by Heather Gutman

While it is true that no one knows the day nor the hour when Jesus will return, many if not all Christians believe that Jesus has nonetheless made it clear under what circumstances–and therefore essentially when–He will return.

Matthew 24:14 clearly indicates that "the end" shall come when "this gospel of the kingdom shall [have been] preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations…" My spell check actually just prompted me to correct "in all the world" to "in the entire world" and certainly this is the unambiguous understanding of what was quoted.

However for this understanding of "all the world" to have real meaning, it must first be determined what, exactly, Jesus meant by "this gospel of the kingdom."

Implicit in an understanding as to what it is, is a definite understanding of what it is not. Is the truth that Saturday, the seventh day of the week, is the Sabbath of the Lord (the real Lord's day at least, according to the Lord) the gospel of the kingdom? Though this is an important truth–one that signifies, commemorates, and identifies God as the Creator and represents a sign of loyalty and obedience to Him–is it the gospel of the kingdom? Certainly many of us have been known to conflate the two.

Our previous blog on this site proposed the idea that the literal return of Jesus is the essential meaning and message of Adventism. AT Web Columnist Preston Foster questioned whether the doctrine of the investigative judgment is along The Critical Path to Salvation and whether it is integral to the Third Angel's Message, or not.

Is the Third Angel's Message in fact the gospel of the kingdom to which Christ referred? Is the message or warning that that we are to worship the Creator and not pay homage to a false symbol and system of worship synonymous with–or indeed the same as– "this gospel of the kingdom" which, when preached in the entire world, will occasion "the end"?

Although a warning is always good to have, in and of itself, a warning does not necessarily constitute good news for everyone. I therefore submit that the Third Angel's Message is not "this gospel of the kingdom," primarily on the basis that it does not constitute a message of universal good news. The gospel that must preached (before "the end" comes) is good news about a kingdom, not (just) a warning against false worship.

Clearly, what must be determined is the nature of "the kingdom" about which "this gospel" refers. That is, exactly what is "the kingdom" about which this good news is to be preached?

I would venture to say that the consensus among those who have ever considered the notion of "this gospel of the kingdom" is that this concept and terminology refers to the heavenly kingdom of the hereafter. Admittedly, since Jesus Himself insisted that His kingdom is not of this world, this would be a logical deduction; though not necessarily a clearly definitive one.

Furthermore, insofar as the living of life here on earth is concerned, one thing is certain: Jesus has explicitly instructed that "[seeking] the kingdom of God and His righteousness" should be our first priority; and everything, from an everyday temporal needs perspective–here and now–would fall into place. Matthew 6: 33 This is indication that the very process of seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness is one that bestows some benefits in the temporal world to those who engage in the seeking. This in itself is good news; but fails to identify just what "the kingdom of God" actually is. It does perhaps, however, provide a clue;that being "His righteousness."

We, of course, have no righteousness that commends us to God, since (according to Isaiah 64: 6) none of our righteousness is any good. So, we are then left to seek the righteousness of God. This too is good news; and liberating news at that. God already knows that I am no good, and that even if/when I am good ("righteous") I am really still no good; if not for any other reason than that my nature is congenitally sinful–no matter how good I may happen to act or may appear to be. Whereas loving and claiming Jesus as Lord and Savior, and by faith, seeking His Kingdom and His righteousness is what He asks of His followers. He loves and claims us as His, even though He knows that we are no good. Again good news, but is this "the kingdom"?

Yes, it is! The kingdom of God is His righteousness, and the good news is His love and acceptance of no good humanity; which defines His grace, made manifest because of the blood of Jesus.

The kingdom of God is available–here and now–on earth; what's more, it is real and not ethereal. The scriptural case for this assertion is arguably the very theme of the Bible. It is certainly the message of 2 Corinthians 4.

Comments


Re: What is this Gospel of the Kingdom anyway?
On April 22nd, 2011 pat travis says:

Stephen,

One of the strengths of “Covenant Theology” that I was richly blessed to study at RTS (seminary) is it’s focus on covenant promises and the kingdom. This is their "Great controversy Theme."

In the garden the “kingdom of God and it’s meaning for man as a vice-regent” was lost with sin in the garden. God had given dominion to man over the created order.

With sin, not only was proper dominion lost but also came the curse effecting all the created order.
The “good news of the Kingdom” is God’s covenant promises and actions to “restore the kingdom.” The promise that “our God Reigns.” Isa. 52:7.

These actions focused on covenant promises to Abraham, David and the throne, and the seed of David, Christ who “inaugurates” the final stage of the restoration of the kingdom of God who upon His ascension “sits on the throne of His father David” at the right hand of His Father. Heb.1:3,8,13.; Lk.1:32.

Those trusting in Christ the fulfiller of covenant promises enter into the kingdom of Christ. Col.1:12-14.

This kingdom of Christ and the redeemed will be turned over to the Father at Christ’s appearing. 1 Cor.15:24-28.

So the “Good news of the Kingdom of God” in summary “Our God Reigns” and Christ through the cross, the blood of the covenant for forgiveness of sins, has inaugurated the sure restoration of the kingdom that will not pass away beginning at His first coming. The prince of this world was judged/condemned. Jn.16:11.

The kingdoms of this world will war against the kingdom of Christ/God until the consummation of the Kingdom at Christ’s appearing and the casting down of all foes including the last ,which is death. We are now in “the now and not yet of the kingdom.”

THEN AND ONLY THEN WILL it will be true…Thy kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Man and the created order again alike praise Our God "who reigns."

Praise God as we celebrate the death, burial and resurrection of Christ this weekend, for having been victorious He was raised for our justification ….and thus God’s victory and vindication over sin at the cross. Praise be to our king- priest Christ who now has all authority at the right hand of the Father and sure mercies at His throne of Grace. Heb.4:14-16.

Regards,

pat


Re: What is this Gospel of the Kingdom anyway?
On April 22nd, 2011 laffal says:

Stephen,

I believe the following text will add some support your thought on this matter of "this gospel of the kingdom."

And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. (Luke 17:20-21 KJV)

When the righteousness of God is established in the human heart by faith, the kingdom of God is there. And when you distill the 3 Angel's messages down to their lowest common denominator, judgment, worship, Babylon fallen, the Mark of the Beast, the gospel of the kingdom in this setting is… Christ in you the hope of glory.

But there is a definite problem… the church is not clear on what this gospel is… there are at least 5 working / proclaimed definitions. Yes, everybody speaks of Jesus as our personal Savior, but how did He, is He, will He save us? On this there is no concensus. It's like a brass band out of tune. I believe this is the challenge. How can the gospel of this kingdom go to the world as a witness as long as the band has no harmony, and it's out of tune / rhythm.

One last text about Christ's return and the gospel of the kingdom…

With this in mind, we always pray for you, asking that our God might make you worthy of his calling and that through his power he might help you accomplish every good desire and faithful work. That way the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified by you, and you by him, according to the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 ISV)

Peace


Re: What is this Gospel of the Kingdom anyway?
On April 22nd, 2011 pat travis says:

Laffal,

The "you" is in the Greek gen. pl. I would suggest as Arndt does in the lexicon that such use has the meaning "among" you plural. So believers make up corporately both the "visible and invisible" kingdom of God.

If God roots out of His kingdom (collective and qualitatively) those things that offend, the meaning would be difficult if He was taking the kingdom from inside an individual believer. Get my point.

The collective believers are part of the Kingdom of Christ into which they have entered by believing in Him.

regards,

pat


Re: What is this Gospel of the Kingdom anyway?
On April 23rd, 2011 RonCorson says:

Wow Stephen I was almost able to agree with you on something. Of course not all…you have never been close enough to right for that to happen but I could have simply said I agreed with much of what you wrote until you said:

"Yes, it is! The kingdom of God is His righteousness, and the good news is His love and acceptance of no good humanity; which defines His grace, made manifest because of the blood of Jesus."

Do you really think that the grace of God was made manifest because of the blood of Jesus? As if God had not shown grace, love and acceptance well before the incarnation? The blood of Jesus as most Christians like to use the term because they like symbols more then reality is the life and death and forever after life of Christ, God with us. It does not cause God to manifest grace. It is the manifestation of the grace of God.

You were so close to actually producing an article I would invite others to read…but not close enough.


Re: What is this Gospel of the Kingdom anyway?
On April 23rd, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

It's such an old cliche: "Nothing but the Blood of Jesus" and "Washed in the Blood," just many gospel songs continuing this fallacy that only through the blood of Jesus will anyone be saved.

This so trivializes salvation that we see it today in those who are willingly being crucifed, whipped, carrying crosses, a la Mel Gibson, that this tortured and tortuous picture of Christ hanging on the cross for many Christians, Adventists included, that it is impossible to believe that no salvation is offered before His blood was shed.

It wasn't until long after Christ's death that His followers began to attempt to interpret the meaning of his ignominous death, and eventually they developed an interpretation of its meaning–a meaning which has hampered Christianity since its beginning. If only by His death His saving grace can be offered, how were any saved before that event? It is the Jewish sacrificial system, incorporated into Christianity that became the explanation. Gentiles never need this explanation to believe in Him and His Resurrection. The Resurrection, not crucifixion, opened salvation to everyone, regardless.


Re: What is this Gospel of the Kingdom anyway?
On April 23rd, 2011 Ella M says:

Ella M

The plan of salvation is laid out in Ephesians 2, especially vs. 4-6. John 3:8 talks about being born of the Spirit and in 1 John 4:7 the result is love. This is not the usual human love but agape love. Without understanding that, we won't understand the Gospel and God's great love.

In Adam we died, In Christ we are alive. (1 Cor. 15:21) This sounds quite inclusive of humanity as a whole. The forensic concept of substitution is the objective one for all; the acceptance and resulting obedience is the subjective, as I understand it now.

God is outside of time and knows the beginning from the end. Christ died for all who ever lived (retroactive and presented by symbol to the ancient Jews). The Jews should have shared their God, but did not. Nevertheless God is revealed through nature to those who listen. All, even pagans, were born with some light or faith potential and must choose to develop it where they are. But by Christians not sharing the Good News with the masses, most will not develop the light they have and it will die; they will reject the Spirit of love. I think our contemporary secular people are in this same condition as the pagans of long ago. Without witness, knowledge, or love, most will reject God. Thus, it is Satan's goal to misrepresent Him.

Now this does not sound fair to me that people should be lost because of lack of knowledge, but I know that God is more wonderful, fair, and caring than we can know, and I don't have the answer for it. But by believing that all who have been born are written "in the book of life" until they reject God or His way of love makes some sense. This is what evangelists Weiland and Short taught and some others. God is inclusive and not exclusive.


Re: What is this Gospel of the Kingdom anyway?
On April 23rd, 2011 pat travis says:

Ella,

Christ's atoning sacrifice is sufficient for all. It is "inclusive" for "all types" of peoples …but, 1 Jn.5:10-12 and Jn.3:16…it must be received and trusted in to be effectual..

Don't eat just any "Easter egg…till you know what is in it." :>)

Since Adam we were all born under the curse of sin. We "were dead" and "children of wrath" ( Eph.2:1-6) till the kindness of God "leads us to repentance" Rom.2:4…but to refuse Christ the "light" is condemnation. Jn.3:18-20.

regards,

pat


Re: What is this Gospel of the Kingdom anyway?
On April 25th, 2011 Tom says:

Elaine said,

If only by His death His saving grace can be offered, how were any saved before that event?

I have often wondered that if Christ had not been victorious over Satan and gone to the cross and purchased our salvation and then arose in resurrection glory, would Enoch, Elijah and Moses who were already in heaven be made to come back down to this earth. It didn't happen that way, so maybe I shouldn't speculate about such things.

The crucifixion paid the debt for our sins,satisfied the demand of the law, but in the resurrection lies the hope of eternal life. The two go together sort of like a package. At least that is the way I see it from the theme of Scripture.

Tom


Re: What is this Gospel of the Kingdom anyway?
On April 25th, 2011 RonCorson says:

Tom wrote:

— The crucifixion paid the debt for our sins,satisfied the demand of the law

— You know when evil mean plot to torture and kill an innocent man and then they even hold a farce of a trial so that they can crucify him with the authority of the state. Then when Christians hundreds of years later think that God demanded this evil so that He could forgive and the debt of evil could be paid…something is definately wrong with their view of God, justice and basic logic. After all what kind of law would that satisfy. Apparently tradition has so much power that it does not matter what people say, how absurd it is, as long as it lines up with tradition it is somehow OK.


Re: What is this Gospel of the Kingdom anyway?
On April 25th, 2011 Stephen Foster says:

RonCorson,

Perhaps this clarification is in order: my personal belief is that Jesus is “the Lamb [of God] slain from the foundation of the world.” Altar and sanctuary sacrifices of innocent lambs prior to His crucifixion were representative of His sacrificial death for all who had yet lived (whether they had heard of Him or not).

Of course, if you believe otherwise, then we are not supposed to agree about what constitutes the kingdom; or much else.

Stephen Foster
Adventist Today blogger


Re: What is this Gospel of the Kingdom anyway?
On April 26th, 2011 pat travis says:

Herman Ridderbos has a scholarly book entitled, "The Coming of the Kingdom."

527 pp. of "What is the Gospel of the kingdom anyway?", Stephen. :>)

regards,

pat


Re: What is this Gospel of the Kingdom anyway?
On April 26th, 2011 Stephen Foster says:

pat travis,

I can’t stand the suspense! What does page 527 of this book say about the kingdom? I notice from the Amazon site that this page is in the Section entitled “The Future of the Kingdom of Heaven;” and apparently in the “Prophecy and History” chapter at the end of the book. Please summarize it.

Stephen Foster
Adventist Today blogger


Re: What is this Gospel of the Kingdom anyway?
On April 26th, 2011 pat travis says:

Ah, dear Stephen. You have fallen prey to instant gratification and "sound bites."

The developing kingdom came when the fulness of time came( Gal.4:4,5)…by the means and the person of Christ. We are in the "now and not yet" of the restoration of the Kingdom with all the promises having been fulfilled and being fulfilled by the Father and Son according to His eschatological purposes which are centrally found in the Son of Man/God.

The "good news" is this restoration of the kingdom in and through Christ who reigns.

The best question is, "Have we received Christ as the only Savior for forgiveness of sin and entered into His kingdom?"(Col.1:13,14)…the king-priest seated at the right hand of the throne with His Father…who will one day arise and consumate the kingdom at His coming so that…thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

We yet wait for that consummated realized eternal sabbath rest with our Risen Christ that we presently only experience by faith.

regards,

pat


Re: What is this Gospel of the Kingdom anyway?
On April 26th, 2011 RonCorson says:

Stephen wrote:

— Perhaps this clarification is in order: my personal belief is that Jesus is “the Lamb [of God] slain from the foundation of the world.” Altar and sanctuary sacrifices of innocent lambs prior to His crucifixion were representative of His sacrificial death for all who had yet lived (whether they had heard of Him or not).

Of course, if you believe otherwise, then we are not supposed to agree about what constitutes the kingdom; or much else.

— Good to know that I must agree with your personal beliefs or we can agree on nothing else. I would have to have to depend on evidence or history such as how could something be symbolic of something that did not exist yet and no one said that it was going to exist. But you seem to think that is what the sacrificial system was about. Certainly not a valid view but clearly your personal belief. Maybe you can explain how this works and how it could have any meaning here I will give you an example.

three triangles intersecting a square and two circles. Please explain the symbolic meaning behind these symbols.

Even a personal belief will do.


Re: What is this Gospel of the Kingdom anyway?
On April 27th, 2011 Stephen Foster says:

laffal,

With some regret, I have fallen into the habit of corresponding more frequently with those with whom I disagree than with those with whom I agree. Such, I suppose, is the nature of the blogosphere.

Thank you for your clarification of and support reference for the message of this blog. If we are saved through grace by faith in Jesus, then our justification and salvation is by and through Him. But what is it about Him that affords us this grace; or why is grace extended to us because of Him? The answer to this question (His righteousness) is "the key” to “the kingdom.”

Stephen Foster
Adventist Today blogger


Re: What is this Gospel of the Kingdom anyway?
On April 27th, 2011 Stephen Foster says:

Good to know that I must agree with your personal beliefs or we can agree on nothing else.
–RonCorson

Most/all “beliefs” are personal; and we must of course be in basic agreement on something in order to agree. After all, we are not negotiating wherein we seek compromise.

If I “believe” that after three outs (in baseball) the other team gets to bat, and you believe that two outs is all that each side actually gets (per inning); then it simply would not make sense for us to play baseball.

Stephen Foster
Adventist Today blogger


Re: What is this Gospel of the Kingdom anyway?
On April 27th, 2011 RonCorson says:

Apparently your beliefs are not based upon reason and mine are thus I expect more then personal beliefs as some sort of authority that I must agree with. You see I know how to read rule books, and if I am playing baseball I can cite rules. You of course don't need any rules or evidence about how the game is played you have your personal belief.

I guess that is your method though I have no idea why Adventist Today gives you a blog with such methods as yours. They might want to rethink that and give their blog to someone that sees value in evidence and reality over personal belief.


Re: What is this Gospel of the Kingdom anyway?
On April 27th, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

These essays and blog posts often revert to one's personal beliefs, much as the old "Testimony" meetings where people stood up and "testified" to their belief they were healed, or that they know the future, or that "God has spoken to me" as proof that they for certainty have the Holy Spirit and should be authoritative for those who will listen.

In this climate, evidence and reason play no part: it is solely one's personal belief and interpretation of the Bible according to their opinions. When this blog becomes only an internet "testimony meeting" it has ceased to be the exchange of ideas based on nothing more than their very personal perceptions and loses the interest of those who prefer to discuss a common source that can be previously agreed upon.


Re: What is this Gospel of the Kingdom anyway?
On April 27th, 2011 Stephen Foster says:

RonCorson and Elaine,

Since there are no practical differences between personal opinions and personal beliefs—especially as relates to theological, spiritual, and/or scriptural interpretations—your protests are dubious. I have opinions based on beliefs, or beliefs based on opinions; as do you. I readily express them, as do you.

That my opinions and/or beliefs as relates to theological, spiritual, and/or scriptural interpretations are diametrically opposed to yours is no doubt frustrating. Consider it a byproduct of diversity.

Stephen Foster
Adventist Today blogger


Re: What is this Gospel of the Kingdom anyway?
On April 30th, 2011 BobRyan says:

In Romans 2 we are told that "The Holy Spirit" is along the "critical path to salvation" and in John 16 we are told that the Holy Spirit is the "Spirit of truth" leading us into all truth – and convicting the world of sin and righteousness and judgment.

So in answer to the question about "This Gospel of the Kingdom" and the IJ – I would say that "this gospel of the Kingdom" in Matt 24 must first and foremost be the pre-cross teaching of Christ about the Kingdom, which was (according to the Gospel accounts) preached by John the baptizer even before Christ.

in Christ,

Bob

_______________________________

John 8:32 "The Truth shall make you free"


Re: What is this Gospel of the Kingdom anyway?
On April 30th, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

"Difference is a blessing, not a challenge. We define ourselves by knowing other people. We know our world by learning about difference. What is the word we often use? Tolerance. Is that a positive notion? Not really. 'For the time being, I will tolerate you'? I'm against that concept. It means difference is a threat. Difference is a blessing and you don't tolerate a blessing. You embrace it."
Islamic scholar Mohammad Mahaliati of Oberlinn College.


Re: What is this Gospel of the Kingdom anyway?
On April 30th, 2011 pat travis says:

The "good news of the kingdom" is that God reigns and He accomplishes the developing eternal kingdom in Christ/who is God. The Spirit speaks of Christ and glorifies Him…not Himself. It's "ALL ABOUT JESUS" for He alone fulfilled covenant, conquered death, judged Satan and brought in the inauguration of the eternal kingdom…the stone that will banishes all the kingdoms of mankind.

regards,

pat


Re: What is this Gospel of the Kingdom anyway?
On April 30th, 2011 Ella M says:

Ella M

Pat: One cannot accept the sacrifice of Christ unless they hear it. They cannot believe it if they don't hear and see it in action. The verses that talk about believing on Christ, and you shall be saved are for those who hear the the true Gospel. Otherwise it wouldn't make sense as used by most Christians–that billions will be lost because they haven't heard about Christ or only a false impression of Christ. Most evangelical Christians say this is why we need missionaries.

However, Christ talks about the Jews who sent missionaries and made converts as hateful as themselves. We need missionaries/preachers with the true Gospel of what God is like and not ones with lists of prophecies and doctrines yet leave the field with their subjects still beating their wives and stealing and now calling themselves Christians! I am not saying this happens a lot, but I know it does happen. Some missionaries are permissive saying "it is the culture to steal" yet expect them to change their day of worship against their culture. Some missionaries/preachers use fear to make converts. These do not add to the Kingdom of God. Without agape love, the character does not change and corruption results.

The true Gospel tells people that Christ has died for them. In hearing about such a loving God that changes lives, they want to obey Him. Thus some of the wicked who were evil will accept such love when they hear about it. Some (before the missionaries came) accepted the "unknown" Spirit of love and caring by choice and behavior and would be saved without knowing. We need missionaries for those who are balancing on the edge between good and evil.

This is how I have concluded that salvation works. It makes sense to me. I think God is more loving and willing to save than we can imagine. It would seem that message would win more and change lives. Agape love is the true Gospel, and Christ's act of love reveals it.


Re: What is this Gospel of the Kingdom anyway?
On April 30th, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

There still seems to be the assumption that only Christians will be saved; which is why Christians must "tell it to the whole world."

Such a belief limits God by us humans in trying to convert everyone to Christianity, or else they would be lost. With the fast-growing population, Christians are getting further behind, and they must either seek other ways or modify their belief that everyone must become Christian or be eternally lost.


Re: What is this Gospel of the Kingdom anyway?
On May 1st, 2011 pat travis says:

Ella,

While I would agree with you that harshness and rudeness and many other attitudes often expressed by professed Christians hinder the Gospel of Christ, I would suggest that part of the problem is some preachers teach we are to look at the believer to much. I suggest part of the Christian message is that we remain unworthy and "we preach not ourselves but Christ." 2 Cor.4:3-6.

The Spirit must prepare the heart to receive the message through faith. Rom.10:13-17…otherwise any delivery is in vain.

One of mankind's problems is Pride. Pride avoids repentance and pride resists accepting Christ for the forgiveness of sins…for then we must call Him Lord of our life.

When the gospel of the kingdom has been spread to the whole world and all have had an opportunity to call on the name of Christ…then shall the end come. To reject Him, having been given the opportunity, is to accept darkness rather than light and judgment rather than salvation.

Yes, Love was the cause for Grace. The means of grace requires one accept the grace found in Christ alone.

regards,

pat