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The Gospel and the Church

Posted by Matt Postiff November 1, 2018 on Matt Postiff's Blog under Gospel  Church 

This post may be most helpful to our friends who hold reformed theology. It has to do with the Old Testament revelation concerning the gospel and the church.

I believe that some people may not be observing an important difference indicated in the words of the apostle Paul in two sections of Scripture. Here they are:

...the gospel of God which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord...Romans 1:1-3
...the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery...which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the Gospel...Ephesians 3:2-6

In short, Paul is saying that the gospel of Christ was revealed in the Old Testament Scriptures, but that another truth—of Gentiles as fellow heirs, as part of the same body, and as partakers of God's promises—was not revealed there.

I think there may be a tendency to conflate the two. We see promises about Christ and we see promises about Gentiles in some connection with Christ. We automatically connect those to "church" even though Paul does not. He sees the two ideas as distinct enough that he can say one was revealed and one was not.

The distinction between gospel and church is fairly clear today. If for no other reason, we can see it in some of our friends who want to enjoy Christ's gospel, but not Christ's church. They are wrong to do this, of course, but the distinction is real nonetheless. It is true that the church partakes of Christ through the gospel, that is, the church builds on top of the gospel.

The gospel was quite clearly portrayed in the Old Testament (see Isaiah 53 for instance). The church, however, was not clearly portrayed. Don't mix the two, as if the revelation of one entails and makes clear the other. It does not, certainly not in Paul's mind.

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