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WHAT IS THE GOSPEL?
By Dr. Fred Wittman
Recently I was asked to speak to a congregation on this subject, “What Is The Gospel of The Lord Jesus Christ?” When this type of question is asked to a group of people, usually a Scripture verse or passage is quoted. Back in my younger days, ‘The Gospel in a nutshell,’ John 3:16 would be quoted or 1 Timothy 3:16. A likely answer today would be 1 Corinthians 15:1-8. Others will refer to the Gospel by Paul or the Gospel by Peter. However, there are two Scriptures to keep in mind every time we attempt to answer a question which involves Scripture truth (2 Tim. 3:16 and Acts 1:8).
‘‘All[The whole] Scripture |is| God-breathed and beneficial: for teaching, for inner conviction, for correcting[setting straight again], for discipline which |is| in righteousness in order that the human[generic] of The God be fitted[entirely suited] and be completely qualified for every beneficially good work’’ (2 Tim. 3:16 APT).
This text indicates that the (hu)man of The God is obligated to include every Scripture that pertains to the subject to be taught and not to resort to a few choice texts. Additionally the last words that our Lord Jesus Christ spoke to His disciples were very important.
‘‘But[on the contrary] you& shall receive miraculous power, after The Holy Spirit alights upon you& and you& shall be judicial witnesses with reference to Me both in Jerusalem and in all /Judea and in Samaria and as far as 0last |part| of the Earth’’ Acts 1:8 APT).
What is required of judicial witnesses in USA and the United Kingdom? They are bound to ‘‘tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.’’ Should we who are called to be judicial witnesses with reference to The Lord Jesus Christ for The God do any less than present the whole Truth when called upon by the Holy Spirit to do so? Therefore to give a complete answer to the question, What is The Gospel? it is absolutely necessary to consider every Scripture bearing upon ‘The Gospel,’ containing the facts given by Jesus and The Acts and the additional facts presented by Paul as well.
Since the word ‘gospel’ is not found in The Old Testament our study will be confined to The New Testament. ‘Gospel’ is the translation of the Greek word ευαγγέλιον (eu-ahn-géhl-eeohn), which means ‘evangel or glad tidings.’ It is found 77 times in The New Testament plus the four titles of The Gospels. Before launching into a study on ‘The Gospel,’ it is well to keep in mind two of the most important eighteen axioms necessary to observe in order to obtain proper and accurate interpretation of Scripture. These axioms are self-evident truths that present the principles of interpretation. Dr. Clinton Lockhart incorporated these eighteen axioms in his book Principles of Interpretation printed in the late eighteenth century. Axiom III reads: ‘‘Usage determines the meaning of words’’ and Axiom IV reads: ‘‘The function of a word depends upon its association with other words.’’
A. Four Gospels Other than The Gospel of The Lord Jesus Christ Are Found in The New Testament.
A word study keeping these axioms in mind results in finding that there is reference to five different gospels in The New Testament apart from the four Books titled Gospels. Thus Scripture actually refers to four gospels other than The Saving Gospel of The Lord Jesus Christ. These four are briefly listed here with a text or two for your ready reference, perusal, and differentiation before answering the question proposed for study.
1. Paul referred to the pre-gospel of faith pronounced to Abraham (Gal. 3:8).
‘‘Now The Scripture, contemplating that The God shall justify[to declare: righteous, freed of: blame, guilt, and/or penalty] the nations by means of faith[committed trust], pronounced the pre-gospel[pre-evangel, Gen. 12:2,3] to Abraham, ‘All the nations shall be blessed[extolled] by means of you$’’’ (Gal. 3:8 APT).
2. John the Baptizer and The Lord Jesus Christ proclaimed the Gospel of the Kingdom (Mt. 3:1-3; 4:12,17).
‘‘Now in those days John the Baptizer emerged alongside in the desert of /Judea, proclaiming as an herald and saying, You& all be repenting! For the Kingdom of the Heavens stands drawn near. For this is The+ One declared by the prophet Isaiah, saying,[Isa. 40:3] A 0call of one crying out in the desert, You& all prepare the way of 0Lord! Continually make& His beaten paths straight! . . . Now when /Jesus heard that John was delivered over |to prison|, He drew apart unto /Galilee. . . . From that time /Jesus began to proclaim as an herald, and to say, Be repenting! for the Kingdom of Heaven is drawing near.’’ (Mt. 3:1-3; 4:12,17 APT).
3. In his Epistles to the Galatians and the Corinthians, Paul referred to another gospel of a different kind (Gal. 1:6-9; 2 Cor. 11:4,13-15). The Greek language has two words for another: άλλος (áhllohs) - ‘another of the same kind’ and έτερος (héh-tehr-ohs) - ‘another of a different kind.’
‘‘I marvel that you& are so hastily deserting away from The One+ |Who| summoned you& in Christ’s grace unto another gospel of a different kind, which is not another of the same kind, except some are the ones disturbing you& and desirously willing to alter the gospel of The Christ. But on the contrary even if (and it may happen) ourselves or an angel out of Heaven pronounce a gospel to you& contrary to which gospel we pronounced to you&, he is to be cursed to destruction! As we have foretold, even this present time again I am saying, If (and it is true) anyone pronounce a gospel to you& contrary to what you& received alongside |me|, he is to be cursed to destruction!’’ (Gal. 1:6-9 APT).
‘‘For if (and it is true) actually the one coming proclaims as an herald another Jesus of the same kind, whom we did not proclaim as an herald, or you& are receiving another spirit of a different kind, which you& did not receive[take], or another gospel of a different kind, which you& did not hospitably receive, well were you& holding back from |him|. . . . For the such like ones |are|: false apostles, deceitful workers, transfigurers[alter outer appearance] of themselves into apostles of Christ! And not a marvelous~ thing! For /Satan himself is repeatedly transfiguring[alter outer appearance] himself into an angel of light. Therefore no great thing! if (and it is true) the domestic[deacon, attend to needs] servants of his also are being transfigured[alter outer appearance] as domestic[deacon, attend to needs] servants of righteousness, whose /end shall be according to their /works!’’ (2 Cor. 11:4,13-15 APT).
When discerning this false gospel which is another gospel of a different kind, focus on the differences and not on the likenesses because this false gospel presents a Jesus of the same kind. This false gospel puts an emphasis on the spirit. This imitating spirit is not The Holy Spirit Whom The Lord Jesus Christ promised to send, but a counterfeit spirit sent by Satan, who emphasizes itself and its power. The Lord Jesus Christ told His disciples that Another Comforter Whom The Father sends will not speak on His Own behalf or of Himself.
“But whenever That+ One come, |namely| The Spirit of The Truth, He shall yet guide you& into all the truth. For He shall not speak on account of Himself. On the contrary He shall speak as many~ things as ever He hear and He will announce to you& the coming~ things” (Jn. 16:13 APT).
But the spirit of a different kind does speak on behalf of himself. “Have you got the gift? Have you been baptized by the spirit?” This emphasis is not on The Lord Jesus Christ, but on a spirit which is not The Holy Spirit! Therefore the message is one of ‘another gospel of a different kind.’ This is just one of numerous other heterodox emphases that can be detected contained in ‘another gospel of a different kind.’
4. John the beloved disciple recorded yet another future gospel to be proclaimed by an angel flying in midst of Heaven during the Great Tribulation just before the fall of Babylon having 0Eternal (Everlasting) Gospel (Rev. 14:6,7).
‘‘And I beheld /an[/another\]\ angel, having 0Eternal Gospel, flying in 0midst of Heaven in order to pronounce glad tidings to the ones /sitting[/residing] upon the Earth, even /toward\[/ \] every nation and tribe and language and people[same race and language], repeatedly saying with a great call, Fear The God at once! And give glory to Him at once! because the hour of His /judgment is come; and, Bow at once in homage to The+ One |Who| made the Heaven and the Earth and the sea and 0fountains of waters’’ (Rev. 14:6,7 APT).
B. Each of these Gospels has a limited time frame of proclamation.
1. The pre-gospel to Abraham was promised and limited to Abraham and the seed (godly offspring) of Abraham until The Seed (Christ) came (Gal. 3:16-22) When the promise was fulfilled and the Israelites, who committed trust in the risen-ascended Christ, were regenerated after Pentecost and The Holy Spirit descended (Acts 2:1-4), The pre-gospel to Abraham was replaced with The True Gospel of Saving Grace.
2. The Gospel of the Kingdom was proclaimed beginning with John the Baptizer’s ministry (Mt. 3:1,2 cf. 4:12,17,23) and ended with The Christ’s rejection by Israel and of Israel (Mt. 11:7-24; 12:22-45). Jesus connected the Gospel of the Kingdom with Israel scattered as sheep without a shepherd when they rejected their Shepherd by the Pharisees refusing both The Word (Gospel of the Kingdom) which He proclaimed and His power (Mt. 9:32-36; 11:7-24). Later the final rejection came with His crucifixion death, when Jesus again referred to the sheep being scattered abroad because The Shepherd is to be smitten (Mt. 26:31). After the resurrection and Pentecost The Saving Gospel of The Lord Jesus Christ began to be preached (Acts 2:22-40). But the Gospel of the Kingdom, “Repent! For the kingdom of Heaven is drawing near!” (Mt. 4:17), shall resume to be preached again in the tribulation period (Mt. 24:14-30).
3. The Eternal or Everlasting Gospel is brief and limited to the time beginning with and until the end of the Great Tribulation period (Rev. 14:6-8,13,15,16).
4. Another gospel of a different kind is proclaimed in this present time parallel with The Gospel of The Lord Jesus Christ during The Church Age from Pentecost until the Rapture (2 Cor 11:4,13-15; Gal. 1:6-9; 2 Thes. 2:5-12).
However, The Lord Jesus Christ had given a two part commission (Mt. 28:19,20) concerning The True Gospel after His resurrection and before His second ascension at which time He ordered them to abide in Jerusalem until the promise of receiving The Holy Spirit be fulfilled (Lk. 24:48; Acts 1:4,5).
Having observed the fact and essence of these gospels, now carefully consider the question proposed for study.
I. What is The Gospel of The Lord Jesus Christ?
Firstly, notice that there are twelve different specifications that Scripture uses to specify The Gospel of The Lord Jesus Christ after the record of His resurrection.
A. Twelve Specifications or Titles used for The Gospel of The Lord Jesus Christ as found in The New Testament: A Precise Translation.
1. The Gospel (Mk. 16:15; Rom. 1:16; 1 Cor. 15:1 etc.; = 32 times) is the general term for the glad tidings concerning Salvation;
2. The Gospel of the Grace of The God (Acts 20:24) emphasizes the Good News concerning The God’s grace;
3. 0God’s Gospel (Rom. 1:1-4) contains The Truth concerning The God’s Son included in The Old Testament prophecies;
4. The Gospel of His Son (Rom. 1:9,3) concerns The Truth about The God’s Son;
5. The Gospel by me (My Gospel) (Rom. 2:16; Rom. 16:25; 2 Tim. 2:8 = 3 times) includes all that Paul proclaimed about The God, His Son, and Salvation;
6. The Gospel of The God (Rom. 15:16; 2 Cor. 11:7; 1 Thes. 2:2,8,9; 1 Pet. 4:17 = 6 times);
7. The Gospel of The Christ (Rom. 15:19,29; 1 Cor. 9:12,18; 2 Cor. 2:12; 9:13; 10:14; Gal. 1:7; Phil. 1:27; 1 Thes. 3:2 = 10 times);
8. The Gospel of The Glory of The Christ (2 Cor. 4:4) Who is The Image of The God;
9. The Gospel of The Salvation (Eph. 1:13) emphasizes the Redemption aspect of Salvation;
10. The Gospel of The Peace (Eph. 6:15) is the basis for the feet to stand in spiritual warfare for it is the means of peace (Rom. 10:16 cf. 5:1);
11. The Gospel of The Lord of ours, Jesus /Christ\ (2 Thes. 1:8) is the Good News about The Lord Jesus Christ which being rejected brings painful consequences in eternal termination away from The Lord’s face;
12. The Gospel of the Glory of The Blessed God (1 Tim. 1:11) describes the Gospel intrusted to Paul, which emphasizes the glory of The Blessed[joyful and beneficial] God.
II. The Substance of The Gospel of The Lord Jesus Christ
It is best to present the substance of The Gospel by begining with The God.
A. The God - Paul began to present The Gospel to the Athenian philosophers on Mars Hill by starting with an explanation of The God as The Creator. He used their veneration of The Unknown God as the starting point.
1. The God is The Creator of Life (Acts 17:22-31; Gen. 1:1,2; Jn. 1:1-5).
[For a brief explanation see the Happy Heralds tract: Do You Know?]
Then Paul proceeded to preach repentance because of coming judgment based upon the assurance demonstrated by The Christ’s resurrection. However, a fuller presentation would include these additional points:
2. The God is Eternal Trinity - Elohim (Ayl-oh-heem) is a uni-plural noun indicating three Persons in One Godhead - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Gen. 1:1; Jn. 1:1). All three were involved in creation. The Father planned, The Son Pronounced, and The Holy Spirit produced (Job 33:4; Ps. 104:30).
3. The God is Jealous and will not share His Glory with another (Nah. 1:2; Ex. 20:5; 34:14; Deut. 4:23,24; 5:9; 6:13-15; Isa. 42:8).
4. The God is The Judge who will judge every human by Jesus Christ (Acts 17:31; Rom. 2:16; 1 Pet. 4:5,6).
5. The God has three couplet attributes:
a. Holy (Ex. 15:11; Hab. 1:13) and Righteous (Ps. 145:17),
b. Merciful (Ex. 34:6) and Loving (1 Jn. 4:7-10), and
c. Light (1 Jn. 5-7) and Communicative (Gen. 3:8,9; Ex. 25:21,22) - He must communicate with mankind.
These characteristics present a seeming problem which is solved in the person of The Lord Jesus Christ Who became The Son of (The Hu)Man.
B. The Lord Jesus Christ
1. Who He Was:
a. The Creator (Jn. 1:1,3,14);
b. The Eternal Son of The God - Deity (Jn. 3:16-18; 20:31);
c. The Son of (The Hu)Man by virgin birth (Mt. 1:18-25; Lk. 1:26-33).
2. What He did:
a. He lived a perfect life (Jn. 8:46; Jn. 18:38; 19:4,6; Heb. 7:26; 2 Cor. 5:21);
b. He promised to return to take His disciples to Heaven (Jn. 14:3,18,28);
c. He died a vicarious death for all humans (Jn. 3:16; Mk. 10:45; 1 Tim. 2:6);
d. He shed His precious blood on the cross to provide forgiveness of sins (Mt. 26:28; Rom. 5:8-10; Eph. 1:7);
e. He endured the fiery wrath of The God in darkness (Lam. 1:12,13 cf. Rev. 1:13,15; Mt. 27:45; Lk. 3:44,45 cf. Rev. 21:8; Heb. 13:11-13) [For brief explanation see the Happy Heralds tract: Is It N0thing To You?];
f. He made His soul an offering for sin (Isa. 53:4,6,10). Telestai (Jn. 19:30) means ‘‘It stands finished!’’ Or ‘‘The debt stands paid!’’
g. He resurrected on the third day and ascended into Heaven to apply His blood on the Mercy Seat to become our Great High Priest and justify the repentant, persistently trusting sinners and to set them free from their bondage to sin (Jn. 20:17 cf. Mt. 28:9; 1 Cor. 15:4; Lev. 16:15,16; Heb. 9:12-14,24-26; Rom. 5:1,8-10; 6:6-11,18-22).
h. He commanded that His suffering death and resurrection-ascension, repentance, persistent committed trust, and forgiveness of sins be proclaimed to all the nations (Mk. 16:15,16; Lk. 24:46,47).
i. He sent the promise of The Holy Spirit to regenerate, to empower both to witness and to overcome, to sanctify, to teach all Truth, and to abide as Another (same kind of) Comforter (Lk. 24:49; Acts 1:4,5,8; Jn. 3:5-8; 1 Cor. 4:15; Rom. 8:12-14; 2 Thes. 2:13; Jn. 14:16,17; 16:13);
j. He commanded to consecutively make disciples of people of all nations (Mt. 28:18-20).
3. Why He did it:
a. Because of Sin (Rom. 6:23), the master, to which all unregenerate humans are bondslaves (Rom. 6:11-14, 16-20), and the root from which the sins issue and yield the service and the fruits in deeds (Rom. 6:20-22). [To view the Chart of Comparison between Sin and sins, click here];
b. Because of what sins are:
(1) Missing the mark or falling short of The God’s standard (Rom. 3:23) - the Greek word is αμαρτία (hahmarhtéea), the general term for all manner of sin (Mt. 12:31). It is sin of omission, not doing what you should do (Jas. 4:17);
(2) Lawlessness [nonobservance of a law] (1 Jn. 3:4) - the Greek word is ανομία (ahnohméea). It is sin of commission, doing what you should not do;
(3) Trespass, [go aside from the law] (2 Pet. 2:16) - παρανομία (pahrahnohméeah); it is another type of sins of commission;
(4) Transgression over a line (Rom. 5:14) - the Greek word is παραβασίς (pahrahBáhsees); it is another form of sins of commission;
(5) Unrighteousness (1 Jn 5:17) - the Greek word is αδικία (adeekéeah); it is another type of sins of commission;
(6) Iniquity (Acts 8:22) - the Greek word is κακία (kahkéeah); it is another kind of sin of commission;
(7) Wickedness; wicked deed (Acts 3:26) - the Greek word is πονηρία (ponayéeah); it is another kind of sin of commission;
(8) Gross stupid error, blunder, [fall beside, failure to stand upright when should] (Mt. 6:14,15) - the Greek word is παράπτωμα (pahráhpt0mah); it is another kind of sin of commission;
(9) Neglect, [failure or refusal to hear], disobedience to a voice (Rom. 5:19) - the Greek word is παρακοή (pahrahkoháy); it is another type of sins of omission;
(10) Error (Mt. 27:64; Rom. 1:27) - the Greek word is πλανή (pláhnay) - it is another kind of sin of commission.
To summarize, sins are offenses of aggression against The God positively in commission and negatively in omission by means of thoughts (particularly in the realm of anger (emotion), adultery (immorality), and hatred (passion); in words; and in deeds (Mt. 5:19-22,27,28,31-33,43-47).
c. Because of what Sin does:
(1) It inflicts death and separates from The God (Eph. 2:1-3; Rom. 5:22; 7:9-13; Jas. 2:15);
(2) It enslaves humans to be persistent bondslaves and reigns over them (Rom. 6:12-19);
(3) It defiles (corrupts) humans (Ezek. 20:43,44; 37:23; Mt. 15:19,20; Mk.7:20-23);and
(4) It condemns to eternal punishment (Jn. 3:19; Rom. 5:18,21; 6:23);
d. He did it to save all who will obey The Gospel, repent, and persistently commit trust unto Him (Rom. 16:25-27; Lk. 13:1-5; 19:10; Heb. 7:25; 1 Cor. 1:21; Mk. 8:35; Mt. 11:27-29).
III. The Support of The Gospel of The Lord Jesus Christ
It is to be free of charge! No collections (offerings) are to be taken to help with expenses to spread The God’s truth (1 Cor. 9:18; 2 Cor. 11:7; Mt. 10:8; Prov. 23:23; Ps. 37:25; 3 Jn. 7). The question comes, How then is The God’s servants to be supported? By means of ‘Fellowship in the Gospel’ by the saints (regenerated disciples privately or corporately (church body ) moved by The Spirit of The God to give freely and generously (2 Cor. 9:7,11,12). [Please read the paper entitled Fellowship in The Gospel under Missions on our website at www.happyheralds.org or happyheralds.com. Click here to read or download it now.] If The God is not able to supply the needs and materials for proclaiming The Gospel of The Lord Jesus Christ, either there is something wrong on the part of the servant or ministry or something The God is attempting to communicate to the servant as to where or how or how soon that ministry is to begin or to continue as it is being proclaimed or if the message is inaccurate.
Much more detail could be given, but this much is essential to the essence of The Gospel. If we are to be good and faithful judicial witnesses, we must attempt to include ALL of The Gospel as The Holy Spirit prompts and affords time to relate. However, we can ask for an opportunity to meet again to tell the rest of the story. Frequent review of ALL The Gospel is essential in order to be ready to be a judicial witness (1 Pet. 3:15).
What will you do to be prepared (ready) to present ALL of The Gospel and make disciples
of those who respond?
APT - A Precise Translation [ ]literal meaning or margin notes | |understood &plural
/ \ manuscripts divided /the 0no article $singular +masculine ^feminine ~ neuter
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