In this lesson we shall bring together many of the facts which we have learnt in earlier lessons.
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 ‘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 his coming kingdom.
‘And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the Kingdom.’ (Matthew 9 v 35)
‘Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God.’ (Mark 1 v 14)
‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor’ (Luke 4 v 18)
‘God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.’ (John 3 v 16)
‘You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world to bear witness to the truth.’ (John 18 v 37)
THE DISCIPLES TAUGHT THE GOSPEL
When Jesus had told the good news to the disciples, he sent them out to teach others.
‘And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.’ (Luke 9 v 2)
After his death and resurrection, Jesus told the disciples to go on with the same work, ‘Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.’ (Mark 16 v 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, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.’ (Romans 1 v 16)
‘We need to understand clearly the good news that Jesus and the apostles taught. Paul wrote again,
‘Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.’ (Galatians 1 v 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, ‘Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people … we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel.’ (Luke 24 v 19 & 21)
Just before Jesus ascended to heaven, ‘they asked him, saying, Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ (Acts 1 v 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 times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.’ (Acts 1 v 7)
As the disciples watched Jesus ascending, two angels stood by them and told them, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.’ (Acts
1 v 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 GOSPEL 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 her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.’ (Genesis 3 v 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. Look up Hebrews 2 v 14-15.
THE GOSPEL TO ABRAHAM
We have studied God’s promises to Abraham. The apostle Paul wrote,
‘The scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In you shall all nations be blessed.’ (Galatians 3 v 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. (Matthew 8 v 11)
THE GOSPEL TO DAVID
The good news of God’s kingdom was told to David through the prophet Nathan – read 2 Samuel 7 v 12-16.
‘I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. ‘
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. God, through the prophet Ezekiel, spoke to Zedekiah, the last king of Judah, ‘I will overturn, overturn, overturn it (the Kingdom): and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him.’ (Ezekiel 21 v 27)
When Jesus came, the angel renewed the promise to Mary, ‘He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David; And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.’ (Luke 1 v 32-33)
THE GOSPEL 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 recognized 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 recognizes 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, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’ (Mark 1 v 15)
‘Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus.’ (Acts 3 v 19-20)
‘The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed.’ (Acts 17 v 30-31)
We need to follow Jesus – to change our hearts and minds – to be reborn through baptism, and our next lesson will teach us what that means. This, too, is necessary,
“For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ … And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.’ (Galatians 3 v 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, ‘Thy Kingdom come’.
“Our Father in heaven, May your name be kept holy. May your kingdom come. May your will be done on Earth, as it is in heaven. Give us day by day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. Bring us not into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one’ (Luke 11 v 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 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.
PASSAGES FOR BIBLE READING
2 Samuel 7 Psalm 96 Isaiah 55 Acts 9 Psalm 1