Part 1 of Why Preach the Gospel?
Much of the New Testament was written in Greek and gospel is a word that we borrowed from the original language without translating it. Gospel simply means good news. If you look at crime rates, history, human nature or simply tune into to any news program then you know that we are surrounded by bad news. In the United States we are deeply divided politically, there is gun violence, debate over gun violence, crime in the big cities and various protests across the nation over a variety of issues. Other countries are at war, operate under a military regime or are completely impoverished. People don’t seem to be getting better. Our level of science and technology has increased but after thousands of years of philosophical discussion we as the human race have not dramatically improved. Theft, rape, murder and war are still universally found around the globe much as they were in ancient times. The bad news is obvious to anyone paying attention: there is something wrong with us. Beyond politics, individual beliefs and philosophy, human nature is flawed. There may in fact be some good in every person but the bad in every person has not yet been weeded out.
Bad news is easy to find but most people remain optimistic. They want to hear good news even if they find it hard to believe. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). That’s the bad news. God will ultimately judge all mankind and has promised his wrath toward sin (Colossians 3:6). More bad news. But that wrath has already been redirected. Jesus has the power to cancel sin. Our individual records can be wiped clean, expunged from God’s book, and we can be credited with the righteousness of Jesus himself. Our nature is flawed, imperfect, evil. God can intervene in a supernatural way, replacing our sinful nature with one more like his own. The indwelling Holy Spirit can lead us into understanding. Spiritually blinded eyes can be opened. The good news for anyone looking for God is that he may be found (Isaiah 55:6). He can not only be found but he actually comes looking for us. Like the father of the prodigal son he is watching and waiting for his children to come home. The gospel message offers hope for the hopeless.
Who wouldn’t want to share a message like that? The Gospel was good news to the Samaritan woman at the well, to Peter when he left his fishing nets behind, when the one known as Legion sat clothed and in his right mind, and to Matthew when he left his tax collection table. The Gospel was good news when 3,000 were saved on the day of Pentecost and on a daily basis as new believers were added to the church. For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18, read verses 18-31). The Gospel message changes lives; not just when Jesus preached but the lives of people today. People that were alcoholic, or angry or without hope are changed in ways that cause family members and friends to barely recognize them. With man this is impossible – Jesus said when the disciples asked who could be saved – but with God all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26).