The Gospel has always been the gospel. It had been a mystery from the beginning of time, until Jesus came and revealed it by his teachings, his miracles and His death and resurrection. It is the same gospel Paul preached and the same one we teach today.
By faith, men of old laid hold of this mystery (now revealed as the gospel) and they obtained a good report. See Hebrews 11:2. They saw the promises from afar and acknowledged that they were but strangers and pilgrims on the earth. They embraced the promise of the gospel, even without knowing what it was.
That’s how Job would say,
“As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,
And at the last He will take His stand on the earth.
“Even after my skin is destroyed,
Yet from my flesh I shall see God;” Job 19:25,26
That’s how David would say,
“Restore to me the joy of Your salvation
And sustain me with a willing spirit.” Psalm 51:12
That’s how is is written of Abraham,
“Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.” Genesis 15:6
That’s how it is written by Isaiah of Christ, over a thousand years before Christ and the Cross,
“Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him.” Isaiah 53: 4-6
See that? Isaiah writes as if it had been done, because God spoke it as it it were done. And it is true, it had all been DONE from the perspective and annals of eternity, because the gospel is the eternal purpose of God towards mankind, being unfolded and revealed to us today in Christ. It was a mystery in times of old, still yet it was there and men of old laid hold of the inheritance promised by the gospel. Hallelujah! The Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world!
“Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago, but at the proper time manifested, even His word, in the proclamation with which I was entrusted according to the commandment of God our Savior,” Titus 1:1-3
“Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord,” Romans 1:1-4
“that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:26-27
“that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself,” Colossians 2:2
So we can see easily that:
1. The promise of the gospel was made a long time ago to the prophets.
2. Old Testament saints laid hold of the promise of the gospel and obtained a good report for their faith.
3. The gospel lies at the core of God’s eternal purpose for mankind.
4. The gospel has always been the basis of God’s relationship with humanity. It wasn’t an afterthought. The gospel is not a plan B. It has always been THE PLAN OF GOD.
5. The saints of old received the PROMISE of the gospel. But they didn’t receive the revelation of the Gospel itself, or it’s promises. We received the revelation of the gospel, as a fulfillment of the Promise made to the saints of old.
6. The saints of old received the substance of the gospel, same as we have, even though it was a mystery to them.
7. This is why the early church was able to preach and teach the gospel from the Old Testament. To them, the Revelation of Christ was the key to unlocking the scripture. Imagine Paul’s delight when all the scripture verses he had memorized (by virtue of his religious training) suddenly began to make great sense, after he had an encounter with Jesus!
By the gospel and through faith, those men and women of old along with us will inherit the promises of the gospel. There is no occasion for us to feel superior to them, but to be grateful at the opportunity to be born on this side of the cross. There is greater revelation given us, which gives us greater accountability to handle the New Covenant. This means greater responsibilities and a warning of a greater punishment if we treat this covenant lightly!
So saints, we must beware of folks who have lost touch with the historical progression of God’s movements on the earth, who twist the scriptures to their own peril because they are unlearned and unstable.
~ Ovo Okpubuluku