Universal Good News

Adapted from a Sermon by

George Burder

Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Mark 16:15

This is the commission which our gracious Saviour, just about to ascend to glory, was pleased to give to his disciples; on this commission they acted, as their successors have done ever since; so that to this day we enjoy the unspeakable benefit of it, for “to us is the word of this salvation sent.”

Jesus Christ had come down from heaven to save sinners; he had spent himself in preaching to sinners; he had laid down his precious life for sinners; he was now about to ascend to heaven to plead for sinners; and, by this commission, he is providing for sinners until he will come again. Having received all power and authority to govern heaven and earth, he first makes use of this authority in appointing the ministry of the Gospel; in providing the means of instruction and salvation to unborn millions; promising, at the same time, ever to support, comfort, and succeed his ministers; for “Behold! (said he,) I am with you always, to the end of the age.” May this important promise be fulfilled to us, while we search into the gracious meaning of this divine commission!

We learn from this text, that:

It is the gracious will of our Lord Jesus Christ, that the good news of his great salvation should be proclaimed to every human being.

It may be profitable for us, 1. To inquire into the meaning of the word Gospel, which describes what the ministers of Christ are to preach; and, 2. To consider the order here issued for its universal publication. Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.

The word Gospel is so familiar to our ears, that we sometimes forget what it means. It means good news: and well deserves that name, for the Gospel brings to our ears the best news that we ever heard. Now, good news, if it is truly such, should bring us—Information of facts which we were unknown to us before—Information of something great, in which we are personally concerned—It must be of something good, or it cannot be “good news;” and above all, it must be strictly true. When all these things, are combined, it makes a message to be good news; and all these are certainly combined in the Gospel.

1. The Gospel brings us news; news, in the strictest sense; it brings us information of the most extraordinary things, which we could never have known without it. Without the Gospel, who could have ever thought that the great God of heaven would have loved wretched sinners, or sent his dear and only Son into the world to die for them? who could have conceived that such blessings, as pardon, reconciliation, adoption, holiness, and eternal life, should be the portion of ungodly mortals? All this is so strange and extraordinary, that the scriptures say of it, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him— these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit,” in the Gospel. The world at large, and even the Jews themselves, before the time of the apostles, could have no just conception of this sublime and glorious plan of salvation, as it is now revealed in the Gospel: and the more we inquire into it, the more new and surprising it will appear; for the Gospel has this characteristic, that, however well acquainted with it we may be, it is always new.

The Gospel brings us news of what is great, as well as new. Never did a message of so great importance come to the ear of man! Never was any report of equal magnitude with this— “Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners!” The news of a decisive battle, of a glorious victory, of a general peace, may be great news, and greatly affect a whole nation for a time; but, compared with the great events which the Gospel reports, they are minor things light as air, and trivial as the sports of children. The great things of the Gospel affect, not a few individuals only, but all the race of Adam; they relate not merely to the present concerns of a single generation, but to the everlasting interest of every succeeding age, until the end of time. Much of that news, which inquisitive men are anxious to receive and to communicate, is of no real consequence to them; but the truths of the Gospel are inseparably connected with our greatest interests; our life, our soul, our all, our everlasting all, is involved in them, according as we duly receive or willfully reject them. We may say of the Gospel, as Moses did of the law, “it is no empty word for you, but your very life!’ Deut 32:47

Good news necessarily implies that the information relates to something good, as well as something new and great; and the Gospel is emphatically and super-eminently good news. Never was any news communicated by such dignified messengers as these. God himself vouchsafed to give the first intimation of them to Adam, when he said, that the offspring of the woman would bruise the serpent’s head. Jehovah, in a human form, repeated the Gospel promise to Abraham and the fathers. And when the Son of God entered into our world in human flesh, the angel of the Lord announced the grand event, saying, “Behold, I bring you good news of great joy.” Luke 2:10

Our Saviour put an eternal honour upon the Gospel, by preaching it with his own lips, and occupying several successive years in the delightful business: and though it is now preached by ordinary men, yet they are Christ’s representatives, and implore us in his place to be reconciled to God,—relief in the moment of danger, deliverance from threatening destruction, release from the horrors of confinement, supply in the time of necessity, may all be the subject of joyful news but neither these, nor any other possible occasion of human gladness, will compare in any way with the marvelous news of grace. And that which gives them a decided superiority above every information that ever gladdened a sorrowful heart is, that they contain nothing but good news, nothing to diminish the joy, or debase the tidings.

The news of a great victory over an enemy is much diminished, by reflecting that it has been acquired by shedding an ocean of blood; and that while we are triumphing in the important event, a thousand helpless widows and orphans are bitterly lamenting their various miseries. But the good news of the Gospel is unmixed, it is purely and entirely good, un-mingled with any impurity. The Gospel brings to our ears not a single word of grief or sorrow: In order to best conceive its nature consider this contrast of it with the law:

When the law was given on Sinai, the mountain burned with fire; and there were “thunders, rumblings, and earthquakes.” Rev 16:18. God was represented in all the terrible display of his holiness, justice, and awful majesty; and so deeply were the people impressed with terror and dismay, they entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more; indeed, Moses himself, the mediator of that covenant, was not able to face the terrors of the scene, for he was forced to say, “I tremble with fear.” Heb 12:21. And if people, now, were aware of the spiritual extent of the law in its holy and just demands, and of the dreadful displeasure of God, whom they have provoked by their sins, they too would be filled with terror, and beg that the law might not be preached to them any more; Compare this with the joyful news of the Gospel:

Now, blessed be God, we, as Christians, are not called to hear the terrible trumpet of Sinai sounding long, and growing louder and louder; but we are called to Mount Sion, or the Gospel church, where the sweet and soft sound of the silver trumpet of the Gospel greets our ear, proclaiming good, the highest good, and nothing but good.

So the Saviour himself began in the synagogue of Nazareth to utter the beautiful sound. Unrolling the volume of the book, he read to this effect, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor,” (Luke 4:18,19), the year of spiritual jubilee. While every eye was fastened on him, he went on to preach on the passage, and to show its accomplishment in himself, when all the hearers were constrained to admire the graceful words which flowed from his lips. These words of grace continue to sound in the ears of all who listen to the joyful report of the Gospel.

And what makes this news completely good is—it is true; strictly true; divinely true.

In eventful periods, when men are eagerly listening for information concerning some most interesting fact; too often, some flying report reaches their ears, which, meeting with their wishes and their interest, is greedily promoted; and, for a time, elevates their hearts with joy: but sadly! the next messenger, or the next report, contradicts the favorable news, and blasts all their joys with worry and disappointment.

Not so the Gospel of the blessed God. Not so the good news of salvation; for “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind.” (Numbers 23:19) Every article of the Gospel history was a fulfillment of some ancient prediction, and so gave a wonderful confirmation of its truth; and the many miracles which our Lord performed, crowned with his promised resurrection from the dead, left no room to doubt the truth of his Gospel.

The first preachers of this good news confirmed it with infallible signs; for they healed the sick, and raised the dead. And the continual effectiveness of the word in all succeeding ages, in converting sinners, and in sanctifying and comforting believers, is a standing and a acceptable proof that the Gospel is not only news, great news, and good news, but also infallibly true; so that he who believes it will never be confounded. “Your word is truth.” (John 17:17) “The law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17)

Consider, for a moment, some of the glorious contents of the Gospel, and it will surely be allowed that its news is great and good: consider that weighty saying of our Lord; a saying worthy to be engraved in letters of gold. God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. Observe here, love—the love of God—the love of God in giving his Son, his only begotten Son—in giving him to his creatures—to sinners—to enemies, so that they might not eternally perish by his justice. How unparalleled. how inexpressible is this love! Consider the height, the depth, the breadth, the length of the love of God; it surpasses knowledge!

Consider what the Gospel reports concerning the glorious person, the gracious offices, and wonderful mediation of the Son of God. We justly call the history of these by the evangelists, The Gospel; for everything that it relates concerning Jesus is good news. What joyful news is it that “God was manifested in the flesh;” that “the Word, who was with God, and who was God, was made flesh, and dwelt among us!” The people of Israel were happy in having among them such a prophet as Moses, with whom God spake face to face; but far greater is our privilege, who have Jesus for our instructor, and who, by his word and Spirit, makes us wise salvation.

The priests under the law were a blessing to the people, when as their representatives “they offered gifts and sacrifices for their sins;” but “let us consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession,” who, once for all, offered himself as a propitiation; has put away sin, by the sacrifice of himself; has made an end of sin, and brought in everlasting righteousness; and now appears in the presence of God for us, where he ever lives to make intercession, and is therefore able to save to the uttermost.

The triumphal entrance of a victorious king into the greatest city of his empire, after the destruction of his enemies, has sometimes made the air to ring with the acclamations of his joyful subjects. ‘Rejoice greatly (then) O daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem; behold, the king is coming to you: righteous, and having salvation;” (Zechariah 9:9) “and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Rev 11:15)—“The Lord God omnipotent.” He has conquered sin, Satan, the world, and death; and we will reign with him for ever and ever.

The rich and solid blessings purchased for the people of God, and proposed by the Gospel of Christ, are so immensely great, as to entitle it to the name of good news. Here is pardon!— and pardon for infinite offense!—and pardon by means that speak its infinite value! a pardon bought with blood! We can scarcely conceive of news more welcome than that of free pardon to a guilty criminal, condemned to suffer death; and this is precisely the blessing of the Gospel—“Let repentance and remission of sins,” said the ascending Savior, “be preached in all nations.” “Every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people.” (Matthew 12:31) “The blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7)

Victory over a bloody tyrannical enemy, is a cause of the greatest joy! How joyful the abolition of spiritual slavery! How glad the news—“Sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace!” (Rom 6:14)

How joyful the news, that God will receive us into his family, and treat us as his own beloved children; that he will be our constant guide through this dreary world; that he will protect us from danger all our days; that he will contrive to make all things work together for our good; that he will never leave us nor forsake us; that he will not allow even death to hurt us, but make us more than conquerors over it; and that he will make us unspeakably happy and glorious, in his own immediate presence, for evermore! All this, and much more than this, the Gospel says, and is it not then “good news of great joy?” (Luke 2:10)

But we must go on, in the second place, to consider the order issued by the King of Zion, for the universal publication of this good news—Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.

Before this commission was given, the knowledge of the true God was confined, in a great measure, to the Jewish nation; and the religion established among them by divine authority does not seem to have been designed for general adoption. Our Lord thought proper to confine his own labors to the lost sheep of the house of Israel; and he prohibited his disciples from going among the Gentiles. But now the happy time was come, when that great mystery, the calling of the Gentiles, should be unfolded; when the partition wall, which separated Israel from all the world, was to be broken down; and when all the previous distinctions were to be completely abolished; that so, in Christ Jesus, “there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.” (Colossians 3:11)

The general expression in our text “to the whole creation,” is very comprehensive; doubtless every human creature is intended; and the expression seems designed to prevent any restriction or limitation whatever, in preaching the Gospel. The Gentiles were greatly despised by the Jews, and accounted little better than dogs: pride had taught some civilized nations to look upon all others as barbarians: and indeed many of the inhabitants of the earth were sunk so low in brutality, as scarcely to deserve the name of men. But our Lord would meet all the objections that could ever arise on this account; “preach the Gospel to the whole creation;” make no distinctions of civilized and uncivilized; of white, brown, or black; But go to all nations; into all the world; wherever you find a human being, however base, rude, or vile, preach my Gospel; publish the good news of salvation for them, through faith in my blood.

But the expression, “proclaim the gospel to the whole creation,“ is full of divine encouragement to the chief of sinners, as sinners;—to sinners of every degree and description. And in this it is totally different from the law. The law spoke good only to the righteous man; it said “if a person does them (does all the commandments, and always) he shall live by them:” (Lev 18:5) but the law has nothing good to say to the sinner. On the contrary it saith, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” (Gal 3:10) “The soul who sins shall die.” (Ezekiel 18:20) But the Gospel is on purpose for sinners; it is justly called “the religion of a sinner;” nor is one word of it rightly understood, until a man sees that “sinner” is his name.

When Jesus was on earth, such was the encouraging tendency of his preaching, that multitudes of poor abandoned sinners flocked to hear him; and many of them received pardon and grace; but this was turned to his reproach. Self-righteous people, who were proud of their morality, were grievously offended, and gave him this character, “a friend of tax collectors and sinners;” and so indeed he was, though by no means a friend of sin, as they insinuated.

When the apostles, acting under the commission in the text, first preached the Gospel at Jerusalem, many of the murderers of Christ were among the first converts. The apsotle Paul himself had been, before conversion, a bloody persecutor; but having obtained mercy, he holds himself up as a pattern to the chief of sinners, that no man who hears the good news of the Gospel should give way to despair. No, “Jesus came to seek and to save the lost;” “he came, not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

The Gospel is addressed to sinners, as sinners; and offers pardon to all who hear it. It is a great mistake, but very common, that sinners must first find some worthiness in themselves, by way of a condition of obtaining mercy: they must be first deeply humbled, and reform their lives, and then they may believe in Christ. But it is plain that this is looking for pardon as saints, and not as sinners. Whereas the truth is, that God, in the Gospel, justifies the ungodly, (Rom. 4:5.) (not that those whom he justifies remain ungodly after they are justified; no never!) but they are justified freely, by his grace, without any respect to godliness; and notwithstanding their ungodliness; and that they may become godly: and so it is, that “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” (Rom 5:20)


And has the Lord of all issued this gracious order, that his good news,—his gracious message, should be published to every creature? then, it follows of course, that it is the duty of every creature, where it is published, to hear it. It is Christ himself that speaks from heaven, wherever the Gospel is spoken; and the command of Jehovah is—“This is my beloved Son; listen to him! listen to him!” “Today, if you hear his voice” “while it is called today:” “hear, and your souls will live.”

Open your ears to the good news. Will this be the only good news that you refuse to hear! When profit or pleasure calls, you are all attention; but in all your lives you never heard news so good as this. The blessings proposed by the Gospel are such as you greatly need; such as you must perish without; and the hour will come, when you will feel your need of them. Would that it may not come too late, when the door is shut! your time may be short.

Delays are dangerous. And know this, that if you do not welcome this good news, you may expect bad news; and the verse after the text tells you what it is—“Whoever does not believe will be condemned;” and how justly will they be condemned, who refuse to be saved. If we reject the invitation of Christ to the Gospel feast; and, for the sake of the world and sin, desire to be excused, we will provoke him to say, ‘none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.” (Luke 14:24) Indeed, there is worse news still. Hear it. “Because I have called and you refused to listen, have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded... I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when terror strikes you,” (Prov. i. 24, 26) As yet, however, the Gospel is proclaimed and resounds. Would that you may hear and live!

Christian, is the Gospel good news? Rejoice in it then; let the frame of your spirit correspond with the nature of the message. Why are you cast down, believer in Christ! and why is your heart disquieted within you? Is there a dejecting word in the Gospel! No, it is all good news. You cannot have a need but it supplies it; you cannot have an enemy but it disarms; you cannot have a fear but it repels.

Do no reflect badly on the Gospel by a gloomy walk; let your neighbors read the good news of the Gospel in your cheerfulness and holy life. Angels rejoiced when they first published it, and still rejoice when a sinner receives it: ministers rejoice that they have such precious news to communicate; indeed, Christ himself rejoiced when it was preached by his disciples with success. What cause then have you to rejoice!

When good news is received, we are eager to tell it to our friends. Now are there not some of your neighbors, your friends, your relations, who never heard it; never payed attention to it? Would that you would pity them; pray for them; and tell them the news: tell them that “Jesus Christ is come into the world to save sinners;” put a religious tract into their hands; invite them to go with you and hear the Gospel preached; and who can tell but God may be gracious to them?

And let us ever rejoice in this command of the Savior, Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.