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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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    Are There Two Gospels in the New Testament?

    I just finished reading an article which had obviously been influenced by the idea that there are two distinct gospels in the New Testament. This insistence that there is a “gospel of the Kingdom,” which Jesus proclaimed to ethnic Jews, who rejected it insistently enough that they received a temporary retraction of the offer; and that this gospel is to be sharply distinguished from the gospel for the Church, as defined in I Corinthians 15:1-4; is a common Dispensational understanding (see Renald Showers’ book, There Really is a Difference, for an example of such argumentation). Frankly, this disturbs me greatly, first of all, because it makes nonsense of the whole tenor of New Testament teaching. If the “gospel of the Kingdom,” is a different gospel than that which is preached today, then why is this “gospel of the Kingdom,” which Jesus had been proclaiming throughout his ministry (e.g. Matthew 4:23, 9:25), the very same gospel that he said must be proclaimed in all the world before his return (Matthew 24:14)? Why is it that the apostles throughout the New Testament writings continued to proclaim this Kingdom-gospel (see Acts 20:24-25; 28:23, 30-31)? How can one justify adhering to a belief that is so eloquently argued against throughout the New Testament scriptures?

    But this blatant lack of scriptural legitimacy is not the only reason that this philosophy so deeply disturbs me. Following are several further reasons that I am so opposed to it.

    1. It minimizes the kingly glory of Christ

    First, in that it minimizes the nature of his Kingdom. The Dispensational “gospel of the kingdom” understanding is driven by an urge to see this Kingdom restricted to a thousand year earthly reign of Christ over his ethnic people, Israel. This is in contradiction to the New Testament teaching on the Kingdom, which indicates, first, that the Kingdom arrived with the coming of Christ (see, for example, Matthew 12:27-28, which clearly states that the Kingdom of God has actually arrived, to which reality Christ’s power over demons bears certain witness); second, that the Kingdom of God is not merely a physical entity that comes with observation (see Luke 17:20-21), but rather consists of “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17), as well as “power” which is presently displayed in the Church (I Corinthians 4:20); and finally, that we who have believed today are Kingdom-citizens (e.g. Colossians 1:13, and Revelation 1:5-6, 9). Now, consider well: if one were to deny a great king a vast portion of his subjects, and greatly restrict the bounds of his kingdom from what he had declared them to be, would he not be offering that king a sharp insult, and robbing him of his royal dignity? When done to the King of kings, this is no small matter.

    And second, in that it minimizes the present reality of his reign. For again, the Dispensationalists hold to this two-gospel idea so that they can say that Jesus is not now reigning, but he will in the future. However, the New Testament teaches us that when Jesus was raised from the dead, he ascended to the throne of David, is now reigning, and will reign until all things have been put under his feet (e.g. Acts 2:32-36; I Corinthians 15:20-28; Hebrews 1:8-9; Ephesians 1:18-23). This is not only an error, but a terrible slight against Jesus’ royal dignity.

    2. It minimizes the unity of Christ’s redemptive work

    In the gospels, we have a picture of Christ intent upon one purpose, namely the accomplishment of redemption; he is able to do nothing other than what the Father had planned for him in the pursuit of that accomplishment (e.g. John 5:19-20; 10:14-18; 17:1-10), and he is intentionally fulfilling all positive righteousness from the beginning of his ministry (e.g. Matthew 3:15), all the while resolutely setting his face to go to Jerusalem to fulfill likewise the passive righteousness of suffering for sins (e.g. Luke 9:51; Matthew 17:22-23). The Dispensational two-gospel idea, on the other hand, sees Jesus as offering a physical kingdom to the Jews, at first; and then, when he has been rejected, turning to accomplish a different work, namely, the purchase of our pardon on the cross.

    3. It robs us of our part in Christ’s work on earth.

    The effect that follows from our last observation, that Jesus was always intent upon his one redemptive purpose during his life on earth, is that we who have received his redemption have received the effects of his entire life’s work. This is absolutely vital for our eternal welfare, for we have need not just of forgiveness of sins, which Christ accomplished for us by suffering for our transgressions on the cross; but also, we have need of a positive righteousness, which Christ accomplished for us through his life of perfect obedience. If Jesus’ words and works were intended for the ethnic Jews, to offer to them a physical kingdom and to demonstrate his authority to make the offer, then we who are not ethnic Jews have no share in his accomplishments from this time period. And if we do not, we have no sufficient righteousness with which to approach the Father. Remember as well, that part of Jesus’ work in “bearing our sicknesses” was fulfilled in his ministry on earth (Matthew 8:16-17); but we are cut off from this aspect of Jesus’ substitutionary ministry if the Dispensational two-gospel scheme should be made to adhere.

    4. It makes impossible for us a direct application of Christ’s earthly teachings

    Jesus’ teachings on the blood-earnestness of Kingdom living, the riches that await Kingdom-citizens, the denial and eternal punishment that awaits those who do not take up their cross and follow him, and so on, are made useless with regard to the invigorating and soul-stirring effects that they ought to have upon us as Christians, if they actually set forth to the ethnic Jews the way to gain a part in a future physical Kingdom. Largely on the basis of this Dispensational teaching, there has emerged the false gospel of easy-believism, which asserts that mental assent to the factual truths of the crucifixion and resurrection is sufficient to ensure one of eternal salvation, even if he is not willing to follow Jesus as his Lord – for the statements that Christ made which indicate that one cannot follow him unless he takes up his cross, hates father and mother and even his own life, etc., are made to the Jews who stand to gain a temporal reward in the earthly kingdom, and have no connection with the different gospel, proclaimed to the Church. Oh, what riches we are denying ourselves, and oh, to what heresies we open ourselves up, when we call Jesus’ teaching a different gospel!

    5. It requires a different way of salvation for the pre-Pentecost ethnic Jews

    This, because it is clear throughout the gospel accounts, that when certain Jews believed in the gospel-teaching of Jesus, they were not only granted kingdom-heir status, but they were forgiven of their sins. Now, if this was a different gospel, then the fact of the matter is, the Jews in Jesus’ day were saved by believing in a different gospel than that which we today believe in for salvation. Instead of believing in the person and work of Christ, they have to believe that, if their works are sufficiently righteous, they will be duly rewarded in a physical kingdom (for this is what the Dispensationalists say the gospel of the Kingdom entails – physical rewards for righteousness/faithfulness) – and then, their sins are forgiven. This is not much different from that Dispensational teaching which says that faith has always been the way of salvation, but the content of that faith differed from era to era. This is a very pernicious error, that cuts away every ground of hope for eternal salvation, which is only to be found in the Messiah and his substitutionary sacrifice.

    6. It robs the true Jews of their greatest riches

    It is ironic that Dispensationalists tend to think that they are the friends of ethnic Israel, boldly standing up for their peculiar privileges, whereas Covenant Theologians have minimized Israel’s status and importance. Just ask any ethnic Jew who has come to believe in the Messiah whether his greatest treasure is Christ, or a share in a thousand year physical kingdom that will be reserved for ethnic Israel alone. The physical glory of the Dispensational understanding of Jewish privileges falls vastly short of what we Covenant Theologians hope and pray for ethnic Israel, namely, that they might be granted repentance so that the full number of the remnant will be grafted back into their own natural tree, where they will share in the eternal glory of the imperishable Kingdom that now is, and that will one day find its ultimate realization in the new heavens and new earth. We trust that this full remnant will indeed return to the Lord, maybe even in great numbers, near the end of the age (see Romans 11); this is a far richer and more comfortable doctrine for our Israelite friends than that, after a “secret rapture,” they will face seven years of persecution while the Church (which is different than they) will be feasting with Christ as his true bride (which they are not); at the end of which time, they will reign over the earth in their imperfect bodies, living and dying, while the Church (which they are not) reigns with Christ in glorified bodies. This two-gospel idea seems somewhat anti-Semitic, in that it reserves for the Jews the gospel which is vastly inferior in the nature of its rewards.

    Conclusion

    Of all the Dispensationally-derived errors in the Church today, one of the most serious is this two-gospel teaching. It is in flagrant contradiction to the overwhelming tenor of New Testament truth, and it brings one to the brink of several very destructive heresies. I trust that most Dispensationalists have not fallen into these deep and fearful chasms which have been opened up around them by certain of their peculiarly Dispensational understandings, but I feel compelled to call out the warning that those chasms are indeed there, on the boundaries of all their good grazing land – and I fear lest, throughout the course of their generations, some such doctrine as the two-gospel error may swallow up many in some greater heresy to which it should give rise. I trust that God’s grace has enabled me to say these things in love, and out of genuine concern for my Dispensational friends, who like me have experienced the one true gospel of God’s free grace.

    Posted by Nathan on June 16, 2007 11:56 AM

    Comments

    Well now Nathan, it disturbs me too.

    What then should we do with the Apostle Paul's teaching here with regard to the Promises of God for us:::>

    Rom 4:3 For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness." ....>

    Rom 4:13 For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith....>

    These Words being removed from Our Faith or added too or taken away from brings these verses to naught then and our FAITH is of no effect for the salvation of our souls:::>

    Rev 5:5 And one of the elders said to me, "Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals."

    And if He cannot justly open the "seven" seals, then all of the mystery of the "Seven Spirits" of God are useless :::>

    Rev 1:20 As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

    :::

    We then if those things be so, are most miserable, those of us who believe we too can enter into the NEW SONG as defenders of the FAITH ONCE DELIVERED TO THE SAINTS:::>

    Rev 5:7 And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne.
    Rev 5:8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
    Rev 5:9 And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation,
    Rev 5:10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth."

    The last time I checked, none of those seven churches whose seals are opened were in present day Israel or anywhere close to the "OLD CITY" where they gather for prayers daily.

    So I guess you can guess rightly who I agree with? You!

    Nathan,

    My simple problem with your article is this - what kind of interpretive gymnastics must one do to avoide the literal meaning of prophecies concerning ethnic Israel? Revelation twenty says He will reign for 1000 years. There is no need to make that number symbolic - none of the other numbers in Revelation are symbolic, are they? Were there 7 churches in Asia? Will there be 12 gates (one for each tribe of Israel) in the New Heavens and New Earth?

    I don't understand your hermeneutic.

    Brian,

    Your simple problem with my article involves a claim that the article did not even make. Hence, it is nothing more than a red herring. One's view of the literal time-extent of the Millennium is a question that the article did not attempt to address, and a question that could be answered either way without falling into the errors that the article did point out. In fact, there are many non-Dispensationalists who believe either in a premillennial literal thousand years, or a postmillennial literal thousand years. It would be more profitable to engage in the arguments that the article positively laid out than to assume an unstated point and argue against that in lieu of dealing with the texts mentioned.

    If you do want to discuss Dispensational hermeneutics at large, I am willing to do so, but first I would direct you to my previous articles here, here, and here. If you would prefer to discuss hermeneutics of apocalyptic literature/different views of the nature of the thousand-year reign, I would direct you to this article.

    Blessings from the Savior,
    Nathan

    One passage you didn't mention that I find intriguingly (but not insurmountably, I suppose) difficult for the dispensational "two-g0spel" interp is Acts 8:12, where Philip speaks the good news about the kingdom of G0d to the Samaritans. Not only would the sudden introduction of millennial eschatology be rather odd in this context, it hardly seems likely that Philip would get such a welcome reception from /Samaritans/ when relating to them divine plans of a future reign of ethnic /Jews/. :)

    Andrew K.

    Nathan:

    Thanks for the links. Those articles look very good and I'll carefully read them today.

    Blessings
    Brian

    Thanks for the text, Andrew. You definitely have a good point.

    Brian,
    I look forward to hearing any comments you may have on any of those articles. I greatly appreciate your gracious response.

    Blessings in Him,
    Nathan

    Thank you for posting this article. I have only become aware of dispensationalism this past year and therefore I still have much to learn about it. I have a friend that follows dispensational teachings and from how she acts, if you do not believe in the teachings of a dispensational hermeneutic then you are not saved because you haven't received the true gospel/s. She has even ended a friendship with someone else that I know because they could not resolve the differences they have concerning this doctrine. I have tried to explain that Old Testamemt (OT) saints are saved by the same faith that New Testament (NT) saints are saved by today since she sees this as a soteriological issue. Others have also referred her to the verses in Romans that were mentioned in a previous post, etc. as a means to dissolve misconceptions involving the salvation of ethnic Israel and NT saints. One point that she always brings up, however, are passages where Paul says "according to my gospel" and points out that there must be more than one gospel in the NT or else why would Paul say such things? My friend uses this as a proof that Paul's gospel is different than the other gospels presented in the NT. I tried to explain that Paul's proclamation of "according to my gospel" is not an indication that his gospel is different from Matthew's, Mark's, Luke's & John's gospel but to differentiate the gospel of Christ from the other false gospels that were trying to infiltrate the early church. Gnosticism, for example, was a problematic teaching that Paul had to counter and to say "according to my gospel" is simply differentiating his gospel from that of gnosticism or any other gospel that is not the gospel of Christ, etc. Although she did not have anything to say in response to this, she has not accepted this explanation because she is still using the "according to my gospel" argument today.

    I hope that this post is not inappropriate because it is not my intention to take the focus off of the article per se. I hope that my post places even more emphasis on this article because as can be seen by this post, this is a divisive issue. If we allow for it to happen, we can spend so much time arguing about dispensationalism that we neglect to declare the gospel so that lost men may be saved.

    My hope is for the true gospel of Christ to be proclaimed all throughout the world so that lost men may be saved to give Him glory according to His will that acts in accordance to His own council.


    May it all be for His glory,
    Wade

    This article is extremely interesting as I am at present studying with a group who believe in the double gospel theory. It is really odd or should I say foreign for me to even attempt to concieve of such a theory from the Word of God. I have found nothing thus far that is written that would substantiate this theory in the least? Galatians 2:7,8 were the verses used to suggest to me that Paul was talking about or acknowledging 2 seperate gospels? It would seem that a simple understanding of grammar would quickly refute the use of these verses from the 2 gospel theory but unfortunately it has not. I am interested in getting to the beginning of this belief but I think I see it within the bible itself! If you read the scriptures without an understanding of Greek or the english language then I can see, even though it is a stretch, the possible confusion. Further more the literal verses figurative argument is perplexing to me when explained by the dispensationalist. The literal belief of an earthly kingdom of 1,000 years is false for so many reasons but one really sticks out to me. In the book of 1 Samuel God explains to Samuel how the desire for an earthly king by the children of Israel was a rejection of him as their leader? God goes on to explain through Samuel to the Israelites that the earthly king would treat them most unlike he has...... if this is true then why would Jesus come back to this earth to sit on a human throne? He is reigning right now according to the aforementioned scriptures so what would be the fulfillment of prophecy that would include the literal thousand year reign on earth? And the number 1,000 has been used before in the bible. It's in the Old Testament and it is figurative there also.

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