There is Good News

No doubt there has been a steady surge of bad news from various sources.  Terrorism, school killings, threats of war, unemployment.  All generating serious unrest and anxiety.

But the fact is there is much good news available.  It depends on where you look.  In the Bible, the term “gospel”, literally means “good news” or “glad tidings.”  There are several ways in which this term is used; the gospel of God, the gospel of grace, the gospel of Jesus Christ, the gospel of the glory of Christ, the gospel of the kingdom.  The four biographies of Christ at the beginning of the New Testament are designated as Gospels.  Paul continues this theme by declaring that he was called and separated “unto the gospel of God.”  Romans 1:1.  Peter is equally committed to the gospel.  In 1 Peter 1:25, he says, “But the word of the Lord abides forever.  And this is the word which has been announced to you as the gospel.”  Thus he equates the gospel to the Lord’s word, which is eternal.  A word search of the term “gospel” reveals just how fundamental this term is to understanding the New Testament.  The New Testament then is inherently and primarily, a matter of good news!

The New Testament is such good news because it declares the coming of the Savior.  Luke 1:10-11 states:

“And the angel said to them, Do not be afraid; behold, I announce to you good news of great joy, which will be for all the people, Because today a Savior has been born to you in David’s city, who is Christ the Lord.”

The gospel is good news because it is God coming to man as a Savior.  It is also good news because the gospel heals any kind of sickness.  In other words, the gospel meets our human need.

The healing of the gospel is seen in Matthew 4:23:

“And Jesus went about in all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every sickness among the people.” 

The Lord’s proclaiming of the gospel and His healing every disease are joined by a conjunction indicating that they go together.  This is true in our experience.  Whenever we hear and receive the Lord’s word, the healing follows.  Is this not good news!?

So in the midst of the bad news, may we remember and encourage others with what is truly good news.  Wonderful news!  A Savior has come!  Even more, He comes “with healing in His wings.”  Malachi 4:2.

Although there is plenty of bad news, it is temporary.  The good news of the gospel is eternal.  It brings salvation with eternal glory.  “That they themselves may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”  2 Timothy 2:10.  May we all know and enter into the reality of this good news.

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This week in Boston

None of us wants to relive the week of April 15, 2013.  Monday, Patriot’s Day, a day of celebration. The running of the Boston Marathon. Families, friends, and spectators all cheering the weary runners on. Spring time after a long winter. Then two devastating, man-made explosions with the inevitable results. Thursday, late news of an officer killed near MIT. A violent police chase in the middle of the night. Friday morning, a city awakes to find it will be shut down. Finally, the capture of a wounded 19-year-old in a Watertown backyard. A city relieved and rejoicing, eager to return to “normal.”

Again we are reminded in a devastating way of the presence of evil.  Yet where does such evil come from? Where it will lead?  As said by a friend in the middle of the week; “I don’t understand why there is so much evil in the world.”

To address this, we must know that there are “spiritual forces of evil” and “rulers of this darkness” operating on earth.  Ephesians 6:12.  Satan is called “the evil one” in the Bible.  He is a nonfictional personality.  The Lord referred to him as “a murderer from the beginning, [who] does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him.”  John 8:44.  Hence we see that he both lies and kills.  Not only so, the Bible declares that, “The whole world lies in the evil one.” 1 John 5:19.

In the Bible’s reference to the “evil one”, we learn that evil is personified.  This evil one successfully deceived humanity at creation causing what is described as “the fall of man” in Genesis.  This fall separated man from God because it was an act of rebellion.  In this condition, evil has the capacity to run rampant.  This can be seen in the many instances in history in which the evil one operates through a cooperative human vessel to do unthinkable things.  This will continue.

Measures such as stronger laws and defense systems are not sufficient in themselves.  The greatest protection is in a strong turn, even repentance, toward God.  “The Lord is faithful, who will establish and guard you from the evil one.”  2 Thessalonians 3:3.

Evil remains largely unchecked, however, because man is content to remain separated from God. Many are even antagonistic toward Him.  Consider this, “Be subject therefore to God, but withstand the devil, and he will flee from you.”  James 4:7.  The work of repelling evil begins with subjecting ourselves to God.

The Lord is the means to overcome evil.  It is not through outward, physical acts.  The way is through our believing into Christ. Indeed, a primary reason for Christ’s entrance into humanity was to destroy the works of the devil.  As stated in 1 John 3:8, “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” Through the Lord’s death on the cross, He not only accomplished redemption for man, but, “through death He might destroy him who has the might of death, that is, the devil.” Hebrews 2:14.

Yes, evil is real and personified in one who seeks to destroy.  As an expert in deception, he remains hidden.  But for those seeking answers, the healing begins with a turned heart. A willingness to honor God.  A willingness “to know Him” and to apply what Christ has accomplished.  Thus, “whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  Romans 10:13.

Against this background, it is a comfort to learn that at the end of the Bible, the outcome is that “the devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, …and will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”  Revelation 20:10. Although Christians are not immune from the works of evil, they know from where evil comes and, thankfully, where it is going.

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New Beginnings

It was 1971. The war in Vietnam had a stranglehold on the country and young men were fearful of dying for nothing.

A cultural civil war raged in the country between the 60’s generation, then in the process of indulging in drugs, protest, and general rebellion, and the World War II generation, later to be designated the “greatest generation” ironically by a member of the 60’s generation. The unrest was palpable.

In the midst of this, as the oldest of three boys raised by members of the greatest generation, I was trying to find my way. Along with many of my peers, I believed there was more to human life than the honorable steps of pursuing a career and raising a family. Yet the experimentation of the era seemed extreme and even dangerous. Organized religion did not satisfy. The search for meaning grew more acute.

After a long hitch hiking trip, I sat with a friend in a park in Hollywood, Florida. We began to discuss our beliefs about God. We weren’t certain that God even existed. Yet we craved for an explanation of the world around us. Two young people approached.  It turned out that they were a brother and sister. They asked to join our conversation. What followed was a fascinating discussion in which the young man stated with certainty that he had prayed to receive Jesus Christ into his heart. He said his life was changed and he was fulfilled. As he spoke, I knew that he had something in his life that I did not. Yet I was not about to simply accept everything he said.

For hours I raised my debate points, especially arguing that a benevolent and loving God did not seem to be doing much about all of the human suffering in the world. I did not hear anything persuasive in response.  But there was something undeniable in this man’s expression. It was evident that he genuinely experienced what he said he did. Deep down I wanted the same thing.

For now, it is enough for me to say that I begin this “blog” as a means of telling of the new beginning that I had over 40 years ago. A beginning that I have never regretted. To be sure, it is not only a new beginning, but a continuing journey. The intent is not to “preach”, or to engage in doctrinal debates. My interest is simply to convey what I have seen, heard, and received of a wonderful Person, Jesus Christ.

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