Many Bible students assume that the word “gospel” refers to the same message each time it is used throughout the Bible. If that is so, why would the Bible use so many different titles for the same message? For instance:
Gospel of the Kingdom (Matt 4:23 KJV)
Gospel of the Grace of God (Eph 2:8-9 KJV)
Everlasting Gospel (Rev. 14:6 KJV)
The word “gospel” simply means “good news.” While all of God’s good news centers in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, not all of the gospel revelations contain the same information about him. Let’s examine the first two-the gospel of the kingdom and the gospel of the grace of God-to see if they are the same message.
THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM
The gospel of the kingdom is the message that John the Baptist, Christ in his earthly ministry, and Christ’s 12 apostles all preached:
” Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:1-2 KJV)
” Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17, 23 KJV)
” Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2:38 KJV)
The logical question is, “What did they mean by, the kingdom of heaven is at hand’?” This question must be answered in two parts:
1. The “kingdom of heaven” referred to the literal, physical, earthly, Davidic kingdom that God promised Israel throughout the Old Testament. Daniel 2:44 is just one of the many passages that speak of this kingdom:
“And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.” ( KJV)
2. The phrase “ at hand” simply meant that the time of fulfilling the prophecies concerning the kingdom of heaven was near.
The gospel of the kingdom was the good news that God was ready to fulfill his word to Israel concerning the promised Messiah who would sit on David’s throne in Jerusalem as monarch of planet Earth.
THE GOSPEL OF THE GRACE OF GOD
The gospel of the grace of God is found in the epistles of the Apostle Paul, written after the death and resurrection of Christ. The heart of this gospel is contained in the following verses:
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, ” (Romans 3:23-25 KJV)
” I (Paul) declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:” (I Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV)
The key elements of the gospel of the grace of God are the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This gospel is the good news that God provided a solution to man’s sin-the fully satisfying sacrifice of his Son on the cross.
The gospel of the kingdom did not contain information about Christ going to the cross to pay the sin debt of all mankind. Consider this: After the 12 disciples had already gone out preaching “the kingdom of God the gospel” (Luke 9:1-6 KJV), much later in Luke 18, Jesus tells them,
” Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. For he (Jesus) shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again. And they understood none of these things: ” (Luke 18: 31-34 KJV)
The gospel taught by the 12 disciples during the earthly ministry of Christ did not include the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ because they understood nothing about it.
Why is it important to know the difference between the gospel of the kingdom and the gospel of the grace of God? It is important because the salvation of your soul is at stake. There is eternal danger in mixing the two gospel messages together.
By what authority do you know which gospel to claim for today? As in all things concerning faith, let the Bible answer that critical question. Paul, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, gave the answer to the believers in Galatia when he wrote:
“ But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1: 6-8 KJV)
This warning applies to us all. The only gospel for today that has power to save a sinner from the penalty of sin and the wrath of God is the gospel preached by the Apostle Paul-the gospel of the grace of God. This is the message of the risen Lord Jesus Christ to all mankind today.