SCRIPTURE’S GOOD NEWS IS OF “GREAT JOY,” NOT “GREAT DUTY.”
Mike Mason writes, “No one would become a Christian if this hard decision were not accompanied by stupendous joy.”[ 10]
The Puritans, never accused of being trendy, talked a great deal about Christian happiness. Scottish theologian Samuel Rutherford (1600– 1661) wrote to Lady Kenmure, “I have neither tongue nor pen to express to you the happiness of such as are in Christ.”[ 11]
Baptist pastor Octavius Winslow (1808– 1878) said, “The child of God is, from necessity, a joyful man. His sins are forgiven, his soul is justified, his person is adopted, his trials are blessings, his conflicts are victories, his death is immortality, his future is a heaven of inconceivable, unthought-of, untold, and endless blessedness — with such a God, such a Saviour, and such a hope, is he not, ought he not, to be a joyful man?”[ 12] It was a rhetorical question — who could possibly have more reason to rejoice than one who knows Jesus?
When the gospel is viewed primarily as laying burdens and obligations on people, the Good News gets buried. Burdens and obligations are not good news; good news is about liberation, deliverance, newfound delight, and daily celebration. Sure, duty is real and the gospel calls us to a life of obedience, but it’s glad duty and joyful obedience.
There’s an age-old tradition of Christ-followers who have found their deepest happiness in their Lord. We should eagerly join them and say with English Puritan John Flavel (1627– 1691), “Christ [is] the very essence of all delights and pleasures, the very soul and substance of them. As all the rivers are gathered into the ocean . . . so Christ is that ocean in which all true delights and pleasures meet.”[ 13]
Alcorn, Randy (2015-09-17). Happiness (p. 24). Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. Kindle Edition.