WE shall do this epitomially, and in as few words as possible.
1. -- First, then, the Scriptures reveal that the gospel was preached to Abraham.
This is proved by what follows: "The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all the nations be blessed" (Gal. 3:8). Referring to this incident, Jesus said to the Jews, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see, my day; and he saw it, and was glad" (John 8:56).
Upon this we may remark that all nations have never yet been blessed in Abraham; secondly, that when all nations shall be blessed in Abraham, Messiah's Day will have been revealed; and thirdly, that these events not having been accomplished, their fulfilment is yet a matter of hope; hence, Abraham rejoiced in the prospect of the Future Age then far off, but now near, because it was doubtless then revealed to him that he should sit down with his descendant, the Messiah, in the Kingdom of God (Luke 13:28). For Abraham, when called, went out into a country where the Kingdom is to be set up which country "he should after receive for an inheritance"; "he sojourned in (this) the Land of Promise, as in a strange, or foreign country; for he looked for a City, or State, which hath foundations, whose builder and maker (or founder and constitutor) is God (Heb. 11:8-10). These passages are a few of the beacon-lights which show that he looked for a State, or Kingdom, divinely established and constituted under his Descendant in the Land promised to him and to his Seed, when all nations should own his sovereignty. This he looked for as Messiah's Age; he saw it in the eye of that "faith" which is "the assured expectation of things hoped for the conviction of things unseen"; [Heb. 11:1] and without which "it is impossible to please God" [Heb. 11:6]; "he saw it, and was glad". (John 8:56) This was the ancient Gospel preached to Abraham, which is still a matter of hope to all of Abraham's seed.
Query: of those who preach "baptism for remission, etc.", [See Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3] as the ancient Gospel, we would inquire -when the gospel was, preached to Abraham by the Lord God, did he preach to him that Jesus was the Christ, His Son; that he died, was buried, and rose again, for faith; and repentance and baptism into the name of the Trinity for the remission of sins, in obedience to that faith? In the nature of things this could not have been preached, yet he preached to him the Gospel; and you admit that there is but one Gospel: how do you disentangle yourselves from this difficulty? Is it not manifest, that we have been preaching something else than what the Lord God preached to Abraham, and which Paul says was the Gospel?
2. -- The same Gospel was preached to Abraham's descendants in Egypt and in the wilderness of Egypt.
This is proved by these testimonies. In the good announced by Jacob to his sons, he said, "The sceptre (the symbol of sovereign power) shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until He whose it is come: and unto him shall the gathering of the nations be" (Gen. 49:10). Joseph preached the same gospel to them fifty-four years after, saying, "God will surely visit you, and bring you out of the land (of Egypt) unto the land he sware (or promised) to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob: and ye shall carry up my bones" (Gen. 50:24,25). None, however, of Joseph's generation left Egypt: but by faith, Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones (Heb. 11:22).
The Angel of the Lord preached the Gospel to Moses at the bush, saying, "I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob ... I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows: and I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land, unto a good and large land, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place or country of the Canaanites, and Hittites, and the Amorites,and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites" (Exod. 3:6-8). In this discourse Jesus says, God preached to Moses the resurrection of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Luke 20:37). What were they to rise from the dead for? To inherit this "good and large land flowing with milk and honey", promised to them in the Gospel preached to them; and in which they, and all their posterity, as yet, have only dwelt as pilgrims and sojourners.
By an assured expectation of the things delivered to him from his fathers, and a conviction of them then as yet unseen, "Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of (or, on account of the expectation of) the Anointed King (spoken of by Jacob when blessing Judah) greater riches than the treasures of Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward", which Shiloh should bring (Heb. 11: 24-26) Moses, then, believed the same gospel as did Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, and, as we shall see, preached it likewise.
"Go", said Jehovah (Yahweh) to him, "and gather the elders of Israel together, and say to them, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared to me, saying, I have surely visited you, and seen that which is done to you in Egypt: and I have said (to Abraham, Gen. 15:13,16), I will bring you up out of the affliction unto the land of the Canaanites ... unto a land flowing with milk and honey (Exod. 3:16,17) "And Aaron spake all the words which the Lord had spoken to Moses, and did the signs in the sight of the people. And the people believed: and bowed their heads, and worshipped" (Exod. 4:29-31). And "by faith", yea, by this faith, which Paul defines in Heb. 11:1, "they passed through the Red Sea, as by dry land" (verse 29).
In Exod. 6:4,5 Jehovah [Yahweh] saith, "I have established my covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, wherein they were strangers. And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians keep in bondage; and I have remembered my covenant". From which remembrance we are to understand that the exodus from Egypt under Moses, the passage of the Jordan under Joshua, the occupation of the Land of Promise temporarily by the Twelve Tribes; somewhat more permanently by Judah: and the events of the times of the Gentiles, which are all converging to a grand and awful crisis in the Holy Land, with all their correlates and details; constitute the economy of means, instituted by the Almighty, through which he predetermined that the Gospel preached to Abraham should be manifested in its glorious consummation. This economy how vast ! It begins with the departing from Egypt, and is accomplished in the setting up of the Kingdom of God, when the Son of Abraham shall come in power and great glory !
"Wherefore", O Moses, "say unto the children of Israel, I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgment: and I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God ... and I will bring you into the Land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it to you (also) for a heritage; I am the Lord" (verses 6- 8). This was the same gospel that the Lord God preached to their fathers. They should have that good land for an everlasting heritage when the promise should be fulfilled to the worthies enumerated by Paul in Heb. 11.
The Lord brought them into the Wilderness to prove them. But "they always erred in heart". [Psa. 95:10,11; Heb. 3:10,11] They were a stiffnecked and perverse generation. They despised the Gospel preached to them, and wished themselves again in Egypt. They murmured against the Lord, whose wonders they had witnessed in the Land of Ham. They were a people in whom was no faith; so that, "the Lord sware in his wrath, They shall not enter into my rest". [Ps. 95:10,11; Heb. 3:10,11]
Now the Apostle saith of this generation under Moses, and of those Jews who lived in his own day, "Unto us was the Gospel preached, as well as unto them; but the word of hearing did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it" (Heb. 4:2). From which it is clear, first, that the Gospel was preached to the Israelites whose carcases fell in the Wilderness; and secondly, that it was the same gospel that was preached to and by the apostles to their contemporaries.
3. -- The same Gospel was preached to the generation that invaded Canaan under Joshua.
The Lord said to Joshua the son of Nun, "Be strong, and of good courage: for thou shalt bring the children of Israel into the Land which I sware unto them: and I will be with thee" (Deut. 31:23). At that time Moses was permitted to view the Land promised to him and his fathers, but not to enter it. He was to wait until it was made "a heavenly country" (Heb. 11:16) under the sovereignty of Shiloh, to whom he was afterwards introduced on the Mount of Transfiguration.
"Within three days", said Joshua, "ye shall pass over this Jordan, to go in to possess this Land, which the Lord your God giveth you to possess it" (Josh. 1:11). "And the Lord gave unto Israel all the land which he sware to give unto their fathers: and they possessed it and dwelt therein. And the Lord gave them rest round about, according to all that he sware unto their fathers" (21:43,44). But this was not the Rest promised to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Samuel, David and the Prophets; they all hoped for the Rest to be manifested in the country lying between the Euphrates, Mediterranean, Nile, and Gulf of Persia according to the promise: this was the Gospel preached to them, whether actual residents in the Land or out of it. "These all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing (than Canaan as it was in their day) for us, that they without us should not be made perfect" (Heb.11:39,40).
The Rest in Canaan under the Mosaic Law to which Joshua introduced the nation was not the final rest which constitutes the burden of the gospel. Several hundred years after Joshua, the Holy Spirit said by David to his and all subsequent generations, "If ye harden your hearts ye shall not enter into my Rest": thus speaking of another rest in the Land of Promise differently constituted from that of Joshua. Let the reader study well Heb. 3 and 4 without referring to Word corrupting commentators. Paul says, Joshua did not give them rest; therefore, there remains a Sabbatism to Joshua, Caleb, etc. Where is this Rest? In the Holy Land when it shall be constituted an heavenly country or Paradise. And remember that it is declared that no one shall enter into the rest who does not believe the truth concerning it.
4. -- This same Gospel of the Rest which was preached to Abraham is amplified throughout all the Prophets.
Speaking of this, Paul says, "separated unto the Gospel of God, which he had promised afore by his prophets in the Holy Scriptures" (Rom. 1:1-2), Indeed, under this head, we may state summarily that all that is said about the latter day glory of the Israelites; about the magnificence and everlasting sovereignty of David's son, of his throne, and of his kingdom; of the future destiny of the Holy Land, of Jerusalem, and Zion; of the benign and peaceful reign of Messiah on his father David's throne; of his dominion over all nations; of the glory, honour, immortality, and royal priestly dignity of his saints, etc. -- all these, and much more, make up "the Gospel of God concerning his Son". [Rom. 1:1,3]
5. -- This same Gospel was preached by John the Baptist, by Jesus, and by his Apostles, before the Day of Pentecost.
John preached, saying, "Repent; for the Royal Dignity of the Heavens hath come!" "Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled (see Daniel) and the kingdom of God (or His Royal Dignity, or Majesty) is come: repent ye, and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:14,15) "I am sent", said he, "to preach the kingdom of God" (Luke 4:43). "And he sent his twelve disciples to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the Gospel, and healing everywhere" (Luke 9: 1,2,6).
From these texts it is plain that to preach the gospel was to preach about the Kingdom of God; and vice versa, that to preach the Kingdom of God was to preach the Gospel. Did John, Jesus, and the Twelve preach for the Gospel, baptism into the Trinity for remission to those who believed Jesus was the Son of God? No, they preached the Gospel Abraham rejoiced in; the good things of which wrought in the hearts and minds of those who believed, dispositions and modes of thinking after the Abrahamic Type this was repentance because of the Kingdom of God.
6. -- The same Gospel was preached by the Twelve, and by Paul, after the Day of Pentecost.
It would be easy to show that it was preached on every occasion recorded in the Acts. We are not now arguing, but declaring in as condensed a form as the subject will admit. We cannot now, therefore, go into minutiae. Turn to Acts 8:12. Philip's discourse consisted of two general divisions; first, "the things concerning the Kingdom of God", and secondly, concerning "the name of Jesus Christ" [Acts 8:12]: now mark, the first was the Gospel the second, the Mystery of the Gospel. See also Acts 19:8; 20:25; 28:31.
7. -- The grand principle brought to light by the preaching of the Gospel from Abraham to the Apostolic Era was -- Life and incorruptibiliy through the Kingdom of God.
The nature of the kingdom will manifest this. Read Daniel 2:44; 7:13,14,18,27. Here it will be seen that the Kingdom is to be indestructible; secondly, that it is not to be left to other people, or to pass from hand to hand; thirdly, it is to stand for ever, that is, to be superseded by no other; fourthly, the Saints are to take this Kingdom and possess it for ever; fifthly, they will possess it with the Son of Man to whom, sixthly, all nations will be politically and ecclesiastically obedient.
Flesh and blood, therefore, cannot inherit this Kingdom [1 Cor. 15:50] for flesh and blood is destructible or corruptible. If, when God sets up this Kingdom, the administration of its affairs were committed to mortals, they could only retain it as they now do the kingdoms of the World; but it is not to be left to successors [Dan. 2:44], hence, those who are promoted to its glory, honour, peace and power, must be immortal; so that when once appointed to office, being endowed with an incorruptible life, they can administer its affairs until it is delivered up to the Father by the Son at the expiration of a thousand years [Rev. 20:2-7; 1 Cor. 15:24,28] This glory, honour, incorruptibility, life, might, majesty, peace, blessedness and dominion are attributes of this Kingdom alone; to preach these things is to preach the Gospel through which incorruptibility and life are brought to light by Jesus Christ, the future sovereign of the world.
Such is the Gospel we now believe with our whole heart. Like Abraham, through the testimony concerning it, we "rejoice to see Messiah's Day; and do see it, and are glad". [John 8:56] It is our hope; the hope of our calling through Jesus; "the anchor to our soul, both sure and stedfast, within the vail" (Heb. 6:19). It is by this hope we are saved.
Does the reader believe the Gospel; does he earnestly desire to partake in such a glorious inheritance as this? Dismiss, then, "the vain and deceitful philosophy" [Col. 2:8] of the pietists, dream no more of phantom "kingdoms beyond the skies"; but be content to receive the word as a little child, and yield a willing conformity to the conditions of the Mystery of the Gospel of the Kingdom.
These are to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness; but to them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ crucified, the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:23,24).
1. -- The first condition is that you believe that Jesus of Nazareth is the Anointed King (Christ) and Son of the Living God;
2. -- That according to the predetermination of God, he was crucified for believers' sins; was buried; and rose again from the dead according to the prophets and apostles;
3. -- That you be the subject of the same disposition and mode of thinking as were Abraham, etc.;
4. -- That you be immersed in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit; that you may become the recipient of repentance, and remission of sins, or, of an imputation of righteousness, through the name of Jesus Christ.
We cannot enter into detail. The Scriptures must be searched in relation to these conditions. We can only kindle up the beacon fires. The Word is profitable for all things. An enlightened believer being thus obedient to the faith, is baptized for the resurrection, for the Kingdom of God, and for all else the Gospel promises. He thus becomes an Heir of God, and Co-heir with Jesus of the world. He will "inherit all things", [Rev. 21:7] provided --
5. -- That he walk worthy of his high destiny, "denying himself of ungodliness, and worldly lust, and living soberly, righteously and godly in the present age: looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ". [Titus 2:12,13] If he do these things he will never fall.