Imagine American prisoners of war held behind barbed wire in a camp with little food and filthy conditions near the end of the Second World War. On the outside of the fence the captors are free and go about their business as though they don’t have a care. Inside the fence the captured sol- diers are thin, hollow-eyed, unshaven, and dirty. Some die each day.
Then somehow a shortwave radio is smuggled into one of the barracks. There is connection with the outside world and the progress of the war. Then one day the captors on the outside of the fence see something very strange. Inside the fence the weak, dirty, unshaved American soldiers are smiling and laughing, and a few who have the strength give a whoop and throw tin pans into the air.
What makes this so strange to everyone outside the fence is that nothing has changed. These American soldiers are still in captivity. They still have little food and water. And many are still sick and dying. But what the captors don’t know is that what these soldiers do have is news. The enemy lines have been broken through. The decisive battle of liberation has been fought. And the liberating troops are only miles away from the camp. Freedom is imminent.
This is the difference that news makes. Christians have heard the news that Christ has come into the world and has fought the decisive battle to defeat Satan and death and sin and hell. The war will be over soon, and there is no longer any doubt as to who will win. Christ will win, and he will liberate all those who have put their hope in him.
The good news is not that there is no pain or death or sin or hell. There is. The good news is that the King himself has come, and these enemies have been defeated, and if we trust in what he has done and what he promises, we will escape the death sentence and see the glory of our Liberator and live with him forever. This news fills us with hope and joy (Rom. 15:13) and frees us from self-pity and empowers us to love those who are suffering. In this hope-sustained love he will help us persevere until the final trum- pet of liberation sounds and the prison camp is made into a “new earth” (2 Pet. 3:13).- John Piper, God is the Gospel, p. 20, 21