(from The Herald Magazine)
Christ brought light and immortality to light through the gospel.—2 Timothy 1:10
Good News is a very scarce commodity in the world we live in. Everyone desires it, wishes for it, and dreams about it, but rarely are their desires, wishes, and dreams attained in the reality of daily life. Listen to conversations, read a newspaper, or watch your favorite news program. Where is the good news? Where are the families with no illness, the schools with no drop-outs, the cities with no crime or drug users, the countries with no hunger or poverty, the continents with no wars, pollution, or weather problems? Look and listen carefully. Good news is seldom to be found! In our world good news is not only scarce but generally not a saleable product. Disasters, catastrophes, crises, pain, suffering, and death dominate our conversations and news-media because they are experienced by all people and are more profitable to media producers. In a recent presidential campaign, where promises are readily made and easily broken, where were the promises of good news for all people.? I do not recall any! I would not have believed them had they been offered. Often what is chosen in the political process is the lesser of two evils, just as a cripple would choose a wheel-chair or crutches as being better than the alternative.
The Source of the Good News
Only by turning our attention away from the world and its woes to the Word of God do we find promises that good news can indeed be realized. The Scriptures reminds us afresh of the fact that Jesus is not merely the Savior of the church; he is also the Savior of the world. Many Bible students have overlooked this great truth, to their confusion. The belief in only one salvation is definitely bad news to the vast majority of mankind. How glad we are that God has provided two distinctly different salvations—one for the church in the Gospel age and the other for the world in the age to follow this age—the period of Messiah’s kingdom. God’s word clearly teaches that there are two different salvations. Both contain salvation from sin and from its power and its penalty, the curse—sorrow, pain, crying, sighing, dying. Both are salvation to an everlasting happiness. But there the similarity ends. The church is being saved by a change of nature, while the world is to be saved without a change of nature—by a resurrection to the perfection of the human nature. The Bible assures us that God so loved the world [as well as the Church] that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16). We notice that the penalty upon the world is not that of an eternal torment, but a penalty of destruction. Christ died that the race might not perish but in due time be recovered from the death penalty through faith in Christ and obedience to him.
Few Now Believe
Only a few can exercise the great faith necessary for a place in the heavenly reward as members of his bride class. In the kingdom, when the knowledge of God shall fill the whole earth as the waters cover the great deep, all will understand; all will hear and be able to believe in God’s goodness and in his wonderful arrangement on man’s behalf. Those who will then believe, and who will then accept God’s favor and its terms of loyalty and obedience to the best of their ability, will be blessed by Messiah’s kingdom. The Bible describes this as the blessing of the Lord, which maketh rich; and he addeth no sorrow with it.
Good News Proclaimed
At the birth of Jesus the angels proclaimed good news of great joy for all people (Luke 2:10, 11). A Savior had been provided which would. in God’s due time, bring the good news of two salvations to all mankind, both the living and the dead. We understand that the sacrifice of the Son of God will be a blessing also to inhabitants of world not yet populated, who will not have had any personal experience with sin. God seeks such to worship him as worship him in spirit and in truth. We believe that all these worlds surrounding us are designed to be homes to many intelligent beings yet to be created. We believe that it is God’s delight to give joy and blessing to many creatures on various planes of existence. To emphasize God’s part in this transaction, Paul tells us we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those that believe (1 Tim. 4:10). God will save all men, but will not specially save any except those who come unto him through Christ. God’s arbitrary salvation of all men is not such as will conflict with their freedom of will or their liberty of choice, to give them life against their wills: I have set before you, this day, life and death; choose life that ye may live (Deut. 30:19).
Two Salvations Contrasted
Simeon contrasted these two salvations, saying: Mine eyes have seen thy salvation, . . . a light to lighten the nations, and the glory of thy people, [Spiritual] Israel (Luke 2:30-32). This is in harmony with the declaration of the apostle of the fact that Jesus Christ, the Mediator, gave himself a ransom for all to be testified to all in due time. This is that which shall come to all men regardless of faith or will on their part. This good news of a Savior shall be to all people, but the special salvation from sin and death will come only to his people (Matt. 1:21)—those who believe into him—for we read that the wrath of God continues to abide on the unbeliever (John 3:36). We see, then, that the general salvation, which will come to every individual, consists of light from the true light and an opportunity to choose life; and as the great majority of the race is in the tomb, it will be necessary to bring them forth from the grave in order to testify to them the good news of a Savior. The special salvation believers now enjoy in hope (Rom. 8:24) and the reality of which will be revealed in the Millennial age also to those who believe in that day is a full release from the thralldom of sin and the corruption of death into the glorious liberty of children of God. Attainment of all these blessings will depend upon hearty compliance with the laws of Christ’s kingdom. The rapidity of the attainment to perfection will indicate the degree of love for the King and for his law of love.
Life and Immortality
In our theme text the inspired apostle declares of our Lord Jesus that he abolished death [broke its hold on man] and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (2 Tim. 1:10). This shows two things: (1) that life in perfection, lasting life, is separate and distinct from immortality, indestructibility; and, (2) it shows that neither of these great blessings had been disclosed or made accessible previous to the gospel—the great salvation which began to be preached by our Lord (Heb. 2:3). And what did our Lord’s gospel bring to "light" respecting these two great blessings of life and immortality? First, it shows that by divine grace our Lord purchased the whole world of Adam’s posterity and thus secured for every member of the race an opportunity to return from death to life. In other words, it declares coming times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began (Acts 3:21). Restitution in its highest and ultimate sense will be the bringing of the restored one out of the various degrees of death up to life as Adam enjoyed it before his disobedience. Second, the "light" of Christ’s gospel shows a special provision in the divine plan for a special calling, testing, and preparing of a small number of his creatures. This invitation is to conform themselves to the Father’s will and so to prove their loyal obedience to him that he might make of them "new creatures." These become the express image of his person and partakers of the divine nature (Heb. 1:3; 2 Pet. 1:4). An important part of this nature is immortality. This our Lord Jesus brought to light in his gospel of God’s grace. These new creatures, begotten of the holy spirit, are given a work to do. They are not only to have a work in the future as kings and priests; they are to be ambassadors for God in the present time. They are to be his representatives amongst men. They are to seek to tell the message of God’s love to those who do not understand it. They are to tell of the way of return to God to those who have lost their way and desire reconciliation. Having these exceeding great and precious promises of good news for all fully established in our minds and hearts, having the comfort and peace these promises provide, let us go forth each day with renewed zeal to share this wonderful hope with all who have an ear to hear. Let us go forth in full assurance of faith that the "desire of all nations" will soon be realized and good news for all people will soon be a daily reality.