There Is Good News That All Need
“The good news . . . is, in fact, God’s power for salvation.”—ROM. 1:16.
1, 2. Why do you preach the “good news of the kingdom,” and what aspects of it do you stress?
‘I AM happy to share the good news each day.’ Likely that sentiment has crossed your mind or lips. As a devoted Witness of Jehovah, you know how important it is to preach “this good news of the kingdom.” You may be able to recite from memory Jesus’ prophecy about our doing that.—Matt. 24:14.
2 In preaching the “good news of the kingdom,” you are continuing what Jesus started. (Read Luke 4:43.) Doubtless, one point that you stress is that God will soon intervene in human affairs. With the “great tribulation,” he will end false religion and clear the earth of wickedness. (Matt. 24:21) You probably also highlight that God’s Kingdom will reestablish Paradise on earth so that peace and happiness can flourish. In fact, the “good news of the kingdom” is part of “the good news [declared] beforehand to Abraham, namely: ‘By means of you all the nations will be blessed.’”—Gal. 3:8.
3. Why can we say that the apostle Paul emphasized good news in the book of Romans?
3 Could it be, though, that we might give little attention to a key aspect of the good news that people need? In the letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul used the word “kingdom” only once, but he used the expression “good news” 12 times. (Read Romans 14:17.) What aspect of the good news did Paul refer to so often in that book? Why is that particular good news vital? And why should we keep it in mind as we preach “the good news of God” to people in our territory?—Mark 1:14; Rom. 15:16; 1 Thess. 2:2.
What Those in Rome Needed
4. During his first imprisonment in Rome, about what did Paul preach?
4 It is instructive to note the topics that Paul addressed when he was first imprisoned in Rome. We read that when a number of Jews visited him, he bore ‘thorough witness concerning (1) the kingdom of God and used persuasion with them concerning (2) Jesus.’ The result? “Some began to believe the things said; others would not believe.” Thereafter, Paul ‘would kindly receive all those who came in to him, preaching (1) the kingdom of God to them and teaching the things concerning (2) the Lord Jesus Christ.’ (Acts 28:17, 23-31) Clearly, Paul gave attention to God’s Kingdom. But what else did he stress? Something that is central to the Kingdom—Jesus’ role in God’s purpose.
5. What real need did Paul address in the book of Romans?
5 All people need to know about Jesus and put faith in him. In the book of Romans, Paul addressed this need. Early on, he wrote of “God, to whom I render sacred service with my spirit in connection with the good news about his Son.” He added: “I am not ashamed of the good news; it is, in fact, God’s power for salvation to everyone having faith.” Later he referred to the time “when God through Christ Jesus judges the secret things of mankind, according to the good news I declare.” And he related: “From Jerusalem and in a circuit as far as Illyricum I have thoroughly preached the good news about the Christ.” * (Rom. 1:9, 16; 2:16; 15:19) Why, do you think, did Paul stress Jesus Christ to the Romans?
6, 7. What can we say about the start and makeup of the Roman congregation?
6 We do not know how the Roman congregation started. Did Jews or proselytes who were present at Pentecost 33 C.E. return to Rome as Christians? (Acts 2:10) Or did Christian merchants and travelers spread the truth in Rome? Whatever the case, by the time Paul wrote the book, about 56 C.E., the congregation was long established. (Rom. 1:8) What type of people made up that congregation?
7 Some had a Jewish background. Paul greeted Andronicus and Junias as “my relatives,” likely meaning relatives who were fellow Jews. Tentmaker Aquila, in Rome with his wife, Priscilla, was also Jewish. (Rom. 4:1; 9:3, 4; 16:3, 7; Acts 18:2) But many brothers and sisters to whom Paul sent greetings were likely Gentiles. Some may have been “of the household of Caesar,” perhaps meaning Caesar’s slaves and minor officials.—Phil. 4:22; Rom. 1:6; 11:13.
8. Those in Rome faced what predicament?
8 Every Christian in Rome faced a predicament that also confronts each one of us. Paul put it this way: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23) Clearly, all to whom Paul wrote needed to recognize that they were sinners and had to put faith in God’s means to meet that need.
Recognizing the Problem of Sin
9. Paul called attention to what possible result of the good news?
9 Early in the letter to the Romans, Paul pointed to the wonderful result that could come from the good news he kept mentioning: “I am not ashamed of the good news; it is, in fact, God’s power for salvation to everyone having faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Yes, salvation was possible. However, faith was necessary, in line with a profound truth quoted from Habakkuk 2:4: “The righteous one—by means of faith he will live.” (Rom. 1:16, 17; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38) But how does that good news, which can lead to salvation, relate to the fact that “all have sinned”?
10, 11. Why is the concept mentioned at Romans 3:23 not strange for some people but is for others?
10 Before a person can develop lifesaving faith, he must acknowledge that he is a sinner. The idea of being such would not be strange for those who grow up believing in God and having some familiarity with the Bible. (Read Ecclesiastes 7:20.) Whether they agree or have doubts, at least they have an idea of what Paul meant when he said: “All have sinned.” (Rom. 3:23) Yet, in carrying out our ministry, we may meet many who do not understand that statement.
11 In some lands, the average person is not raised thinking that he (or she) was born a sinner, that he inherited sin. Granted, he probably realizes that he makes mistakes, has undesirable traits, and may have done some bad things. And he observes that others are in a similar situation. Still, given his background, he does not really understand why he and others are like that. In fact, in some languages, if you say that a person is a sinner, others may think that you are saying that he is a criminal or at least a person who broke some rules. Obviously, a person growing up in such an environment may not readily think of himself as a sinner in the sense that Paul meant.
12. Why do many not believe that all are sinners?
12 Even in lands of Christendom, many do not believe in the concept of being sinners. Why not? Even if they go to church on occasion, they consider the Bible account of Adam and Eve to be merely a fable or a myth. Others grow up in an anti-God climate. They doubt that God exists and therefore do not understand that a Supreme Being set moral standards for humans and that failure to uphold those standards amounts to sin. In a sense, they are like those in the first century whom Paul described as having “no hope” and being “without God in the world.”—Eph. 2:12.
13, 14. (a) What is one reason why those who do not believe in God and in sin are inexcusable? (b) To what has disbelief led many?
13 In the letter to the Romans, Paul presented two reasons why such a background cannot be an excuse—not then, not today. The first reason is that creation itself bears witness to the existence of a Creator. (Read Romans 1:19, 20.) This accords with an observation Paul made when writing from Rome to the Hebrews: “Every house is constructed by someone, but he that constructed all things is God.” (Heb. 3:4) That line of reasoning points to there being a Creator who constructed, or brought into existence, the entire universe.
14 So Paul was on solid ground in writing to the Romans that any—including the ancient Israelites—who gave their devotion to lifeless images “are inexcusable.” The same can be said for those who gave in to immoral sexual practices contrary to the natural use of the male and female bodies. (Rom. 1:22-27) Referring to such reasoning, Paul rightly concluded that “Jews as well as Greeks are all under sin.”—Rom. 3:9.
A ‘Witness Bearer’
15. Who have the faculty of conscience, with what effect?
15 The book of Romans identifies another reason why people should recognize that they are sinners and need a way out of that predicament. Regarding the code of laws that God gave to ancient Israel, Paul wrote: “All those who sinned under law will be judged by law.” (Rom. 2:12) Continuing his reasoning, he points out that people of nations or ethnic groups unacquainted with that divine code often “do by nature the things of the law.” Why do such ones commonly forbid incest, murder, and stealing? Paul identified the reason: They have a conscience.—Read Romans 2:14, 15.
16. Why does having a conscience not necessarily mean avoiding sin?
16 Nonetheless, you have likely seen that having a conscience that functions like an inner witness bearer does not mean that a person will follow its guidance. The case of ancient Israel shows that. Though the Israelites had both a God-given conscience and specific laws from God against stealing and adultery, they often violated both their conscience and Jehovah’s Law. (Rom. 2:21-23) They were doubly culpable and thus certainly were sinners, falling short of God’s standards and will. This seriously marred their relationship with their Maker.—Lev. 19:11; 20:10; Rom. 3:20.
17. We find what encouragement in the book of Romans?
17 What we have considered from the book of Romans might seem to paint a grim picture of the human situation before the Almighty, including ours. However, Paul did not leave matters there. Quoting David’s words at Psalm 32:1, 2, the apostle wrote: “Happy are those whose lawless deeds have been pardoned and whose sins have been covered; happy is the man whose sin Jehovah will by no means take into account.” (Rom. 4:7, 8) Yes, God has arranged a legally proper means for pardoning sins.
Good News Centered on Jesus
18, 19. (a) On what aspect of the good news did Paul focus in Romans? (b) To get Kingdom blessings, we must recognize what?
18 You might well respond, “That is really good news!” Indeed it is, which brings us back to the aspect of the good news that Paul highlighted in the book of Romans. As mentioned, Paul wrote: “I am not ashamed of the good news; it is, in fact, God’s power for salvation.”—Rom. 1:15, 16.
19 That good news centered on Jesus’ role in the outworking of God’s purpose. Paul could look forward to “the day when God through Christ Jesus judges the secret things of mankind, according to the good news.” (Rom. 2:16) In stating that, he was not minimizing “the kingdom of the Christ and of God” or what God will do by means of the Kingdom. (Eph. 5:5) But he showed that for us to live and enjoy the blessings to prevail under God’s Kingdom, we must recognize (1) our situation as sinners in God’s sight and (2) why we need to exercise faith in Jesus Christ to have our sins forgiven. When a person comes to understand and accept those parts of God’s purpose and sees the future that this opens to him, he can rightly exclaim, “Yes, that truly is good news!”
20, 21. In our ministry, why should we bear in mind the good news that is stressed in the book of Romans, and with what potential result?
20 We should definitely bear in mind this aspect of the good news as we carry out our Christian ministry. With reference to Jesus, Paul quoted Isaiah’s words: “None that rests his faith on him will be disappointed.” (Rom. 10:11; Isa. 28:16) The basic message about Jesus may not be strange to those who are acquainted with what the Bible says about sin. For others, though, this message will be quite new, something not known or generally believed in their culture. As such ones come to believe in God and trust in the Scriptures, we will need to explain Jesus’ role. The following article will consider how Romans chapter 5 develops this aspect of the good news. You will probably find that study to be useful in your ministry.
21 How rewarding it is to help honesthearted ones to understand the good news mentioned repeatedly in the book of Romans, the good news that “is, in fact, God’s power for salvation to everyone having faith.” (Rom. 1:16) Beyond our being thus rewarded, we will see others agree with the sentiment that Paul quoted at Romans 10:15: “How comely are the feet of those who declare good news of good things!”—Isa. 52:7.
Do You Recall?
• The book of Romans highlights what aspect of the good news?
• What fact do we need to help others to understand?
• How can “the good news about the Christ” mean blessings for us and others?
[Blurb on page 8]
The good news highlighted in Romans involved Jesus’ vital role in God’s purpose
[Picture on page 9]
We were all born with a fatal flaw—sin!