Yesterday in the sermon I spoke about how good news and good advice are not the same thing. This was largely shaped by Tim Keller.
This is from an excerpt of a message Tim Keller delivered at the Gospel Coalition conference in 2007 as he recalled a sermon from Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones.
Some years ago, I heard a tape series, that I’m sure was never put into print by David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, an evening sermon series on 1 Corinthians 15. In it, he made a distinction that was extremely clarifying, how the gospel is based on historical events in a way that other religions just aren’t: he said that there is a big difference between just good advice and good news.
Good News ≠ Good Advice
The gospel, he would say, is good news, not good advice. Here’s what he said about that: “Advice is counsel about something to do and it hasn’t happened yet, but you can do it.” He says, “News is a report about something that has happened—you can’t do anything about it—it’s been done for you and all you can do is respond to it.”
Now think this out: here is a king and he goes into a battle against an invading army to defend his land. If the king defeats the invading army he sends back to the capital city messengers, very happy envoy. He sends back, “good news-ers” with his report. They come back and they say, “It has been defeated! It’s all been done! Therefore respond with joy and now go about your lives. Conduct your lives in this peace which has been achieved for you.”
But if the invading army breaks through, the king sends back military advisers and says, “Swordsmen over here and marksmen over here and the horsemen over here. We’re going to have to fight for our lives.” Dr. Lloyd-Jones says that every other religion sends military advisers to people. Every other religion says, “You know, if you want your salvation, you’re going to have to fight for you life.” Every other religion is sending advice, saying, “Here are the rights, here are the rituals, and here are the laws and regulations. Earthen works over here, marksmen over here. Fight for your life.”
Joy or Fear?
We send heralds; we send messengers, not military advisers. Isn’t that clarifying? It doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do about it—my goodness—both messengers and military advisers get an enormous response. However, one is a response of joy, and one is a response of fear. All other religions give advice, and they drive everything you’re doing on fear.
No Matter How "Bad" You Are!
Martyn Lloyd Jones says “The very essence of the Christian faith is to say that He is good enough and I am in Him. As long as you go on thinking about yourself like that and saying, “I’m not good enough; Oh, I’m not good enough,” you are denying God – you are denying the gospel – you are denying the very essence of the faith and you will never be happy. You think you’re better at times and then again you will find you are not as good at other times than you thought you were. You will be up and down forever. How can I put it plainly? It doesn’t matter if you have almost entered into the depths of hell. It does not matter if you are guilty of murder as well as every other vile sin. It does not matter from the standpoint of being justified before God at all. You are no more hopeless than the most moral and respectable person in the world.”