A New Love For The Gospel

What is the Gospel?

The Gospel, derived from the Greek word εὐαγγέλιον “euangélion,” which means “good news,” is a message to us from our Creator, YHWH, the God of Israel. This message consists of the good news of the restoration of all things, commencing with a new spirit within humanity to live freely in this present age and culminating in a resurrected body for humanity to reign and rule in an eternal kingdom on earth. The One worthy to orchestrate these events is the only Begotten Son of God, Jesus of Nazareth. Therefore, anyone desiring to attain the hope of restoration back to our Creator, our Father, must wholeheartedly submit to the Son, become born again, and endure to the end of the age to be saved from the impending judgment of God that is come upon the whole earth.

I did not always see this as the gospel. However, that is not to say I was off from understanding some of these elements as “good news”. The coming of Jesus in a manger and His death burial and resurrection was the only good news I ever knew as the gospel. Our born-again experience and the second of Christ were simply attributes of the works of the cross. The work of the cross is certainly good news for the world. However, this isn’t the gospel that was laid out as a framework of understanding by the Prophets or the Apostles. The gospel that was proclaimed was the gospel of the kingdom.

The Difference Between The Grace And Kingdom Gospels

The gospel proclaimed by the Prophets and the Apostles was an end-of-the-age message. From Genesis to Revelation, we see a narrative that ends with a restoration of creation, the crushing of all of God’s arch-enemies, and ultimately a swallowing of death. If the gospel is fundamentally and end-times good news, we should naturally gravitate to proclaiming the same message as did our forefathers of the faith. Though I understand that this will not come easy, the truth is that it must be done.

1. The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
2. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “BEHOLD, I SEND MY MESSENGER AHEAD OF YOU, WHO WILL PREPARE YOUR WAY;

Mark 1:1-3

The Gospel was never meant to end with the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. This event of the resurrection is not the end of the story. The book of Mark calls the first works of Jesus “the beginning of the gospel”. What Jesus Christ accomplished at His first visit to earth was the kick-off of His ultimate goal and purpose which will take place at his second arrival. By ending the gospel message with the resurrection of Christ, we are unconsciously establishing a half-gospel and thus creating a lukewarm, half-hearted people without a view of what’s to come. This is the gospel of Grace.

The Gospel Of Grace

A gospel that preaches solely that God loves you and sent His Son to die for you because you are a sinner, destined to eternal Hell in need of a savior who will give access to a home in Heaven. Because this is a message of the love of God through the cross alone, there is no cost for us and thus, we simply need to believe in our hearts that Christ died and rose from the dead, say a prayer in many cases, and accept the grace of God over your sinful life. According to the gospel of grace, if you say this prayer you are now born again and have eternal life. And because it is a message of grace alone, apart from anything you can do, your life now consists of standing firm in the grace of God, regardless of what you do, and expect a coming day when you will be secretly raptured (or taken away) to your eternal home in Heaven.

The Gospel Of The Kingdom

On the contrary, the gospel proclaimed by the apostles consisted of a crucified life in this present age. This heart posture and mindset begins with a sincere surrender of every selfish deed and a joining to Christ in heart, soul, and mind; the one who pioneered this cruciform lifestyle through the life He lived. The gospel of the kingdom is a message from God that promises not only eternal existence but very specifically, an eternal existence with a physical, glorified body that will inherit this earth together with the King who will reward His faithful servants with authoritative positions over the nations. This reward starts with the glory that comes through suffering in this age and continues with tangible possessions in new heavens and a new earth that are all based on the works that we do in this present age.

Grace To Grace

When I consider the transformation within one’s heart transitioning from a message centered on grace alone to one emphasizing the grace that will be revealed to us at the coming of Jesus, I see a life characterized by intentionality, perseverance, and endurance until that day arrives. We go from receiving grace with gratefulness in this present age, to eagerly awaiting with anticipation a grace to come on the Day of the Lord.

Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 1:13

My Journey From Grace To Grace

The earliest point in memory, from which I can recall this journey is back in 2018. What’s interesting is that I began to understand the gospel of the kingdom, by focusing on the foundational elements of our faith mentioned in Hebrews 6:1-2. More specifically, it was the last two elements of the foundations that triggered a desire to dig; the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. Before that, I only knew some basic points of the first three elements, and the fourth element was a bit of a mystery as well.

My Understanding Of The Gospel In 2018

Before 2018, my understanding of the gospel was, in hindsight, lacking. Imagine a chef preparing a carrot, slicing it into multiple pieces, and tossing them into a bowl, with some escaping onto the table and the rest falling into the bowl, although jumbled. This analogy reflects how the gospel was often presented: lacking. The gospel I understood was lacking because it lacked historical and cultural context. It was lacking because the gospel of the kingdom is an Israel-centric narrative that I did not have. I did not realize at this point the importance of thinking through the lens of a Hebraic context. Jesus is a Jewish man. That never meant anything to me before.

Essentially, the Gospel I understood was that Jesus came to earth to atone for the sins of the world and one had to believe and accept Him to be saved from going to Hell. I accepted Jesus multiple times growing up and yet I found myself falling short. I did not know how to maintain my salvation outside of attending church regularly and conforming to the requirements given by the church. This was the end of my gospel.

In my journal or teaching notes from 2018, I stumbled upon an entry outlining the foundational aspects of our faith, based on Hebrews 6. While seemingly trivial, this entry contained the first three elements, with the fourth representing my rudimentary understanding of the “laying on of hands” concept. Here are the points I had recorded in my notes.

  • Repentance
  • Faith / Belief
  • Water Baptism
  • Spirit Baptism

As I reflect on this particular crossroad of my life, I recall jotting down what I now recognize as the Hebrew 6 foundation in my notes. However, at that time, I did not truly grasp the significance of each element. Once again, it was like having slices of carrots in a bowl, but the order and arrangement were unclear; I possessed the elements but lacked an understanding of their place in the process.

For instance, I had encountered terms like repentance, faith, and baptism, yet they seemed disconnected from the initial stages of a person’s belief or salvation. With the exception of water baptism, as I gradually realized its essential role in salvation. Despite my incomplete understanding, I taught what I knew, emphasizing water baptism with the verbal utterance of Jesus’ name as the most important part.

In hindsight, while I regarded baptism as crucial, its exact place in the process escaped me. These elements were present in the Christian journey I taught about, yet their order remained blurred to me at that time. It’s not uncommon; many Christians and, dare I say, Bible teachers, find themselves in a similar predicament. Though equipped with the necessary terminology to guide others, the broader view of the Christian faith often appears fragmented and confusing.

This situation resembles a form of godliness without a thorough understanding of the gospel’s power.

The Resurrection Of The Dead And Eternal Judgement

I walked this way for years before I was encountered with the question that would change everything. I have always loved teaching from the word of God and I would teach with a zeal that came from the Lord. Gifs come from the Lord but wisdom and understanding come with time and through discipleship. As the Spirit directs us and teaches us, we are also built to teach one another all that Christ has commanded us, and this is how we grow in maturity.

I attended a men’s meeting following the TLR Kickstart (you can read about this on the about page), where I began to place some carrot slices in order. It was during these gatherings that I confronted the million-dollar question. One fundamental insight I gleaned from both the kickstart and the men’s meetings was the interconnectedness of the foundational elements I was already studying with one’s salvation from sin. This realization was transformative. Previously, when guiding someone through salvation, I would start them through with belief and end with water baptism with Jesus’ name uttered properly. However, I now understood that it begins with a repentant heart, completely turned to God, and continues with water baptism to wash away the old man and the baptism with the spirit, constituting the new birth. This was my new gospel; Be born again!

During one of our meetings, while discussing the first three foundational elements, a brother posed a thought-provoking question: “What is the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment, and why don’t we talk about them?” That question was the pivotal moment that prompted me to embark on the journey to comprehend the gospel of the kingdom. I wanted to understand why we didn’t discuss them. Why hadn’t I encountered them before, and if I had, why had I not recognized their importance?

A New Transition

Before the kickstart, I firmly grasped the importance of water baptism. I preached its significance for salvation. After the Kickstart, I linked the gospel of grace (death, burial, and resurrection) with the born-again experience of repentance, water, and spirit baptism. This became the gospel I preached.

Behind the scenes, I sought answers regarding the last two foundational elements. I had started exploring various ideas about the resurrection. One notion suggested it pertained to Jesus’ resurrection. However, there were gaps in this interpretation. It didn’t seem to align well with Eternal Judgment. When my family and I joined the TLR team at The Ark in North Carolina, we met a brother and his family, and through this relationship, some reordering of the carrots began to take shape.

We began to discuss the topic of the Day of the Lord, a subject absent from my upbringing and never on my radar. I vaguely assumed the Day of the Lord referred to Sunday. However, as I deepened my understanding of Church history, I realized Sunday wasn’t recognized as a day of worship until after Jesus’ ascension, rendering this idea void. So this caused a lack of understanding of the gospel. As we continued discussing these matters, a connection was made between the Day of the Lord and Jesus’ second coming. This revelation sparked a newfound love for scripture. Moreover, the idea that His return was the anticipation of the Apostles intrigued me further.

I couldn’t yet see the whole picture, but I was starting to grasp more about the significance of Jesus’ second coming. It wasn’t merely an aspect of our faith; rather, it was the core of our faith. The return of Christ is what we should eagerly anticipate, as it is when we will see Him face to face. As we lived out our new life and witnessed many people being born again through the rebirth process, a deeper understanding of the second coming of Christ was taking root within me. Although I still lacked a fully ordered understanding of it.

The Big Moment

In 2021, we held a kickstart in Chicago with a couple of brothers and I experienced something I had never felt before. I was in the back seat of a car riding with these two brothers to visit one of their friends. As we rode, they discussed the topic of the gospel and how it has become misunderstood in the church today. I do not recall the exact words used in the conversation, however, the gist of it was that the gospel was not concerning the cross but instead was the second coming of Christ. I could not believe what I was hearing. What is interesting is how I didn’t feel any criticism against the brothers, but I felt like I didn’t understand what was being said.

Once we arrived to the location, the conversation continued and I can recall having a ridiculous headache that I excused myself to go sleep it off in the car. The whole day felt surreal and I am not exaggerating when I say my world was slowly turning upside-down. I had so many questions running through my mind. The problem was that it made so much sense and I didn’t know how to cope with this idea that the gospel focus didn’t end with the death and resurrection but it was this kingdom to come when Jesus returns.

Putting It All Together

This revelation of the kingdom of God wasn’t just a misplaced slice of carrot in the bowl, but rather a slice that hadn’t even made it into the bowl. Now, I had to arrange this understanding, yet I lacked context or structure for comprehending the kingdom of God, the cross, and the born-again experience. Despite having more questions than answers, I was starting to grasp the broader narrative of God in scripture. My anticipation of Jesus’ coming began to intensify within me. Although I had been taught about the second coming of Jesus, it wasn’t something I eagerly awaited. It wasn’t emphasized as the focus of our hope but rather felt like a secondary topic of our faith. I associated Jesus’ coming with a secret rapture, which instilled fear in many ways. I viewed Jesus’ coming as the end of life, not the beginning. The idea of a coming kingdom to be established on earth wasn’t part of my gospel, nor was the resurrection of the body or the blessed hope.

Yet, I still needed to align the different elements to make sense of it all; I hadn’t pieced it together at this point. During a three-week training school we hosted in 2022, we invited a brother to speak and give a couple of lectures on Heaven and the kingdom of God. Here, I received another revelation that would be a crucial puzzle piece in the whole story.

As we delved into Genesis 3, exploring how the serpent deceived Man and how God pronounced judgment on the serpent by condemning it to eat dust and be crushed by the seed of the woman, something clicked. For the first time, I understood how this promise was the gospel foretold. Until then, I had always questioned why scholars referred to Genesis 3:15 as the proto-evangelion, meaning the “first gospel.” Here is the scripture:

And I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel.

Genesis 3:15 (NIV)

Because my gospel message ended with the death and resurrection of Christ and didn’t extend beyond that event, I could never understand how the promise of the crushing of the serpent’s head was connected. However, now, in light of the Day of the Lord, it became clearer what was being conveyed here. The seed of the woman would be bruised by the serpent, but one day, the seed of the woman would crush its head. This understanding began to align the elements of the gospel with both the first coming of Christ and His second coming.

The Missing Link In My Gospel

When considering the progression of understanding regarding the gospel of the kingdom narrative, at this point, I could clearly discern that the gospel message was an end-times proclamation concerning the imminent arrival of Jesus to crush the head of the serpent. Upon His coming, He will initiate a restoration of creation back to Eden and eradicate the root of sin through judgment. Because sin resulted in physical death for humanity, there will be a resurrection of the dead, followed by a day of judgment for all people, both good and evil. This became my revised gospel message: The coming kingdom of God.

However, there was one more missing piece to this puzzle: placing the born-again experience in its proper context. While I grasped the call to be born again through repentance, water baptism, and baptism in the spirit, I still didn’t comprehend why these actions were so. Honestly, I hadn’t questioned this because I wasn’t aware it was a question to be asked. What preoccupied my thoughts was the realization that for the past year, I had been teaching the born-again experience as the gospel, rather than the coming kingdom of God. It seemed as though one gospel message had been superimposed upon another for a time, and now that the connection between the cross and the coming kingdom had been made, the significance of the born-again experience was floating.

In 2022, as we were on the verge of kicking off another 3-week training, I was coming off from a seven-day fast. It was Monday morning, and I was preparing to teach on the subject of repentance. Seated at my computer, I began gathering my notes and opened the Bible app to search for the typical scriptures on repentance we often referenced. As I perused Matthew 3:2 and Mark 1:15, I stumbled upon something I had never noticed before. While highlighting the verses, we read that both John and Jesus commanded repentance. I read, “Repent…” Yet, in my mind, I continued the thought by continuing to read on where it says, “For the kingdom of God is near.” Suddenly, it was as if the room expanded around me. I experienced what felt like a breakthrough in my understanding, as if a barrier in my mind had been lifted and the spirit poured revelation into me. “Repent for the kingdom of God is near,” I repeated aloud.

Within minutes, the missing link I had been searching for was revealed, and it was from this moment that the foundation of what I have now determined to proclaim moving forward was established. I recognized that what we do in this present age will determine our position in the age to come. This echoed the message John preached as he stood on the rock. He was proclaiming a soon coming day of recompense and because of that, we must now repent towards God. I realized that the call to repentance was crucial for entering into the kingdom of God, which would be unveiled on the Day of the Lord. Repentance wasn’t merely a religious obligation where we abstain from sin because it’s morally wrong, but it is a call to prepare our hearts for the revelation of a Holy God and His righteous kingdom to come.

Armed with this revised understanding of repentance, I entered the classroom, and the students received the message. I was excited by this newfound insight, feeling as though I had been given a new tool and was eager to explore its features. The following day, as I prepared to teach about water baptism, I approached my notes with the same routine as the day before, not expecting any further revelations. As I look at scriptures about water, I came across Ephesians 5:25-27, which says:

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,
26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,
27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.

Ephesians 5:25-27

As I read through this verse, I once again felt that rushing warmth descend from my head to my heart. I now clearly understood more the essence of baptism. It was a purification, not merely to cleanse away the old self, but for presentation to Jesus on the Day of His return. This washing would enable us to stand before Him on that day, holy and blameless in the sight of the Lord. Water baptism took on a deeper significance than I had ever perceived before. Further exploration of this perspective on baptism can be found on the One Way Gospel Baptism Page. With this revelation, I realized that the foundational elements were not meant to exist in a vaccum but were intentionally linked to the gospel of the kingdom in every aspect. Therefore, I went ahead into looking at the baptism of the spirit, and as I suspected, it pertained to the age to come.

Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

Ephesians 4:30

A Message To The Church

I am convinced that much of the instability we see within the broader church stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of the gospel as proclaimed by the prophets and apostles. It’s as if we’ve taken the essence of this gospel message and fragmented it, dispersing the fragments among the people. However, without revisiting the gospel in a Hebraic perspective that is inherent in the scriptures, we risk overlooking the narrative that God has set for His church to embrace.

At its core, this narrative of the gospel is one of end-of-the-age significance, proclaiming a message of reconciliation and the eventual restoration of all creation. It speaks not only to a spiritual life but also to a resurrection of the body. Central to this narrative is the anticipation not only of Christ’s first coming but, more crucially, His promised return the second time.

To prioritize either aspect of this narrative over the other is to present a gospel that is incomplete. Such a proclamation of a half gospel will inevitably fail to cultivate servants of the Most High who are steadfastly focused on the blessed hope—the living hope—embodied in the imminent return of Jesus Christ. As my brother Ruben says, Let’s get #BackToTheOrgins

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