Summary: The good news is only good news if we hear it, apply it and share it with others.
“Good News from a Manger”
The story I am about to tell you, as hard as it is to believe is a true story. In fact, the event I am about to describe actually took place numerous times. In 1944 the Japanese army sent one of their soldiers into battle during WW2. His name was Hiroo Onada. He was one of their finest soldiers, having been selected to work in military intelligence and was trained in guerilla warfare.
He, like other soldiers was told that he was to remain faithful at war, to never give up and to stay there and that eventually, it may take several years but eventually someone will come for you and you can come home. Hiroo took those words literally.
Well as you know, the war ended the following year in 1945. The Japanese flew over that area and dropped thousands of leaflets telling any soldier who saw them that the war was over. Here’s the part that is hard to believe. Even though he saw the pamphlets Hiroo could never believe that the war was over-- so he stayed—in fact he stayed continuing to believe there was a war to fight… for 29 years. 29 years later after the news broke he finally believed it and he came home.
The word gospel is a NT word that simply means good news. You and I are called to share the good news. You see every one of us was born with a sin problem—we all have a sinful nature—and the Bible teaches that there is nothing we can do about it on our own. We are headed for destruction---for spiritual death and there is nothing we can do to change that.
Romans 3:23 describes our sinful condition.
Romans 6:23 describes the payment for that condition.
But this is where the gospel becomes so important. The gospel is this: God has done something for us that through His Son Jesus Christ that you and I could not do for ourselves. And so death has been turned into life and that is the good news. In the book of Luke we find the familiar story of the birth of Jesus. The setting in which this took place was that Caesar had issued an order that a census be taken so everyone was required to go to Bethlehem to register. It was a requirement for the purpose of being counted for a census….taxation/paying taxes. So Joseph and Mary who were pledged to be married, made the trip. The trip was difficult because Mary expecting a child at any time, we know that because shortly after they arrived, the baby Jesus was delivered.
The shepherds that were living nearby were the first to get the message. An angel appeared to them and the Bible says they were terrified. The 400 years preceding this are often referred to as the silent years. It was time when there was not scripture given and people had not heard from God. Clearly our heavenly father was waiting for the right time and this was it. So they had not ever seen anything like this. And that is when the angel speaks and says do not be afraid….I bring you good news. And what was that news? Simple. Jesus, the savior of the world has arrived.
This morning I want you to understand 3 very important truths about the gospel/good news.
(1) The good news is not good news unless we put away our doubts and choose to believe it. You see it occurs to me that some of us have trouble accepting the good news. For some of us there have been so many bad or difficult things happen in your lifetime that when you hear good news your response is something like this..
I’ll believe that when I see it
I’ll believe that when pigs fly
That’s basically how Thomas responded when the other disciples told him that Jesus was alive. The disciples came to Thomas…now remember he had been traveling with Jesus and these other 11 men for 3 years…there had to be some level of trust there…the disciples came to Thomas and said we have seen the Lord.
Thomas responds this way….”unless I see the nail marks in His hands and put my finger where the nails were and put my hand into His side (3 requirements) I will not believe it.
The interesting thing in that story was that it was a full week later that all the disciples were in the same house together—Thomas was there and the doors had been locked. It’s obvious I think that they had the doors locked because they were afraid—Jesus had been crucified and they were His followers so they knew the same thing could happen to them. This is what caused Peter to deny that he ever knew Jesus.