by Bill Pevlor
I love to study the Bible in search of the wonderful treasures God has enfolded within the pages of scripture. This article is entitled The Gospel Is Good News, because, by and large, that’s what I find in the Bible – good news. In fact, for those who have given their hearts and lives to the Lord, it’s all good news.
The New Testament authors understood this and emphasized the good news in their writings. They adopted a unique word to relay the concept of good news. As the New Testament was translated from Greek to English, this unique Greek word was translated as the word “Gospel.” The literal meaning of the word translated as “Gospel” in English is “good news.”
In my studies, I’ve learned an interesting fact about the word “Gospel”. The Greek word the Gospel writers used was, for their time, a rather obscure word. If you researched volumes of Greek literature from that time period, the occurrence of this word is quite rare outside of the Bible. It was a word that existed but had simply fallen out of popular use. That is, until the apostles began to use it. It’s found over 100 times in the Bible.
The early church and its writers began to use the word when referring to the message of Jesus Christ. It was a message that was so remarkably different than the other religious messages of that day it required a unique word to identify and distinguish it. This unique word would came to mean more than just basic good news. To the New Testament believers this Gospel was wonderful news; good-beyond-words news; almost-too-good-to-be-true news!
As time has passed, the word Gospel, I fear for most, has become rather ordinary. It has become a word that has lost its true, unique meaning for most people. Many have come to view the Gospel as “boring news” or even “bad news”. The religious world has, all too often, mixed-up, watered-down and compromised the message of God’s “good news” and, by association, given the word “Gospel” a bad name.
The religious leaders of Jesus’ day preached a harsh message of God’s unending wrath for anyone who didn’t live up to their oppressive, unobtainable religious standard. That wasn’t good news. That was bad news. Today, in much the same way, many so called Gospel preachers are preaching the bad news, not the good news of sins forgiven, grace extended, lives renewed and an assurance of heaven.
Jesus was a good news preacher. He declared “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19). Now that’s good news!
The apostle Paul was a good news preacher, too. He said “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes… For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’” (Romans 1:16-17). According to Paul, the Gospel is not a message of the wrath of God coming against unrighteous man. The true Gospel is wonderful, almost-too-good-to-be-true news of a righteousness that comes from God. Not from our efforts, but by faith. It was this “good news” that caused Paul and other godly men and women to fully commit their lives to spreading the Gospel.
The apostle Paul even dealt with bad news preachers in his day. There have always been those who wanted to make the path to blessing and salvation hard and oppressive. That was not the Gospel Paul preached. Paul preached the good news of Jesus Christ and had a zero tolerance policy toward any other Gospel. He wrote “…if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!” (Galatians 1:8). Don’t miss the seriousness of Paul’s statement. When he says “let him be eternally condemned” he is literally saying “let him go to hell”. If Paul were alive today, you can bet he’d be ostracized as a mean-spirited, intolerant, conservative, right-wing, religious bigot.
Always remember, the Gospel is good news. If the news you’ve been hearing about God has not seemed like good news, you’ve not been hearing the Gospel truth. Make it a point to read the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John (and the rest of the Bible, too). God’s Word is overflowing with good news for you.