Many assume the gospel of the Kingdom of God originated with the preaching of Christ and His apostles.
The four New Testament accounts of Christ's life and teachings are commonly referred to as the four Gospels. Few, however, realize that the essentials of the gospel were revealed to servants of God long before Jesus was born. (Actually, these four books were not originally called "the Gospels"; that term was not applied to them until the middle of the second century.)
Our English word gospel is derived from the Old English expression "good spell," meaning good tale or good news. In the Bible, the Greek word evangelion, translated "gospel," refers to a message from a king or a favorable report about a significant event. So gospel simply refers to good news from God. It is God's message announcing His plan and purpose for humankind. It is His good news to us. Jesus Christ came to proclaim the wonderful news about God's plan and purpose. The focus of that plan is the Kingdom of God.
God has always revealed His purpose to mankind. Even in the beginning He explained why we were born and the purpose of human life. Implicit in that explanation is the beginning of the gospel.
The apostle Paul says the gospel was preached, many hundreds of years before Jesus' birth, to a man named Abraham. "And the Scripture . . . preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, 'In you all the nations shall be blessed'" (Galatians 3:8, emphasis added throughout).
Notice the gospel is about God blessing all nations. It is about good things to come. In one passage it is called "the everlasting gospel" (Revelation 14:6). It is God's plan for blessing all of humanity for eternity.
Jesus Christ is the central figure in that plan. But the gospel is not limited to information about the person of Christ. It encompasses the entire purpose of God as revealed in all Scripture. It is the good news about how the Messiah—Jesus of Nazareth—will bring that plan to an unimaginably wonderful climax.
Let's trace the thread of God's revelation of this good news as it unfolds from the Scriptures.
When did God first express His purpose for creating mankind?
"Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth'" (Genesis 1:26).
This verse begins the announcement, the good news, of the Kingdom of God. Here God expresses His intent to fashion human beings in His image and give them dominion over His creation. Being created in the image of God imparts a special purpose to human life. (Lesson 3 of this Bible Study Course covers in more detail how and why God creates humans in His image and likeness.)
God offered the first human family a way of life—symbolized by the tree of life—that involves all human beings enjoying a personal relationship with their Creator.
What spiritual ingredient is essential for man's relationship with God to succeed?
"But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6).
God makes His blessings and rewards available to those who willingly serve Him in active, living faith (James 2:17-23). This faith is possible only as a gift from God and is crucial to our salvation (Ephesians 2:8). No one who refuses to believe and trust God can please Him.
God expected Adam and Eve to trust Him and demonstrate their trust by obeying what He said. Throughout the Bible trusting obedience is referred to as faith. Regrettably, Adam and Eve greatly underestimated the importance of trusting God and faithfully following His instructions.