What we regularly hear preached as the Gospel is only half of the story of salvation. An examination of this topic has proven that there is actually good news (Greek definition) in a fuller sense than most Christians have ever dreamed! Now, in this end time of the Gospel Age, Bible research has revealed amazing clarity on this important doctrinethe lost message of the true Gospel has been found!
In Galatians 3:8 the Apostle Paul makes an astounding statement: "...foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed." That the Gospel message was presented in the Old Testament is not a generally appreciated concept, however, at the core of traditional Judaism is a belief based upon this Gospel preached to Abraham.
This belief is basically that Messiah will come and bless all humanity through Abraham's children or seed. This blessing will include not only the living, but in addition, through resurrection, all those who have died. What a beautiful Gospelpromising that all mankind would be blessed! Gen. 12:3, 22:15-18
Traditional Christianityversus Judaism
Which Gospel is Correct?
The traditional Christian teaching of the Gospel sees only a heavenly resurrection which is offered only to believers in Christ, while all others are condemned. The teaching of Judaism is more compassionate and encompassingincluding all men in a resurrection here upon the earth. The concepts of Judaism and traditional Christianity are both partially correct, but each separately is incomplete.
Judaism received its belief from God's own prophets, and we would indeed be presumptuous to ignore that testimony. Jesus, who was a Jew, never disputed the Gospel as preached to Abraham. Still, we must also acknowledge that Jesus taught that only faithful Christians will go to heaven. These two versions of the Gospel are not inharmonious. Judaism never learned about the Christian half of the Gospel, and Christianity forgot about the Judaism half, but both of these are true. By rightly dividing the word of truth, we learn that, to accept the complete Gospel message we must accept both versions.
We have found that the Gospel in its entirety is summarized in God's promise to Abraham: "...I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore... and in thy seed shall all nations be blessed..." (Gen. 22:18) What does this mean? Notice that it involves two distinct and separate parts: 1. Abraham's seed, and 2. all nations of earth.
The Apostle Paul defines this seed of promise: "If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise." (Gal. 3:29) This is the key to our understanding. It states that faithful Christians are counted by God as being Abraham's seed or children. It also states that because of this they become heirs according to the promise. What promise? The promise was that the seed would bless all others. Thus, if faithful Christians are the seed, God's eventual purpose for them is to bless all the nations of the earth, both the living and the dead. Herein is the harmonious concept of the two versions of the Gospel: 1. those who go to heaven will 2. bless those here upon earth!
Two Opportunities for Salvation
Both halves of the Gospel are required for scriptural harmony. Acts 15:14-17 clarifies this point: "God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name [the heavenly seed or stars of heaven]... After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof [the earthly seed or sand upon the seashore], and I will set it up; that the residue of men [all the nations of the earth] might seek after the Lord..."
God's plan of salvation is in progressive stages. The first half of the Gospel offers salvation now to the heavenly seedtrue Christians who will comprise the Church. The second half offers salvation through this heavenly seed to the remainder of mankindall the nations of the earth. The first of these nations will be the earthly seed of Abraham, the nation of Israel. Jesus confirms this thought in Luke 22:28-30: "Ye [the faithful disciples] are they which have continued with me in my temptations. And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; that ye may eat and drink at my table in my Kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel."
Paul also mentions two opportunities for salvation in 1Timothy 4:10 where he says "...we trust in the living God who is the Savior of all men, specially of those that believe." It is clear that Paul still had in mind the seed and all men as being the two parts of the Gospel because he says that salvation is: 1. for all men, and 2. especially for those that believe.
The New Testament states that the resurrection will be a two stage process. The Church of Christ will receive the first resurrection to heaven. (1 Thess. 4:16, Rev. 20: 5, 6) The second resurrection, to God's kingdom on earth, will be accomplished by Christ and his Church when they raise the remainder of mankind from the grave to a period of education and then judgment. God "hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom He hath ordained [Christ]; whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised him from the dead."
As death came by the first Adam, so life comes by Christ, the second Adam. Everything that mankind lost through being in the first Adam is to be restored to those who believe into the second Adam. "For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming." (1Cor. 15:20-23) When awakened, with the advantage of experience with evil, which Adam lacked, those who thankfully accept the redemption as God's gift may continue to live everlastingly on the original condition of obedience. Perfect obedience will be required, and perfect ability to obey will be provided under the righteous reign of the Prince of Peace.
Here is the salvation offered to the world. Many have adopted the erroneous idea that God placed our race on trial for life with the alternative of eternal torture, whereas nothing of the kind is even hinted at in the original penalty. Death, not eternal torment, was the penalty for sin.
As surely as Jesus died for all, they must all have the blessings and opportunities which he purchased with his own precious blood. Hence we should expect blessings in the Millennial age upon all those in their graves as well as upon those not in them. It is because of God's plan for their release that those in the grave are called prisoners of hope. Zech. 9:11, 12
Understanding the TrueGospelBrings Clarity
Enlightenment on the subject of the true Gospel and the hope it brings sheds light on frequently asked questions:
1. Why did God create theearth and mankind?God created men and angels because one of His primary attributes is love. True love generates the quality of giving. Therefore he formed the earth to be inhabited (Isaiah 45:18) by perfect human beings who would love and serve Him freely and to whom He would freely give blessing and life. This creation was not in vain. There will be harmony throughout all of God's creationwhen God's plan is complete. His word will "not return unto Him void but it shall accomplish that which He pleases..." Isaiah 55:11
2. What is God doing in the earth today?At present, the Lord has one primary plan being carried out at two levels. His ultimate goal is to bring all who have ever lived into harmonywith Him again. One part of accomplishing this goal is to permit evil to have full sway in the earth so that man will be fully able to see its painful results. Eccl. 1:13; 3:10 While this evil is being permitted, God is accomplishing the other aspect of his plandeveloping the Church of Christ. Having found too few Jews faithful at the first advent to constitute this Church, God is now "visiting the Gentiles to call out a people for His name." (Acts 15:14) These are experiencing a special testing which will prepare them to implement the resurrection of all others and to rule and teach them with righteous judgment. This people for His name will be those who have faithfully suffered with Christ. "For if we suffer [with Christ] we shall also reign with him..." These will be "priests of God and of Christ and shall reign with Him a thousand years." (Rev. 20:6) This reigning will be for the purpose of teaching and blessing all the nations of the earth. What a prospect! This is the very reason that James says God is selecting a people for His name: that "after this... the residue of men might seek after the Lord." (Acts 15:13-18) During Christ's reign of righteousness, mankind will be capable of making a free and intelligent choice between good and evilhaving experienced both.
3. What is the Gospel?There are two primary scriptures which explain the term Gospel. When the angel appeared to the shepherds at Jesus' birth, he declared: "Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:10-11 Acts 3:19 states that God "shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things [all that was lost in Adam], which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began." Thus, these two scriptures summarize the Gospel messagegood news to man that God's original plan has not failed, and that mankind will be restored to life and receive God's blessings eternally on a perfected earth. This is all to be accomplished by the promised seed.
4. Will the faithful of old be resurrected to heaven or earth?John the Baptist died before Jesus gave his life for the world. Jesus stated in Matthew 11:11 "among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greaterthan he." Our Lord's own words are stating that John will not be included in the first or heavenly resurrection! (Rev. 20:6) No, John instead will have part in a future resurrection right here on the earth. In fact, before the ransom sacrifice of Jesus, all of the ancient faithful were not offered, nor did they ever receive, a spiritual resurrection. They all looked forward to the Kingdom of God here upon the earth, with Jerusalem as its capital and Israel (the earthly seed) as the nation from which all blessings would flow to other people. Acts 7:5 clarifies this point that the promise made to Abraham was earthly: God "promised that He would give it [the land] to him for a possession." Although this promise is even now in process of fulfillment to Abraham's natural descendants, Israel, yet Abraham had not received the promise himself: "... none inheritance in it [the land], no, not so much as to set his foot on." Abraham will return from the grave in the earthly resurrection to receive the inheritance that was promised to him. This blessing cannot be fulfilled until the still higher heavenly promises concerning Christ and his Church are fulfilled. The Apostle Paul states of Abraham and all those of faith who lived before Christ: "These all died in faith, not having received [the fulfillment of] the promise, God having provided some better thing for us [the true Church], that they without us should not be made perfect." Heb. 11:13, 39, 40
5. Are all not Christian now lost forever?Certainly not! The purpose of the Church is to bless all those who are outside of the Church! God is not dealing with the world in general now. He is merely choosing out from among them those who will become members of the Church. After the Church is completely chosen and she becomes the bride of Christ during his second advent, then "the Spirit [Christ] and the bride [the Church] say Come; and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." Rev. 22:17
6. Will the Jews be saved?Israel as a nation has forever lost the opportunity of becoming the Church; but Israel never lost the opportunity for atonement with God in the earthly Kingdom. (Rom. 11:25-26) It is through the natural seed of Abraham, the Jew, that God plans to give His New Covenantto the rest of mankind. (Jer. 31:31-34) Israel is now reestablished as a nation among nations. Soon she will be the nation from whom the blessings will flow worldwidefor it is written that "Many nations shall come and say; Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord and to the house of the God of Jacob, and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths, for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem." (Micah 4:2-4) Likewise it is said, "Many people and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem and to pray before the Lord... In those days it shall come to pass that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you." Zech. 8:22, 23
7. When will these blessings be? At the birth of Jesus, the angels declared "peace on earth, goodwill toward men." (Luke 2:14) But the world is certainly not experiencing, nor has it ever experienced, this peace and goodwill. World conflict looms on the horizon and men's hearts are "failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on theearth." (Luke 21:26) Yes, all prophecies indicate that we are living in the time of the end when these terrible troubles in the earth will be unprecedented. But these troubles are also termed as birthpangs which will usher in God's peaceable Kingdom on earth. "... I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; and I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come." Haggai 2:6, 7
Our Lord taught his disciples to pray "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth..." (Matt. 6:10) Praise God that the complete Gospel, with blessings promised to the Christian, the Jew and the entire world is truly GOOD NEWS!