The Gospel Of Good News
When we think of the gospel, we can tend to think of it in only ‘New Testament’ terms. We might be of the impression that the gospel was something that came about around the time of Jesus and subsequently spread throughout the world by his followers. While this is somewhat true, upon more extensive reading we learn that the message of good news is much older than we thought. Yes, it concerns Jesus but it was preached long before his actual birth. In reality, it’s a message as old as time itself and its inception stretches right back to the garden of Eden. And it’s a message of good news and hope for all people!
A Little Background On The Word “Gospel”
“Good news” is the English translation of the Koine Greek word ‘euangélion’ (εὐαγγέλιον) (εὖ eû “good” + ἄγγελος ángelos “messenger”). In Old English, it was translated as ‘gōdspel’ (gōd “good” + spel “news”). The Old English term was retained as ‘gospel’ in Middle English Bible translations and has subsequently been carried forward into Modern English translations.
Incidentally, our modern word, evangelise or evangelist comes from the original Greek and carries the same meaning – one who preaches or tells good news, a ‘messenger of good’. The writers of the gospels are sometimes known as the Four Evangelists, for this reason.
The message of ‘good news’ is taught throughout the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and it’s certainly no coincidence that these books are collectively known as The Gospels.
But What Is The Good News?
The Gospel is described as “the good news of the Kingdom of God and the things which concern Jesus Christ”. Jesus himself preached about the coming kingdom of God, together with John the Baptist. Later, men like Paul the Apostle and Peter continued the message of good news
“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God.” – Mark 1:14, KJV
Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’ . . . And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom . . .” – Matthew 4:17, 23, NIV, KJV
“But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptised.” – Acts 8:12, HCSB
“For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!” – Acts 28:30-31, NIV
In The Beginning…
God’s purpose, from the beginning was populate earth with people He could call His family, who were like him in every way. God created humans with this in mind and established the principle of free choice. He wanted us to choose Him, to want to be like Him. This kind of living, that reflects a desire to honour God and manifest His character to the world is what God calls the beginning of the kingdom of His son (Colossians 1:13).
Unfortunately, when given the choice, humanity chose wrong. We acted in a way completely foreign to God’s character. Motivated by pride and selfishness and driven by impatience, we chose to “make ourselves like God” on our terms, not His. This choice, the first act of sin in the world, brought about its awful consequence – mortality, and being driven from God’s presence in shame and disappointment. This is the story of Adam and Eve and their banishment from the garden of Eden.
Jesus Is The Good News
Yet God didn’t give up. His desire to be at one with us, to complete His purpose with humanity, was so intrinsic that He immediately put in place a plan to bridge that ravine, to heal the breach between Himself and His creation. He did not allow His purpose to be compromised by our choice. This extraordinary plan was revealed in His son, Jesus.
“Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” – 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, BSB
The saving acts of God, due to the work of Jesus on the cross and Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, bring reconciliation (“atonement”) between people and God and it is a message of hope for the whole world (Luke 14:15-24). Through Jesus, we have forgiveness of sins and the blessing of God’s grace.
The Message Isn’t New
It would be easy to assume that the gospel was introduced by Jesus during his earthly ministry. Yet, this message isn’t new at all – it’s much older than that and, in fact, Revelation 14:6 calls it ‘the eternal gospel’, “proclaimed to all those who dwell on earth.”
In Galatians 3:8, we read the following: “Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” Here, Paul is referencing a time in Abraham’s life, shortly after he left Ur, when God blessed him and told him the purpose He had with him.
“I will bless those who bless you, but I will put a curse on anyone who puts a curse on you. Everyone on earth will be blessed because of you.” – Genesis 12:3, CEV
This blessing is further clarified by the words of Peter the Apostle in Act 3:28, where he was addressing the Jews, Abraham’s descendants. He tells them, “You are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.” (Act 3:25-26
Jesus Christ himself revealed that the Kingdom of God has been prepared for us for far longer than we can imagine.
“Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” – Matthew 25:34, ESV
God’s plan of blessing has been in place since the beginning. It was made known to Abraham and he was promised a descendant who would fulfill God’s promise of blessing for the world, first to the Jewish people and then, to all peoples of the world. In this way, Abraham was able to look forward in faithful anticipation of the future when the saviour would be born, to fulfill the promise of blessing made to him. Jesus confirms this, when speaking to the Jews (who doubted he was the one who had been promised).
“Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.” – John 8:56, NIV
Our Purpose Is God’s Purpose
Our purpose and the reason for our creation is to be part of God’s family. The good news is that through Jesus, we can be! We can become part of God’s family and part of His kingdom community right now, saved through the work of Jesus. Not only that, we can look forward to a future that is full of hope and blessing, trusting in God’s promise that has been established from the beginning of the world.
God has great plans for you, if you choose to accept them. The gospel message is one of hope and blessing and everyone is invited to take part.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11, NIV