Friday, March 12, 2010

Is there really any BAD news? About Jesus? Or in His word?

The previous blog entry investigated the question of whether the gospel was the GOOD news about Jesus. The answer suggested is that good news IS the central idea contained in the word gospel but that it fails to convey the complete meaning of the original Greek. The Greek word euangelion originally meant a reward given to one who brings good news of victory.

To accept that the gospel is the good news exclusively, is an error. The gospel is the body of teaching, originating with and centered upon Christ, contained within the New Testament. The gospel of Jesus Christ is nothing more or less than the message of Christ.

But why inquire about the meaning of the word gospel at all? The answer is that - operating under the simplistic notion that the gospel is the good news - many pulpits have determined to concentrate on the good news exclusively. The gospel is God's power for salvation and the good news is the gospel, right? Therefore the GOOD news about Jesus is the only thing needing to be preached or taught.

So what is the Bad News?

If we have decided that only the good news about Jesus should be taught, we imply that there is also some bad news about Jesus; or at least that there is bad news in some of the biblical teaching that originated with Him.

I personally am less than comfortable with the notion that anything written in scripture concerning our Lord would be considered bad news. Some of the New Testament is about Jesus and the remainder about His teaching. How can any right-minded Christian consider any of this material bad news? We certainly understand that the New Testament has bad news for unrepentant sinners but nothing there should be thought bad news by us.

Those subscribing to this good news only notion tend to divide the New Testament's teaching along the lines of what feels good versus what doesn't. If it makes people feel good (or is expected to) it is the gospel; otherwise not.

Things typically omitted from good news only preaching might be the condemnation of sin, the need of repentance, the need of godliness in the Christian life and the specifics of eternal judgment.

Those who think such things optional in gospel preaching ought to consider that the apostles Peter and Paul - and of course the Lord Jesus Himself - taught these things plainly. If they were not gospel preachers there have never been any.

Who decides which news is good and which is bad?

People do - uninspired people. I refuse to consider anything in the New Testament bad news. But if I did, I doubt that my lists of good versus bad news items would be exactly the same as yours. I'd be preaching the parts of the New Testament that I considered good news and you would be doing the same. But just between the two of us, there would be two different gospels preached. Add in another dozen Christians, each with his own idea of which parts make up the good news and you have got a chaos of division.

Consider also the motives that we as individuals might have in determining which parts of the New Testament are good news. A worldly believer who wants his grace cheap and his lifestyle indulgent, is going to have a far different listing of good versus bad news items than someone who truly loves and seeks to please God.

Most disturbing, though, is that this good news only mindset is closely aligned with a church-growth, success by the numbers approach to ministry. This means that the choice of good news items to be preached will be geared toward what someone thinks the prospects or seekers (formerly known by such terms as worldlings and sinners) want to hear. Bottom line, in this case, is that that the world is being told what some preacher thinks the world wants to hear. What the world wants to hear from us and what it needs to hear are entirely different things.

The [gospel / message of Christ] was God given.

Almighty God gave His Son to die in order that the message of the New Testament could be proclaimed; the whole message. Those who authored this WORD paid for their privilege - while upon this earth - with poverty, persecution and in most cases martyrdom. And to this very day, many who publish and distribute this WORD pay the very same penalty.

How happy, then, is the author and perfecter of our faith with the fact that so many within today's Christendom are convinced that only a part of this WORD is good news, worthy to be preached?

Perhaps it is best for us to let God decide what the good news is. He already has decided and He has seen to it that His inspired apostles and prophets, with Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone, have delivered it to us. It is the teaching of the New Testament.

I am, by God's grace,
Rich In Christ

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