What is the Gospel? Don't ask Adrian Davis!
If any of you had any doubts about the real dangers that the doctrine of Anglo-Israelism poses to the Gospel message, you should check out CGI's Pastor Adrian Davis's latest offering on the subject! The most recent installment of their Armor of God
, What is the Gospel?
, suggests that the Gospel is for and about Israel
! In the almost half-hour program, Davis asserts that the Gospel (or Good News) is NOT about the teachings of Christ and his apostles! He also states that the Gospel is NOT the STORY of Christ's life and teachings as outlined in the first four books of the New Testament! According to Davis, the message is all about Israel and salvation through them! Does that sound like blasphemy to you? I hope so.
However, for those of you who may see some merit in Pastor Davis's message, buckle your seat belts and put on your big boy pants; because what follows will completely discredit his answer to the question (What is the Gospel?) and prove from the Scriptures that the Good News is ALL about Jesus Christ and salvation through him!
To give the devil his due, I do agree with Pastor Davis that the Greek word "eunangelion" which has traditionally been translated into English as "Gospel" means GOOD NEWS (see Blue Letter Bible's entry for Euangelion
). We also agree that this "good news" is focused on the positive outcome of a seminal event in God's plan(s). Unfortunately, that's just about where our agreement ends!
According to Davis, the Gospel MUST: 1) be "this" gospel - the one Christ mentioned in Matthew 24:14 (wait until you hear what he thinks constitutes "this" gospel before you jump on his bandwagon), 2) be the same gospel that the forefathers heard (by this he means the ancient Israelites operating under the terms of the Old Covenant), and 3) be controversial (offensive - not well-received). After listing the elements of the message which he considers to be essential, Davis proceeded to assert that "If you're not keeping the Sabbath, how can you call yourself a Christian?" For Davis, the gospel that Jesus preached is synonymous with the message which Isaiah delivered to ancient Israel. "What's wrong with that?" you may be wondering. The problem is that Pastor Davis believes that this should be understood in the context in which Isaiah delivered it to the Israelites of old, not through the lens/filter of Jesus Christ and his teachings!
He begins with Christ's quotation of a passage from Isaiah during a synagogue service narrated in the fourth chapter of Luke's Gospel. We read there: "When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures. The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written: 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.' He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. Then he began to speak to them. 'The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!'" (Verses 16-21, NLT)
The passage, of course, is found in the sixty-first chapter of the book of Isaiah. Unlike Christ, however, Davis didn't stop there, he included the rest of the passage. "Well, wasn't he just providing context?" you may be wondering. Let's look at the text and see how Pastor Davis employed it in his larger argument. We read: "To all who mourn in Israel
, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.
They will rebuild the ancient ruins, repairing cities destroyed long ago. They will revive them, though they have been deserted for many generations. Foreigners will be your servants
. They will feed your flocks and plow your fields and tend your vineyards. You will be called priests of the Lord, ministers of our God. You will feed on the treasures of the nations and boast in their riches.
Instead of shame and dishonor, you will enjoy a double share of honor. You will possess a double portion of prosperity in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours. For I, the Lord, love justice. I hate robbery and wrongdoing. I will faithfully reward my people for their suffering and make an everlasting covenant with them. Their descendants will be recognized and honored among the nations. Everyone will realize that they are a people the Lord has blessed.
" (Verses 3-9) To be clear, Adrian Davis believes that this passage establishes his contention that the Gospel is all about Israel and the restoration of their fortunes! In other words, Pastor Davis believes the same thing that the ancient Israelites believed about themselves - that their physical descent from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob entitled them to be ABOVE
ALL of the other peoples of the earth!
You see, Mr. Davis and his allies in CGI believe that the English-speaking nations of the world are descended from two of the "lost" ten tribes of Israel. And, although he doesn't explicitly outline the doctrine of Anglo-Israelism in his remarks in this particular message, it is implied in everything he says and is strongly suggested in a number of more specific statements. For example, he acknowledges that there is currently a nation called Israel, but he goes on to make clear that God is NOT talking about that nation. Indeed, he specifically points to "wealthy" nations like the United States and Canada as being the modern representatives of the House of Israel. For Davis, Jerusalem will someday be the seat of salvation, and salvation will be open to the world through Israel
Unfortunately, a number of passages which completely contradict Adrian's assertions about the nature of the Gospel are missing from his narrative/message. A number of these will come immediately to the mind of most of us. Let's look at just a few of them: "Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6, ESV), "For God so loved the world <not
just Israel>, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16), "And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12), "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone
who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." (Romans 1:16), "But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8), "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23), "Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." (Romans 10:9) <let's not forget too that this epistle (Romans) was written to GENTILE Christians>, "My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
" (I John 2:1-2), "And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life." (I John 5:11-12), etc., etc. In other words, salvation is through Jesus Christ - PERIOD!
The Apostle Paul wrote to the saints at Corinth that "Christ didn’t send me to baptize, but to preach the Good News—and not with clever speech, for fear that the cross of Christ would lose its power. The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God...Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe. It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven. And it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdom. So, when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended, and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense. But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength." (I Corinthians 1:17-25, NLT) In other words, Paul's Gospel message was ALL
about Jesus Christ and salvation through HIM!
Although we have very different perspectives on the nature of the Gospel message found in the Old Testament, I do agree with Pastor Davis that it can be found there. The oft repeated promise that ALL of the nations of the earth would be blessed through Abraham's offspring (see Genesis 18:18, 22:18, 26:4) referred to Jesus Christ and the salvation that would be made available to EVERYONE through him. It does NOT
refer to the tidbits and scraps that wealthy nations like Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States contribute to the other nations of the world through various foreign aid programs! Likewise, when God promised Jacob that he would make of his descendants "a great nation, even many nations" or in the words of the King James Version "a nation and a company of nations" (Genesis 35:11), it is absolutely ABSURD to suggest that he had the United States and Britain in mind! Indeed, if we are thinking in terms of salvation through Jesus Christ, it makes much more sense to believe that he was referring to Israel and all of the other Gentile nations of the world! Once again, it is absolutely ridiculous to suggest that spiritual promises be downgraded to physical ones!
The TRUTH is that Isaiah did preach the same Gospel that Jesus and Paul preached, but Adrian Davis didn't reference that passage in his message! In the fifty-third chapter of that book, we read: "Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore, will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors." (Verses 1-12, KJV) THAT is the Gospel/Good News that Christ and his apostles brought to the world!
God chose the people of Israel to introduce himself to the rest of humanity - NOT to single them out for special treatment or status, or because they were somehow superior to the peoples of other nations (see Deuteronomy 7:7-9). God used Israel to demonstrate to other peoples the blessings which could result from serving him, and the terrible suffering that could result from his absence or wrath. In this connection, it is interesting to note that the entire Western world now has the Hebrew Bible, and that the WHOLE world has been exposed to it or its principles to one degree or another. Israel was a tool and a means to a much grander end! Moreover, God's Son, Jesus Christ, was born of the lineage of Abraham and David! And THAT is precisely how God fulfilled his promises to BOTH men!
After castigating the saints of Galatia for abandoning the Gospel of Christ (see Galatians 1:1-7), Paul wrote that "Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham." (Galatians 3:6-9) A little later, in the same chapter, he added: "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man's covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto. Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ." (Verses 13-16) Later still, Paul concluded his thought with this famous statement: "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek,
there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
" (Verses 26-29)
In his remarks, Pastor Davis quoted from Christ's answer to his disciples' questions about the destruction of the temple, the sign of his return, and the timing of the end of the age. In the fourteenth verse of the twenty-fourth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, we read that Christ told them that "this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." Now, Mr. Davis made much of that English word "witness" (Greek "martyrion"
) which simply means testimony, and please notice that it would have to "be preached in ALL THE WORLD - UNTO ALL NATIONS!
Unfortunately, Pastor Davis left out another important Scripture regarding the preaching of the Gospel. After completing his ministry on this earth, we are informed by the same Gospel (Matthew), which Mr. Davis referenced in his message, that Christ gave these final instructions to his disciples: "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach ALL nations, baptizing them
in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:
and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen." (Matthew 28:18-20)
In other words, the Gospel is ALL about Christ and his message (which focused on the salvation available through him)! The Gospel/Good News has NOTHING to do with a warning message to the English-speaking nations of the earth - NOTHING
! It's just a suggestion, but may I humbly commend to Pastor Davis's attention Paul's warning to the saints of Galatia: "Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you. I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed." (Galatians 1:8-9, NLT)