The word “gospel” can be translated “good message” good news.” We may define, therefore, the whole bible as the gospel of Jesus Christ.
When Jesus Christ arose from the dead, He appeared to the apostles and made the following important statement: “…These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.” (Luke 24:44). That is old testament-Moses, the prophets, and the psalms. Therefore, Jesus put His seal of approval on the Old Testament as reliable and accurate. The Old Testament proclaimed Jesus’ coming the New Testament documents that Jesus did come to accomplish the perfect will of the Father, and makes the prophetic claim that He is coming again.
Let us now consider the gospel in three parts:
- The Gospel of History
- The Gospel of Salvation
- The Gospel of Prophecy
THE GOSPEL OF HISTORY
Jesus presents indisputable proof of the accuracy of the Old Testament. He pronounces judgment upon the religious authority in Jerusalem, who violated the truth of the Old Testament with these words: “29 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, 30 And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. 31 Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. 32 Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. 33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? 34 ¶ Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: 35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. 36 Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. 37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! 37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matthew 23:29-38). Those who were entrusted with the ministry of the old covenant were unmercifully exposed as being in the wrong.
Note that Jesus goes way back, past Israel’s beginnings to Abel and Cain. Thereby He confirms scripture beginning with Genesis, all the way through the Old Testament to Zechariah.
He goes one step further, laying charge to the religious authority for the killing of righteous Abel to the prophet Zechariah. He is revealing that the evil spirits that caused Cain to kill his brother Abel is the same one that caused the religious authority to kill Zechariah. What would be the end result? The end of the city of Jerusalem, including the holy Temple. The destruction would be so sever that not one stone would be found intact upon another. “And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” (Matthew 24:2). This prophecy came true in 70 A.D., when the Roman legion recaptured Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple. Until this very day, the Jews vent to find a stone upon another that belongs to the Temple, but in vain. That is precise documented history. As confirmed by many sources, including archaeologist.
STEPHEN DOCUMENTS THE GOSPEL OF HISTORY
Stephen in his lengthy dense recalls Israel’s beginnings, starting with Abraham. He summarizes several important events in the history of Israel. Such as the 400-years bondage in Egypt. Then he includes his testimony with a strong accusation, echoing the words of Jesus: “51 ¶ Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. 52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:” (Acts 7:51-52).
PAUL TESTIFY OF THE GOSPEL OF HISTORY
During his first missionary journey recorded in Acts 13, we find the Apostle Paul preaching the gospel of history from the Old Testament to the “men of Israel” in Antioch. He documents Israel’s history and demonstrates that Jesus is the fulfillment. He mentions David as a clear pointer to the Holy One-Jesus the Christ: “God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David. Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption. Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets;” (Acts 13:33-40).
When Paul returned from his missionary journey he was arrested in Jerusalem, and again he uses the Old Testament to confirm Israel’s history in Acts 23. Clearly, the gospel of history was confirmed repeatedly throughout the New Testament.
THE GOSPEL OF SALVATION
The central message of the bible is the gospel of salvation. To be precise, eternal salvation obtained through faith in the accomplished work of Jesus, resulting in the rebirth. That was impossible under the old Covenant. The priestly service and the sacrifice could at most temporarily cover the sins of the people. The gospel of salvation of the New Covenant, however, is something totally new: it causes the eradication of sin. It is not based on the keeping of the and the repeated sacrifice, but it is based on the ultimate payment for sin, namely the blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Hebrew 10:4 testifies: “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.” Speaking of Jesus, Hebrew 10: 12 says: “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;” with His act of self-sacrifiec, He took away our sins, as recorded in 1 John 3:5 “And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.”
That is the distinct difference between the Old and New Covenant. The old Covenant presented the possibility for the people of Israel to have their sins covered with the blood of the sacrifice, but the new Covenant is based on the blood of the sinless One as the full payment for the sins of the entire world. This New Covenant takes away sin.
To Nicodemus, Jesus made this statement: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3-5).
The old nature, that is, the old man, cannot enter into the Kingdom. The bible says, “Flesh and blood cannot enter the kingdom of God.” Only the new substance, the new spiritual person is able to enter into the kingdom of God.
So how can this new birth be obtained? The answer is almost too simple: it is through faith in the accomplished work of Jesus Christ our Lord: “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,” (Eph. 1: 13).
Jesus makes it crystal clear that there is nothing in believing and unbelieving, being born again of the Spirit of God and not being born again of the Spirit of God: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (John 3:36). That is the gospel of salvation. It was accomplished exclusively and alone by the sinless One, the Lord Jesus Christ.
THE GOSPEL OF PROPHECY
The bible stands alone when compared with other religious writings. Its uniqueness can be described with one word: prophecy. What is prophecy? In simple terms, it is predicting the future. Prophets of the bible predicted events that would transpire thousands of years later. What is even more astonishing is that a number of prophets, inspired by Holy Spirit, would prophecy at various times, separated by hundreds of years, yet precisely proclaim the same event.
The greatest even in all of history was the appearance of JESUS CHRIST, the Son of God. When we study the Old Testament in detail, we will find that the events surrounding the birth of Christ- the birth-place, the time, the infancy, the manhood, the teaching, the character, career, preaching, reception, rejection, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension-were prophesied hundreds of years before Jesus Christ was born.
How different it with the bible. Let us look at a few examples:
- The savior would be born of the seed of a woman (Genesis 3: 15). That prophecy was made approximately 6,000 years ago.
- Moses speaks of the coming Messiah: “I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.” (Deut. 18:18). Luke 7: 16 speak of the fulfillment: “And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited his people.”
- Psalm 2:7 prophecies: “I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.” Matthew 3:17 confirms the fulfillment: “And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
- The psalms give details about Jesus crucifixion. Psalm 22:1 speaks of Him being forsaken by God: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?” In verse 7, we read of people shaking their heads at Him; verses 7-8 report of scoring and mocking, in verse 15, the Messiah suffers thirst. Verse 18 reports that soldiers will gamble for His clothes. In psalm 31: 5, Jesus commits Himself to God. Psalm 34: 20 says that none of His bones are to be broken. Psalm 35: 11 speaks of Him being accused by false witness. Psalm 38: 11 tells of friends who look at Him from a distance. In psalm 41: 9, a friend betrays Him.
There are an overwhelming number of prophecies regarding Jesus of Nazareth in Old Testament, and we find their fulfillment in the New Testament.
- About 740 years before Jesus was born, we read of virgin birth: “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 714).
- Looking at Isaiah 53, we have a report of the Messiah being smitten and spat upon, not believed by the people, rejected, wounded, and bruised, yet He was silent before His accusers. He died between two criminals, yet He was buried in a tomb of a rich man.
- The place of Jesus’ birth “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” (Micah 5:2).
- The prophet Isaiah also speaks of the supernatural works the Messiah would accomplish: “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.” (Isaiah 35:5-6). Jesus Himself confirmed this scripture in Matthew 11:5: “The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.”
These few citations should suffice to show the truth of the prophetic word of the old testament, fulfilled by Jesus Christ our Lord. That is the gospel of prophecy.
It is important to emphasize that the prophets-who spoke of Jesus’ coming, His miraculous birth, supernatural works, and death on Calvary’s cross and subsequent resurrection on the third day-did not know each other. They were inspired by Holy Spirit, prophesying during different times, but always identifying the same person, Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
THE JEWS AND ISRAEL
While the fulfillment OF PROPHESY CONCERNING THE Messiah took place almost 2,000 years ago, we have the fulfillment of prophecies in our days as well. Let us take a look at the prophet Ezekiel, who wrote about the dispersion and the return of the Jewish people to the land of Israel.
Here is a quotation written almost 600 yeas before Christ: “And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country.” (Ezekiel 34:23). Note that the country is clearly identified-Israel. The fulfillment of such prophecy was out of question for over 2,000 years. The Jews were dispersed into all the nations of the world, and the return to the land of Israel was all but impossible.
Even if the Jews had gone back to the land of Israel, they would have found a desert-like place, agriculturally unproductive; in short, they would have starved. Thus, the Lord God had to prepare the land for the people. Here the prophet proclaims: “But ye, O mountains of Israel, ye shall shoot forth your branches, and yield your fruit to my people of Israel; for they are at hand to come.” (Ezekiel 36:8). That was written approximately 2,597 years ago!
Today, when we go as tourists to the land of Israel, we can testhify to the fulfillment of the prophetic word: “And the desolate land shall be tilled, whereas it lay desolate in the sight of all that passed by. And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are become fenced, and are inhabited.” (Ezekiel 36:34-35). No one can deny that Israel has turned an agriculturally unproductive land into an abundantly producing agricultural farmland. Today, Israel is producing food to feed over 7 1/2 millions people.
THE PROMISED LAND
The controversy over the land of Israel is unprecedented in history. While nearly all nations of the world conquered their land by violence and force, thereby establishing their borders, Israel is totally different. They, too, conquered the land from those who publicly declared their intention to cast the Jews into the Mediterranean. Yet they were not permitted to take advantage of the spoils of their victories. This never happened in all of history. This is fulfillment of bible prophecy!
Here is what the prophet Joel wrote in about 800 B.C.: “For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land.” (Joel 3:1-2).
Notice very carefully the word “Judah,” “Jerusalem,” “all nations” and Israel,” quite apparently, God does not recognize the name Palestine, but the whole ld does. We have to take this literally. It says, “I will gather all nations.” It does not say some nations, certain groups of people, but “all nations.” What are these nations doing? They are parting the land of Israel. They do not recognize Jerusalem as the Jewish capital city of the land of Israel. Neither does any nation in the world recognize the borders of the land of Israel, as set forth in the bible. The nations are cutting up the land of Israel and designating parts of it to Israel, and other parts as “Israeli-occupied territory.” Not one single nation agrees wit the unconditional covenant God made with Abraham and his descendants. “In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:” (Gene. 15:18). We must point out the Lord God does not say, “In some future day I will give you this land,” but already at the time He said, “Unto thy seed have I given this land.” From God perspective, the land between the Euphrates River and the river of Egypt is Israel. That means much of the land of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt is “Arab-occupied Israel territory”! That is the gospel of prophecy.
THE CHURCH AND ISRAEL
We cannot separate Israel from the gospel, because church of Jesus chartist is organically connected to the land of Israel. This is evidenced in Romans 11, where the Apostle Paul, inspired by Holy Spirit, specifically addresses the Gentiles, “For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:” (verse 13). Then he warns the believers: “Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again.” (Verses 18-23). Never must we forget that our roots are in the Israel.
Someone may now object and say that Israel does not believe in Jesus Christ as their MESSIAH. That indeed is true, but read verse 28: “As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes.”
Tow distance identifies are revealed: the church and Israel. The relationship is clearly defined in verse 25: “…blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” What is the fullness of the Gentiles? The completion of the church of Jesus Christ on earth! Jesus Himself stated, “I will build my church.” This church is not manifested by any denomination, organization or movement. The church Jesus speaks of consists exclusively of born-again believers who make up His body; that is His only true church.
When the last one from among the Gentiles is added to that church, then the fullness has come in and the church collectively will be reputed into the presence of the Lord, as documented for us in 1 Thess. 4:16-17: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
A FALSE GOSPEL
Whenever and wherever you attend a church and the threefold Gospel is not presented, then you are not receiving God’s full counsel as revealed in the bible. The true gospel incorporates the gospel of history, the gospel of salvation and the gospel of prophecy. The imitation gospel will leave out the gospel of prophecy because it is inconvenient. After all, who wants to hear about the end of the world, judgment, bloodshed, destruction, etc.? That message is not popular in many churches, and therefore is conveniently left out.
The Apostle Paul warns of the false gospel in 2 COR. 11:4: “For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.” This clearly demonstrates another Jesus, another spirit and another gospel. But this false gospel is a dangerous one. Quite simply, it will lead to eternal damnation.
We must not forget that the enemies of the Jews and of the Land of Israel are the enemies of the gospel as well. That is why the devil himself transforms into an angel of light: “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.” (2 Cor. 11:13-15).
Satan’s success lies in his ability to dissert the message of the Gospel. He loves to present a message of love, understanding, cooperation and peace for all people, but deliberately leaves out the gospel of prophecy. Jesus said, “Salvation of the Jews,” and that salvation was accomplished in Israel outside the walls of Jerusalem, where He hung dying on the cross and cried out, “it is finished.” The gospel of prophecy says that He will come to the very same place from which He will come again to Israel, to Jerusalem. To be precise, He will come to the very simple place from which He ascended into Heaven: the Mount of Olives. That is the reason why all nations of the world oppose Israel claim to the whole city of Jerusalem.