I do not want to be insensitive, and I certainly don't want to be offensive. I do want you to be fully aware of an essential realization. Can you conceive of any one of these things happening?

You take you car to a mechanic to check it. He calls you in two hours and says, "I have good news. Your transmission is shot."

You put your home on the market. An inspector examines your house. When he finishes he says, "I have good news. There is extensive termite damage everywhere."

You think your marriage is sound. Your marriage problems are typical problems. One afternoon when you come in from work, your wife greets you with these words. "I have good news. I have filed for divorce; move your things out of this house tonight."

Or, you think your marriage is stable with only normal problems. Your husband comes in from work and greets you with these words. "I have good news. I am leaving you and the kids. I will move out this weekend. I will put this house on the market soon."

You go to the doctor for your annual check up. You feel fine and have no medical complaints. The doctor says, "I have good news. You have a tumor."

"David, that is not even slightly funny. That is sick." I totally agree. To use the words "good news" in any of those situations is cruel. Good news IS good news.

  1. After years of studying, thinking, and understanding, I reached to a conclusion that I want to share with you.
    1. When the early translators either created a word or substituted a word instead of translating the word, they laid the foundation for misconceptions and conflict.
      1. If a word could be translated and they did not translate it; if a word could be translated and they substituted instead of translating, they created confusion.
      2. Some of our greatest confusion can be traced to words that were not translated.
    2. Let me share two examples.
      1. The word "baptism" was created by the early translators.
        1. It was created by a process called transliteration; a letter from the English alphabet was substituted for a letter in the Greek alphabet to form a new word.
        2. The sad thing is that the Greek word was easily translated: it was a common word that meant to sink or to immerse.
        3. But at that time Christian immersion was not practiced.
        4. So they created the word baptize.
        5. Enormous confusion would never have existed, countless arguments would never have occurred if "baptizo" had been translated.
      2. I believe that we encounter a similar situation with the word "gospel."
        1. If you look in the margins of a study Bible, it usually notes that the word "gospel" means "good news."
        2. The word "gospel" does not come from Hebrew or Greek, the basic languages of the Bible.
        3. "Gospel" comes from two old Anglo-Saxon words: "God's spell" meaning "God's news" or "good spell" meaning "good news."
        4. The Anglo-Saxon word "spell" seems to have meant "God's influence on reality."
        5. These words were used for Greek words that mean "true message," "well message," or "good message."
        6. In its early use the Greek word meant "bringing the news of victory," the news that a messenger brought from a battle to inform the king of the defeat of an enemy's army or the death of an enemy.
        7. We create unnecessary problems when we talk about the "gospel" without identifying what the good news or good message was.

  2. "Gospel" is an important word in the New Testament: John preached the "gospel;" Jesus preached the "gospel;" and Christianity from its beginning accepted the responsibility to share the "gospel."
    1. Unfortunately, we make too many assumptions when we use the word.
      1. We assume that the "good news" that John preached was the same "good news" that Jesus preached.
      2. We assume that the "good news" that Jesus preached was the same "good news" that Christians preached.
    2. John unquestionably preached "good news" or the "true" message to Israel.
      1. Luke 3:18 states that John preached the gospel to the people.
      2. Luke 16:16 makes a fascinating statement about John's preaching. "The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John, since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached..."
        1. John was the transition.
        2. Those who taught before John taught what we call the Old Testament; they called those scriptures the Law and the prophets.
      3. Luke 1:15-17 and Luke 1:68-79 clearly state the mission God gave to John.
        1. In Luke 1:16 the angel told John's father before John was conceived that he would turn the hearts of many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God.
        2. Luke 1:68-79 declares God was keeping His promises by sending John. It says that John was to get the people ready for the Lord, for the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of sins.
        3. John's good news was centered in God as God fulfilled His promises about the kingdom.
    3. Many, many statements in the first four books of the New Testament declare that Jesus preached the gospel of the kingdom.
      1. In Matthew 11:2-6 John is in prison, he can't preach, he can't prepare people any more, and he likely realized that he would be killed.
        1. He sent some disciples to Jesus to ask, "Are you the One who was to come?" In our words, "Did I complete the work God gave me? Did I fulfill my mission?"
        2. Jesus answered John's question by reciting a promise God made in Isaiah 35. Go tell John:
          1. The blind are seeing; the lame are walking; those with leprosy are healed; the deaf hear; the death are raised; and the poor have the gospel, the good news, preached to them.

            ii.Blessed is the person who is not offended by me.

        3. When John heard that, he knew Jesus was the Christ; he knew Jesus was the person God promised to send; he knew he fulfilled his mission.
      2. In Luke 4:18 Jesus was in his home town of Nazareth reading Isaiah 61:1 on the Sabbath day in the synagogue.
        1. Luke 4:18,19 "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, And recovery of sight to the blind, To set free those who are oppressed, To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord." (The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.)
        2. Jesus said, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing" (4:21). (The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.)
        3. That was the good news: God is keeping the promise He made to Israel hundreds of years ago; it is happening right now.

  3. After the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, from the time of Acts 2 forward, a fundamental responsibility of the Christian community, the family of God, was to share and spread the "good news."
    1. What "good news?"
      1. Understanding the good news presented to Israel is fairly simple.
        1. For hundreds of years they had the scriptures.
        2. Most of the prophets were sent to Israel.
        3. God promised to send His son to Israel.
        4. God promised a renewal of the kingdom to Israel.
        5. To reveal to Israel that God was keeping His promises was good news.
      2. But Israel was a small nation and a small people. What about the greater majority of the world, people who were not Israelites?
        1. Most of the world's population did not know Israel's scripture.
        2. They did not have the messages of the prophets.
        3. They did not know the promises of God.
        4. That Information could not be the basis of "good news" for them.

  4. When the "good news" was shared with the non-Jewish world, what did Christians share?
    1. Paul in writing to people who were not Jews declared the "good news" he preached to non-Jews. 1 Corinthians 15:1-4-- 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... (The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.)
      1. This was the good news that he preached to them, that they accepted, that enabled them to spiritually stand, that saved them.
      2. This is the good news: Christ died for our sins; he was buried; three days later he was raised from the dead.
      3. Please notice the good news is centered in the Christ.
    2. To another group of Christians Paul wrote this: Romans 1:16-- For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.)
      1. I am not ashamed of the good news.
        1. I am not ashamed of Jesus who was executed like a criminal.
        2. I am not ashamed to place my total confidence in his resurrection in a world that does not believe that dead people come back to life.
      2. I am not ashamed because it is in this good news that God released the power that can save anyone who believes that Jesus died for our sins and was raised from the dead.
    3. To these same people Paul wrote: Romans 15:18,19-- For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed, in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit; so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. (The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.)

Prayer: God, increase our understanding of the meaning of Jesus being the Christ and help us place our faith in the Christ.

For those who have lost hope, there is good news. For those oppressed by their burdens, there is good news. For those who are depressed because life overwhelms them, there is good news. For those whose life is in ruin because of their mistakes, there is good news. For those who are troubled, there is good news. For those who are in despair, there is good news.

What good news? Jesus is the Christ. Exactly as the prophets predicted, He died for our sins. Exactly as the prophets predicted, God raised him from the dead. The God who sacrificed Jesus' life for our sins will forgive us. The God who raised Jesus from the death will resurrect us out of spiritual death and give us new life in Christ. The God who made Jesus the Christ can and will make us sons and daughters of God. That is the gospel. That is the good news. That is the true message. That is the well message. That is the news of victory.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 28 March 1999

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