Question: I am on radio across the nation and teach the Bible at Atlanta Bible College. I think that your “Nonnegotiable Gospel” is open to grave objections. I write this to be constructive. Please do give me a hearing. The definition of the Gospel is the one area where we cannot afford to get it wrong. To define the Gospel you launch into Paul...! It was Jesus who first preached the Gospel...it was exclusively about the Kingdom of God for some 25 chapters (in the synoptics)....The Great Commission mandates that all the things Jesus taught as Gospel be taken to the nations....Paul was indeed following the Great Commission and continuing to preach the Kingdom Gospel just as Jesus had. But your Paul is in violation of the Commission if he omitted to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom....Paul obviously did not deviate an inch from the Kingdom Gospel (Acts:19:8; 20:25; 28:23,31) ...1 Corinthians:15:1-3 is deceptively used by evangelicals to set Paul against Jesus. Paul said that the death and resurrection were most important parts (en protois) of the Gospel—he did not say it was the whole Gospel....1 Corinthians 15 is only an extremely compressed summary of some of the main points that Paul preached....Please do let me know why you choose to overlook the Gospel preaching of the historical Jesus in your definition of the Gospel.
Response: You fault me for not including “the gospel of the kingdom” in the booklet “The Nonnegotiable Gospel,” but you don’t explain what it is that I have left out. You say that 1 Corinthians:15:1-4 presents only “some of the main points” of the gospel that Paul preached, but you neither explain what the other points are nor tell me where Paul taught or preached them. Furthermore, Paul’s language there is very clear: “I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved...”(vv 1-2). Any reasonable person could only conclude that what follows is indeed the gospel Paul preached—not “some of the main points.”
The verses you cite (Acts:19:8;20:25; 28:23, 31) indicate that Paul preached the “kingdom of God,” but none of them even mentions that there is a special “gospel of the kingdom” or declares any other means of entering that kingdom than Jesus presented to Nicodemus: being born again through faith in Christ who died for our sins upon the cross.
Yes, in the Gospels Christ is said to preach the gospel of the kingdom, but nowhere is that gospel explained better than in His discourse to Nicodemus. Christ makes it very clear that the new birth through faith in His death for our sins is the only means of entering the Kingdom—exactly what Paul preached and what I state in “The Nonnegotiable Gospel.”
You say that “Paul obviously did not deviate an inch from the Kingdom Gospel.” I agree. Consequently, we should be able to find the full gospel in what Paul preached. Paul makes that gospel abundantly clear. In his Epistle to the Galatians he denounces anyone who preaches any other gospel than he has preached, but he does not call it “the gospel of the kingdom.” We find nothing in that entire epistle to cause us to believe that the gospel he preached and defended is anything other than Christ presented to Nicodemus and Paul explains to the Corinthians through- out that epistle, to the Ephesians (2:8-10, etc.) and in his other epistles.
The gospel is declared numbers of times as we follow Paul preaching it through the Acts. The same gospel is presented by Peter to the Jews from Pentecost on, including to the rabbis and to Cornelius and his household. Yet we find no special “gospel of the kingdom” mentioned anywhere. Consistently the gospel presented is that which Paul not only explains to the Corinthians in the passage which you claim is incomplete, but argues so thoroughly in his Epistle to the Romans. He goes into great detail in his treatise on “the gospel of God” to the Romans to show exactly how we are saved by grace through faith in the death and resurrection of Christ and that this is the only basis upon which a righteous God can forgive sinners.
Are you saying that—in this entire epistle in which Paul argues for the necessity of the gospel for our salvation—he fails to include some of the essential ingredients? Hardly! Yet the phrase “gospel of the kingdom” isn’t to be found in Romans. Where did he explain this gospel which you say he always preached and I have neglected?
Are you also saying that the gospel in my booklet is defective for lack of some vital “kingdom” ingredient without which souls cannot be saved? The gospel is “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Rom:1:16). If you know something that I have left out which souls must believe to be saved, then by all means tell me what it is! This is not a theological argument between us but involves the eternal destiny of souls, so we dare not be mistaken.