The Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelistic Association

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?” (Jeremiah 5:31).

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 said He.

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 6:23).

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 lifted.

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 Australia?

“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 2 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 end?

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

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Further reading:
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Here's The BEST NEWS You Could Ever Hear
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The Gospel of the Kingdom
What is the Kingdom of God?
What is the Real Gospel?
What is Your Destiny?
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Left:  Banner headline from the Orange County Register
Center: Photo depicting peaceful world after Christ returns--the hope of the gospel message
Right: Banner headline from the Chicago Herald