I never heard the Gospel until I was 21 years old. I immediately knew I wanted the forgiveness of my sins and the eternal life it promised through the sacrificial atonement offered by Jesus, the Son of God, the Creator of all things, and the future King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
In a matter of days, I embraced it and, though stumbling many times along the way, never looked back.
That personal salvation that comes through repentance is a gift like no other.
But, as important and life-changing as it is, there’s actually more to the Gospel than personal salvation.
A little word study of how the Gospel is characterized specifically in the Greek Scriptures shows 13 times it is attributed to “Christ,” “Jesus Christ,” “His Son” or “Lord Jesus Christ.” Eight times, it is attributed to “God,” as in “the Gospel of God.” Four times, it is called “the Gospel of the Kingdom” or “the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.” Twice, it is mentioned specifically in connection with “grace” or “your salvation.” And once, it is called “the Gospel of peace.”
That the Gospel is of Jesus and God is without doubt. That it is characterized by “peace,” “salvation” and “grace” is without question. Those terms are all familiar to most believers. But what about this “Gospel of the Kingdom”? What does that mean? From my experience, it is overlooked and perhaps not clearly understood – maybe even a little hazy to most followers of Jesus.
Now let’s look at how Jesus Himself referred to the Gospel.
In Matthew 24:14, Jesus is talking about the future, about His return, and says: “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” What is the “end” of which He speaks? It is the end of the fallen world and what all the prophets said would come thereafter – “the restitution of all things,” as Peter describes it in Acts 3, a restoration of the way things were intended to be at Creation, before man fell to temptation in the Garden of Eden, introducing suffering and death to the world.
We’re told specifically in Matthew 4:23, Matthew 9:35, Matthew 24:14 and Mark 1:14 that this “Gospel of the Kingdom” is what Jesus preached. It is also what He commanded His followers to preach to all nations. Could it be that there is more to this Gospel of the Kingdom than the good news of personal salvation.
I believe the answer to that question is unequivocally yes. I found it represents the common thread of the good news in both the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures, as well as the secret to finding the Gospel bursting forth in all 39 books of the Old Testament.
But this “Gospel of the Kingdom” is much more than that. Not only does it connect the Old Testament with the New, it also points the way to Jesus’ triumphant return and what life will be like in His future Kingdom on Earth – another subject about which most believers remain almost completely in the dark.
How could it be that something as fundamental as a major component of the Gospel, the very essence of Jesus’ message, seemingly so well studied, so familiar to Sunday sermons, the subject of countless books and Bible studies, could be so overlooked, forgotten, obscured?
I think the answer is as simple as this: We have disconnected the Old Testament from the New. In fact, they are not two separate books, but one. Much of Christianity has accepted the premise that the Greek Scriptures have somehow abrogated or repealed some of the premises of the Hebrew Scriptures.
So, let’s examine further this somewhat mysterious concept of the “Gospel of the Kingdom” through the light of the New Testament only.
First, let’s go back to Matthew 24:14 and what Jesus Himself said: “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” What does the end mean? The end of suffering, disease, sin, war, violence, injustice, death. What brings that about? The ushering in of Jesus’ Kingdom on Earth – again, something Christians don’t talk about much, certainly not as part of evangelistic outreach. Yet don’t we learn in Luke 1:32-33 from the angel who visited Mary during her pregnancy that her Son, the Messiah of Israel, would be called great, the Son of the Highest, and that “the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David,” and that He would “reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end”?
What about Matthew 19:28? Did not Jesus tell His disciples, “Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel”? Was this metaphor or allegory? Or is it confirmation of what the Scriptures of old had to say about the coming Messiah?
Can we not see the direct connection between what Jesus said and what the prophet revealed in Isaiah 49:5-7: “And now, saith the Lord that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the Lord, and my God shall be my strength. And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth. Thus saith the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers, Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the Lord that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose thee.”
And what about the story of the risen Jesus who met Cleopas and another traveler on the road to Emmaus. In Luke 24:27, we’re told that Jesus “beginning at Moses and all the prophets … expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” Which Scriptures did Jesus reference? The only Scriptures written at that time – the Old Testament Hebrew Scriptures.
Now let’s go to Acts 1:6: The resurrected Jesus has spent the last 40 days with His closest disciples. Just before He is to ascend into heaven, His followers have one last burning question for Him: “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?”
How does Jesus respond in Acts 1:7-11? “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” With that, he was taken up and vanished behind a cloud. Two angels appeared and said: “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”
In other words, as most Christians know, Jesus is coming back to fulfill His destiny as the Redeemer of the entire Earth – the King of Kings and Lord of Lords – to restore the planet to something resembling the Garden of Eden, as we’re told in Isaiah 51:3 and Ezekiel 36:35.
Peter reminded us of this plan in Acts 3:18 on the day of Pentecost, just a day after Jesus ascended, saying: “But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”
Some 5,000 of the Jews gathered at the Temple that day to observe the feast of Shavuot became followers of their Jewish Messiah as a result of that message – the full and complete Gospel of both personal salvation and the Gospel of the Kingdom that Jesus preached.
And He has commanded us, as His followers, to preach that Gospel to the ends of the Earth – and then, and only then, He will return to make it so.
ALSO: Get Joseph Farah’s book “The Restitution of All Things: Israel, Christians, and the End of the Age,” and learn about the Hebrew roots of the Christian faith and your future in God’s Kingdom. Also available as an e-book.
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