AN UNSHAKEABLE KINGDOM
In a year full of surprises, where many of the securities, routines, and other things we have put our trust in have in this life have been shaken, I believe the Lord put it on my heart for us to focus on something during this new year that cannot be shaken, something that’s everlasting, and we are promised will never, ever end.
You see, in Hebrews 12:25-28, we are told that the Lord will once more shake all things on the earth and in the heavens. That means that we can expect that all the things that have been physically created will be shaken up and eventually removed. But we are also told in these verses that we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken—and because this is on the horizon, the way we live now is of the utmost importance.
Church, this is something that ought to create a peace that surpasses all understanding even when the storms of life are raging. This is something that ought to produce joy unspeakable and full of glory even when the world around us seems to be falling apart. This is the foundation of our faith and hope—knowing that there is something unseen that it is truly eternal.
You see, the Lord told us that the things of this world—its nations, its rulers, and all that goes along with it—will pass away. Nothing that is seen is forever. In fact, all of these physical, natural things that we call “real” are really just temporal.
But there is a kingdom that we are told will not be shaken. It is said to be forever and ever and from everlasting to everlasting (Psalm 45:6 & Daniel 4:3). Yes, it will never be destroyed (Daniel 2:44), but will remain from now throughout all eternity. Of course, I speak of the kingdom of God.
So, while we certainly are to seek change in the world around us and pray for His eternal kingdom to come manifest itself in the world around us now, our hope is ultimately not in these temporal things; our hope is in the everlasting kingdom of God that we have the pleasure of being a part of right now.
Church, I believe the Lord would have us set our sights on His kingdom and seek it first in every area of our lives. I believe He wants our hearts filled with the knowledge and revelation of His kingdom because it is the message—which is what I want us to begin looking at today. I want us to begin this week talking about The Gospel of the Kingdom.
The reason I want us to begin with the message is because in order for us to see the significance of this subject, we need to see the emphasis placed on it by everyone from Jesus to the apostles after Him.
MY TESTIMONY OF THE KINGDOM
Let me begin by sharing with you a brief testimony of how the Lord showed me the things I will be sharing with you:
You know, when I was young in the Lord, I had the Lord do some things in me that today I am very thankful for. Like us all, during my spiritual formative years, I had developed some belief systems through what I was being taught by others. Like a baby, we would eat what someone else decided to feed us. So, I had sat under some very good, solid teaching, but I had allowed other’s revelation to become my truth.
But there was a point in my walk when I was sitting in church one morning (just like you are today) and while my pastor was teaching me, I heard the Lord say in my heart, “I am uprooting all of the preconceived ideas you have about Me and My Word.” Immediately, I knew exactly what He was preparing me for. He was about to begin teaching me and building a new foundation of truth in my life!
So, I began reading & studying the Bible through a completely different lens and seeing things that I had never seen before. It is amazing what would happen if we let the Word determine what we believe and not just try to find what we believe in the Word. As one minister very poetically said, “We need believe what we read instead of reading what we believe.”
And one of the first things that I remember the Lord began to show me was how we can see threaded throughout the pages of our New Testament the subject of hope. I mean, my eyes were opened to seeing that the things that I saw us emphasizing in our modern-day church—things like prosperity, healing, and living a better life now—were not at all the focus of the early, First Century church. It became crystal clear to me that the things they were focused on were not the current things of this world; they were focused on their future in the next world.
So, I had this abstract view of what this hope entailed. I knew it was of something grand and glorious that we had to look forward to beyond this temporal life we have here on the earth, but it was not totally clear to me what this message of hope was. Sure, I could have told you it was “heaven” but there seemed to be more to it than that because I read in my Bible that heaven would come to earth, and we would rule & reign with Him on this new heaven and new earth.
Well, it came to pass a few years after this that I went to Bible College—and while those around me were getting a revelation of things like grace, the unconditional love of God, etc.—the Lord cleared up that abstract painting of our hope and showed me specifically what our hope is:
There was an instructor named Don Krow, who is no longer with Andrew Wommack’s ministry there in Colorado, who held an elective class (so that means not everyone was required to take this class) on the subject of the kingdom of God. And church, I’ll tell you—as we went through the Bible and studied this subject, my eyes were opened! I saw the skeleton of what the Lord had begun teaching me of our hope have God’s breath come over it and life was being added to it. Now those bones had meat on them, and a great army was being built in my spirit—the army of God’s everlasting kingdom! Amen!
So, what I want us to start out doing as we set out to tackle this huge subject is establish that this subject of the kingdom is indeed as big as it is. Yes, as previously stated, I want us to begin by looking at just how much of an emphasis is placed on this subject first in the gospels, then in the rest of the New Testament, and even in the Old Testament. I want us to begin by asking questions like— What is the message that it proclaimed throughout the Bible’s pages? What did the apostles teach the churches? What did the Master—Jesus Christ—Himself preach?
WHAT DID JESUS PREACH?
And the latter is what I think we would do good to look at first: I would like us to look at the beginning of the New Testament and see what the message was of the Master Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ, throughout His earthly ministry. Yes, let’s look in the Four Gospels and see what He placed the emphasis on.
Specifically, I want us to answer the following question: What did Jesus preach? This is an important question to ask ourselves because we must believe that we should emphasize what Jesus emphasized, right? Don’t you suppose that Jesus knew what was the most important and timely message for all people for all time? Of course, He did! He came to manifest God’s Word to us, for He was and evermore shall be the Living Word of God.
Now if you took a poll of what Christians believed Jesus preached, you would probably have things like “grace, love, or simply acceptance” as what most people believe Jesus taught. But did you know that although Jesus did talk about and demonstrate many of these different topics that I just mentioned throughout His ministry, they were not what He spent the majority of His time preaching and teaching?
So, what did Jesus preach? What was the one subject that we see Him spending almost all of His time declaring and proclaiming? The answer is: His message was the kingdom of God!
Time and time again throughout the Gospels we see the Lord saying, “The kingdom is like this” and “The kingdom is like that.” In fact, throughout the Four Gospels, Jesus uses the phrases “kingdom of God, kingdom of heaven, His kingdom, etc.” over 80 times! That’s a lot, church!
For example, in even some of Jesus’ most popular teachings, we see the kingdom emphasized: We see Him talking about the kingdom of God twice in what is commonly known as the Lord’s Prayer when He began with instructions for us to pray that God’s kingdom come and concluded with us glorifying God that His is the kingdom. He even used it to describe the very seed that is sown in the hearts of men in His Parable of the Sower when, in Matthew’s account, He called the seed “the word of the kingdom” (See Matthew 13:19). That is significant because in Mark’s & Luke’s Gospels, the seed is simply referred to as the Word of God. But Matthew makes sure to call the Word of God, the Word of His kingdom.
So, yes, even though He spent time talking about other subjects, all of Jesus’ teachings were kingdom centered. Therefore, we can correctly conclude that the kingdom of God was Jesus’ message!
I want you to see another Scripture where the very purpose of Jesus’ ministry is clearly described: We see in Luke 4:42-43, when Jesus was in the city of Capernaum, a city of Galilee, that the people tried to keep Him from leaving them. Then Jesus responded by saying, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent.” Here in verse 43, we have two very intriguing statements by Jesus:
Number one—Notice that He said He must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also. What must He preach? He must preach the kingdom of God! In other words, we see here in Luke 4:43 from His own mouth what Jesus preached. So, there should be no argument regarding this; Jesus’ “sermon” was the kingdom of God!
Number two—Notice the second phrase: He said that He must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because it was for this purpose that He was sent. In other words, not only was the kingdom of God His message, declaring this message was His very purpose for being sent! Wow! This means that the reason that you see Jesus emphasizing the kingdom of God throughout His ministry was because it was why His Father sent Him to the earth. Now we can see from other Scriptures what Jesus’ purpose was. Like for instance He came to destroy the works of the devil, to save sinners, etc., but we cannot deny that Jesus Himself said that His purpose for being sent was to proclaim God’s kingdom.
So, the kingdom of God was and is and forevermore shall be Jesus’ message! It is what He proclaimed all throughout His ministry, but let’s go back to the beginning. No, not the Book of Genesis, but the genesis of Jesus’ ministry—because there are some wonderful truths we can learn from what Jesus started out proclaiming …
THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM
Even from the very beginning of His ministry we see Him preaching the kingdom of God… In Mark 1:14 when Jesus began His three-year mission we are told— “… after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,”
Now I want you to notice that this is the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry according to Mark’s Gospel. Therefore, it’s the very first thing Jesus did after His baptism by John, the Holy Spirit descending upon Him, and Him being tempted by the devil in the wilderness after fasting for those forty days and forty nights. In fact, Matthew’s gospel says that it was when He heard that his cousin, John the Baptist, was put in prison that He went to Galilee to begin His ministry (See Matthew 4:12).
But my point is—this is the first thing we see Jesus doing. It was what He began His ministry with— “preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God.” So, Jesus practiced what He would end up preaching later in His ministry when He told His followers to seek first the kingdom of God (See Matthew 6:33). Jesus likewise sought it first in His ministry!
I want you to notice how Matthew puts it: In Matthew 4:23 (also compare Matthew 9:35) we are told— “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.”
So, we can see from just these two passages of Scripture that Jesus’ ministry began with this message. But what we can also see is the kingdom of God was His gospel! Notice again how the gospel writers called it “the gospel of the kingdom.”
You see, Jesus did indeed come preaching the gospel, but what was the good news that he preached? According to these Scriptures, the good news that He proclaimed was the kingdom of God!
For example, Jesus said in Luke 4:18 that the Spirit of God was upon Him and had anointed Him to preach the gospel to the poor. So, He described from the Book of Isaiah how God had empowered Him through the Holy Spirit to preach the “gospel” to the poor. But what was the good news He proclaimed to the poor? Well, in Luke 6:20 He describes what this good news that He preached to the poor was when He said, “Blessed are you poor …” (Why were they blessed?) “… for yours is the kingdom of God.” So, the good news to them was— “You guys are blessed because God’s kingdom is available to you!”
So, this was what Jesus was both anointed to preach and His very purpose for being sent—to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom of God! Amen?
WHAT IS THE GOSPEL?
You see, the word “gospel” comes from the Greek word evangelion where we get our words “evangelism” or “evangelist” from. This word “gospel” was derived from the old English expression “good spell,” meaning “good tale” or “good news.” And in Jesus’ day it denoted “news that was too good to be true.” But in this word’s broadest sense, it referred to a message given by a king or a favorable report about a significant event. Therefore, our “gospel” is the favorable report originally brought to us by our King—the Lord Jesus Christ! He came to proclaim to us God’s wonderful plan of redemption and His awesome purpose to make us co-heirs with Him in the kingdom of God. So, the kingdom of God being opened up to all who believe on its King is the good news that Jesus came to proclaim.
You know, there are a lot of different ideas of what the gospel is. Everyone has been impacted by Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection in different ways, and that’s wonderful. But it is also important that we understand from a Biblical perspective what the good news entails. Like, for example, many believers in an attempt to evangelize go out asking unbelievers if they want to be saved. Well, what if they asked— “Saved from what?”? And then if we responded with something like— “Well, hell, of course” and they were to respond to that answer with “Why do I need to be saved from that?” what would we tell them? Do we know what we are saved from and do we know what we are saved unto? I don’t think a lot of believers know the answers to these things.
That’s why we need to know what the gospel truly is! So that it’s not some general thing to us that we’ve never come to fully understand.
Well, back in Mark chapter 1, I believe we have a little description of what the gospel of the kingdom entailed: Notice that after Mark tells us in verse 14 that Jesus went into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, that he says in verse 15 – “and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.’”
So, this is what Jesus was specifically saying when preaching the gospel of the kingdom: The first thing was— “The time is fulfilled …” Now you need to know that this was absolutely good news to the Jewish people! Why? Because they were looking for the time when their Savior—their Messiah—would be sent to them to deliver them as the prophets had promised. In fact, at the time Jesus came, there was time of spiritual bankruptcy not only in Israel but even the pagan, Gentile world.
That is why the Bible teaches us in Galatians 4:4 that Jesus was sent by the Father when “the fullness of time had come.” That describes Him being sent at the right and perfect time—meaning, Jesus was sent to the earth at a very strategic time. And one of the things that made it the perfect time was this spiritually dry time-period where the Word of the Lord was not as prevalent as it had been and the signs, wonders, and miracles that were done before were nowhere to be seen.
So, for Jesus to come on the scene and say, “The time is fulfilled!” was exciting news to the say the least!
Then Jesus went on to say, “and the kingdom of God is at hand …” So, the good news of the kingdom of God can clearly be seen here that it was “at hand.” What does it mean for something to be “at hand”? Well, it describes something be near or close to one’s reach. It denotes soon in time or imminent. The Greek word for “is at hand” means to bring near, approach, and to join one thing to another.
So, Jesus’ message was that— “It’s time and the kingdom is imminent!”
Now by Him saying that the time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand shows us that we are not just talking about something that it going to happen in the future. No, because the time is fulfilled, the kingdom is here now! Now there is a time where the kingdom will come and be fully manifested here on the earth (We will get into that in the coming weeks), but in the person and power of Jesus Christ, the kingdom of God is here now!
Let’s look at a passage of Scripture that answers the question of when the kingdom of God would come: In Luke 17:20, we are told— “Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said …” Now before we get into Jesus’ response that answers this question, it is important for us to know who He was addressing. Notice it is the Pharisees who asked this question, and then Luke says that Jesus answered them.
Now we know who these rascals were, don’t we? These were the guys whose motives were evil and would wind up being the very ones who would have Jesus crucified. So, when Jesus gives them the response He did, it ought to make us question what He meant. Notice what He said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation.” This means that you won’t be able to see it with your physical eyeballs. Now sure, you can see the effects of it on the physical world around us, but seeing it in its entirety and full manifestation is not how we will first see it. Then He went on to say in verse 21-- “nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or “See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.’”
Now on the surface it would seem like Jesus was saying, “The kingdom of God is on the inside of you,” but that could not be true based on who He was talking to, right? In fact, even if He would have said this to His disciples it couldn’t have been true because they had not been born again yet and they did not have the Holy Spirit yet dwelling in them. Now while it is true to a certain degree for us today because we have the new birth and the Holy Spirit, when Jesus said this, He had to have meant something else—because, again, who was He addressing? The Pharisees, and they certainly were not full of kingdom of God! In fact, they were the ones (along with the scribes) whom Jesus said were full of dead men’s bones (See Matthew 23:27)! So, there was nothing of the kingdom of God dwelling in their physical bodies.
No, when you study out this phrase— “The kingdom of God is within you”—you’ll find that the word “within” can be translated “in the sphere of” or “in the midst of.” In other words, just as it can mean something that is actually inside of something else, it can also describe something being in the presence of something else. And it’s rather clear that this is what Jesus was saying here. Just as He would tell His disciples to go heal the sick and cast out demons, and then tell those who witnessed these things that the kingdom of God had come near them, this is what Jesus was telling the Pharisees—that because Jesus Himself was before them, His truth was proclaimed to them, and the demonstration of the power of God was being manifested around them, the kingdom of God was in their midst. Therefore, the kingdom was at hand! Amen!
Then Jesus went on to say in Mark 1:15— “Repent, and believe in the gospel!” Now we will come this word “repent” in more detail next week as it is an important word in regard to God’s kingdom, but I want you to notice that Jesus was encouraging God’s people to both repent and believe in the gospel. The gospel of what? The good news of the kingdom—that it is now and available to all who will believe it.
And that’s what I see the Lord encouraging all of us here today with—to believe in this gospel of the kingdom! That is here with us! It is at hand! It is imminent! And we can experience it in and through our lives!
Romans 10:14-17 teaches us this— “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!’ But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed our report?’ So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
Let’s look at these verses in a different light today: Might we say, “How then shall they call on the kingdom in which they have not believed? And how shall they believe in this gospel of the kingdom of which they have not heard? And how shall they hear about it without someone preaching it? And how shall they preach it unless they are sent to do so? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace (that is, peace between God and man, between His kingdom and those who receive it), who bring glad tidings of the good things of His kingdom!’ But they have not all obeyed the gospel of the kingdom. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our good report of the kingdom?’ So then faith for this kingdom comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (A better translation would be “Christ”—which means “the One anointed to be King”).
Church, in Matthew 24:14, Jesus clearly states— “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” So, while it is clear that we are getting close to the end, I believe the Lord wants our message to more accurately reflect His message in these end-times. Amen?
Now next week, we will learn that the kingdom of God was not just Jesus’ message; the kingdom of God is the New Testament message! But today, I wanted you to see how it was the gist of what Jesus came to proclaim to His brethren. And if Jesus emphasized the kingdom of God in His life and ministry, I think we ought to as well. Yes, we should embrace this kingdom-mentality in our lives because when we come to see things from this perspective, it will change how we view life in this world and what Christianity is all about. Amen? It’s all about the gospel of the kingdom of God!