I really like getting good advice. Here’s some for you: don’t annoy your spouse, don’t text and drive, don’t jump into a cactus (Somebody for real did this on YouTube…it was ridiculous). Most people like getting, or giving, good advice. Books upon books have been written for the sole purpose of offering good advice. You may know this–you may not–but the Bible is not one of those books. Because…
…the Gospel is news, not advice.
The Bible certainly contains tons of good advice and wisdom. There’s an entire book dedicated to Godly wisdom, The Proverbs. This wisdom, however, is not an end of itself, which is why you also have the book of Ecclesiastes. Much of the Proverbs were written by Solomon, known for his request that God give him wisdom more than anything else to rule well. Ecclesiastes, very different in its tone, was also written by Solomon (probably).
Proverbs is written like a father teaching his son. It contains tons of good practical advice to live and prosper by. The point of Proverbs though, overall, is not wisdom in and of itself, but rather that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge [but] fools despise wisdom and instruction.” The wisdom of the Proverbs is really an exhortation to fear the Lord & not despise His wisdom and instruction, which is kind of another way of stating the first of the 10 Commandments (‘You shall have no other gods before Me,’ ie. you shall fear, trust, & love no one and nothing above God).
Ecclesiastes rightly comes after Proverbs, because in it ‘the Preacher’ shows the futility, from experience, of good advice and prosperity that is disconnected from the fear of the Lord. The point of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes together, I might argue, is to give context for the tag-line of this little blog I’m writing.
The Gospel is “news, not advice.”
Our everyday lives, in a way, function like Proverbs and Ecclesiastes do. We observe that there is a wise way and an unwise way to live. As we get older and watch it all play out, we realize that much of what we spend our time doing in our lives is futile.
This context that we might observe from life, and that we certainly observe in Proverbs & Ecclesiastes, seems to leave a person hopeless and certainly feeling that way. All the good advice in the world doesn’t guarantee their efforts won’t be futile, and it certainly doesn’t save a person from death.
Thankfully, the Gospel is news, not advice.
The Gospel is not a 5-step program to help you live a full life, be the ‘best you’, or avoid pitfalls common to everybody. The Gospel is the declaration of something new, something otherwise unknown. It is news.
Better yet it is good news; in 2 parts.
The first part of this good news is actually bad news that you’ve already read here. It’s that the futility of life, the suffering we experience, the death we can’t avoid, is ultimately our own fault; personally and communally. We as individuals, families, communities, and as an entire human race, have chosen not to fear the Lord (what was mentioned above). We have chosen to fear, trust, and love–really–anything and everything except God. It might be money, a person, a system in place, even your own power and capabilities (none of which can really fill the God position very well, if we’re honest). This rejection of God has resulted in a massive fracture in the world, everything and everyone in it.
Yes, you too.
The Bible calls this sin.
The good news, in the midst of futility, suffering, & the reality of death–in the midst of sin–is that Jesus Christ lived the prefect life, suffered, died, and rose again.
Better yet, his efforts weren’t futile.
Even better than that, his efforts were for you.
He lived and died so that even though you die, you might live forever with Him. That is the news!
Now, a cool bonus is that, within the trust, fear, and love of the Lord God, we are empowered and sent out to love our neighbours, and those efforts aren’t futile in Christ–they are used by God to spread His kingdom.
So be wise in this life, but first, trust in Jesus. For God showed His love in that, while we were still sinners, Jesus died for us.
Thank God the Gospel is News, not advice.
by pastor nick.
PS. I heard the phrase “The Gospel is news not advice” from Pastor Tim Keller (which has also been used by others, RC Sproul for example), which then inspired this post.