What was Jesus Christ's message? He preached "the gospel of the kingdom of God" (Matthew 4:23; Matthew 9:35; Mark 1:14-15).
The Old English word gospel, or"good spell," means "good news." The good news was the centerpiece of His message. He de-fined His mission with these words: "I must preach the kingdom of God...because for this purpose I have been sent" (Luke 4:43).
What did He command His disciples to teach? "He sent them to preach the kingdom of God..." (Luke 9:2-6).
What is that message about, and why is it such good news?
When Jesus taught about the Kingdom of God (Luke 8:1; Luke 9:11; Luke 12:31; Luke 13:18), He was simply continuing the messages of the Hebrew prophets whose words are recorded in the Old Testament. Centuries earlier God had inspired such faithful men as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and Zechariah to look beyond the difficulties and destruction of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah to a magnificent future when God would establish His world-ruling kingdom on earth under the reign of the Messiah.
Notice some of their prophecies describing this wonderful age to come:
"The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them" (Isaiah 11:6).
"They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse [the phrase referring to the promised Messiah, Jesus], who shall stand as a banner to the people; for the Gentiles shall seek Him, and His resting place shall be glorious" (Isaiah 11:9-10).
"I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. 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" (Daniel 7:13-14).
"Then the Lord will go forth...And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west, making a very large valley...Thus the Lord my God will come, and all the saints with You...And the Lord shall be King over all the earth" (Zechariah 14:3-9).
Jesus Christ and His apostles spoke of this same world-ruling government, which He called "the Kingdom of God." In Luke 21, after describing a series of trends and events unparalleled in history, He concluded: "Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near...When you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near" (Luke 21:28-31).
The ancient prophets, Jesus and His apostles all spoke of a literal kingdom that will replace the world's governments. When these prophecies become a reality, a triumphant cry will ring out: "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever" (Revelation 11:15, NIV).
Sadly, this message is seldom understood and rarely taught in churches. Many have accepted "a different gospel" (Galatians 1:6) that distorts and obscures this vital biblical truth. You will read in the next chapter how this "other gospel" (Galatians 1:8-9), as Paul labels it, evolved and spread throughout the world.
However, you can discover for yourself the full meaning of the gospel—the incredible good news—that Jesus Christ and the apostles preached. This same gospel is faithfully preached by the United Church of God (Matthew 24:14). For a full explanation of the true gospel, be sure to request or download your free copy of The Gospel of the Kingdom.