I am going to make a statement that, especially for those who grew up in church, is so obvious, so simple, so elementary, so assumed, that it might be ignored altogether. The Gospel is Good News.
Yes, the word gospel literally means “good news.” In fact, many newer translations, like the NIV, has translated euangelion as “good news.”
The reality that the Gospel is Good News hit me hard a while back when thinking about some people who regularly come to the campus of Western Kentucky University to “preach the gospel.”
I’m not exactly sure which church or organization these folks are with, but I do know that most people do not like them. I would consider these people street preachers. These are the people who come to the free-speech zone on campus, and with a megaphone yell Scriptures at people as they walk by. They yell anti-abortion and anti-homosexuality rhetoric. They will verbally fight with whoever dares to challenge them. They often draw big crowds and tick everyone off who walks by. These folks are comparable to the people of Westboro Baptist Church.
As a Christian, when I see these street preachers I am bothered. I get mad. I hate that they’re so judgmental. I hate that they’re giving Christians such a bad name. And I especially hate that they give our Lord a bad name. But this is what bothered me more than anything…I agreed with them. Yes, I agreed with them. This killed me. I agreed with them, yet disliked them. How could this be? I agreed that abortion was a sin. I agreed that the practice of homosexuality was a sin. I agreed that living a promiscuous lifestyle was not the way God designed relationships. I agreed with them. This made me ask myself hard questions. Were we on the same team? Was I one of them? This kept me perplexed.
It just so happened that as I was talking to a student in my campus ministry about the street preachers, we had just discussed Mark 1:14-15: “Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.'” Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. The Gospel is Good News. I always knew that the word Gospel means good news. But I finally understood that the Gospel is Good News.
Here’s the problem with the street preachers. They preach preach true things, but do not preach the Gospel. They might preach things that are true, but they do not preach Good News. Hear me out–I am not saying we should not to call sin sin. And I’m not saying we should not confront people with the reality of their sin. What I am saying is that if you only preach against sin and judgment and leave out the hope that Jesus brings through the Good News of the Gospel, you’re doing it wrong. You can preach true things, but if there is no hope of Good News presented to the one you’re preaching to, you’re doing it wrong. Jesus died for our sins. We have hope. The Apostle Paul says, “We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:20-21). Because of what Jesus did we can be righteous. That’s good news. That’s the Best News.