Theology of Grace - The Gospel

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The Gospel

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

Romans 1:16

There are several gospels mentioned within the Scriptures:

Matthew 4:23the gospel of the kingdom,…

Mark 1:1the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God;

Romans 10:15 the gospel of peace, …

Mark 1:14the gospel of the kingdom of God,

Acts 20:24the gospel of the grace of God.

Romans 1:1the gospel of God,

Romans 10:15the gospel of peace,…

Galatians 2:7the gospel of the uncircumcision the gospel of the circumcision

Ephesians 1:13the gospel of your salvation:…

Revelation 14:6the everlasting gospel

The best definition for the word ‘gospel’ is—truth. It is the truth concerning the topic at hand.

Ephesians 1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation:...

If we are to understand the Scriptures, we should be able to determine any difference between one gospel from another if there are any differences.

Only one gospel concerns us at this point, “the gospel of your salvation.” It must be determined whether or not Christ Jesus, Peter, James, John, and all the others preached the same gospel of salvation as Paul, Barnabas, Mark, Silas, and the other Jews and Gentiles that ministered with Paul: that we are saved by grace through faith and not of works.

Are there two different gospels of salvation? This is our first question to be resolved.

Jesus was the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world”

Revelation 13:8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

There is only one lamb slain from the foundation of the world, one plan of salvation, one sacrifice for sins.

Hebrews 10:12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;

The gospel of Christ being born of a virgin, our sins being laid on him, his dying for them, and being raised from the dead, are all subjects of prophecy throughout the Old Testament taught before he was born. Paul himself states the truth of this fact.

1 Corinthians 15:3-4 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

Paul’s gospel was not a mystery “kept secret since the world began.” It was according to the Scriptures and at that time it could only be a reference to the Old Testament.

Amos 3:7 Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.

John 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

We need to compare the gospel preached by the Lord, Peter, John, et. al. The gospel of salvation that the Lord preached was that you had to believe in and on him, what he said about himself, and what he was going to do.

John 8:24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.

Mark 8:31 And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.

Mark 8:31 …the Son of man must suffer many things, and be killed, and after three days rise again.

John 3:14-16 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:... 16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Matthew 27:63 Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.

Our Lord preached to believe in him and that he was to be crucified, die, be buried, and rise the third day.

Compare the above preaching of Christ’s with that of Paul’s:

1 Corinthians 15:1-4 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you,… how that Christ died for our sins... 4And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

What is the difference? Is there a difference simply due to the Lord pointing to it in the future and preaching believe it and Paul pointing to it in the past and preaching believe it? Are they two different gospels?

John 8:28 Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he,…

Then shall ye know,” it was to the Jews that Christ stated that they would know the truth after he made his sacrifice. Naturally, if they had been understood and enlightened beforehand they would not have crucified him.

1 Corinthians 2:8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

There may seem to be differences in the administration of the gospel before and after his resurrection which is understandable as no one could receive the Holy Spirit before he made the atonement. The way had to be prepared for the understanding of the gospel.

John 7:39 (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

Hebrews 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises,…

Ezekiel 36:27 And I will put my spirit within you,…

It is taught by some that John the Baptist’s preaching is the same as that of Christ, Peter, John, James, etc. This is not true. John the Baptist was not preaching the gospel of salvation but the remission, personal forgiveness, of sins in preparation for the gospel; he was preparing the way to it.

Matthew 3:3 For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

John preached baptism for the remission of sins. Remission of sins is not salvation, it is forgiveness of sins. Remission, forgiveness, of sins is only half of what you need for salvation. John the Baptist was preparing the way for the other half. The other half is faith in the atonement for sins, the payment for sins, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”

When the Lord arrived on the scene he preached that he was the fulfillment of the prophecies concerning the Messiah, that he must suffer, die, and rise from the grave on the third day. The particulars of the gospel he preached are the same as the one Paul preached.

The Jews were waiting for their Messiah and the restoration of their kingdom, gospel of the kingdom.” Until the martyrdom of Steven in Acts and Israel’s rejection of Christ as Saviour; the great commission and bringing in the kingdom were the next items on the agenda.

The only difference in the gospels before and after the atonement, we have discovered at this point, is that before they were told they would receive the Holy Spirit and after we are told we have received the Spirit. Does that make them different gospels?

This causes some misunderstandings in the book of Acts. At the stoning of Steven; Israel as a nation is set aside for later and the individual transition from the old covenant into the new covenant of the Church consisting of Jew and Gentile continues.

In the book of Acts, a couple of transitions take place owing to this division in being able to receive the Holy Spirit. One transition concerns those believing or receiving the remission of sins by John’s baptism before the atonement having now to be led to and baptized unto the resurrected Lord obtaining the atonement and full salvation from sin. That is you could be baptized for the remission and forgiveness of sins before the atonement and then after be pointed to faith in Christ and be baptized unto him to receive the atonement for sin, the Holy Spirit, and full salvation. Sin having been paid for, we are pointed after the atonement to faith in Christ for the remission of our sins receiving the Holy Spirit and full salvation. This is done all with one gospel, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ that he died for our sins was buried and rose again the third day.

(See the Studies in Scripture booklet, "Salvation.")

Another disputed proof text of Grace Theology is that the gospel of the circumcision is different from the gospel of the uncircumcision as found in Galatians.

Galatians 2:7-9 But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; 8(For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) 9And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.

The teaching that the two gospels in Galatians are different is the product of taking the terms out of the context of not only their sentence but chapter, book, and the Bible as a whole.

The correct interpretation of the phrases “the gospel of the circumcision” and “the gospel of the uncircumcision” is found by keeping the context of chapter two and not forgetting what you should have just read in chapter one.

Galatians 1:6-7 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.

Paul states that it is really not another gospel the Galatians are getting messed up with but a perversion of the gospel of the grace of God. They are backsliding, now that they are saved they think they have to keep the law to keep their salvation.

Acts 15:5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.

Galatians 3:2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

We know that Paul is preaching the same faith he persecuted.

Galatians 1:23 But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed.

Take note, also, that it was not Gentiles but the Jewish Christians he was persecuting.

Acts 9:1-2 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, 2And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.

Roman Gentiles did not come under the control of the Jewish High Priest so the gospel he preached was the same that he persecuted which was the same gospel the Jews were saved by.

Later in Galatians chapter two Paul shows again that there is but one gospel for Jew and Gentile. When Peter, who was enjoying the fellowship of the Gentiles in so much that he was eating with them, described by Paul as living like them. At hearing that some Jewish believers sent from James were coming, Peter decided he needed to be a Jew again.

Galatians 2:11-12 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. 12For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.

Paul takes notice and rebukes the Jews for trying to make two gospels and reminds them there is but one.

Galatians 2:14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel,...

In rebuking Peter for trying to divide the gospel into two, one Jewish, one Gentile, we get Paul’s dissertation on the Jewish gospel.

Galatians 2:15-16 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,

We, Paul says, being natural born Jews and not Gentile converts.

16Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ,

We, Jews, know that no man is justified by the works of the law, but salvation is through grace by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Acts 15:11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.)

even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

As Paul states, we being Jews, know that no works can save us, that there is but one gospel preached by Paul, Peter, James, John, and the Lord Jesus Christ. There are two ministries, one to the Jews and one to the Gentiles. This is by no means absolute as both Paul and Peter preached to both Jew and Gentile.

Ephesians 2:11-17 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 13But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. 14For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.

The middle wall of partition between us,” spoken of here was the barrier to keep Gentiles from entering the temple, “between us.” Remember, Paul was accused of bringing a Gentile into the temple.

Acts 21:28 Crying out, Men of Israel, help: This is the man, that teacheth all men every where against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place.

With Christ’s atonement, there is no difference between Jew and Gentile, preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.” Gentiles were the people far off and Jews the ones that were nigh. How can there be a difference in the gospel?

Acts 15:8-9 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; 9And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.

Romans 3:22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

Romans 10:11-12 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. 12For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.

There is no difference between Jew and Gentile!! How then can there be two gospels?? “Put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.” God was giving both, Jew and Gentile, the Holy Ghost and purifying their hearts by faith alone before Paul’s conversion and ministry.

If you accept all of what Paul said, how can you possibly get two gospels? Paul contends that there is one gospel for both Jew and Gentile.

Is Christ divided?” Who is causing the contention in the Church? Is it not those that say the gospel is divided, that they are of Paul and the Jews are of Peter?

1 Corinthians 1:11-13 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. 12Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. 13Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?

1 Corinthians 3:4 For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?

It is carnal Christians dividing Christ by saying I am of Paul and the Jews are of Peter.

Romans chapter fifteen is an excellent exhortation of the unity of the Jew and Gentile Church and the one gospel Paul preached. In it, we have the gospel of God, the gospel of Christ, and the gospel, all synonymous with one another, verses 16, 19, 20 & 29.

Romans 15:16 That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God,….

Romans 15:19 ...I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.

Romans 15:20 Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel…

Romans 15:29 ...I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.

These gospels are surely synonymous with these:

Ephesians 1:13 ...the gospel of your salvation:…

Ephesians 6:15 ...the gospel of peace;

2 Thessalonians 1:8 ...the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Acts 20:24 ...the gospel of the grace of God.

Surely, these are the same gospel, the same one that was to be preached to all nations and every creature.

Mark 13:10 And the gospel must first be published among all nations.

Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

The gospel of the kingdom seems to be the only gospel that is not dealing with individual salvation but the restoration of the nation and kingdom of Israel.

Never in all of Paul’s writings does he condone, mention, not preach against, there being any other gospel but the one he preached to both Jew and Gentile.