THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM
Copyright © 2008 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.


John the Baptist preached the Gospel of the Kingdom. The Lord Jesus Christ preached the Gospel of the Kingdom. The Apostles of the Lamb preached the Gospel of the Kingdom. What are we preaching today?

Today we are preaching the gospel of going to Heaven when we die. This is "another gospel." We need to return to the biblical Gospel of the Kingdom.


Table of Contents

Another Gospel

Heaven and Paradise

The Kingdom of God

The Development of the Internal Kingdom

The Kingdom of God Is at Hand

Why It Makes a Practical Difference Whether We Preach the Gospel of the Kingdom or the Gospel of Going
    
to Heaven When We Die.

The Kingdom of God and the Saved Nations

The Eternal Dwelling Place of God Among Mankind

Conclusion


THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14óNIV)

Another Gospel

John the Baptist preached the Gospel of the Kingdom. The Lord Jesus Christ preached the Gospel of the Kingdom. The Apostles of the Lamb preached the Gospel of the Kingdom. What are we preaching today?

For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough. (II Corinthians 11:4óNIV)

Today we are preaching the gospel of going to Heaven when we die. This is "another gospel." We need to return to the biblical Gospel of the Kingdom.

At what point did the Gospel change from the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth to a flight of saved people to Heaven, to the spirit realm?

The change may have occurred through the impact of the philosophy of Gnosticism. Gnosticism, which was prevalent in the first century, teaches that spirit is inherently good and matter is inherently evil. Gnosticism stresses correct knowledge as the means of entering the spirit heaven. Much if not most of todayís Christian preaching is more Gnostic than Christian.

The Bible does not teach that spirit is inherently good and matter is inherently evil. If anything, the reverse is true. God pronounced the physical realm "very good." But then sin entered from the spirit realm.

Heaven and Paradise

Actually, we do not want to go to Heaven, as such, but to Paradise. We were created in a garden, in Paradise. The memory of the garden is still in our bloodstream. We know subconsciously that out there somewhere there is an Eden, a place where all is love, joy, and peace. We call that garden "Heaven" because Paradise today is in the third heaven.

I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not knowóGod knows. And I know that this manówhether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knowsówas caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell. (II Corinthians 12:2-4óNIV)

The Bible tells us very little about Heaven. Heaven as presented in the Bible is the place of God and the Lamb, of the sea of glass, of the twenty-four elders, of the cherubim. Heaven itself is never, in the Scriptures, described as a garden. The garden of Paradise is in Heaven at the present time, waiting for its return to the earth.

John the Baptist, the Apostles, and the Lord Jesus did not preach that Paradise is at hand but that the Kingdom of God is at hand.

The three heavens are places.

Paradise is the garden of God.

Eternal life is the Life of God that has come to us through Jesus Christ.

The Kingdom of God is the government of God.

These four expressions obviously are related but are not the same thing. Since we are drawing close to the return of Jesus in His Kingdom, it may be helpful to gain a clearer understanding of these familiar terms.

Letís think for a moment about the Kingdom of God.

The Kingdom of God

There are two aspects of the Kingdom, an internal aspect and an external, visible aspect. The internal is all-important. The external is a demonstration and product of the internal.

The internal Kingdom of God is God in Christ in the saints governing the works of Godís hands. The works of Godís hands includes the angels and the nations of people who have been saved from destruction.

The Kingdom of God is a government! It is the rule of God.

At one time we had Paradise on the earth. But we could not keep it. We could not keep Paradise because there was no government that could keep Satan out and enforce obedience to Godís laws.

Just as simple as that!

What, then, is the great need of the hour? It is for the construction of the Kingdom of God. For without the Kingdom of God we cannot maintain Paradise should we receive it again.

We want Paradise. God wants His rules kept.

No good would be accomplished today if every person on earth were to be brought to Heaven, to Paradise. Why is this? It is because Paradise would be destroyed immediately by the worldliness, lust, and self-seeking of the newly saved. There is no reason to believe our entrance into Paradise would change us from sinners to saints. In fact, sin began in Paradise!

The Development of the Internal Kingdom

The Lord Jesus Christ Himself is the Kingdom of God. Christ exemplifies the rule of God by His absolute obedience to the Father. The Lord Jesus Christ is all that the Kingdom of God is.

As the Lord Jesus Christ is formed in us the Kingdom of God is formed in us. As the Father and the Son come to dwell in that which is formed in us, the Kingdom of God comes to dwell in that which is formed in us. One aspect of the Kingdom is that which is formed in us. Another aspect of the Kingdom is composed of the Father and the Son who come Personally to dwell in the Kingdom that has been formed in us.

The Kingdom of God is God in Christ in the saints governing all the works of Godís hands.

All of the gifts and ministries given to the Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit are for the purpose of forming Christ, the Kingdom of God, the Rule of God, in us. The more of Christ we have the more of the Kingdom of God we have.

Everything that takes place in a church service should be for the purpose of building Christ, the Kingdom of God, in us.

We can neither see nor enter the Kingdom of God until we are born again, because it is the Kingdom of God that is born in us.

He who is least in the Kingdom of God is greater than any of the Old Testament Prophets because he has Christ formed in him and dwelling in him.

The Kingdom of God Is at Hand

When John the Baptist, Jesus, and Paul preached that the Kingdom of God is at hand, they meant both the internal kingdom and the external kingdom. The internal Kingdom is being formed in us now. The external Kingdom is at the right hand of God in Heaven.

Many of Jesusí parables have to do with the internal kingdom. "The Kingdom of God is like a seed," and so forth.

When the Lord has enough saints who have Christ formed in them and dwelling in them, He shall appear with them. The appearing of Christ and His saints is the coming of the internal and external Kingdom of God to the earth.

The external kingdom is the manifestation and product of the internal kingdom. The Kingdom of God will have an external, approachable form. That form is the new Jerusalem, the eternal dwelling place of God.

The name of the holy city will be written on the victorious saints because they are the new Jerusalem come to earth.

The new Jerusalem is the house of God, mentioned in John 14:2. In the house of God there are many rooms. Each saint is to become a room, a living stone, in the house of God. Jesus went to the cross, and then to Heaven to sprinkle His blood before the Mercy Seat that a place might be prepared for us in the eternal dwelling place of God, the new Jerusalem.

Through the ministries and gifts of the Holy Spirit we are being made the house of God, the new Jerusalem.

And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (Ephesians 2:22óNIV)

Why It Makes a Practical Difference Whether We Preach the Gospel of the Kingdom or the Gospel of Going to Heaven When We Die

John the Baptist, the Lord, and the Apostles all preached the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.

For two thousand years the Christian churches have preached the gospel of going to Heaven when we die.

Since the gospel of going to Heaven when we die is a tradition of such long standing, why should we present such a challenge at the beginning of the twenty- first century?

The reason is, the gospel we choose to believe directly affects our approach to the Christian life.

If we believe in the gospel of going to Heaven when we die, and then add to this the unscriptural concept that we go to Heaven by grace whether or not we live a godly life, there to dwell in a mansion in Paradise doing nothing of significance for eternity, and then add to this unscriptural travesty a "pre- tribulation rapture" to relieve us of the need for preparing ourselves for the evil day, we have a formula for moral disaster. The plan of God to develop people who practice righteousness, love mercy, and walk humbly with God, is completely destroyed.

As far as I can see, this interpretation of the New Testament must have been developed by Satan himself. It leads us directly away from the Kingdom of God, the rule of God in the earth.

I know well that many fine Christians have come from and still are coming from churches where the gospel of going to Heaven is preached. This is because people and pastors still have common sense and preach godly living even though moral transformation is not demanded by the gospel of going to Heaven.

But today many thousands of Christians, including pastors, are living ungodly lives because they trust that Godís grace is continually covering their sinful practices.

Many pastors have fallen into immorality in the last ten years. This is because the iron axe-head of Gospel truth has been lost. It is time for the stick, the cross, to be thrown into the water. Then the iron will "swim" in the preaching and lives of Christian people.

The Gospel of the Kingdom of God is not about a "rapture" to save us from trouble, or eternal rest in a mansion in Heaven. The Gospel of the Kingdom has to do with the birth and growth of Christ in us so a new righteous creation has come forth. It is the Kingdom of God and His righteousness that is formed in us.

When the saints have been brought to the stature of the fullness of Christ, Christ and they will appear and establish the government of God on the earth. The coming of the government of God to the earth is good news for the people of the nations who desire to practice righteousness. Christ and His saints will bring justice to the nations by destroying all wickedness from the earth.

The Kingdom of God and the Saved Nations

In order to understand the Gospel of the Kingdom we must hold in our mind the difference between the Kingdom of God, which is the Christian Church, and then the nations of saved people.

That there shall be two classes of people who are kept from destruction in the Day of the Lord, the Kingdom and the saved nations, is hardly understood in the Christian churches. Yet, if one does not understand the difference between the Kingdom and the saved nations it is impossible to understand the Old Testament, or the fact that the Church is a royal priesthood.

As of the present hour we are in the Church Age. This means the Holy Spirit continually is seeking out Godís elect and bringing the Gospel to them. Whoever has been ordained to eternal life believes the Gospel and becomes a part of the Church, the elect, the Israel of God.

The Church is the one Seed of Abraham. All who truly are a part of Jesus Christ are members of the Church, the one Seed of Abraham, the new Jerusalem, the house of God, the Kingdom of God, the Wife of the Lamb.

Such people are the brothers of Jesus Christ. God has called them from the beginning of the world according to His foreknowledge.

On the other hand we have the nations of the earth. God told Abraham that in Abrahamís Seed the nations of the earth shall be blessed.

According to the prayer of the Lord Jesus in the Gospel of John, as soon as the members of the Church have been made one in Christ in God, the world will believe it is God who has sent the Lord Jesus to us.

What I am saying is, all that God is doing with you and me, His endless dealings, are for the benefit of the nations of saved people whom we shall serve as rulers and priestsóa royal priesthood.

Do you recall the account of the sheep and goat nations?

When the Lord Jesus appears in glory He will be surrounded by His elect, His brothers.

Before them will be arranged the nations of the earth. (This may take place during the judgment that comes after the thousand-year Kingdom Age.)

Then the Lord will separate the people from one another, placing some on His right hand and some on His left.

All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. (Matthew 25:32,33óNIV)

Please keep in mind that the people being arranged here are not Christians. They are the nations of people who are the inheritance of Christ and His brothers.

Notice carefully what the Lord says:

Then the King will say to those on his right, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world." (Matthew 25:34óNIV)

The Kingdom is the Church. The Kingdom in the present hour is being prepared so the people whom God saves from among the nations may be blessed with godly government.

If you can accept this the whole Bible, Old Testament and New, will begin to make sense.

On what basis are the people designated as the "sheep" permitted into the Kingdom of God? On the basis of having assisted the Lordís brothers.

The King will reply, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." (Matthew 25:40óNIV)

We of the Church, the priesthood, are not made a part of the Kingdom by assisting the Lordís brothers. We are brought into the Kingdom by repenting of our sins, being baptized in water, and receiving the Holy Spirit.

In addition we have been commanded to reckon ourselves dead with the Lord Jesus Christ, risen with Him, and ascended with Him to the right hand of the Father. We have to count these facts as true every day of our Christian life so we are not discouraged as the Holy Spirit keeps on challenging us to lay down our own life and enter further into Christ.

This is how we become part of the Kingdom of God. It is a never-ending process of dying and living; dying and living; dying and living until we can say, "I am crucified with Christ and the life I am living now is not I but Christ."

You know, as I think about this I realize how few church people actually are pressing on this road of discipleship with Christ. Maybe what we have in the churches is a mixed multitude, the majority being merely church members and the minority being true disciples of the Lord. How many Christians do you know who have denied themselves, taken up their cross, and are following the Lord? By definition, these are the only true disciples; these are the only true Christians.

But back to our topic. The "sheep" the Lord has separated out do not enter the Kingdom as we do. We of the Church are the royal priesthood. We have the firstfruits of the Holy Spirit. We will bring the Holy Spirit to those of the nations whom Christ has chosen to save into His Kingdom. The "sheep" are so named because they have assisted the Lordís brothers when the brothers were in prison, or sick, or cold, or in need of some kind. On this basis they are ushered into the Kingdom of God, that is, into the spiritual blessing provided by the Lordís brothers.

The spiritual principle is, whatever an individual does for a disciple in need, he or she is doing this for the Lord Jesus Himself. And whatever he does for the Lord Jesus he is doing for the God of Heaven.

For the nation or kingdom that will not serve you will perish; it will be utterly ruined. (Isaiah 60:12óNIV)

The above verse means the nation that will not assist Godís elect, His Israel, will be destroyed by the Lord.

One of the harmful errors of the philosophy of Dispensationalism is that it prevents us from seeing the Church in the proclamations of the Prophets of Israel. Peter tells us that the Prophets were speaking about us, and so they are!

It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things. (I Peter 1:12óNIV)

Godís Israel is one, from Abraham through to the last individual, Jewish or Gentile, that God brings into the Olive Tree. The Olive Tree, the Seed of Abraham, is Jesus Christ. Those who become part of Christ are the Seed of Abraham, whether Jewish or Gentile by physical birth.

Whenever the Prophets spoke of the Messianic Kingdom they were telling us what is eternally true of Christ and all who are part of Christ.

The sixtieth chapter of the Book of Isaiah, when it speaks of the nations serving Israel, is referring to the new Jerusalem. It certainly is not true that the nations are serving physical Israel today. The reference is to the nations serving Godís elect in the time to come.

Notice the following:

I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. (Revelation 21:22-26óNIV)

Revelation refers to the new Jerusalem as "the bride, the wife of the Lamb."

Revelation claims that "the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple."

The only wife of the Lamb, the only temple of God and the Lamb, is the Christian Church. The entire Christian Church is "one new man" in Jesus Christ. It is the one Seed of Abraham. To teach differently is to depart from the Scriptures. It is "Jerusalem"!

We see therefore, in Revelation 21:22-26 (above), that the "glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it," "it" being the Christian Church. This passage parallels the sixtieth chapter of the Book of Isaiah, and other parts of the text of Isaiah.

The new Jerusalem, the holy city, is the Fatherís house. It is the one Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Heaven spoken of in both Testaments. There is no other kingdom of God, kingdom of Heaven.

The Eternal Dwelling Place of God Among Mankind

Just what is the Kingdom of God?

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God." (Revelation 21:3óNIV)

The Kingdom of God is the dwelling of God.

Where will it be located?

On a high mountain of the new earth. The Kingdom of God has an internal dimension and an external dimension. People will be able to see the external dimension coming down through the sky to be located forever on the new earth.

I do not think it could be denied that much of the description of the new Jerusalem and its wall is symbolic, referring to the character that has been formed in the saints as Christ has been created in them. Nevertheless, it seems to me that the new Jerusalem will have a visible dimension that can be seen by the "sheep" that are living in nations on the earthóperhaps many of the nations that already are familiar to us.

God is not making all new things but is making all things new. This is to say, all that we have loved on earth, and God has found worthy of His Kingdom, will be made new in Jesus Christ and be part of our eternal inheritance.

Those who live victorious lives in Jesus Christ will have three inheritances, actually. Their first and most important inheritance will be God Himself, for they are His priests.

Their second most important inheritance will be the "sheep" of the nations of the earth.

Their third inheritance will be the Paradise of God, the garden of God.

The house of God will down from Heaven to live among the nations of saved peoples of the earth.

What will take place then?

Many peoples will come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so we may walk in his paths." The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. (Isaiah 2:2,3óNIV)

Now we see why the Gospel of the Kingdom is good news. It is because there will be no wars. In addition (remember, we are speaking of the nations of the saved, not of the Church itself):

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. (Revelation 21:4óNIV)

People read the above verse and say "there will be no tears in Heaven when we get there!"

This verse does not mean when we get to Heaven there will be no tears, it means when we are willing to grow up in Christ we will be able to appear with Him and wipe away the tears of mankind!

Conclusion

Let's see what we have discussed in this briefest of essays.

Another gospel. Current Christian preaching is not the Gospel of the Kingdom preached by John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus, and the Apostles of the Lamb.

What is preached today is the good news that we shall escape Hell and go to Heaven even though we have behaved wickedly before and after taking the "four steps of salvation."

This is another gospel, not the Gospel preached by the Apostle Paul. It does not even resemble the Gospel preached by Paul.

The "pre-tribulation rapture" is so manifestly unscriptural it is not worthy of discussion, as I view it.

Heaven and Paradise. We have mentioned that when we say "heaven" we really mean Paradise, the garden in which mankind was created. The memory of that garden is in our blood. Paradise is in Heaven now and so we treat the two synonymously. But Heaven and Paradise are not the same.

Heaven is a place in the spirit realm. It is the abode of God, Christ, the angels, and, as far we know, (although the Bible does not discuss this to any great extent), the deceased saints.

Paradise was on the earth but now is in the third Heaven. Paradise will return to earth when Christ establishes His Throne here in the saints.

The Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is God in Christ in the saints governing all the works of God's hands. It is useless to bring people back into Paradise until a kingdom has been established that will be strong enough to maintain God's way and will on the earth. Christ and His saints will govern the saved nations with the rod of iron of the Holy Spirit.

We place much emphasis today on getting people into Heaven! According to the New Testament, God places a greater emphasis on getting Heaven into people!

The development of the internal kingdom. There is an internal kingdom and an external kingdom. The internal kingdom is the rule of God in Christ in our heart. The external kingdom is the demonstration and the product of the internal kingdom.

Until God brings us to the stature of the fullness of Christ, which is to say, to the full development of the internal kingdom, there will be no external kingdom through which the peoples of the earth can be blessed.

Perhaps the most intense focus of the Holy Spirit today, as far as the Christians are concerned, is that of replacing our self-will with the will of Jesus Christ. God permits Satan to put us in one sort of prison or another that our self-will might be destroyed and the will of God exalted in our life.

If we are to be the Kingdom of God, the perfect rule of Christ must be established in our heart.

The Kingdom of God is at hand. The internal kingdom is being perfected now as Christ is formed in us and dwells in us. The external kingdom will descend from Heaven when we are ready to appear with Jesus Christ.

Why it makes a practical difference whether we preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of the gospel of going to going to Heaven when we die. When people are taught that their goal is to escape Hell and go to Heaven when they die, and their ticket is Divine grace and their conduct is not a critical part of their salvation, and given the demonic pressure that is on us, what do you think is going to happen? The result is going to be believers who are easily overcome by Satan.

The Gospel of the Kingdom is not like this. It goes to work every day, challenging us to take a step further into the Kingdom of God by gaining victory over worldliness, lust, and self-will. Entering the Kingdom of God is something we do now, not a hope concerning when we die.

If Satan were to scheme for many years, trying to think of a plan of salvation that ruined the work of God in people, he couldn't come up with a better system than what currently is being preached in Christian churches. It is totally unscriptural, a masterpiece of deception. It really is "another gospel."

The Kingdom of God and the saved nations. We cannot possibly understand the Bible, or what God is doing with His Church, until we realize that the Church is His Kingdom that He is going to place on the earth. The Church is the dwelling place of the Father in Christ. Through the Church, God will bring peace and joy to the people He saves from destruction.

It really is "good news" for the peoples of the earth.

Our destiny is the earth and its peoples. The Kingdom of God is the clothing of the righteous spirit realm with flesh and bones. It is the most glorious of all visions of the future.

When we see the terrible situation in which most people are attempting to survive, the horrible circumstances of war and famine, we should be encouraged to be even more diligent in following the program of moral transformation the Holy Spirit has set before us. No lasting help will come to mankind until the Lord Jesus Christ appears from Heaven with His victorious saints.

Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery." (Psalms 2:8,9óNIV)

The nations of the earth are the eternal inheritance of the Lord Jesus Christ and His coheirs. It is paradoxical that the Kingdom of God will bring justice and peace to the nations, and yet the prophecy is that we shall rule them with an iron scepter and dash them to pieces like pottery.

If we consider the nations of today we can see that they can never be brought to justice and peace until their will to resist Christ is totally broken.

As the spirit of Antichrist comes to maturity in the earth, particularly in the democratic nations, people are encouraged to do whatever they will. Any government, religion, or philosophy that seeks to deny people what they desire is viewed as an evil that must be abolished.

As any social scientist could predict, the result is social chaos. We cannot give an individual complete freedom without denying someone else his complete freedom. It is impossible, and so today's overemphasis on the rights of the individual contains within itself the seeds of anarchy.

As an elementary-school teacher I soon learned that if the children are allowed to do as they please, the result is that most of the children are miserable. A strong, loving teacher brings about justice and peace in a classroom of children.

So it is that the best form of government is a monarchy governed by a righteous, God-fearing king. This is what the Kingdom of God is.

When the Lord Jesus returns He will find a world population of self-willed, rebellious people. They must come under the iron rule of Christ and His saints if they ever are to be blessed with justice and peace.

The eternal dwelling place of God among mankind. Both Isaiah, and Stephen in the New Testament, spoke of God's need to have a house. Heaven is not God's house. God has no house except for the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the eternal dwelling place of God Almighty.

But, as Jesus told us, He is not to be the only living stone in the Father's house. Rather He is the chief Cornerstone and Capstone. We of the royal priesthood are also living stones in the dwelling place of God, the eternal tabernacle of God that in the future will come down from Heaven to be located on a high mountain of the new earth.

The Gospel of the Kingdom! Our denomination, which is as good as any, does not have the expression "the Kingdom of God" in its Statement of Faith.

Can you imagine? The central topic of the New Testament is not included in our Statement of Faith?

How about your denomination. Is the Kingdom of God mentioned in your Statement of Faith?

Maybe we really have departed from the Scriptures. Maybe we are not actually preaching the Bible message.

Maybe it is time to do our homework!