The apostle Paul proclaimed, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” (Romans 1:16)
John Mark, at the front of his recording of the ministry of Jesus, wrote, “The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus, the Son of God.” (Mark 1:1)
When Jesus began His preaching ministry, we are told that He went about everywhere, teaching men the “Gospel of the Kingdom.” (Matthew 4:23)
The word “Gospel” is used in most English translations of the Bible close to a hundred times, most commonly in reference to the message concerning Jesus, but also sometimes in reference to the message of God concerning the Kingdom of Heaven. The word has entered the vocabulary so readily that we call the first four books of the Bible, “The Gospels,” frequently without actually stopping to consider what the word means.
The modern English word, “Gospel,” is from the Old English, “gōd-spiel,” which meant “good-news;” “spiel” meaning “news,” or “story.” This is a direct translation of the Greek word, “euangelion,” which is literally rendered, “good news.” So anytime we read, or hear, the word Gospel, assuming it is being used correctly in a sentence, we should be able to substitute the phrase, “good news,” and the meaning of the sentence will not have changed.
Thus, Paul literally proclaimed, “I am not ashamed of the Good News of Jesus Christ,” and John Mark, at the front of his manuscript, wrote, “The beginning of the Good News of Jesus, the Son of God.”
Likewise, when Jesus went about preaching, He was sharing with men the “Good News of the Kingdom.”
The good news about Jesus is that God so loved the world that He sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins (cf. John 3:16). For our sins, Jesus died, was buried, and then rose again the third day (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4). It is this message of salvation and love that is at the heart of the Good News of Jesus Christ. It is this message which Paul said was the power of God at work for the saving of men. (Romans 1:16; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:1-2)
It is this message which is celebrated by Christians all over the world as they remember the story of the Christ, who came to Earth on their behalf, so that they might have the hope of a home in heaven, that very realm from which Christ descended to take on flesh. (cf. John 1:1-2, 14) It is not just Good News, but it is the Greatest News men have ever had the opportunity to hear!
Yet the hearing of the message alone is not enough. It is a message that demands a response. Paul wrote the Good News was the power of God unto salvation to “all who believe,” (Romans 1:16) and elsewhere he reminds his readers, “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you.” (1 Corinthians 15:1-2; NKJV)
The apostle Peter would also speak to Christians, reminding them that they had purified their souls by obeying the truth of the good news of Christ. (cf. 1 Peter 1:22-25) The scriptures also speak sternly of the danger facing those who fail to obey the good news (cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:8).
This necessity of response distinguishes the Good News about Jesus Christ. It is a message of glad tidings which offers us life, but we must respond to that message for it to have its full effect. It is akin to the message that there is a physician offering life-saving surgery for the ill, and that the surgery is guaranteed to work. Those weary of illness understand that the presence of the surgeon is only good news if they actually undergo the procedure.
In the same manner, men, lost in sin, are suffering from a malady for which there is a cure. This is the good news: God sent His son to fix your broken condition. But that condition can only be fixed if you respond to the presence of the Savior, through faith and obedience. You must obey the truth of the good news.
It is for this reason that the church of Christ invites you to study and worship with us, not just during the holiday season, but throughout the year. We meet at 234 Chapel Drive, Gallipolis, Ohio. Likewise, if you have any questions, please share them with us through our website: chapelhillchurchofchrist.org.
Jonathan McAnulty is minister of Chapel Hill Church of Christ.