With this edition, The Good News has reached a special milestone - our 100th issue!
The 100th issue of the Good News magazine.
When we first started this magazine 17 years ago in the autumn of 1995, we didn't know what the future would hold—especially since we were committed to offering it free to any who requested it. But we've held firm to that commitment, and today The Good News goes to more than 400,000 subscribers.
Drawing on writers from around the globe, The Good News is published in English, Spanish, German, French, Italian and Portuguese andis mailed to 189 of the 196 recognized countries of the world.
But who is behind the magazine? What is its purpose? What is it all about?
A magazine built on a message
When Jesus Christ began His ministry, He "came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, 'the time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel'" (Mark 1:14-15). That same message clarifies what The Good News stands for in a world filled with a bewildering variety of religious beliefs, customs and opinions.
Many people ask hard questions: What is the ultimate purpose for human life? Why does so much evil plague the world? Why doesn't God put a stop to violence and war? Will He ever bring about long-lasting peace, and how?
The world desperately needs answers to these and other important questions.
Do answers exist? Yes. The message Christ brought—the gospel of the Kingdom of God—provides the answers and solutions that few have heard or understood. And this is the message of The Good News —a message desperately needed in a world of wars and disagreements that continue to escalate just as Jesus foretold.
Religion as a whole has failed to provide solutions to mankind's dilemmas. Part of our mission is to fill that gap, to make available hope and solutions that faithfully and accurately reflect the teachings of the Bible.
We see from Scripture that the collective mission Christ has given His true followers is twofold. First, it is to proclaim the gospel of the Kingdom of God throughout the world (Matthew 24:14). Second, it is to teach people the truth Jesus Christ brought that they may become His followers—His disciples—as they learn that truth.
Scripture is clear that, just as Jesus commissioned His apostles to share the gospel—the good news—of the coming Kingdom to be established on earth at His return, so has He commissioned His followers today to continue that mission. The United Church of God, publisher of The Good News, takes very seriously that responsibility of proclaiming to today's world the same gospel Jesus preached.
Using today's tools to teach the truth
To carry out Christ's commission to proclaim the gospel message, we utilize many tools.
Most prominent is what you hold in your hands— The Good News magazine, published six times a year and mailed to hundreds of thousands of subscribers. The magazine is sent free of charge, anywhere in the world, to anyone who requests it.
While The Good News is devoted to covering key news events and trends, it is a news magazine with a difference. It covers the news from a much different perspective —that of the Bible, God's Word—affording insight and understanding you won't find in other publications.
Our articles are written from an all-important biblical perspective on a variety of subjects—prophecy, marriage and the family, Christian living, history, science, lives of individuals mentioned in the Bible, scriptural teachings and analysis of societal and world trends.
The scriptural understanding of God's purpose and plan for mankind, and His working out of that plan on earth, gives us the edge in explaining why our world faces the many problems that threaten our peace and safety. When we understand why certain events take place, and why people think and act as they do, it's much easier to see where we are going and what lies ahead.
Speaking of conditions before His return, Jesus Christ said our planet will experience "a time of great distress, such as there has never been before since the beginning of the world, and will never be again" (Matthew 24:21, Revised English Bible).
So while we proclaim the good news of the imminent return of Jesus of Nazareth, at the same time we often report on the negative consequences of human behavior leading to the very conditions He described.
Following Jesus' example, part of our purpose is to highlight the lessons mankind is writing in its self-centered way of living and to warn of where this way is leading. But more than that, our intention is to illustrate the need for an alternative way of life—the godly way of life Jesus revealed and personified.
Beyond the bad news, we present this way of living that would eliminate all of mankind's problems. We also explain from Scripture that under the coming rule of Jesus Christ, God's way will become universal—and humanity will at last know true and lasting peace.
The world of today is indeed filled with bad news. Yet the future holds incredible promise—Christ's return to establish the Kingdom of God (Daniel 7:13-14), ushering in a wonderful world of peace, prosperity and plenty during which all people will at last learn to live God's way of life. This truly is good news!
More tools for understanding
We also produce a sister magazine, Vertical Thought , which is geared for teens and college-age readers. Published quarterly, this magazinefeatures articles to help young people deal with the pressures and pitfalls of their world with a God-centered approach. Its associated website, VerticalThought.org, includes a question-and-answer section in which young people can receive personal answers by e-mail from ministers and others trained and experienced in working with youth.
We also offer dozens of booklets, also free, that cover a wide variety of biblical topics in greater detail. Interested readers may request any of them from our regional offices around the world or from our website, ucg.org/booklets .
Another valuable tool for learning about what the Bible teaches is our 12-lesson Bible Study Course , which covers the major themes and teachings of Scripture.
A weekly television program, Beyond Today , airs in cities across the United States and several other countries. Featuring several hosts who regularly write for The Good News, the program covers topics like those found in themagazine, though at times in greater depth. (For schedule information or to watch programs online, visit www.BeyondToday.tv .)
Recognizing that people increasingly seek information on the Internet, we also make extensive use of this important tool to reach an even wider audience.
Since many people have questions about the Bible and how to best apply it to everyday life, we have a letter-answering staff available to reply to questions from anyone. These can be sent through postal mail to any of our regional offices or by e-mail to email@example.com .
We also offer other publications exclusively on the Internet. For instance, Virtual Christian Magazine , an e-magazine (electronic magazine), offers a variety of biblically based articles 10 times a year. You can find it at VCMagazine.org
"Equipping the saints"
The publishers of The Good News diligently strive to implement the biblical mandate for "equipping the saints"—that is, preparing members of the "body of Christ" to fulfill their calling as God's servants now and as His eternal family in the coming Kingdom of God (Ephesians 4:12).
Today, the United Church of God, an International Association, is striving to practice "the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3). To accomplish this we have committed ourselves to living, as Jesus taught, "by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4).
We strive to live by the same divine instruction that Jesus, His apostles and the early Church followed, very aware that this sharply distinguishes us from most of what is today called Christianity, which no longer follows the Church described in the book of Acts as its model.
Like the members of that early Church, we remain fully committed to proclaiming the message of the coming Kingdom of God and Christ's pivotal role in it. Likewise, we remain fully committed to preparing a people to serve as Christ's helpers in that Kingdom.
We sincerely encourage you to examine in much greater detail the message Jesus taught. If you are interested, be sure to request our free booklets The Gospel of the Kingdom and What Is Your Destiny? They are available through our office nearest you or our online literature library at GNmagazine.org/booklets.
One of the key charges Jesus gave was "Feed My sheep" (John 21:17). He has given His Church additional shepherds—a human ministry—to guide, feed and encourage the growth of those God calls into the Body of Christ. As we see from Paul's instructions to Titus and Timothy, God appoints ministers based on criteria vital to the well-being of the other members of the Church.
Jesus Himself, explained the apostle Paul, "gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:11-13, New International Version).
The Church Jesus built is commissioned not only to feed His sheep, as He commanded, but to prepare these followers for greater works of service to God, their families, their communities and their fellow man. Jesus placed great emphasis on serving others (Matthew 20:26-28).
For these reasons the United Church of God, though smaller in numbers than many of the world's church organizations, strives to establish congregations around the world in which God's people can assemble and receive guidance in godly living and service. These congregations are served by ordained pastors trained to accurately teach and explain the Scriptures and to counsel those who request personal guidance. These pastors are often assisted by other dedicated men and women in helping congregations reach their full potential in serving others—as opportunity, need and resources permit.
Our congregations meet in various cities around the world. Regional offices in the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia and the South Pacific serve members and support Church operations in their respective areas. They are also responsible for distributing the Church's publications and handling other requests and inquiries within their particular regions.
A home-office facility near Cincinnati, Ohio, serves as a support hub for operations in the United States and all the associated worldwide operations of the Church. From this location a dedicated staff supports the Church's daily operations in carrying out its mission throughout the world.