What is the Gospel?

Jesus commanded His disciples to go into the entire world with the gospel. Mat.28:19-20.  Jesus Himself, handpicked the disciples, trained them and empowered them to carry the gospel and train others to perpetuate His teachings.

Jesus warned us of false teachers who would creep into the church and pervert the gospel Gal. 1:7.   Paul spent much of his time opposing and refuting these teachers and their false ideas.

Even in this 21st century, some are claiming that the gospel proclaimed in the Christian church concerning Jesus Christ and the forgiveness of sins through His name is not the gospel Jesus or the Apostles taught.  These false teachers are seeking to turn people to another gospel that has no power to save.

This is some of what they claim:

The Gospel that Jesus had sent the Apostles to preach was not centered on believing on Christ’s person or receiving forgiveness of sins through His sacrifice. Just talking about Christ is not the Gospel!”p.8 (Meredith).

“This month’s column makes a bold assertion: Mainstream Christianity does not teach the same message that Jesus Christ brought when He walked the earth 2,000 years ago.” (Jones)

“When we understand that the thrust of Christ’s message centered on the Kingdom of God, we understand better why He made the statement in Matthew 6:33: “Seek first the kingdom of God.” He tells us to seek first the Kingdom because the Kingdom of God was His primary message.

This message is about the literal establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth at the second coming of Jesus Christ.” (Jones)

 The assertion that the gospel Jesus sent the Apostles to preach is not the same message that Jesus brought bears no semblance to the truth.

 Preaching the Kingdom of God is about repentance

In Luke 9:1-6, Jesus sent His disciples out to preach the Kingdom of God.  He gave them authority to heal the sick, cast out demons. Jesus told the disciples not to take anything with them on the journey. Mark 6:7-12 is a parallel account of the same of Luke 9:1-6. In this account, Mark in addition to corroborating the facts that Luke outlined, gave important information about the message the disciples preached. Verse 12 said that the disciples preached that the people should repent.

After the resurrection and before His ascension, Jesus took the opportunity to meet with the disciples and teach them things they could not have understood before His death and resurrection Acts 1:3-7; Luke 24:45. He spoke to them about the Kingdom of God and instructed them to remain in Jerusalem until they received the power to be His witnesses in the entire world.

This is what Jesus Christ said to His disciples after his resurrection. “He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day,  and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things.  I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” Luke 24:46-49 NIV. This is the same instructions Jesus gave the disciples in Acts 1:3-7 when he spoke to them about the Kingdom of God. This is the gospel of the Kingdom of God.

Soon after Jesus ascended to heaven and the Holy Spirit came, Peter and John healed a crippled man. With Jesus instruction to preach the gospel fresh in their minds, Peter and John wasted no time in using this opportunity to hammer home the message to a crowd that gathered to witness the miracle. Peter and John were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead Acts 4:1-2.

Jesus proclaimed the gospel

Jesus said that He was sent to preach the gospel of the kingdom of God Luke 4:43. What did this good news entail? At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry Jesus went into a synagogue on the Sabbath.  He was handed the scroll of the book of the prophet Isaiah.

Jesus searched for Isa. 61:1-2.  “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19.  After returning the scroll to the attendant Jesus took His seat and all eyes were on Him.  He added, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” Luke 4:21.  Luke 4:18-19 is an outline of the gospel brought.  This is the very gospel preached by the Apostles, preached by the church through the centuries and being preached today.

Christ’s death and resurrection are central to the gospel

The Gospel that Jesus had sent the Apostles to preach was not centered on believing on Christ’s person or receiving forgiveness of sins through His sacrifice. Just talking about Christ is not the Gospel!”p.8 (Meredith).

Paul in 1Corinthians 15:1-3 takes the time to remind the believers at Corinth of the gospel he preached to them. In verse 3 he says, “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,  that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,  and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.”.  Paul says that the central theme of the gospel is Jesus, His death, resurrection and the proof He rose from the dead.

The Apostle Peter, speaking to the first gentile convert, Cornelius in Acts 10:36-43 spoke of the life and ministry of Jesus, Jesus’ death, resurrection and proof that He rose from the dead. Then in verses 42-43 Peter disposes Meredith’s idea to the dump heap of nonsense by saying, “He (Jesus) commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”  Jesus commanded His disciples to preach about Him and about forgiveness of sins through Him. While Peter was still speaking the Holy Spirit fell on those who heard the message. This is what the gospel does. It is the power of God to salvation to those who believe Rom. 1:16.

This idea promulgated by a certain cult, that Christianity has spread a false gospel by teaching about the person of Jesus, is nothing but deception. In Acts chapter 8 the Holy Spirit leads Philip to a eunuch who is reading a prophecy from the book of Isaiah 53:7-8. “The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.”  Did you catch it? Philip told him the good news about Jesus. Here we see another conversion after hearing the gospel.

On the day of Pentecost Peter got up and preached about Jesus. Acts 2:36-38 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”

37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”

The Apostles preached Jesus Christ even when they faced persecution for doing so (Acts 4:1-21 especially verses 18-20). Peter and John were forbidden by the authorities to stop preaching in the name of Jesus. Their reply was that they could not disobey the command of God. Preaching in the name of Jesus was a command given to the Apostles by Jesus Himself. Matt.28:19-20; Acts 10:42

In Acts 13:14- 39 Paul and Barnabas entered a synagogue in Pisidia Antioch on the Sabbath.  After the scripture reading, the synagogue rulers gave Paul an opportunity to present a message of encouragement to the people.  Paul started by giving a summary of the history of the nation of Israel from their slavery in Egypt to their emancipation and their establishment in Canaan.  In his summary, he singles out Samuel the prophet, King Saul and King David.  Then he comes to Jesus a descendant of David.  He affirms John the Baptist as the one who prepared the way for Jesus’ coming.

Paul continues his message by pointing to Jesus as the Messiah whom the prophets spoke about in the scriptures.  Paul spent some time emphasizing that Jesus was crucified and resurrected.  He made it known that there were plenty of people alive who could testify to those facts.

In verse 38, Paul proclaims to his listeners the forgiveness of sins through the same Jesus. He lets them know that whoever believes is justified from everything that the Law of Moses could not justify them.

Verse 32 says, “We tell you the good news: What God promised our fathers he has fulfilled for us their children, by raising up Jesus” .

That is the good news of the Kingdom of God (the gospel) that Paul and the other Apostles proclaimed.  It is about Jesus and the salvation He purchased for us.

Again at Athens as recorded in Acts 17:18, Paul preached the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.

Paul in his trial before King Agrippa in Acts 26:21-23 preached Christ and him resurrected. Paul’s purpose was clear. He wanted to convert King Agrippa to Christianity vs.28-29

The persistent theme in Paul’s preaching was Jesus the Messiah, his death resurrection and forgiveness of sins through Him. The true gospel preached by the Apostles always emphasize the facts that 1) Jesus is the Messiah who was promised in the old Testament scriptures, 2) Jesus was crucified as a sacrifice for the sins of the man, 3) Jesus died, was buried and was resurrected on the third day as He predicted, 4) forgiveness of sins is now available to all peoples through Jesus Christ.

The gospel the Apostles preached never emphasized a “Wonderful World Tomorrow” or “A New Paradise on Earth”.  These are nothing more than false gospels designed to obscure and suppress the true gospel, and the knowledge of Christ, who is the only way to salvation.  Indeed, they are no gospels at all.  They are the empty ideas of men who have strayed from the teachings of Christ and His Apostles. Their gospel is devoid of salvation – the salvation offered by Christ through His sacrifice on the cross.

How should we respond to such teachings? Anyone who brings a gospel that is different to the one taught by Jesus and His apostles is to be rejected 2John 2:9-10; Gal. 1:6-9.

 

Footnotes

Jones, Erik. https://lifehopeandtruth.com/prophecy/kingdom-of-god/a-message-christianity-ignores/. n.d. 25 11 2016.

Meredith, Roderick C. Do You Believe the True Gospel? The Living Church of God, 2015.

All scriptures quoted are taken from the New International Version of the Bible