This may seem like an easy question for Christians who have been charged by their Redeemer, their Master, their Lord with spreading the Gospel to the uttermost parts of the Earth.
Yet, it is my contention that the church, over time, has largely forgotten an essential component of the Gospel.
If asked to explain the Gospel to a non-believer, I suspect most well-meaning and knowledgeable believers would give an answer something like this: "The Gospel, or 'good news,' is that Jesus, the Son of God, came to die for the sins of the world as a perfect, sinless atoning sacrifice, rising from the dead after three days, thus conquering sin and death for those who repent and follow Him."
While I believe that is a reasonable definition of what I would call "the Gospel of Salvation," does it represent the entirety of the Gospel? Or did Jesus bring other good news?
Only once in the Bible is the Gospel called "the Gospel of Salvation." It is more frequently called by Jesus Himself and the Gospel writers "The Gospel of the Kingdom."
I believe the Gospel of the Kingdom is that forgotten, essential component of the message preached by Jesus and His apostles and disciples that turned the world upside-down.
What is the Gospel of the Kingdom?
It's a promise not only of eternal life and personal redemption, but of a new life in a fully restored Earth with Jesus finally in charge as King of Kings ruling and reigning in Jerusalem on the throne of David.
That is what is clearly prophesied throughout the Old Testament and New. If one takes the Bible literally, then one must perform the equivalent of hermeneutical gymnastics to come to any other conclusion.
Few Christians would deny that hundreds of Hebrew prophetic Scriptures literally and accurately point to the first physical coming of Jesus the Messiah and were, indeed, fulfilled by Him in the first century. It is the most compelling reason we have to believe in Him as the Son of God and the Redeemer. No one else in history has the credentials.
Yet, many self-professed Christians either don't take His Second Coming literally or take scant notice of the hundreds of prophecies about it in the Old Testament and New. Some look at them as allegorical rather than literal. Some, for instance, don't really think He will return to Israel, but to the church. Some believe we are already living in the Kingdom of God.
Hardly any Christians preach the Kingdom of God when they evangelize unbelievers as the apostles and disciples did so effectively.
But this future Kingdom is not just good news. It's unimaginably wonderful news virtually unknown to millions of believers. Shouldn't we be telling people that Jesus is coming back to restore the Earth to the way it was originally intended – like the Garden of Eden, as the prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel both confirm? This is the time Peter referred to as "The Restitution of All Things," which I borrowed as the title of my next-to-last book. But the Kingdom also makes big news in my most recent title, "The Gospel in Every Book of the Old Testament."
The Kingdom is a time and place of unspeakable joy, comfort, justice, righteousness and truth. Isn't that good news we should be sharing? Yet, it's a period on Earth that surprisingly few talk about, write about, know about.
Why don't we preach the Gospel of the Kingdom any more, even though it is part of the Great Commission to spread the Gospel to all the world?
After Jesus rose from the dead and before He ascended into heaven to sit at the Father's right-hand side, He spent 40 days with His apostles and disciples, appearing to hundreds of eyewitnesses. He must have spoken a lot about the Kingdom because, just before He ascended, the apostles had one final question on their minds. It was something that consumed them with curiosity. I suspect it was all they could think about – even though they were walking and talking with the glorified, resurrected Jesus in their midst.
That question is found in Acts 1:6. "Lord," they asked, "wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?"
It is understandable that it obsessed them. They had been through a lot. They had seen their Master, their hope, the focus of their faith, tortured beyond recognition, nailed to a cross, dead and buried for three days only to rise again and minister to them for 40 days. Here He was about to leave them again. All they could think about, no doubt, was whether this was the time when the Kingdom would be restored, when they would rule and reign with Him in Jerusalem, when the world would be turned into a literal paradise.
Jesus explained this would not be the time. While that must have been disappointing news, it still remained their great hope and they willingly accepted Jesus' marching orders to spread the good news of this Kingdom to the uttermost parts of the Earth.
After all, Jesus had earlier explained in Matthew 24:14 that preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom to the entire world was a prerequisite for His return to usher in this Kingdom to come. The apostles and disciples were eager, motivated and empowered by the Holy Spirit to get the job done – braving imprisonment, torture and deaths by crucifixion and stoning.
That's an example for us all of how a Kingdom faith and mindset can inspire us.
The question we face today is this: Why is that same Gospel of the Kingdom not being preached universally by believers today? Why, indeed, is it scarcely acknowledged?
I think the reason is clear: It's an essentially Israel message. The Kingdom is Israel. And there are too many replacement theologies around to expect an Israeli, like Jesus, to mean what He says, even though Israel dominates both the Old Testament and the New.
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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