In the multi-part series entitled “The Gospel”, Iain MacMillan begins by asking an all-important question: Do we correctly understand the term “gospel” as used in the Scriptures? There are those who cavalierly speak and write about “the gospel of Jesus Christ”; however, has it been correctly defined by the Holy Scriptures, or manipulated and superseded by persuasive and blinding theological systems? Therefore, the overarching emphasis in this series determines how the Scriptures contextually define the gospel.
Another important question to ask and grasp is, how did Jesus Christ Himself define the gospel? The first words that Jesus spoke as presented in Mark in chapter 1 concern the proclamation of it, thereby underscoring its importance.
14Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel."
Many teach that there are many “gospels”; for example, Jesus preached one gospel and Paul another. However, when Paul confronted those preaching “another gospel”, he vehemently asserted that there is only ONE gospel. With apostolic authority, Paul wrote that if anyone proclaims a different gospel than he had preached, “let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:6-10). Paul affirms in the following two verses that the gospel he preached is the SAME gospel received by revelation from Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:11-12)!
What is the gospel? This certainly will be an eye-opener for most; it is the same gospel that Abraham believed and Paul preached.
“8And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "In you shall all the nations be blessed. 9So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer” (Galatians 3:8-9).
God’s promised blessing extends to “those who are of faith”. What is the content of their faith in this context? The same promise that God promised to Abraham, the believer. So, why is it necessary to believe in Jesus Christ?
Abraham’s “seed” is the conduit through which God’s promise to him (and to those believing the same promise by faith) is realized; and that “seed” is Jesus Christ.
“16Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as referring to many, but rather to one, ‘And to your seed,’ that is, Christ. 17What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise. 18For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God granted it to Abraham by means of a promise” (Galatians 3:16-18).
Paul’s conclusion is that “so that the promise [of inheritance] by faith in Jesus Christ [Abraham’s seed] might be given to those who believe [in God’s promise to Abraham]” (Galatians 3:22).
Thus, it is good news that God raised the “seed”, Jesus Christ from the dead:
“1Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2by which also you are saved, IF you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. 3For I delivered to you among first things what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
Indeed, the same good news (or “gospel”) was proclaimed to the redeemed prior to Pentecost as after Pentecost. Referring to the Israelites, the author of Hebrews states,
“For indeed we have had good news preached to us, JUST AS THEY ALSO; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard” (Hebrews 4:2).
Writing to “all who are beloved of God in Rome, called saints” (Romans 1:7), Paul states, “I am eager to preach the gospel TO YOU who are in Rome” (Romans 1:15).
Thus, it is vitally important to determine to whom the gospel is preached and who comprise the “lost” who are “found”.
Several other important topics concerning the gospel will also be discussed in this multi-part series.
PDF notes are available for each lesson.