Thursday, June 2, 2016

What is the gospel and to whom was it first preached? Could the gospel have been preached before the death and resurrection of Lord Jesus Christ?

This Question was posed on Quora by myself to see if anybody really knew the truth. For months nobody seemed to be able to answer it. There were comments asking for the question to be more fully explained because it was too vague. How deceived are the majority? How deceived are the religionists/philosophers/book-read theorists/lightweight academics who like to make out they are know-it-alls on Quora? Nevertheless, I answered the question myself. 
What is the gospel and to whom was it first preached?
Could the gospel have been preached before the death and resurrection of Lord Jesus Christ?
Most people would probably say that the gospel was first preached by Jesus of Nazareth. Others may say that this could only occur after Jesus had been raised from the dead.
Some may even suggest that John the Baptist preached the Gospel. These people would see the Gospel as repentance from dead works, faith towards God and baptism in the Holy Spirit, since this is what Peter preached at Pentecost.
John the Baptist preaching:
  • Therefore produce fruit worthy of repentance! Don’t think to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father,’ for I tell you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. “Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees. Therefore every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit is cut down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you in water for repentance, but he who comes after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will thoroughly cleanse his threshing floor. He will gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn up with unquenchable fire.” (Matthew 3:8–12)
The Apostle Peter preaching:
  • Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all who are far off, even as many as the Lord our God will call to himself.” (Acts 2:38–39)
What John the Baptist and the Apostle Peter said is similar in terms of repentance, baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit. The difference is John the Baptist was talking to hypocrites and spoke about them losing what they thought they had before the foundation of the world (grace alone—unmerited favor—is insufficient, a response is required). The Apostle Peter speaks about the promise that is to be received and was speaking to people after the resurrection and ascension of Lord Jesus Christ.
The Apostle Paul went further and said that the Gospel was not just a matter of being baptized in water and receiving the Holy Spirit but that this was an act of faith (the assurance/substance of things hoped for and the conviction/evidence of things unseen—Hebrews 11:1) that had been secured by Abraham. Paul writes:
  • He therefore who supplies the Spirit to you, and does miracles among you, does he do it by the works of the law, or by hearing of faith? Even as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness.” Know therefore that those who are of faith, the same are children of Abraham. The Scripture,foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the [Gospel] beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you all the nations will be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed with the faithful Abraham. For as many as are of the works of the law are under a curse. For it is written, “Cursed is everyone who doesn’t continue in all things that are written in the book of the law, to do them.” Now that no man is justified by the law before God is evident, for, “The righteous will live by faith.” The law is not of faith, but, “The man who does them will live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us. For it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree,” that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Christ Jesus; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (Galatians 3:5–14)
The Gospel is about the death and resurrection of Lord Jesus Christ, because without Him the good news would not exist. However, the Gospel is the good news that everybody who has faith in God’s promise is to be blessed because of the Son of God, Lord Jesus Christ. When God first spoke to Abraham, the good news (the Gospel) that was preached to him was about the blessing.
  • Now Yahweh said to Abram, “Leave your country, and your relatives, and your father’s house, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation. I will bless you and make your name great. You will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you. All the families of the earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:1–3)
The quote from Galatians 3:8 (In you all the nations will be blessed) appears to have come from when Abraham had passed the test of being willing to sacrifice Isaac on the basis that God will raise the dead by providing the Lamb that is to be sacrificed, so all human beings could have the option of life:
  • After these things, God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” He said, “Here I am.” He said, “Now take your son, your only son, whom you love, even Isaac, and go into the land of Moriah. Offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains which I will tell you of.”…. Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. He took in his hand the fire and the knife. They both went together. Isaac spoke to Abraham his father, and said, “My father?” He said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Here is the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they both went together…. Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and saw that behind him was a ram caught in the thicket by his horns. Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering instead of his son. Abraham called the name of that place Yahweh Will Provide. As it is said to this day, “On Yahweh’s mountain, it will be provided.” (Genesis 22:1–14)
  • All the nations of the earth will be blessed by your offspring, because you have obeyed my voice.” (Genesis 22:18)
The Gospel is the good news. The good news is that there is something better available than being born to die. There is a hope that transcends the way of this world into we are born—which is bondage to corruption (Romans 8:20–21). Abraham was given this good news when he first heard from God. For he was told that all the families of the Earth were to be blessed through him—the implication being that a better hope was available, life for evermore.

The Gospel was first preached to Abraham when God first spoke to him and he responded and obeyed God’s voice. The Gospel message is that all will be blessed and overcome futility through faith in the death and resurrection of Lord Jesus Christ, the offspring of Abraham. Faith without works, or not producing fruit of faithfulness, is not faith at all; for only those who are righteous through faith shall share in the promises of Abraham. The essential message has not changed, merely that this is now manifested by receiving the promise of the Holy Spirit through faith—the guarantee of our inheritance until we take possession of it. (Ephesians 1:11–14)

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