Good News From Heaven
Lesson Number EightLooking Around We are living in a fast moving, modern world, equipped with a sophisticated news media which spans the globe, keeping its inhabitants informed of all the great and important events which take place. Unfortunately, the majority of these news reports are sensational activities of calamities and evil. We hear of crimes, wars, famines, disasters, and atrocities. Peopleís hearts become fearful as they contemplate these depravities and they wonder at the final outcome. But if we study the word of God, we need not be surprised or fearful. All these things were prophesied many centuries before by a report from Christ Himself: But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by. Then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: Menís hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. Luke 21: 9,10,26. With this accurate account of world events, written nearly two thousand years in advance, Jesus also gave us a wonderful message of assurance, promising eternal redemption. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. Luke 21:28. Godís news does not highlight or sensationalize evil but addresses the problem and then gives hope to those who heed the warning. This is truly good news, good tidings from God who cannot lie (Titus 1:2). These Good Tidings are known in the Scriptures as the Gospel. This gospel message needs to be understood to be appreciated.
Paul Defines The GospelAlthough the word gospel is used by millions of professed Christians all over the world, there are but relatively few who understand its real meaning. The apostle Paul gives us the best definition: 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. Paul said of the gospel: It is POWER! Power is a living force, dynamic in usefulness and accomplishment. So important is power to us that we build power stations to supply power for industry, transportation and use in private homes. This illustration gives us an understanding of what the gospel is; it is the power of God which is able to accomplish something for us. It is not a limited power, but is the very power of God Himself. Eternal and Almighty. He is the supplier of all power that exists. Jesus taught us to acknowledge this fact in the prayer He taught His disciples: for Thine is ... the power. This infinite, limitless power of God is given to bring us salvation. Here again, many err in believing that salvation simply means going to heaven. Salvation means to be saved, and what are we to be saved from? We find the answer in the very name of our Lord: ...thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Matthew 1:21. Yes, dear friend, the gospel brings us salvation from sin right here and now. God wants to deliver you from the power of sin and to place within you His own righteousness to be revealed to the world. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. Romans 1:17. Where or how was this mighty power to save made available? The apostle Paul indicates the answer when he says: For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. I Corinthians 1:18. It was on the cross that Jesus gave the mightiest demonstration of the power of God. There He obtained the victory He offers to us as a free gift! This, is the GOSPEL.
When And Where Did The Gospel Originate?Many believe that the gospel originated in the New Testament, but a careful study of the Bible will reveal that the gospel is older than man himself. In Revelation we read about Christ as: ...the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Revelation 13:8. This means that the provision of the mighty power of God was made for manís redemption even before he was created. Then the gospel came into operation immediately after the fall of the first human pair. And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. Genesis 3:15. Here Adam and Eve and the whole human race are promised deliverance from Satan whose head was bruised when Christ overcame him on the cross. Abraham is a very early example of one to whom the gospel was preached: And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. Galatians 3:8. The same gospel was also preached to Israel in the Old Testament: For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. Hebrews 4:2. This verse also states the method by which we may receive the priceless gift of the gospel. Only by faith can we accept it.
The Gospel Of Jesus ChristJohn the Baptist described Jesus as: ...the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. John 1:29. The gospel is therefore properly named: ...the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; Mark 1:1. Jesus commenced His public ministry by preaching the gospel: Now after that John was put into 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. He called the attention of the people to the good news of salvation and Godís kingdom and invited them to repent and believe the gospel, for the time was fulfilled. Jesus not only preached, but also demonstrated the gospel to the people. And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him, Luke 8:1. He spent the years of His ministry in the work of saving souls for the kingdom of heaven. He traveled throughout the land, teaching, healing the sick, helping the needy and preaching the kingdom of God. Previous statements show that the gospel is the power of God to deliver us from the power of sin. The apostle John defines sin as: the transgression of the law. 1 John 3:4. When we receive the gospel of Jesus Christ, we are enabled, by His power, to keep the law of God. This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Hebrews 10:16,17. Therefore Godís people are described as: ...they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. Revelation 14:12.
The Spread Of The GospelJesus commanded His disciples: Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. Matthew 28:19,20. This commission of Christ was first fulfilled by the early church. As they went forth to proclaim the gospel, there was such a revelation of the glory of God as had never before been witnessed. Filled with the Holy Spirit, the church did a work that shook the world. In a single generation the gospel was carried to every nation of the ancient world. The city of Jerusalem was evangelized in a very short time and after persecution forced many Christians to leave this city, the gospel spread to other cities. Within the space of two years (Acts 19:10) every person in Asia Minor heard the gospel message, both Jews and Greeks. From there the gospel spread to North Africa and Southern Europe. If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister. Colossians 1:23.
The Gospel In ProphecyThe gospel was not to die out with the first church. The commission of Christ is for all times and, when speaking of the last days, He prophesied: And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. Matthew 24:14. This last gospel message will again reach all the inhabitants of the world in a very short time. However there are special or additional truths which form a vital part of the gospel in succeeding ages. The apostle Peter referred to them as the present truth (II Peter 1:12). It is a current title, a current message, yet never at the expense of previous truth.
Final Gospel MessagesTruth is an accumulation of Godís messages throughout the ages. Present truth includes the special messages for today. These final messages are contained in the fourteenth chapter of the book of Revelation. The first angel announces the beginning of the time of judgment. And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. Revelation 14:6,7. Notice that the angel flying in the midst of heaven has the everlasting gospel, or in other words, the power of God. It does not say that he comes preaching the everlasting gospel, but that he comes having the gospel. This angel is a symbol of a people or movement. Therefore in these last days there is a people who have the everlasting gospel to preach to all that dwell on the earth. They call on all people to worship the true god as the Creator and to proclaim the commencement of His judgment. The second angel announces the great churchís fall and apostasy. And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. Revelation 14:8. The second angel or movement, joins the first with a very solemn declaration. This third angel gives its warning against receiving the mark of the beast. And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb; And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever; and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. Revelation 14:9-11. This third angel, together with the first and second, gives the last warning message to the world. The content of these messages will be studied in detail in a later lesson. Culminating with these three angels messages is a revelation of a faithful remnant who have heeded the warnings and held true to the everlasting gospel. And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. Revelation 12:14. This final gospel message will reach the whole world, for immediately after is announced Jesusí Second Coming. What will happen when every nation, kindred, tongue and people has heard the gospel? And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. Matthew 24:14. Dear friend, our prayer is, that in that day your destiny will be that of those who have received and obeyed the gospel of God. (1 Peter 4:17).