Christians talk of the ‘Gospel’ as the message about Jesus Christ and how we can be saved from our sins through Him. We talk of a Gospel Meeting, preaching the Gospel, a Gospel Choir, and so on.
The original word for Gospel means ‘good news’. And the news about eternal salvation through Christ is very good news.
A perennial challenge in Christianity is distortion or change to the Gospel message. This even happened in New Testament times. The Apostle Paul warned about people preaching ‘another gospel’.
“I marvel at how quickly you are turning away from the one who called you by the grace of Christ to a different gospel, which is not even good news. Evidently some people are troubling you and trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.” Galatians 1:6,7
One perversion of the gospel is the idea that people need to put their faith in Christ AND do something else. ‘Christ AND …’ is a common idea, even though people don’t say it that way. What you will hear is comment that a Christian needs to do this or that to remain a Christian. This might be to attend church regularly, pray, read the Bible, get baptised, be circumcised, dress the right way, believe a particular set of beliefs and so on.
This is a perverted gospel because it suggests that Christ has not done enough through His death and resurrection, or that we save ourselves by adding to what Christ did.
The true Gospel message is that Christ has done it all for us and our part is to put faith in Christ. That transformation saves us from our sins and makes us God’s child. From that starting point we simply live with Jesus as Lord and with faith in God. All the ‘Christian’ things others demand that we do are just living out our faith, not part of the ‘gospel’.
Another serious perversion of the Gospel is to make it a Gospel of Salvation rather than the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. Let me explain.
The Gospel that Jesus preached was the Gospel of the Kingdom.
“Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in the synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness.” Matthew 9:35
“After that John was imprisoned Jesus entered Galilee preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God” Mark 1:14
Jesus declared He was sent by God to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom.
“Jesus told them, I must preach the gospel of the kingdom of God to other towns as well, for that is why I was sent.” Luke 4:43
The Apostles preached that same gospel, the Gospel of the Kingdom.
“Paul remained two full years in his own rented house, welcoming all who came to visit him. He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ with boldness and freedom.” Acts 28:31
The Gospel of the Kingdom is to be preached right up until the end of time.
“This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations; and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:14
So it is clear that the good news is about God’s Kingdom, not about us getting a ticket out of hell, or getting to live a wonderfully blessed life, or anything else that is self-focused.
Jesus brought the Kingdom of God, which includes wonderful blessings for those who enter the Kingdom. But the good news is about the Kingdom, not about us.
Today there is much emphasis on the gospel as a good deal, offered as if by some marketing company. “You’d be foolish to miss out on the blessings Jesus offers.” “Make your life better by giving all your burdens to God.”
With that focus people are inclined to come to God to get from Him, rather than to enter into His Kingdom and His service. Salvation, forgiveness, healing, adoption into God’s family, peace, joy and love are all wonderful blessings. However they are the results of entering God’s Kingdom.
In God’s Kingdom God is King. God’s power and love overcome sin and satan and give us new life. In God’s Kingdom we live for eternity with complete freedom from the kingdom of darkness.
We don’t go to God’s Kingdom to buy something to take with us back into the the world or into the dark kingdom. We leave the world, satan’s realm and our sin and enter the Kingdom of God. We have a complete change of citizenship. We are no longer of this world, but of the Kingdom.
Sadly, many Christians want the best of God’s Kingdom, as an extension on their self-centred life in the world. They want a gospel that promises them great blessing, but they also want freedom to do their own thing and go their own way.
That is a perversion of the gospel. The true good news is that when we escape into God’s Kingdom we are free from sin, satan, eternal judgment, shame, defeat and so on. But it’s not something we can buy to enhance our life. It involves us choosing the Kingdom of God and living forever in that Kingdom, with Jesus as Lord and with active faith in God.
Friends, I invite you to confirm with God that you receive the good news of God’s wonderful Kingdom and that you enter it by faith in Christ. Recognise that you have become a new kind of citizen and that your life is now all about God’s Kingdom, not about you and what you want in life. God’s Kingdom will carry you into eternal blessings.
Commit yourself today to the true gospel Christ preached – the Gospel of the Kingdom.