Under the title of "Does the Bible offer a Remedy for a World in Distress?" we tried to show from the Scriptures that the God of Heaven would set up a world wide Kingdom at the close of Gentile times. The troubled condition of the world, "men's hearts failing them for fear, the return of the Jews to Palestine- all these signs were given to show that the Kingdom of God is nigh at hand.
To those acquainted with God's plan and purpose, the abrupt introduction of the Kingdom of God into Christ's preaching presents no difficulty. The Kingdom has been in process of preparing from the foundation of the world. The Old Testament prophets wrote of this kingdom. When "Jesus came into Galilee preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God" (Mark 1:14) and urged his hearers to "seek first the Kingdom of God," he was talking to Jews who were expecting the restoration of the Kingdom to Israel. Even his immediate followers after his resurrection asked, "Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the Kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6) and "We trusted it had been he which should have redeemed Israel." (Luke 24:21)
The Gospel, whatever it is, has power. In Romans 1:16 Paul declares; "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." If the gospel is the power of God to salvation, may I ask is there any other power that will save?
Did Christ, the twelve apostles and seventy disciples (Luke 10:1 and 17) preach the Gospel? Did Paul preach anything about a Kingdom? Didn't Paul say, "Though we or an angel from Heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed"? (Galatians 1:8)
Now, let us turn to the Bible, the only source of apostolic preaching. In Luke 4:18 we read, "The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor." In verse 43 Jesus said, I must preach the Kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent. In Luke 8:1, "He (Christ) went throughout every city and village preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God." Before Christ selected the twelve apostles he went out unto a mountain to pray and continued all night in prayer to God. Can you visualize Jesus alone poring out His heart to God for guidance in this important work of selecting men to carry on His work? Having selected twelve men, "He ordained them, that they should be with Him, and that He might send them forth to preach." (Mark 3:14). Now turn to Luke 9:2 "And He sent them (the twelve) to preach the kingdom of God." I wonder if they did it? Read verse 6, "And they departed and went through the towns preaching the gospel." People today who preach the true gospel, preach the "glad tidings of the Kingdom of God." Later Jesus appointed other seventy and sent them forth- What for? "Into whatsoever city ye enter- say unto them, the Kingdom of God is come nigh unto you." Luke 10:8-9) In Luke 11:2 "When ye pray, say Thy Kingdom come." In Luke 12:31-32 Jesus emphasizes the importance of his preaching in comparison to striving after temporal things. "But rather seek ye the Kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom." In Matt. 6:33, "But seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you." Do we put God's work first in our lives? If so, the temporal things will be cared for. Paul said to the church at Philippi, "But my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in Glory by Christ Jesus." (Phil. 4:19)..
We read that Jesus went through the cities and villages teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem. He steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem. As He went, He was preaching the glad tidings of the Kingdom of God. He urged his followers to strive to enter in at the Strait Gate; "for many I say unto you, will seek to enter in and shall not be able." (Luke 13:24). It is through much tribulation that any will enter the Kingdom of God (Acts 14:22). On the authority of Jesus as recorded in Luke 13:28-29 Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets will be in the Kingdom of God. "And they shall come from the east, west, north and south and shall sit down in the Kingdom of God." As already pointed out, the gospel is good news of the Kingdom of God. Was the gospel preached to Abraham? Paul says in Galatians 3:8 "The scripture foreseeing that God would justify the heathen (Gentiles) through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham saying, "In thee shall all nations be blessed." Blessings to all nations is surely good news.
In Luke 16:16 we read, "The law and the prophets were until John; since that time the Kingdom of God is preached and every man presseth into it." We believe the Kingdom of God will be set up at the second coming of Christ. Some, then, might ask, "How could men press into the Kingdom in Christ's day if it was not then in existence?" Note carefully, the kingdom was preached, people believed the good news and pressed into it by faith.
So far we've learned that Christ, the twelve, and the seventy preached the good news of the Kingdom. People were to pray, "Thy Kingdom Come." They were to seek first the Kingdom. Very few in Apostolic days "pressed into" the Kingdom. Peter preached a powerful sermon on the day of Pentecost and convinced three thousand that they had crucified their Messiah whom God had raised up to sit on David's throne. We read in Acts 2:41 "They that gladly received his word were baptized." This is another way of saying that they "pressed into" the kingdom.
When the disciples were near Jerusalem, the place where the Kingdom's capital will be, and "Because they thought that the Kingdom of God should immediately appear" (Luke 19:11). Jesus said therefore, a certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return, verse 12. Christ is the nobleman in this parable. Heaven is the far country where he is now. His servants are his brethren. In James 2:5 we read: "Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith and heirs of the Kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?" If God's servants are found worthy when the nobleman returns some will rule over 10 cities, some will rule over five cities and those cities will be here on this earth. (Luke 19:16-19). Those who are faithful now over a few things, the promise of Christ is : "I will make you rulers over many things, enter thou into the joys of they Lord." In Revelation 5:10 we read, "Thou hast made us unto our God Kings and priests, and we shall reign on the earth."
As Jesus journeyed on toward Jerusalem where he knew that death awaited him, his followers did not understand that he was to lay down his life. Jesus prayed and made supplication with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard. (Hebrews 5:7) How do we know he was heard? Because God raised him from the dead. Revelation 1:18 we read, "I am am he that liveth and was dead, and behold, I am alive forever more." Was the gospel ever preached after Christ was made immortal? Yes, Christ spent forty days on earth, "speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God" (Acts 1:3). This question gives us a clue to the angel's messages to Mary concerning the work of her son, Jesus, "He shall be great, and shall be called the son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of His Father David, and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever and of his kingdom there shall be no end." (Luke 1:32-33). The house of Jacob was the twelve tribes of Israel, Saul, then David and later Solomon reigned over the twelve tribes. We read in Chronicles 28:5, "He hath chosen Solomon, my son, to sit upon the throne of the Kingdom of the Lord over Israel." After the death of King Solomon the Kingdom was divided into ten and two tribes. Will these ten tribes and two tribes ever come back together and be one nation in Palestine? Read carefully, God in Ezekiel 37:21-22, "Behold, I will take the children of Israel (the whole twelve tribes) from among the heathen whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side and bring them into their own land, and I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all; and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all." This prophecy helps us to understand what Paul meant when he said, "For the Hope of Israel I am bound with this chain" (Acts 28:20). When Paul made that statement he was in Rome. Paul called the Jews of that city together. They wanted to hear Paul speak, "And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses an of the prophets from morning till evening." (Acts 28:23). In verses 30-31, "And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house and received all that came in unto him." Note carefully what Paul was doing. "Preaching the Kingdom of God, and teaching those things that concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no man forbidding him." In Acts 8:5 we read, "Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ unto them." Now, note carefully verse 12, "but when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ they were baptized, both men and women." When Philip preached Christ, the people "believed the things concerning the Kingdom and the name of Jesus Christ before they were baptized."
If such a belief was required in Apostolic days, before baptism, is such a belief required today? What is meant by the "things concerning the Kingdom of God"? The Bible definitely points out six things that concern this Kingdom: (which are the same factors that apply to any kingdom with which we may be acquainted).
1. The King - All will agree that this is Christ. 2. The territory - The Lord shall be King over all the earth. (Zechariah 14:9). 3. Royal Household - Kings and Priests. Revelation 5:10, "Thou hast made us unto our God kings and priests, and we shall reign on the earth." "And they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years." (Revelation 20:4). 4. Subjects - the mortal nations - including the Nation of Israel regathered, (the twelve apostles are to rule the twelve tribes of Israel). The kingdom and the dominion - shall be given to the people of the saints of the most high - and all dominions shall serve and obey him. (Daniel 7:27). 5. Seat of government - Jerusalem - the city of the great king. (Psalms 48:2) 6. Laws: The law shall go forth out of Zion (Micah 4:2). What for? To govern the nations upon the earth. (Psalms 67:4)
The Name of Jesus Christ
Is "The Name" important? Before Pentecost, the kingdom was preached and people were baptized unto John's baptism. After Pentecost "The Name" was added, "Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day; and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations beginning at Jerusalem." (Luke 24:46). "For there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved." (Acts 4:12).
The gospel is good news to a troubled world, for it concerns a world wide kingdom, with Christ, God's appointed righteous ruler who will execute judgment and justice in the earth. Isaiah 2:4 reads, "He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not life sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." (What a contrast with the present war-torn earth that we are acquainted with).
The gospel is now taking out a people for his name; and those approved at the judgment seat will be rewarded with eternal Life and reign with Christ for a thousand years (Revelation 20:4). We are promised that the curse now blighting the earth will be removed. (Revelation 22:3). And then God's purpose to fill the earth with His glory will be a reality. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace and good will to men will at last echo from shore to shore; for the new Heavens and the new Earth will reflect God's love in those who believed and obeyed his commands.
Believe and be baptized and wait for Jesus Christ the coming King of the whole world.