What is the Good News?
June 7, 2015
I. Introduction: (The following quotes are from the wonderful new book, which is written for folks like us, by N. T. Wright, Anglican bishop and preeminent New Testament scholar: Simply Good News: Why the Gospel Is News and What Makes It Good)
When was a time you received good news?
When was a time you received good advice?
What’s the difference between news and advice?
II. Advice versus News
A. “In many churches, the good news has subtly changed into good advice: Here’s how to live, they say. Here’s how to pray. Here are techniques for helping you become a better Christian, a better person, a better wife or husband. And in particular, here’s how to make sure you’re on the right track for what happens after death. Take this advice: say this prayer and you’ll be saved….This is advice, not news. The whole point of advice is to make you do something to get a desired result. Now, there’s nothing wrong with good advice. We all need it. But it isn’t the same thing as news. ”
B. “News is an announcement that something significant has happened. And good news is what Jesus and his first followers were all about….Jesus was claiming to do things through which the world would be healed, transformed, rescued, and renewed. He was, in short, announcing good news, for Israel and the whole world.”
In the ancient world the Greek term for good news “evangelion” was used to announce a triumph of the Emperor: so when Octavius defeats Mark Anthony September 2, 31 BC heralds go throughout the empire to announce the good news of his victory.
And this announcement points to three things:
“Something had happened because of which everything was now different. Something would happen that would complete this initial victory (like Octavius returning to Rome and setting up his court.) As a result the present moment was new and different. This good news transformed people’s lives.”
III. Biblical Good News
What has happened:
1 Corinthians 15: Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters,[a] of the good news[b] that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, 2 through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you—unless you have come to believe in vain. 3 For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, 4 and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters[c] at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died.[d] 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.
What will happen because of what has happened:
25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God[a] has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is plain that this does not include the one who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who put all things in subjection under him, so that God may be all in all
IV. Recap: The good news is not advice about how to live a moral life or how to get to heaven.
“The good news is that the one true God has now taken charge of the world, in and through Jesus and his death and resurrection….”
God’s plan to put the world right has finally been launched.
God “has grasped the world in a new way, to sort it out and fill it with his glory and justice, as he always promised.”
“the ancient sickness that had crippled the whole world, and humans with it, has been cured at last, so that new life can rise up in its place.
“The good news was, and is, that all this has happened in and through Jesus; that one day it will happen, completely and utterly, to all creation; and that we humans, every single one of us, whoever we are, can be caught up in that transformation here and now. Do not allow yourself to be fobbed off with anything less.”