GOOD NEWS FOR A MODERN WORLD
THE GOOD NEWS - A MESSAGE FOR ALL PEOPLE
March 29. 2013
The Good News of the kingdom is the message Jesus brought to inform and educate mankind about God’s true and lasting purpose for us. It is called ‘news’ because it is something different from what mankind had previously been taught. The early Hebrew prophets spoke often about a future time when peaceful conditions will prevail on earth.
“He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.”
– Isaiah 2:4
“The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus. ...Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. In the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.”
– Isaiah 35:1, 6-7
“The land yields its harvest; God, our God, blesses us.”
– Psalm 67:6
“May grain abound throughout the land; on the tops of the hills may it sway. May the crops flourish like Lebanon and thrive like the grass of the field.”
– Psalms 72:16
“They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit. No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat.”
– Isaiah 65:21, 22
“No one living in Zion will say, “I am ill”; and the sins of those who dwell there will be forgiven.”
– Isaiah 33:24
Man continues to look forward to those promises and we are assured they will all be fulfilled. But peace on earth is not all that God has promised. There was something more, something greater, something new! Hence, the Good News of the kingdom!
In summary, the Good News is that God is the Father of all mankind, all mankind are brothers, and all mankind have the opportunity to survive mortal death and enter into the Kingdom of the Heavens where they will live eternally, if they want to. These are ALL new ideas. While it appears that the Jewish people of old had some idea of these matters (Matthew 8:11), no Hebrew teacher or prophet openly taught them.
The Good News as Jesus taught it takes man beyond being good and upright human beings. It uplifts and up steps mankind. It lets them know that God exists, that God cares, and that God has a greater purpose for man than the current limited earthly existence. The Good News opens man’s eyes to greater horizons and assures them that the grand universe that they can observe on a clear night and through manifold telescopes is theirs to explore and enjoy for an eternity. It gives them peace of mind knowing that they are citizens of a friendly universe, and potentially eternal beings who will survive mortal death, if they truly want to.
Jesus intended that the Good News as he taught it be preached to everyone on earth, no matter their nationality, race, social status, political persuasion, religion, or gender. It is a universal message that everyone must hear ‘before the end comes.’
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
– Matthew 24:14
But what is the ‘end?’ Many believe Jesus was referring to a catastrophic end that will be brought about by means of the War of Armageddon. However, what if Jesus meant that the preaching work itself (not a war) would bring an end to sorrow and confusion, an end to war and suffering, and an end to spiritual dysfunction? Yes, perhaps Jesus meant that once the Good News of the kingdom has been preached to all mankind, mankind himself will heed the message, stop the madness, and follow the Christ. Perhaps this is the ‘end’ we are awaiting. Perhaps this is when the ‘meek shall inherit the earth.’ (Matthew 5:5) If so, this makes the preaching of the true Good News just that more urgent.
Christianity’s Responsibility Toward the Good News
Jesus, as the originator of the Good News, commanded that his disciples spread his teachings to the entire world. He said:
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
– Matthew 28:19-20
His disciples obeyed this command to make disciples, immediately going forth throughout the known world converting many peoples and tribes and nations and tongues to the new religion of Christianity. They made disciples, true. But in many ways they failed to teach ‘the things Jesus commanded.’ As a result, Christianity became tainted with all manner of error.
Rather than being the religion of Jesus, Christianity became a religion about Jesus – a religion that faintly resembled the religion Jesus himself practiced. We discussed this in detail in Chapter 10.
We know that Christianity as a whole is not the religion Jesus practiced because of what we see in Christianity today and throughout the centuries. The amount of bloodshed, violence, intolerance, injustice, pomp and arrogance, and immorality that exists in Christianity is not a reflection of what Jesus believed, what Jesus taught, or what Jesus practiced. Yet in among the religions of Christianity were, and are, those individuals who did try to imitate Jesus and serve God as he did to the best of their ability. Unfortunately, these spiritual and faithful ones are the very ones who were persecuted the most by the religion that carries Jesus’ name.
Today, Christianity has made many strides in purifying itself of such behavior. The dark ages, the Inquisition, the witch hunts, and things like these, are things of the past. Christianity owes much of this refining to the civil governments that passed laws preventing such disrespect for human life. In the United States, one of the foremost reasons our government was formed was to protect the freedom of religion, including the freedom from oppressive religion. In these instances, the civil authorities are fulfilling their role as ‘ministers of God for our good.’ (Romans 13:1-4)
Also today, Christianity is slowly disengaging itself from superstitious and mystical ideas about life, and origins, and destinies thanks to advanced science. It is likewise refining its advice and counsel about temporal matters of life thanks to enlightened psychology and philosophy. Today, as never before in human history, Christianity has a real chance to carry out its intended purpose of lifting the minds and hearts of man to matters of the spirit and the divine; to let man know that their earthly, animal existence is only the beginning of life, and that if they would only look up and reach up, they have an eternal destiny ‘prepared for them from the founding of the world.’ (Ephesians 1:3-6)
Christianity thus refined serves as a congregation of ambassadors for the heavenly kingdom. (2 Corinthians 5:18-20) Similar to secular ambassadors, the ambassadors for Christ reside in a foreign nation – the earth – for the purpose of introducing and familiarizing their fellow humans with their new nation of future residence – the heavenly kingdom. Like secular ambassadors, ambassadors for Christ are charged with protecting and promoting the interests of the heavenly kingdom, welcoming those who seek to become citizens of the heavenly kingdom, and accurately portraying the mission of the heavenly kingdom when called upon by secular authorities.
In their diplomatic duties, they fraternize with all kinds of people, as did Jesus, for the purpose of fostering new fellowships, and educating the populace on what heavenly citizenship entails. They do not have to convert everyone to Christianity; but they are to teach everyone to be ‘Christ-like’ in their dealings with one another. Doctrines do not matter as much as does faith and love and a genuine desire to be Christ-like. As Jesus often said:
“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.”
– John 3:16
“For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”
– John 6:40
“Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life.”
– John 6:47
“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”
– John 5:24
Yes, what is important is that one has the ability to exercise faith. If so, all other things will come in time. We can illustrate this point by looking at a sports franchise. A general manager who seeks good players is looking for those with knowledge of the game, the ability to play the game, the ability to play well with others, the ability to take direction, and the willingness to travel. It does not matter that a player has learned the strategies and game plans of other teams. If he has the abilities just mentioned, the general manager knows he can work with such a player and teach him the new rules when he joins the team.
Likewise, the Father is looking for those who have the ability to exercise faith in the promises of Jesus Christ, the ability to get along with others, the ability to learn and take direction from the spirit of truth, and the willingness to travel to the heavens! It does not matter much what beliefs and ideologies one has acquired in their association with various religious groups. All these matters will be worked out in the heavens where Christ will ‘perfect our faith.’ (Hebrews 12:2) If one has the abilities just mentioned, the Father can work with them.
We note that each national and racial group has its own values and customs. This beautiful diversity is not offensive to the Father. There is no need to change people so that they all look, act and think alike. Instead, the Father seeks unity of faith.
Jesus did not lay down multiple rules of conduct. He simply imposed two commandments:
“One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
– Matthew 22:35-40
And he proffered the supreme law of fairness:
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
– Matthew 7:12
Jesu s knew that people who are whole-souled to God will behave in a way that honors that relationship, without the need for ‘spiritual police.’ As John wrote:
“As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.”
– 1 John 2:27
Jesus did not focus on doctrines; he focused on spiritual things – the fruits of the spirit, “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23) Ambassadors substituting for Christ focus on these weightier matters as well. (Matthew 23:23)
They are also respectful of the “foreign nations,” in the same manner as would Jesus Christ, the one whom they represent. Ambassadors for the heavenly kingdom are not speaking of their own initiative. They are substituting for Christ and are therefore obliged to deal with others as Christ dealt with people during his earthly sojourn.
This is the mission of Christianity. Christianity is not the Kingdom of God; but it is its ambassador. Nor does the Kingdom belong to Christianity such that they can manipulate it and dictate who can be a citizen. The Kingdom of the Heavens belongs to the Father and his Christ and only they can decide who may and who may not enter. Those who take up the mantle of ambassadorship can only guide and encourage all to seek heavenly citizenship, but they cannot turn anyone away. And know that anyone who seeks to keep people from entering the Kingdom of the Heavens will be fired!
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. ... Look, your house is left to you desolate.”
– Matthew 23:13, 38
Thus, the Good News does indeed impose responsibilities on Christianity. They are to engage in a worldwide preaching and teaching work. Not to convert, but to educate all mankind about the Kingdom of the Heavens. And when the world is filled with this Good News, the end to the confusion, suffering, sorrow, and dysfunction will come.
If others choose to join us in this ministry and take up the mantle of ambassadorship, we welcome them. But not all will choose to join us. They may choose to teach the Good News to their own people in their own religions, without having to be converted to our particular religious association. However, they are still potential citizens of the Kingdom of the Heavens. Remember, Jesus is not just a leader of one religion or religious branch. He is the Creator of all mankind and everything in our universe.
“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.”
– Colossians 1:15-16
Jesus has a personal relationship with all mankind. The Good News of the kingdom transcends racial, national, and religious boundaries. The circumstances of one’s birth do not prevent anyone from access to the Father of All, the Christ, or the heavenly kingdom. It is Christianity’s role to inform and educate others so that they, too, may honor our Great Lord and Older Brother Jesus Christ, even as we honor the Grand Father of All.
Looking to the Future
The purpose of this series of articles is to introduce you to the true Good News as taught by Jesus – his actual, authentic, plain and open teachings – and to enhance and clarify fundamental Bible truths. The great hope for the modern world is a new revelation of Jesus with a new and enlarged presentation of his saving message which would spiritually unite in loving service, the numerous families of his present-day followers.
The call to the adventure of building a new and transformed human society by means of the spiritual rebirth of the Good News of the Kingdom should thrill all who believe in him. If only our churches and religious institutions would dare to espouse the Master’s original teachings, thousands of apparently indifferent youths would rush forward to enlist in such a spiritual undertaking, and they would not hesitate to go all the way through with this great adventure.
We also hope that this series will aid you in keeping your mind on spiritual things as the Apostle Paul counseled:
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
– Colossians 3:1-4
Our goal, as earthly sons and daughters of the Father in the heavens, should be spiritual, not physical. The only realities worth striving for are divine, spiritual, and eternal. As Jesus said:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
– Matthew 6:19-21
While we are certainly entitled to the enjoyment of physical pleasures, the satisfaction of human affections, and the loyalty to human associations and institutions, these are not the eternal foundations upon which to build a personality of survival potential.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
– Matthew 7:24-27
We are to build ourselves upon the teachings of Jesus, the rock mass of salvation.
“When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets. But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”
– Matthew 16:13-18
The true Good News of sonship with God and the brotherhood of man should be heralded by all who have come to appreciate it. We are doing our part by publishing this Good News to the best of our ability on this website.
We believe no one should be deprived of the opportunity to experience the full joy the Father has in store for us in the Kingdom of the Heavens. (1 Corinthians 2:9) This is the only message that will reconcile mankind to God and cause God’s will to be done all across our planet so that the earth will be worthy of being inherited. (Matthew 5:5) And this is the only message that will bring an end to sorrow, suffering, error and confusion (Matthew 24:14) so that we, earthling man, can take our proper and peaceful place in God’s universal organization until we arrive at our heavenly destination. We invite you to share in this most important work.
We welcome your comments.
Peace to all.
“Your Brothers in Faith”