THE GOOD NEWS FROM GOD TO THE SONS OF THE KINGDOM
THE GOOD NEWS - A MESSAGE FOR ALL PEOPLE
March 29, 2013
Part 15 of the “Good News From God” brochure, published by the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of Pennsylvania, carries the title “Why Should You Continue?” In it, the Society poses four questions: (1) How will continuing your Bible study benefit you? (2) How could your knowledge of God benefit others? (3) What relationship with God can you enjoy? And (4) How can you continue to grow?
These questions form the conclusion of the “Good News From God” brochure and encourage the reader to study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses by means of one of their publications. We, however, choose another conclusion – a conclusion that opens the message of the Good News of the kingdom to all peoples, all nationalities, and all races. We explain why the Good News is a message for all people.
1. Why is it called the Good News?
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.
“And he will certainly render judgment among the nations and set matters straight respecting many peoples. And they will have to beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, neither will they learn war anymore.”
– Isaiah 2:4
“The wilderness and the waterless region will exult, and the desert plain will be joyful and blossom as the saffron. . . . For in the wilderness waters will have burst out, and torrents in the desert plain. And the heat-parched ground will have become as a reedy pool, and the thirsty ground as springs of water.”
– Isaiah 35:1, 6-7
“The earth itself will certainly give its produce.”
– Psalm 67:6
“There will come to be plenty of grain on the earth; On the top of the mountains there will be an overflow.”
– Psalms 72:16
“They will certainly plant vineyards and eat their fruitage. . . . they will not plant and someone else do the eating."
– Isaiah 65:21, 22
“And no resident will say: “I am sick.” The people that are dwelling in [the land] will be those pardoned for their error.”
– 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 prophet openly taught them.
The Good News as Jesus taught it takes man beyond being good and upright human beings. It uplifts and upsteps 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 Good News of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the 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.
2. What is Christianity’s relation to the Good News?
Jesus, as the originator of the Good News, commanded that his disciples spread his teachings to the entire world. He said:
“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. And, look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.”
– 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 Part 10, How Can You Recognize True Worship?
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; see also Part 14, Question 2) 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. (See Fitly United in the Same Mind.) As Jesus often said:
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.”
– John 3:16
“For this is the will of my Father, that everyone that beholds the Son and exercises faith in him should have everlasting life, and I will resurrect him at the last day.”
– John 6:40
“Most truly I say to you, He that believes has everlasting life.”
– John 6:47
“Most truly I say to you, He that hears my word and believes him that sent me has everlasting life, and he does not come into judgment but has passed 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. (See Fitly United in the Same Mind and Unity, Not Uniformity.)
Jesus did not lay down multiple rules of conduct. He simply imposed two commandments:
“[O]ne of them, versed in the Law, asked, testing him: ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ He said to him: ‘You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. The second, like it, is this, ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments the whole Law hangs, and the Prophets.”
– Matthew 22:35-40
And he proffered the supreme law of fairness:
“All things, therefore, that you want men to do to you, you also must likewise do to them; this, in fact, is what the Law and the Prophets mean.”
– Matthew 7:12
Jesus knew that people who are wholesouled to God will behave in a way that honors that relationship, without the need for ‘spiritual police.’ As John wrote:
“And as for you, the anointing that you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to be teaching you; but, as the anointing from him is teaching you about all things, and is true and is no lie, and just as it has taught you, remain in union with 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 more weighty 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 ambassadors 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, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you shut up the kingdom of the heavens before men; for you yourselves do not go in, neither do you permit those on their way in to go in. . . . Look! Your house is abandoned to you!”
– 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 chose 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 every thing in our universe.
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; because by means of him all [other] things were created in the heavens and upon the earth, the things visible and the things invisible, no matter whether they are thrones or lordships or governments or authorities. All [other] 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 ones 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.
3. What do we do now?
The purpose of this series of articles is to introduce you to the true Good News as taught by Jesus, and to enhance and clarify fundamental Bible teachings. We also hope this series will aid you in keeping to this scripture:
“If, however, you were raised up with the Christ, go on seeking the things above, where the Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Keep your minds fixed on the things above, not on the things upon the earth. For you died, and your life has been hidden with the Christ in union with God. When the Christ, our life, is made manifest, then you also will be made manifest 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:
“Stop storing up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break in and steal. Rather, store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes, 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 that hears these sayings of mine and does them will be likened to a discreet man, who built his house upon the rock-mass. And the rain poured down and the floods came and the winds blew and lashed against that house, but it did not cave in, for it had been founded upon the rock-mass. Furthermore, everyone hearing these sayings of mine and not doing them will be likened to a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand. And the rain poured down and the floods came and the winds blew and struck against that house and it caved in, and its collapse was great.”
– Matthew 7:24-27
We are to build ourselves upon the teachings of Jesus, the rock mass of salvation.
"Now when he had come into the parts of Caesarea Philippi, Jesus went asking his disciples: ‘Who are men saying the Son of man is?’ They said: ‘Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them: ‘You, though, who do you say I am?’ In answer Simon Peter said: ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ In response Jesus said to him: ‘Happy you are, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal [it] to you, but my Father who is in the heavens did. Also, I say to you, You are Peter, and on this rock-mass I will build my congregation, and the gates of Hades will not overpower 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, , and in this series of articles.
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. Will you share in this most important work?
We welcome your comments.
[Note: Now that we have completed the entire Good News series, we will be revising it so that it will have universal appeal and be suitable for use in the ministry. When the revised edition is available, we will make an announcement on the site.]
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