From beginning to end, the ‘gospel of the kingdom of God’ was the primary focus of Jesus’ earthly ministry. It was His first message after His baptism by John the Baptist, and it was the reason why Pontius Pilate condemned Jesus to be crucified.
What is the gospel of the kingdom of God? The gospel of the kingdom is the good news that a man, Jesus, overpowered the Devil, his spiritual kingdom, and the effects of sin on mankind. As a result, Jesus is the King we should follow and obey. He is now the King of kings and Lord of lords, and He shall rule on the earth over all nations.
Why is the gospel of the kingdom so neglected in churches today?
- The topic of ‘the gospel of the kingdom’ is almost totally ignored in Bible colleges and seminaries. As a result, Church leaders are mostly ignorant about it.
- The gospel of the kingdom is a hard message. It’s not a popular, ‘seeker-friendly’ message to fill pews with people.
- Jesus said the worldwide preaching of the gospel of the kingdom is prerequisite to the end the Devil’s reign. Therefore, the Devil resists and opposes its proclamation.
We must (1) understand the gospel of the kingdom, and (2) decide whether we’ll follow and obey God or not.
The Forgotten Gospel of God’s Kingdom
The primary message Jesus and His apostles taught and proclaimed was ‘the gospel of the kingdom of God.’
Regarding this ‘gospel of the kingdom of God,’ Frank Viola wrote,
“With rare exception, the gospel that was preached doesn’t exist today.” (Insurgence, pg 27)
Sadly, today if you asked 10,000 Christians “What is the gospel of the kingdom of God,” I doubt if one person would have an informed answer.
Christians today are all familiar with the ‘gospel of grace’ and the ‘gospel of personal salvation’, and these are important. But we know practically nothing about the gospel of the kingdom of God, even though this remains God’s primary message to the world.
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God is a Hard Message
The gospel of the kingdom is not a seeker-friendly message. In fact, it’s a hard message.
- If we obey God we reject the illegitimate king and princes of this world. These are the dethroned Devil and his angelic followers, who still rule over the nations in their joint rebellion towards God. (For more about these adversaries, read The Overcomers’ Treasure Map.)
- You can either choose to enter the Kingdom of God, or remain in the Devil’s world system that we’re all born into, but not both. Everyone must choose one or the other. (If you think you haven’t chosen, you simply remain in the devil’s world system.)
- We must follow Jesus’ example by loving our enemies, even if they’re persecuting and killing us.
- We must be salt and light in a sinful, dark world. This means we must be holy ourselves, and (by our example and testimony) advocate for righteousness in society.
- We must be willing to suffer and die for the truth, even if we seem to be standing alone against the world.
Tithes, offerings, and attendance would all suffer from such a message. I believe this is the main reason why the gospel of the kingdom of God has been excluded by church leaders over the centuries, in favor of more-popular ‘gospel’ messages.
“For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.”(Philippians 2:21)
A Sign of the End Time
“This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.”(Matthew 24:14)
Jesus prophesied that in the last days “this gospel of the kingdom” would be proclaimed to all nations. This final proclamation will trigger the end of the present wicked age and the birth of a new age, an age of righteousness and peace.
What does the word ‘Gospel’ mean?
Most people will say the word ‘gospel’ means ‘good news,’ and that’s correct, but only partially.
In ancient times, before electricity and a literate populace, a ‘gospel’ was the official, verbal heralding of a royal proclamation to the citizens of a kingdom, with two goals: information and compliance.
The proclamation informed a king’s subjects of a newsworthy event affecting the monarchy. In the photo above, Prince Harry’s engagement was formally and officially proclaimed.
A gospel message directed the king’s subjects regarding their allegiance and submission to authority. For example, if there was a new king the proclamation would command citizens to give their allegiance and obedience to the new throne.
After the herald proclaimed the monarch’s ‘gospel message’ to the people, the people were responsible to understand, share, and obey the gospel message.
“Just as the Roman emperor’s messengers traveled to the territories in which he was enthroned as lord to bring the good news of his accession to the throne, so the apostles (messengers) of Christ were sent out to herald the good news that Jesus was now the enthroned Lord of the world.”(Insurgence, pg 315)
Our Responsibility is to Decide
“The kingdom makes one fundamental demand: the demand for decision…the basic meaning of repentance is to turn around, to reverse the course of life, to change the whole direction of action, to turn and embrace in decision the kingdom of God…God’s Kingdom makes one demand: Repent! Turn! Decide! Receive the Kingdom, for as you receive it, you receive its life, you receive its blessing, you receive the destiny reserved for those who embrace it.”(George E Ladd, The Gospel of the Kingdom, Eerdmans, 1959, pg 96-97)
The Gospel of the Kingdom defined
Before His Public Ministry Began, Jesus Overpowered the Devil
What is the gospel of the kingdom of God? From the very beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry in Galilee, the gospel of the kingdom of God is the good news that Jesus already defeated the Devil.
For 4000 years since Adam’s fall, the Devil used sin to hold mankind in bondage. But, since Jesus was sinless He could subdue the Devil. Jesus asserted His authority over the Devil and plundered his kingdom however He wished.
This good news isn’t only about personal salvation. The gospel of the kingdom is the good news that a man, Jesus, overpowered the Devil, his spiritual kingdom, and the effects of sin on mankind. As a result, Jesus is the King we should follow. All who follow Him are freed from the Devil’s authority.
This is the message He preached as He challenged the Jews to turn from the world and its sinful ways and believe in Him and His message.
The Gospel of the Kingdom
The gospel of the kingdom of God is the challenge for every person to:
- Reject sin and the Devil’s world system
- Be ‘begotten-again’ by God’s Spirit through faith in Jesus as your King
- Follow God’s Spirit continuously in living fellowship and obedience within Jesus’ kingdom
Water baptism is our outward confession of these inward realities.
Are You the Prophet We’re Expecting?
At the beginning of His ministry, long before the cross, Jesus told them,
“This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”(John 6:29)
Believe in the one God has sent? To us 21st-century Gentiles, this phrase “the one God has sent” isn’t very meaningful. But, to the Jews, this phrase was loaded with meaning! For hundreds of years, the Jews had been expecting God to send a prophet like Moses, a Messiah to Israel, whom they were supposed to listen to and obey. Here’s the passage: Moses said,
“The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him.(Deuteronomy 18:15)
When the Jews wanted to know who John the Baptist claimed to be, the Jewish leaders sent priests and Temple assistants from Jerusalem to ask John, “Who are you?” He came right out and said, “I am not the Messiah.” “Well then, who are you?” they asked. “Are you Elijah?” “No,” he replied. “Are you the Prophet we are expecting?” “No.”
So, when Jesus said, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent,” Jesus was plainly claiming to be ‘the prophet’ that Moses promised would come, the Messiah, the same one the Jews were expecting. The Jews were supposed to listen to Him, learn from Him, and obey Him.
Jesus is the King of the Kingdom of God. The Devil is the king over the nations of the earth, whose reign will come to a final end at Armageddon.
The Power of the Kingdom of God
Both John and Jesus proclaimed, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.”
From the beginning of His public ministry, Jesus demonstrated the superiority of His kingdom by overpowering the Devil, his kingdom, and the effects of sin on Jesus’ hearers. Jesus said,
“When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up his plunder.”(Luke 11:21)
The gospel of the kingdom of God was usually accompanied by healings and various miracles. Every healing and miracle was a ‘power encounter,’ demonstrating and attesting to the superiority of Jesus’ rank and power over the Devil, sin, and creation itself.
Here’s how it works:
- Jesus, the Son of God became a man, a descendant of Eve. He is the seed of the woman who crushed the serpent’s head. (Genesis 3:15)
- Although Jesus was tempted in every way possible, Jesus defeated the Devil by living a completely sinless life. (Hebrews 4:15)
- Because He was righteous and holy, He walked in the power and dominion over creation that God originally delegated to Adam in Genesis 1:28. Jesus only did what He ‘saw’ His Father doing. (John 5:19) So, Adam’s authority, used according to the Father’s will, is how Jesus healed people, raised the dead, multiplied loaves and fishes, and walked on water as a mortal man.
- Today, we are all sinners, but through repentance and faith in Jesus, we can experience the miraculous regeneration of our Spirit (Titus 3:5). We’re begotten-again by God (1 Peter 1:3). Jesus’ disciples are literally delivered from the Devil’s domain of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of the Son of God (Colossians 1:13).
- Today, God’s Spirit dwells inside every disciple (1 Corinthians 3:16). As Spirit-led disciples of Jesus and members of His Body, we can now use His authority, which is greater than Adam’s, to implement God’s will on the earth. This is why Jesus promised His disciples,
“Truly, truly, I tell you, whoever believes in Me will also do the works that I am doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”(John 14:12)
Greater Works Shall You Do
Jesus taught us to pray,
“Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”(Matthew 6:10)
We are to advance God’s kingdom and God’s will on the earth, exactly as Jesus did, through righteousness, prayer, hearing the Spirit’s leading, and exercising authority over the Devil, sin, and creation.
Our Righteousness Through Faith
By our own holiness we can never be clean enough to stand in God’s holy presence. No matter how good you become, your guilty conscience will always condemn you for sins you committed. The ‘consciousness of sin’ (our shame) kills faith.
Here’s how God solved this dilemma. Rather than believing you are good enough to stand in God’s presence, which is impossible, God enables us to clothe ourselves in Jesus’ righteousness, by faith. Clothed with His righteousness, we can confidently stand in God’s presence (Hebrews 10:22).
In response to our faith in Jesus, His righteousness is given to us by God’s grace, just like Abraham.
“Abram believed YHWH, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”(Genesis 15:6, Romans 4:9)
Of course, it’s also important to grow daily in sanctification, or practical, daily righteousness. Of the 144,000 end-time saints in Revelation 14:5, God says they are flawless. For more about this, see pg 82 (Be Flawless) in the Overcomers’ Treasure Map.
Our Authority Through Faith
This affirmation is my literal translation of Ephesians 3:20. I carry it in my wallet:
“I am strengthened with dominion and power to do exploits through the infinite power of God who dwells in my inner man. He is empowered to do super-abundantly beyond anything that I can ask or think, according to the empowerment that I energize by faith.”
We all know that God’s power is infinite, but according to the last line in Ephesians 3:20 its application is limited by our faith. So, in addition to being clothed in Jesus’ righteousness, how do we get faith to activate God’s power? Here’s the secret:
“Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the rhema (the spoken word) of Messiah.”(Romans 10:17)
During His earthly ministry, Jesus was led by the Spirit. He waited until He heard the rhema, the voice of His Father, then Jesus performed whatever (and only what) His Father wanted Him to do. In the same way, when you hear Jesus’s rhema, you can ‘stand in faith’ to do ‘greater works.’
Our Authority, God’s Power
A policeman directing traffic can raise his hand and a huge cargo truck will stop at his command. The policeman doesn’t have the physical power to make the driver stop his truck, but he has authority, which is backed by the government’s power, so the driver obeys.
Jesus’ disciples are all members of His body. (1 Corinthians 12:27)
Likewise, we have no supernatural power to heal or perform miracles. But, as members of His body, we have the authority of the King of kings. When we’re doing His will creation must obey, because our authority is backed by God’s omnipotent power.
In praying, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” we need to cooperate with God.
- He waits for His disciples on earth to listen to His rhema and exercise their authority in faith.
- Then, Almighty God uses our authority and His power to fulfill His will on the earth.
Our responsibility is to decide. Once we’ve heard the proclamation of the king’s message, we either accept it or reject it. There’s no middle ground. Our actions reveal which path we’ve chosen.
The Consequence of Obedience to the Gospel of the Kingdom of God
Those who repent and submit to Jesus as their King and Savior will enjoy the blessings of obedience found in Deuteronomy 28.
The Consequence of Rebellion Against God’s Kingdom
But sadly, everyone who hears the gospel of God’s kingdom and chooses to reject Jesus as their King will suffer curses for disobedience found in Deuteronomy 28.
Related Questions and Answers
Q: What’s the difference between the gospel of the kingdom and the gospel of grace or the gospel of salvation?
A: The gospel of the kingdom of God is what Jesus preached. From the beginning to the end of His earthly ministry, Jesus primarily preached and taught about the kingdom. Grace is how we’re accepted by God into His kingdom. Even in the Old Testament, God imputed righteousness to men and women by grace through faith. So, our entry into God’s kingdom is a gift from God, by grace through faith. (Ephesians 2:8)
Q: Are the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven the same, or different?
A: Please read this post for a detailed answer to this question.