Monday, November 27, 2006

The Gospel… is there more than one?

The Gospel… is there more than one?

Many go to the writings of Paul to teach what the Gospel is… in that there is nothing wrong, yet, I have found many times that these seem to have a certain bend to what they call the Gospel.

Some seem to even imply that there is only the Gospel of Jesus and that being his death burial and resurrection. Again, I do not see that as anything “wrong”, yet I see it is much more than that…To say that was all there was reduces the reality we now have… the Kingdom at hand.

“And this Gospel of the Kingdom”

Jesus came and began preaching. We read in Matthew Jesus was teaching to watch out about false teachers and that a greater treachery would come. I am not going to go into the “desolation of abomination” because I am focused on the one phrase…

“And this Gospel of the Kingdom”

Jesus was preaching a Gospel… in that one must either believe that Jesus preached one Gospel and Paul another…as it seem some teach, yet I see that Paul’s gospel fits right in the Gospel that Jesus was bringing to us.

What was the Gospel of the Kingdom?

There is no way to adequately post all the intricate details that come with that question… so this will be a very brief and broad overview… For deeper reading I recommend N.T. Wright. In this I will be leaning heavily on his writings… Do not bother in telling me how Wright is all wrong about everything as I think he is contributing greatly with his insights… even if he may be off a bit here or there. To dismiss him would be a travesty.

The Gospel was not a new idea. In fact it was used by the Roman Empire to proclaim the new emperor.

NT Wright writes:

“In Paul’s day, the cult of Caesar was the fastest-growing religion in the Mediterranean world. In Rome itself the emperors did not claim full divine honors, but they did adopt the title “son of god”-the god in question being their recently deceased, and newly deified, predecessor. And in the provinces, from Greece and Turkey through the Middle East to Egypt, divinization was standard. The people had worshiped rulers before; why shouldn’t Augustus and his successors, with their extraordinary powers, receive the same divine honors?
So the imperial cult grew. Its “good news” was that Caesar, the son of God, was now the lord of the whole world, claiming allegiance from everybody in return for bringing salvation and justice to the world. Resistance was met with crucifixion. The system was based on sheer power.”

So the idea of a “Gospel” was not something new with Paul… or with Jesus… It was however directly subversive to proclaim another Gospel… as it was to say that Caesar was not divine, nor truly Lord… nor that his kingdom of supreme… With that Jesus proclaimed His Gospel in the face of Caesar and in defiance of Rome. Again, this was subversive and a political declaration of something greater that the Roman Empire… and that was the return of God and His Theocracy. The Gospel of Mark begins with the very proclamation,

Mark 1:1. The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Originally God wanted to be King of Israel, yet Israel rejected God and chose Saul. Yet, at the appointed time God, through Jesus came to proclaim His Kingdom and would restore all things to Himself.

That was the Gospel of the Kingdom. This is the Gospel of Jesus and of Paul. The Gospel did not change as it went from Jesus to Paul, but kept complete continuity. This Gospel was what Paul proclaimed as he said: “every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.” (Rom 14:12) This was also in the proclamation of Caesar as it was demanded to obey Caesar or die.

In that continued Gospel it finds it’s fullness in Christ. Paul by revelation gives us insight to what Jesus taught of Himself… “Matthew 16: 21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” Again, there is the continuity…

So we have the big picture… the Kingdom of God is now here… or as it is said, “at hand”. We also see the teaching of Jesus lines up with Paul.

We have one Gospel… it is not just about me… getting saved to go to heaven… though it is part of the story. Yet to stop there is to deny the Gospel in its fullness. The Gospel is the Proclamation that is taught in the Lord’s Prayer. “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matt 6:10)

That is the gospel… God’s Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven and in it we are part of the bigger picture. This is the Abrahamic promise in fulfillment. We gentiles have been blessed through the Jews… by Jesus… we are now blessed to be a blessing to the world!


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