The gospel of John the Baptist and of Christ before His death.

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Unprofitable Servant

Puritan Board Freshman
I have been approached by a person of a mostly universalist belief system who asked me this question, and I am having trouble answering it, to my shame.

Here is the question: "What was the gospel Jesus Christ and John the Baptist preached?"

Can you help me answer this?

I don't believe Jesus' preaching was centered on His death and atonement- He did allude to His death, but I don't know that He "preached" His own death.

I don't know that "the gospel" was the fact that He was the Messiah, in any case, He was yet unrevealed when John the Baptist was baptizing people and preaching the gospel.

The Gospels clearly state that people believed the gospel, before He was revealed or acknowledged as anything other than a teacher, and before even His disciples knew He was to die.

So how can I answer this? I don't understand why this is so hard for me to answer.

I have asked this in several settings- person to person, on other Christian forums, and other websites, and all I seem to hear are accusations about how I don't understand justification by faith, or atonement, or (once) how I don't believe the gospel and must not be converted. So not being able to explain something= I am unconverted or at least under suspiscion? :doh: I thought that was called needing instruction.

That's not it though. I am not in doubt, I am not apostasizing, I just feel like a fool for not being able to coherently answer this question, and am often made to feel foolish for asking it. I just am having trouble with this question, to my great embarassment. Can anyone help?
 
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Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
John:

He saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!... For this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel." (John 1:29, 31)

Jesus:

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him." (John 3:16-17)

"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Mark 10:45)


John and Jesus both said many things. But when it comes to the PURPOSE for their ministries, it seems both made it clear that Jesus' death for salvation from sin was central. In addition, John's chief concern was that his listeners notice Jesus, the one who came after him and was greater than him. And the passages that show how Jesus' chief concern for others was that they have faith in him are so numerous that I won't even begin to list them.

The universalists have to deconstruct a large portion of both Jesus' and John's teachings to reach their wrongheaded conclusions.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
People could believe in Jesus of Nazareth as Messiah and Son of God, without fully understanding how He was going to bring salvation.

Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. (Matt 16:16-17, ESV)
From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. (Matt 16:21-23, ESV)
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this? She said to him, "Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world." (John 11:25-27, ESV)
Abraham and all the OT saints believed in God as their Saviour, and anticipated the coming of the Messiah, but how much of the theology could they articulate as we can in the NT:

Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad. (John 8:56, ESV)
The message of John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth, was that people should repent of their sins and believe on Jesus as the Messiah which was promised.

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29, ESV)
:2cents:
 

Unprofitable Servant

Puritan Board Freshman
I did mention John 1:29, and it's pretty obvious to me that there must have been prior mention of and teaching about this concept by John. Lots of scenes and snippets come to mind, but I can't point to one comprehensive place where it was all spelled out at once.

And, I suppose, that's the point. Maybe I need to re-assess this entire discussion I'm having and approach it from the context of the entirety of Scripture- the Messiah context, the fact that not every word Jesus said and every deed He did is recorded in the 4 gospels (John said this explicitly), and just, in general, a larger view of the whole subject to include the rest of the NT. I think maybe that debating details in this case is like fighting a forest fire with a watergun.

In the end, this fellow wants to reduce the gospel to a fuzzy, "be a nice person", "try hard" and "live by the golden rule" type of works-salvation...which is either terribly inconsistent or still wholly impossible.
 

JennyG

Puritan Board Graduate
thanks for the question, Justin. This is something I've often and often puzzled over too.
The times that Jesus is recorded as speaking of his death come quite late in his ministry and even the disciples don't seem to have taken it on board. But he did, like John, "preach the Gospel" from the start, and the Gospel is his atoning death!
 

JennyG

Puritan Board Graduate
should we see the miracles as an acting out of his mission (freeing from every kind of sin and imperfection and from death itself) - and so a sort of preaching the Gospel?
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
And, I suppose, that's the point. Maybe I need to re-assess this entire discussion I'm having and approach it from the context of the entirety of Scripture- the Messiah context, the fact that not every word Jesus said and every deed He did is recorded in the 4 gospels (John said this explicitly), and just, in general, a larger view of the whole subject to include the rest of the NT. I think maybe that debating details in this case is like fighting a forest fire with a watergun.
You've got to remember that OT saints and the ones around until Pentecost and beyond wouldn't have articulated the Gospel in the same way we do. We have far more explicit details than they had.

The basics of the Gospel consist in the message that God is able and willing to save. You must have a sure word of special revelation from God that He is able and willing to save you from your sins. The wonderful details of God becoming Man in Jesus Christ and what He did feed our faith, but how much could be explained by the average saint in the Patriarchal or Mosaic administrations - maybe more than we might think, but less than we can and in a diifferent way. They didn't know that the Messiah was going to be Jesus of Nazareth.

Those who look to themselves for justification have never been saved:
But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted. (Luke 18:13-14, ESV)
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
When Simeon held the infant Jesus in his arms he said, "Mine eyes have seen thy salvation." Jesus is held out as the savior, and as the object of faith. He held himself out in this way, explicitly in places like John 7 and Mark 2, by actions more than words at other times. Obviously the subsequent events enable us to see how the savior accomplished salvation; but the great thing was to trust Christ, whether you understood what he would do and how he would do it or not.
 

newcreature

Puritan Board Freshman
One other difference to remember is that John the Baptist preached of the messiah who was to come. His purpose was to prepare the way for the messiah, although I can't imagine why this was necessary, as if Jesus himself was not enough?

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,
“Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way,
the voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,’”
John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

(Mark 1:1-4 ESV)


Now, when Jesus came, he was the Messiah, and his message was that He is the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father except by Him. Jesus told the world in many ways that He was the Son of God and that faith in Him alone is the only way to salvation. His gospel was of love, redemption, and faith. Jesus defeated sin and death once and for all, and all who believe on Him will be saved.
 
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