Since when did the death of a good person become good news? Think about it.
Since when did the brutal murder of an innocent man become a reason for celebration? (Could a sadistic, evil influence be behind this?)
Yet, it is almost universally believed and taught that Jesus Christ’s death for your sins and mine is at the heart and core of the gospel. Is this biblical?
Is it possible that we have also been deceived about the real gospel message?
The Apostle Paul Warned About Gospel Deception
But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age [Satan] has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.
~2 Corinthians 4:3-4
[COMMENT: Notice that Paul calls the one true gospel, “the gospel of the glory of Christ.” He didn’t call it “the gospel of the sufferings of Christ.” In the letters of Paul and Peter, glory is always contrasted with sufferings (Romans 8:17-18, Hebrews 2:9-10, 1 Peter 4:12-13, and 1 Peter 5:1). It is this aspect — Christ’s resurrection glory, His splendor, and His majesty as Messiah and coming King — that Satan the Devil tries so very hard to hide, obscure, and cover up.]
For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!
~2 Corinthians 11:4
Today, there are so many versions of the gospel. Do a quick Google search for “what is the gospel?” and you will find several websites about the gospel. Here are just some of the versions you will find:
- The Gospel of Jesus Christ
- The Gospel of Salvation
- The Gospel of Grace
- The Social Gospel
- The Israel Message
- The Prosperity (Health and Wealth) Gospel
What Does “Gospel” Mean?
According to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition, the word “gospel” is a Middle English word which came from the Old English god (good) + spel (news), meaning “good news.” It has six definitions:
- The proclamation of the redemption preached by Jesus and the Apostles, which is the central content of Christian revelation.
- One of the first four New Testament books, describing the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and recording his teaching; a similar narrative.
- A lection [a reading from Scripture] from any of the first four New Testament books included as part of a religious service.
- A teaching or doctrine of a religious teacher.
- Gospel music.
- Something, such as an idea or principle, accepted as unquestionably true.
When people talk about “the gospel,” they are usually referring to this first definition, the almost universal idea concerning the “proclamation of the redemption preached by Jesus and the Apostles.”
But what does the Bible say?
Evangelion Is the Greek Word for Gospel
The original word translated as “gospel” in most English Bibles is the Greek word euaggelion or evangelion, which means “a good message” or “good tidings.” This Greek word (Strong’s number G2098) appears 77 times in the King James Authorized Version of the Bible and 74 times in the New King James Version.
According to the Olive Tree Enhanced Strong’s Dictionary, euaggelion means “the glad tidings of the kingdom of God soon to be set up, and subsequently also of Jesus the Messiah, the founder of this kingdom. After the death of Christ, the term comprises also the preaching of (concerning) Jesus Christ as having suffered death on the cross to procure eternal salvation for the men in the kingdom of God, but as restored to life and exalted to the right hand of God in heaven, thence to return in majesty to consummate the kingdom of God.”
There are two main definitions given for euaggelion:
- The glad tidings of the kingdom of God soon to be set up, and of Jesus the Messiah, the founder of this kingdom.
- The preaching about or concerning Jesus Christ.
Having these two definitions can be a little confusing. Just what is it really?
Just How Many Gospels Are There?
I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.
[COMMENT: This is not a small matter. There is a double curse on anyone — man or angel — who would dare preach any other gospel!]
It’s clear from Scripture that there is only ONE true and biblical gospel — there is no other! So, of the two definitions above, which is it? What does the Bible say?
What Gospel Did Jesus Preach?
Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” [KJV: believe THE gospel]
[COMMENT: There are two things we must do: REPENT and BELIEVE — “repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21). Water baptism is also required as a willing response to the call to repent and believe (Acts 2:38).]
There’s no confusion here. Absolutely no ambiguity. The gospel message Jesus preached is called THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD! This is the only “gospel” we are commanded to believe — the one true, biblical gospel!
But is this really the right gospel? How do we know? Apostle Peter gives clues:
The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all—that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached:
[COMMENT: Who sent the word (the gospel message)? God sent it. To whom did He send it initially? To the children of Israel (Matthew 15:24). Through whom did He send it? Through Jesus Christ. Where did the preaching begin? From Galilee. When did it begin? After the baptism John preached. Compare this with Mark 1:14-15 above and you will see that it matches perfectly.]
Was this a “one-time thing” for Jesus? Did He change the focus of His preaching?
And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.
Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.
Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with Him…
“The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached [beginning with Christ], and everyone is pressing into it.
…[Jesus] said to them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent.”
Wait a minute! Jesus Christ was sent for the purpose of preaching the kingdom?
Jesus Was Sent From Heaven With A Message
“Behold, I send My messenger [John the Baptist (Mark 1:2)],
And he will prepare the way before Me.
And the Lord, whom you seek,
Will suddenly come to His temple,
Even the Messenger of the [new] covenant [Jesus Christ],
In whom you delight.
Behold, He is coming,”
Says the LORD [YHWH] of hosts.
Jesus Christ is the divine Messenger. He came from His Father in heaven with a message. Many times, Christ said the words that He spoke were not His own:
I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father.” They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham. But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. You do the deeds of your father.” Then they said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father—God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me.
For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.”
He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.
What Gospel Did the Original Apostles Preach?
Then [Jesus] called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.
After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go. Then He said to them, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest… And heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’
But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.
[COMMENT: The name of the Messiah is essential to the gospel of the kingdom of God, as He will be the King of the Kingdom of God.]
Did Paul Preach A Different Gospel?
And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.”
[COMMENT: This should be the goal of every Christian — to “enter the kingdom of God.”]
Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.
~1 Corinthians 15:50
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.
I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom:
~2 Timothy 4:1
… the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever…
~2 Timothy 4:18
And [Paul] went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God.
And indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no more.
So when they had appointed him a day, many came to him at his lodging, to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening.
[COMMENT: The identity of the Messiah was essential to the discussion about the gospel of the kingdom of God, as He was, and is, the fulfillment of many prophecies in what we call the Old Testament.]
Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him.
[COMMENT: As you can see, you cannot talk meaningfully about the kingdom of God without also discussing the central role of the Messiah — the Anointed One — as the future King of that Kingdom.]
How About the Gospel of Grace and Salvation?
How about the “gospel of grace” and the “gospel of salvation” through faith in Jesus Christ? Is that a false gospel? Not at all. It is an integral part of the gospel, but it is not the whole gospel, which is centered on the kingdom. The gospel of Jesus Christ is Christ’s gospel — the message He brought from the Father about the kingdom of God soon to be established here on earth.
Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures…
~1 Corinthians 15:1-4
The facts about Christ’s life, death, burial, and resurrection are very important. He makes it possible for us to enter and inherit the kingdom of God. As our Savior, He is the Door to the kingdom (John 10:7-10). But as one author wisely observed:
The message of the Christian gospel over the past fifty years has increasingly emphasized the access door to the kingdom instead of what is behind the door. Jesus certainly did say, “I am the door.” But we’ve overemphasized the door imagery as though “getting saved” is all there is to it. Christian evangelists and missionaries have worked so hard at marketing the entrance that it has itself become the gospel.
~Jan David Hettinga, Follow Me (1996), p. 136.
Without the Messiah’s death, we can never be reconciled to the Father, due to our sins (which are transgressions of God’s law [1 John 3:4 (KJV)]). But He paid the penalty in our stead, the Innocent for the guilty, so that we can receive forgiveness. And because of His miraculous and glorious resurrection — because He has conquered death — we can also receive immortality in a future resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:20). That’s the whole point of 1 Corinthians 15. Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection makes it possible for us to enter God’s kingdom. But most people stop at verse 4 or 8. They should keep reading until the end of the chapter:
Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death… Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed — in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet shall sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed…
~1 Corinthians 15:24-26, 50-52
What Gospel Will Be Preached At the Very End?
And 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.
[COMMENT: The gospel did not change after the three-and-a-half year ministry of Christ, and He prophesied that the same original gospel will be proclaimed at the very end, before He comes again.]
And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
[COMMENT: He didn’t say preach a gospel. He didn’t say preach any gospel. But THE gospel. We cannot put our own interpretation on what this gospel is — it’s the same one Christ preached. The only one He authorized. Yes, it is very important to PREACH the right gospel and to BELIEVE the right gospel, in order to be saved. This is not some small, inconsequential matter. Our eternity is literally at stake.]
There is only one true gospel — the gospel of the kingdom of God. However, there is also much confusion — so many myths, misconceptions, and wild ideas — about the nature of this “kingdom.” In a future article, we will explain exactly what God reveals about the kingdom of God. Is it possible that this gospel holds the real solution to our world’s problems? Keep reading BiblicalTruths.com to find out.