Last week, I made the statement that in a year full of surprises, where many of the things we have put our trust in, in this life, have been shaken, I believe the Lord has put on my heart for us to focus in 2021 on that which cannot be shaken, something that’s everlasting, and we are promised will never, ever end—the kingdom of God.
You see, we are promised in the Bible that the things of this world will be shaken. That means that we can expect that all the things that are physically created and can be seen are temporary and, therefore, will be shaken up and eventually removed. Yes, the truth is that all of these physical, natural things that we call “real” are really just temporal. But we are also promised that we are receiving a kingdom that cannot 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.
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 our hope! And 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 continue looking at today.
Now the reason we began with the message of the kingdom itself 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. So, let’s continue this week talking about the Gospel of the Kingdom.
Let’s begin by reviewing what we learned last week:
We began last week in the beginning of the New Testament and saw what the message was of the Master Himself throughout His earthly ministry. So, we looked at the four Gospels and saw what He placed the emphasis on, and we clearly saw that His message was the kingdom of God. Yes, 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, we learned that throughout the four Gospels, Jesus uses the phrases “kingdom of God, kingdom of heaven, His kingdom, etc.” over 80 times!
For example, we saw that even in some of Jesus’ most popular teachings, the kingdom was what was emphasized: We saw 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. We saw that 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 absolutely kingdom centered. Therefore, we can correctly conclude that the kingdom of God was Jesus’ message!
We looked at a Scripture where the very purpose of Jesus’ ministry was clearly described: In Luke 4:42-43, Jesus responded to the people who wanted Him to stay by saying, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent.” Notice that He said He must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also. In other words, we learned from Jesus’ own mouth what Jesus preached. So, there should be no argument regarding this; Jesus’ “sermon” was the kingdom of God! Then we learned from this passage of Scripture that Jesus 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! So, we learned that the kingdom of God was and is and forevermore shall be Jesus’ message!
Then we looked back at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry and saw 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,”
So, we learned that this is the first thing we see Jesus doing after His ministry began— “preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God.” So, Jesus actually 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) because Jesus sought first the kingdom in His ministry!
So, we also learned that Jesus did indeed come preaching the gospel, but was the good news that he preached the gospel of the kingdom of God? According to these Scriptures, the good news that He proclaimed was the kingdom of God!
For example, we saw from Luke 4:18 that the Spirit of God was upon Jesus and had specifically 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, we saw that 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?
Then we learned what this gospel was that Jesus was preaching in Mark 1:15 when we are told specifically what He was saying: This verse says, “and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.’”
The first thing was— “The time is fulfilled …” Now we 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 a time of spiritual bankruptcy not only in Israel but even in the pagan, Gentile world. 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.” We learned what it means for something to be “at hand.” It describes something to be near or close to one’s reach. It denotes soon in time or imminent. So, we learned that 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 is 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!
Then Jesus went on to say in Mark 1:15— “Repent, and believe in the gospel!” Now we will go into this word “repent” in more detail this week as it is an important word in regard to God’s kingdom, but we saw 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 is available to all who will believe it.
So, what I wanted you to realize last week is how the kingdom of God 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!
THE NEW TESTAMENT MESSAGE
But this week, I want us to move on into talking about how the kingdom of God was not just Jesus’ message; it was (and still is) the message of the entire New Testament.
You see, while it should be enough that Jesus Christ Himself spent His entire ministry declaring this specific gospel, we can even see others from John the Baptist to the apostle Paul declaring the message of God’s kingdom in their ministries. So, that’s what I want us to look at today—how the message of the kingdom of God was not just Jesus’ gospel to the Jews, but it was and is the same gospel that the Holy Spirit has given us all under this new and better covenant.
Speaking of covenants, let’s open our Bibles to the Gospel of Luke and look at a powerful verse that clearly teaches us how the kingdom of God is the message of the New Testament. In Luke 16:16 we have a statement that Jesus made that perfectly describes the dividing line between the Old and New Testaments. It says, “The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time, the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it.”
You see, first of all, when Jesus referred to “the law and the prophets” this was just the terminology that the Jews used in their day to describe what we refer to as the “Old Testament.” The reason for this is because to the Jewish mind (who Jesus was preaching to) the Scriptures pertaining to their covenant mainly consisted of the law (i.e. The books of Moses) and the prophets (i.e. Isaiah, Jeremiah, the minor prophets, etc.). Of course, there were other books that chronicled their history such as Joshua, First and Second Chronicles, First and Second Kings, and others that consisted of their poetry like Psalms and Proverbs, but the terminology that they used to describe what we call the “Old Testament” as a whole was “the law and the prophets.” So essentially Jesus was saying, “The Old Testament was until John …” Until John who? Until John the Baptist! Or the thought the Holy Spirit through Luke was conveying was— “until John the Baptist came on the scene.”
You see, when John the Baptist arose in the wilderness preaching repentance, Jesus was saying that this is when the preaching of what would lead us into the New Covenant began to be declared. But, of course, Jesus did not call it the New Testament or the New Covenant, did He? So, what did He call it? Well, let’s look at that verse again: “Since that time (since the time the Old Testament had been declared and since the time John came on the scene) the kingdom of God has been preached…” So, just as Jesus referred to the Old Testament as “the law and the prophets” He also used a different terminology to refer to the New Testament message. And what terminology was that? He simply called it the kingdom of God!
So, what can we gather from this? Again, we can see that the kingdom of God is not just a message of the New Covenant; the kingdom of God is the message of the New Covenant! We know this because in this verse the message proclaimed after the Old Testament is called the kingdom of God! Amen.
REPENT, FOR THE KINGDOM IS AT HAND!
So, since this message began with John the Baptist, let’s now look specifically at what he came on the scene preaching and then we will look at how this theme continued through the preaching and teaching of others throughout the New Testament …
In Matthew 3:1-2, we see Matthew’s description of John’s grand entrance. He says, “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
You see, if you asked most believers what John the Baptist’s message was, most would tell you that he preached repentance. Now let me first say that repentance certainly was a significant part of what he was called to preach (as we can see by this verse we just looked at, in that repentance was referred to first). Also, because we saw him come, “baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins” (See Mark 1:4).
So, while repentance was certainly a part of the message he was called to preach, it was not his complete message: Notice how Matthew 3:2 tells us that he was saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” He didn’t just say, “Repent!” He told them why to repent.
You see, I feel we have a misconception of what repentance really is: Most people believe that repentance could be simply described as feeling sorry for some sin we committed and, therefore, crying to the Lord about how bad we’ve been, pleading with him to give us mercy and forgiveness. But, no, repentance is not just the sorrow we feel for what we’ve done wrong; repentance is an action we take once we realize either our thinking or behavior has been wrong. Yes, to repent just literally means to turn and change directions from what is wrong to what is right. Therefore, how could one preach repentance and not also declare what we are to turn unto? In other words, for us to truly preach repentance, we must also describe what we are to turn to and not just what we are to turn from, right?
Now what we are turning from is important to identify: If you asked people what it is that we turn from, you would generally get the answer of “sin.” But did you know that “sin” is not just doing something bad; sin is doing something wrong (as opposed to right). There is a difference.
You see, sin is described as a transgression, trespassing, and lawlessness, right? All of those terms denote that a law is being broken and one is simply not doing what is right. That means that there is a right thing to do, right? As the Scriptures teach us— “to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (See James 4:17).
My point is that we ought not to look at sin as just doing immoral, bad things; we ought to look at sin as it is simply defined— “missing the mark.” Missing what mark? The mark is the plan, purpose, design, and way of the kingdom of God—that is, as thinking or doing anything that is contrary to the righteousness of God’s kingdom.
Church, that is what is right, and when we do anything outside of the way of His kingdom, it is missing the mark of the kingdom and, therefore, sin. This is why it is also important for the message of repentance to contain what we are turning unto and not just what we are turning from. Yes, preaching repentance, in and of itself, is incomplete if we do not also preach what we are repenting unto.
Therefore, we see the reason for John’s full message: Yes, he declared repentance, but then he declared why he told them to repent— “For the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” So, we can see that John’s message was not just repentance; his message was actually that the kingdom of God was available for those who would turn unto it. Do you see that?
THE KINGDOM TO BE CONTINUED
Then, as we have already discussed, not only did John begin the New Testament with this message, but Jesus followed Him with essentially the same word for word message:
We are told in Matthew 4:17— “From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” From what time? Well, if you back up to verse 12, Matthew explains when he said— “Now when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison …” So, we can see that at the time Jesus heard John was imprisoned, He began to proclaim the exact same message, word for word. Therefore, it seems rather obvious to me that Jesus was simply not wanting the New Testament message to wane because, when John was imprisoned and unable to continue preaching the kingdom of heaven, Jesus began “from that time” to preach the exact same message as John— “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Now, on a side note, the question might have been raised by now as to why in the previous two Scriptures we have referred to that John and Jesus were preaching the kingdom of heaven.” In other words, what is the difference between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven?
The answer is rather simple: There is no difference! The kingdom of God is the kingdom of heaven! They are synonymous terms. How do I know this, you ask? It is because only the gospel of Matthew uses the terminology “the kingdom of heaven.” In all of the other 3 gospels, the writers call it the kingdom of God. And in several instances, where the same account is being shared by the different gospel writers, one will use the terminology “kingdom of God” while Matthew refers to it as the “kingdom of heaven.” So just from that one point, they clearly are referring to the same thing.
The reason Matthew refers to it as the kingdom of heaven is because, number one, he was a Jew, and his gospel was written primarily to a Jewish audience. Therefore, from a Jewish perspective, they used and understood a different terminology than the audiences who were primarily made up of Gentiles in the Gospel of Mark and the Gospel of Luke (FYI – John’s Gospel rarely made reference to the kingdom of God at all).
So based on these facts, we can see that the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven are synonymous terms. But my point is that Jesus’ message began simply being a continuation of His cousin, John’s, message. But then that message took on a different form and became the gospel of the kingdom. We see this just a few verses later in Matthew 4:23 when we are told that Jesus went about all Galilee healing people and “preaching the gospel of the kingdom” (as we learned last week).
FROM THE TWELVE TO THE SEVENTY
But I want you to know that the gospel of the kingdom did not end with Jesus either: He passed this message on to His disciples to preach as well. In fact, He did not wait to give them this message until His ministry was complete either. No, He gave it to them to proclaim while His ministry was in its prime. Let’s look at a few of these references …
In Matthew 10:7 and Luke 9:2 we see how Jesus commissioned the twelve to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom as well. Luke’s account puts it this way: “Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick” (Luke 9:1-2).
But then again, it was not just limited to Jesus’ closest disciples: In just the next chapter, we see how He commissioned the seventy disciples to proclaim it as well. Luke 10:1 refers to how He appointed the seventy others also to go two by two into the cities where He Himself was about to go, and, in verse 9, He said— “And heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’”
One very important connection we can see in these passages of Scripture where Jesus sent out His disciples—from the twelve to the seventy—is that the preaching of the kingdom of God was tied to the healing of the sick. As a matter of fact, what we see in Luke 10:9 is that the kingdom message they were to proclaim was that “the kingdom of God has come near to you” (referring to the power of God that they just experienced in their midst prior to the message being proclaimed). In other words, the healing was evidently done first and then the preaching of the kingdom was then to explain what just occurred.
You see, the reason that these two things are connected is that when we come not in just the wisdom of words but in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power, we are making manifest to those we are preaching to that they are experiencing just a taste of what the kingdom of God’s intent is—to destroy and dethrone the works of the devil and establish the reign of God’s kingdom in that person’s life!
This is why signs and wonders should follow the preaching of God’s kingdom because it is evidence to those who either experience first-hand or witness the supernatural power of God that God’s kingdom is being manifest in those lives. Therefore, we should not come just telling people what the kingdom of God is; we should come showing them what it is! For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power (First Corinthians 4:20)!
THINGS PERTAINING TO THE KINGDOM
So, someone might be thinking at this point, “Okay, so I get that the kingdom of God was first John’s message, then it was Jesus’ message, and then Jesus had His disciples to proclaim it as well while He was still on the earth, but I do not hear too much about the kingdom of God after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. In fact, the gospel is usually referred to as something other than the kingdom of God. So, how would you explain that?” If this is a question that has arisen in you by now, I want to tell you—You are absolutely correct in saying that the kingdom of God is not specifically referred to as the gospel after Jesus was raised from the dead. But allow me to take you through some verses in the Book of Acts to verify that the message of the New Covenant never changed after Jesus sat down at the right hand of God.
In Acts chapter one, after Jesus was raised from the dead, we are told that He spent 40 days on the earth teaching His disciples. But notice in Acts 1:3 what Luke said that He spent those 40 days teaching them. He said it was “things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” That is interesting, isn’t it? Now mind you, He spent 40 days teaching them of the things pertaining to God’s kingdom. Now that is a lot of teaching on one subject, isn’t it? 40 days!?! That might be something like me saying, “We are going to spend 40 Sundays teaching things pertaining to God’s kingdom.” (Don’t tempt me to do that, by the way)
One might wonder— “How could he possibly spend that length of time talking about just this one subject?” Well, what helps one to understand how Jesus was able to do that was the terminology that Luke used: Notice that Jesus taught them the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. The words “pertaining to” literally describe things “concerning or about.” What would these things be that pertained to God’s kingdom? Everything! You see, every other subject that we spend time emphasizing in the church today such as grace, faith, love, peace, joy, righteousness, the Holy Spirit, etc. are all things that pertain to the pure New Testament message of the kingdom of God. That, my friends, is a powerful statement of truth!
You see, one could be tempted to think— “Wow! How wonderful it would be to be one of Jesus’ disciples during those 40 days? I wonder what those teachings were about? I wish I could have been there to know what they were learning.” Well, the truth is—you don’t have to wonder about Jesus was teaching them! Why? Because the Holy Spirit was good enough to inspire these men to share those things pertaining to the kingdom of God through their epistles! Amen. So, what we have written through the letters of the church contain a lot of what Jesus taught from the time of His resurrection to his ascension.
So, going back to the comment I foresaw just a moment ago about how, specifically the epistles, do not have much to say about the kingdom of God, this explains why. It is because all of the references the epistles make to the gospel being something other than the kingdom are simply just referring to things concerning the kingdom. In other words, all of the other topics of focus that we see in, for instance, the Pauline Epistles, are simply things pertaining to the New Testament message of the kingdom of God.
For instance, one of the most often used references to the gospel by the apostle Paul is the gospel of Christ or the gospel of Jesus Christ. In fact, this is actually the most common description of the gospel used in the New Testament (after that, the “gospel of the kingdom of God,” the next is the “gospel of God”). But what I want you to realize is that when Paul refers to the good news as the gospel of Christ, he has not varied from Jesus’ message in the least.
Many mistakenly use the word “Christ” as either Jesus’ surname or even His last name (i.e. Christ Jesus or Jesus Christ). It is sad to say, but countless Christians do not even understand what it means to say that Jesus is the Christ. But if we understand the basic definition of this word “Christ,” we can understand who and what Jesus truly is and also understand what the gospel truly is.
I want us to recall two things: One is that we just referred to how Jesus was “anointed” to preach the good news of the kingdom to the poor. Secondly, we just referred to Jesus’ purpose in Luke 4:43 when He said that it was for the purpose of preaching the kingdom of God that He was sent to the earth. Well, do you remember Jesus’ conversation with Pilate—how when Pilate asked Him if He was the King of the Jews or not? What was Jesus’ response? In John 18:37 Jesus responded— “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause was I born, and for this cause I have come into the world …” Here, Jesus says that His purpose for being made manifest in the flesh and on this earth, was to become King.
And, friends, this is what we are saying every time we refer to Jesus as Christ: The word “Christ” literally means the “anointed one.” Anointed for what? Anointed to be king! So, when we refer to Jesus as Christ Jesus or Jesus Christ, we are literally saying, “King Jesus” or “Jesus the King.” Hallelujah! So, when we see how Jesus was anointed to preach the good news to the poor, we can literally see why Jesus was anointed: It was to proclaim that the King of all kings had come, and His kingdom was being made available for whosoever will turn unto it! This was His whole purpose for coming! To be born King of the Jews and to inherit a kingdom which should never end and knows no bounds! All praise to the King of all kings!
So, when Paul made repeated references to the gospel of Christ, what He was literally proclaiming was the gospel of the King! He was preaching the good news that there was One born on this earth to be King of all kings! He was teaching the good news that Jesus was crucified and raised from the dead on the third day to reign forever and ever as King of all kings and Lord of all lords! He was proclaiming the same gospel that Jesus began proclaiming—albeit, Jesus did not come to glorify Himself! But Paul’s gospel magnified a different aspect of the kingdom—it’s King! And this in no way varied from Jesus’ gospel, but simply was the fulfillment of it! Jesus came preaching the good news of the kingdom itself and Paul came proclaiming the good news of the King of this kingdom! It all built upon each other!
So, we need to understand that when we hear of all of these other terms and subjects such as the Son of God, the Word of God, the Spirit of God, the love of God, etc. we are hearing of things pertaining to the New Testament’s complete gospel—the kingdom of God.
Allow me to elaborate on how these other subjects pertain to the kingdom of God:
In the Acts of the Holy Spirit, we can continue to see how this message continued beyond the ones who had actually walked with Jesus: We see in Acts 8:12 how the kingdom of God was proclaimed by Philip the Evangelist. Do you know what this tells us? It tells us that Jesus’ disciples evidently passed on this message to those who would come to the faith afterwards because Philip was not one of the original 12 disciples of Jesus.
And as we already made the point of, the apostle Paul himself preached the kingdom of God (See Acts 19:8 & 20:24-25) …
In Acts 19:8 we are told how, when he was in Ephesus, he went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God. Now, again, just like we saw with Jesus in Acts chapter one, notice how long Paul reasoned and persuaded with these Jews in the synagogue during his tenure in Ephesus—three months! And what did Luke say in this verse was his focal point, the message that he spent close to 90 days teaching and preaching? It was the kingdom of God! That is a long time to teach on one subject, my friends! But, after seeing in Acts 1:3, that Jesus spoke of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God for 40 days, it is easier to understand when we see that he spent 90 days reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God.
Friends, this was what Paul’s ministry consisted of! God had given him the wonderful revelation of many of the things pertaining to and concerning the kingdom of God such as faith, grace, and the Christ Himself. Therefore, he spent much of his ministry teaching the whole counsel of the kingdom of God, as we go on to see him doing to the elders in Ephesus (See Acts 20:17-27).
Now notice in verse 24 that Paul said that his plan was to finish his race and the ministry which he had received from the Lord Jesus. And what was this ministry? He goes on to say, “to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”
Someone might say, “See there! Paul’s gospel was the grace of God, not the kingdom of God!” Well, read the next verse. In verse 25 he continues saying, “And indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no more.” So, yes, while Paul certainly was given the ministry of proclaiming the good news of God’s grace, he clarifies in this verse that the heart of what he had gone preaching was the message of God’s kingdom. This simply echoes the truth I mentioned earlier that the message of the New Testament is the kingdom of God and the good news like grace are simply things that pertain to this gospel of the kingdom.
Therefore, the apostle Paul was given the stewardship in this mystery of the kingdom, and his ministry was to do as Jesus did after His resurrection—to preach and teach the things pertaining to the kingdom of God!
THE KINGDOM TO BE CONTINUED
Now this is what put the cherry on top for me concerning the kingdom of God being the New Testament message …
If you look at the very end of the Book of Acts when Paul was speaking to the Jews during his stay in Rome on his way to being brought before Caesar, guess what he was ministering to them? You guessed it: He was preaching the kingdom of God!
When Paul was initially brought to Rome, we are told how he called together the most prominent Jews and then many more came to him at his lodging place. And we see how he explained and testified of the kingdom of God and Christ Jesus from early morning all the way until evening (verses 17-23). Then we are told in the last two verses of the Book of Acts—which is the history of the early New Testament church, mind you— that he “dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, receiving all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him.” (See Acts 28:30-31).
Now notice that in the very last verse of recorded New Testament church history the kingdom of God was being preached (Acts 28:31). So just as the New Testament began with the kingdom of God being preached (Luke 16:16), we see the same message being proclaimed at the end of the history chronicling the New Testament! Therefore, we can clearly see that the kingdom of God was the first message of the New Testament with John the Baptist and it was the last message of the New Testament with the apostle Paul!
Friends, the gospel of the kingdom is the alpha and the omega of New Testament doctrine! It is the first and the last regarding New Covenant truth. It is the first gospel being proclaimed and it is the last gospel being proclaimed! There is no other message of the New Covenant than the kingdom of God. Everything else we hear preached and taught from the New Testament Scriptures are simply things pertaining to this gospel.
But notice how the Book of Acts does not end with the resounding “Amen!” that many of the books of the New Testament end with. Why is this? It is because the Acts of the Holy Spirit have not ceased! The history of the New Testament is still being written today!
So, what does this mean regarding what we have been talking about? It means that the New Testament message of the kingdom of God is still supposed to be being proclaimed today and will be, even to the end of time! Then we will have our “Amen!”
Regarding this, for anyone who is not yet convinced that the gospel of the kingdom is to be our message as well, Matthew 24:14 brings all of these truths together and paints a clear picture of what we are saying: In this verse, Jesus tells us that this gospel of the kingdom must be preached to the ends of the earth and then the end will come.
So, this verse confirms to us that the gospel of the kingdom is the church’s message today as well, and will continue to be until Jesus returns, because Jesus said that it must be preached to the ends of the earth before the end will come. This implies that the kingdom of God is to be the gospel even in these last days, all the way up to the end prophesied in the Revelation.
Friends, this gospel has not been preached to the ends of the earth. In fact, I don’t believe it has been taught in our local churches much less across the globe. This needs to change. We need to get back to the basics of the Bible and find out what our message is supposed to be. And we can find this out simply by looking at what the Master preached and what we see threaded throughout the history of the early church. But in order to correctly proclaim this gospel, we need to understand what the kingdom of God is, when it is, how it operates, etc. So that is what this series will do. We are going to define the kingdom of God. We are going to describe how it works. We are going to look at all of these other things that we emphasize today and see how they fit into this gospel of the kingdom.
So, buckle up and enjoy the ride as we journey through the New Testament’s message—through the gospel itself—because, again, the kingdom of God is not just a message of the New Testament; the kingdom of God is the message of the New Testament! Amen.