SHOULD WE STRIVE TO DISTRIBUTE THE FOUR GOSPEL RECORDS?
by Shawn Brasseaux
If we can use the Scriptures to answer this question—To whom was Christ’s earthly ministry directed?—then we will be able to answer the first question!
Recently, a ministry was raising money to intentionally distribute one book containing the Gospel Records of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. While we certainly do not fault anyone for being zealous in getting God’s Word to all nations, that everyone may hear and believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ, there is a better way to conduct such an endeavor.
Sadly, professing Christians are continuously struggling concerning evangelism and daily sanctification. Whether genuine or only nominal, these believers are unable to present a clear Gospel message. They come quite close to the truth at times, yet their obscure words are simply an inadequate basis for faith. What results? Lost people remain lost. Also, genuine Christians (who heard it) begin to wonder if they themselves have believed the right message.
Daily Christian living (daily sanctification) fares no better. Lost people, having not heard a clear Gospel, assume they can work to become Christians. In fact, they often appear to be Christians. Then, we have the Christians who usually act like lost people. Ultimately, the lost people assume they must be Christians, for the “Christians” behave worse than they do! Since Christians have yet to grasp that they are not lost people, they see no reason to act otherwise! Plain and simple, such unending confusion stems from a failure to rightly divide the word of truth. Verses are lifted out of context, thrown into one “Gospel message” or “Christian living message,” and then doled out to the public. Hopefully undertaken with the best intentions, these attempts nevertheless reinforce misunderstandings rather than mitigate them.
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). There is no doubt whatsoever that all 66 Books of the Bible came from God’s mouth. He spoke them, preserved them, and translated them into our language. It is such a tragedy that He went through all that trouble to give us the plain and simple truth, and we still manage to complicate it literally beyond belief.
It is assumed that Jesus’ utterances in Matthew through John are the most authoritative in Scripture. Are the words of God the Son really greater than those of God the Spirit? Do the Holy Spirit’s words in Genesis through Malachi carry less weight than Christ’s words of His earthly ministry? Certainly not! What we need to understand is not only who is speaking, but to whom is it addressed. If God is talking, but to someone other than us, do we have the right to claim those Divine utterances as ours? Absolutely not!
Christ’s earthly ministry is based on Israel’s covenants: “Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision [Jews] for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers” (Romans 15:8). He was sent to Israel only in Matthew through John. “But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24; cf. Matthew 10:5-7; John 4:22); we Gentiles (non-Jews) are not in view. What He taught therein was designed to re-orient Israel toward the pure Law system from which they had drifted (Galatians 4:4; Matthew 8:4). His doctrine prepares an earthly people who have an earthly hope: “The meek… shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5). Doctrine in the Four Gospel Records depends on Israel rising to kingdom glory (Luke 1:15-17,67-79).
Now, contrast that with the Holy Spirit’s words through Paul. Paul is God’s apostle—or “sent one,” spokesman—to us Gentiles (Romans 11:13; cf. Acts 26:14-18). We are under grace not law (Romans 6:14-15). We have no claim to earth, as our destiny is the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3; Ephesians 2:6-7). Israel is currently fallen (Romans chapters 9–11); hence, her doctrine in Matthew through John is not the most recent Divine revelation.
Matthew through John are certainly inspired of God. We should read, study, and believe them. Nevertheless, they are not God’s Word to or about us. It is no more appropriate to make them fit us than it is to say that we must obey Genesis chapter 6 and prepare for a global flood by building a giant boat. Indeed, right division is key to understanding the right Gospel and enjoying victorious Christian living.
Matthew through John are God’s Word to and about Israel preparing to receive her Messiah-King (Jesus Christ) and earthly kingdom (Matthew 10:5-7; Romans 9:4-5). Jesus Christ and His associates (His heralder or forerunner John the Baptist, His 12 apostles, and so on) thus preached “the Gospel of the Kingdom” (Matthew 9:35; cf. Matthew 3:2; Matthew 4:17; et cetera). They performed miracles to validate that Gospel message that God’s kingdom was near (Mark 16:20; Luke 8:1-2). Israel would be delivered from bondage to sin and Satan, and then she would take God’s Word to the nations. Yet, Israel has yet to be delivered! God has temporarily paused the program He was operating in Christ’s earthly ministry. Through Israel’s fall salvation is come to us Gentiles (Romans 11:11-14).
Jesus Christ gave the Apostle Paul “the Dispensation of the Grace of God” to give to us Gentiles (Ephesians 3:1-2). We do not find God’s present-day dealings with man in Matthew through John; we find our instructions in Romans through Philemon. How will Father God stabilize our souls? Through His Word “rightly divided” (2 Timothy 2:15)! We must understand Paul’s Gospel (1 Corinthians 15:3-4), then the rest of Pauline doctrine, and finally the entire Bible in light of Pauline revelation.
Romans chapter 16: “ Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,  But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:….”
Thus, Christian friend, if you are wondering where to begin with Bible translation or distribution, you are strongly urged to start with the Book of Romans. Romans is the clearest exposition of the Gospel of Grace by which we have a relationship with God today (chapters 1–5). It is also the most basic handbook for Christian living (chapters 6–16), with special emphasis on us not being the nation Israel (chapters 9–11). Simple!