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Answers to Bible Question
Scriptures are from the KJV of the Bible
(Q) Is there more than one gospel in the Bible?
(A) For many who have come to see and rejoice in what Paul called “the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery,” that revelation is so vast and touches upon so many subjects that they are often at a loss as to where to begin to share it with those who need to know. Paul’s distinctive preaching of the gospel of grace is an excellent place to start, for it shows that the revelation is not a side issue but a fundamental one. After hearing grace teaching, the Spirit has sometimes shown people that they really did not understand the gospel of grace at all, beyond trusting in Christ alone for salvation. Others have been amazed at how it clarifies their understanding of God’s good news for today.
The conventional wisdom among many Christians today is that there is only one gospel in the Bible. Since gospel means “good news,” that is like saying that God has had only one piece of good news to share with man throughout all of redemptive history. There are many statements from Paul that would call into question the one-gospel view. His letter to the Galatians tells of God preaching the gospel to Abraham saying, “In thee (Abraham) shall all nations be blessed” (Gal. 3:8; Gen. 12:3). To him, that was good news indeed, and yet, there was still no revelation of Christ or his work on the cross. Of course, we would agree that Christ is ultimately the center and circumference of all the “good news” in God’s plan for man, but the revelation of the things of Christ was gradual and progressive. The Old Testament spoke in type and shadow.
When we come to the New Testament, many details surrounding the teaching and preaching of Christ show major distinctions between what the Bible calls the Gospel of the Kingdom and the Gospel of the Grace of God. The following points show these distinctions.
1. The distinctive terminology alone would strongly imply a difference between these two gospels. The Word of God is not indiscriminate in its terminology. Since we believe that the Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit, every detail has spiritual significance, and we may understand if we seek His enlightenment. Therefore, when God refers to the Gospel of the Kingdom in one context and then to the Gospel of the Grace of God in another, it cannot mean the same thing.
The Gospel of the Kingdom is simply God’s good news about His kingdom, a kingdom that was (and is) to be established on earth with Christ as king (Jer. 23:5-6; Isa. 2:2-4; 11:1-9). It was prophesied by Israel’s prophets in the Old Testament and proclaimed “at hand” in the New Testament.
The Gospel of the Grace of God is God’s good news about His grace reigning like a king on the throne (Rom. 5:20-21). It was a new revelation that came to Paul, the apostle, directly from the resurrected Christ in heaven (Gal. 1:11-12; 2:2; Acts 20:24). Both of these gospels deal with salvation from sin, but each address a different people, at different times, and under different circumstances.
2. The Gospel of the Kingdom was preached by John the Baptist (Baptizer), Jesus Christ, and the twelve apostles, and only to the people of Israel (Matt. 3:2; 4:17,23; 10:5-7; Rom. 15:8).
The Gospel of the Grace of God was first preached by Paul to the Gentiles after Israel had rejected the preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom. Paul then committed the grace message to those who came after him (Acts 16:31; Rom. 3:24; 1 Tim. 1:14; 2 Tim. 2:2). (There is no Biblical evidence that John, Jesus, or the twelve ever preached the Gospel of the Grace of God or that Paul ever preached the Gospel of the Kingdom. The grace gospel eventually superseded the kingdom gospel)
3. The Gospel of the Kingdom centered in the Person of Jesus Christ, that is, who He was. That is why the emphasis was always on the name of Jesus Christ, the fact that he was the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matt. 16:16; John 20:31).
The Gospel of the Grace of God confirms the person of Christ but centers in his work on the cross for our redemption (Rom. 3:24-25; 1 Cor. 1:18; 2:2). It is significant that the twelve apostles preached the Gospel of the Kingdom for several years but did not even know that Christ was going to die, much less what that death would accomplish for our redemption (Luke 9: 1-2,6; 18:31-34; Matt. 16:21-23).
4. The Gospel of the Kingdom required the ordinance of water baptism along with faith in Christ for salvation and the forgiveness of sins (Mark 1:4; 16:16; Acts 2:38).
The Gospel of the Grace of God requires only faith in Christ, the cross and resurrection, for salvation and forgiveness of sins (Acts 13:38-39; 16:31; 1 Cor. 15:1-4).
Paul refers to this as “my gospel” and refuses all works of righteousness, including circumcision, water baptism, tithing, or any other legalistic requirement (Rom. 3:21,28; 4:5; Gal. 2:16; 3:11; Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 3:5). Paul wrote that he was not sent to baptize, but to preach the gospel (1 Cor. 1:17). But he does speak of a baptism where the Holy Spirit puts us into Christ and His Body: “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13). Notice this is a spiritual baptism accomplished by God that does not involve one drop of water. The baptism by the Spirit corresponds to the “one baptism” that Paul mentioned in Ephesians 4:5 and agrees with the other six unities in the passage which bring unity in the Church which is His Body.
5. The Gospel of the Kingdom required the disciples to “endure unto the end” to be saved (Matt. 10:22; 24:13).
The Gospel of the Grace of God requires only faith in Christ to be saved. It promises the seal of the Holy Spirit until the day of Christ’s appearing and assures no condemnation or separation from his love (Eph. 1:13-14; 4:30; Rom. 8:1,31-39).
6. The Gospel of the Kingdom was preached to those who were still under the Law of Moses and affirms the necessity of rituals and ordinances (Matt. 8:4; 23:1-3). Jesus Christ was “made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law …. ” He was circumcised on the eighth day according to the law and kept all the commands of Moses, including the Jewish holy days (Gal. 4:4-5; Luke 2:21-24).
During the time of the dispensing of the Gospel of the Grace of God, we are not under the law but under grace (Rom. 6:14-15). That is true in both salvation and in the Christian life (Col. 2:6).
7. Preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, Christ spoke of giving His life “a ransom for many” and His blood “shed for many” (Matt. 20:28; 26:28). This would refer to His people Israel, for the angel of the Lord had commanded Joseph that “thou shalt call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). Israel was Jesus’ people, for He Himself was a Jew.
Preaching the Gospel of the Grace of God, Paul spoke of Christ, “who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Tim. 2:6). This gospel included both Jews and Gentiles. The due time for its proclamation was after Israel rejected the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom under John, Jesus, and the twelve. Paul was converted and commissioned to preach the gospel of grace to the whole world (Acts 26:16-20).
8. Under the Gospel of the Kingdom, the crucifixion of Christ was not good news, but bad news. It was something to be repented of and confessed by those Jews who demanded His death. In the early chapters of the Book of Acts, Peter pointed the finger of accusation at apostate Israel to bring them under guilt so they could repent, be baptized, and receive the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:14-40; 3:12-26; 4:8-12; 5:29-32).
Under the Gospel of the Grace of God, Paul does not accuse us of the crucifixion (although there is a sense in which our sins put him there), rather, he presents the preaching of the cross as good news for all people. Far from something to be ashamed of, Paul gloried in the cross. In it was revealed the secret that became the key to all of God’s good news to man (Gal. 6:14; Rom. 3:21-28; 5:6-11).
9. According to the Gospel of the Kingdom, Christ was raised from the dead to sit upon David’s throne in the kingdom. This is in accordance with prophecy (Luke 1:30-33; Acts 2:29-31; 2 Sam. 7:12-16).
According to the Gospel of the Grace of God, Christ was raised again for-that is, because of-our justification (Rom, 4:25). In other words, the resurrection of Christ is our “canceled check,” proving that our sins have been paid for, and that now we are in a right relationship with God.
10. In the Gospel of the Kingdom, redeemed Israel was to be God’s channel of salvation to the world. She was promised authority and superiority over the nations, and the salvation of those nations was to come through her rise (Gen. 22:17-18; Isa. 60:1-3,10-12; Zech. 8:13,22; John 4:22; Acts 3:25-26). Because of her rejection of
Christ, Israel is now spiritually blinded and the fulfillment of the promises awaits a future day, after the completion of His program for the Gentiles in the present dispensation, the Dispensation of Grace (Rom. 11:25-27; Eph. 3:1-3).
In the Gospel of the Grace of God, redeemed people from the Church which is His Body become the channel of salvation to the world. Gentile salvation now comes through Israel’s fall. There is now no difference between the Jew and the Gentile. They are all equally lost and in need of a Savior. All those who are saved have an equal position in Christ and equal access to Him as sons of God (Rom. 3:9,22-23; 10:12; 11:11-12,32; Gal. 3:28; Col. 3:11).
11. The Gospel of the Kingdom is also called “the gospel of the circumcision.” Like the term kingdom of God, it is possessive in meaning, and denoted the gospel belonging to the circumcision or the Jewish people. It is the gospel that takes us back to Abraham and the institution of circumcision as the token (or sign) of the covenant God made with Abraham and his descendants. Peter was called an apostle of the circumcision and made an agreement with Paul to confine his ministry to the circumcision-the Jews (Gal. 2:7-9; Gen. 17:9-14).
The Gospel of the Grace of God is also called “the gospel of the uncircumcision.” It means the gospel belonging to the uncircumcision or Gentiles. This gospel takes us back to Abram when he was an uncircumcised Gentile who was declared righteous before God prior to being circumcised. That means that his justification was by faith alone, without works. It is a good picture of how we are saved today under the grace of God without the ceremonies and works of the law (Gal. 2:7-9; Rom. 4:9-11; Gen. 15:4-6).
12. The Gospel of the Kingdom has as its hope the second coming of Jesus Christ back to earth to break the back of the world’s rebellion against Christ and rescue the remnant of His chosen people Israel after the Great Tribulation. This would culminate in the setting up of Christ’s millennial kingdom with the twelve apostles as judges. In the last days of God’s prophetic program, this Gospel of the Kingdom will once again be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, and then the end of the age shall come (Dan. 2:44-45; Matt. 19:28; 24:29-31).
The Gospel of the Grace of God has as its hope the catching up (Rapture) of the Church which is His Body to be taken to its home in heaven (1 Thes. 4:13-18; 1 Cor. 15:51-53; Phil. 3:20-21; Titus 2: 13). This will complete God’s Mystery program with the Gentiles (Rom. 11:25; 16:25; 1 Cor. 2:7; Eph. 3:1-6; Col. 1:25-27).
Don’t let anyone tell you that there is only one gospel in the Bible. The recognition of these two gospels in the New Testament will go a long way toward understanding what God is doing and what he is not doing today under grace. Much of the division among Christians is caused by trying to amalgamate certain aspects of Israel’s Gospel of the Kingdom with truth for the Church today. Legalism, baptismal salvation, tongues, and sign gifts have all brought confusion and disillusionment to many churches and have divided true believers. Paul’s distinctive Gospel of the Grace of God is the divine remedy that brings clarity and encouragement to the saints of God.