“This good news . . .”—MATTHEW 24:14.
CHRISTIANS are to preach the “good news of the kingdom” by telling others about it, explaining that the Kingdom is the future world government that will rule the earth in righteousness. Yet, the expression “good news” is also used in other ways in the Bible. For example, we find reference to “the good news of salvation” (Psalm 96:2); “the good news of God” (Romans 15:16); and “the good news about Jesus Christ.”—Mark 1:1.
Simply stated, the good news includes all the truths about which Jesus spoke and his disciples wrote. Before ascending to heaven, Jesus told his followers: “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19, 20) So the work of true Christians is not just to inform others about the Kingdom; they must also endeavor to make disciples.
How are the churches doing in this regard? Those who do not understand what the Kingdom is—and there are many—cannot accurately teach others about it. Instead, they preach feel-good sermons about forgiveness of sins and faith in Jesus. They also seek to win converts through social work or by building hospitals, schools, and homes for the poor. While such efforts may boost church membership, they do not produce true Christians who sincerely seek to live in harmony with what Jesus taught.
One theologian writes: “You will find few scholars or leaders in Christian circles who deny that we are supposed to make disciples or apprentices to Jesus and teach them to do all things that Jesus said. . . . Jesus’ instructions on this matter are, after all, starkly clear. We just don’t do what he said. We don’t seriously attempt it. And apparently we don’t know how to do it.”
Similarly, a survey of Catholics in the United States revealed that 95 percent agreed that preaching the good news is a requirement of their faith. Yet, almost all felt that the best way to do this was, not by talking about it, but by living their life in such a way that it would be an example to others. One of those polled said: “Evangelization is different from words, words, words. We need to be the Good News.” U.S. Catholic, the magazine that conducted the survey, said that many hold back from sharing their faith because of “the church’s poor image with the recent sex abuse scandal and problematic church teachings.”
Elsewhere, a Methodist bishop lamented that his churches are divided and confused, lacking the nerve to carry out their mission and holding much the same values as does society in general. In a tone of frustration, he asked: “Who are the responsible bearers of the gospel of the Kingdom?”
The bishop did not provide an answer to his question. But there is an answer.