Thursday, 22 September 2011

The gospel according to John the Baptist

In Luke 3:18, we read that John preached the gospel to the people. The word is euangelizeto, which means that he declared good news. Hence the ESV and NIV translations, "he preached good news" and "proclaimed the good news".

In the immediate context, John had just preached the fiery judgment of the wicked; that the wheat would be brought into the barn, and the wicked burnt up with unquenchable fire. The Messiah was coming, to refine his people - to purify out the dross from the silver.

Under the canons of secularist "niceness", that's not good news. Good news is when everyone receives pleasant things, a smooth and enjoyable time, regardless of how much wickedness overflows their lives and floods the earth. The ultimate bad news is pain and suffering; and even the grossly immoral should not have to endure that.

But under the canons of God's truth, it's very good news. Wickedness is dealt with, there is a clear and decisive separation between good and evil. Faith in God is rewarded, and disobedience of his word receives its right recompense. The earth again becomes a place where the Creator God can be known, enjoyed and glorified in purity, as it was meant to be.

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