Preaching the Gospel in the
Light of Bad News
By Jim Josephsen
Is the gospel a message intent on lifting you up or bringing you
down? Can the gospel truly be preached surrounded by so much bad
news in the world today?
It is a fair question, worthy of reply. As a church organization, as
a work of God, should we not be preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom
of God? Should we not be expressing the good news of God; His love
and mercy; His faithfulness; His lovingkindness and His compassion
for His creation? After all, did not our namesake, Jesus Christ come
preaching the good news, the glad tidings of the Kingdom of God?
It is recorded that Jesus Christ came “proclaiming the good news of
God. ‘The time has come,’ He said; ‘the kingdom of God is near.
Repent and believe the good news [gospel]’” (Mark 1:14-15 NIV).
By the thousands, people from every nation across this world, echo
the comment, “I just don’t want to watch the news anymore; it is so
depressing.” Consequently, for those who find an interest in going
to church, and actually go, their main desire is not wanting to hear
more bad news. They want to be uplifted, emotionally entertained,
and spiritually charged. They want to hear the good things of God.
How curious; the very attitudes found within many Christians today
are characterized in prophetic writings produced some three
millennia ago. Ironically, what was written pointed forward to a
future time. Did God inspire the prophets of old to write for
today’s generation? Notice!
“Go and write it on a table for them, inscribe it on a scroll, that
for the days to come, it may be an everlasting witness. These are
rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen
to the Lord’s instructions. They say to the seers, see no more
visions and to the prophets [preachers], Give us no more visions of
what is right. Tell us pleasant [smooth] things; prophesy illusions
[deceit] (Isaiah 30:8-10 NIV).
“The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority
and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?”
Messages like these were consistent among the prophecies of old and
were all directed at the many lying preachers and false teachers
back then. Yet they are so fitting today. Today, so-called preachers
of God preach political correctness, kind and smooth words,
appealing to the emotions and the senses. All too many preachers and
ministers are afraid of hurting peoples’ feelings; are afraid to
stand up for the very truth of God; are afraid to maintain doctrinal
integrity. In place of the truth of God, they preach lies about God.
Gods’ faithful prophets cried out to the people, witnessing of God’s
faithfulness, love and mercy. Constant was their warning and
heart-felt petition, “why are you killing yourself?” The true
message from God’s servants was a warning, showing what will happen
if repentance was not attained.
God’s message, His desire has always been the same: “I have no
pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from
his ways and live: turn [return or repent, restore, convert, change]
ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of
Israel” (Ezekiel 33:11).
What did the Apostle Paul say of God? “For this is good and
acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; who desires all men to be
saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4).
Peter likewise professed: “the Lord is not willing that any should
perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
The consistency of the message preached in both the Old and New
Testaments is unmistakable, hardly coincidental. Likewise, it is
unmistakable; when Jesus Christ came preaching the gospel [good
news] message of the Kingdom of God, he merged the message with
repentance. Repent (step one) and believe the gospel (step two), so
Jesus Christ did not neglect the sinners and publicans; the common
man, the average woman on the street. His message was consistent; as
he preached, “they that are whole have no need of a physician, but
they that are sick. I have come not to call the righteous, but the
sinner to repentance” (Mark 2:17).
The constant theme of Christ’s gospel message was repentance. Christ
came to show humanity the right and righteous way of living; showing
humanity how to live life and live it more abundantly; in obedience
to the Laws of God and the words [instructions] of God. Christ
commanded his servants to continue preaching repentance and
forgiveness of sins, in His name (cf. Luke 24:47).
The gospel message is a message of repentance; repentance from all
that is defined as unrighteous, evil, and unacceptable in the sight
of God. Repent of your sins, of the “bad news” in your life.
When we read the well-known, oft-quoted scripture, “for God so loved
the world,” it is not to be read lightly. This scripture reflects
the tremendous, heaven-shaking love God, the Father has for His
creation. A love of God so much so that He allowed His Son to
provide Himself as the only atoning sacrifice for sin; to die in
your place, so you don’t have to die for all eternity (cf. Romans
What can possibly cause your, not only premature death, but your
eternal death? Sin; the breaking of God’s laws; living your life as
a carnal, worldly human being. The ways of this world are ways,
which produce death; are ways against God. Each day we witness and
hear of behavior, actions and deeds, ever prevalent, which are
opposed to God’s righteous and right ways of living. All that is
evil, corrupt and immoral; all that produces the ever-mounting bad
news and negative commentary; the depressing, loathsome news
reports, are all the result of sin, of life styles and behavior that
is in opposition to God.
Revealing these realities is the responsibility of the church, of
those who are called upon to preach the good news. Whether it is
individual life style and practice or institutional practices and
corporate behavior; whether it be governmental legislation and
administrative policy, when these activities are in direct
opposition to the Word of God, a sounding cry is required to be
As an organization, a church, we are not to forsake our requisite
duty; “cry aloud, spare not, lift up your voice like a trumpet and
show my people their sins” (Isaiah 58:1).
How ironic; notice more of this prophet’s characterization of a
people God was sorely displeased with. Notice the resemblance to our
modern world; this world’s institutions, business practices,
religious posturing; churches, entertainment, movie industry;
government and politics; society. Could this not just as easily be
the people of the United States, Canada, Great Britain and
“They seek me daily and delight to know my ways, as a nation that
did righteousness and forsook not the ordinances of their God: they
asked for me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in
approaching to God…but your iniquities have separated you from your
God and your sins have hid his face from you that he will not hear.
For your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers with
iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered
perverseness. None call for justice, nor plead for truth; they trust
in vanity and speak lies; they conceive mischief and bring forth
iniquity…their works are works of iniquity and acts of violence are
in their hands …wasting and destruction are in their paths. The way
of peace they know not and there is no judgment in their
goings…truth fails and those that depart from evil become a prey”
(Isaiah 58 -59).
The Apostle Paul likewise warns of various behavior, which are to be
practiced in “the last day,” before the return of Christ. Notice
Timothy 3:1-5. Truly, Paul, a preacher of the gospel, was well
rounded in his approach. He preached of the love, mercy and
forgiveness of God; of the saving power of Jesus Christ while
preaching repentance, exposing the ugly, carnal behavior from which
one needed and needs to repent, in order to get right with God.
As we read the daily paper, scan the Internet news, listen to and
view various media, we are inundated with news that is bad,
depressing, oftentimes leaving one with a sense of hopelessness.
From the daily run of scandals, drug-related deaths, increasing
suicides, sexual and physical abuses and crimes, pedophilia,
homicides, familialcide, to the ever-growing awareness of
environmental disasters, we cannot help but wonder when will it all
All the societal ills, becoming common daily occurrences, cause many
to grow callous to them. Beyond these evils, we are well aware of
international and geo-political strife. We are aware of the Islamic
menace and radical Muslim terrorism confronting the world, not just
Western democracies. We are aware of the imminent collapse of world
economies. We are aware of the potential collapse of once prominent
super-powers. Within the United States, we are constantly bombarded
with news of political strife; of government distrust. The country
is heating up to some type of civil disobedience and our current
administration is blind to the signs. The trust of elected officials
in both parties is eroding. The prediction of all these events, all
this bad news, is found in the prophecies of the Bible.
All these realities are evident and like it or not will only produce
fruit that is both bitter and burdensome. The Word of God predicts
these very evident realities. Yet the hope God extends to His
creation is found in the message of the Gospel. The good news is
meant to open your eyes to the real world.
In order to appreciate the good news of God, in order to appreciate
God’s loving kindness, mercy and forgiveness, you have to fully
understand the hideousness of man’s behavior, and your behavior;
behavior for which God’s servants urge repentance. The gospel is the
good news of God’s hope and is fully understood in light of the bad
news that only human beings, nations and governments in their utter
rebelliousness produce. Against all the bad news of your real world,
we truly preach good news