The Gospel and Jesus Christ

In the previous post we have seen that the gospel (that is “good news”) is identified, for example, by Mark:

Mark 1:15
and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

The message, that “the Kingdom of God is near”, therefore, is THE GOSPEL or GOOD NEWS – and everything else is commentary.

Of course, you will find people that claim that there is more than one gospel, such as

1. the gospel of the Kingdom
2. the gospel of Christ

Their claim, however, cannot stand because you can clearly see from the verses quoted in the initial post that the gospel of the Kingdom IS the gospel of God, which was preached by John the Baptist, Jesus, the disciples and the apostles and also Paul, and it is also called the gospel of Christ. There is no other gospel. It is about God bringing about the Kingdom preceded by His judgment upon the world, from which judgment sinners had to be saved from, hence the urgency of the message.

What were required when this message was heard?

1. Belief – if you didn’t believe the Kingdom was near there was no need to worry about the impending judgment
2. Repentance – since the Kingdom is preceded by the Day of Judgment, from which the righteous would either be physically saved (hence the extensive us of “saved” in the NT) or be resurrected in the Kingdom (hence saved in the spiritual sense), you must repent.
3. Faith toward God – repentance is not genuine if you continue in your old ways, so obedience is required

Now we need to investigate the implications of Jesus’ death and resurrection on the cross.

In ancient times people were aware of what is called corporate guilt. It means people shared in the guilt of their leaders. A wicked king made a whole nation guilty and bring God’s wrath upon them all. One example of corporate guilt is in Isa 53. I bet you have to look hard to find a Christian bible that correctly translates this verse:

Isa 53:5
But He was pierced because of our transgressions,
crushed because of our iniquities;
punishment for our peace was on Him,
and we are healed by His wounds.

The above is from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, and this is how Jews translate the passage. You may also notice that in the NT, when a passage talks about Jesus dying “for” our sins, the NRSV has the alternate reading in the footnotes: “because of”. Corporate guilt.

The leaders of the Jews and Romans collaborated and unjustly executed God’s Anointed, hence, God’s wrath was upon both the Jews and Gentiles. This is the reason Jesus’ death and resurrection is preached on Pentecost and the Jews are frightened to death. It is not only that they killed God’s chosen One, for the Jews in the past killed the prophets as well, but God also RAISED him from the dead, and he is going to deliver the merciless wrath of God upon the world – now that is very frightening stuff for a Jew:

Acts 2:
32 “This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses.
33 “Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.
34 “For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says:
‘THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD,
“SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND,
35 UNTIL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR YOUR FEET.“‘
36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ — this Jesus whom YOU crucified.”
37 Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?”

Corporate guilt. They are frightened. God’s wrath is upon them. Have a look what Peter says, and this is the proof that his epistle was written BEFORE 70 AD:

1 Peter 4:17
For it is time for judg­ment to begin with the house­hold of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the out­come for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

There was this expectation that the judgment of God was imminent.

From Pentecost this message of Jesus accompanied the gospel of God:

Romans 16:25
Now to Him who is able to estab­lish you accord­ing to my gospel and the preach­ing of Jesus Christ, accord­ing to the rev­e­la­tion of the mys­tery which has been kept secret for long ages past,

What about Paul’s definition of the gospel then?

1Cor 15:
1 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand,
2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,

Again, the “for” is a translation coming from theology. The correct one is “because”.

Paul is not giving a definition of the gospel here. He simply says, that he preached the gospel of God to the Corinthians, and on the top of it he also delivered to them what he ALSO RECEIVED. He did not witness Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, this was taught to him by the apostles. He received from Jesus the commission to preach the gospel of God at his conversion:

Acts 20:
24 “But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.
25 “And now, behold, I know that all of you, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, will no longer see my face.

Paul was commissioned by the risen Jesus himself to preach the good news about the Kingdom.

So we have established that in the first century the good news, that the Kingdom was near, was preached. From Pentecost Jesus’ death and resurrection was also preached in addition because people had a choice to make. They either identified with their leaders, hence sharing in their crime, or repented from their crime.

The gospel of God could no longer be preached once Jerusalem was destroyed. You cannot have the Kingdom when the Jewish people do not live in their land. The Kingdom offer was thus withdrawn, and its miraculous manifestations (miracle healings, prophecies, speaking in tongues and interpretations) ceased at once. These miraculous signs might return once the time of the Kingdom draws near again, but then we shall see God raising up another prophet to turn Israel again to Himself.

What you need to consider is how long corporate guilt applies for, once those that committed the crime are dead. Can you be held accountable for the crimes committed by the leaders of your country that are no longer alive? What if that empire ceased to exist altogether? Can you preach the old message?

Or what is left, is the very same message that has been shining through the times – repentance and faith toward God now coupled with the call that He opened the way to Gentiles to join His people.

Then we can receive the teaching of the EFFECT of Jesus’ death and resurrection, the message of the new MANKIND created in him, that will become reality in the Kingdom, when all the righteous that died will be risen in a newly created imperishable body, and those alive will change. This is how Messiah removes sin from the world. In that glorified body you cannot sin. Until then we have the responsibility to live righteously.

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