gospelThe Greek word used in the Bible for gospel (euangelion) is best translated into English as Good News. (Glad Tidings would work equally well). In the Christian context it refers to what God has done, is doing, and will do in order to rescue a human race that has lost its way. The focus is always on the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus the Nazarene and the goal is always the establishment of His Kingdom, His Reign, His Sovereignty on earth.

The Good News has two angles, both of which must remain razor sharp or the Good News is in danger of becoming something else (a human-devised religious system, for instance). See Paul’s discussion of this phenomenon in his letter to the Galatian Churches. He does not like it when arrogant human beings begin to tinker with the Master’s Plan.

First, it must be recognized that human beings are now less than they were designed to be. To draw upon biblical terminology and metaphors, humans are lost, ruined, undone, broken, enslaved, sinful, and so on. Second, it must also be recognized that human beings are now incapable of remedying their dire situation. Again to draw upon biblical usage, human beings are helplessly lost, irreparably broken, permanently enslaved, and so on.

Again, both of these edges of the Good News must remain razor sharp or the message loses its power. Is it any wonder that God’s Archenemy attacks the Good News from precisely these two angles: either the power of the gospel is insufficient to save sinful humans or sinful humans are capable of pulling themselves out of the mire and really don’t need God’s Grace after all. Let’s consider these lines of attack more carefully.

As in all things, under the Enemy’s lies God’s Perfect Word comes under attack and our feeble minds slip into doubt. God assures His People that obedient faith to His plan of redemption securely places them into Christ where all past sins are forgiven and all future sins are forgotten. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” (Galatians 5:1). However, no matter how many times we allow the Word of God to assure us of the Good News, our flesh simply will not allow us to fully trust. “Surely there has to be more to it than that,” says our incessant, doubting inner voice.

Into these nagging doubts enters the Master of all lies. He assures us that God will never accept a loser such as us. We believe his lie and become another victim. The Spirit of God is dismissed and in His place the Spirit of Doubt takes up residence.

At the other end of the spectrum, a spiritual elitism arises. The Enemy assures us that what God is really after is perfect human performance in human beings. And, the lie of all lies, the Enemy convinces us that God is getting exactly what He seeks—in us and in us alone. Our system of religion is now being driven by spiritual arrogance.

In both cases the Enemy’s plan succeeds in undermining the Good News and preventing the establishment of the Kingdom of God among broken human beings. Instead of nurturing relationships that welcome brokenness and broken people into humble community, the Spirit of the Antichrist ruptures relationships. No person is quite right, no teaching is precisely correct, and no viewpoint is entirely acceptable. No one can live up to the ever-rising standard of perfection, not even us—the victims. We become deeply neurotic in our religiosity and highly toxic in our outreach.

The truth is that fear preying upon doubt caused by unbelief in God’s Good News is what nurtures this spirit. The tragedy is that God’s people often cannot recognize this spirit for what it is: a messenger of Satan. We mistakenly identify this spirit as a human personality. We forget Paul’s teaching in Ephesians 6:12 and enter into this spiritual warfare with human implements—words. Our approach results in fleshly solutions: anger, avoidance, discouragement and, ultimately, manipulated compliance on the part of a struggling church. The Spirit of Doubt, servant of the Evil One, has won the battle.

Beloved, let us sustain this spiritual warfare with implements of the Spirit of God—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Let us recognize the Spirit of Doubt for what it is and meet this impostor with the power of the Spirit of God.

May God give us the courage to fully trust Him. May we have the faith to believe the Good News. May we always “stand firm . . . and not let ourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” May we, as God’s people, fully trust the Good News, allow it to remedy the sin dilemma in us and in those around us, and then may we establish churches that share God’s Reign with other broken human beings in communities of loving relationship centered on the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ.