In a world where people’s lives are increasingly separated and isolated by technology, social media and overall self-involved busyness, the traditional means of sharing the Good News (“Gospel”) of Yeshua has become far more challenging. Ever since the advent of the World Wide Web in 1992, and the numerous technologies that have sprung forth from it, what has been successful in making the planet a much smaller place has also succeeded in pushing its inhabitants farther apart. Communication and attention spans have become dramatically abbreviated, especially in younger generations, and the definitions of cherished ideals such as “relationship” and “friend” have been stripped beyond much recognition.
At the same time, over the last forty to fifty years especially, the Body of Messiah here in the West has become increasingly Bible-illiterate—this on top of the Jewish-less Yeshua that most believers have embraced for nearly 2,000 years. If the rare opportunity for prolonged dialogue about God, life after death, or general spiritual matters were actually to present itself, many would be sadly deficient in their Scriptural knowledge and ability to convey a meaningful and coherent message. And of those precious few who do possess such an ability, most would still lack the competence to explain Israel and the Jewish people as a necessary, integral part of the salvation story.
But instead of nurturing the capacity to communicate from a deep and abiding understanding of the Scriptures, appeals to fear and feelings have dominated evangelistic efforts. This is done with either the hope or naiveté that new believers will eventually gain certainty of salvation and depth of faith after the fact—after they say a prayer, are given a Bible, and then encouraged to have fellowship frequently with other believers—with little or no effort given to effective follow-up and discipleship.
As a result, it has proven increasingly difficult to yield a mature harvest from what has been planted in shallow soil such as “God loves you, and has a wonderful plan for your life.” This is evidenced by a Body of Messiah that looks just like the world (see my book, Bearing the Standard) and is hemorrhaging younger generations at an ever-accelerating rate. The only responsible solution for us as true followers of Messiah is to reevaluate ourselves—to take an honest look at not just our methods, but at the very message of Life we seek to proclaim. The purpose of this series of articles, then, is to ask the question from a Scriptural, Messianic Jewish perspective, “What is the Good News of Yeshua?” and to rediscover—or, perhaps, to discover for the very first time—how the answer can effectively guide us in the way we share the Messiah today.
Such an endeavor may appear to some as redundant and unnecessary. Indeed, many will maintain that the Good News is simple, and does not require any significant familiarity with the breadth of the word of God in order to communicate its truth clearly and concisely to an unbeliever. To be sure, one may legitimately argue that the Good News can be distilled down to Paul’s straightforward declaration “that Messiah died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He has risen on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 5:3-4, MJLT), not to mention the Master’s fundamental assurance that “God so loved the world, that the Son—the one and only—He gave, so that everyone who is believing in Him may not be destroyed, but may have life age-enduring” (Yochanan “John” 3:16, MJLT).
But reducing the Good News of Yeshua to extreme simplicity ignores the glaring testimony of the first three-quarters of our Bible. Indeed, one may also legitimately argue that to begin the message of salvation with Yeshua is to literally come in at the middle of the story. (It may be similarly said of the approach that begins with the days of creation in Genesis 1, and then essentially skips from the end of Genesis 11 all the way to Matthew chapter 1.) No, the message of the Good News of Yeshua is inextricably embedded in the history shared between God and His peculiar people Israel, and when we restore that large portion of the Bible back into its proper place, it will more accurately and more fully prepare Jews and Gentiles alike to receive and understand what it means to accept and follow the Messiah Yeshua.
In subsequent articles, we will consider where and with whom the story and message of the Good News begins, and then trace that essential story through its many doors and gates until we find ourselves at the feet of Yeshua. We will also expand upon the specific message of the Good News according to the writers of the New Covenant Scriptures, and finally tie it all together in a cohesive, straightforward and powerful message that thoroughly yet succinctly conveys Yeshua’s perfect and eternal Good News.