Many believe they will spend eternity with God in heaven after death. But is this idea biblically true? Plan to be challenged!
What is the most important teaching of Jesus Christ? Some say by faith in Him you can be saved and spend eternity with God in heaven. Now it might surprise you to find that going to heaven when you die is not what Jesus taught. What was the central teaching of Jesus Christ? What did He go about preaching? Was it the Kingdom of Heaven? Many religions disagree on what they feel is significant. But what does the Bible say is the heart and core of Jesus Christ's message. Stay tune to Beyond Today as we analyze the idea, "For Heaven's Sake".
Are you a Christian? About one billion people profess Christianity. Of course Christians trace their beliefs to the teachings of Jesus Christ yet many Christians are not aware of Jesus central teaching.
If someone were to ask you what is the focal point of Jesus message? How would you answer?
Many would say the most important teaching is believing in Jesus and going to heaven when you die. This was shown in the study done a few years ago that found that 89% believe in heaven and of those 85% believe they'll personally go there. That's what I was taught when I was young and perhaps you were too. But is it possible that popular beliefs, even church doctrine don't agree with the Bible and Jesus real teaching?
Now it may surprise you the major subject of Jesus Christ teaching was not heaven. The heart and core of His teaching was the Gospel of The Kingdom. That's the good news! The Gospel that the Kingdom of God would be established right here on this earth.
Historian, Michael Grant, put it this way, "Every thought and saying of Jesus was directed and subordinated to one single thing, the realization of the Kingdom of God upon the Earth and this one phrase, the Kingdom of God sums up His whole ministry and His whole life's work." Now imagine that.
You might think, wait a second; could all these churches be wrong? Why haven't I heard more about the Kingdom of God in my church?
Well let's go to the source. Well let's notice what the Bible says in order to check out what the facts really are. The Bible makes it clear Jesus overriding theme was the good news of the Kingdom of God. His very own words are recorded for us so we can know His intent. Notice what it says in
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.
American King James Version×but He said to them, "I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent."
And you know that's exactly what Jesus did, He did that specifically. You flip over a couple of chapters to
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,
American King James Version×Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God.
Well do you need some good news? How much have you heard about the Gospel of the Kingdom of God? What is it?
Since Jesus spoke about it everywhere He went, shouldn't you know about it? And as a Christian you don't want to be uninformed about His most important teaching.
This message, the message of the Kingdom was central to the teaching of Jesus Christ right from the very start. From the beginning of the New Testament all the way to Revelation, God's Kingdom is mentioned scores of times.
In fact, notice this quote about the Kingdom of God. "The word Kingdom is found 55 times in Matthew, 25 times in Mark, 46 times in Luke and 5 times in John. The phrase the Kingdom of God and equivalent expressions occur about 80 times." So these statistics show the great importance of the concept in the teaching of Jesus. There can therefore be little doubt that the phrase, the Kingdom God, expresses the main theme of His teaching.
So when you look at the facts, is there any doubt that the Kingdom of God is the core teaching of Jesus Christ? Now what does it mean, what exactly is this Kingdom and when and where for that matter will it be established.
Jesus disciples knew when Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God he wasn't talking about going to heaven. So what is a Kingdom?
Now that word Kingdom may not be one that we think much about, we don't use that term all that much but let's step back and consider it. Now imagine for yourself any country, you know what is it that makes a nation a country or a Kingdom? Well there's four components, there's a ruler or parliament or a government, we have laws, we have subjects and we have territory. So when Jesus spoke about the Kingdom of God He was talking about a very real, literal government, a structured, organized administration under His very own authority. Jesus Christ, He is where we start, He's the ruler. Now we can verify that, we can turn to our Bible. Look at...
Revelation 11:15 Revelation 11:15And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
American King James Version×Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!"
And so we see Jesus and the disciples as well understood that the term Kingdom of God meant that God's government would be established on earth, led and administered by Jesus Christ Himself. Now what about that second component, the government and laws? The government and laws will be the government and laws of God. Notice what it says in Isaiah 2:2 Isaiah 2:2And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it.
American King James Version×now the book of Isaiah we have the prophet discussing this very concept of the Kingdom of God. Notice what he says...
Isaiah 2:2 Isaiah 2:2And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it.
American King James Version×Now it shall come to pass in the latter days That the mountain of the LORD's house Shall be established on the top of the mountains,
In fact when you that word mountains in the Bible it often represents nations and governments and so he's talking specifically about that right here. And it says...
And shall be exalted above the hills; And all nations shall flow to it.
Isaiah 2:3 Isaiah 2:3And many people shall go and say, Come you, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
American King James Version×Many people shall come and say, "Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, To the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, And we shall walk in His paths." For out of Zion shall go forth the law, And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
Now if we move to that third component, the subjects and the territory, who will that be? Well it will be the people and the nations of the earth. Daniel 7:14 Daniel 7:14And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
American King James Version×tells us that very fact and it reminds us in
Daniel 7:14 Daniel 7:14And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
American King James Version×Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed.
You see Jesus taught that the time is coming for change. Now it's not the kind of change the politicians talk about. It is nothing less than a sweeping, overpowering change in the entire world order. The Kingdom of God will rule over the entire earth.
Now if you are like me you didn't hear much about the Kingdom of God. Like me you may have been taught your entire life that when you die you go to heaven.
But what really happens to us after we die, where are our loved ones who have passed on? Will we ever see them again? You see most believe when they die they will go to heaven but this is what the Bible really teaches. Is that what it is?
You see we want to help you with the answer to that question and we have a free booklet for you today. That free booklet is called Heaven and Hell, What Does the Bible Really Teach? In this booklet we examine the evidence. In fact you might be surprised that the Bible reveals some astounding truths about the mystery of life beyond the grave. This booklet will help you understand the truth so request your free copy today. You can click or you can call toll free 1-888-886-8632 that's 1-888-886-8632 or go online to BeyondToday.tv. Is it possible that what you thought was the truth is not actually what Jesus Himself taught? It does matter what you believe so request your free copy today, you can click on line at BeyondToday.tv to download it, read it online or order your free copy of Heaven or Hell, What does the Bible Really Teach? Now call us, it's a free call even 1-888-886-8632 that's 1-888-886-8632 or go online to BeyondToday.tv. Now you can also follow us on Twitter or join us on our Facebook fan page.
So as we think about it we've already seen that heaven wasn't one of Jesus talking points and no wonder when you consider the shocking statement in John 3:13 John 3:13And no man has ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
American King James Version×, it says
John 3:13 John 3:13And no man has ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
American King James Version×No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.
You see these words were written decades after Jesus died and ascended to heaven and well after many of His followers have died but here we're still told that no one other than Jesus Himself had gone to heaven.
You see the fact is Jesus key talking point was the Kingdom of God, that coming Kingdom was clearly the theme of His entire ministry.
Now one thing you may be familiar with, you've probably heard of the Sermon on the Mount. It is probably one of the most quotable teachings of Jesus. It's the one that says blessed are, blessed are the ones who mourn, blessed are the meek, the merciful, blessed are the peacemakers. You may be familiar with them.
Now do you know what Jesus emphasized in that lesson? He pointed His followers toward the Kingdom. Let's notice it, He began His message in Matthew 5 so if you turn over to the book of Matthew, in Matthew 5:3 Matthew 5:3Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
American King James Version×He singles out the poor, the poor in spirit, notice what it says in...
Mathew 5:3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The He goes on in...
Matthew 5:10 Matthew 5:10Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
American King James Version×Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Now you might think, "Aha, I knew Jesus taught about heaven!" Now ok wait a second, what is the Kingdom of Heaven?
Is the Kingdom of Heaven different from the Kingdom of God? Ok how can we know?
Well first let's step back for a moment and let's ask ourselves how many books in the Bible contain the phrase "Kingdom of Heaven"? Just one, just one, that expression is only found right here in the book of Matthew.
So as we begin it's important to realize that the book of Matthew, it's very similar to the books of Mark, Luke and John. These very first four books of the New Testament describe the life and teachings of Jesus Christ from His birth to the crucifixion. So these four students, these four followers, the disciples of Jesus describe many of the same events from different perspectives.
Now what about that term, the Kingdom of Heaven, that is only used in right here in the book of Matthew? This is interesting, let's notice this, we wouldn't want to misunderstand what Matthew meant and he didn't want us to misunderstand, so he uses the terms Kingdom of Heaven and Kingdom of God, interchangeably. Let's notice that Matthew 19 just a few chapters from where we began in Matthew 5, Matthew 19:23 Matthew 19:23Then said Jesus to his disciples, Truly I say to you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.
American King James Version×notice what Matthew records for us.
Matthew 19:23 Matthew 19:23Then said Jesus to his disciples, Truly I say to you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.
American King James Version×Then Jesus said to His disciples, "Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 19:24 Matthew 19:24And again I say to you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
American King James Version×And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
You see there those two phrases and they appear right together and what does that tell us? It show's that they are identical terms. In fact we can also show that they mean exactly the same thing by comparing these passages from other books of the Bible. Remember
Now if we flip over to the book of Luke and check out that same scenario in the book of that's Luke 6:20 Luke 6:20And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be you poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.
American King James Version×here we find that same concept and it is said just a little differently in the book of Luke
Luke 6:20 Luke 6:20And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be you poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.
American King James Version×Then He lifted up His eyes toward His disciples, and said: "Blessed are you poor, For yours is the kingdom of God.
Now doesn't that make it obvious? Those two phrases mean exactly the same thing.
Now you might ask well why did Matthew use that term then why didn't he just always use the term the Kingdom of God.
Well the Wycliffe Bible dictionary explains that Matthew was a Jew writing to his own race and he respected their custom of using the name of God as little as possible. And therefore he spoke of the Kingdom of Heaven. Now the New Bible Dictionary agrees, it says this, "The use of the Kingdom of Heaven in Matthew is certainly due to the tendency in Judaism to avoid the direct use of the name of God so in any case, no distinction in sense is to be assumed between the two expressions."
So what can we conclude? The Kingdom of Heaven doesn't mean the Kingdom is in heaven but that it is of heaven, it is of God who is Himself in heaven at this time.
So Matthew makes it very clear that this Kingdom wasn't going to be like the Roman Empire and its emperor or any other kingdom at that time. He understood that it was a kingdom to come.
Of course we know the Jews missed the fact that Jesus came first to die for man's sins and then He would return again to established that very Kingdom. In fact you've probably prayed for that Kingdom. Jesus taught that we should pray, Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth. Now these aren't just idle words, there is a Kingdom yet to come from God to this Earth. In fact there is a famous prophecy in Isaiah 9:6 Isaiah 9:6For to us a child is born, to us a son is given: and the government shall be on his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
American King James Version×you are probably familiar with it because it is often times read at Christmas time. But the important aspect of this passage describes something much more than just Jesus birth. Notice
Isaiah 9:6 Isaiah 9:6For to us a child is born, to us a son is given: and the government shall be on his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
American King James Version×For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder.
A little further down
Isaiah 9:7 Isaiah 9:7Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, on the throne of David, and on his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from now on even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
American King James Version×Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end
You see, this is that world changing Kingdom that Jesus spoke of, that's the one that's yet to come. You see when Jesus preached about the Kingdom of God, He was continuing that same message of the Old Testament prophets. So there's no doubt that was what Jesus was referring to, He referred to it often, unmistakably that He would return to the Earth and establish the Kingdom that those prophets were foretelling.
Now most Christians believe that Jesus came as a babe in the manger but most don't realize that He is coming back to earth and He's coming back in a far different way.
The first time He proclaimed the good news of the Kingdom of God, the second time He will come as it's all powerful ruling King to establish the Kingdom and the government of God over the entire Earth. Now this is good news! That's what Jesus came to announce, this was the heart, this was the core of His message. So throughout the Bible scripture after scripture describes Jesus return and the establishment of the Kingdom of God. Jesus Himself said, "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness".
Now there is so much more to discuss on this topic so up next we're going to talk with the Beyond Today panel. But first I have a special free offer for you today; it's the Good News magazine. This magazine contains important articles on how to make sense of today's confusing world news. It will help you to understand what the Bible teaches about the most vital questions concerning your life, marriage, family, why it's important to have a relationship with your Creator. It will help you comprehend God's amazing plan for humanity and for you personally. That's why you need your free subscription to the Good News magazine; it will help you with answers. Call toll free 1-888-886-8632 that's 1-888-886-8632 you can also visit us on the web at BeyondToday.tv. You can watch dozens of Beyond Today programs and you can catch up on our weekly Beyond Today commentaries as well. So go on line to BeyondToday.tv or call 1-888-886-8632. Get your free subscription now. The Good News not only examines world events in light of the Bible but it will also help you in your everyday life. So get your free subscription today. Now don't forget to follow us on Twitter and join our Facebook fan page as well.
Now we've been discussing the heart and core, the focal point of Jesus Christ's message. Joining me now is fellow host of the Beyond Today program, Darris McNeely. It's good to have you here Darris.
It's good to be here.
Now we've been talking about the central, the core, the heart of what Jesus taught. How would you describe it, what is that heart and core of what Jesus taught?
Well Steve, when you look at the message of that Christ came preaching, the Gospels are full of references to the fact that He came preaching 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,
American King James Version×is probably one of the best scriptures to begin with, to look at. There we find that it says
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,
American King James Version×Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
Mark 1:15 Mark 1:15And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent you, and believe the gospel.
American King James Version×and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand.
And that was the very first thing He did.
That was very early in His ministry and it really set the stage for all of His messages as He talked about that Kingdom, the principles, the laws, the value of that coming to this earth. It was the heart and core of His message, in fact it was so much so that it's what really got Him in trouble with the authorities because you will remember that they came asking Him whether or not he was from God, whether He was the prophesied Messiah that they were to look for. But probably what's most telling is at His trial after He was arrested at the end of His ministry they charged Him with being the King of the Jews.
They thought He was going to set up His government right then and there.
They were looking for that and that in fact was part of the fear that the Jews had which was in part that led to His arrest. So there's no question that that was the center piece of His ministry and of the message that He continually preached and it's what really attracted a great number of people to Christ, because of the hope that it laid out of a better world, a better life and a better opportunity. So many of them even thought on His last week of His life that he was going into Jerusalem to establish the Kingdom at that time.
Now that shouldn't be confused with this idea of the Kingdom of Heaven, it wasn't talking about going to heaven when you die. Can you tell me how does that effect, what's the difference between those two or is there a difference?
There really isn't, you covered it quite well earlier in the program here, the Gospels do refer to the Kingdom of God and they talk about the Kingdom of Heaven but really they're talking about the same thing. It is God's Kingdom it is God's realm, it is God's rule. In a sense it will literally come from what we call heaven, the abode of God, where God is and it will come to this earth. So it can denote the ownership of that Kingdom and where it is. Probably a good way I think to understand that is in Revelation 4 where the Apostle John had as a part of his vision of the book of Revelation it says he went through a door into heaven and he came to this magnificent display of God's throne and it reveals the power of God there, the angels, elders and this great activity that is at the center of God's government, God's Kingdom and that Kingdom now, John had a vision of that. At His throne in terms and in a way that we can understand exactly how God dwells. That is what is going to ultimately be transferred to this earth as part of that Kingdom of Heaven, the Kingdom of God so it's really talking about the same thing.
So no wonder some of the confusion come in if people think you are going there but that's not the case.
That's not at all.
In fact maybe we better talk about that then for a minute. What about this Kingdom that Christ is going to establish? How is that going to happen, where, maybe even the why, why?
The scriptures are very plain that that is going to be established when Christ returns at what is called His second coming, His appearing. It did not occur during His first coming He made that very, very clear. He spoke in one of the parables that His, that Kingdom was like a wise man or a king going off to a foreign country to receive the Kingdom and to return and He transferred power and authority to His servants. So He gave that parable to show that He was not going to do it during His first coming and it was indeed going to be established at His second coming.
That represented Him going to the Father and then He will be coming back.
Would be returning. He was also very clear in what is called the Olivet prophecy that when He answered that very question to the disciples, what will be the signs of your coming and of the end of this age and He gave very clear signs to show what will be the signs of the end of this age a time of complete upheaval a time of tribulation a time of world change that would proceed the coming of Christ and the establishment of this Kingdom at a time essentially that will really be done to save human flesh and will keep mankind from destroying all life on this earth.
In a sense mankind has proven over the centuries that he doesn't know how to govern or how to rule himself and we need God we need Jesus Christ to establish His Kingdom.
That's one of the lessons of history, Steve and it's also one of the big lessons of the Bible. If you read the scriptures from all through the Old Testament, the prophets all through Christ's statements, the New Testament and the prophecies there about the coming Kingdom of God, you are left with one inescapable conclusion and that is that that Kingdom is literal it will be brought to this earth, it will establish a Utopia but it will not be done at the hands of any human organization, any religion, any government, any group of philosophical approaches, it will not happen. It will only come when it is brought from heaven, brought by Christ and if you will impose upon mankind, the governments of this world. You quoted Revelation 11 where it talked about the Kingdoms of this world becoming the Kingdoms of our Lord. You are left with that conclusion and there is no other way by which that central event of the Bible will take place but by coming with Christ's return.
This thing is going to effect the whole world, Christ is going to establish this Kingdom but what about me, what about all of us, what about our viewers, how can we be a part of that Kingdom?
You know you can't. You can begin to understand that Kingdom, the way of that Kingdom, begin to live by it and it can begin to impact your life now. Christ talked about in
Mathew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
If you're seeking, if you're looking for answers, if you are looking for an understanding to your life, and a better relationship with your husband, your wife, you're family and certainly a better relationship with God, you are a seeker and those who begin to seek can begin to understand the ways of the Kingdom of God and begin to live it today and it can make a difference in the quality of ones life. It will fulfill the very prayer that Christ made of, "Your will be done on Earth as it is in heaven". But it begins by seeking.
It begins with you; it begins with responding to what you've heard today. It begins with checking things out in your Bible. Of course we've got some free offers to help you understand your Bible. Remember them. They're designed to help with your studies. Heaven and Hell, What does the Bible Teach will help you to grasp the truth of this mystery. It's absolutely free and it's written to help you know the facts. So go online to BeyondToday.tv, download it, read it on line, order your free copy of Heaven or Hell, you can really know what the Bible teaches. You can click or call toll free 1-888-886-8632 and of course don't forget your free subscription to the Good News magazine. It's a magazine that will help you understand the world around you and help you with your personal life, how to have a better marriage, how to help in raising your family, how to understand what the Bible really teaches. You can get your free subscription, go online to BeyondToday.tv, download it, read it or call us free 1-888-886-8632. Be sure you don't miss out on these free offers. Now you can follow us on Twitter or join us on our Facebook fan page.
Now what is the heart and the core of Jesus Christ's message? It's the good news, the gospel of the Kingdom of God and it really is good news. It's the most wonderful news imaginable to mankind. It's the central teaching of the Bible.
Many people know that God is love but you know they don't realize that His love is made plain and unmistakable in His plan that's laid out in your Bible. God does have a plan; it's a plan of action that will bring Jesus back to the earth. He'll establish the Kingdom of God, God's own government, giving mankind the way of life that ensures physical, emotional and most importantly spiritual prosperity. God's desire is for everyone to inherit the Kingdom of God and He's offering you the reality of this Wonderful World Tomorrow, today!
He wants you to be a part of it. God's calling individuals right now who will take Him at His word, believe what He says and begin living His way of life today. There's an exciting future ahead. That's why Christ's words are called the Gospel, it really is good news! So it's with good reason that we should more effectively and passionately pray, Thy Kingdom come.
That's our program for today, don't forget our free offers and be sure to join us next time here on Beyond Today. Thanks for watching.