Then Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. As usual he went into the synagogue on the day of worship. He stood up to read the lesson. 17 The attendant gave him the book of the prophet Isaiah. He opened it and found the place where it read:
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is with me. He has anointed me to tell the Good News to the poor. He has sent me to announce forgiveness to the prisoners of sin and the restoring of sight to the blind, to forgive those who have been shattered by sin, 19 to announce the year of the Lord’s favor.”
20 Jesus closed the book, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. Everyone in the synagogue watched him closely. 21 Then he said to them, “This passage came true today when you heard me read it.”
(Luke 4:16-21, God’s Word version)
Paul of Tarsus:
Brothers and sisters, I’m making known to you the Good News which I already told you, which you received, and on which your faith is based. 2 In addition, you are saved by this Good News if you hold on to the doctrine I taught you, unless you believed it without thinking it over. 3 I passed on to you the most important points of doctrine that I had received:
Christ died to take away our sins as the Scriptures predicted.
4 He was placed in a tomb.
He was brought back to life on the third day as the Scriptures predicted.
5 He appeared to Cephas. Next he appeared to the twelve apostles. 6 Then he appeared to more than 500 believers at one time. (Most of these people are still living, but some have died.) 7 Next he appeared to James. Then he appeared to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, he also appeared to me.
(1 Corinthians 15:1-8, God’s Word version)
In the last 500 years men have said:
The Gospel is that message which announces what a man must believe in order to obtain the forgiveness of sins from and reconciliation with God.
Each man has failed to keep the law of God and has transgressed it, his corrupted nature, thoughts, words, and deeds war against that law, and he is therefore subject to the wrath of God, to death, to temporal miseries, and to the punishment of hell-fire.
The content of the Gospel is this, that the Son of God, Christ our Lord, himself took the form of a man, lived a perfect life under the law, paid the required penalty for all our sins with his atoning sacrificial death, and conquered hell and death with his resurrection from the dead, and that this is an historical reality, to which the church testifies.
It is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone that this message is believed and we reenter that perfect relationship with God, obtaining the forgiveness of sins and being set free from death and all the punishments of sin, and are eternally saved to be forever with God.
These don’t seem the same, do they?
Are these three completely different views? Can they be harmonized somehow?
Did modern man get off track by misunderstanding Paul and creating a gospel that Jesus never intended?
Did Paul somehow co-opt the gospel of Jesus and create his own religion that missed the point of what Jesus came to proclaim?
And why would Jesus call a bunch of fishermen, tax collectors, militia men (Zealots), and other rabbi school drop-outs as his ambassadors, and then later on bring a highly-trained, intelligent, former member of the Jewish Sanhedrin to correct them all? Does that really make sense based on how Jesus started out?
Are men making up their own complicated gospel that focuses on shame and mental assent to doctrines instead of embracing the simple good news of Jesus and his way of love?
One of these things is not like the other.