THE PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM
An excerpt from, What I Have Learned From the Lord.
Copyright © 2012, by Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)
Note that it is the Gospel of the Kingdom that is to be preached. It appears that the Gospel of the Kingdom has not been preached since the first century. What we have now is the Gospel of Heaven.
Changing the Gospel to the gospel of Heaven may seem harmless. It is anything but that. When people view eternal residence in a mansion in Heaven with no responsibilities, combined with a doctrine of “grace” that teaches we need do nothing to go to Heaven except “believe in Christ,” we have the worst possible approach to the redemption God has to mind.
God’s plan of redemption has as its emphasis the changing of man into God’s image. Believing that our goal is to go to Heaven by “grace” will not change anyone into God’s image.
If, on the other hand, the Gospel of the Kingdom means we are to enter the Kingdom of God as our goal, then the New Testament writings all make sense. We enter the Kingdom as we are born again and then proceed to follow the Holy Spirit as He leads us to put to death the actions of our sinful nature; and as He forms Christ in us. Putting to death the actions of our sinful nature, and forming Christ in us, changes us into God’s image.
God’s goal in all of this is to create an army that can descend with Christ and establish the Kingdom of God, the doing of God’s will, on the earth.
Can you see now why I say that the gospel of Heaven is the world possible approach to the Divine redemption? It is anything but harmless! It is of Satan who does not want man changed into God’s moral image.
When the John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus, and the Apostle Paul preached, the idea was that the Kingdom of God was to come to earth shortly. From Paul’s writings we could think he expected the Kingdom to come in his lifetime.
And give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. (II Thessalonians 1:7)
There is no evidence in the New Testament that people are saved to go to Heaven. Rather, they are to enter the Kingdom of God.
All of the parables of the Lord Jesus are about the Kingdom of God, which Matthew refers to as the Kingdom of Heaven. These two references are to the same kingdom, the Kingdom of God that will come from Heaven.
How Christian teachers ever switched from the Gospel of the Kingdom to the Gospel of Heaven I do not know. I rather suspect the origin of the change came from the Catholic Church as it sought to accommodate the beliefs of other religions.
It may be true that almost all other religions, or maybe all of them, teach about how we can have a better life in Heaven after death. As far as I know, only the Gospel of the Kingdom stresses the resurrection of the dead so we can live once more upon the earth.
The spirit world is an exceedingly vast area. Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, is but one small part of the spirit world. Only this relatively small area, where God and the saints are, is what we mean by Heaven.
The Kingdom of God is coming to the earth as soon as mankind is reconciled to God through Jesus Christ, that is, after the final resurrection of the dead. God’s intention is to have a kingdom on the earth that will govern the people who have been saved from the nations.
But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. (Hebrews 12:22-24)
As I said, Heaven, Mount Zion, is in the spirit world. This is the home of the elect, the Royal Priesthood. It is located in what we might term the Land of Light. Also in the Land of Light are multitudes of people whom God loves but who are not members of the Royal Priesthood.
In addition, in the spirit world, is the Land of Darkness. The lowest part of the Land of Darkness is Hell, also in the spirit world. If I am not mistaken, the Lake of Fire is somewhere in the interior of the earth, although it is spiritual in nature.
Those whose spirits are in the heavenly Jerusalem at this time must press ahead in the program of redemption, ensuring that no one takes their crown. These are members of God’s elect and are destined to govern the new world of righteousness.
The other people in the Land of Light are pursuing their lives much as they did in our present physical world. Remember, our present world was created from the spirit world and is quite similar to the present world.
The inhabitants of the Land of Light who are not in the heavenly Jerusalem, that is to say, who are not of the Royal Priesthood, shall be ruled by the members of the Royal Priesthood. These people are awaiting the final resurrection. If their name is found in the Book of Life at that time, they will be located on the new earth when the present earth vanishes in a thunderous explosion.
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)
Notice that the Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a witness to all nations. This is a Divine edict. It shall come to pass. This will be a testimony of the Kingdom that soon is to come to the earth. Then God will permit Antichrist to overcome the testimony, and a period of darkness will follow, as portrayed in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation.
First will come the Spring, or Latter, rain. This massive refreshing, portrayed by the two witnesses, representing the double-portion of God’s Spirit, will prepare the nations for the termination of the Church Age.
The period of darkness that will follow the overcoming of the testimony, resembles the cycle of nature. In the land of Israel, the spring rain, occurring in February, brings the heads of wheat to maturity. After this latter rain, there must be hot sun to ripen the heads of wheat, according to my understanding. Rain at that time would ruin the wheat harvest.
It is my understanding that most people on the earth will receive Jesus at the time of the spring rain, the double-portion of the Spirit of God. This will be followed by such an increase of sin and lawlessness that the love of the majority of those who gladly welcomed the Lord Jesus, during the latter-rain revival, will grow cold.
Then, when the sinful world is heralding “peace and safety,” the Lord Jesus will come and install His Kingdom on the earth. This is the true Gospel of the Kingdom of God, and it shall be preached to every nation as a testimony of the future.
It is my point of view that the latter, or spring, rain began with the Protestant Reformers in the sixteenth century. We can note that from that time the doctrines taught originally by the early Apostles gradually are being restored to the Christian Church.
The rain of the Spirit is increasing in our day such that we can expect a mighty deluge of authority and power, an increase of understanding of the Scriptures, and the restoration of all the ministries and gifts of the Spirit, in the near future. Apparently this end-time testimony will occur during upheavals in the secular realm.
There is nothing that can prevent the coming revival. Those who will bear the witness are being prepared in the present hour. The main lesson we are learning is not to vaunt ourselves but to walk carefully and obediently after the Lord Jesus.
For those who are willing to set aside their own life and bear their cross behind the Lord Jesus, the power of the seven thunders, mentioned in the tenth chapter of the Book of Revelation, will be assigned to them.
I would not doubt that, as is true in the present hour, when this unprecedented power of Christ is present to bear witness, there will be numerous ministers who will seek to use the anointing to bring money and prestige to themselves. I do not believe God will permit this self-aggrandizement any longer, because it destroys the testimony of the coming of God’s Kingdom, God’s rule, to the earth.
The two witnesses are Christ in His saints, just as the Father in Christ were two witnesses. As I said, the main preparation for us is to learn to follow Christ carefully so He is exalted and not us.
The Lord alone shall be exalted in that Day, the Day of the Lord. The time for the exalting of religious leaders is coming to an end. They are Babylon and shall be destroyed by Antichrist and the secular rulers.
The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire. (Revelation 17:16)
Each one of us must learn in the present hour to live by the Life of the Lord Jesus. We must think, speak, and act in accordance with the Living Jesus Christ.
The events in the world and in our country are going to move swiftly from this time forth. If we are living by the Life of Jesus we will save ourselves and our loved ones, and possibly will be used by the Lord to help bring the end-time testimony.
But if we choose instead to live as a typical American church-goer in our casual, lukewarm manner, we will not be able to stand spiritually. We will be confused and panic-stricken in the tumultuous days ahead and will be of no help to anyone, including ourselves.
It may be noticed that there are two witnesses of every age.
The first age might be termed the “Age of Form.” The Two Witnesses of the Age of Form were Adam and Eve. As is the case in each set of two witnesses, Adam and Eve reveal in themselves the form of what is to be. Each age continues for eternity, as far as I know.
The second age might be termed the “Age of Separation. The Two Witnesses of the Age of Separation were Abraham and Sarah. From that point forward, God’s elect no longer are part of the world but have been called out to be of special service to God.
The third age might be termed the “Age of the Law.” The Two Witnesses of the Age of Law were Moses and Aaron. Prior to this time, neither angels nor people understood the laws of righteousness and holiness. John the Baptist ministered at the end of this age.
The fourth age might be termed the “Age of Light.” The Two Witnesses of the Age of Light were the Father and the Son. It is difficult for us to comprehend what a revelation this was, the understanding that God has a Son through whom He created all things.
In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two men is valid. I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me. (John 8:17,18)
There were allusions in the Old Testament about their being two Lords. “The Lord said unto My Lord,” for example, but nothing to compare with what has been revealed to us in the Age of Light.
The fifth age might be termed the “Age of Life.” During the Age of Life mankind received the knowledge of how to attain to resurrection life, the eternal Life of the Lord Jesus Christ. The two witnesses of the Age of Life were the Apostles and the Holy Spirit.
We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him. (Acts 5:32)
The sixth age might be termed the “Age of the Kingdom.” The two witnesses of the Age of the Kingdom are the Lord Jesus Christ and those in whom He has been formed and is dwelling. As in the case of the fourth age, in which the Father was invisible, only one person can be seen—the witnessing saint.
These two witnesses are described in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation. As in the case of all seven sets of two witnesses, the two witnesses of Revelation, Chapter Eleven will portray what will be true during the thousand-year Kingdom Age. They will be given the authority and power of the seven thunders, mentioned in the tenth chapter of the Book of Revelation.
The reason the Christian churches have never been given the fullness of power of the seven thunders is that man has been in control of the Gospel rather than the Holy Spirit. Man has created the gospel of Heaven.
But now, in our day, the original Gospel of the Kingdom of God is being restored. Our Lord declared that the Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in every nation, and then the end shall come.
It is the two witnesses of the Book of Revelation who shall preach the Gospel of the Kingdom as a witness to every nation. After this the power of the Christian testimony shall be overcome by Antichrist, and there will be a period of darkness in which man seeks to be his own god. At the middle of this terrible spiritual darkness, Jesus and His saints shall appear, bringing the thousand-year Kingdom Age with them.
The seventh age might be termed the “Age of Eternity.” The two witnesses will be God and His Tabernacle, His Church. They will reveal in themselves what eternity will be like.
The remainder of this essay is adapted from The Kingdom of God Is at Hand, by Robert B. Thompson.
The Age of Form has found its fulfillment in the new heaven, the new earth, and the new creatures who dwell therein.
The Age of Separation has found its fulfillment in the wall of the holy city, the wall that separates God’s elect from the remainder of mankind. The nations of saved peoples of the earth will live forever in the light of the new Jerusalem—the Wife of the Lamb.
The Age of the Law has found its fulfillment in the holy city and the rulership that goes forth from there. This is the city that has foundations.
The Age of Light has found its fulfillment in the Glory of God and the Lamb now residing in the Wife of the Lamb.
The Age of Life has found its fulfillment in the pure river of the Water of Life flowing from the Throne of God and of the Lamb.
The Age of the Kingdom has found its fulfillment in the fact that God is All in all His creation and the Lord Jesus is the Center and Circumference of all.
In the Age of Eternity, all the other days find their significance and fulfillment.
All that is worthy will die and be raised in Christ and brought into the new world. All the creation will reveal Christ, having been glorified and made new in Him.
This is the beginning of the eternal reign of the Kingdom of God.
And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. (Revelation 21:3-6)
(“The Preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom”, 3771-1)