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The Good News of the Kingdom of God

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The Good News of the Kingdom of God

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“Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel’ ” (Mark 1:14-15 Mark 1:14-15 14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent you, and believe the gospel.
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The theme of Jesus Christ’s message was the good news of the Kingdom of God. This is made clear by Matthew, Mark and Luke. Luke records Christ in His own words describing His purpose: “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent” (Luke 4:43 Luke 4:43And he said to them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent.
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Mark relates that, at the beginning of His ministry, “Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God” (Mark 1:14 Mark 1:14Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
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Matthew tells us, “… Jesus began to preach and to say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’ … And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom …” (Matthew 4:17-23 Matthew 4:17-23 17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 18 And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. 19 And he said to them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. 20 And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. 21 And going on from there, he saw other two brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. 22 And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him. 23 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.
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Luke 8:1 Luke 8:1And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him,
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confirms that Jesus Christ did exactly what He said He would: “Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings [the gospel, or good news] of the kingdom of God …”This message of the Kingdom was the heart and core of Christ’s teaching from the very beginning. Together, the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John use the term “kingdom of God” in 53 verses. The gospel Jesus Christ brought is clearly about this Kingdom.

Others told to spread this message

What about His disciples? What did He command them to preach? “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 Luke 9:1-2 1 Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. 2 And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.
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Later He instructed others to proclaim this same message. “After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go.” He instructed the seventy to proclaim, “The kingdom of God has come near to you” (Luke 10:1-9 Luke 10:1-9 1 After these things the LORD appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, where he himself would come. 2 Therefore said he to them, The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few: pray you therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth laborers into his harvest. 3 Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. 4 Carry neither purse, nor money, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way. 5 And into whatever house you enter, first say, Peace be to this house. 6 And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest on it: if not, it shall turn to you again. 7 And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the laborer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house. 8 And into whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you: 9 And heal the sick that are therein, and say to them, The kingdom of God is come near to you.
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The Kingdom of God was clearly the theme of Christ’s ministry. In the Sermon on the Mount, one of the most familiar examples of His message, He pointed His followers toward the Kingdom. He began His message with, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven … Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3-10 Matthew 5:3-10 3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. 10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
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Christ told His followers of the importance of obedience to God’s law in entering this Kingdom: “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:19-20 Matthew 5:19-20 19 Whoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say to you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
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He also warned that we must be submissive to God’s will to enter the Kingdom: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21 Matthew 7:21Not every one that said to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven.
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He taught His followers to pray “Your kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10 Matthew 6:10Your kingdom come, Your will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
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). And notice this! He commanded them to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33 Matthew 6:33But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.
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Time and time again He used parables to illustrate aspects of the Kingdom (Matthew 13, 20, 22, 25; Luke 13, 19). In some of His last words before His crucifixion, He remarked to His disciples that He would not partake of the Passover symbols until He would once again do so “with you in My Father’s kingdom” (Matthew 26:29 Matthew 26:29But I say to you, I will not drink from now on of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.
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Over a 40-day period immediately after His death and resurrection, Jesus Christ was seen by His followers. Notice that even then He continued “speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3 Acts 1:3To whom also he showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:
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What message did Christ’s followers preach?

Jesus Christ was not the only one to proclaim this message. Before Jesus began His ministry, John the Baptist commanded people to repent, announcing that “the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 3:2 Matthew 3:2And saying, Repent you: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
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As we have seen, Jesus’ ministry centered on the Kingdom. In keeping with Christ’s direction, His disciples continued to proclaim the Kingdom after His crucifixion.

The importance of Jesus Christ’s life, sacrifice and resurrection was a vital part of the message taught by the apostles. The apostle Peter made this clear in his first public preaching on the very day the Church began with the miraculous outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:22-36 Acts 2:22-36 22 You men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the middle of you, as you yourselves also know: 23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: 24 Whom God has raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be held of it. 25 For David speaks concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: 26 Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: 27 Because you will not leave my soul in hell, neither will you suffer your Holy One to see corruption. 28 You have made known to me the ways of life; you shall make me full of joy with your countenance. 29 Men and brothers, let me freely speak to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us to this day. 30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; 31 He seeing this before spoke of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. 32 This Jesus has God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. 33 Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he has shed forth this, which you now see and hear. 34 For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he said himself, The Lord said to my Lord, Sit you on my right hand, 35 Until I make your foes your footstool. 36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God has made the same Jesus, whom you have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
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Peter also spoke of the broader concepts of the Kingdom of God in his ministry. In 2 Peter 1:10-11 2 Peter 1:10-11 10 Why the rather, brothers, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if you do these things, you shall never fall: 11 For so an entrance shall be ministered to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
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we read, “Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Notice, too, that people requested baptism as a result of Philip’s message about the Kingdom. “But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized” (Acts 8:12 Acts 8:12But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
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Paul proclaimed the Kingdom

What about the apostle Paul? The book of Acts records that early in his ministry, as he raised up congregations in various cities, he “strengthen[ed] the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God’ ” (Acts 14:22 Acts 14:22Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
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). Later, in Ephesus, “he went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God” (Acts 19:8 Acts 19:8And he went into the synagogue, and spoke boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God.
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Paul described his own preaching in Corinth as relating to “the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 4:20 1 Corinthians 4:20For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.
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). He referred to himself and his companions as “fellow workers for the kingdom of God” (Colossians 4:11 Colossians 4:11 And Jesus, which is called Justus, who are of the circumcision. These only are my fellow workers to the kingdom of God, which have been a comfort to me.
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).When under house arrest in Rome near the end of his ministry, Paul received a number of visitors, “to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening” (Acts 28:23 Acts 28:23And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.
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). Notice that Paul used the Old Testament scriptures—”the Law of Moses and the Prophets”-to preach about both the Kingdom of God and Jesus Christ.

Paul is misrepresented as preaching a gospel about only the life, death and resurrection of Christ. The reality, however, is that Paul preached a message about both Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God. The last verse of the book of Acts describes Paul “preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ …” (Acts 28:31 Acts 28:31Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.
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Those who followed in Jesus Christ’s footsteps taught the same message He taught. The book of Acts and the apostles’ letters to the early church make it clear that they taught about the Kingdom of God.

The gospel before Jesus Christ

Some have assumed the gospel was first introduced by Jesus Christ in His earthly ministry. The gospel, however, is much older than that. It is called “the everlasting gospel” (Revelation 14:6 Revelation 14:6And I saw another angel fly in the middle of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,
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The last four verses of Hebrews 3 speak of ancient Israel’s unbelief and the sad fate of those who died in the wilderness, not entering the promised land. Hebrews 4:2 Hebrews 4:2For to us was the gospel preached, as well as to them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.
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continues the story: “For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them …” Israel had heard the gospel but failed to respond because of lack of faith.

Hundreds of years before that, the patriarch Abraham also heard the gospel (Galatians 3:8 Galatians 3:8And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel to Abraham, saying, In you shall all nations be blessed.
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). Both of these passages confirm that the gospel was being proclaimed before Christ’s ministry on earth.

In describing how, at His return, He will reward those who have been faithful to His way of life, Jesus Christ revealed that the Kingdom of God has been prepared for us far longer than we can imagine. “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34 Matthew 25:34Then shall the King say to them on his right hand, Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
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This good news about the glorious future of humanity has been God’s plan from the very beginning! Christ’s part in that plan, including His sacrifice to pay the penalty for the sins of humanity, was also established from the very beginning (Revelation 13:8 Revelation 13:8And all that dwell on the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
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; 1 Peter 1:18-20 1 Peter 1:18-20 18 For as much as you know that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20 Who truly was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,
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). This was the good news given to Abraham—that through his descendant, Jesus Christ, all nations would be blessed (Galatians 3:8-16 Galatians 3:8-16 8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel to Abraham, saying, In you shall all nations be blessed. 9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. 10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continues not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. 11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. 12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that does them shall live in them. 13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree: 14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. 15 Brothers, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man cancels, or adds thereto. 16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He said not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to your seed, which is Christ.
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Few understood before Jesus Christ

The Kingdom of God was proclaimed by God’s servants before Jesus Christ’s ministry on earth. King David, in some of his psalms, looked prophetically to God’s Kingdom. As he wrote in Psalms 145:10-13 Psalms 145:10-13 10 All your works shall praise you, O LORD; and your saints shall bless you. 11 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom, and talk of your power; 12 To make known to the sons of men his mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of his kingdom. 13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations.
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: “All Your works shall praise You, O LORD, and Your saints shall bless You. They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom, and talk of Your power, to make known to the sons of men His mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of His kingdom. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and Your dominion endures throughout all generations.”

The prophet Daniel also knew of the coming Kingdom of God. He, too, was inspired to write of the future reality of the Kingdom: “Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him” (Daniel 7:27 Daniel 7:27And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.
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, New International Version).

However, even though the gospel originated at the foundation of the world and was proclaimed through the ages, few understood it until Jesus Christ and the apostles declared it to the world.

But why? Ancient Israel, as noted earlier, lacked the belief and faith to understand and act on it (Hebrews 3:19 Hebrews 3:19So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.
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; Hebrews 4:2 Hebrews 4:2For to us was the gospel preached, as well as to them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.
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). In addition, the Old Testament scriptures did not connect all the pieces of the puzzle. They provided tantalizing glimpses of the Kingdom, but greater understanding had to wait until the coming of Jesus Christ, the revealer of “the mysteries of the kingdom” (Matthew 13:11 Matthew 13:11He answered and said to them, Because it is given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
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When Jesus Christ came preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God, He built on the foundation already planned by God the Father from the beginning and revealed by the earlier prophets. As the messenger of the Kingdom, He revealed vital truths that were not understood from the Old Testament prophecies.

One of the great misunderstandings about the Kingdom, not made clear until revealed by Jesus Christ, was that thousands of years would separate His first coming as the sacrificial Lamb of God (John 1:29 John 1:29The next day John sees Jesus coming to him, and said, Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.
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) from His return as the conquering King of the Kingdom (Revelation 19:11-16 Revelation 19:11-16 11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he does judge and make war. 12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. 13 And he was clothed with a clothing dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him on white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 And out of his mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treads the wine press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And he has on his clothing and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
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). His first coming fulfilled a vital part of the gospel of the Kingdom—His sacrifice to make possible our forgiveness, justification and ultimate entry into the Kingdom. His second coming will bring the establishment of that incredible Kingdom.The Bible proclaims a consistent message from beginning to end concerning the Kingdom of God, a message delivered throughout the ages by God’s servants. But, paradoxically, the part of the revelation about the Kingdom of God that was most fully and clearly described in prophecy after prophecy in the Old Testament—a literal kingdom ruled over by a prophesied Messiah—seems to be the least understood aspect of the gospel today.

Many believe that the fantastic truth that followers of Jesus Christ will enjoy eternal life in an eternal Kingdom renders any need of a literal earthly reign over physical human beings totally unnecessary.

But what does the Bible say? Let’s put aside all preconceived ideas and believe the plain teachings of God’s Word.

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