Mankind's pollution doesn't stop with his environment — he has polluted his mind, morals and spirit also. Even the gospel has not escaped man's polluting touch. The good news of God's plan for man was no sooner proclaimed by Jesus Christ of Nazareth than men determinedly set themselves to pervert, twist, malign, deny and distort His message. Let's remove the pollution!
A crash antipollution program is needed now — for the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel has been trapped in the thick, oozy-goo of a spiritual oil spill. It staggers along, poisoned and polluted beyond recognition. But there is hope — if we wash and filter it through the cleansing, purifying, healing truth of the Bible. This is the only way to restore the gospel's purity, maintain its sweetness, and unleash its life-giving power. This gospel is the GOOD NEWS — the GLAD TIDINGS — of man's association with God in a KINGDOM — the good family and government of God. The word "gospel," in your Bible, is translated from the Greek word euaggelion. It means the "good news" or "glad tidings" that the divine Family and a good and fruitful government — the Kingdom of God — will one day be established.
The gospel has been swept into the oppressive confines of the world's cathedrals. These funereal, cavernous structures — their walls and floors punctured with crypts holding the moldering bones of the long dead — have tainted the living gospel of Jesus Christ. Any gospel which escapes these musty traps all too easily finds itself captured and made part of an outrageous carnival show. Sweaty preachers bark raucously, many of them jabbering incoherently in their affected "tongues," as they try to outcry one another in tent revivals and healing sideshows. They make a farce of the real gospel. Between these two extremes lies the broad expanse of everyday, run-of-the-mill, common Christianity. Churchianity has embraced what it thought to be the gospel tightly to itself — and has been disappointed! Their "gospel" did not cause anything better to happen. Everything stayed the same or even worsened. The world as a whole didn't become any better in spite of their huge missionary efforts. All things continued as they were from the beginning. It looked like God needed a hand; so they decided to give Him one. They invented the "social gospel" to make up for the perfidy of God. History proves man is a wretch. There was little hope that any good could be done about his situation until Christ laid down the principles of Christianity. All the converts thought, "Here is the solution." But no matter how industriously they applied their "Christian" principles, failure continued to plague mankind. Most "Christians" thought the promised, perfect Kingdom was going to be set up in the church itself or would be "found in their own hearts." When neither of these ideas proved to be correct, they began to look to a social interpretation of the Christian faith. Their own interpretation of the TRUE gospel caused them to look within society itself for improvement of its evils. POLLUTED gospel concepts continue to contaminate the issue. As pollutants besmirch, foul, change ecological balances and set in motion degenerative forces that unstoppably march toward the macabre stillness of death, just so do the pollutants of the gospel sap, strangle and finally completely stifle it. If the gospel lies befouled under a layer of spiritual scum, is made indistinct by spiritual smog, and becomes repugnant because of spiritual poisons, it should not be thought unusual. We have had warning after warning that the attempt would be made. The true gospel is lost sight of and repudiated because Satan easily blinds the minds of disbelievers so they don't really see the glory in the gospel which was brought by Jesus Christ (II Corinthians 4:3-4).
Christ's ministry began with His "... preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God" (Mark 1:14). The first four books of the New Testament speak often about that KINGDOM OF GOD. Christ's message — HIS GOSPEL — was about the establishment of God's Kingdom, and He realized that very few would really "get the message." He knew people would distort and wrest it. He knew MANY people, while accepting His divinity, understanding His death, admitting to His resurrection, would miss the mark entirely insofar as understanding — just what He was preaching: how to gain entry into the Kingdom. He lamented this lack of perception in "religious" folk when He said, "Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord; Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 7:21). He said this near the beginning of His ministry. Just before His death He was still making it plain that religious-sounding people would admit to His being the Christ, but use this very religiosity to DECEIVE MANY — to preach another gospel (Matthew 24:5).
Paul, too, knew there would be those who would PERVERT the gospel of Christ and he thundered against them — saying they were "ACCURSED" (Galatians 1:7-9). Paul believed what Christ had said. He expected the perversion, corruption, POLLUTION of the gospel (II Corinthians 11:3-4). It came early, marred deeply. Paul, James, Peter, John, Jude all wrote powerfully because of the pollution which continuously contaminated the truth of the gospel. Jude 3-4 pleads that it is necessary to vigorously fight against the corrupting influence of a false gospel and ministry. Jude knew that ungodly, licentious, lascivious men had already defiled the truth. We, too, have only to make the most casual examination to note the debasement and desecration of the gospel of Jesus Christ — the gospel of the Kingdom of God. The city dweller today has almost forgotten what it's like to live in a clean world. He's used to the peculiar odor of his drinking water and expects it to taste like diluted laundry bleach. He expects not to be able to see more than a few blocks because the smog is "always"
"The Gospel is the good news that finally a really good government is going to be established which will free the earth and its inhabitants from evil. Christ is going to rule over that government."
there. He has learned not to rub his burning eyes. He knows that only makes them more irritated. He breathes shallowly and hopes he won't become an emphysema statistic. So it is with the polluted gospel. It's been corrupt for so long that it just seems it should be the way it is. Not so!
Pollution is almost entirely due to greed-seeking self-satisfaction the quick and easy way. Profits must be had no matter what the cost to environment. Our system is a suicidal one. Collectively we accept, almost with eagerness, an early, torturous death if only the system will continue to circulate dollars, provide things, leisure, comforts, "progress" for the time being.. "They" — the experts — whoever "they" are — promise that it will all turn out just fine. "They" will one day come up with all the answers. "Our utopia is assured" — just trust them. Not knowing what else to do, we trust these self-styled experts. We place our lives in their hands — and our waterways become ever more contaminated by the disgorged, loathsome sewage of man and his industry. The earth continues to have millions of tons of poisons of an affluent society dumped on it. The air thickens with the effluvia I pall of deadly gases manufactured and eructated by our mechano-chemical way of life. Nonetheless, the experts are in control. Man usually trusts the experts. He sees a doctor when he's sick, a lawyer when there's a legal problem, an insurance broker when he needs an estate, a teacher when he's ignorant, a preacher when he's in spiritual trouble. Between the man and his expert advisor he usually muddles through even when the advice is wrong and costly. In most such problems bad advice will only result in material loss to some degree. But bad advice from a preacher can be of eternal concern; so each of us ought to become thoroughly conversant with the facts involved. That demands looking into the Bible for yourself! No one can be trusted with your salvation — your immortality — your understanding the gospel. The gospel of Jesus Christ has real, solid, purposeful, practical attraction. It speaks forcibly about a way, a system, which — if a man will but subscribe to and live by — will bring him into a more perfect way, system, manner of living, kind of discipline, type of government in which all of his good and proper desires will find complete expression.
World-renowned preachers are content to say, "The gospel is the good news that, on the first Good Friday, Christ died for our sins and that He rose from the dead on the first Easter morning — and that God is willing to forgive us our sins — and give us new life, peace and joy." All too many preachers — and their followers — say this is the gospel. The "experts" are WRONG! "Don't misunderstand me! Those actions by our loving Savior are most important and vital to salvation. We would have no hope whatsoever without them. Christ's willingness to die poignantly portrays the consummate GRACE and superlative COMPASSION of our ever-merciful Redeemer. He bought us back from sin and its destructiveness. His resurrection opeI1s the way into immortality. Nonetheless, these actions, of themselves, do not explain the ultimate purpose for mankind. The gospel is meant to explain all of this. We can know the purpose for this uttermost expression of God's love. God's Word makes it plain. The shroud of mystery can be drawn back. Let's look into it. Let's KNOW! Let's filter out the pollution and find out just what the GOOD NEWS really is.
The news has been almost totally bad ever since man has recorded anything about himself. He leaves a record of wantonness, rebellion, war, rape, robbery. He hotly pursues love, but love eludes him. He eagerly anticipates joy but is enveloped by despair. He strives for peace, but another war breaks out. He has, from time to time, managed to delude himself that at long last he has utopia in his grasp. Tomorrow always proves him wrong. His scheme backfires. He awakens with a hangover. His love proves to be a debauch, his joy an orgy, his peace only slight and temporary relief from grinding away at the rut he is making in this derelict, vicious age (or "evil world," Galatians 1:4). It is absolutely true that we are only able to find our way out of the present system through Jesus Christ. The fact remains that we are in a system from which we seek release. It follows that if we leave this system, we will then move toward another system. What is this different system?
Christ Preached the Gospel
Note that Christ did NOT preach about His own life. He didn't preach His life — HE LIVED IT! Preachers today all too often simply preach about the life and death — the person — of Christ and assume that is, the gospel. The first four books of the New Testament have unwittingly been entitled the "Gospels." Those books were not called by that name until long, long after the resurrection of Christ. They were not even written until some thirty to fifty years after His ascension. These four books are about the life of Christ. They contain His message also. Both of those themes are very important. But we must make certain that we do not create a "gospel" out of the story of Christ's life if it clouds and covers the GOSPEL message HE PREACHED. He preached ABOUT THE KINGDOM. That is the gospel — the GOOD NEWS! In fact and truth, the gospel of Jesus Christ is about a Kingdom — the Kingdom of God — and so about government. A kingdom cannot exist without government. Government is an integral part of all kingdoms. So, the gospel is the good news that finally — ultimately — a really GOOD government is going to be established which will free the earth and its inhabitants from evil. Christ is going to rule over that government. Satan and his evil will be "bound" for a thousand years. All mankind will finally experience goodness and peace in ACTUAL FACT! (Revelation 20:4-8; Romans 11:32; I Corinthians 15:22-24.) Christ told people about the Kingdom before He died and was resurrected. He didn't continually talk about His life and death — He continually preached the gospel of the Kingdom. There is a difference! Certainly His life, death and resurrection are vitally important to our attaining salvation; but the good news for man — what the future holds — proceeds forward from those incidents. It leaps forward almost immediately some 2000 YEARS, graphically describes yet another thousand years of Christ's millennial RULE, and boldly challenges man's imaginative perception of that same government as it will exist in eternity! Christ did NOT preach about His OWN LIFE — as most ministers now do, calling this biographical resume "the gospel." He LIVED His own life as an example of proper discipline and self-government. He told men to live this same way so that they might thereby qualify for a position in the Kingdom. Their works could not buy salvation or entrance into the Kingdom. The GRACE of God provides for sin's pardon. But men must prove their willingness to come under the good, holy, just laws which God commands. These same laws will be in effect in the Kingdom of God. The gospel — the good news — is about how man can get into that Kingdom — that divine Family — and be with God and see Him as He is (I John 3:2). The gospel is about how man can be born into the God Family. Christ explains that that entrance into the Kingdom is of utmost importance. We are directly told it must be our primary goal (Matthew 6:33). Every kingdom must have four parts: 1) a king, 2) territory, 3) inhabitants or subjects, and 4) laws. If any one of these essentials is missing, it simply is not a kingdom.
The King Has Been Appointed
On the night that Jesus was born, an angel came, saying, "I bring you good tidings [remember the meaning of the word "gospel"] of great joy.... For unto you is born... a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:10-11). Note too that "Lord" means "one who owns or possesses, one who controls, sovereign, prince, chief." Most definitely Christ is King.