Thursday, May 01, 2008

What is the Gospel?

Just what is the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Seems to be a rather simple question for those who profess faith in Jesus Christ, yet is it so simple?

It is recorded that Jesus prophesied in the New Testament Gospel according to Matthew 24:14:

"This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come."

What then is the gospel of the kingdom? Is it the same thing as the gospel of Jesus Christ in my first question?

I read the gospels or listen to them on CD regularly. As a professing disciple of Christ, I want to know what He said to His followers during His ministry on earth. It makes sense to me that I ought to be attentive to what my Lord spoke while in His incarnation; He is the Word made flesh after all. I read the rest of the books of the New Testament more as commentaries on what Jesus taught and accomplished in His sojourn among men.

It is said that, "And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people." Mt 4:23. This kind of statement is repeated over many times throughout the gospels of the New Testament.
  • Mt 9:35 And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.
  • Mt 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
  • Mr 1:14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
Do a phrase search for "kingdom of God" and "kingdom of heaven". The kingdom of heaven is quite well represented in Matthew's gospel. The kingdom of God is rather well represented throughout the other gospels and epistles of New Testament.

I am wondering if we Christians have lost sight of something concerning the gospel, or good news, that Jesus came to preach. He spoke of a kingdom of God, and on occasion about the kingdom of Heaven, which are apparently synonymous phrases indicating the same concept. In my study of God's Word I am wondering if it is possible that we have lost the true meaning of this "good news" that Jesus came to preach, and have accepted a substituted meaning for just what this gospel represents.

I will confess that these questions haven't come just from my own studies in the Word of God, but have been stirred by another writer that has studied the early history of the Church from the first century until modern times.

In his book, "The Kingdom That Turned the World Up Side Down", David W. Bercot wrote:

"The gospel of the kingdom is basically the historic Christian faith. It's what the Christians of the first few centuries believed and practiced. The Kingdom gospel takes the totality of what Jesus and His apostles say on every subject. It's not built on proof-texts, and doesn't depend on anything outside the Scripture.

You've probably heard of the "Roman's road to salvation." Well, in a sense, the gospel of the kingdom is the Jesus road to salvation. Its foundational beliefs are the direct teachings of Jesus Himself--not the writings of Paul. To be sure, Paul's writings are inspired by the Holy Spirit and are therefore inerrant and true. But Paul was building on the foundational teachings of Jesus. He wasn't starting a whole new gospel. In contrast, popular theology today--the gospel of easy-believism--begins with Paul. And, ignoring the context of Paul's letters, it interprets Paul in a way as to make Jesus' teachings heretical." Chapter 17, p. 131.

If Bercot's understanding of this gospel of the kingdom is correct then there is much concerning salvation that we currently hold in error. Thus we need to know the essence of this gospel which Jesus came preaching in order to fully understand salvation as it is accomplished in the kingdom of God.

Also, we have to decide on the nature of the kingdom of heaven; is it a reality now or is it strictly a future event/reality as some hold it to be?

Lots of questions, more later. Meanwhile, you can acquire a copy of Bercot's book from Scroll Publishing.