John Gavazzoni
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The Gavazzonis'

The Gospel
By John Gavazzoni

Rather than ease into our subject, as I'm sometimes inclined to do, I feel a compulsion laid upon me to open with a bold assertion, one, concerning which I will not, yea cannot yield an inch of reconsideration. The said assertion is simply this: In the administration of God, there is only one essential gospel. It is the gospel John the Baptist preached, the one Jesus, our Lord Himself preached, and which was the essence of the message of Peter, Stephen, James, Paul, Barnabas, Aquila and Priscilla, Apollos, and of all who authoritatively proclaimed "the faith once delivered unto the saints."

Reflective of the wisdom of God, which is its source, the gospel is a message of manifold, multifaceted, multi-variegated dimensions, all of which, taken together, give us an understanding of just how it is "the power of God unto salvation." It, the one gospel, is the gospel of the kingdom of God, the gospel of God, the gospel of Christ, and of grace, and of our salvation, and yes, the same gospel Paul claimed as "my gospel." It also is the same gospel to "the circumcision, and to the uncircumcision," — "for there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek, for the same Lord of all, is rich unto all that call upon Him."

Did you get that? ". . . the same LORD (emphasis mine).” He saves us as our Lord. Some may think that they can experience Him as Savior, but not as Lord. Nay, Nay! When the Lord of glory comes in, He comes in as the saving Lord, the conqueror of all enemies, and all enmity, the conqueror of the final enemy, death. He is the Lamb in the midst of the THRONE, that is, central to His Lordship is His Savior-hood. It is within His Lordship that we experience His salvation.

It is a crude and clumsy conclusion that there was some substantive difference between the gospel that Peter preached to "the circumcision" on the Day of Pentecost, and that which Paul preached to the "uncircumcision." Examined carefully, the message of both of those servants of Jesus Christ, contained the same essential elements, but tailored to their respective audiences.

It has been assumed by some that since Peter declared "Repent, and be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit," that he included requirements of response from his audience that Paul, in his ministry to the Gentiles did not. It must be noted that Peter was responding to his listener's cry, "Brethren, what shall we do?"

God often inspires a minister of the gospel to make certain concessions to the cultural conditioning of those whose heart He is opening to His grace. Peter's audience was not, at that point, capable of receiving the message of salvation apart from their liturgical conditioning. All responses to God, in their religious acculturation, required an outward expression of their submission to the will of God. Their religious culture was full of such displays, especially as represented in the many external "washings" and "purifications."

A modern equivalent, and virtually identical corollary, would be that of a man, who, having been raised in the quite uniquely American revival tradition of responding to the message of the gospel by "coming forward," and "kneeling at the mourner's bench," or "altar of repentance," would find great difficulty processing the Lord's call, except in the above fashion. For that man, whether he would be "making a first-time decision for Christ," or "coming back to the Lord," the experience would not feel complete for him, without submitting to what that tradition had come to associate with "receiving Christ."

Apart from that very practical concession that was integral to Peter connecting with his audience, his message contained the same elements as that of Paul. Paul, indeed, was given further revelation re: the full implications of the elements within Peter's sermon, but it was NOT a revelation re: "another gospel." It was not a revelation of a gospel for the Gentiles, in contradistinction to a gospel for the Jews.

He was inspired to infer from the basic principles of the gospel as preached by the apostles before him, the deeper implications to be found in the Christ event. He was given to understand the full purpose, and final effect on mankind, of the declaration of the Lord having been crucified by the Jews, at the hands of wicked Romans, of His resurrection, of the truth that all that God had accomplished in His death and resurrection, was only for those listening on that occasion, but for their "children, and all who were afar off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself."

There is no essential difference between the gospel of the kingdom, and the gospel of our salvation. It is not true that the gospel of the kingdom was for the Jews, while the gospel of the grace of God, was for the Gentiles.

Our heart’s need, is all the same. No man is made whole (the essential meaning of salvation, as it pertains to a man's relationship to God) except by the message assuring him that God has demonstrated in the crucifixion of Christ, that He does not reckon sin against him, and that there is life from the dead, a new incorruptible, glorious future of communion with a perfectly loving Heavenly Father, through Christ's resurrection.

I have said it before. There exists a popular theological model within western fundamentalism that imposes a mentality of fragmenting the message of scripture, by compartmentalizing portions of the whole, thus destroying the underlying cohesiveness of the Bible's message. It's a mentality that seeks a kind of artificial neatness, a reduction of the administration of God into a this-goes-here-and-that-goes-there view of salvation's history. It is very lacking in the understanding of the river that flows from Genesis to Revelation. Rather than a flow, it's more like a journey of jerky starts and stops.

John described the salvific effect of that singular gospel by his insight that "we know and believe the love God has for us." It is that knowledge, and that conviction, confidence and assurance, that continuous believing that supplies wholeness to the sin-sick soul. Just one final observation which I would think should be a troubling fact to the compartmentalizing mind. Just what sort of gospel did Peter, the apostle to the Jews, deliver to the Gentiles in Cornelius' house?

Read the account for yourself, and see if you can find any essential difference between his sermon on the Day of Pentecost, and what he delivered in Cornelius' house. One magnificent difference does stand out, which seems to me to be one by which God gave special, emphatic evidence of His inclusion of the Gentiles in the salvation that He wrought in His Son. For "While Peter was still speaking these words (essentially of Christ crucified and risen - my editorial), the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. And all the circumcised believers who had come with Peter were amazed because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out upon the Gentiles also."

The Big Fisherman had never had a fishing experience like that before. While he was still throwing out his net, the fish were jumping into the boat. I love it! The glorious God, of great, gracious surprises! There was no need of a concession to a religious mentality on that occasion. What might such a thing suggest as to what we might expect of the Lord in the closing days of this age. He's the God of treasures old and new, always drawing forth out of the eternal, new things in the eons. “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised.” Let us deliver to all men, the gospel that Paul first preached, of which he reminded the Corinthians that nothing else was his message:
"That Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose again the third day . . . "

John GavazzoniJohn Gavazzoni
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