“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come.” NASB – Matthew 24:14
Dear saints, have you considered recently that even as the nations rage around us and the whole world seems to be under the chaos and sway of lawlessness and evil, yet Jesus reigns over the nations at the right hand of God? He is the Sovereign King ruling His world and bringing all of History to the end for which His Father planned it, and through His Providence is bringing it to pass. Now is that time in History when the Gospel of the Kingdom is being proclaimed to all the world and God is offering freely for people to come and surrender to the Lordship of Christ and be saved from sin and death. This is the beauty and the power of the Gospel which has gone out into the whole world. It rescues people from the awful and terrible rule of sin and the deadly consequences it brings upon mankind and brings them happily under the rule of God’s eternal King. And so the long ages of History roll on until that Day of the Lord when the King will return in power to bring His rule to the world in all of its glorious might and power. For those of us who have willingly surrendered, we eagerly wait for the King who reigns in Heaven to return to the earth. We long to please Him and strive to live worthy of His calling, living as it were, suspended between two worlds and longing for the better world to come. We know that as each day the nations rage on it’s yet another day of God’s patience and an opportunity for more people to be saved and come to the King for the mercy of His grace. Let us not forget, however, there will come a Day, soon and very soon, when we will see the King in all His glory, coming on the clouds of Heaven with His mighty angels and peace shall come to the nations of the earth at last. This is a fundamental part of the Gospel that we have believed and also preach.
The Gospel proclaims a King and a Kingdom
Christianity expresses its hope in terms of the Kingdom of God. It looks to the King to bring His rule to the earth and restore all things to a never-ending world of peace and righteousness. Toward this Kingdom, the Old Testament prophets looked forward and told of days that would be very much unlike the current days of warfare and hatred, disease and death, along with drought and famine and pestilence. It would be a day of peace and prosperity where all the world’s problems would be resolved, as God would bring His rule to bear upon the earth and drastically renew and recreate the world. Of this Kingdom, the New Testament specialist George Ladd writes…..
“Then came Jesus of Nazareth with the announcement, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt 4:17). This theme of the coming kingdom of God was central in His mission. His teaching was designed to show mankind how they might enter the kingdom of God (Matt 5:20, 7:21). His mighty works were intended to prove that the kingdom of God had come upon them (Matt 12:28). His parables illustrated to His disciples the truth about the kingdom of God (Matt 13:11). And when He taught His followers to pray, at the heart of their petition were the words, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt 6:10). On the eve of His death He assured His disciples that He would yet share with them the happiness and the fellowship of the Kingdom (Luke22:22-30). And He promised that He would appear again on earth in glory to bring the blessedness of the Kingdom to those for whom it was prepared (Matt 25:31, 34).”
This Kingdom is a major theme of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gospel is a proclamation that God’s Kingdom has arrived in the person of the King, the Lord Jesus Christ. When Jesus first began His ministry, He announced, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Matthew 4:17 – 17 From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” NASB
With this announcement of the Kingdom comes a summons to repentance from sin. This is because the nature of God’s Kingdom is primarily about His sovereign authority and rule as the King. The holy God will not always strive with sin in His presence, but has now proclaimed that His rule has come and He has issued warning that “all men everwhere should repent.”
Acts 17:30-31 – 30 “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent, 31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.” NASB
Now that God has long “overlooked the times of ignorance,” He is “now declaring” that men must repent of sins because He has “fixed a day” of judgment. This summons to repentance was also one essential element of the Gospel that was preached by the apostles.
Mark 6:7-12 – 7 And He summoned the twelve and began to send them out in pairs;…..12 And they went out and preached that men should repent. NASB
Acts 3:19-20 – 19 “Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; NASB
Acts 20:20-21 – 20 how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, 21 solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. NASB
Acts 26:20-21 – 20 but kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance. NASB
In this sense, then, the Gospel is a warning for people to turn from sin unto the mercy of God offered in Christ. Because Christ is now bringing His authority as King to bear upon all mankind, He is commanding that all rebels who sin against His holy Law should stop sinning and surrender to His Lordship or be judged and banished from His Kingdom forever. Moreover, they shall perish and die forever under the wrath of Almighty God. This is a fundamental part of the Gospel message as both Jesus and the Apostles preached it.
Luke 13:3 – “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. NASB
John 3:36 – 6 “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” NASB
2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 – 7 and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, 8 dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, NASB
1 Peter 4:17-18 – 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner? NASB
Therefore, the great King has now warned of the arrival of His Kingdom and has mercifully invited men to repent from sins and be saved from this awful wrath which is to come. He has graciously given rebel sinners an opportunity to freely surrender or else suffer the consequences. However, along with the warning of the consequences of continued rebellion comes all the promises of God as expressed in the hope of the coming Kingdom of God. Accordingly, those who respond to the Gospel with repentance and faith receive and enter the Kingdom of God, the realm of His rule, and forever live in the fullness of its blessing. The experience of this blessing is glorious and fulfilling beyond what words can express. For those who repent of sins and believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ, God has promised that they will experience a world of bliss and happiness in the Kingdom of God, eternally living in His world of peace and prosperity!
Three Expressions of the Kingdom in the New Testament
The language of the New Testament speaks about the Kingdom of God in various ways. Primarily, there are three different ways in which the Kingdom of God is expressed.
- The Kingdom is God’s reign, His Authority, His sovereign rule as King. – In almost every case of the usage of the term Kingdom of God or Kingdom of Heaven, the Scripture is speaking of God’s rule, dominion, and sovereign authority as King. So when this term is applied, we speak of the realm of His authority and the blessing and power of it.
Psalm 145:11-13 – 11 They shall speak of the glory of Thy kingdom, And talk of Thy power;
12 To make known to the sons of men Thy mighty acts, And the glory of the majesty of Thy kingdom. 13 Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, And Thy dominion endures throughout all generations. NASB
Psalm 103:19 – 19 The Lord has established His throne in the heavens; And His sovereignty rules over all. NASB
We are told to “seek first His Kingdom” so the Kingdom is something we seek.
Matthew 6:33 – 33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. NASB
Or we are told that they were “preaching the Kingdom” so that they were telling people of the reign and rule of God and warning men to come and surrender and receive its blessing.
Acts 28:30-31 – 30 And he stayed two full years in his own rented quarters, and was welcoming all who came to him, 31 preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered. NASB
Or we are told of its nature as it exists now in the church.
Romans 14:17 – 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. NASB
Also, it can be expressed in terms of the fact that we suffer for the Kingdom as we are ill-treated in the world due to living for and representing the King.
2 Thessalonians 1:5 – 5 This is a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering. NASB
- The Kingdom is the present realm into which we may now enter to experience the blessings of His reign. – When Jesus came preaching the Kingdom, He told us it was now at hand.
Matthew 4:17 – 17 From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” NASB
Luke 17:20-21 – 20 Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; 21 nor will they say,’ Look, here it is!’ or,’ There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst. ” NASB
As He taught, He described the Kingdom as something we could now enter or not enter based on certain conditions.
John 3:5 – 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. NASB
Luke 18:17 – 17 “Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it at all.” NASB
He described it as something that had now come and that He was its chief representative because the Kingdom had now arrived.
Matthew 12:28 – 28 “But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. NASB
It is also expressed in terms of our present state having been delivered from the “domain of darkness” and transferred to the Kingdom of God.
Colossians 1:13 – 13 For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, NASB
- The Kingdom is a future realm which will come only with the return of our Lord Jesus Christ into which we will then enter and experience the fullness of His reign. – The Kingdom of God is also expressed in terms of its future fulfillment and the fact that it is yet to come in its fullness. As Jesus taught of the Kingdom, He would speak of it not only in terms of its present reality, but also in terms of it being yet future.
Matthew 25:34 – 34 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. NASB
Luke 22:17-18 – 17 And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He said, “Take this and share it among yourselves; 18 for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes. ” NASB
Or the Apostles would speak of it as something yet to be “inherited” in the future or something yet to be entered into.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 – 9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God. NASB
2 Timothy 4:18 – 18 The Lord will deliver me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen. NASB
This is because the Kingdom has different stages of its fulfillment as it reaches its climax in History. Of this fact the Bible has much to say. There are many prophecies in the Bible describing these different stages of fulfillment and events that shall occur in the future as we see the Kingdom of God unfold in the course of world History.
1 Corinthians 15:23-24 – 23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, 24 then comes the end, when He delivers up the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. NASB
Matthew 24:14 – 14 “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come. NASB
And so the Kingdom of God is described in these three ways. It is the realm of God’s authority which has now broken into time and space in a certain spiritual way, but has not yet reached its fulfillment. People now enter into His rule voluntarily surrendering to the King and living for His glory. Even now, Jesus reigns as KING from the right hand of God, and now is the age of God’s free grace, offering people freedom to come under the rule of His King. Soon, at His Coming, will be a Day when He brings the nations forcefully under His rule, and in that Age to come He will bring every rebel and all His enemies under His feet. Then He will destroy death forever and all will live holy and happy under the blessing of His eternal reign!
1 Corinthians 15:25-26 – 25 For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be abolished is death. NASB
I have written here briefly by way of reminder of the Kingdom of God, which we have ALREADY entered. Yet also to remind us that the Kingdom has NOT YET reached its climax, but will very soon be brightly shining in our midst in the presence of the King. Let us remember that even now as we see the world struggling through chaos and suffering, God’s purpose for History is speeding towards His eternal end. Let us remember that this message of the Kingdom is a fundamental part of the Gospel we tell others. And for those of us who have believed, we have the great purpose of glorifying God with our lives as we joyfully wait for the King to come and bring His peace, and the earth to be filled with the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea!
Hoping for His soon return with you all,