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The Right Division between Two Gospels: Kingdom (circumcision) and Grace (uncircumcision)

Dr. Mike Johnston

If you’re ever itching for a fistfight with a carnal Christian, tell him that the gospel of grace he preaches in this but now dispensation (Rom. 15:1-4) is NOT the gospel of the kingdom John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter and the apostles preached (Matt. 4:23; 10:7).

In his superb book “Why So Many Churches”, Dr. Noah Hutchings, one of my favorite Bible teachers, writes, “It is important for Christians to understand … Paul and Peter did not preach the same message. They preached the same Christ, but not the same gospel.” (Why So Many Churches, 1992). You will understand this shortly when I unfold it.

The word gospel means “a good message” (Strong). The fact is, there are several of them listed in the Bible [1] that God dispensed through history. Two primary Gospel messages exist within the harmonious framework of the entire time triad spectrum.

  • Time past: Gospel of the Kingdom to Israel (Matt. 4:23; 9:35) Ended sometime after Paul’s conversion in mid Acts and the revelation of the mystery he received from Jesus (Rom. 16:25).
  • But now: Gospel of the Grace of God to Jews and Gentiles alike. Ends when the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Rom. 11:25)
  • Ages to come: gospel of the Kingdom to Israel. Daniel’s prophecy calendar resumes at the 70th week of seven years known as Israel’s Tribulation or “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7; Dan. 12:1; Zeph. 1:15).

1. The Gospel of the Kingdom during the Prophecy Program – to Israel in “time past”:

The gospel of the kingdom (Matt. 4:23; 9:35) – is also called “the gospel of the circumcision” (Ga. 2:7-9) that Peter preached. It is good news to the Jews which Christ preached “in time past” (Matt. 4:23; 9:35) connecting Israel to the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 15:18)[2] including circumcision (Gen. 17; Gal. 2:7) by offering to confirm the Davidic Covenant by inaugurating the earthly Kingdom promised to the seed of David (2 Sam. 7:8-16). [3]

Once again, keep in mind this gospel of the kingdom is NOT the gospel preached by Paul, nor is it the gospel we preach in this dispensation. Ours is the gospel of the grace of God, but only provisionally until the church is removed at the rapture.

2. The Gospel of the grace of God during the Mystery Program – to us in the “but now”:

The gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24) – is also called “the gospel of the uncircumcision” (Gal. 2:7-9)  which is good news for Jews and Gentiles who come to Christ by faith and are saved, justified, sanctified, glorified, and spiritually baptized into the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13) where we are seated in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6) and sealed forever (Eph. 1:13-14) apart from anything other than faith in Christ’s shed blood which permanently removes our sin from us. By Paul’s own words this was a “but now” gospel unique for the uncircumcision (Gal. 2:7), never before preached or taught:

“But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:11-12). [4]

This is the only gospel of salvation (Eph. 1:13; see 1 Cor. 15:1-4; Gal. 1:6) for this dispensation. [5]It will continue, “until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Rom. 11:25) in the latter days before Israel’s Tribulation.

3. The Gospel of the Kingdom during the Prophecy Program – to Israel in the “ages to come”:

Following at some point in the “ages to come” after the mystery church has disappeared in the mystery rapture, one of the chosen angels of God will seal 144,000 Jewish servants of God as Tribulation evangelists (Rev. 7:2-8) preaching once again this gospel of the kingdom [6] heralding the Lord’s return to inaugurate His Davidic Kingdom in Jerusalem (Matt. 24:14).

In summary, God’s program for Israel and the church are as different as the time period they occupy and the gospel message assigned each of them to preach during that time.

[1] Salvation in God’s economy has always involved faith and grace that He dispensed separately to particular individuals at any given time. For instance, Adam and Eve never heard the Name Jesus Christ, but God pictured His sacrifice by shedding the blood of innocent animals to cover their sin (Gen. 3:21). They apparently demonstrated their faith the moment they put on this new clothing.

[2] The Abrahamic Covenant is an everlasting covenant (Gen. 17:13, 19). O ye seed of Abraham his servant, ye children of Jacob his chosen. He is the LORD our God: his judgments are in all the earth. He hath remembered his covenant for ever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations. Which covenant he made with Abraham, and his oath unto Isaac; And confirmed the same unto Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant: Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance: (Psalms 105:6-11)

[3] God made 5 unilateral Covenants with Israel and none with the Body of Christ. Bear in mind our time past status: “without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise …” (Ephesians 2:12).

[4] Dr. William MacDonald observes that this “is the thrilling message of God’s undeserved favor to guilty, ungodly sinners who deserve nothing but everlasting hell. It tells how the Son of God’s love came from heaven’s highest glory to suffer, bleed, and die on Calvary in order that those who believe on Him might receive forgiveness of sins and everlasting life.” (Believer’s Bible Commentary, 1995)

[5] This includes the gospel of uncircumcision (Gal. 2:7), which is good news for Gentiles as Paul explains, “Ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:11-13). [No Covenant, Dispensation of Grace]

[6] This includes the gospel of circumcision (Gal. 2:7), which is good news for the Jews preached “in time past” linking them to the Abrahamic Covenant, the foundational contract for Israel’s relationship with God. It formed the groundwork for the promises that would be revealed in the other covenants. The Lord Jesus Christ, James, Peter (Cephas) and John were all ministers of the circumcision (Rom. 15:8; Gal. 2:7-9). [Old Covenant, Dispensation of the Law]

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