June 10, 2024

The Feet That Bring Good News

R.C. Sproul
The Feet That Bring Good News

As messengers of the gospel, we don’t have power in ourselves to convert our hearers. But we delight in the privilege of delivering the good news that God uses to give new life in Christ. Today, R.C. Sproul describes the true beauty of evangelism.


Here’s a passage written for me and written for everyone. Not just the ordained, but for those who’re involved at all in the Christian work of evangelism. Listen to what he says, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of [them] who bring good [tidings], who publish peace” (Isa. 52:7). Do you see the imagery that Paul is appealing to back to the Old Testament? Isaiah is making this beautiful statement in the name of God. And he has in mind, obviously, the messenger of the euangelion, of the good news. The king’s troops go out to battle and the battle rages and there’s no on-the-spot TV, to give us an up-to-date report on what’s going on in the battlefield. The whole history of the nation may be at stake in one pivotal battle. But how are we going to know who won or who lost?

You’ve heard of the battles of Thermopylae, Salamis, and of Marathon. That marathon race is named because of the story of the one who was commissioned to bring back the news of victory or defeat at the Battle of Marathon. And so, a marathon runner is one who runs a long distance because in antiquity news was carried not by radio or by television or by pony express, but by human runner. And that person ran as fast as he could with as much as endurance as he could possibly have and muster to bring the news to the king, whether it was defeat or victory. And you could tell after a while, in the distance. You’re waiting breathtakingly, you’re looking at the far hills, waiting to see whether there’s anybody coming. And the first thing that you see really is the dust that’s being kicked up as the man moves his feet.

But I’ll tell you, the people of antiquity could tell in a distance, whether that man was bringing good news or bad news, because it was a custom in antiquity, if the man brought bad news, he himself would be put to death. This is the messenger that comes to David with the news of the death and the defeat of Absalom (2 Sam. 18). He thinks he’s bringing good news: “Oh, king, live forever. Just what great news, the battle is over, and your wicked son Absalom has been killed. Isn’t that great?” David said, “No, it’s not great. Absalom! Absalom, my son!” You know how he felt about that? And he had the messenger killed for bringing bad news.

The basic theme of antiquity is how ugly on the mountain are the feet of those who bring bad news. And you could tell the difference in the distance because the man who was bringing bad news ran in a little different way than the man who was bringing good news. The man who was bringing bad news, dogged it a little bit, dragging his feet on the mountain. But you can see the sparks fly from the runner on the mountain who’s bringing news of victory and of triumph and of redemption to his people.

Have you ever received good news from a telegram delivery boy, opened that telegram, saw tremendous news, and wanted to throw your arms around the guy and kiss him? He didn’t have anything to do with the good news. All he did was bring it. It’s human nature.

And Isaiah applies this now to those who become the bearers of the ultimate euangelion. The ultimate good news. The news of the ultimate victory of God. Of His victory over the forces of chaos. The One who redeems His people, who proclaims the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. How beautiful are his feet on the mountain of the one who published good tidings. Who publishes peace. He receives a blessing from God for the privilege of participating in God’s plan of redemption.

God doesn’t need me, but He gives me the privilege of using me and at a human level on a terrestrial plane. I know that I can never lead a person to Jesus Christ by myself, by my clever rhetoric, or anything else, or even by my compassion, unless God, the Holy Spirit, opens that man’s heart. He will never respond to my message. It’s not my business to do that. It’s my business to be faithful to the message, to preach it accurately and faithfully in season and out of season. And God could be pleased never to ever have anybody listen to my words or respond. But at a human level, what a beautiful thing it is when I get to see somebody respond and their life has changed. Wouldn’t I be puffed up to think that I’m the one who did it? It’s the Spirit who does it, who quickens and who makes it alive.