gospel …good news

In a day of depressing headlines and uncertainty all around us, good news is very welcome. What better news could there be than as the old hymn says: “The vilest offender who truly believes, that moment from Jesus a pardon receives?” When Christians refer to the “Gospel” they are referring to the “good news” that Jesus Christ died to pay the penalty for our sin so that we might become the children of God through faith alone in Christ alone. In short, “the Gospel” is the sum total of the saving truth as God has communicated it to lost humanity as it is revealed in the person of His Son and in the Holy Scriptures, the Bible. If you aren’t sure whether or not you are God’s child, you might want to read God’s Plan of Salvation before you read on in this lesson.

The Basic Meaning of the Term

The term gospel is found ninety-nine times in the NASB and ninety-two times in the NET Bible. In the Greek New Testament, gospel is the translation of the Greek noun euangelion (occurring 76 times) “good news,” and the verb euangelizo (occurring 54 times), meaning “to bring or announce good news.” Both words are derived from the noun angelos, “messenger.” In classical Greek, an euangelos was one who brought a message of victory or other political or personal news that caused joy. In addition, euangelizomai (the middle voice form of the verb) meant “to speak as a messenger of gladness, to proclaim good news.”1 Further, the noun euangelion became a technical term for the message of victory, though it was also used for a political or private message that brought joy.2

That both the noun and the verb are used so extensively in the New Testament demonstrate how it developed a distinctly Christian use and emphasis because of the glorious news announced to mankind of salvation and victory over sin and death that God offers to all people through the person and accomplished work of Jesus Christ on the cross as proven by His resurrection, ascension, and session at God’s right hand. In the New Testament these two words, euangelion and euangelizo, became technical terms for this message of good news offered to all men through faith in Christ.

The Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia summarizes the gospel message this way:

The central truth of the gospel is that God has provided a way of salvation for men through the gift of His son to the world. He suffered as a sacrifice for sin, overcame death, and now offers a share in His triumph to all who will accept it. The gospel is good news because it is a gift of God, not something that must be earned by penance or by self-improvement (Jn 3:16; Rom 5:8–11; II Cor 5:14–19; Tit 2:11–14).3

 

what is the gospel? It is the message of the good news of salvation, the word of truth offered to mankind by grace through faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross. It is a message not only of eternal life, but one that encompasses the total plan of God to redeem people from the ravages of sin, death, Satan, and the curse that now covers the earth.

The world is blinded to the gospel by Satan who wants to keep people from seeing the glorious nature of the gospel of Christ (2 Cor. 4:3-4), but the Christian should never be ashamed of the gospel nor reticent to share it because the gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes for the righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel (Rom. 1:16-17).

Furthermore, the gospel does not come simply in words. “For our gospel did not come to you merely in words, but in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction (in much assurance) (1 Thess. 1:5).

Of course, the gospel is a message of words since words are basic to the intelligent communication of God’s truth. As a message, the gospel is a witness to the historical work of God in the person and work of Christ for which the right words are crucial. However, this message is not merely a message of words. Words can be very eloquent, persuasive, and entertaining and they may move people emotionally and intellectually, but such can not save them and bring them into the family of God (see 1 Cor. 2:1ff). Thus, the apostle added, the gospel came “also in power.”

In contrast to mere words, the gospel came “with power.” Some would like to relate this to miraculous works as authenticating signs, but normally, the plural, “powers,” would be used if that were meant (see Matt. 13:54; 14:2; 1 Cor. 12:10; Gal. 3:5; Heb. 2:4; 6:5). Others would relate it to the inward power in the messengers as a result of the filling of the Spirit, but this important characteristic is brought out by the next prepositional phrase mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 1:5, “with” or “by the Spirit.” Rather, could it not refer simply to the inherent power of the gospel as the “Word of God which is alive and powerful” (Heb. 4:12)? It is not just a message of words, but a message which is living, active, powerful and able to bring people into a saving relationship with the living God for one simple reason: It is God’s Word and it is truth. It is the true revelation of God’s activity in Jesus Christ. See also the apostle’s comment in 1 Thessalonians 2:13.

But Paul quickly adds, “and in the Holy Spirit.” This takes us to the second of the positive elements that gave these missionaries their boldness in presenting the gospel. Paul and his associates knew they were indwelt by the Spirit as their helper or enabler for ministry (John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7f; Acts 1:8). The Spirit of God, as the third person of the Trinity, is called “the Spirit of Truth” because of His role in taking the truth of the Word and revealing it to men (see John 14:17; 15;26; 16:8-13; 1 John 4:6; Acts 1:8; 1 Cor. 2:6-16). Because of the blindness and hardness of men’s heart, they are powerless to even desire, much less grasp the life-giving truth of the gospel (cf. Rom. 3:11), but by the powerful pre-salvation ministry of the Spirit who led the missionaries (see Acts 16:6-10), who prepares hearts (Acts 16:14), and who convicts and draws men to God (Rom. 2:4; John 12:32; 16:8f), some will listen, grasp, and believe the gospel and experience its saving power (see also 2 Thess. 2:13).

Thus, the apostle added a third positive element concerning the gospel which they brought to the Thessalonians—“and with full conviction.” This point us to the faith and confidence of the missionaries. It was not in their looks, in their beaming personalities, in their eloquence or oratorical skill, nor in their methodology that they trusted. They preached the gospel with conviction resting in the fact they were preaching the powerful, life-giving truth of God fortified by the powerful ministry of the Spirit of God who worked both in the missionaries and in their hearers.

May we realize with Paul that the gospel is a sacred trust (1 Tim. 1:11). Thus, may we with the apostle be under divine compulsion to proclaim it (1 Cor. 9:16), and seek the prayer of others that we may carry out the task of sharing the gospel with boldness (Eph. 6:19). This will often involve us in opposition (1 Thess. 2:2) and affliction (2 Tim. 1:8), but the gospel of salvation is “the word of truth” (Eph. 1:13). bible.org


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