What is the Gospel of the Kingdom?
I.) The Term "Gospel".
A.) "Good News"
1.) Euangellion = good news. It says NOTHING about the content of that news other than that it is good.
a. Common usage today: refers to God’s plan of salvation.
b. The content of the message depends upon the context.
c. I Thess.3:6 - "good news" that the Thessalonians had faith, and love, and that they had a good remembrance of Paul and the apostles.
d. Rev.10:7 - "declared" = euangellizw – the good news was that the mystery of God should be finished. (Rev.14:6-7)
2.) Usage of the Term Before & After Calvary
a. Gospel refers to good news in general - before & after the cross.
b. It came to refer to the good news about Christ.
c. After the cross: the term came to mean "the plan of salvation", by means of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, and it is used most often in that sense in the New Testament epistles. (I Cor.15:1-4)
3.) Before the cross of Christ, it did NOT have that connotation.
a. Before Calvary, the disciples were preaching a "gospel". (Matt.10:1-7)
b. However, they did not have any understanding that Jesus would die and would be raised from the dead!
- Matt.16:21-23 - Peter went so far as to rebuke the Lord for even thinking that He might die and be raised again! Peter was not trusting in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Nor was he preaching that message. He had a hard time believing it would happen!
4.) While Peter & the other disciples preached a "gospel", it is clear that the content of that message was NOT: that Jesus died for your sins and rose again. Nor was it even that Jesus was GOING to die for your sins!
- At that point they did not expect Jesus to die. They expected that He would establish the Kingdom and reign forever!
II.) The Gospel of the Kingdom Is Preached Without Explanation
A.) John & Jesus Began Announcing The Good News: The Kingdom Was At Hand
1.) John simply began preaching it. (Matt.3:1-2)
2.) Jesus came on the scene and began announcing the same good news. (Matt.4:17)
3.) This gospel was never explained to the disciples. They were simply told to go out and preach it. (Matt.10:1-7) The disciples announced this good news to the people without explanation.
4.) Implication: They knew what it was. No one had to explain it. It was common knowledge among the Jews.
B.) This Message Needed No Explanation
- How did the Jews know what this "good news" of the Kingdom meant? How were they to understand the CONTENT of the good news if it was not explained to them??? They didn’t NEED any explanation. They had been waiting for this message to come for over 400 years!
- Mal.4:5-6 - The last message of the Old Testament told the Jews to be expecting: an Elijah-like prophet to come to Israel and TURN hearts in a right direction!
- They were expecting someone to come an tell them to: "turn around"… change your mind… repent! That is exactly what John & Jesus did.
- Mal.3:1 - They were expecting a: "messenger" to come with a message! This messenger would tell the people to TURN to God… repent… and he would prepare the way for the Messiah/King. This is exactly what John did.
C.) The Message of National Repentance
1. This message had been the subject of MUCH prophecy in the Old Testament.
a. Deut.30:1-3 - When they found themselves under gentile dominion, and they wanted to TURN to God and obey… they could expect God to return and deliver them!
b. Zech.12:10-13:1 - They expected a day to come in which there should be a national repentance which would result in fountains of blessings opened to them!
c. Mal.3:7 - God’s final message to them was "RETURN" to Me and I will return unto you!
d. God had departed from Israel in Ezekiel’s day. But here He promises, that if the nation as a whole TURNS to Him, He will return to them!
e. Israel had been waiting for God’s man to come on the scene and call the nation back to God and His Law… a call of repentance and obedience to the law … good works.
f. This was NOT a message of individual salvation, but of national repentance.
g. It was not a promise of individual salvation, but rather of a return of God to reign in the Theocratic Kingdom He had established with Israel, but which was temporarily discontinued because of their sin.
2. The Announcement About a Messianic Kingdom Was the MAJOR Theme of The Old Testament Prophets
a. Dan.7:13-14 - They were waiting for One like the Son of Man to come and receive dominion and a kingdom!
b. Dan.2:44-45 - They were waiting for a time "hereafter" when God would destroy all gentile dominion and establish HIS Kingdom. They were waiting for the "God of Heaven" to establish His kingdom on earth - the Kingdom of heaven!
c. Jer.23:5-6 - They were waiting for this KING to come and rule in righteousness and justice!
d. Isa.9:6-7 - They were expecting some "Son" of Israel to come on the scene and establish His government. They were expecting the Lord to perform this.
e. II Sam.7:12-13 - They were waiting for this son of David to come to Israel and establish a kingdom.
f. Amos 9:11- They were all waiting for God to raise up that tabernacle of David which had fallen down - the Theocratic Kingdom promised to David, but which Kingdom was in abeyance because of their sin. They were waiting for "that day".
g. This kingdom was a major theme of the songs in Israel. (Ps.2:1-6; 89:28-29; 72:11-12; 96:13)
h. It is the major theme of the Law, Prophets & Writings - all three portions of the Old Testament Scriptures.
i. The very last word of God in the Old Testament was a reminder to wait and watch and be ready for this Elijah-like prophet to come on the scene and TURN the people back to God… a message of national repentance to prepare the people for the coming King & the theocratic Kingdom - God ruling on earth - the Kingdom of heaven on earth - thy kingdom come! (Mal.4:5-6)
III.) The Beginning of the Preaching of the Kingdom
A. At the birth of Jesus, the possibility of this kingdom being established was announced.
1. Luke 1:31-33 - He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever! The King has arrived!
2. Matt.1 - The genealogy proved that He was fit to be King.
3. His miracles proved Him capable of being King.
4. His temptation proved Him morally fit to reign as King.
5. He was announced to Israel as their King - behold thy king cometh!
B. There were some in Israel who were even expecting the kingdom to be established at that TIME!
1.) Luke 2:25-26 - Simeon was "waiting for the consolation in Israel".
2.) Luke 2:36-38 - Anna and others "looked for redemption in Jerusalem".
3.) Dan.9 predicted the exact date of His coming.
4.) Hence, when John & Jesus announced that the Kingdom was at hand, the Jews needed no explanation of what they meant!
C.) John 1:19-23 - The King’s Forerunner: John said that he was the voice of one crying in the wilderness, announcing the coming of the Messiah-King, and was calling on the nation to prepare for the coming of the King and His Kingdom. The Jews understood that. This is what their most noteworthy prophet had told them to expect! (Cf. Isa.40:3)
1. In his day, the Jews understood what he meant. In our day, the problem is one of reading NT truth back into the OT. That is always dangerous.
a. When John & Jesus spoke of their message as a "gospel", it did not have Christian meaning, but a Jewish meaning!
b. It had nothing to do with the death, burial, & resurrection of Christ!
c. The Christian church, the NT revelation was still a mystery. There was no possible way the people to whom they preached would have understood the term "gospel" as we do, after the cross.
d. They understood what God had revealed up to that point. The Christian church and Christian doctrine were not yet revealed.
D. The Kingdom Announced Needed No Explanation
When John, Jesus, and the disciples came on the scene announcing that the Kingdom was at hand, it needed no explanation!
1. Their preaching of the Kingdom was not so much an explanation OF the kingdom, rather, it was a message of repentance! TURN to God! The Kingdom is at hand!
2. The FACT of the Kingdom was not news. (Not "new" news!) But the announcement that it was AT HAND was news! Good news! Great news!
3. Hence, its announcement was referred to as "gospel" - good news! It was just what they had been waiting for centuries! (Mark 1:15)
4. That did NOT mean it was equal to God’s plan of salvation for individuals today. It was quite a different message!
5. This was an announcement not to individuals but to the nation as a whole. The nation was being called upon to REPENT… to change their mind and turn to God… and to do good works meet for repentance.
a. The nation had gone astray. (Hence the judgment: under the rule of gentiles: Rome!)
b. The nation was judged because they failed to obey the Old Covenant Law: Mosaic Law.
c. The prophets called them to turn around… ask for the old paths… turn back to the straight and narrow way… start obeying God’s Law again… and the blessings would flow.
d. That was life under the Old Covenant. Obedience = blessing. Disobedience = cursing.
e. John & Jesus came on the scene calling the nation to a life of obedience - just as the OT prophets did.
6. The glory departed from Israel because of her sin and rebellion. At that point, the Theocratic Kingdom ended. (Ezek.10-11)
a. That glory would only return IF the nation repented. Sin and evil works caused the glory to depart. Repentance & good works were pre-requisites for its return.
- God promised that the glory would return. Everyone was waiting for that glorious day!
- But no repentance = no glory! No kingdom!
b. This return of that glory is what the whole nation looked forward to! This was their blessed hope!
E. When John & Jesus came on the scene, they began announcing the message Israel had been waiting to hear. It was a message of "national repentance"! Turn to God and He will return to us (Israel) !
1. John preached "repent" to the nation Israel. (Matt.3:1-2)
2. Jesus preached "repent" to the nation Israel. (Matt.4:17)
3. The disciples preached "repent" to the Jews only. (Mark 6:7-12)
4. When Peter addressed the men of Israel, he called upon the nation to "repent". (Acts 2:38; 3:19)
- In each case, they were calling upon the nation of Israel to "repent"… and to turn to God… and if they did, the glory would return, and the Kingdom would be re-established!
- The tabernacle of David that had fallen down would be built up again! (Acts 15:16)
5. This was "good news" to every Israelite. What an opportunity for that generation!
6. This message, calling the nation of Israel exclusively to repent and obey His commands is clearly NOT the same message as the gospel of God’s grace, calling on individuals to believe that Jesus died and rose again and if they believe they will receive eternal life!
F. Jesus offered this kingdom to Israel, but the nation refused to repent and refused to receive Christ as their Messiah-King. The Kingdom was rejected by that generation.
1. Matt.21:43 God made a promise, however, another generation of Jews WOULD receive the Kingdom.
2. In the meantime, that Kingdom was postponed and God established a "new thing", the church!
3. This gospel of the Kingdom will once again be announced to Israel… AFTER: the church age and during the Tribulation Period. That will be GOOD news then! (Matt.24:14) Only then, it will be announced to all the world, not just Israel!
- But the CONTENT of that message relates to the Kingdom - Christ is returning in power and great glory to establish His kingdom which shall crush all earthly kingdoms, and it shall fill the whole earth!
4. In that day it will be announced to Jews living during the Tribulation period - the Kingdom will once again be "at hand".
IV. Relationship To Lordship salvation
A. Lordship salvation views the teachings of Jesus to Israel as equal to God’s plan of salvation for the world today.
B. They view the ministry of Christ (& even the OT prophets!) as a gospel ministry virtually the same as a Christian missionary.
1. Yes, Jesus did tell individual men how to be saved.
2. BUT, His main ministry was to Israel to confirm the covenants made with their fathers. (Rom.15:8)
3. The Sermon on the Mount is NOT the plan of salvation! MacArthur wrongly states that the Sermon of the Mount contains "pure gospel". (The Gospel According to Jesus, pg.179)
4 When Jesus said, "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men", that is not the plan of salvation! Men are not saved by "following" but by "believing."
5. MacArthur wrote: "When Jesus proclaimed His Kingdom, He was preaching salvation". ( The Gospel According to Jesus, pg.89) (see pg.90) Not so!
C. As a result of that kind of thinking: They emphasize "repentance" and a "turning from sin" as a pre-requisite for salvation
- Lordship people call upon men to "stop sinning" before they can receive Christ. That is backwards. A man must BELIEVE and be saved before he is ever ABLE to stop sinning!
- Interesting note: the purpose of the gospel of John is to teach men what we must do in order to obtain eternal life. While the words "faith" and "believe" throughout that gospel, yet the term "repent" does not appear even once!