Saturday, September 7, 2013
Triplets of Faith: Gospel of the Kingdom
As we have seen, there are three true Gospels in various Biblical dispensations, the Gospel of the Kingdom (Matthew 24:14), the Gospel of Grace (Acts 20:24), and the Everlasting Gospel (Revelation 14:6-7). “Gospel” means “Good News” for those who have faith that God is Who He says He is and will do what He says He will do, but judgment to those who do not (2 Corinthians 2:14-17).
The Gospel of the Kingdom (Matthew 24:14), directed to the Jews and to the nation of Israel, itself has three aspects. It was proclaimed, it was renewed, and it will be fulfilled. As was foretold by prophets such as Isaiah, Daniel, and Ezekiel (Isaiah 9:6-7, Daniel 9:25-26) there would be a Messiah Who would deliver the Jews. They would return to the Promised Land from being scattered across the earth (Ezekiel 37:21-28), and the King would establish His Kingdom, reigning from the everlasting Throne of David (1 Kings 9:5; Isaiah 9:6-7; 16:5) in perfect peace, justice, and righteousness.
As prophesied by Isaiah (Mark 1:Luke 3:4, John 1:23), the Gospel of the Kingdom was proclaimed by John the Baptist, who preached to those from Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region around Jordan that the Kingdom of God was at hand (Matthew 3:1-6). John therefore asked men to repent, or to turn from their sins, to prepare the way of the Lord, or to make His paths straight, and to be baptized (Mark 1:2-5; Luke 3:2-6),
John’s message was that Jesus Christ was the promised Son of God, the Lamb of God, and the righteous Judge Who would baptize not with water but with the Holy Ghost and with fire (Mark 1:1,7, 8,11; Luke 3:16-17; John 1:15-36).
Three times an angel told of the Gospel of the Kingdom: to Zacharias, to the virgin Mary, and to the shepherds. Gabriel told Zacharias that his wife Elizabeth would bear John the Baptist, who would be filled with the Holy Ghost, lead the hearts of the Jews to repentance, and make ready a people prepared for the Lord (Luke 1:15-17). Gabriel told the virgin Mary that God would establish a Kingdom on earth to be ruled by her Son Jesus, the promised Descendant of David (Luke 1:31-33), At Jesus’ birth the angel told the shepherds the “good tidings of great joy” that He was Savior, Christ, and Lord (Luke 3:10-11).
During His earthly ministry, the Kingdom Gospel was proclaimed by Jesus Himself (Matthew 4:23; 9:35; Mark 1:14-15); then by the 12 apostles (Matthew 10:5-8) and by the seventy (Luke 10:1-6). Jesus preached that the time was fulfilled for the kingdom of God, and that people should repent and believe the gospel (Mark 1:15). Once again, the crux of salvation was faith, or belief that what God said was true. The twelve and the seventy preached a simpler message: that the Kingdom of God was at hand.
During Jesus’ first coming, however, most of the Jews failed to recognize Jesus as their promised Messiah, and He was rejected, betrayed and crucified. Fulfillment of Christ’s Kingdom was therefore put on hold, as prophesied by Daniel in his reference to the gap between the 69th and 70th week when the Messiah would be “cut off” (Daniel 9:24-27), before He would ultimately be anointed King.
During the 70th “week,” or seven-year period of the Tribulation, the prophet Elijah will return in a role parallel to that of John the Baptist, preparing the hearts of men to recognize that Christ’s return to fulfill the Gospel of the Kingdom is at hand (Malachi 4:5-6; Revelation 11:3-12).
This Gospel will be renewed or repeated during the Tribulation (Matthew 24:14;), once the Church has been raptured and God again deals with the nation of Israel, who rejected their Messiah in His first coming. During the Tribulation, the Kingdom Gospel will be preached to all nations before it ends with the glorious second coming of Christ in power.
Another aspect of Christ will then be revealed -- not the sacrificial Lamb and the humble Servant as in His first coming, but as King of Kings, Lord of Lords, and Righteous Judge (1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 17:14; 19:11,16; Psalm 72:2; 96:10,13; 2 Timothy 4:8). Ultimately He will reign forever in perfect peace and harmony, so the Jews will have their Messianic promise of the Kingdom Gospel fulfilled.
As we shall see next time, the church, composed of those who were saved by placing their faith in the Gospel of Grace, will have eternal life in Heaven as the bride of Christ. May we add to those in Him by witnessing of God’s mercy, love and grace until He comes again!
© 2013 Laurie Collett
Photo 2009 by John Stephen Dwyer of Tiffany stained glass depicting John the Baptist