December 1, 2017

So what is The Good News and what makes it so good?

Imagine living in a world of total darkness. You have sight and intellect, but all you can conceive is darkness. Words like love, peace, joy, comfort, hope … are non-existent. And you are not the only one chained to this gigantic weight. All of humanity is locked within this bubble of hopelessness. You live until the unbeatable enemy – death – comes to claim its victim. Nothing in between and nothing after. You have children, but their fate is identical to yours – as it was for your parents and your grandparents.

Then one day as shepherds watched their flock of sheep:

“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11, King James Version).

Thirty years later (Luke 3:23, KJV) that Savior made an announcement:

“Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:14-15, KJV).

Now imagine a world filled with light. Love, peace, joy, comfort and hope fill the atmosphere. You now have a wonderful future to look forward to. And the fierce enemy called death is no longer an unbeatable foe. “O death where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory” (I Corinthians 15:55, KJV).

I would call this transition from a world of darkness and hopelessness to one of light and hope, Good News.

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. (What does the term gospel mean?

Ah beloved, the Good News, the joy that our Messenger and Savior, Jesus Christ, was announcing was that God’s plan to bring man-kind out of a helpless and hope-less state was in motion and close at hand. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begot-ten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, KJV).

I am motivated to share this Good News with those who are still locked in a world of darkness. In 2017, we are the angelos – messengers. We carry the personal news that can bring joy to the life of someone still locked away.

Several years ago I recall teaching a Christian Enrichment class at the Hopson House. At the end of class a long-time friend from my college years stopped by the podium to ask me a question. She asked, “What is this ‘salvation’ that everyone keeps talking about in class?” It’s ironic that fifteen years later I still re-member her question, but not my answer. I do remember leaving the conversation and saying to myself, “well you really messed that up.” Leave it to me to stumble over explaining the priceless gift of salvation – The Good News.

Years have passed and I’m still teaching. Discussions about “Salvation” and “The Good News” still find their way into the classroom. But the years have taught me the conversation has to become personal before it becomes meaningful.

The Good News is global. It transcends all ethnic barriers. But it is most powerful when it becomes personal. In fact, it has to be personal. “For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:11-12, KJV) .

We cannot be ashamed to deliver the message. The Apostle Paul defended his charge to carry the per-sonal news this way: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16, KJV).

The Good News – The Gospel – is always good. But this year and years beyond, let’s make it personal.

Written by Henry Hopson Jr.