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A Reminder About Some of the Points in Lesson 9
In this study we shall bring together many of the facts which we have learnt in earlier studies. The English word ’gospel’ comes from two old English words, ’god spell’ meaning ’good news’, or, as it is sometimes used in the New Testament, ’glad tidings’. This is a good translation of the Greek word εὐαγγέλιον ’enaggelion’.
The Centre Of Christ’s Teaching
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all tell us that Jesus went throughout the land of Israel preaching the gospel - the good news - of God’s coming kingdom.
“Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom.” (Matthew 9.35)
“After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God.” (Mark 1.14)
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.” (Luke 4.18)
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3.16)
“Jesus answered, "You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” (John 18.37)
The Disciples Taught The Gospel
When Jesus had told the good news to the disciples, he sent them out to teach others.
“Jesus sent them [the disciples] out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” (Luke 9.2)
After his death and resurrection, Jesus told the disciples to go on with the same work, He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16.15-16)
From these last words we see that we need to know, believe and obey the gospel in order to receive salvation.
The Power Of The Gospel
Because of this, the apostle Paul wrote, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.” (Romans 1.16)
We need to understand clearly the good news that Jesus and the apostles taught. Paul wrote again,
“Even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!” (Galatians 1.8)
WHAT DID THE DISCIPLES UNDERSTAND BY ’THE GOSPEL’?
The disciples went out preaching the good news of the kingdom of God before the crucifixion of Jesus. What did this ’good news’ mean to them? When two of them spoke to Jesus after his resurrection, they told him, “About Jesus of Nazareth," they replied. "He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.” (Luke 24.19 & 21)
Just before Jesus ascended to heaven, the disciples asked Him, saying, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1.6) They expected Jesus to set up the kingdom of God there and then. It was such good news that they wanted it immediately. Jesus told them that the time had not yet come. "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.” (Acts 1.7)
As the disciples watched Jesus ascending, two angels stood by them and told them,
“This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1.11)
This promise is the repeated theme of the apostles’ teaching as we read it in the Acts of the Apostles, and their letters. They looked for the return of Jesus to fulfil all of the promises which God had made concerning His kingdom. For, although the word ’gospel’ is only to be found in the New Testament, the good news of the kingdom of God is the basis of all God’s promises from the beginning.
The Promise In Eden
In the beginning, after Adam and Eve had disobeyed God’s commandment, we remember His words to the serpent,
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3.15)
This was the good news, that the power of sin and death would eventually be destroyed. This was the work that Jesus came to do.
“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death - that is, the devil - and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” (Hebrews 2.14-15)
The Promise To Abraham
We have studied God’s promises to Abraham. The apostle Paul wrote,
“The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: "All nations will be blessed through you.” (Galatians 3.8)
When Jesus returns, he will raise Abraham from the dead, and all God’s promises to Abraham will be fulfilled in every detail. These promises were confirmed to Isaac and to Jacob, and they too will be raised from the dead at the return of Jesus, and will receive places of honour in God’s kingdom.
“Many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 8.11)
The Promise To David
The good news of God’s kingdom was told to David through the prophet Nathan:
“When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with the rod of men, with floggings inflicted by men. But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.” (2 Samuel 7.12-16.)
Although the Israelites later forsook God, He did not forget His promises. We find them over and over again in the Psalms of David, and in the writings of the prophets. Through the prophet Ezekiel, God spoke to Zedekiah, the last king of Judah,
“A ruin! A ruin! I will make it a ruin! It will not be restored until he comes to whom it rightfully belongs; to him I will give it.” (Ezekiel 21.27)
When Jesus came, the angel renewed the promise to Mary,
“He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” (Luke 1.32-33)
“The LORD swore an oath to David, a sure oath that he will not revoke (cancel): "One of your own descendants I will place on your throne....” (Psalm 132.11-12)
“ He (David) was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne.” (Acts 2.30)
The Promise To Us
This is the good news of God’s kingdom that comes to us in the Bible message. Jesus will soon be back on earth to set up God’s kingdom. Read Matthew 25. The three parables in this chapter teach us to watch, to work, to reflect the love of Christ if we too would have a part in God’s Kingdom.
- Parable of the ten virgins
Those who prepared themselves and kept a close watch were invited into the marriage feast but those whose oil had run out found the door closed.
- Parable of the talents
The use of our abilities will be recognised by Jesus and he will reward those who have used their knowledge and opportunities while they could.
- Parable of shepherd dividing the sheep
The Good Shepherd recognises his sheep and understands their efforts. He knows those who have tried to help their fellows and accepts such assistance as being done to him.
WHAT MUST WE DO?
We have to repent, to change our ways,
’Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, " "The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1.15)
“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you--even Jesus.” (Acts 3.19-20)
God commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17.30-31)
We need to follow Jesus - to change our hearts and minds - to be reborn through baptism, and our next study will teach us what that means. This, too, is necessary,
“..for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. .... If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3.27-29)
This is the gospel, the good news of the kingdom of God. We, like the disciples, long for it to be fulfilled soon. This is why we pray, as Jesus taught his followers, ‘Your Kingdom come’.
“When you pray, say: `Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.” (Luke 11.2-4)
- The word ’gospel’ means ’good news’.
- The good news of the coming kingdom of God was the main theme of the teaching of Jesus and his disciples.
- Knowledge, belief of and obedience to the gospel are necessary to gain salvation.
- The gospel is taught throughout the Scriptures, in Old and New Testaments.
- The Good News of the Kingdom of God is still preached to us.
- We can gain a place in God’s kingdom if we hear, understand and obey the gospel message.
- We have to make a positive response to the call of the gospel - just as Abraham and all the faithful servants of God in the past did.
Relevant Passages For Bible Reading
2 Samuel 7