On the day of His ascension back to Heaven Jesus told His apostles to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mk. 16:15-16). What did Jesus mean when He told the apostles to preach the gospel to everybody everywhere?
The word “gospel” simply means “good news.” So, Jesus told the apostles to preach the “good news” to everybody in all nations. The next logical question is, “What good news?” Obviously, Jesus was referring to the good news about Himself as our savior. He came “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Lk. 19:10).
In succinct form, the gospel of Jesus Christ is the Good News that He left Heaven and came to this earth to be our savior. He died a physical death on the cross in order to pay the debt for our sins. He was buried in a tomb after His death on the cross. Then, to demonstrate His authority to be our savior, He arose from the grave (1 Cor. 15:1-4). Truly, mankind has never received any better news than that!
But if this is such good news, and undeniably it is, why do so many people not accept it? Why was it necessary for Jesus to include that part about the condemnation of anybody who does not believe (Mk. 16:16)? Who in the world would hear this message about Jesus coming as their Savior and not believe and take the necessary steps in order to be saved? But Jesus said that most people, perhaps the vast majority, will be lost (Matt. 7:13-14). Why?
The problem comes in understanding the fuller message of the gospel. If people could stop with just believing in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, most everybody would be saved, most everybody would be on their way to Heaven. But the gospel message includes, in its broader sense, all of the teachings of Jesus. It is not enough to just believe in Jesus. A person must do something with his belief. He must obey Jesus (Heb. 5:9), and that includes obeying the teachings of Jesus (Jn. 12:48). He must faithfully serve Him each day of his life (Rev. 2:10). True belief, true faith in Jesus necessarily includes commitment. This commitment is a hang-up for many people. They can handle simple belief, but they’re not ready to live a committed life.
As a result, for many people the Good News of Jesus is not good news. They want a savior, but not one to Whom they must be consistently obedient and openly committed. They want a savior without having to be dedicated to Him. Since dedication, commitment and continued obedience are inseparable from accepting Jesus as savior (Lk. 6:46), most people turn away from Him. They like the idea of a savior, but not the dedication that He expects. How about you? Is the gospel good news to you?…
Gary L. Hutchens