Which Gospel?

by Pastor Cornelius R. Stam

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A friend asks: “Have you heard the good news?” and you reply: “What good news?” Naturally! All good news is not the same. Yet few people follow this procedure when they read in the Bible the phrase “the gospel” — which simply means “the good news.” They have been taught that “the gospel is the gospel” and “there is only one gospel,” but this is simply not so in the light of the Bible itself.

God has not proclaimed only one gospel, one item of good news, down through the ages, but many. He has qualified the word “gospel” by distinctive titles, just as a woman labels her preserves to distinguish the different goodies she has put up for the winter.

The “gospel of the kingdom” and the “gospel of the grace of God” are not the same, and certainly the “gospel of the circumcision” and the “gospel of the uncircumcision” are not the same.

When we come upon the phrase “the gospel” without any qualifying title, we should immediately ask: “Which gospel?” and invariably the context will provide the answer. Luke 9:6, for example, simply states that the twelve disciples went about “preaching the gospel,” but Verse 2 of the same chapter explains how the Lord had sent them “to preach the kingdom of God” — not the cross, but the kingdom, since He, the King, was in their midst. These disciples could not have engaged in “the preaching of the cross,” as Paul later did, for it was not until at least two years later that the Lord “began” to tell them how He must suffer and die (Matt. 16:21) and Peter “began to rebuke Him” (Ver. 22) and none of the twelve even understood what He was talking about (Luke 18:34).

But whereas “the gospel of the kingdom” had been committed to the twelve while Christ was on earth, “the preaching of the cross” (as good news) and “the gospel of the grace of God” was later committed to the Apostle Paul and to us (1 Cor. 1:18; Acts 20:24).

Today we do not proclaim the kingdom rights of Christ. Rather we proclaim “redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7).

To the Reader:

Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:

"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."

To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.

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