Study 5 THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO AN ANGEL
GREAT STATEMENTS OF THE GOSPEL
by Francis Dixon
(Key verses: Luke 2:10, 11, 13, 14)
In this study we shall consider the good news which was brought by the angel at the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. What a privilege it was for the angel to announce the Saviour’s birth – one chosen for the task and commissioned to leave the courts of Heaven and fly to earth with this announcement. Yet it is a greater privilege for us to proclaim the gospel, for whereas the angels have never sinned, we have, and we can speak from personal experience of the saving power of Christ. Why is the gospel such good news?
1. The Gospel is good news because it banishes fear.
“Do not be afraid…” (verse 10) were the first words of the angel. At the end of verse 9 we read that the shepherds were “terrified”, and we are not surprised. But then, of course, the whole world was gripped by fear and superstition, as our history books inform us. For 400 years there had been no word from the Lord. The prophet Malachi was the last to speak, and then there was no more word until Jesus was born and His birth was announced. Today there is fear everywhere, and the antidote to fear is the gospel of Christ. This is wonderfully emphasised in the Scriptures in Psalm 23:4, Isaiah 41:10, Hebrews 13:5-6.
2. The Gospel is good news because it brings great joy.
“I bring you good news of great joy…” said the angel (verse 10). Where fear reigns there can be no real joy. Fear is the greatest enemy of joy, and because the hearts of men were filled with fear before Jesus came, those same hearts were also joyless. How amazing it is to realise that the gospel of Christ brings joy into the lives of all who come to Him and trust Him, for His word to them is – look up John 15:11! Only the gospel of Christ, received and rejoiced in, can bring the joy of the Lord into the heart and life of the believing person. There is no other way, and His joy is a joy that can be experienced even in the face of great problems and trials – look up Habakkuk 3:17-18; Acts 16:25.
3. The Gospel is good news because it is for all people.
“I bring you good news…that will be for all the people” (verse 10). This shows us that the gospel is adapted to the needs of every man and woman, and we must remember this because we are living in a very cosmopolitan world, and the tendency today is to say that Christ can only meet the needs of certain people. This is quite wrong. He is rightly described by the prophet Haggai as “the desired of all nations” (Haggai 2:7). He is the One whom everyone, in every place, desires and certainly needs – Jews, Gentiles, young, old, rich, poor – and satisfaction can be found only in Him. The gospel is God’s revealed plan and method for saving the lost (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).
4. The Gospel is good news because it emphasises the value of each person.
In spite of the tendency today to lose sight of the individual, the gospel always emphasises his or her value. Christ preached that great sermon to one man, Nicodemus (John 3:1-16); he went out of his way to go to Samaria to speak to one woman (John 4:1-26), and Luke 15 contains three parables to emphasise the value of the individual. Look up John 5:1-9 and read of the man’s healing.
5. The Gospel is good news because it saves.
In verse 11 we have a clear statement of the angel that Jesus had come to be the Saviour of His people. This reminds us of the Apostle Paul’s clear statement recorded in 1 Timothy 1:15. The angel might have said that Jesus had been born to be a teacher, a reformer, an example, a friend, a king – all of which was true. But the primary purpose of His coming was that He might be the Saviour of His people (Matthew 1:21). He is the Saviour from sin (Hebrews 7:25); from self (Romans 8:2); from Satan (Acts 26:18). Do you know anything about His saving power? Look up Hebrews 7:25.
6. The Gospel is good news because it glorifies God.
As the angel finished giving this great gospel message to the shepherds, the heavenly host appeared joining in the chorus “Glory to God in the highest…” (verses 13-14). The gospel is the central theme of heaven. Nothing glorifies God so much. It magnifies His love and compassion for sinful men; it declares His great gift of the Lord Jesus to be our Saviour and our Friend; it proclaims His remedy for sin and His promise of eternal life, and every time we preach the gospel God is glorified. This surely is one good reason for preaching it! It is not enough to proclaim ethics or morality, and certainly there is little hope and help offered by the preacher of politics; it is a tragedy beyond all tragedies to proclaim some “other gospel” (Galatians 1:6-9). How different it is, however, to proclaim the pure gospel as it is revealed in the inspired Word of God!
7. The Gospel is good news because it gives real and lasting peace.
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favour rests” (verse 14). Yes, this is indeed the gospel of peace, for Jesus is our Peace and He alone can make peace – look up and compare Ephesians 2:14; Romans 16:20. We may have His peace now, as Job 22:21 assures us – “peace with God” (Romans 5:1) and the “peace of God” (Philippians 4:7). But the angel spoke of peace on earth. How will this come about? Not by pacts, agreements or treaties, but by the coming of the Prince of Peace Himself.