The Gospel of Jesus Christ: Salvation in the Kingdom

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Salvation in the Kingdom

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The Gospel of Jesus Christ: Salvation in the Kingdom

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“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes …” (Romans 1:16 Romans 1:16For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God to salvation to every one that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
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We have seen that Jesus Christ preached “the gospel of the Kingdom” and that He sent His disciples out to proclaim His message before His crucifixion. However, after Christ’s death and resurrection, another emphasis appeared in the message preached by the apostles, one that had not been possible before Christ’s death—Jesus Christ had paid the penalty for human sins! In doing so, He had become the Savior of all who would accept His sacrifice and live the Christian life.

After the Day of Pentecost, the apostles continued to proclaim the Kingdom of God just as they had done when Christ walked the earth, but now they understood and spoke another dimension: Eternal life in that Kingdom was now possible through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as Savior of humanity and through His continuing role as our High Priest.

Today, some view the biblical terms “gospel of the Kingdom” and “gospel of Christ” as though they were different messages. In reality, however, they are one and the same. The gospel of the Kingdom is the message Jesus Christ brought and proclaimed. The gospel of Christ is also the message Jesus Christ preached, along with the message regarding His life, death and sacrifice on our behalf, which makes possible eternal life in that Kingdom. The Kingdom of God is attained only through Jesus Christ’s central role as the personal Savior of all who would enter that Kingdom.

The apostles’ enhanced understanding becomes more evident in their epistles and other messages after Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. The people of Christ’s day expected a conquering Messiah who would throw off the yoke of the Roman rulers of Judea and establish a new kingdom. Christ’s disciples recognized Him as that Messiah and called Him “Christ” (Matthew 16:16 Matthew 16:16And Simon Peter answered and said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.
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), which in Greek means anointed—the same as the Hebrew word “Messiah” (John 1:41 John 1:41He first finds his own brother Simon, and said to him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.
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; John 4:25 John 4:25The woman said to him, I know that Messias comes, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.
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). The term anointed signified the one who had been chosen to be King of that Messianic Kingdom.

New understanding of the Messiah

Jewish believers of the early Church would have understood the phrase “the gospel of Christ” as a message encompassing far more than just the person of Jesus Christ. Since the word Christ means “Messiah,” they understood the apostles’ message as “the gospel of the Messiah”—the good news of the King of the coming Kingdom of God. To them, the good news was not just that Christ had died for the sins of humanity, but that the Messiah had come and would return, establishing His Kingdom and fulfilling the many prophecies of His glorious reign.

The concept of a Kingdom established by the Messiah was not new to Jesus Christ’s followers. Scripture records that “they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately” (Luke 19:11 Luke 19:11And as they heard these things, he added and spoke a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.
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). When Christ appeared to them again after His resurrection, the disciples asked, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6 Acts 1:6When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, will you at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
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What the disciples failed to grasp during Christ’s lifetime was that the Messiah, whom they expected would arrive as a conquering king, would first have to die to pay the penalty for the sins of mankind. Even when Jesus Christ revealed this truth to the disciples, they refused to accept it. Not long before His death, “Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!’” (Matthew 16:21-22 Matthew 16:21-22 21 From that time forth began Jesus to show to his disciples, how that he must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. 22 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from you, Lord: this shall not be to you.
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). Not only did they not understand this aspect of Christ’s mission, but they flatly refused to believe it.It is understandable, then, that the disciples were shocked when their Leader, whom they expected to overthrow the ruling Roman occupational government, was arrested. “Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled” (Matthew 26:56 Matthew 26:56But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.
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). Confused and devastated by this unexpected turn of events, they scattered as Jesus was tried, condemned and executed as a criminal.

Later, after they received the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4 Acts 2:1-4 1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared to them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat on each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
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), the disciples came to understand that, as the Scriptures had prophesied, the Messiah would have to die and be resurrected. The apostle Peter, in his first inspired sermon to the Jews gathered at Jerusalem, proclaimed that David, in one of his psalms, “spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay” (Acts 2:31 Acts 2:31He seeing this before spoke of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.
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, NIV).

Personal rescuer, or Savior, needed

Peter had to focus the minds of the Jews of his day on Christ’s atoning sacrifice and role as a personal rescuer, or Savior, rather than only as a national leader: “God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact … Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:32-36 Acts 2:32-36 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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, NIV). When those who were convicted asked, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter answered, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:37-38 Acts 2:37-38 37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said to Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brothers, what shall we do? 38 Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
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, NIV). Thousands responded to this call to repentance—a changed life—and were baptized.

Peter helped them to see that God’s promises regarding the Holy Spirit and salvation (Acts 2:17-21 Acts 2:17-21 17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, said God, I will pour out of my Spirit on all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: 18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: 19 And I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke: 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord come: 21 And it shall come to pass, that whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
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; Acts 2:33-40 Acts 2:33-40 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. 37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said to Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brothers, what shall we do? 38 Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39 For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call. 40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.
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) were possible only because of the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus, the prophesied Messiah (Acts 2:24 Acts 2:24Whom God has raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be held of it.
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;Acts 2:30-36 Acts 2:30-36 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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). Those to whom Peter spoke had not understood the need for the Messiah’s sacrifice for their personal sins, nor had they realized that the One they had just condemned to death was in fact the Messiah for whom they all longed. The apostles labored to correct these misunderstandings.

Peter’s next public message made clear how Christ’s atoning, saving work leads to the coming Kingdom of God: “But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:18-21 Acts 3:18-21 18 But those things, which God before had showed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he has so fulfilled. 19 Repent you therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. 20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached to you: 21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.
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This magnificent message, which moved thousands more to believe, illustrates the way the gospel had been preached since the beginning, how it involved Christ as the suffering Messiah and how it was a message of the “restoration of all things”—the wonderful hope of Christ’s return as King of a yet future Kingdom.

Where Christ’s sacrifice leads

The apostle Paul saw with great clarity the significance of Christ’s sacrifice and where it ultimately leads. In his first epistle to the Corinthians, he described the message he taught: “… I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 1 Moreover, brothers, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you have received, and wherein you stand; 2 By which also you are saved, if you keep in memory what I preached to you, unless you have believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
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Jesus Christ’s sacrificing of His life in our place is certainly good news. His paying the death penalty for us is wonderful news!

But Paul’s description of the gospel he preached did not end there. After beginning with Christ’s magnificent role in our personal salvation, he continued his explanation of the reason Jesus Christ’s resurrection is so important to the salvation of all humanity: “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:19-22 1 Corinthians 15:19-22 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. 20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
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All will be resurrected to life again

Notice that Paul says all will eventually be made alive. He continued by showing that this will occur in stages: “But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power” (1 Corinthians 15:23-24 1 Corinthians 15:23-24 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. 24 Then comes the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
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Earlier we read of Christ’s rule as King of that coming Kingdom. But notice that His assuming power as King is preceded by the resurrection of “those who are Christ’s at His coming”!

Throughout this chapter, Paul explains this wonderful aspect of the gospel message he taught. In 1 Corinthians 15:50-53 1 Corinthians 15:50-53 50 Now this I say, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
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he explained when and how we can enter the Kingdom of God: “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep [in death], but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.”

This is the awe-inspiring purpose for Jesus Christ’s birth, life, death and resurrection—the resurrection of many, many more to eternal life to “inherit the kingdom of God”! (verse 50). Christ’s followers are to “inherit,” or enter, the Kingdom “at the last trumpet” (verse 52), the great blast that signals Christ’s return to rule the earth forever (Matthew 24:30-31 Matthew 24:30-31 30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
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; 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.
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We see that immortal life in His kingdom is made possible by Jesus Christ, “who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:10 2 Timothy 1:10But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death, and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:
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