What is the Good News of Jesus?

In the New Testament are four books that tell about the life and message of Jesus. They are called the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The word ‘gospel’ simply means good news (εὐαγγέλιον)—the good news of Jesus.

The English transliteration is ‘evangel’, and sharing the evangel is evangelism. The primary purpose of the church is to live this good news and share it with others; but what is it? What is this good news that is so desirable and so important?

Good News!The Angry, Demanding God

Most ancient cultures understood their gods to be demanding of them. What else would explain the reverses, disasters, and conquering invaders they experienced if not the displeasure of their gods?

The gods had power and expected their subjects to meet their demands, and when they failed to please their gods they were punished. The problem was that people never knew for sure what would please or displease the gods, but every time there was a drought, a raging fire, or a flood they tried to regain their favor. And when they were defeated by their enemies they doubled down to understand why their gods had forsaken them.

So the gods seemed angry much of the time, and the people felt alienated from the gods they could neither please nor control. They accepted that they were failures in the sight of the gods and sought a way to placate them.

The Old Testament experience was not so different. Much of the Old Testament portrays God as angry, violent, and vindictive—dissatisfied with the actions of his people. The Israelites developed laws to reduce his anger and sacrifices to reconcile themselves with God.

From time to time the love of God broke through in the Old Testament, but even in the time of Jesus the Jews tried to please God by following laws and offering sacrifices.

Jesus Tells a Different Story

Jesus tells a different story about God. He tells of the Father who loves us—every one of us. There is no need for us to feel alienated because the alienation is all on our side; the Father is not alienated from us. This is good news!

Further, Jesus tells us we need not follow legalistic rules to please the Father; instead we are to love others—we should love them as well as we love ourselves and treat them in that light. We do this by reflecting the Father’s love: as we understand how much he loves us we see ourselves differently so that we can love ourselves more appropriately. Then we can genuinely love others as we love ourselves; as we see them the way the Father sees them we will treat them differently.

This causes all the baggage that has burdened us to fall away! We no longer fear God, we are free of the burdens of trying to please God by observing legalistic rules, we gain inner peace and self-worth, and we are reconciled to others (at least on our part). This is good news!

Jesus is the agent of the good news, and he invites us in Matthew chapter 11:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Jesus brings us new life in relation to the Father, ourselves, and other people. This is good news indeed!

Good News about Eternity

This message of Jesus is very much the good news for us in our daily lives; it is his primary message. If this is all Jesus gives us, it is sufficient; but there is one more aspect of the good news to discuss.

I also believe in a future manifestation of the good news: resurrection and an eternal life of peace and happiness in the Father’s community. Jesus’ resurrection demonstrates the validity of his promises of future life after our earthly life is over. So the good news means we can live a new life today and in eternity. This is good news!

Here are the major components of the good news as I see them:

  • The love of the Father
  • The release of the burden of baggage
  • The hope of eternal life

This is such good news that we must share it with others. And even after we share it with them initially, we need to help them as they grow and continue along on their journey. Unfortunately, some believers have a plan for helping people grow that is dysfunctional and even harmful. We will talk about that next time. 

Photo Credit: WELS.net via Compfight cc
I invite your comments and observations below.
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Have a great day! ~Tim
This entry was posted in eternal life, God, Jesus, legalism, love, The Father, the Good News, the invitation, witnessing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

40 Responses to What is the Good News of Jesus?

  1. Lynn says:

    Hi Tim, I had been reading too many widely varying opinions about the existence of God lately. In addition, I’d been reading about polarizing issues within various denominations, things that might be pointing to splits in their organizations. Inevitably, it overwhelmed me. The only way to sort out feeling overwhelmed, for me, is to step away and re-evaluate. Thank you for kindly restating your welcome to me in your last post.

    Part of what helps make things clear is remembering the points you made here in this post. In the old days, people lived in fear. They assumed they had to appease an angry god. They may not have recognized the spark of God, the Light, that actually exists in themselves or their neighbors. Jesus made life simpler by telling us the way it really is. That certainly is good news. Remembering these things, all the things you’ve just blogged about, helps resolve feeling overwhelmed with information. There really aren’t that many important things that we need to know once we get down to brass tacks. Thanks for this post. It was timely for me. It helped shorten a potentially lengthy time of confusion a great deal. 🙂

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    • sheila0405 says:

      If the only things you read in the Bible are the four Gospels, which are the first four books of the New Testament, you’ll do just fine. All we need to know about Jesus is in there. He sought out the broken, the disillusioned, the marginalized, the hurt and the sick. Jesus is the good news, pure and simple. This is the place to learn about him.

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      • Lynn says:

        Thank you, Sheila, I really appreciate your suggestion. However, I feel either you’ve read my mind or you’ve been used by a Divine power to tell me to read those four Gospels. It was only this morning that I had the same idea go through my head. 🙂 You’re the push that sealed the idea. Will be praying for your father to have more comfort – and for you too. What a blessing that he has strong faith.

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        • sheila0405 says:

          Thank for your kind wishes and prayers. I’ll be praying for you, too, as you start this journey. If Ic can help, let me know. I have a wordpress.com blog called “temporary” and you can DM me there, or on twitter @sheila0405

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    • Lynn, many of us have periods of disorientation and feelings of being overwhelmed when we begin to realize that our religious ideas are based on being afraid of a harsh, vindictive god. It is frightening to walk away from something that we have been taught is the very truth of God himself.

      I like what you said: “There really aren’t that many important things that we need to know once we get down to brass tacks.” This is true. If we can just listen to what Jesus tells us, we are well on the way!

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  2. sheila0405 says:

    Reblogged this on temporary and commented:
    The Good News!

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  3. sheila0405 says:

    Tim, another gem, and another re-blog! My father is very sick and in a lot of pain. We talked about the good news of how much Jesus is loving him through this time. He’s 86, and loves Jesus so much. Thanks for this!

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  4. michaeleeast says:

    Unfortunately most evangelical Churches preach universal condemnation.
    Hardly good news. Bad news for modern man I call it.
    This kind of Machiavellian tactic is not helpful for us or them.
    The good news of God’s unconditional love and forgiveness is subjugated to their power lust.
    Power corrupts and absolute power (the Christ) corrupts absolutely.

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    • Marc says:

      Michael, All too many professing Christians have bought into Satan’s lies about God. In so doing they become disciples of the evil one, instead of disciples of Jesus Christ.

      It is clear in the early Church’s teaching about the Harrowing of Hades, that most, if not all, people who hear the true Gospel will repent and be saved.

      Because so many Christians do not believe in, or understand, the intermediate state of souls, they misinterpret Matthew 713-14 to mean almost universal condemnation. What it really means is that most people will not become true followers of Jesus Christ in this life. Most people will not hear the true Gospel until they enter the spiritual realm upon the death of their bodies.

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    • “Bad news for modern man.” I like that Michael; that is exactly what the message is that so many are preaching about God.

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  5. Marc says:

    I think it is important to note that the most ancient Orthodox Christian Church gives priority to the four Gospels by placing them on the altar apart from the rest of the Bible. The revelation of God incarnate and His trampling down death by death is very good news. In Orthodox tradition all of the rest of the Holy Scriptures can only be understood in the light of Jesus Christ.

    The pagan concepts of gods reflect the lies of Satan and his demons. The early Hebrews were not unaffected by the prevailing concepts fostered by demonic deceptions. The revelations of God in the Old Testament can only be clearly understood in context of history and the fulfillment that would come with the Incarnation.

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    • Marc, I agree with you that our understanding of God and the Bible must be sourced in the light of Jesus!

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    • Lynn says:

      Marc, would you mind helping me understand which of the Orthodox Christian Churches you mean? I’m aware of the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Coptic Christians, but I don’t know enough about any to speak intelligently about them. I know they share some important beliefs with Roman Catholics (the faith of my childhood) but also there are very important differences, hence the ancient split. Even without real knowledge, I’ve always felt some appreciation towards these groups.

      Tim, thank you for understanding. (I hope you don’t mind me asking questions here that go on a tangent, like above.)

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      • Marc says:

        Hi Lynn. I belong to the Eastern Orthodox Church, yet I believe that the differences between the other Orthodox Churches are very small compared to the differences with all Western Churches. The differences are theological: the East believes that God the Father is the fountainhead from which the Son in begotten and the Spirit proceeds, while the West corrupted the Nicene Creed by adding that the Sprit proceeds from the Father and the Son. In ecclesiology: the East believes in the conciliar government of the Church, while the West believes in the papal model of one man leadership that is also reflected in many protestant groups. In eschatology: the East believes in the good news that Jesus Christ has saved everyone and it is the choice of the individual to accept or reject this salvation, while many in the West believes that most people are damned to eternal torment. The East also rejects the prevalent dispensational concepts regarding the end of the age.

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      • Lynn, discussion is good! ~Tim

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      • sheila0405 says:

        See my comment to Marc. He made a few factual errors when he compared the Orthodox Churches to the Latin Rite Churches. There are some Eastern Churches in union with Rome, and are under papal authority. The Orthodox Churches not in union with Rome are not under papal authority. This split happened in 1054, I believe, when both sides excommunicated the other. It is a very sad time in the history of the Church.

        The Protestants broke away from the Roman Catholic Church during the Reformation. Since then, there have been many splits, and therefore, there are many denominations out there, such as Baptist, Lutheran, Anglican, Episcopalian, Methodist, Mennonite, Lutheran, and on and on. Even within major denominations you find sub-sects, such as Southern Baptist, Independent Baptist, and so on.

        That’s why I suggest sticking to the Gospel and just learning about Jesus. When you have a plethora of denominations, you pick up baggage.

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  6. sheila0405 says:

    Marc, you are mixing up Protestantism with the Western Catholic Church (the Latin Rite). And, it’s a bit harsh to say that the Nicene Creed is “corrupted”. I am a Catholic of the Latin Rite, and that upsets me. The two sides merely disagree. They excommunicated each other, which is very sad. Anyway, the Latin Rite Catholic Church rejects dispensationalism. We also believe that there is salvation within other religions–that was affirmed at the Second Vatican Council. And, while the Church teaches an eternal hell, it’s really hard to get to hell. The Church never speculates on who may or may not be there, but, instead, is open to the reality that people of all faiths make into heaven as saints. We’re quite inclusive in our theology. Blessings to you!

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    • Marc says:

      Sheila, Please share your Father’s first name so that I may pray for him.

      Regarding those who left the Orthodox Church to enter into communion with Rome, although they continue to use the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, they accept the many heresies of the Roman Church. This is not the case with the Oriental Orthodox.

      You really need to consider the fact that if God wanted a Vicar of Christ other than the Holy Spirit, there would have been no reason to have twelve Apostles instead of one. By distorting the Nicene Creed, the Latin West lost the true understanding of the Holy Spirit.

      Through the grace of God, much of Holy Apostolic Tradition survives in the Roman Catholic Church. If the bishop of Rome would ever decide to repent and return to the conciliar Church of the first 750 years, then many Protestants would reject the papal concept of one man deciding theological, ecclesiological, and eschatological issues apart from the Body of Christ. Even Tim might come to accept the authority of the early Church and Her Ecumenical Councils.

      May God bless you and your family Sheila.

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      • sheila0405 says:

        Marc, I don’t accuse you of being a heretic, or a follower of heresies. Like most sects, there is disagreement on some non-salvation issues. Try to modulate your tone. We have a new Christian seeker here, and your words have the potential to both wound and cause confusion.

        My dad’s name is Lee. Thanks for the prayers.

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        • Marc says:

          Sheila, The truth brings clarity and healing. Those who reject the truth preserved in the Lord’s Church cause confusion and often promote teachings that can wound deeply. These false teachings constitute some of the baggage that Tim has focused on. I strive to speak the truth in love, yet there are always those who are offended by the truth. I will pray for you and your father.

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          • sheila0405 says:

            It’s the tone, Marc, it’s always the tone. I didn’t see a lot of love in what you said. I follow the Latin Rite Nicene Creed, and I’m not a heretic for doing so.

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          • Marc says:

            Like I told Lynn, I tend to be very direct in discussing these important issues Sheila. I meant no offence in pointing out what history shows to be errors (heresies) in Roman Catholic dogma and practice. The persons who accepted and promoted the change to the undivided Church’s Creed were the heretics, not those who have been deceived.

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          • sheila0405 says:

            You just can’t help yourself, can you? I’m not a heretic, nor am I deceived; but thanks for your concern for my soul. (sarcasm) Thanks for the prayers for my dad (not sarcasm).

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          • Perhaps we should move on from this discussion. I think all of us involved in this thread are friends and respect each other, but I don’t see a satisfactory resolution to this question. We seem to be at an impasse–which is okay.

            Marc is aware that he and I disagree on the ultimate authority of the common apostolic tradition, but this is his sincere belief and must factor into his perspective. However, we all agree on so much more!

            Also, I think he is using heresy in a somewhat different sense than we do who are of Roman and protestant background.

            I think this has been an interesting and important discussion; we have learned a lot about each other but I suspect we have reached a stopping place in the dialog. I thank everyone who participated and hope we have many other such important and heartfelt discussions in the future.

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  7. Lynn says:

    Tim, thanks for allowing us to have further discussion.

    Marc, I appreciate the further information you provided. It gives me points to read up on. Thank you for that. As I said, I’ve had an appreciation and respect for the Orthodox communities.

    However, I’m puzzled by your replies. This isn’t my blog, like you I am a guest here, but I can’t imagine why you would feel a need to suggest another faith needs to repent, that Tim and others should accept authority of the early Orthodox traditions, that you talk of distortion and heresy in faiths that aren’t your own. Why can other faiths not exist with their own beliefs? Their existence doesn’t diminish the Orthodox faith. There is so much we can learn from each other – but I think in order to do that we should not try to take away from or change others.

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    • Marc says:

      Lynn, Jesus Christ did not want His followers divided into thousands of sects and denominations. This tragic reality developed because of the pride of many people over many centuries deciding that they knew better than those who had lived before.

      Surely the Church in Heaven remains united as the Body of Christ and the pillar and ground of the truth (see 1 Thessalonians 3:15). If the Church on earth exists, then it too remains united and has boundaries as the pillar and ground of the truth..

      Other faiths clearly do exist with their own beliefs. However, they vary in the degrees of truth and error in their beliefs. We all have opinions, but a seeker of truth is well served to study history and to discern when it is better to let the belief and faith of those who have gone before be the criteria of truth..

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  8. Lynn says:

    For sake of clarity, I am not a new Christian seeker at all. I was baptized into the Roman Catholic church as an infant. I was raised in a Roman Catholic schooll I was 12 or 13 years old. I went to Mass until I was in my 30s. I am not a new seeker. I am, however, a questioner of my birth faith. I spent many years with no faith. I am certainly no expert on the bible, as it wasn’t used extensively in our studies. I am no expert on the various reasons for splits between various faiths. I don’t know all the terms. I am no theologian. However, it would not be technically correct to think I am a new seeker.

    Marc, I understand what you are saying, however, my concern is that while you try to help others see the truth as you know it, you are bashing the truth that others believe. Debates are fruitful when all sides agree not to name call. Using words like heresy is name calling in my estimation. I think you have a great deal of knowledge, but it would be so much better received if you did respect that not all will follow the ancient Orthodox teachings.

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    • Marc says:

      Lynn, I think you will find much to be thankful for in your Roman Catholic upbringing and experience as you continue your journey of faith. As you explore the Bible and the Holy Tradition of which it is the central part, you will likely have to change your mind about concepts you have held. This is the process of repentance that all seekers of truth must experience. St. Isaac of Syria said, “This life has been given to you for repentance, do not waste it in vain pursuits.” Repentance in like a continuing course corrections that enable us to arrive at our destination safely. This process is facilitated by our willingness to discard errors (heresies). As we reject those things that are not true, we draw closer to those things that are true. The parable of the prodigal son is a good illustration of this; we are either moving away from communion with the Father, moving toward communion with the Father, or in communion with the Father. I certainly respect the fact that most people alive on the earth are not currently in communion with the Father. However, many are moving toward communion with the Father. The reality of physical death can even bring those who are currently moving away from the Father into communion through the love and healing of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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      • Lyn says:

        Thanks, Marc, you might be correct about where my faith will lead me. It could very well be toward the Orthodox origins. I am not at all opposed to that idea. It is likely that the issues which are dear to me are held dear by the Orthodox, something I’ve struggled to find when searching other paths. Thanks all for continuing to explain your positions on this. While it got a little warm in here for a while, I think I’m grasping the finer points now. My apologies if I was abrasive.

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        • Lyn says:

          Additional note: For years the gentleman that I date has been telling me he feels I would probably be very happy with the Orthodox community. This from a man who was raised Baptist, but spent a large part of his life among Greek Orthodox. 🙂

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          • Marc says:

            Lynn, I did not find anything you posted to be abrasive. Please accept my apology if I have said anything that you find offensive. I tend to be very direct when discussing these important issues, and probably do come across as abrasive to some.

            I must confess that my experience of Orthodox Christianity has been a challenge. I find as much nominalism and ignorance among Orthodox Christians as in any of the major Christian denominations. The attraction though is the continuity and fulness of the Faith that is often hidden and hampered by the types of baggage that Tim has focused on.

            There is actually more freedom for difference of opinion within the boundaries of Holy Apostolic Tradition than there is among many of the sectarian Christians. The Apostolic dogma is pretty well defined by the original Nicene Creed and the seven Ecumenical Councils. The imperial and cultural baggage all to prevalent in Orthodox Churches can be a real impediment for those seekers drawn to the continuity and fulness of the Faith.

            For those who are tired of organized religion, they might feel very comfortable among the Orthodox Christians. The Orthodox are about as disorganized as you can find, yet there is beautiful Holy order in Orthodox worship and dogma.

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    • sheila0405 says:

      Thanks for clarifying your faith history. I’m sorry if I offended you by thinking you are merely a seeker. I enjoy hearing what you have to say, at all times.

      Like

  9. Chas says:

    The question of ‘what is the Good News?’ can bring almost as many different answers as there are respondents. For me, the answer came in the Alpha Course, which originated, of all places, in the Anglican church in UK! It was originally formulated as a teaching aid, to give some background in Christian belief, but Nicky Gumbel realized that people who heard it were experiencing some sort of conversion experience, so he began to use it explicitly for that purpose. A work colleague, who was a pastor in a local non-denominational church, arranged to show the videos of the course in our place of work, at lunchtime, once a week. For me, the revelation came in about the second of these videos, when Nicky Gumbel explained that we were separated from God, and that belief in Jesus as the Son of God would bring us out of that separation into the Presence of God. That was it: the simple message of Good News.

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    • Thanks Chas.

      I have never taken the Alpha Course, though it is used in several congregations in my area. So I can’t say much about it; it does sound interesting though and I agree with the statement which ‘explained that we were separated from God, and that belief in Jesus as the Son of God would bring us out of that separation into the Presence of God.’

      Thanks for sharing.

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      • Chas says:

        The Alpha course is a quite useful general background, as it is based firmly on scripture and it includes sections on prayer and the actions of the Holy Spirit. Strangely, it is being made available on God TV, both as transmitted material and through their web site. One of the things that has surprised me is that Holy Trinity Church at Brompton has not made it freely available before (they have always sold the DVDs). Shouldn’t the Good News be free to all?

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  10. Pingback: The Problem of Impersonal Evangelism | Jesus Without Baggage

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