The True Gospel

The Good News About the Kingdom of God

One can hardly travel any substantial distance in the world of Christian thought without encountering copious mention of “the Gospel”.  The phrase is often found on the lips of the Christian, often during discussions on salvation, and is almost always summarized as a “good news” message concerning Christ’s substitutionary atonement for our sins.  It has been generally summarized in this way: “Jesus died for our sins so if we believe in Him we can go to Heaven when we die”.  The notion that the Gospel so often referenced in the Scriptures deals primarily with Jesus’ death and propitiation for the sins of the believer is so widespread that most Christians would be shocked to hear that this explanation does not contain the Gospel

Many Christians are ready to offer many different versions: “gospel of grace”, “gospel of faith”, “gospel of salvation”.  And yet, we would do well to understand that there is only one true Gospel taught by the pages of Scripture.  We are in fact warned of teachings about a different gospel (Gal 1:8).  It is our duty to make sure we are receiving the correct gospel with the correct emphasis.  We should agree that Paul and Jesus’ gospel were the same.  If this is not so, then Paul would have come preaching a different gospel, something he fiercely warned against.

The Bible says Jesus went everywhere preaching the gospel, but if Jesus never went around saying “I’m going to die for your sins”, then this cannot be the Gospel

The gospel that Paul preached cannot be summed up as “Jesus dying for our sins”.  Paul is often misunderstood (even Peter said so in 2 Peter 3:16); the extant teachings of Paul in the Bible contain his exposition on many finer details of God’s program, but often the larger scope of Paul’s work is missed.

The people who heard him in the first century summed up Paul’s work in this way: “He witnessed to them from morning till evening, explaining about the Kingdom of God” (Acts 28:23).. and “He proclaimed the kingdom of God AND taught about the Lord Jesus Christ--with all boldness and without hindrance!” (Acts 28:31) We can observe that Jesus Christ fills a central role, but he is something that is taught in conjunction with the gospel-- Christ is NOT the gospel itself.   Paul, at the end of his ministry summed up his preaching: “And now I know that none of you will see my face again, all of you among whom I have gone and peached to you The Kingdom.” (Acts 20:25).  While Paul preached the gospel of the Kingdom, he did not leave out the matter of Jesus’ central role.  The gospel was about the Kingdom, alongside which Paul greatly detailed Christ’s role and how the Kingdom relates to the Gentiles.

The coming literal world government of God on the earth is the good news from the lips of the Christ—this is the gospel that Jesus preached and that is the way we must define it.  Jesus stands alongside the gospel and champions it, but the gospel is much bigger than just him.  Yes, Jesus’ death and resurrection must always be preached in conjunction with the gospel but the gospel itself cannot stop at Jesus’ death for sinners.  The other apostles also taught Jesus’ death alongside the good news about the kingdom as a separate, but essential component: “they believed Philip… concerning the Kingdom of God, AND the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 8).  The teaching about Christ is a distinct and necessary addition, but the teaching about the Kingdom is the foundation on which it is placed

Every apostle and prophet that ever lived from Adam on down has had the same message.  From Enoch to Isaiah to John the Baptist, they all preached “the restoration of all things that God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:19-21).  The gospel did not begin to be preached in the world at the coming of Jesus, so how can the essentials of the gospel be only about Jesus’ death that justifies Gentiles if they believe

This is important.  We should be careful to not confuse “The Gospel of Jesus Christ” to mean “The Gospel only about Jesus”.  Rather it is the Gospel that belongs to Jesus—it is his news that has been entrusted to him by God.  Jesus was a prophet sent with a divine message, and that message is that a new world order is coming to restore the dominion that was lost in the Garden.

The reason Paul so often references Abraham was not simply because he was an example of a goyim born outside of Torah who received grace through faith, but because Abraham is the exemplary Kingdom inheritor.  Paul’s teachings about grace through faith is a means to an end.  What is the end?  The promise made to Abraham about the Kingdom: “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Gal 3:29).. What promise? “the promise that Abraham would be heir of the whole world” (Rom 4:13). 

For the Christian, understanding and following this commandment is supremely important: “Seek ye FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD” (Matt 6:33)…. Our life goal is to seek it. “The Kingdom is at hand, repent and believe the gospel” ….. our command is to believe in it.  “Thy kingdom come” ….. our commission is to pray for it.  Though this is the heart of the Christian life and calling, how many sermons have you heard in church about the coming Kingdom of God?  Any?  This is all because through a series of unfortunate misunderstandings and an ignorance of the golden Kingdom-thread running through every book in the Bible, we have lost sight of the fullness of the gospel.

May each and every Christian take up the prayer of Messiah: THY KINGDOM COME!