ‘cold water to a thirsty soul’.