The gospel that Jesus revealed is not of this earth. It was birthed in the heart of the Father and contains the supremely good news of His unfathomable love and His eternally good purposes towards us. When you encounter this gospel, the hooks and lies of dead religion are revealed as inferior substitutes. The counterfeit cannot compete with the authentic because what is real is infinitely greater than anything man can make.
The apostle Paul was the first of us to really catch the gospel. It was given to him in a heavenly language of inexpressible words and he spent the rest of his life trying to tell us what he had heard (see 2 Cor 12:2-5). “It’s the power of God,” he said. “It is Christ and Him crucified.” “It’s measureless love.” “It’s reconciliation and much more.” “It’s new life.”
The scandal of the gospel – once we really see it – can leave us in stunned silence. How can we speak about so glorious a thing? How can we convey the matchless beauty of Jesus with mere words? Frankly, it can’t be done. But Paul tried and we are all the richer for it.
In The Happy Gospel: Effortless Union with a Happy God, author Benjamin Dunn follows in Paul’s footsteps by attempting to convey the light and joy of the gospel of grace. It’s a tough ask, but Dunn succeeds brilliantly. I dare you to read The Happy Gospel without grinning. It is is a joy-filled book that will leave you pumping the air in gratitude and praise.
Happy God, happy gospel
For the most part, the church has bought into an unhappy gospel. You only need to look at the faces of some pew-warmers to know this is true. But this is not the gospel that Paul preached. Taking his cue from Paul’s letter to Timothy (1 Tim 1:11), Dunn declares that a happy gospel reveals a happy God:
Yes, our God is the happy God! And His message is a message of supreme gladness. He is the Source of all true bliss and happiness; to be near Him is to be near to an atomic bomb of joy! Go ahead… press the red button. You know you want to! (p.155)
If God is happy, and the gospel reveals a happy message, then how come many Christians aren’t happy? That’s the $64,000 question! One of the reasons offered in this book is that many of us have not learned to speak the new language of grace:
You won’t hear from Paul’s lips some of the phrases that are commonly heard from many Christians. In the New Creation language, you won’t find longing and wanting. You will find endless praises declaring that the waiting and wanting is over. It’s a language and song of blissful fulfillment and ecstatic satisfaction. It is the New Song mentioned in the Psalms and Revelation. It is the song of men made into the home of God, the song of mortals transformed and swallowed by Life. (p.128)
The dead language of the old covenant
Sadly, many believers don’t know how to speak this new language. They’re speaking the vocabulary of the old covenant. Or, as Dunn says, “They are stuck in the undone, instead of floating upon the finished.” What does old covenant language sound like?
Some of the phrases of the old language are: ‘I must nail myself to the cross every day.’ ‘I’m just a sinner saved by grace.’ ‘Lord, You saved me but now come and cleanse me,’ or ‘Every day I’ve got to die to my flesh.’ Obviously the list goes on, and for the sheer fact that I hate hearing them, I will say no more of the faithless jabbering. This is a dead language! (p.129)
I have read books that have fired my emotions and books that have engaged my mind, but seldom have I read books that do both. The Happy Gospel does just that – it connects with your whole being. Your spirit soars, your mind gets fried, and your face grins. It’s not the book itself which releases this joy – it’s the gospel; it’s the revelation of the Father’s love. But this book will surely help you get it. It is a liberating antidote to dead religion and stuffiness.
One more thing. You know you have picked up an unusual book when the author bio begins like this: “Benjamin Dunn is known for his child-like joy and frolicking…” Frolicking, huh? What can I say? I may be known for many things but frolicking probably isn’t one of them. But you know what? Maybe it should be. One of the problems with manmade religion is that it makes us grow up too fast. Religion is so grown up, so deathly serious. Didn’t Jesus say something about coming to the kingdom like a child? As my friend Fini de Gersigney likes to say, it’s never too late to have a happy childhood.
And it’s never too late to have a happy gospel!
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