The Surprising Sayings of Jesus Christ: What Is the Gospel that Jesus Christ Taught?

You are here

The Surprising Sayings of Jesus Christ

What Is the Gospel that Jesus Christ Taught?

Login or Create an Account

With a UCG.org account you will be able to save items to read and study later!

Sign In | Sign Up

×

What is the message Jesus Christ brought and taught? It seems like a simple enough question, but most people don’t give it much thought. They know Jesus preached a “gospel”— which comes from the Old English godspel , meaning “good news” or “good message”—but what is that message?

This is where things can get a little murky. Many think that the gospel of Christ is a gospel exclusively about Christ. In doing so they focus almost entirely on the messenger while neglecting the message He brought. Is the distinction that important? Absolutely. If we fail to understand His central message, we will fail to grasp the whole point of His teachings, the reason for His coming and why He promises to come again to earth.

We will also fail to comprehend dozens of vital prophecies throughout the Bible. Jesus’ message ties all of these things together in a theme that is truly good news that has great implications not only for your future but for that of the entire earth.

So what was Jesus’ message? Let’s go through some of His statements to be sure we understand it.

The gospel of the Kingdom of God

We find Christ’s message summarized in Mark 1:14-15 Mark 1:14-15 14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent you, and believe the gospel.
American King James Version×
: “Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God , and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel’ ” (emphasis added throughout).

Jesus’ teaching, we see, centered on the gospel—the good news—of the Kingdom of God . He also taught that people must believe that message and repent of their sins. Repentance is a prerequisite to entering the Kingdom of God.

Other verses confirm that the Kingdom of God was at the heart of Christ’s message. Matthew 4:23 Matthew 4:23And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.
American King James Version×
tells us that “Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, [and] preaching the gospel of the kingdom …” Several chapters later Matthew adds, “Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, [and] preaching the gospel of the kingdom …” (Matthew 9:35 Matthew 9:35And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.
American King James Version×
).

After Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, He appeared to His disciples, “being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God ” (Acts 1:3 Acts 1:3To whom also he showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:
American King James Version×
). 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×
records Jesus saying, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent .”

Confusion about the Kingdom of God

It’s clear from the Scriptures that Jesus’ teaching focused on the Kingdom of God. As Luke recorded, Christ said God sent Him to proclaim this specific message.

There should be little doubt about what Jesus taught. Regrettably, that isn’t the case. People have differing ideas of what the Kingdom of God is. Some believe it is all of Christianity. Some view it as the sum total of all that is good and right in the world. Others think that the church is the Kingdom of God.

Regarding the latter, notice how The Catholic Encyclopedia explains this common perception:

“… The ‘kingdom’ means not so much a goal to be attained or a place … It is rather a tone of mind … At one time the ‘kingdom’means the sway of grace in men’s hearts … As men realized that this kingdom stood for a certain tone of mind, and saw that this peculiar spirit was enshrined in the Church, they began to speak of the Church as ‘the kingdom of God’ … The kingdom of God means, then, the ruling of God in our hearts; it means those principles which separate us off from the kingdom of the world and the devil; it means the benign sway of grace; it means the Church …” (1908 edition, “Kingdom of God”).

Continuation of messages

Did Christ intend for us to be confused about the central theme of His teaching? Can it be whatever we want it to be? Can we find a clear biblical explanation?

Christ’s teaching about the Kingdom of God becomes clear when we understand that Jesus was building on the message God had revealed centuries earlier through the prophets of Israel. God inspired these men to write of a coming world-ruling government—a physical, literal kingdom—in which the Messiah would administer God’s laws and way of life to bring peace and prosperity to humanity.

The prophet Daniel, for example, saw a vision in which the Messiah receives this Kingdom: “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 Daniel 7:13-14 13 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. 14 And 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×
; see also Daniel 2:44 Daniel 2:44And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.
American King James Version×
).

Isaiah also wrote of the coming Messiah and His Kingdom: “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end , upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever …” (Isaiah 9:6-7 Isaiah 9:6-7 6 For 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. 7 Of 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×
).

The plain meaning

Did Christ’s followers understand that His teaching about God’s Kingdom concerned a literal, world-ruling kingdom?

Indeed they did. Notice this promise He gave to His disciples: “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matthew 19:28 Matthew 19:28And Jesus said to them, Truly I say to you, That you which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, you also shall sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
American King James Version×
; see also Luke 22:28-30 Luke 22:28-30 28 You are they which have continued with me in my temptations. 29 And I appoint to you a kingdom, as my Father has appointed to me; 30 That you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
American King James Version×
).

After God resurrected Jesus from the dead, the disciples had a burning question for Him: “Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, ‘Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’And He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority’ ” (Acts 1:6-7 Acts 1:6-7 6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, will you at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? 7 And he said to them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father has put in his own power.
American King James Version×
).

They obviously understood that a part of Jesus’ mission involved a restoration of a literal kingdom, with Christ as ruler and the disciples reigning under Him. Jesus told them, however, that the timing of the establishing of that kingdom is known only to God the Father (Matthew 24:36 Matthew 24:36But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
American King James Version×
).

In 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×
we read that this kingdom will be established at the seventh prophetic trumpet: “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!’”

The Kingdom and you

What does this kingdom have to do with you and me? It concerns us a great deal in every way.

Jesus Christ explained that He will return at a pivotal time in history—when humanity staggers on the brink of annihilation. In His remarkable prophecy in Matthew 24, He tells us He will intervene in a period of world crisis, “a time of great distress, such as there has never been before since the beginning of the world, and will never be again.” Conditions will be so grave that “if that time of troubles were not cut short, no living thing could survive …” (Matthew 24:21-22 Matthew 24:21-22 21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.
American King James Version×
, Revised English Bible).

Reading the rest of His prophecy (and parallel accounts in Luke 21 and Mark 13) is remarkably like reading today’s headlines. Yet most people are unaware of the seriousness of the times in which they live.

The time of His return, Jesus said, “will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth” (Luke 21:35 Luke 21:35For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.
American King James Version×
). He makes it clear that this will be the most horrifying and deadly epoch in mankind’s history, one that few would live through. Only after human beings have learned painful lessons will they be humbled enough to willingly submit to Jesus’ reign as the Messiah.

Your invitation to the Kingdom

Jesus had much more to say about the Kingdom of God. In the first passage we read, Mark 1:14-15 Mark 1:14-15 14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent you, and believe the gospel.
American King James Version×
, a vital part of Christ’s message was an exhortation to “ repent , and believe in the gospel.”

Two millennia later those words are just as important and meaningful as ever. Although the good news of Christ’s coming world-ruling kingdom is truly good— in that humanity will at last see a world of peace, happiness and purpose and an end to war and other violence, starvation, disease and every other form of suffering— there’s more to the story. (To learn more of how the world will be transformed by the Kingdom of God, be sure to read “Coming: An End to Suffering ” “The Coming Age of Grace ” and “The Feast of Prosperity ” in this issue.)

The ultimate purpose of this literal, world-ruling government of which Christ spoke—and the ultimate purpose of our learning and surrendering to God’s laws and ways in this life—is to enable us to enter God’s eternal spiritual Kingdom as His children, resurrected to eternal life in His family. God says, through the apostle Paul, “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:18 2 Corinthians 6:18And will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, said the Lord Almighty.
American King James Version×
).

To enter that Kingdom, God must transform us from physical and mortal to spiritual and immortal. As Paul explains: “… 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, 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” (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.
American King James Version×
).

Jesus says of those who are transformed in this way: “Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matthew 13:43 Matthew 13:43Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who has ears to hear, let him hear.
American King James Version×
). Jesus the Savior, glorified and immortal, now shines as the sun at full strength (Revelation 1:16 Revelation 1:16And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shines in his strength.
American King James Version×
). If we are willing to repent and believe, as He commands, He extends to us the opportunity to be glorified as He is (1 John 3:2 1 John 3:2Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
American King James Version×
).

Those to whom God gives eternal life will live and reign with Christ in that Kingdom (Revelation 20:4-6 Revelation 20:4-6 4 And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark on their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
American King James Version×
). They will be “kings and priests to our God … reign[ing] on the earth” to teach and bring others into this eternal Kingdom (Revelation 5:10 Revelation 5:10And have made us to our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
American King James Version×
). Jesus promises us, “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne” (Revelation 3:21 Revelation 3:21To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
American King James Version×
).

As the prophet Daniel had written centuries earlier: “Then the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him” (Daniel 7:27 Daniel 7:27And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.
American King James Version×
).

This is an overview of the wonderful news of a future of awesome power and purpose revealed in the gospel of the Kingdom of God Jesus Christ taught. Would you like to share in that future? The choice is up to you!