The meaning of the word “gospel,” like many other words, has changed over time. Initially it referred to a reward given in exchange for good news. Later it came to mean the good news itself. Today, in the minds of many, the word “gospel” often brings to mind a particular type of religious music of American origin. Writers of the New Testament sometimes used the word gospel to refer to some encouraging information, as in, “Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love” (1 Th. 3:6 NIV). But usually it is used in connection with the historical facts and meaning of the Christian message. The word “gospel” is used about 100 times in the New Testament, mainly by the apostle Paul. The Gospel writers Matthew, Mark and Luke used it occasionally. Surprisingly, John did not use it in his gospel nor in his three letters. Peter explained that it was God’s will that people should “hear ... the message of the gospel and believe” (Acts 15:7). In other words, on hearing, understanding and accepting the gospel, he expected them to “obey the gospel of God” (1 Pet. 4:17). For this to happen, Peter knew that the gospel message had to be delivered in the power of the “Holy Spirit sent from heaven” (1 Pet. 1:12).
The apostle Paul was a gifted teacher and church planter, and the gospel was central to everything he did. He viewed himself as “set apart for the gospel of God” (Rom. 1:1) and described his life’s task as “testifying to the gospel of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24). Paul explained that “Christ Jesus has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:10).
This energetic apostle believed with all his heart that God’s gospel was really “good news.” With passion he wrote: “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16). With joy and wonder Paul described what he saw: “All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth.” (Col. 1:5-6). He considered it an honor and a privilege to carry and promote the gospel. Do we?
God’s gospel has not changed; it is still His good news delivered to us by His Son, as presented in John 3:16-17: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”
God still brings new life and immortality to people through His gospel. God still works in their hearts with power as they hear the gospel message. God still uses available, normal Christians like you and me to transmit this gospel to others. Do you feel privileged and honored to be called to participate in this noble task? Have you had the opportunity to share God’s good news with someone recently?
Tools such as radio, television, videos, websites and printed material may assist us in our task. But nothing can replace personal contact and interpersonal relationships. Our life will speak to others if we “conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Phil. 1:27). The Holy Spirit desires to work through us. Let’s make ourselves available. Our way of life and our words are still the main and most effective communication tools to show and share the good news.
By Philip Nunn
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org