What Is the True Gospel?
Our world is overloaded with confusion. How do we find our way through it? Of all things, we should be able to look to religion to point the way. Yet we find the same confusion there! Religion is plagued by all kinds of serious, fundamental disagreements.
Even within Christianity, there are a variety of different gospels: the gospel about Jesus Christ, the gospel of salvation, the gospel of grace, the gospel of the Kingdom, the social gospel, the Israel message—and many more. Confusion.
What is the true gospel? Even practicing Christians have lost it! And the gospel is everything! That’s what the entire message of the Bible is about!
Just how important is the gospel to you? And how important is it that you believe the true gospel?
To believe the gospel, you must know what it is. Do you know what the true gospel is, and can you prove it from your Bible?
A Double Curse!
The Apostle Paul knew the true gospel and preached it. And notice what he wrote to the people of God in Galatia: “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. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8-9). Paul pronounced a double curse on himself or any man, or even an angel, who preached any other gospel.
We have to know what the true gospel is. We do not want to follow the gospel of men whom God has double-cursed! It is extremely important to get this right! This subject affects our eternal lives.
What is the true gospel?
‘Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God’
Let’s look at one of the most inspiring introductions to any book in the Bible. It is one verse, just 12 words—yet it tells you so much about the true gospel. It should be enough to inspire you for the rest of your life!
Think about what this verse means to you: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1). Mark introduced “the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” It was not the message of a man, but the message Jesus Christ delivered. Understanding “the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” leaves you deeply inspired.
This is a wonderful introduction to Mark’s book—yet people don’t understand it because they don’t get beyond the deception of this world. You can prove to yourself that even speakers who are teaching a gospel have shredded this verse many times over!
Many preachers talk about what they call a “gospel” message. But do they preach “the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God”? That gospel is a message. It is not about the person of Christ—it is the message that Christ Himself brought to this world. Jesus delivered a message, and that message was not about Himself!
The gospel is the good news that Jesus Christ preached. A God came down from heaven to Earth, took a chance on losing His own eternal life, and died for our sins so we could be saved and could understand this precious truth! How tremendously important this subject is.
This is Christ’s message even now. This message fills your life with good news! It is no fantasy—it is real, true news. The true gospel is the best news this world has ever received! In fact, it is the only good news in this evil world—there is no other! If you understand these 12 words in Mark 1, they will give you joy, peace, happiness and excitement. The true gospel is greater than anything you can even imagine.
Yet this transcendent message has been lost! Most people do not understand it. Many seem to not want to understand it, to their own pain, suffering and shame. Why do most people turn away from it? Because the majority of people—throughout mankind’s history—have been deceived. They even killed Jesus Christ, who brought the message. And they killed Him because of that message! How do you explain that? People hated His message because they were terribly deceived—and to this day people still hate that message, as shocking as that may sound.
In Malachi 3:1, God prophesied that He would send “the messenger of the covenant.” That is talking about Jesus Christ. Christ was the messenger of the New Covenant. He brought the good news of the message of the New Testament. Christ was a messenger, and He wants us to focus on the message He brought. Yet millions of people believe a gospel that focuses on the person of Christ. That is where the deception lies: They don’t focus on what He said.
What kind of love does God have, that He would give His only begotten Son to this world, to let them kill Him so we could be a part of this gospel for all eternity? That love transcends anything we can imagine. It is the love of God!
In a world overflowing with bad news, the gospel is good news for you. You need to understand just what it is. What is it that God wants you to learn, that will fill your life with good news?
Father and Son
Read those words one more time: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Why does Mark mention the Son of God with the gospel? Isn’t “Jesus Christ” enough? No, it isn’t. You need “Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” That is not an embellishment—it is a critical understanding. We have to understand what this gospel is all about, and the Son of God is a truly important part of it!
If there is a Son of God, there must also be a Father.
To understand this truth, look at the Gospel of John. He begins by describing a time when only God and the Word existed. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). Notice, this verse mentions God and the Word, but it does not talk about Father and Son. If you put this together with other scriptures, you see that God became the Father, and the Word became the Son. Why? Because of a great master plan that God has, not only for His Son but also for all the billions of people who have ever lived—even those who, to this point, have never heard the name of Christ!
There was a point in history when the Word gave up His divinity and became a tiny cell, and God begat Him in Mary’s womb (John 1:14). At that point, the Word became the Son of the Father. There was Father and Son—there was family.
Why? What is that all about? It’s about you! It’s a plan for you and for me and for all mankind! “The gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God,” is about the God Family.
The Son Declared the Father
Notice verse 18 of John 1: “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” The world didn’t even know about God the Father until Jesus came to Earth and began declaring Him.
Why would Christ come and declare the Father? Because He is the Son, and His message was all about the Father and the Son. He brought a message about the God Family.
In John 12:49, Christ said, “I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.” Imagine Jesus Christ following His Father’s instructions like that!
In John 14:24, He said, “[T]he word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.” His message was from the Father, and it was about the God Family.
How many people understand that? How many even understand what Christ was teaching from the Father, and about the Father?
Here is where people make many mistakes. “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (Matthew 24:4-5). He wasn’t warning about many people claiming to be Christ. He was prophesying that many people would be talking about Christ! They say Jesus is the Christ—they preach a gospel about the person of Christ. But they ignore the good news that Christ brought! The true gospel, the real good news of Jesus Christ, is not about the person of Christ—yet that is exactly where Christianity goes off track. “Many shall come in my name,” Christ warned. Many have come with a message about Christ, and they have deceived many. This has happened, and it continues to happen.
Jesus didn’t come to declare Himself. He came to declare the Father, and the message of the Father about the God Family!
The Family of God!
Herbert W. Armstrong knew the Bible like few men on Earth ever have. Five months before he died, in the August 1985 edition of the Good News magazine, he addressed this very subject of the gospel of the Kingdom of God. “And what was that gospel message?” he wrote. “It was the news of the coming Kingdom of God. And what is the Kingdom of God? It is the divine Family of God, ruling all Earth’s nations with the government of God” (emphasis mine throughout).
How much do you know about the God Family? Most people are very confused about it. But the Bible’s teaching is quite plain.
The Bible reveals that the God Family is what will rule the entire Earth in the World Tomorrow. Jesus Christ will be King of kings and Lord of lords—the pre-eminent King and Lord over many kings and lords who will rule under Him (e.g. Revelation 19:16).
Jesus was born as a Son to God the Father. But though He is the firstborn Son, He is not to be the only Son—but “the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29). That is right—God’s saints “are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together”! (verses 16-17).
That is what the gospel is about! God is going to save billions of people and bring them into His Family, which began with the Father’s begettal of Christ.
Mr. Armstrong went on to say: “And God is a Kingdom! That is, the supreme divine Family that rules the universe!” It’s all about family!
In his booklet What Is the True Gospel?, Mr. Armstrong wrote, “Four things are necessary to constitute a kingdom,” or God’s Family, in this case: “1) the territory, with its specific location and definite boundary lines, with 2) a king or supreme ruler or governing agent, ruling over 3) subjects or citizens within that territorial jurisdiction, with 4) laws and form of government.” That is what it takes to make a kingdom—and that is what this Family is going to be in the World Tomorrow: a Family of God, or a Kingdom of God. Those two terms mean the same thing here.
“The Kingdom of God starts with a family relationship,” Mr. Armstrong wrote in that Good News article. “[F]irst, the physical human families, second, the one compacted-together Church, and, finally, when the Church is changed to immortality, the God Family—which is the Kingdom of God.”
The God Family is going to rule the Earth with Jesus Christ—and it will include the Spirit-begotten saints. Those who are called out now, before Christ returns, are going to rule with Him and God the Father for all eternity—in the God Family!
The true gospel reveals that you can enter the God Family today, in embryo, and be filled with the kind of love that God has for this world. And you can ultimately be born into God’s Family like Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was!
A Family Gospel
Now do you see why Mark introduced the true gospel with “Jesus Christ, the Son of God”? It is because the true gospel is a family gospel! It is about a family overflowing with a love beyond any you have ever seen in a family before—the kind of love where one member of the Godhead risked it all and died for all of our sins to give us a chance to be a part of the true good news.
Mr. Armstrong went on to write: “When Jesus was born human of the virgin Mary, He became the Son of God. He was ‘Immanuel’—God with us—God in mortal human flesh to make it possible for the rest of us humans to be born into the God Family!” (ibid). What act of love would ever equal that? What act of love has even come close? A God came to Earth and died for these lumps of clay that He created. That is love like you have never understood before if you don’t understand the real gospel of the Bible.
“But when Jesus was begotten in the womb of the virgin Mary, He was not, as all other humans, begotten by a human father, but by God the divine Father, by the power of God’s Spirit, which emanates from His very person,” Mr. Armstrong wrote. “When Jesus became adult, He set us the example of praying to His Father in heaven. He had become the Son of God. And so we have the divine family relationship—Father and Son. That is a family relationship!” (ibid). The Father and Son opened up that Family to all men who have ever lived! Why? Because God the Father and Christ the Son want a family!
“The Church will, then, become the actual born inheritors of the Kingdom of God, the divine Family,” Mr. Armstrong continued. “The Kingdom of God will then become the God Family, ruling the universe!” It’s all to become a family!
We can understand God’s love a lot better if we can understand a loving human family. That gives us good insight into it. But still, it strains the imagination to think about God’s Family of love.
In 1 Corinthians 15:19, the Apostle Paul wrote that if we have hope in this life only, we are of all men most miserable. You must have hope that goes beyond this life, or you’re going to be miserable! But if you have the hope that Christ offered in His message of good news, you will be filled with joy! Do you have hope in your life? Or are you miserable? God’s very elect have this hope, and all human beings on Earth have the opportunity to have that hope in their lives. But Satan has deceived them, and they have rejected it.
There is going to be a family! What does that mean to you? What does it mean to be able to be a member of the Family of God for all eternity?
Gloriously Good News!
“Satan is subtly destroying the human family relationship,” Mr. Armstrong continued. With the true gospel in mind, think about what is happening to family right now. Satan is destroying the human family relationship! This deceives people even more about God. That is why there is so much misery in this world: People don’t know the true gospel about God’s Family, and they are even destroying physical human family!
God is going to put an end to that destruction. That is part of the good news! As Mr. Armstrong wrote, “And in that happy World Tomorrow, mortal humans, taught and ruled by the God Family, will learn the joys and blessings of a healthy home-and-family relationship, with spiritual salvation and eternal life to look forward to” (ibid).
Jesus Christ wasn’t kidding. He wasn’t disseminating some wild fantasy. The Father and the Son are going to have a family of billions! How tragic that the whole world is blind to this truth! And how tremendous is the wonderful, wonderful truth of God!
The gospel is the good news of the coming Family of God ruling this world—a family that will administer the loving, self-sacrificing government of God.
Mark introduced this gospel by focusing on the good news message of “Jesus Christ, the Son of God”! That Son has a Father. And there are going to be billions of other sons brought into that Family!
Do You Believe Christ?
If you want to be a part of that good news, you have to believe what God says! Jesus Christ taught people that they had to believe the gospel! At that time, many did believe on Him. But astoundingly, many of those Jews who believed on Him (John 8:31) tried to kill Him! (verse 37). Why? “[Y]e seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you,” He explained. They wanted to kill Him because of His message!
Do you believe Christ? It is not enough to believe on the person of Christ. That is another gospel. To believe the true gospel, we have to believe Him! We have to believe His message. We must really work to build faith and believe what He said! That brings the happiness and joy into your life that every person on Earth ought to have—even now, this very minute!
People, even religious people—even people who believe on Christ—will do terrible things if the true gospel is not a part of them. They will even kill Jesus Christ!
But if you believe Him and you believe His gospel, you will have an unimaginably wonderful future that will stun you! It’s the most wonderful picture you could ever have in your mind! It is the true gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God!