‘Spreading the Good News’
THE WORLD ENTERED the 21st century encountering an onslaught of extremely bad news. Some of the most notable events that made headlines during the last ten years were: the hijacking of two commercial jets from Boston, on September 11, 2001, and crashing them into the World Trade Center towers in New York City; outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in April of 2003, a deadly form of pneumonia; a 9.0-magnitude earthquake on December 26, 2004, causing a powerful tsunami in the Indian Ocean that hit 12 countries; a school shooting incident on April 16, 2007 that took place on the campus of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia, considered as the deadliest shooting rampage by a single gunman in US history; a 7.0-magnitude earthquake devastating Port-au-Prince, Haiti on January 12, 2010; and a massive 9.0-magnitude earthquake triggering a deadly 23-foot tsunami that devastated Japan on march 11, 2011 and caused a nuclear threat when cooling systems in one of the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station failed shortly after the earthquake.
These and many others, with all certainty, brought immense fear and indescribable grief not only to those who survived the tragedies but also to those who, through mass media, kept their eyes open as these dreadful events were unfolded.
Long long time ago, in the history of God’s early servants, it was bad news that 10 men brought back as they reported to the Prophet Moses, after they, along with two others, were sent to explore the land of Canaan-the land the Lord God had promised the ancient Israelites to be their dwelling place (Num. 14:36, Contemporary English Version).
The 10 bearers of bad news said that, although the land they explored was rich with milk and honey, the people who lived in Canaan were much too strong and like giants that they felt as small as grasshoppers (Num. 13:28-29, 31-33, Ibid.)
Upon hearing such a truly disturbing report, the Israelites cried all night, complained to Moses and Aaron and said to them, thus: “We wish we had died in Egypt or somewhere out here in the dessert! Is the Lord leading us into Canaan, just to have us killed and our women and children captured? We’d be better off in Egypt” (Num. 14:2-3, Ibid.)
Similarly, a series of tragic news dealt a heavy blow to Job, a righteous servant of God, as his sons and daughters were dining at their eldest brother’s house. His four servants who arrived in close succession brought these bad news: donkeys feeding beside them, when the Sabeans raided us, drove away the animals, and killed all the farmhands except me. I am the only one left. ’While this messenger was still speaking, another arrived with more bad news: ‘The fire of God has fallen from heaven and burned up your sheep and all the herdsmen, and I alone have escaped to tell you.’ Before this man finished, still another messenger rushed in: ‘Three bands of Chaldeans have driven off your camels and killed your servants, and I alone have escaped to tell you. ‘ As he was still speaking, another arrived to say, ‘Your sons and daughters were feasting in their oldest brother’s home, when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the dessert and engulfed the house so that the roof fell in on them and all are dead; and I alone escaped to tell you’” (Job 1:14-19, Living Bible).
Yet, no matter how depressing and heart breaking the accounts of the loss of his cherished children and all his hard-earned properties, Job did not point a blaming finger on God. Instead, he knelt on the ground, then worshiped and praised the name of the Lord---“The LORD alone gives and takes,” he said (Job 1:20-21, CEV).
In this time of the impending Second Advent of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Bible forewarned about a steady stream of bad news that will pour in---one disaster will follow another---fighting in the streets, sickness, hunger, confusion, violence---inevitable consequences of man’s disgusting conduct that caused God’s anger (Ezek.7:26, 2-4, 15, 17, 23, 25, Today’s English Version). Without wonder, these as well as many others like earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, cold spell, heat wave, volcanic eruptions alternately fill the headlines almost on a daily basis.
The good news
However, in spite of all these appalling news which, observably, have increased in frequency by the turn of the 1st century, the Scriptures gave this reassuring announcement, although declared more than two millennia earlier yet still rings truly significant in our time: “But the angel said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid! I am here with good news for you, which will bring great joy to all the people. This very day in David’s town your Savior was born-Christ the Lord’!” (Luke 2:10-11, Ibid.)
This needed is the best news that man has ever heard---“the most joyful news ever announced” (LB), offering the most valuable salvation to all men brought by God’s love who gave His only Son so that everyone who believes or keeps faith in him will not die but have eternal life (John 3:16-17, TEV).
For man to receive the full advantage of salvation through the Lord Jesus, he must comply with the first requirement-to be put right with God through Christ’s blood. Apostle Paul declares, thus: “But here is how God has shown his love for us. The blood of Christ has made us right with God. So we are even more sure that Jesus will save us from God’s anger” (Rom. 5:8-9, New International Revised Version). That which the Savior died for is His body or Church---the Church Of Christ He redeemed or purchased with His blood (Eph. 5:25, 23, New King James Version; Acts 20:28, Lamsa Translation). Hence, through the Church Of Christ, man will be counted righteous in the sight of God.
Undeniably, nothing compares to “the most joyful news ever announced”---the birth of the Savior and that by His sacrificial death, man will attain salvation by virtue of membership in His Church, the Church of Christ. For this reason, Apostle Paul’s encouragement then to the Jews and Gentiles of his time equality applies to all who long to be saved in this time when the end fast approaches. He said, thus: “And this is the secret: that the Gentiles will have their full share with the Jews in all the riches inherited by God’s son’s; both are invited to belong to his church, and all of God’s promises of mighty blessings through Christ apply to them both when they accept the Good News about Christ and what he has done for them”(Eph. 3:6, LB).
Sharing the Good News
To belong to Christ’s Church is the apostle’s invitation to all who yearn to be saved. It is in this same vein the Church Of Christ continuous to share its faith to others. Effectively led by the Church Administration, the Iglesia Ni Cristo ceaselessly strives to reach more and more people, even through mass media, to have them receive the Good News of salvation. Ministers and evangelical workers are being sent to various parts of the globe to propagate the truth that guarantees salvation. Without let up, the Church’s Executive Minister, Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, constantly takes hold of every opportune time, especially through worship services, to exhort Church members to win over converts---a sacred call that Church officers and brethren have been gaining steam adhering to, following the biblical example of a servant of God who said, thus:”… LORD, I told the good news of salvation to myself; I have always spoken of your faithfulness and help. …” (Ps. 40:9-10, TEV).
Active and faithful members of the Church Of Christ continue to disseminate the truth they firmly believe in, minding less of themselves yet caring more about God’s work of salvation, like Apostle Paul who said, thus: “But I don’t care what happens to me, as long as I finish the work that the Lord Jesus gave me to do. And that work is to tell the good news about God’s great kindness” (Acts 20:24, CEV).
This, the Iglesia Ni Cristo members will patiently fulfill not only until the Church’s centennial anniversary but also until the day the Lord Jesus Christ returns, remaining as diligent partners in spreading the Good News. The same apostle made this appeal to the first heard it until now. And I am sure that God, who began the good work until it is finally finished on that day when Christ Jesus comes back again” (Phil. 1:5-6, New Living Translation)
Not in Vain
To such servants of God who remain one in mind and in spirit with the Church Administration in spreading the Good News, the Scriptures gave this guarantee, thus: “And, my true partner, I ask you to help them. These women have worked together with me and with Clement and with the others in spreading the good news. Their names are now written in the book of life” (Phil. 4:3, CEV).Hence, what every Church Of Christ member does in service not only in terms of spreading God’s words but also in all their works for the Lord will not be counted as fruitless endeavors. All these will attest to their salvation. Though they too go through difficult times in their life, hear depressing news like calamities, wickedness, or dreadful diseases, their hearts remain secure, full of confidence in the Lord, as what the Bible clearly attests, thus: “He is not afraid of receiving bad news; his faith is strong, and he trusts in the Lord” (Ps. 112:7, TEV).