Friday, November 26, 2010

What is the true Gospel of Jesus Christ?

The Gospel of Jesus Christ has become many things to many people. Most Christians use the word to explain to others that the Gospel of Jesus Christ represents what Jesus did by dying on the cross and freed us all from paying the price for our own sins (and the sins of the world), and now we have a status that will guarantee us an eternity in Heaven with Him at the end of the world. Many others believe the Gospel also represents an escape from Tribulation through a future experience called the Rapture. Let’s examine the word Gospel.

The word Gospel, according to renown Greek scholar W.E. Vine is a noun, which in the Greek (euangelion) originally denoted a reward for good tidings; later, the idea of reward dropped, and the word stood for "the good news" itself. The English word "gospel," i.e. "good message," is the equivalent of euangelion (English, "evangel"). In the New Testament it denotes the "good tidings" of the Kingdom of God and of salvation through Christ, to be received by faith, on the basis of His expiatory death, His burial, resurrection, and ascension, e.g., Acts 15:7; 20:24; 1 Pet. 4:17. Apart from those references and those in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, and Rev. 14:6, the noun is confined to Paul's Epistles. The Apostle uses it of two associated yet distinct things, (a) of the basic facts of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, e.g., 1 Cor. 15:1-3; (b) of the interpretation of these facts, e.g., Rom. 2:16; Gal. 1:7,11; 2:2; in (a) the "Gospel" is viewed historically, in (b) doctrinally, with reference to the interpretation of the facts, as is sometimes indicated by the context (Greek Definition of the word Gospel, W.E. Vine)

In Galatians 2:14, "the truth of the gospel" denotes, not the true "gospel," but the true teaching of it, in contrast to perversions of it. Perversions? Yes! Perversions of the Gospel to the degree that many have been “caught up” by the distortions of the Gospel to the point they are teaching unscriptural messages to the church and it is leading many Christians astray. The Apostle Paul tried to warn us about this, but yet, we pay no heed to his words, such as he eloquently tries in the Book of Galatians 1:1-24:

24Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the Mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.

25For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.

26But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother(land) of us all.

27For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband.

28Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.

29But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.

30Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.

31So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.

Paul tells us in Ephesians 3:1-13 how this Gospel has been a mystery to many, but in reality it is a mystery that has already been revealed to the church (God's ecclesia, a people called out) to share with the entire world. Sadly, many believers themselves have no idea what is the true Gospel and unwittingly find them preaching one other than the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. In what follows, one gets the feeling that Paul has the disciples by the nape of their necks, shaking them back and forth as he explicitly tells them what the true Gospel is!

1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles-- 2 Surely you have heard about the administration of God's grace that was given to me for you, 3 that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. 4 In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God's holy apostles and prophets. 6This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.

Now while Paul tells us that the Gospel was a mystery and was not made known to men in other generations, he tells us that the Gospel of Jesus Christ was actually revealed to Abraham many centuries before. Was the Gospel speaking about faith or the observance of the Law?

1 You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? 4 Have you suffered so much for nothing--if it really was for nothing? 5 Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard? 6 Consider Abraham: "He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." 7 Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. 8The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: "All nations will be blessed through you." 9 So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. 10 All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law." 11 Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, "The righteous will live by faith." 12 The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, "The man who does these things will live by them." 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit, (Galatians 3:1-14)

Throughout history (from the time of Abraham to this day), theorists interpret that one phrase above "All nations will be blessed through you" as an affirmation that the genetic descendants (Jews, the occupants of the current state of Israel) are the only ones who are to receive this blessing, but other scripture contradicts this theology in a bold and easy to discern fashion. It reveals that the blessing to all nations meant that the promise made to Abraham (before Israel was even born) was that all nations would have access to salvation. Ephesians 2:11-16 clearly states how the Gospel was fulfilled:

11 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;

12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;

15 Having 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;

16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby, (Ephesians 2:11-16).

Therefore, to function under the belief that God has additional promise to fulfill to any one people, any one specific tribe or ethno/religious nation, other than His children of Promise, is idle speculation which cannot be confirmed through scripture. On the contrary, we are told in the Book of 1 Corinthians the exact opposite:

13 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 Corinthians 12:13)

But yet, theorists, proponents of premillennial, dispensationalism, will try to bring up scripture such as Genesis 12:3 (that those who bless Israel shall be blessed and those who curse Israel shall be cursed) to intimidate Christians into believing they have to support the political state of Israel in the Middle East above the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. In reality that verse applies to God's "Children of Promise," and not a genetic nation that was yet to be born when that blessing was given to Abraham, the Father of Faith!

In addition to this erroneous reading of the Bible, is the myth that the Jews (Israel) have to be restored to a land that was promised to Abraham way back when. That physical, geographical promise has already been fulfilled as the following scripture ever succinctly prove (see Nehemiah 9:7-8, Nehemiah 9:22-24, Joshua11:23, Joshua 21:43-45).

What many fail to realize is that the so-called Promised Land God has always intended for His people is not an earthen parcel of land in the Middle East, but rather, it is a "heavenly city" built by God, one which is to descend to earth from where Jesus Christ and His ecclesia will rule and reign forever, right here on this green planet. The old city of Jerusalem is not going to be the 'Promised Land' but rather New Jerusalem, the Holy City of God is the land, the country and the great city He promised, and the one they were looking forward to. The Israelites (actually the faith believing remnant of Israel, those who trust and have faith in the Messiah), we are told in Hebrews 11, knew exactly what they were truly looking forward to, and it was not a return to the country (or the Middle East region) they pitched their temporary tents on their eternal journey to rest with their Messiah:

8By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.

9By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise.

And what was that promise?

10For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

11 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.

12 Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.

13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.

15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.

16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city, (Hebrews 11:8-16)

Is that city (or better country) which is spoken of in Hebrews 11 to be found in what we today call Jerusalem, in the Middle East? Is that city, currently occupied by Jewish citizens, the city that is spoken of in these verses? Is this the city that Jesus Christ returns to, as many theorists contend?


The city that God has prepared for the faith-believing remnant of Israel (which includes faith-believing Gentiles who are now recipients of the promises God made to Abraham), is not here yet, but it is a city that is to come, as is clearly stated in Hebrews 13:14:

For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come, (Hebrews 13:14).

As much and as many would like to believe, the true Gospel of Jesus Christ clearly tells us that the children of promise are not any specific earthly tribe, nation or a formerly favored people. The true children of promise are those who believe in Jesus Christ and He alone; those who pick up their cross and follow Him. Those who know (by virtue of the Holy Spirit) that they will rule and reign with Him inside the new city that is to come, New Jerusalem:

1 Then I saw "a new heaven and a new earth," for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Look! God's dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.4 'He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death' or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away, Revelation 21:1-4."

In essence, saints do not go to Heaven, but rather Heaven comes down to earth, which automatically removes the expectations that God's children will be Raptured to Heaven.

Yet, many will continue to believe that God has a special plan and (an unconditional) commitment to a people who believe they still have rights to a region that has been contested since 70 AD, after the Roman army annihilated the nation of Israel for turning its back on its Messiah. Obviously, upset at the turn of events in its historical existence, the Pharisaical leadership (who did not have faith in Messiah but were more interested in their ruling powers) continue to make claim that the parcel of land in the Middle East is their "promised land" when the scriptures make clear that God is fulfilling His initial promise to Abraham, that those who believe will be rewarded with a city of their own in the person of New Jerusalem. Scripture, when placed in the context the Holy Spirit intended, validates itself and this truth without exception.

You will notice carefully that all of the above information is not presented with conjecture, assumption nor has there been any theory proffered by this author to explain the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. Scripture speaks for itself.

Which Gospel are you preaching to your flock? The Gospel which you have just read from God's word? Or that gospel that is, sadly, titillating the itching ears of Christians who fear to pick up their crosses and follow Him, regardless of the cost?

How do you plan to respond when a person asks you if you know the true Gospel of Jesus Christ?


For more information about the author, this blog and his two books, The End Times Passover and Why Christians Will Suffer Great Tribulation, please click on Joe Ortiz

1 comment:

  1. I just came across this informative and utterly Biblical blog of yours and want to say that I appreciate your discussion of Israel etc. What you state is based on the clear teaching of Scripture and explains what the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ really and truly is. May the Lord bless you for sharing your thoughts with us. Debra