So just what is the Gospel of the Kingdom?
And what is the Kingdom of God anyway?
When they preached the Kingdom, what did they preach?
The answers to those questions are not as easy to find as you might expect. If we look at the four gospel accounts, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, we do not find a 'definition' of the Kingdom. The Good News Jesus first said was simply that "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand." (Mark 1:15) He spoke this to the Jews, who were expecting that the Kingdom would be a restoration of the kingdom of Israel like David's kingdom, But God had something far greater and more wonderful in His plan.
Near the beginning of His teaching ministry, Jesus read from Isaiah:
So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:"The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, "Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord."
It is important to understand who Jesus came to preach the Good News to. He came "To preach the gospel to the poor." He was sent "to heal the brokenhearted." His Good News was to "the poor," "the brokenhearted," "the captives," "the blind" and "the oppressed."
In another message, commonly called 'the sermon on the mount' Jesus told us what kind of people are blessed:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
He continues the list of those who are blessed with "those who mourn," "the meek," "those who hunger and thirst for righteousness," "the merciful," "the pure in heart," "the peacemakers," and:
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Luke also reports on the message with a similar list of who is blessed. They are "you poor," "you who hunger now," "you who weep now,"
Blessed are you when men hate you, And when they exclude you, And revile you, and cast out your name as evil, For the Son of Man’s sake.
Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven, For in like manner their fathers did to the prophets.
But Luke continues with those who are not blessed!
But woe to you who are rich,
For you have received your consolation.
Woe to you who are full,
For you shall hunger.
Woe to you who laugh now,
For you shall mourn and weep.
Woe to you when all men speak well of you,
For so did their fathers to the false prophets.
If we don't understand this message, we won't understand the Good News, and we won't understand the Kingdom of God.
The poor will receive the message of the Kingdom, the rich will more likely reject it. The brokenhearted and oppressed will be blessed in the Kingdom. But the 'full' and those who laugh now, and are well spoken of now, will have great difficulty entering the Kingdom.
The 'gospel' most often heard today, it seems is quite different from this. Typically it is about believing some facts about a man named Jesus, and asking Him into your heart. I am not against that, but it seems to have nothing to do with if you are rich or poor, oppressed or living the American dream. It matters not if you are the owner of a large company, or a ditch digger. It makes no difference if your house is big or small, or if you are homeless.
Well that is true enough, Jesus died to take away the sins of the whole world. None of these things matter, He died to take away the sins of all of them, all of us. But entering the Kingdom is another story. Anyone, no matter their wealth, their status, their freedom or their health, ... anyone can ask Jesus to be their savior, and He certainly will save them. But remember what Jesus said to Nicodemus:
Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’
It is only those who are born again, of the Spirit, who can see or enter the Kingdom. If you are not born again, you cannot even see the Kingdom. But even if you are born again, that does not mean that you have seen the Kingdom, nor will you automatically enter it. Entering the Kingdom requires much more than just being born again. A baby cannot buy a house, get a job, drive a car, become president or a host of other things. The child must grow up to maturity first. In the same way, being born again is only the very beginning. If you have been born again, then the possibility is open to you to see and enter the Kingdom of God.
Consider what Paul wrote to the Corinthians:
And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal.
(1 Corinthians 3:1-3)
Babies need milk, they cannot eat solid food. Paul is using the natural reality to explain the true condition of the believers in Corinth. They were certainly born again; they were 'babes in Christ,' but Paul could not even teach (feed) them solid food.
Now many believers assume that entering the kingdom simply means going to heaven when they die.
But Jesus said:
"Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."
Is Jesus talking about heaven here? Isn't it here and now that we find ourselves worrying about what to eat, making ends meet, having enough money to pay the rent, etc., etc.? Aren't these the "things that the Gentiles (people of this world) seek"? When He says "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you", is He talking about heaven after you die? No, it can't be. "All these things" that "shall be added to you," are the things you need NOW. That is why He says don't worry, His Kingdom is the answer. That's why He taught us to pray;
Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
(Matthew 6:10 and Luke 11:2)
The problem is here on earth, not in heaven. That is why we need the Kingdom to come here!
You may wonder, "How can I enter the Kingdom if it hasn't yet 'come' here?" Well that is a good question. Ponder that as we continue looking at more of God's word.
Copyright © 2019 - 2023 by Harvey Block
(2019/11/25 rev 2023/11/01) on Greatest-News.Net