This article goes deeper into the differences between the 2 gospels in the New Testament.
IT’S WORTH CONSIDERING
If you haven’t read Part 1 of this series, I suggest you do so or today’s message won’t make much sense. It looked at the basic differences between the two Gospels in Scripture. Today we’ll look at some additional differences. Let’s start by looking at the messages and the recipients of each.
The two Gospels discussed in Part 1 are the earthly “Gospel of the Kingdom” and the heavenly “Gospel of the Grace of God.” The message of the Gospel of the Kingdom was simple and to the point: “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mt. 3:1-2; 4:17; 10:7). While this gospel didn’t include Jesus’ death and resurrection, Matthew 16:21 tells us that Jesus began to reveal their necessity to His disciples, but neither would happen until they had been preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom for some time. Peter’s response in verse 22 indicates that he (as well as the others) didn’t yet grasp the reality of the cross that awaited Jesus.
Peter was in good company. The Old Testament prophets spoke and wrote about the death and resurrection of Israel’s coming Messiah, but they didn’t understand the prophecies God had given them. Peter would go on to write that the prophecies weren’t for their benefit, but were for the benefit of those who would live “after the cross” (1 Peter 1:9-12). That’s us. By contrast, the Gospel of the Grace of God (the Gospel of Christ) says nothing about the Kingdom of Heaven. It was all about Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. This is the gospel we preach today.
Another clear difference between the two gospels is seen in the recipients of the messages. The Gospel of the Kingdom was preached exclusively to Israel as a nation. Remember, God chose the nation of Israel to be the vehicle through which He would make Himself known to all the other nations so they, too, would desire Him, follow Him and serve Him. Had the nation of Israel been obedient to its calling, God was ready to usher in the Kingdom of Heaven immediately. Israel, however, elevated itself as the recipient and keeper of the oracles of God and looked down on all the other nations instead of ministering to them. Israel’s disobedience culminated in the rejection of its own Messiah.
In Israel’s Millennial Kingdom, Israel, as a nation, will enjoy the privileged national status she forfeited by her former disobedience. Through God’s New Covenant with Israel, God will do for her what she couldn’t do for herself. He will give each of Israel’s members (true Israel, that is) a new heart and will put His Spirit within them, causing them to walk in His statutes (Ezek. 36:26-27). God’s covenantal promises which had been postponed will finally become reality. Jesus will have destroyed Israel’s enemies and God’s chosen people will finally possess all the land God had promised. However, before Israel can enjoy these blessings and become the spiritual leader of the world, she must repent of her rebellion, her idolatry, and her rejection of her God-appointed Messiah (Zech. 12-14). This is why the Gospel of the Kingdom was to go exclusively to the nation of Israel.
The Gospel of Christ, on the other hand, was to be preached to every creature on earth (Mk. 16:15). Don’t miss the fact that the Great Commission to go into all the world was given by Christ after His death and resurrection. He and the apostles were now preaching the gospel Paul defined in 1 Corinthians 15. They were to make disciples of all nations (Mt. 28:19). This included individual Jews who, by accepting Yeshua (Jesus) as their Messiah, would become part of the One New Man (Eph. 2:15)-the heavenly Church as revealed to Paul from heaven (Gal. 1:12).
AS I SEE IT
It’s important to pay attention to which gospel is being discussed as we study a passage of Scripture. For example, in Matthew 24:14 Jesus specified that “this gospel of the kingdom” must be preached to all nations before Israel’s Millennial Kingdom arrives. The word this implies that Jesus was referring to the same Gospel of the Kingdom that He and the apostles had been preaching. Jesus’ point was that the current age (prior to Jesus’ Second Coming) would end when the Gospel of the Kingdom had been preached to all nations. What was the message of that gospel? “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
The Bible states that many people will he saved during the Tribulation, and salvation comes only from believing the same gospel we preach today. But during the Great Tribulation, the Gospel of the Kingdom will also be preached. Before Christ’s death and resurrection, the Gospel of the Kingdom was to be preached exclusively to Israel, but in the 3-1/2-year Great Tribulation, it will be preached to all nations. But if the Gospel of Christ is the only gospel that brings salvation, why preach the Gospel of the Kingdom during those dark days? The answer is found in the same verse we have been studying:
“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come” (Mt. 24:14).
It is preached as a witness to all the nations. This is not an evangelical witness, but more like a witness for the prosecution to show how guilty they are and why they should repent. At that time, everyone will be under the authority of the Antichrist who is trying to establish his man-centered kingdom in defiance of God (Rev. 13:7-8). The message of “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” is God’s final warning that God’s kingdom is about to be established on earth and they can be part of it or be taken away to everlasting judgment. Their only hope is to repent. We know from Scripture that instead of repenting, they will gather their armies in an attempt to prevent Jesus from returning to establish God’s kingdom rule. It doesn’t end well for them.
I hope these two articles will cause you to look closer at every “kingdom” and “gospel” passage you encounter as you search the Scriptures. If you want to dig deeper in this area, I recommend THE SIGN OF HIS COMING, Understanding the Olivet Discourse by Renald Showers.
ON THE LIGHTER SIDE
We’ll be friends until we are old and senile. Then we’ll be new friends.
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