By Mike Willis
No story is quite so absorbing to the human mind as the gospel.- To understand fully the gospel, we must remember God’s creation of man and man’s fall into sin which left him doomed to Hell. Jehovah God immediately began to unfold His plan to redeem fallen man. The Old Testament records His selection of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as the ones through whom the seed should come. The divine plan was to bless all nations of the earth through Abraham’s descendants (Gen. 12:3).
In the fulness of time (Gal. 4:4; Mk. 1:14-15), God sent His Son to this world. For three years, He traveled about Judea and Galilee doing good and teaching the people the way to salvation. The popularity of Jesus among the common people was a threat to the religious leaders; consequently, they plotted His death. Little did they know that they were accomplishing the will of God (Acts 2:22-23) in crucifying the Lord of glory (1 Cor. 2:8).
The death of Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, was an atonement for the sins of man. His blood was shed to redeem man from sin (1 Pet. 1:18-19). He suffered in our place; He bore the punishment for sin which was due to fall on us. The vicarious suffering of Christ was foretold by Isaiah seven hundred years before Christ was born; he wrote,
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all . . . . Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin . . . . He shall see the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied . . . . for he shall bear their iniquities (53:4-6, 10-11).
The inspired evangelists also wrote of salvation through faith in the crucified Savior. Paul wrote,
For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him (Rom. 5:7-9).
The good news of the gospel was that salvation from sin was available to man through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Opposition To The Gospel
Not everybody received the good news gladly. Indeed, there was opposition to the gospel from several sources, including both Jews and Gentiles. The Gentiles considered the gospel foolishness (1 Cor. 1:23); the Jews stumbled over a crucified Messiah. Hence, they opposed the gospel. Other attacks against the gospel arose from the ranks of Christians. One of the major threats of the first century arose from Jewish Christians who sought to impose obedience to tile Law of Moses on Gentile converts. Nearly every opponent of the gospel, both then and now, attacks the origin (source) of the gospel.
The gospel claims to be a revelation of God. Those who deny the gospel obviously are unwilling to admit this claim. They are compelled to explain the origin of the gospel on a purely natural or material basis. The defenses made by Paul of His gospel are sufficient answers to most of these theories even today.
The Gospel Came Through Revelation
in answer to Jewish critics of his gospel, Paul wrote,
But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For 1 neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by revelation of Jesus Christ (Gal. 1:11-12).
Notice the replies of Paul: (a) The gospel is not after man; (b) the gospel was not received from man; (c) the gospel was not taught by man. Rather, it came by revelation. Notice these points individually.
1. Paul’s gospel was not “after man. ” “After man” is the AV translation of kata anthropon – “according to man.” This phrase appears in several places in the Scriptures (1 Cor. 3:3; Gal. 3:15; Rom. 3:5; 1 Cor. 9:8); it means “after the manner of a man.” The gospel is contrary to anything man would have ever thought of divising. Who would have ever thought of preaching that eternal life could be obtained through One who died on the cross, the crucifixion of the Lord of Glory (1 Cor. 2:8), and the salvation of mankind through One who did not save Himself from death on a cross?
But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence (1 Cor. 1:27-29).
Everything associated with eternal redemption through Christ is contrary to man’s method of thinking. Hence, the gospel cannot be explained to have originated from man’s thinking because it is so contrary to the thoughts of man.
2. The gospel was not received from man. Paul is concerned to show that the gospel which he preached to the Galatians did not originate from man or through human instrumentality. The fountain from which the gospel originated must go further back than some mere man.
In Paul’s case, he demonstrated that his gospel did not originate with man by his life prior to his conversion (Gal. 1:13-14). He was a persecutor of the church. He became converted to Christ without human instrumentality; his knowledge of the resurrected Lord – the gospel which he preached – did not come from or through any man.
3. Paul was not taught the gospel which he preached. Paul necessarily had to show his apostleship to lie equal with that of the other apostles. Hence, he must show that His source of information for what he taught was none other than Jesus Christ. Consequently, he made a statement which non-apostles cannot make; we learn the gospel through teaching (Mt. 28:18-20).
Yet, the gospel did not originate in this manner. Some smart man did not devise the gospel and send out instructors to teach it. No, the gospel began through revelation.
The Gospel: The Revelation of Jesus Christ
The source of the gospel is revelation – God unfolding His will to man through Jesus Christ. The gospel originated through revelation. The gospel is not a “cunningly devised fable” (2 Pet. 1:16); it is a revelation of the will of God.
The explanations of infidels regarding the origin of the gospel are sufficient to account for the various elements of the gospel. For example, Jesus was a rejected Messiah who died on Calvary’s cross. Yet popular opinion was that the Messiah would be a ruling monarch over an earthly kingdom. If the gospel originated from first century Judaism, why is its hero so contrary to first century Messianic hope?
We are forced right back to the conclusion that the gospel came to man through divine revelation, as asserted by the apostles. The gospel, my friends and brethren, originated in the mind of God and was revealed to man. It did not originate in the mind of some devilish man bent on deceiving the general public. It came from God. This is the origin of the gospel.
Truth Magazine XXIII: 40, pp. 643-644
October 11, 1979