“Good News”—Even for Our Day!
“MY WIFE died, I lost my job, my TV went bad and the radio too. I had a bad accident, got injured and have so much pain. There’s nothing more in life for me. So I’m going to end all my troubles.” Thus spoke a man in Ohio to a complete stranger. Obviously this man desperately needed “good news.” But is there any “good news” today that could bring comfort to such a man and to millions of other distressed humans?
One book that has existed for centuries can rightly lay claim to providing the best of news. Millions, including the troubled man in Ohio, have been encouraged and cheered by its message. It has given many persons renewed hope and put meaning into their lives. The book has universal appeal. Its “good news” is, in fact, directed to “every nation and tribe and tongue and people.” (Rev. 14:6) Appropriately this book, the Bible, has been translated, the whole or in part, into more than 1,575 languages and dialects.
REASON FOR THE “GOOD NEWS”
To appreciate just what the “good news” found in the Bible is, we need to know why we find ourselves living in a world filled with sickness, pain, lawlessness, violence and death. Again, it is the Bible that furnishes this information. What does it tell us?
It was never God’s purpose for people to suffer. The Creator, Jehovah God, set before the first humans, Adam and Eve, the prospect of never-ending life in a delightful earthly paradise. (Gen. 2:8, 9, 15) However, man’s Maker arranged matters in such a way that the life of humankind depended upon conformity to law. For example, man must breathe, eat and drink in order to continue living. Likewise, obedience to God’s stated commands is essential for the continuance of man’s life. Therefore, when Adam disobeyed God’s law, he lost perfection and, as a sinful man, could father only imperfect offspring. Says the Bible, “Through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned.”—Rom. 5:12.
Happily, Jehovah God purposed to free the human race from sin and death in his own due time. Meanwhile, with few exceptions, he allowed humans to follow their own desires and did not prevent their enjoying the benefits of the natural cycles he put into operation ages ago. For this reason the Christian apostle Paul could say to the idolatrous people of Lystra: “In the past generations [God] permitted all the nations to go on in their ways, although, indeed, he did not leave himself without witness in that he did good, giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling your hearts to the full with food and good cheer.”—Acts 14:16, 17.
Of course, if people choose to ignore their conscience or foolishly disregard physical laws, they cannot escape bringing trouble upon themselves and likely also upon others. Jehovah God does not step in to prevent the outworking of the unchangeable law: “Whatever a man is sowing, this he will also reap.” (Gal. 6:7) So the Most High has allowed humankind to experience both good and bad, while working out his own purpose respecting them.
The Scriptures reveal that Jehovah God has already laid the basis for freeing mankind from sin and death. He did so by providing a ransom price for the human race. How and why did he do this?
When Adam violated God’s law, he lost perfect human life for himself and for his unborn offspring. Thus the entire human race came into slavery to sin and death. A ransom price was needed to free the human family from this slavery. That price had to be the exact equivalent of what Adam lost through his disobedience—perfect human life.
No human effort could provide this valuable price. The hopelessness of doing so is well described by the inspired psalmist: “Not one of them can by any means redeem even a brother, nor give to God a ransom for him; (and the redemption price of their soul is so precious that it has ceased to time indefinite) that he should still live forever and not see the pit.”—Ps. 49:7-9.
However, through a miracle Jehovah God provided what was needed. By means of his holy spirit, he transferred the life of his only-begotten Son from the heavens to the womb of the Jewish virgin Mary. Hence, this one, who came to be called Jesus Christ, could be born “holy,” free from sin. The angel Gabriel made this clear when saying to Mary: “Holy spirit will come upon you, and power of the Most High will overshadow you. For that reason also what is born will be called holy, God’s Son.”—Luke 1:35.
Being perfect as was Adam when created, Jesus could offer up his life in sacrifice, thereby furnishing the needed ransom price. In effect, he stepped in for the human race, taking upon himself the penalty that sinful mankind deserves—death. Explaining this, the apostle Peter wrote: “He himself bore our sins in his own body upon the stake, in order that we might be done with sins and live to righteousness. And ‘by his stripes you were healed.’” (1 Pet. 2:24) Since that time humans have been given the opportunity to accept, on God’s terms, the benefits of this ransom provision.
A RIGHTEOUS RULE WILL TRANSFORM THE EARTH
Back in the first century C.E., those who accepted God’s provision for salvation had opened up to them the opportunity of becoming associated with Jesus Christ as king-priests after finishing their earthly life in faithfulness and being raised to immortal heavenly life. The Bible says of those who are chosen as joint heirs of Christ: “Happy and holy is anyone having part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no authority, but they will be priests of God and of the Christ, and will rule as kings with him for the thousand years.”—Rev. 20:6.
For centuries, then, God has been selecting persons to officiate as kings and priests with his Son. As far as is humanly possible, those chosen must prove themselves to be persons who can be described as follows: “No falsehood was found in their mouths; they are without blemish.” (Rev. 14:5) Only tried, faithful servants of God could be allowed to share in the weighty responsibility of restoring the human race to perfection. Like the priests of ancient Israel who offered animal sacrifices to atone for sins, these will share in applying the sin-atoning benefits of Jesus’ sacrifice toward mankind on earth.
So, by means of Jesus Christ and his fellow king-priests, Jehovah God will bring about the fulfillment of the grand promise: “He will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.”—Rev. 21:4.
What marvelous “good news” this is! The rule of Jesus Christ and his associates will effect a complete liberation from everything that has made life on earth unpleasant. The removal of all undesirable pain will necessarily mean as well the end of crime, poverty, violence, injustice, oppression and famine. Gone, too, will be the debilitating effects of sickness and old age. All mankind will enjoy youthful strength and vigor. No more will bitter tears be shed on account of suffering or death. In the light of what will be accomplished, we can appreciate why the Bible speaks of the “good news of the kingdom.”—Matt. 24:14.
Surprisingly, though, it is not “good news” for all of earth’s inhabitants. The Holy Scriptures indicate that God’s kingdom by Christ would have many enemies and that the nations would prefer their own rulerships. Their lining themselves up against God’s kingdom, however, is doomed to fail. The prophecy of Daniel informs us: “In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite.” (Dan. 2:44) Yes, human rulerships and all their staunch defenders will go down in defeat before the “King of kings and Lord of lords,” Jesus Christ.—Rev. 19:11-16.
The destruction will be so stupendous as to fit the Biblical description of “a time of distress such as has not been made to occur since there came to be a nation.” (Dan. 12:1) Frightful as this “great tribulation” will be, it will bring welcome relief to all who truly want to be subjects of God’s kingdom by Christ. (Rev. 7:14) The Scriptures assure us: “Jehovah knows how to deliver people of godly devotion out of trial, but to reserve unrighteous people for the day of judgment to be cut off.” (2 Pet. 2:9) From the Bible book of Revelation we learn that there will be far more than just a few survivors. They are described as “a great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues.”—Rev. 7:9.
These survivors, including many children, will then come under the direct rule of Jesus Christ. They will experience the concern and compassion that are prophetically attributed to him: “He will deliver the poor one crying for help, also the afflicted one and whoever has no helper. He will feel sorry for the lowly one and the poor one, and the souls of the poor ones he will save. From oppression and from violence he will redeem their soul, and their blood will be precious in his eyes.” (Ps. 72:12-14) It will also be their privilege to have his aid in overcoming weaknesses and imperfections, finally to stand before the Most High as sinless humans. Revelation 7:17 points to this when saying that the Lamb, Christ Jesus, “will shepherd them, and will guide them to fountains of waters of life.”
What of those who die before the “great tribulation” brings destruction upon all the enemies of God’s kingdom by Christ? They will be given the opportunity to gain the benefits of Christ’s sacrifice through a resurrection from the dead. Just think of the joy the tribulation survivors will have in welcoming back the dead—men, women and children—in fulfillment of Jesus’ words: “Do not marvel at this, because the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out.”—John 5:28, 29.
WHEN WILL IT BE?
The thrilling news for our day is that the time for God’s kingdom to take over earth’s affairs is fast approaching. Note, for example, what the Bible says about the conditions that would mark the “last days” of the ungodly system of things: “In the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, self-assuming, haughty, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, disloyal, having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness, betrayers, headstrong, puffed up with pride, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God, having a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power.”—2 Tim. 3:1-5.
Similarly, Jesus Christ told his disciples that deliverance would come at a time of great fear and anxiety among the nations. After saying that on the earth there would be “anguish of nations, not knowing the way out,” Jesus followed this up with these encouraging words: “As these things start to occur, raise yourselves erect and lift your heads up, because your deliverance is getting near.” Illustrating his point, he continued: “Note the fig tree and all the other trees: When they are already in the bud, by observing it you know for yourselves that now the summer is near. In this way you also, when you see these things occurring, know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I say to you, This generation will by no means pass away until all things occur.”—Luke 21:25-32.
Have we not witnessed the very things foretold in the Bible? Do we not, therefore, have good reason to expect deliverance soon? Yes, this means that there are persons alive today who may actually see the end of the present ungodly system, with its injustices and oppression. Those who may die before that time will not lose out on the blessings that only God’s kingdom by Christ can bring about—total release from sickness, pain and death. Any injury that they may have experienced in this system will be completely undone upon their being resurrected with the prospect of never-ending life.
Surely the Bible does contain “good news” for our day. How encouraging it is to know that soon this earth will be a place of peace, a delightful paradise, free from sickness, pain and death!
A person can greatly increase his contentment in life by learning to be happy with what he has instead of fretting constantly over what he does not have.