Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"
The angel told the shepherds camping outdoors near Bethlehem, "Do not be afraid, ... I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people!" (Luke 2:10).
This caught their attention so that they scrambled off to town to see for themselves. But just what was the substance of the "good tidings"?
After more than 2000 years, we are still arguing about it. There is probably not one church body on earth totally united in their understanding of it.
Some (many!) believe that the "good tidings" are that if we do this or that, then the Savior born in Bethlehem will save us. In other words, it's "good tidings" to those who do the right thing, but terror to those who don't. "Has to be!" these people say. "We must tell it faithfully!" They say we are born lost, under condemnation; we must do something to get out from under the curse. Jesus has come to show us how, but He hasn't really saved anyone until that person does those right things. A very popular teaching.
But the angel said it's "tidings of great joy ... to all people!" So the angel did not differentiate; and right here is the reason why Christian people worldwide still can't agree on what the "good tidings" are.
The angel said, "There is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord" (vs. 11). He didn't say, "born to some of you ..." Years later the Samaritans seem to have gotten the right idea when they said He is "the Savior of the world" (John 4:42).
Christianity says "Yes!" In dying for us, Christ took on Himself our curse, our condemnation, and has given "all men" the actual gift of eternal salvation; but many refuse it and throw it away. But the angel's message still goes on.
--Robert J. Wieland
From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 25, 2004.
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