The Full Gospel

The Gospel that Paul told is sometimes contrasted with the Gospel that Jesus told. Frequently with Paul, in his epistles, we see a discussion and an emphasis on the death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins. And of course, this is a correct interpretation of the Gospel.

But at times that is contrasted with the Gospel that Jesus told. He spoke, routinely, of the Gospel of the Kingdom. Jesus preached and told parables about the Kingdom of God, and so there is an impression left to some that Jesus and Paul were speaking about different things.

But in fact, that is not the case. I think, instead, that we can often read the scriptures the way that we want and determine them to say what we think they should say instead of having them say what they say.

As I look at 1 Corinthians 15, I see that Paul is telling the Corinthians, whom he has been correcting and reprimanding, to come into unity as one body under the headship of Christ, and now he is going to remind them of the Gospel that should unite them. Paul starts with Christ’s death for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus takes the punishment upon himself and receives both the blows and the death that we deserve upon himself.

But the story doesn’t end there. Jesus is raised from the dead. He comes alive again. He defeats death, and he says that we, as those who follow him, will one day do the same. We will also be able to defeat death and we will live together with him forever.

And it is this last part that I want to focus on today. Paul continues in his recitation of the Gospel, talking about Christ’s return. He says that Jesus will return and the Father will put all things under Christ. Jesus is already the King, even if not everyone recognizes him as King. Yet there will be a day that will come when everyone will bow, because they must. Here is what Paul says:

For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.

1 Corinthians 15:22-28

The Gospel is not limited to the death of Christ. Nor is it limited to the resurrection of Christ. Those are extremely important elements because the death of Christ speaks to the purchasing of the people away from the kingdom of darkness to come into the kingdom of God. Jesus does this with his blood, and without paying that penalty none of us would be able to enter the Kingdom of God.

In addition, Jesus is resurrected from the dead and that is also a critical part of the Gospel because without Christ rising first from the dead, we would go on to continue also in our death without having a new life in Christ. So we also place our faith in Christ so that we can one day rise from the dead.

We see, though, in this scripture, that Christ will return, and when he does, all things will be placed under his feet. Jesus will reign as King. Everything will be under him. This is the Gospel of the Kingdom, the Good News that all evil will be wiped away. The Good News that there will be one King over all and we will serve him. The Good News that all things will come under the authority of Christ, to praise him and worship him and he will receive glory forever. This is the Good News, the Gospel of the Kingdom. This is the completeness of the Gospel, the synthesis of what Jesus seemed to have emphasized and what Paul seemed to have emphasized, the Gospel that Paul is explaining to the Corinthians is a full Gospel to explain how Christ has come for us and we will be his people, living within his Kingdom, forever.

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