The only glad tidings
In his address to the Nephite people, King Benjamin told of his recent visit from an angel of God. The angel woke up the righteous king, giving him the good news repeated everywhere from Isaiah to Luke to Romans to the Doctrine and Covenants. But while the Judean shepherds heard of "tidings of great joy," the angel who appeared to Benjamin worded his announcement slightly differently: "I am come to declare unto you the glad tidings of great joy."
That little word– the– teaches a lesson. The angel isn't bringing some good news– he's bringing the good news– or in other words, the Gospel. The coming of Christ is the only good news this world has ever heard.
NOTE: This is an update of a post I originally wrote in March of 2019.
There is no other good news
Is it a stretch to say that there is no good news outside the coming of Christ? Isn't it good news when wars end, babies are born, and I save 15% on car insurance by switching? Maybe the angel meant "the best" or the "most important" tidings– not literally the only glad tidings?
No, I think the angel meant exactly what he said. Consider Alma's invitation to imagine life without the good news of "the plan of redemption, laying it aside." Without the Gospel of Jesus Christ, everything gets bleak and existential really fast. Take away God, and our entire lives are meaningless blips in the meaningless cosmos. Take away the Atonement of Christ, and our eternal destiny is even worse: "as soon as [we] were dead [our] souls [would be] miserable, being cut off from the presence of the Lord." And "our spirits must become subject to that angel who fell from before the presence of the Eternal God, and became the devil, to rise no more. And our spirits must have become like unto him, and we become devils, angels to a devil, to be shut out from the presence of our God, and to remain with the father of lies, in misery."
Don't get me wrong– all the warm, fuzzy moments we experience in this life bring real happiness. But it's a "whistling past the graveyard" kind of happiness. Those "glad tidings" cannot bring "great joy." Elder Uchtdorf taught, "Is it any wonder that whenever we face the bitter endings of life, they seem unacceptable to us? There seems to be something inside of us that resists endings." And Elder Gong echoed this sentiment, teaching, "happ[iness] is too short if cherished relationships stop with this life."
Without the Atonement of Christ, true joy is completely impossible because good news that doesn't last forever is not that good after all.
The promises of the Gospel
Thankfully, we need not "lay aside" the Lord's Atonement. We do have a Savior. He was resurrected, and we all will be, too. Through of the Atonement of Christ, every unhappiness can become fleeting, while every joy can become eternal. The same joy "which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory." Continuing with Elder Uchtdorf:
We are made of the stuff of eternity. We are eternal beings, children of the Almighty God, whose name is Endless and who promises eternal blessings without number. Endings are not our destiny.
The more we learn about the gospel of Jesus Christ, the more we realize that endings here in mortality are not endings at all. They are merely interruptions– temporary pauses that one day will seem small compared to the eternal joy awaiting the faithful.
What a promise!
How great the importance
Most people on earth know nothing about the eons they lived as children of a loving Heavenly Father. Most do not know that loved ones lost are not lost at all. Most do not know that marriages and other cherished relationships can last beyond the grave. I don't know that we who have this knowledge fully appreciate how terrifying life may be without it. Every other good news loses its goodness without this message. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only source of lasting joy in this life and the life to come. And The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the only way to access that joy.
"Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth."