Introduction

Introduction

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This is the central idea that shapes the view of the religious world. But is this the same Kingdom of God the Bible describes? In this lesson you’ll discover the biblical answers to these important questions.

“… When the edifice of the church was almost completed, the … doctrine of Christ’s reign upon the earth was…rejected as the absurd invention of heresy and fanaticis” (Edward Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, abridged edition, 1967, p. 234).

The ruins of the ancient Roman Forum lie silent, a scene of crumbling decay where emperors once ruled a mighty empire. The pagan temples to Jupiter and Venus are relics of past glory. Visitors gaze at the ruins and marvel at what they must have been like in their splendor.

Over this scene fall the shadows of crosses from atop the many churches that surround the city. To some they are a fitting symbol of the triumph of the church over the empire that officially persecuted believers and attempted to eradicate Christianity.

Is the work of organized religion the Kingdom of God on earth today? This is the central idea that shapes the view of the religious world. But is this the same Kingdom of God the Bible describes?

Has Christianity brought the lasting peace to the world and its inhabitants foretold by the Bible prophets? Is the Kingdom of God in place through one organized church or through hundreds of smaller, divided denominations? Or, as some believe, is the Kingdom of God simply the inward dwelling of God’s Spirit in one’s heart?

Such beliefs have dramatically shaped the religious world’s view of what is the gospel taught by Jesus Christ.

When Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God, what did He mean? Was He referring to the Church He built through His disciples? Or was He talking about something entirely different?

These are important questions. Many have reinterpreted the clear and unmistakable language Jesus used when He taught His disciples about the coming Kingdom of God. But, down through the centuries in the Christian world, Jesus Himself has become not the messenger but the entirety of the message. If you are to understand the message Jesus Christ brought—”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,
American King James Version×
)—you need to discover the biblical answers to these questions.