Proclaim The Good News!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013, 7:07 a.m. – the Lord Jesus woke me with the song “Sing Praises” playing in my mind. Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. I read Jeremiah 31, and then the Lord Jesus, I believe, led me back to read Isaiah 61. I see many parallels between these two passages:


If I had to summarize the book of Isaiah I would say that a good portion of the book is given over to prophecies concerning the Messiah Jesus Christ, to his life, ministry, death, resurrection, the gospel of salvation, the messianic age, the life of the church, the church in rebellion in the last days, God’s judgments on the idolatrous and adulterous church of the final days on this earth, and to promises of restoration, renewal and revival of God’s penitent people - his church - and, as a direct result, the gospel of Jesus Christ going forth from the revived church to all the nations of the world, and people from all nations streaming to faith in Jesus Christ, to the gospel of salvation by grace through faith, to the kingdom of heaven, and to Christ’s body, the church (see Is. 2, in particular). So, with that understanding of the book of Isaiah I read chapter 61:1-3 (NIV):

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.

Good News

Jesus Christ quoted vv. 1-2a about himself. Jesus Christ is God the Son, the second person of our triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God the Father anointed his Son to proclaim “good news” to the poor. “Good news” has to do with freedom from captivity, which in the case of Jesus Christ meant freedom from captivity (slavery) to sin. Jesus not only proclaimed it, but he made the way possible for us to be delivered from sin. He died on the cross, taking upon himself the sins of the entire world, so that we could go free from slavery to sin. Our sins died with him on that cross, they were buried with him in the grave, but they remained in the grave when he rose again, conquering death, hell, Satan and sin.

Yet, that does not automatically mean that everyone in the world is saved from sin. We have to each individually accept God’s invitation to receive his Son Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives, and to accept his plan of salvation (deliverance from sin) for our lives personally. Jesus said we have to repent and believe the “good news.” To repent means not only to completely turn away from our lives of sin and living for self, but it means a complete turnabout - a complete and radical transformation of mind and heart (like the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly) – away from sin and toward a walk of faith and obedience to Jesus Christ and to his will for our lives (see Eph. 2:1-10; 4:17-24; Luke 9:23-25; Rom. 6; 1 John; Gal. 2:20, et al). This is the only way in which we can truly be delivered from slavery to (and the penalty of) sin, so this is the “good news.”

The Poor

The meaning of the word “poor” is “deprived; unfortunate; humble; needy” etc. We can be poor in material possessions and wealth, or we can be poor in abilities and aptitudes, or poor in strength, power and endurances, or poor in health, in education, wisdom, knowledge, or understanding, or we can be spiritually impoverished due to sin in our lives. Since Jesus Christ was anointed to preach the “Good News” to the “poor,” and since the “Good News” has to do with being delivered from slavery to sin, then I would suggest that the “poor” are those who are impoverished spiritually due to sin so the good news is that Jesus Christ came to provide a way out from underneath that weight of sin, and that through faith in Jesus Christ (as described in the above paragraph), by God’s grace in attaining salvation for us, we who are impoverished spiritually can be delivered from our poverty and we can be made rich in Jesus Christ in all his spiritual riches and blessings he will lavish upon us.

The Brokenhearted

Those who are brokenhearted are those who are despairing, crushed, desolate, disappointed, sad, sorrowful, etc. If we have cancer, and someone puts a Band-Aid over our wounds, the cancer will continue to grow and to destroy the healthy tissues in our bodies. The only way to truly “bind up” the brokenhearted (those with cancer of the heart, soul or emotion) is to get to the cancer, to dig it out, and then to dress the wound. The Bible speaks much against false prophets who dress the serious sin wounds of the people as though they are not serious, saying “peace, peace,” when there is no peace. The only way to true peace with God is through repentance (digging out the cancer), being transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God (digging out the cancer of sin and replacing it with the truth of God’s holy word, and walking in that truth), and putting on our new lives in Christ (dressing of the wound with the truth of God’s word, his salvation, and his blessings).

Freedom for the Captives

Many today are “short-sheeting” the gospel, i.e. they are only telling half the truth, but not the whole truth, and so they are not truly proclaiming freedom for the captives. Jesus came to set us free, not only from eternity in hell, but he set us free from slavery to sin day-to-day so that we could walk in freedom to live for God in his righteousness. They are telling the people the truth about what Jesus Christ did for us in dying for our sins, but they are not telling them the truth about what we must each individually do in order to appropriate what Christ did for us on the cross to our individual lives, so they are lying to the people.

Jesus said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny (disallow; disavow) himself (his life of living for self and sin), take up his cross daily (die daily to sin and to self) and follow (obey; surrender to) him. If we think we can receive his salvation without us dying to sin and self and without a commitment to walk faithfully in obedience to him, then think again, because that is not what scripture teaches. The only way we will be free from slavery to sin is if we daily choose to leave our lives of sin behind us, to reject the temptations to sin and to live for self, and if daily we choose to live for righteousness, holiness, godliness and to obey our Lord and Savior in his power and strength. This, brothers and sisters, is true freedom! I know!! I have been in slavery, and I know what it means to be free, so don’t let anyone sell you short on what it means to be set free. Freedom comes by God’s grace through faith (repentance and obedience). Anything short of that is no freedom at all.

Favor & Vengeance

The year of the Lord’s favor is the day of our salvation; our redemption. To proclaim this favor is to proclaim his grace, love, mercy, compassion and forgiveness, his death on the cross, his resurrection, and his plan of salvation for how we can be set free from slavery to sin so that we can live with God for eternity and so we can live for him daily while we still live on the face of this earth in freedom, righteousness and holiness.

The day of vengeance is two-fold, I believe. God will visit the people of this earth in vengeance during the time known as the Tribulation when he will judge the earth and its inhabitants. This will be followed by a thousand year reign of Christ on the earth, during which time Satan will be bound, which will then be followed by the “great white throne” judgment. Anyone whose name is not found written in the Lamb’s “book of life” will be thrown into the lake of fire where he or she will be tormented forever and ever. So, God will pour out his vengeance on the earth and on its inhabitants during the time known as the Tribulation, but then he will also judge us on the basis of what we did with Jesus Christ, and that will determine whether we spend eternity in hell or in glory with God.

Mourn and Grieve

We can mourn and grieve over the loss of a loved one, loss of health, job, etc. And, certainly we are in need of comforting during those times. Yet, what is the picture here in context of the book of Isaiah as a whole, and in context of these first two verses in chapter 61? The context is that of sin and salvation, bondage and freedom, favor and vengeance, etc. I believe, in the sequence of this passage in Isaiah 61, and this mourning and grieving thus following after “the day of vengeance”, that there is strong evidence here to point to what the rest of Isaiah and much of Jeremiah is speaking to and that is a people of God who were in bondage (slavery) to sin having just experienced God’s divine judgment due to rebelliousness, idolatry, adultery, refusal to listen to God and unrepentant hearts, now having come to repentance and in great need of God’s comfort, renewal, restoration and revival. Where they had to go through a time of divine discipline, now he will bestow upon them crowns of beauty (of holiness and righteousness), the oil of joy of forgiveness and restoration, and praise instead of despair, because now they have hope and healing.

Yet, this is also a picture of our salvation (the day of favor), because when we are in slavery to sin and are living to please ourselves, we do not have hope, a future, healing, etc. We are lost in this endless pursuit for happiness but never to find it because we are looking in all the wrong places. The only way to peace and rest is through repentance (mourning and grieving over our sin to the point of turning from it), faith and obedience – the true expression of our love for God and for others, too. So, when we finally come to the end of our ropes and cry out in desperation to God for his saving grace, and we turn from our sins and we choose to walk daily in obedience to him and to surrender to his will, then he delivers us from that bondage to and the control of sin over our lives and he sets us free to walk in victory. Amen! This is true freedom! This is the “Good News!”

Sing Praises / An Original Work / November 30, 2012

Based off Psalms 6-9

Sing praises to the Lord!
Tell of His wondrous works.
Afflicted, they cry out;
The Lord will not forget;
The needy, not desert.

The Lord’s our refuge now;
A stronghold when we fear.
The Lord will ne’er forsake
The ones, who Him pursue!

Sing praises to the Lord!
With all my heart I sing.
I will rejoice in Him;
Sing praises to His name;
Tell of His wondrous works.

My shield is God Most High.
He saves those who believe
In Jesus Christ, God’s Son.
His grace has pardoned you!

The Lord accepts my prayer!
The Lord has heard my cries.
He is so merciful.
He heals my anguished soul.
The Lord has made me whole.

Give thanks unto the Lord.
Give praise unto His name.
Our Lord is righteousness.
Sing praises to the Lord!

Sing praises to the Lord!