THE MESSAGE OF THE GOOD NEWS
After John had been committed to prison, Jesus came into Galilee, announcing the good news about God, and saying, “The time that was appointed has come; and the Kingdom of God is here. Repent and believe the good news.”
There are in this summary of the message of Jesus three great, dominant words of the Christian faith.
(i) There is the good news. It was preeminently good news that Jesus came to bring to men. If we follow the word euaggelion (GSN2098), good news, gospel through the New Testament we can see at least something of its content.
(a) It is good news of truth (Gal.2:5; Col.1:5). Until Jesus came, men could only guess and grope after God. “O that I knew where I might find him,” cried Job (Jb.23:3). Marcus Aurelius said that the soul can see but dimly, and the word he uses is the Greek word for seeing things through water. But with the coming of Jesus men see clearly what God is like. No longer do they need to guess and grope; they know.
(b) It is good news of hope (Col.1:23). The ancient world was a pessimistic world. Seneca talked of “our helplessness in necessary things.” In their struggle for goodness men were defeated. The coming of Jesus brings hope to the hopeless heart.
(c) It is good news of peace (Eph.6:15). The penalty of being a man is to have a split personality. In human nature the beast and the angel are strangely intermingled. It is told that once Schopenhauer, the gloomy philosopher, was found wandering. He was asked, “Who are you?” “I wish you could tell me,” he answered. Robert Burns said of himself, “My life reminded me of a ruined temple. What strength, what proportion in some parts! What unsightly gaps, what prostrate ruins in others!” Man’s trouble has always been that he is haunted both by sin and by goodness. The coming of Jesus unifies that disintegrated personality into one. He finds victory over his warring self by being conquered by Jesus Christ.
(d) It is good news of God’s promise (Eph.3:6). It is true to say that men had always thought rather of a God of threats than a God of promises. All non-Christian religions think of a demanding God; only Christianity tells of a God who is more ready to give than we are to ask.
(e) It is good news of immortality (2Tim.1:10). To the pagan, life was the road to death; man was characteristically a dying man; but Jesus came with the good news that we are on the way to life rather than death.
(i) It is good news of salvation (Eph.1:13). That salvation is not merely a negative thing; it is also positive. It is not simply liberation from penalty and escape from past sin; it is the power to live life victoriously and to conquer sin. The message of Jesus is good news indeed.
(ii) There is the word repent. Now repentance is not so easy as sometimes we think. The Greek word metanoia (GSN3341) literally means a change of mind. We are very apt to confuse two things–sorrow for the consequences of sin and sorrow for sin. Many a man is desperately sorry because of the mess that sin has got him into, but he very well knows that, if he could be reasonably sure that he could escape the consequences, he would do the same thing again. It is not the sin that he hates; it is its consequences.
Real repentance means that a man has come, not only to be sorry for the consequences of his sin, but to hate sin itself. Long ago that wise old writer, Montaigne, wrote in his autobiography, “Children should be taught to hate vice for its own texture, so that they will not only avoid it in action, but abominate it in their hearts–that the very thought of it may disgust them whatever form it takes.” Repentance means that the man who was in love with sin comes to hate sin because of its exceeding sinfulness.
(iii) There is the word believe. “Believe,” says Jesus, “in the good news.” To believe in the good news simply means to take Jesus at his word, to believe that God is the kind of God that Jesus has told us about, to believe that God so loves the world that he will make any sacrifice to bring us back to himself, to believe that what sounds too good to be true is really true.
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