Do the four Gospels present a different message of salvation than the rest of the New Testament?
Some readers of the New Testament claim that the message of salvation in the four Gospels seems different than the message in the rest of its books. Is this true?
A close look at the New Testament reveals that the same message of salvation is consistent throughout the New Testament. For example, Jesus taught that salvation comes from believing in Him: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). The apostles taught this same message at the Day of Pentecost when the church began (Acts 2:36). The apostle Paul affirmed this same gospel message in many accounts, including Ephesians 2:8-9 about the gift of salvation received through belief in Jesus: "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast."
In addition, both Jesus and the apostles were consistent in teaching that Christ is the only source of salvation. Jesus taught in John 14:6, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." The apostles were later arrested for their faith, yet boldly proclaimed, "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).
Jesus further provided a bridge between His ministry recorded in the four Gospels and the work of the apostles in His Great Commission: "And Jesus came and said to them, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age'" (Matthew 28:18-20).
This Great Commission emphasizes the main command "make disciples" or followers with three parts. First, the disciples were commanded to "go." In other words, they were to be active in taking the gospel message to others. Second, the apostles were commanded to baptize. Baptism is a public expression of a person's commitment to believe in Jesus. On the Day of Pentecost those who believed were baptized the same day—about 3,000 people (Acts 2:41)! Third, the apostles were to teach everything Jesus had commanded them. The message of the New Testament was the message of Jesus, not a different gospel.
While each book of the New Testament includes a different emphasis for its particular readers and circumstances, salvation is the same in its focus (Christ) and its process (grace through faith). There is not a different message in the four Gospels and the rest of the New Testament. Instead, there is additional, unfolding revelation from God to present a fuller picture of God's great, single way of salvation provided through Jesus Christ.
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