Solomon once penned the words, “As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country” (Prov. 25:25). In an age when folks are daily bombarded with bad news, good news is a welcome relief. An individual can hardly turn on the television, open a web browser, listen to the radio, or read a newspaper without learning of bad news. However, no matter how bad it might seem, souls in our world need to know that there is good news. When Jesus the Christ came into the world and “dwelt among us” (John 1:14), he brought with him good news—the greatest news mankind has ever heard. He brought mankind the gospel.
Bauer defines the Greek word for gospel (euangelion) as, “God’s good news to men, the gospel” (317). Thus, “gospel” means, “good news.” Mark’s gospel account begins with the words, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the son of God” (Mark 1:1) and closes with the instructions of Jesus to, “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). The good news came to mankind when Jesus came into the world, lived a sinless life, died upon the cross, and was resurrected from the dead (cf. 1 Cor. 15:1-4). These facts are what the gospel accounts record. This information is what Jesus wanted his followers to share with the world. Mankind already had bad news, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). The good news to mankind is, “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24). Christ has brought redemption to the sin-sick world. That fact is good news!
Concerning Jesus, the Bible informs the reader, “Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God” (Mark 1:14, emp. mine). Furthermore, as Jesus was going through various parts of the country in which he lived, the reader is told, “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people” (Matt. 4:23; cf. 9:35). The phrase “gospel of the kingdom” is found 4 times in the scriptures and all of them are tied to the preaching that Jesus did while he walked this earth. These occurrences demonstrate that Jesus’ daily life consisted of sharing with folks the “gospel” or “good news” of the kingdom. John the baptizer had announced prior to Jesus’ preaching, “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 3:2). Once Jesus began his public ministry, he spoke the same words, “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17). Jesus wanted folks to know that his kingdom was coming. He identified his kingdom in Matthew 16:18-19 as the church, “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Why was the coming of the church (the kingdom) such good news? Why did Jesus place such emphasis on the building of his church—the kingdom of God? The answer is found in the fact that the kingdom/the church is the place where the saved are placed once they have been saved (Acts 2:47). What wonderful news it is to share with people that Jesus can save them from their sins (Matt. 1:21), and God will personally add them to the church that he purchased with his own blood (Acts 20:28)!
It is no wonder that Jesus gave the commission to his disciples to “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). Mankind needs the good news of salvation. Mankind needs the good news of the kingdom, the church of Christ. Regardless of the bad news that the average person is inundated with on a daily basis, there is an abiding message of good news. This good news, as Solomon said, is like cold waters to a thirsty soul. Thirsty souls in desperate need of living water (John 4:10, 13-14) abound in today’s world. It is the responsibility of the Christian to bring this living water, this gospel of the kingdom, to these thirsty souls just like Jesus did.
Bauer, Walter. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. 2nd ed. Trans. William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich. Ed. F. Wilbur Gingrich and Frederick W. Danker. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1979.
Spencer Strickland is the pulpit evangelist at the St. Andrew’s Road Church of Christ in Columbia, SC. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.