The Gospel of Christ

When Paul began his letter to the Romans, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ” (1:16), he didn’t mean the gospel about Christ but the gospel Christ Himself preached as evident by how he ended his letter, “the preaching of Jesus Christ” (16:25). The true gospel message, the message that saves, is the message the Savior Himself preached. Paul’s entire letter of Romans is defining and explaining the gospel Christ preached. Salvation or eternal life isn’t according to our beliefs but according to our actions, “Who will render to every man according to his deeds [actions]: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life” (2:6-7). “I know thy works [actions]” (Rev 2:2,9,13,19,3:1,8,15), “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work [actions] shall be” (Rev 22:12).

Jesus Christ preached, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil” (Mat 5:17), “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets” (Mat 7:12). That “this is” the law and the prophets is that this one commandment of doing good is the satisfying of all that was required in the law and the prophets. With regards to the requirements of the Old Covenant law, there’s a distinction between the moral and the formal, the righteous and the ritualistic. There’s no change in what’s morally and righteously required of God’s people from the Old Covenant to the New—Christ preached the same righteous standard. What changed is the formal and ritualistic from which Christ set us free, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free” (Gal 5:1).

In Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, He said nothing of believing but everything of obeying. He began the main portion by declaring, “That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Mat 5:20). If we don’t live righteously according to the standard He taught in this Sermon, then in no case, without exceptions, will we enter His Kingdom. Toward the end of His Sermon, “And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity [anomia 458]” (Mat 7:23), “you lawbreakers!” (NET), “you who practice lawlessness!” (NKJV). The Greek anomia is contempt, transgression, or violation of law. And He ended His Sermon with, “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them … And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not” (Mat 7:24,26). It’s simple—if we do what He commanded we’ll be saved, but if we don’t we won’t be, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them … But he that heareth, and doeth not” (Luk 6:46,47,49).

Jesus Christ preached that we must fulfil the righteousness of the law: “I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil” (Mat 5:17); “That except your righteousness” (5:20); “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness” (6:33); “this is the law and the prophets” (7:12). And this was Paul’s gospel: “Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law … if it fulfil the law” (Rom 2:26-27); “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us” (8:4); “for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law … love is the fulfilling of the law” (13:8,10).

Jesus Christ preached faithfulness to Him as Lord: “Who then is a faithful and wise servant” (Mat 24:45); “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things” (Mat 25:21); “Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little” (Luk 19:17); “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much” (Luk 16:10). And He preached that unfaithful servants will perish, “The lord of that servant … shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites” (Mat 24:50,51), “And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness” (Mat 25:30). But to convey a different gospel message, throughout the New Testament the Greek noun [pistis 4102] and verb [pisteuo 4100] have been translated as “faith” and “believe” respectively, rather than “faithfulness” and “trust.” But Abraham isn’t our example of faith but of faithfulness: “because thou hast obeyed my voice” (Gen 22:18); “Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws” (Gen 26:5); “So then they which be of faith [faithfulness] are blessed with faithful Abraham” (Gal 3:9). Furthermore, not even once were the early Christians called “believers,” but translations have been fudged to read that way: “All the believers were together” (Act 2:44 NIV); “All the believers were one in heart and mind” (4:32); “And all the believers used to meet together” (5:12).

The gospel of Christ is obedience to Him: “But they have not all obeyed the gospel” (Rom 10:16); “that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2Th 1:8); “he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb 5:9).

This Gospel of the Kingdom

When asked by His disciples, “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Mat 24:3), Christ’s first response was “Take heed that no man deceive you” (v. 4). His coming and the end of the world would be preceded by a vast amount of deception. But since He gave fair warning to “take heed,” therefore if we’re deceived and perish, it will be on us. And the deceivers will be many, “For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (v. 5). They’ll be the predominant voices teaching the Scriptures. That they’re saying “I am Christ” isn’t that they’ll be claiming to be the Christ themselves. Rather, they’ll be coming in His name, confessing that He is the Christ and epitomizing sheep completely, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Mat 7:15). There will be many and they will be extremely effective. We’ve been warned.

The Protestant message of sola fide or “faith alone” being preached in the world today isn’t the message Jesus Christ preached: “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom” (Mat 4:23); “And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom” (Mat 9:35); “Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God” (Mar 1:14); “I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also” (Luk 4:43). And it’s being taught that when Jesus foretold “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Mat 24:14), that this is being fulfilled by all the missionaries going out preaching sola fide to all people groups. But that’s not true. It’s “this gospel of the kingdom” that must be preached in all the world—the gospel of the kingdom Christ preached.

Christ’s gospel that “shall be preached in all the world for a witness [martyrion 3142] unto all nations,” will be fulfilled by His two witnesses, “And I will give power unto my two witnesses [martys 3144], and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth” (Rev 11:3). They’ll be prophets of God, “these two prophets” (v. 10), with miraculous power reminiscent of Elijah and Moses, “These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will” (v. 6). And it will take miracles of this caliber to get people to listen to the true gospel message of the kingdom.

The miracles, signs, and wonders worked by Jesus Christ and His apostles confirmed they were speaking for God and preaching the true gospel message: “the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me” (Jhn 5:36); “the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me” (Jhn 10:25); “believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him” (Jhn 10:38); “believe me for the very works’ sake” (Jhn 14:11); “Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you” (Act 2:22); “preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following” (Mar 16:20); “Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds” (2Co 12:12); “confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost” (Heb 2:3-4). It was the working of miracles that enabled the apostles to evangelize the world with the true gospel message.

Paul foretold of a time when people would be deceived to such an extent that they wouldn’t listen to the truth, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables [mythos 3454]” (2Ti 4:3-4). We’re now living in that time. People won’t listen to sound doctrine because they’re in bondage to the myths that God is three Persons, salvation is by faith, and that their hope is heaven.

Just before the end, however, two prophets of God will preach the true gospel to all the world, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world.” They’ll preach that we must live righteously to enter the kingdom, “That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Mat 5:20), that we must do what we’ve heard Christ command, “whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them … every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not” (Mat 7:24,26), “For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified” (Rom 2:13), “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only” (Jas 1:22). They will preach “this gospel of the kingdom.”

Trust and Obey

Salvation has always been by trusting and obeying God. The Greek noun pistis and verb pisteuo appear some 250 times each in the New Testament but have been mistranslated as “faith” and “believe” respectively rather than “faithfulness” and “trust.” We’re not saved by believing some facts are true but by trusting and obeying the one true God—Him being the God of our lives.

Many times God’s people were told to keep His commandments: “And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments” (Exo 20:6; Deu 5:10); “Therefore shall ye keep my commandments” (Lev 22:31); “If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them” (Lev 26:3); “That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God” (Num 15:40); “Ye shall diligently keep the commandments of the LORD your God” (Deu 6:17); “Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments” (Deu 7:11); “Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God” (Deu 8:6).

It’s taught today, however, that God’s people couldn’t keep His commandments and neither can we because we all were born with a sin nature inherited from Adam. But that’s simply false doctrine that keeps us from obeying and being saved. Jesus Christ Himself taught that we must live according to the righteous standard He taught or we won’t be saved: “For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Mat 5:20), “And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (7:23); “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them … And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not” (7:24,26).

The gospel isn’t only to be believed but also obeyed: “But they have not all obeyed the gospel” (Rom 10:16); “And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb 5:9); “There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy” (Jas 4:12); “And this is his commandment, That we should believe [trust] on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment” (1Jo 3:23).

It’s taught today that Abraham is our example of faith but Paul taught his trust in God and faithfulness to Him, “Even as Abraham believed [trusted] God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness … So then they which be of faith [faithfulness] are blessed with faithful Abraham” (Gal 3:6,9). And God Himself commended his obedience, “And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice” (Gen 22:18), “Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws” (Gen 26:5).

Paul taught that to be counted righteous as Abraham, “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed [trusted] God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness” (Rom 4:3), we must trust God as he did, “Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe [trust] on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead” (Rom 4:23-24). This is what he meant later in his letter, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe [trust] in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Rom 10:9). It isn’t just believing the resurrection happened but trusting in God who made it happen, “Who by him do believe [trust] in God, that raised him up from the dead” (1Pe 1:21).

It was for lack of trust that God’s people were destroyed, “And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed [trusted] not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief [distrust].” (Heb 3:18-19), “the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed [trusted] not” (Jde 1:5).

Salvation is ultimately about the one true God being the God of our lives: “I will be their God” (Gen 17:8; Jer 24:7,32:38; Eze 11:20,37:23; Zec 8:8); “will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Jer 31:33); “And they shall be my people, and I will be their God” (Jer 32:38); “ye shall be my people, and I will be your God” (Eze 36:28); “I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Eze 37:27); “I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (2Co 6:16); “I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people” (Heb 8:10); “God is not ashamed to be called their God” (Heb 11:16); “they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God” (Rev 21:3); “I will be his God, and he shall be my son” (Rev 21:7). And being the God of our lives means that we trust Him to provide for us, protect us, and defend us, and that we obey the commandments of His Son Jesus Christ.