The following is the opening section of my introduction to my book that I am working on this summer. I will be posting small portions over this next season for you to read, and if you would, please give me feedback. Your feedback is important to me for this project and is greatly appreciated!
Just How Good Is The Good News?
Embracing the life that Jesus has made possible
“There must be more!” This was the relentless thought I had as I worked my way through the first semester at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. The more I read and studied the Scriptures along with God’s dealings with his people through redemption history, the more my heart ached to encounter the reality of God’s love and power as others had. I felt the chasm between the testimony of Scripture and church history compared to my personal experience with God’s manifest presence was only growing larger the more I learned. This desperation led me to seek the Lord as never before. For months I would arise hours early before school to read and meditate on Scripture and cry out to God. Finally, on the last day of my first semester, I’ll never forget it, I experienced a spiritual breakthrough that would change and define my life and ministry from that point on. In that moment, when God’s love and power reverberated through my body, I became yet another disciple of Jesus with a testimony of one who knew first hand just how good the Good News of the Kingdom really is. My testimony of this experience is shared in a later chapter.
Sadly, I know I am not the only one who has known more about God and the availability of his Kingdom than who is experiencing it in their daily life. Most believers hear and sing about it every weekend in their church gatherings. A number give sacrificially so that the “Good News” can be shared by missionaries somewhere far away. But if honest, these same believers would have to admit that they are starving for an authentic Kingdom encounter. Many have simply settled for less than what’s promised and provided for according to the Word of God.
I believe that the leading contributing factor to this situation is that many professing believers have little appreciation for just how good the Good News of the Kingdom really is. For such, Jesus’ startling announcement that, “The Kingdom of God is at hand,” provokes little response let alone the intended revolution. Jesus taught that when a person truly discovers the Kingdom they respond like a person who has found a pearl of great worth or a hidden treasure in a field. Such a person joyfully rearranges their whole life around that most precious discovery. Through my years of ministry as a pastor and professor I have found that people are not fascinated by the Kingdom and organizing their lives around it most often because they have never really encountered it.
The Good News is something much more than just having an assurance that you are going to heaven when you die. It is more than just knowing and even believing things revealed in the Bible. The Good News is that Jesus brought his Kingdom to earth and has made it accessible to all who would humbly and courageously receive it by faith. Those who do receive it are destined to encounter the eternal and are ushered into a supernatural way of life under the reign and rule of God. To the faithful disciple of Jesus, life is anything but ordinary as he or she experiences the things of heaven transforming the things of earth. Followers of this untamed King grow to expect the Spirit to show up and demonstrate God’s love, truth and power in tangible ways. The guilty experience forgiveness, the wounded are healed, the bound are set free and the fearful are overwhelmed by love!
…Yet the greatest news is that Jesus has made the way for people to share an eternal, intimate and fruitful relationship with God. And this is not something reserved for heaven. Jesus had made it possible for every believer to experientially know the love, truth and power of God in the here and now. From the first coming of Christ and until he comes again we are meant to live with the expectation that we will see and experience the reality of God’s Kingdom come and his will being done on earth as it is in heaven! And this gracious supernatural provision is promised to all who seek to walk in close relationship with God through Jesus Christ. This is amazing! And this is what is so good about the Good News.
Chapter 1 – The Kingdom Within Our Reach: Living in light of the accessibility of the Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven!
Chapter 2 – Good News For The Sinner: Jesus our Mighty Savior!
Chapter 3 – Good News For The Sick: Jesus Our Mighty Healer!
Chapter 4 – Good News For The Sad: Jesus our Mighty Counselor!
Chapter 5 – Good News For The Stuck: Jesus our Mighty Deliverer!
Chapter 6 – Good News For The Suffering: Jesus our Mighty Hope!
Chapter 7 – Welcome To The War! Facing the reality of Kingdom conflict.
Chapter 8 – Making Space For God And His Kingdom: It requires intention and effort to remain centered in the love, truth and power of Christ.
Chapter 9 – Doing Life Together As The Community Of The King: We really do need one another!
Chapter 10 – Truth And Power Disciples: Because the Kingdom is among us, we don’t have to choose!
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Well said Bill! I appreciate your passion for the Good News and your heart for God’s people to know we can all experience God in this way and live it out. The kingdom of God is at hand. Hallelujah! I can’t wait to read more!
I’m intrigued to read more, as this is something I’ve been thinking about in the last few months. Good start here.
Your introduction sets the stage for an exciting adventure. In reading the chapters below, I appreciate how you are addressing the personal “Jesus our Mighty Savior” and ending the journey with what to expect after reader digs deeper. You are offering wisdom to key elements for empowered Kingdom living! This looks to be a new standard on Spiritual Formation! I look forward reading more as it develops.
“People are not fascinated by the Kingdom and organizing their lives around it most often because they have never really encountered it.” That was the best line in the post in my opinion. It’s so striking when you see how people in Jesus’ day actually reacted to the Good News, and you see how Jesus in parables said people should react – them compare that with how people today actually react to what we call “the gospel.” Hmmm. . . . someone should really write a book about that!. I can’t help but feel we (the Church at large today) are missing out on something significant.
Bill, It looks like you’ve got three section in the Table of Contents – the overview chapter about the Kingdom withing our reach, then all the chapters with similar title and taglines about the Good News and Jesus, then the other “pillars of the abiding life” chapters. i wonder if there would be any benefit to organizing the chapters under headings, like an overview, Section 1, and Section 2? Just a passing thought since there seems to be some natural grouping there; not sure if this would clarify your train of thought in any way for the reader of if it wouldn’t make any difference.
Can’t wait to read more!