A visitor who had downloaded my excerpt sent me a question asking what, exactly, this “Gospel You’ve Never Heard” was. The excerpt covers the first two chapters, which are really intended only to show why how the message most people are told is “The Gospel” appears to chafe against everything Matthew, Mark, and Luke actually present.
It is impossible to read, for example, the gospel of Matthew and come away thinking “I need to go tell everyone about Jesus to save them from the hellfire that all are, by default, deserving of.” That notion,which one would expect to find stated in no uncertain terms, is not only completely absent but would appear totally unnatural when placed next to the teachings of Christ Matthew included. Whatever “the gospel” is that Matthew is trying to get across, it certain is not that.
So, what is TGYNH?The answer is best understood by understanding the state of God’s people in the centuries leading up to Christ. Too often people present a 4-stop gospel that starts in the Garden of Eden, jumps amazingly (and absurdly) to Christ on the Cross, then skips to when a believer comes to faith, and ends at its 4th stop where the believer is pictured in heaven. You won’t find anything like that portrayed by the writers of the gospel narratives, nor will you find it in the evangelism describes at length in Acts, exactly where you would expect to find such a message were it correct.Rather than jumping from the Garden to Christ on a cross, we should look at the conditions of Israel during the time when the Messiah was prophesied. A reading of the prophets who foretold the Christ’s coming and the kingdom He would create describe in detail what was wrong with Israel and Judah:
- People had turned away from God. In this they acted as their ancestors. Indeed, from the beginning, humans have shown an inability to be faithful to God on a large scale. There were certainly righteous people here and there, but as a nation Israel had failed to remain faithful.
- Special blame was placed on the rulers, the priests, and the false prophets. The rulers were blamed for failing to model righteousness, instead leading their subjects to faithlessness. The priests were blamed for misconstruing and abusing God’s Law for their own personal gain. The false prophets were blamed for telling people it was okay not to repent because they were God’s people and God would be kind to them even if they sinned.
- This behavior provoked God to allow first Israel and eventually Judah to be captured and enslaved. This caused even more problems because those who captured them mistreated them, causing God’s anger to burn against all creation, both Israel and the Gentiles.
- To make matters worse, part of the punishment against Israel/Judah was to harden them, making them less able to repent until God’s wrath had been assuaged over time.
- The behavior of Israel, and God’s punishment of them, had failed to convince others to worship the Living God. Rather than being a light to the nations, the Gentiles blasphemed the Living God, assuming the fate of Israel was due to their God not having any power.
Given all the above, God declares the coming of a new era, an epoch in which all the above would be dealt with:
- God’s people would strengthen the spirit of believers so that they would no longer find it so impossible to remain faithful to God.
- The unfaithful rulers would be replaced by a righteous Lord, who would be given power over all creation.
- The corrupt priests would be replaced by a righteous High Priest.
- The teachers who had warped God’s law by self-aggrandizing interpretations and the false prophets would all be put to shame because God would write God’s Will upon our hearts. As Matthew says “We have one Rabbi.” As Jeremiah writes, “I will write My Law upon their hearts… and no man will have teach his neighbor to know God, for they will all know me, from the least to the greatest.”
- The cup of wrath that burned against all creation [setting it up for another total destruction] as well as the cup of wrath that had made Israel drunk, unable to repent, would be downed by Christ, not only saving creation but drawing people to repent.
- God would remove the wall of division between Jew and Gentile, allowing anyone to join the kingdom of the Almighty.
Now, for many of you, the above might cause you to scratch your heads, saying “That’s all true, but that’s not the gospel.” To understand why exactly the above is truly “Good News,” (and why what you probably have heard instead has no foundation in scripture or apostolic evangelism), you should grab a copy of the book.