Salvation through Jesus' life, death and resurrection is central to the gospel message. Jesus Christ died, was buried and was resurrected for a reason: so we could inherit everlasting life in the Kingdom of God (John 3:16). This astounding part of the gospel—the entering into the Kingdom of God—is the aspect so few understand. It is synonymous with salvation. Without understanding this part of the gospel, one cannot understand what salvation is. Do you know how to enter this Kingdom, to attain the salvation of which the Bible speaks?
Entering the very family of God!
What will salvation—eternal life in the Kingdom of God—really mean to those who receive it? We have seen that salvation is the transformation from a fleshly, mortal human to an immortal son of God. Notice how the book of Hebrews expresses it: "In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. Both the one who makes men holy [Christ] and those who are made holy [repentant and converted human beings] are of the same family" (Hebrews 2:10-11, NIV).
"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you" (Matthew 6:33).
Have you ever grasped this before? Those who enter the Kingdom of God are all "of the same family"—God's family! All are God's children, brought "to glory"—a glorified state of immortal spirit (1 Corinthians 15:42-44)-by Him. This is what salvation is all about. "So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. He says, 'I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises' . . . 'And again he says, 'Here am I, and the children God has given me'" (Hebrews 2:11-13, NIV).
That Jesus is not ashamed to regard them as His own brothers (and sisters) shows just how personal this family relationship is. Those who enter the Kingdom of God will share even God's divine nature (2 Peter 1:4) for all eternity.
God will make those who enter His Kingdom fully like Jesus Christ! The apostle John is explicit: "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! . . . Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is" (1 John 3:1-3).
Yes, human beings who enter the Kingdom of God will be given the glorious honor of being like the resurrected, glorified Jesus Christ. "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together" (Romans 8:16-17, King James Version).
This is the awesome potential of all who receive eternal life as members of the family God is creating!
The reward of the saints
The promised reward of the saints—or salvation, as it is often called—occurs at the resurrection from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:50-52). This takes place when Jesus Christ returns at the last trumpet and the kingdoms of the world become "the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ" (Revelation 11:15). Those who are resurrected from mortal life to immortality will enter His Kingdom and assist Christ in a 1,000-year reign on earth (Revelation 20:4-6).
The gospel of the Kingdom of God reveals that Jesus Christ will set up His Kingdom on earth with His resurrected saints to give everyone the opportunity for eternal life. God's desire is for everyone to inherit the Kingdom of God, each in his or her own time (2 Peter 3:9; 1 Corinthians 15:20-26).
The true gospel reveals that the saints—the faithful followers of Jesus Christ resurrected to eternal life at His return—will be actively involved in ruling with Jesus Christ in the Kingdom of God when it is established (Revelation 5:10). Prophecies in the book of Isaiah reveal that Christ will begin working with the human beings left alive after His return to teach them His ways. The resurrected saints will assist Christ in bringing about complete spiritual and physical healing of the nations (Isaiah 30:20-21; Isaiah 35:1-6).
Jesus Christ's faithful followers, now given eternal life, will assist Him as kings and priests in the Kingdom of God (Revelation 1:6). They will become spirit and live forever (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17; 1 Corinthians 15:42-54).
This is God's incredible promise to them: "He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son" (Revelation 21:7). What does this inheritance include? Hebrews 2:6-8 indicates that our ultimate destiny is to participate in rulership over the entire universe as glorified, immortal sons of God!
A call to action
When we hear and understand the gospel of the Kingdom of God, Jesus expects us to repent and believe the good news about this Kingdom (Mark 1:14-15). His Kingdom is something we must enter (Mark 10:23-25).
Accepting Jesus' command to repent and believe this message, this good news, is the first step. We can turn to God for forgiveness and reconciliation through Jesus Christ and begin to live by the laws of the Kingdom of God as taught by Jesus Christ. Those who refuse to live God's holy way of life will be refused entrance into the Kingdom of God and eternal life (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:5).
Jesus warned of obstacles that can prevent our entrance into the Kingdom (Matthew 5:20; Matthew 19:23-25; Mark 9:47; Luke 18:17; John 3:5). To enter the Kingdom, we must gain a proper outlook—a humble, teachable, childlike attitude—accompanied by real repentance, baptism and the receiving of God's Holy Spirit (Matthew 18:3; John 3:3-5; Acts 2:38).
If you want to know more about baptism and how your life can change, call or write for our free booklet The Road to Eternal Life. This knowledge is vital to your entering the Kingdom of God.
Seeking God's Kingdom must become our highest priority, no matter what the difficulties. Paul said, "We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22). Jesus encourages us to overcome these difficulties by keeping the Kingdom of God as our primary goal (Matthew 6:33). He urges us to pray for God's Kingdom to come (Matthew 6:10).
When our lives are devoted to seeking God's Kingdom, our outlook will be like that of the patriarchs as recorded in Hebrews 11. Notice these inspiring words about their orientation: "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth ... Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them" (Hebrews 11:13-16). The patriarchs considered themselves "strangers and pilgrims" because they looked forward to the Kingdom of God. Their lives were centered on that Kingdom, not on their physical, material life.
Road map for the Kingdom
One way Christians can enhance their vision of the coming Kingdom of God is by understanding the meaning of God's seven annual Holy Days. Although most people think of them as only Jewish observances, God made it clear that they are, in reality, His festivals and Holy Days (Leviticus 23:2-4). God gave these special observances to help us understand Christ's part in our salvation and how the Kingdom of God will be established on earth.
In Colossians 2:16-17, Paul referred to these festivals as "a shadow of things to come." Paul and the early Church kept them as reminders of the coming Kingdom of God. Even though others criticized the Colossians for the way they observed these days, Paul and the saints at Colosse grasped the connection between the purpose of these days and the gospel.
Understanding the meaning of these annual sacred assemblies can help us understand the wonderful message Jesus Christ taught—God's plan for His coming Kingdom and eternal life. If you would like to know more about the annual festivals, be sure to request our free booklets What Is Your Destiny? and God's Holy Day Plan—the Promise of Hope for All Mankind.
God reveals His wonderful truth to those He is calling now (John 6:44). Jesus Christ said His message would be preached at the end time before His second coming. "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come" (Matthew 24:14).
The United Church of God is committed to proclaiming this message and invites you to follow Jesus Christ's admonition to believe and respond to it.
To help any who are genuinely seeking the coming Kingdom of God, we offer a free magazine, The Good News. As the name implies, The Good News is dedicated to the message Jesus proclaimed. Every issue contains articles explaining the teachings of Jesus Christ about the coming Kingdom of God and what you should do to enter that glorious Kingdom. Simply call or write to the location nearest you for a free subscription.
The message Jesus brought is called, appropriately, the good news—the gospel—of the Kingdom of God. And it really is good news, the most wonderful news imaginable to mankind. Jesus Christ is asking you to believe that good news and "seek first the kingdom of God" (Matthew 6:33). If you do, says Jesus Christ in Luke 12:32, it will be God's pleasure to give you the Kingdom!