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Unashamed of the Good News?

Evangelicals are those who are primarily defined by their association with the ‘Good News’ (Eu-angellion). The New Testament announcement of Good News can find scriptural precedent in, for instance, the words of Isaiah 52:7f where the message is essentially coupled to the act of proclamation. The image is that of an eagerly anticipated messenger running to the people to declare victory over the enemy—Are we unashamed to be associated with that message?

Paul’s declaration, ‘I am not ashamed of the Good News, because it is the power God uses to save everyone who believes…’ (Rom 1:16) is an assertion that God’s Rule(r) has definitively arrived. These earth-shaking words stand a world away from the momentary lift offered in today’s news bulletins, which, crammed with corruption, disaster and gloom, often seek to alleviate our worries with the words, ‘And finally, some good news…’

The real good news isn’t designed primarily to soothe us. Our encounter with God’s rule inescapably leads to radical, even painful, change or conflict. Are we ashamed to face that conflict?

Response to God’s good news was not intended to be piecemeal or conditional but to bring us to an unswerving allegiance to Christ’s kingdom. As has been compellingly expounded by recent scholars, especially N.T. Wright in his many writings.¹ ‘Jesus is LORD, not Cæsar!’ In the world to which the apostle Paul wrote this would mean a costly confrontation with the cult of the Emperor Augustus, where each calendar year began with the good news acclaiming his birth and where temples and public edifices contained altars to celebrate his god-like victory and mercy to the peoples.²

Matthew’s Gospel quotes Isaiah’s prophecy of a great light breaking into a dark world (Mat 4:15, 16 and parallels) and then, in verse twenty-three, tells us that ‘Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom…’. Jesus taught those following him to reflect that light (e.g., Mat. ch. 5–7) especially calling his community to be like a beacon set on a hill (5:16). The outworking of this means that as God’s people we are to stand in clear contrast to the society where we live — unashamed of the Good News.

Though we fall far short of God’s holiness, our role as Christians extends further than the necessary approach of listening to others or empathising with them from our mutual brokenness—we also have ‘a gospel to proclaim’, shining out from our lifestyle as God’s community.

The New Testament informs us that the Holy Spirit will give us the quality of eternal life centred around Jesus (e.g., 1 Cor.2:2), authenticating our lifestyle by leading us into right living that accords with the scriptures (e.g., 2 Tim 3:16), our missionary calling (e.g., Mat.28:18f) and the corporate wisdom of the church (1 Cor.12:12—311). Above all the Spirit fills us with love and grace as we live in the world as God’s children. How can we be ashamed of this Good News?

  1. E.g.,
  2. E.g., Wilson, Mark. ‘Hilasterion and Imperial Theology: A New Reading of Romans 3:25’ HTS Teologiese/Theological Studies, a 4067, 73, no 3 (16 February 2017) 12. [22/09/23]; Cf. Ulrich Becker, ”Gospel, Evangelize, Evangelist,” in The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology vol. 3, Ed. Colin Brown (Exeter: The Paternoster Press, 1976), 102

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