By Ken Blue |
September 6th, 2016. Filed under: ARTICLES.
We have little difficulty understanding what is meant when someone refers to the “ostrich” mentality. By that, we mean anyone who puts his head, so to speak, in the sand and will not look at the facts. Nowhere is this more evident than in the claim that the Bible contains only one gospel.
The observant reader of the Scriptures will discover that there is more that one gospel in the Word of God. In fact, there are several. It is our purpose to locate some of these. We ask the reader to not have an ostrich mentality and honestly look the fact square in the eye. If we have made a mistake in what we believe we see, we apologize to our readers and stand ready to be corrected.
- A definition
The word “gospel” means good news. Strong says it is “a good message, i.e. the gospel.” The American Heritage Dictionary says, “[Middle English, from Old English g½dspel (ultimately translation of Greek euangelion; see EVANGEL) : g½d, good; see GOOD + spel, news.]” The word by itself, never defines what that gospel or good news is. That can only be determined by its content and location in Scripture. With our head out of the sand and our eyes wide open, we can clearly see that the word “gospel” means only one thing. It means “good news”. It is God’s good news!
The gospel to Adam and Eve
One example of this good news is found in Genesis 2:9. There, we find, God placed the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life in the garden. Man now has to choices. One is good and will result in eternal life; the other is evil and will end in death. We know from Genesis 3:22 that the tree of life would have resulted in man’s eternal life. This was so, even in his sinful condition. The choices for Adam and Eve were two. They could eat of the tree of life and have eternal life. This was “good news.” The sad fact is, they rejected that offer and ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This resulted in their death and separation for God.
- The gospel of the conscience and the stars
This period begins after the fall of Adam and Eve and continued until the time of Noe. The two preachers of that day were the heavens and the conscious of man. The first testified to God’s power and godhead while the second testified of man’s sin and that he was without excuse. (See Psalm 19:1-6. Romans 2:14).
When man looked into the heaven, they sent back a message of intelligence and power. This light came down from above. The fact that man was able to excuse himself and find fault in others proved that he had enough light to lead to salvation or justify his condemnation.
These two preachers, one from above and the other from within, wrought conviction in the heart and when obeyed led to repentance, good works and salvation. Although the convert may have failed to appreciate the magnitude of the good news, it was, nevertheless, the message that brought about his salvation.
- The gospel of Noe
Noe preached 120 years. We know he was a “preacher of righteousness.” We are confident that he did not stand on the deck of the ark and call on men and women to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” and be saved. Then what did he preach? What was his good news? We believe the content of his message was simple. Men were called upon to repent of their evil and get on the ark. Salvation awaited all who entered the ark. Judgment awaited all who refused.
Noe’s message of salvation was good news to all who wanted to be saved. It was the gospel for his day and was the only means of salvation.
- The gospel under law
The message under the law was simple. “Do this and live. Refuse to do right and perish.” We know that, under the law, no one could keep the law perfectly. However, any Jew who rejected the Law and hoped to be saved deceived himself. (Neh. 9:29; Prov. 7:2)
We desire to make ourselves abundantly clear. We do not believe attempting to keep law, unless his heart was right with God, saved any man. However, for the Jew, there was no salvation apart from the law until the Lord Jesus Christ came and died on the cross.
Good news existed even under the law. There was mercy with God. God would forgive the repentant. The good news under the law was: have faith in God, live a righteous life, which included obedience to the law and you would be in the “resurrection of life.” The opposite awaited those who refused to obey God’s holy law. Theirs was a resurrection to damnation. (John 5:29).
We can be sure that the gospel of the grace of God was not preached to anyone under the law. That gospel, as we shall see, was never understood until it was revealed to the Apostle Paul. Any attempt to force today’s gospel into other dispensations is evidence of the ostrich complex.
- The gospel of the Kingdom
The word gospel means good news. The good news of John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus Christ was preached to Jews within the land of Israel. Later the Lord Jesus called His 12 and the 70 and commissioned them to go and preach the same gospel.
Jesus went about all Galilee preaching the gospel of the kingdom. (Matthew 4:23). In chapter 9:35 He went to other cities and villages and preached the gospel of the kingdom. We discover in Matthew 11:5 that the sick and the poor had the gospel of the kingdom preached unto them. In Matthew 24:14 the disciples were assured that the “this gospel of the kingdom” would be preached in the entire world.
Thus he and those whom He chose preached the good news during His earthly ministry. Surely no one will question the fact that a gospel was preached at that time. That gospel was good news to Israel. Their long-awaited Messiah and King had arrived. If they would repent, believe that gospel and be baptized, they would become citizens of the kingdom of heaven.
Because many have had the attitude of the ostrich they have failed to see the obvious. The most obvious thing in the world is that the gospel of the kingdom did not contain the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. John the Baptist did not understand or preach that the Lord Jesus must die for sin. None of the Twelve knew it or preached it. That is evident.
If we contend that the Bible teaches only one gospel and that gospel was preached and believed from Genesis to Revelation, we must conclude that John the Baptist and the Disciples were outside God’s salvation, for none of them believed He would die.
When John went to prison, he begins to question whether Jesus was the Messiah or not. (Matthew 11:3; Luke 7:19). Peter rebukes the Lord Jesus Christ when he is told that his Lord will be rejected and crucified. Matthew 16:21-23). While Christ is on the cross, they all fled and forsook Him. In Luke 24 we see the resurrected Christ appearing to two of His disciples who were sad and disappointed because they believed all hope was gone. And why were they sad? They would not be sad if they had believed in and preached the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. They had preached the gospel. We are sure of that. However, the good news of the kingdom, at that time, did not contain the message of the death, burial and resurrection of the Messiah.
Anyone who has read the actions of the women who went to the tomb and the unbelief of the disciples, especially Thomas, can never question the fact that their gospel did not include the death, burial and resurrection of the Messiah. Anyone willing to see the truth of this fact should read the following verses. “Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished.  For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on:  And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again.  And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.” (Luke 18:31-34)
The implication of this fact is too much for the brethren who have seen only one gospel. Tradition not only blinded the eyes of Israel’s religious leaders, it has caused us to close our eyes to many other facts of Scripture.
- The gospel of Grace
We must face the fact that we cannot be saved without believing in the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. However, the Twelve preached the gospel of the kingdom for over three years and not one word of these coming events were spoken by them. Were they saved? Of course they were. How were they saved? They were saved by believing the gospel of the kingdom they had received and preached.
Every Bible believer knows that the gospel of the kingdom will not saved him today. The only gospel that will save today is that gospel which was revealed to and preached by the Apostle Paul. ( 1Cor. 15:1-3; Galatians 1:6,11,12).
Paul’s good news centered in the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ’s death was the payment for our sins. He conquered death and the grave. We discover in Ephesians and Colossians that we were “in Him” when He died and rose from the grave. Thus His death was our death. His resurrection was our resurrection. His ascension and position is our ascension and position. This is GOOD NEWS! It is the gospel of the grace of God.
Our gospel excludes all good works for salvation. We are not required to keep the Sabbath or be circumcised. We do not offer sacrifices or become Jews to be saved. If we do anything for salvation, it is evident we are not trusting what the Lord Jesus Christ did for us. Thus, our salvation is a GIFT without any requirements attached.
One could not be saved under the preaching of John the Baptist without baptism. (Luke 7:30. See Acts 2:38). The gospel or good news for this dispensation excludes water baptism from the gospel. “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.” (1 Cor. 1:17). Neither John nor any of the Twelve could have quoted this verse. Baptism was part of their gospel message. Paul did baptize and so should we. However, it is not part of the gospel of the grace of God.
We expect some will read these words, look to the left and to the right and then put their heads back in the sand. The implication sakes their theological houses.
- The gospel in the Tribulation
We believe in the pre-tribulation rapture of the body of Christ. If we are right, the next major event on God’s calendar is the return of the Lord Jesus Christ for His church. This wonderful event is followed by the Great Tribulation which will come upon all the earth.
That even is called the ‘time of Jacob’s trouble’. It is the 70th. week of Daniel’s prophecy. Most of the Bible alluded to that time of judgment. It is also known as The Day of The Lord. The Lord Jesus spent much of His time preparing His disciples for those days. It will be during those day, the GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM will be proclaimed again. (Matthew 24:14; 28:1-20; Mark 16:15-17; Luke 24:45-50).
- The everlasting gospel
It is obvious that another gospel will be preached during those final days of darkness. That gospel is called the “everlasting gospel”. (Rev. 14:6). The last days of the Tribulation will be so horrible that an angel will be summoned to fly through the heavens and give men one last opportunity to be saved. This gospel takes us back to the beginning. The two requirements are, “fear God and given Him glory.” This is what many Gentiles were commanded to do in other dispensations.
It will be obvious to the open mind and anointed eye that more than one gospel in found in Scripture. A right division of the Word of God is necessary in order to distinguish between these gospels and place them in their proper dispensations.
May God help us to not be stubborn like the mule or resistant to the truth like the ostrich. May God grant us grace to be like those at Berea. Let us search the Scriptures and see if these things are so. If they are, then lets admit it and preach the truth. If what we have said is error, then we must abandon it and admit our mistake. Regardless of our conclusion, let us not be like the ostrich and hide from the truth.