"Gospel Preached in Whole World?"
"And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come" (Mt.24:14).
Gary DeMar writes,"Since the Bible clearly states that that gospel 'was proclaimed in all creation under heaven' (Col.1:23), then the end spoken of by Jesus is a past event for us. Earlier in his letter to the Colossians,Paul describes how the gospel was 'constantly bearing fruit and increasing in all the world [kosmos] (1:6)" (DeMar,Last Days Madness, 87).
Gary DeMar confuses the "gospel of the kingdom" with the "gospel of grace". It was the "gospel of grace" that went to all the world and not the "gospel of the kingdom":
"The word of the truth of the gospel; Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth" (Col 1:5,6).
Evidently Gary DeMar is not aware of the fact that throughout the Acts period two different gospels were being preached--one to the Jews (gospel of the circumcision) and one to the Gentiles (gospel of the uncircumcision). The central message of "gospel of the kingdom" was the same as the "gospel of the circumcision":
"But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter" (Gal.1:7).
The burden of the "gospel of the kingdom" was the announcement of the approach of the rule of heaven upon the earth and the Kingship of its Lord--the rule of God which would be manifested in and through the Christ. John the Baptist proclaimed:
"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Mt.3:2).
He also said that he came baptizing with water so "that He might be revealed to Israel" (Jn.1:31). After seeing the spirit descending on the Lord Jesus the Baptist said,"and I saw, and bore witness that this is the Son of God" (Jn.1:34).
The announcement that the kingdom was near at hand would naturally lead the Jew to expect that the Christ would be revealed and this was the meaning of the Baptist's words:
"I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance. but He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit, and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and He will throughly purge His floor, and gather His wheat into the garner; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire" (Mt.3:11-12).
The Lord Jesus Himself made it plain that salvation among the Jews depended on their recognizing His "identity":
"And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins" (Jn.8:23-24).
After the leaders of the nation of Israel plotted His death the Lord Jesus told His disciples not to make Him known:
"Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him. But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all; And charged them that they should not make him known" (Mt.12:14-16).
The Lord Jesus knew that the Jews would receive another chance to believe in Him after His crucifixion. While upon the Cross the Lord Jesus prayed to the Father, saying"Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Lk.23:34).
On the day of Pentecost Peter told these same Jews that they crucified Him "through ignorance." He also used the facts concerning His death and resurrection in order to prove that He is the promised Messiah and then he summed up his discourse by saying:
"Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:6).
The heart and soul of the "gospel of the kingdom" is the fact that it is the Lord Jesus Who is the "Christ, the Son of God".
Later, after hearing the gospel preached the Ethiopian treasurer asked to be baptized with water: "And Philip said, If thou believeth with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God" (Acts 8:37).
After Paul was converted, the first thing that he did was to preach this same gospel in the synagogues of the Jews: "And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God...proving that this is the very Christ" (Acts 9:20,22).
That was the same gospel which Paul continued to preach to the Jews: "And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ" (Acts 17:2,30).
That is the same message that Apollos preached to the Jews: "For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus is Christ" (Acts 18:28).
The Apostle John makes it clear that those who believed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, are "born of God":
"Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him...For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?" (1 Jn.5:1,4,5).
"But as many as received Him, to them gave he power to become the children of God, even to them that believe on His name: Who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (Jn.1:12,13).
This explains why the Lord Jesus would tell Peter that he was "blessed" for believing that He is "the Christ, the Son of the Living God". The Lord asked Peter who he thought that He was, and Peter replied:
"Thou are the Christ, the Son of the Living God. And Jesus answered and said unto Him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it to you, but my Father Who is in heaven" (Mt.16:16,17).
So we can clearly see that the central message that was preached to the Jews is the fact that it is Jesus Who is the Christ, the Son of God.
Gospel of Grace
The "gospel of the kingdom" was a gospel that was based entirely upon prophecy. When Paul was arrested and charged with being "a mover of sedition among all the Jews" (Acts 24:5) he defended himself by saying that the message he was preaching among the Jews was based on no other things but that which the prophets said would happen:
"I continue to this day, witnessing both to small and unto great,saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come:That Christ should suffer, and that He should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should show light unto the people, and unto the Gentiles" (Acts 26:23).
However, the gospel that was preached to all the world was a message that was a "mystery" or something that had been kept secret and had not been revealed by the prophets:
"Now to him that is of power to establish you according to my gospel, even the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began...made known to all nations for the obedience of faith" (Ro.16:25,26).
The "mystery" that was kept secret concerns the "purpose" of the death of the Messiah upon the Cross. This mystery was not made known while the Lord Jesus walked the earth as witnessed by the words of Paul:
"But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the ages unto our glory; Which none of the princes of this age knew;for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory" (1 Cor.2:7,8).
Paul says that "God's grace" is the "mystery": "Surely you have heard about the administration of God's grace that was given to me for you, that is,the mystery made known to me by revelation" (Eph.3:2,3; NIV).
The gospel that went to the whole world was centered on the "purpose" of the redemption provided by the Lord Jesus when He was crucified and this gospel is the "gospel of grace":
"Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Ro.3:24).
The message that Paul was preaching to the Gentiles and that went out to the whole world cannot be preached apart from the "purpose" of His death.
"God...hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation...and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation" (2Cor.5:18,19).
"And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death" (Col.1:20-22).
"For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son" (Ro.5:10).
"Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you...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" (1 Cor.15:1-4).
The Acts record will be searched in vain for even one instance where the "purpose" of the Lord's death upon the Cross was preached to the Jews. Again, the central message which they received during the Acts period was centered on the fact that it is Jesus Who is the Christ, the Son of God.
"That gospel which I preach among the Gentiles"
There can be no doubt that Paul was preaching two different gospels during the Acts period. He recounts how he went to the Jerusalem church in order to see if he had run in vain for preaching a gospel that was different from that gospel that was being preached to the Jews:
"And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain" (Gal.2:2).
If there was only one gospel then Paul would not have singled out a gospel which he preached to the Gentiles. After all, he had been with the other Apostles earlier while he preached a gospel to the Jews (Acts 9:28,29) so if there was only one gospel then Paul would have had any doubts as to whether or not he had been running in vain. After explaining the gospel which he preached to the Gentiles to the other Apostles he said that they "added nothing to me" (v.6) and that "they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter" (v.7).
Speaking of Paul's two different ministries, Sir Robert Anderson says "to the Gentiles he preached a gospel which he had received by special revelation. And the specific purpose of his third visit to Jerusalem was to communicate that gospel to the other Apostles. (Galatians 2: 2) In writing to Timothy he speaks of it as 'the gospel of the glory of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.' It was the precious deposit which, on the eve of his martyrdom, he handed back, as it were, to the God who had entrusted it to him. (2 Timothy 1: 12) And this is the 'My gospel,' of the postscript to his Epistle to the Romans. (Romans 16:25,26)" (Anderson,Forgotten Truths,26).
At another place we see Paul once again singling out the Gentiles as receiving a different message than the one the Jews received:
"Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col.1:26,27).
Here Paul is speaking of the "the riches" that flow from the gospel of grace,and during the Acts period it was only preached to the Gentiles. Also, during the Acts period only the churches which Paul founded received the preaching in regard to the "dispensation of the mystery", but after that period had ended all believers were told of the mystery (the unsearchable riches of Christ):
"Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to make all men see what is the dispensation of the mystery which for ages hath been hid in God who created all things" (Eph.3:8.9; ASV).
Therefore the Scriptures reveal that the gospel which was preached to the whole world during the time of Paul was the "gospel of grace" and not the "gospel of the kingdom", as Gary DeMar asserts.
The Circumstances Surrounding Paul's Receiving of the "Gospel of Grace"
When Paul received the gospel that he preached among the Gentiles the circumstances were entirely different from the circumstances when he received the gospel that he preached to the Jews.He says: "But when it pleased God...to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the Gentiles; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus" (Gal.1:15-17).
As soon as Paul received the "gospel of grace" he "immediately" went to Arabia and he did not confer with other men. But that is not what happened when he received the gospel which he preached to the Jews in the synagogues:
"And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Spirit. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. And immediately he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God" (Acts 9:17-20).
As soon as Paul was saved and received the gospel that he preached to the Jews he did not go immediately into Arabia. Instead, he remained in Damascus "certain days" while he preached Christ to the Jews in the synagogues. Although the Scriptures do not reveal exactly when Paul received the "gospel of grace" he could have received it after he went to Tarsus (Acts 9:30). The evidence demonstrates that Paul received the "gospel of grace" some time after he received the gospel he preached to the Jews, and the Lord told Paul when he was converted that He would receive other revelations later (Acts 26:16).
"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" (Gal.1:8).
Here Paul was addressing the churches in Galatia which he had founded, churches established by the "gospel of grace". He knew that the "gospel of circumcision" was not going to be preached to them because he had agreed with those who had received the "apostleship of the circumcision" (Gal.2:8) that they would confine their preaching to the Jews:
"And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision" (Gal.2:9).
Therefore Paul was not saying anything that ruled out the idea that more than one gospel was preached during the Acts period.
Romans 1:16: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek" (Ro.1:16).
Those who deny that there were two different gospels quote Romans 1: 16 and say that the "gospel of Christ" was preached to both the Jews and the Gentiles and therefore they received the same gospel. However, the Greek word translated "gospel" means "glad tidings" or "good news".
The Jews indeed received "glad tidings of Christ" as did the Gentiles. But that does not mean that the "glad tidings" was the same in both instances. The glad tidings of Christ preached to the Jews was the fact that it is Jesus Who is the Christ, the Son of God. The glad tidings preached to the Gentiles is the fact that when they were enemies of God, Jesus Christ died for their sins (Ro.5:8-10).
Indeed, glad tidings to both groups, but not the same glad tidings.