by Deanna Reynolds M.D. (ret.), Corpus Christi, TX
Most Christians don’t realize Jesus preached the gospel, and that His gospel mainly concerned the coming kingdom of God / kingdom of heaven which will replace all worldly empires and fill the whole earth (Daniel 2:35, 2:44). This is the much-prophesied Messianic kingdom, when the kingdom of this world [will] become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ (Rev. 11:15 NIV). It will not be in heaven, but on earth, centered in Jerusalem.
Those blessed and holy saints who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the first resurrection – those victorious believers who persevere and do [His] will to the end – will be given authority over the nations, ruling with Christ on His throne (Rev. 20:6; Luke 20:35; Rev. 20:4-6; Rev. 2:26-27; Rev. 3:21). The book of Revelation specifies that this Messianic kingdom will last a thousand years (Rev. 20:4,5,6,7).
Then, at the end of that age in the resurrection on the last day (John 11:24; also John 6:39-40), Christ will raise the dead for judgment before His great white throne as the first heaven and earth pass away. God will then make all things new, and will usher in the eternal state, the glorious new Jerusalem (Rev. 20:11-21:5).
May our Father in heaven grant you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation now as you look to Christ as your Teacher, grab your Bible, and make time to study this out yourself (we are to be as the Bereans and search the Scriptures ourselves to see if what another teaches is correct!) – it is of great significance!
Sadly, this critical gospel of the kingdom that Jesus and His apostles preached is neither well understood nor preached in most churches today. It is to be distinguished from the equally important gospel of grace which Paul preached (i.e. First Cor. 15:3-8) in addition to preaching the gospel of the kingdom (see Acts 14:22 and 20:25). (For the record, the gospel of grace usually preached today is that our Lord Jesus Christ’s righteous life and death are credited to our account by grace through faith that He was resurrected from the dead and then ascended to the Father’s right hand in heaven.)
Most preaching in churches today is pitifully anemic, focusing on “being with God in heaven for eternity” instead of what Jesus and His apostles focused their preaching on: being accountable to our Lord, and obediently accomplishing our Father’s will. The latter occurs only via intimacy with the Lord, having our minds renewed by constant washing with the water of His word, believing, and being filled with the Holy Spirit – that is, applying the “talents” and various spiritual gifts He gives freely just for the asking (see Luke 11:13; Acts 4:24-31; 1 Cor. 14:1).
Believers who habitually do so are victorious (Revelation 2:7,11,17,26; 3:5,12,21), and will receive the highly-sought reward of the first resurrection (Rev. 20:5-6): they will be glorified 1,000 years before all the others enter the eternal state on the last day (John 11:24), will get a crown (1 Cor. 9:25), and will rule over cities or the tribes of Israel in Christ’s Messianic kingdom (Luke 19:11-27; Matt 19:28). Our hope as believers is, like Paul describes in Philippians Ch 3 and in 1 Cor. 9:24-10:12, to be found worthy on Judgment Day of attaining to the out-resurrection* from the dead (Phil. 3:11) and entering into our blessed inheritance: the prized Millennial kingdom, the Sabbath-rest* of God (Heb. 4:9). *the Greek is both cases is unique, the former signifying a separate resurrection out from among the dead.
The OT shadow of this is illustrated for us in the book of Numbers Chs. 13-14, and it is this: despite the firstborn sons and an entire generation of Israelites having been saved by application of the blood of a lamb on their doorposts and leaving Egypt behind by passing miraculously through the waters of the Red Sea, all but Joshua and Caleb did not trust the Lord, and treated Him with contempt, so of that entire generation of Israelites, only those two men were judged worthy to enter into their inheritance: the Promised Land (please review Num. 14:6-9, Num. 14:21-24, the rich Heb. Ch. 4, and 1 Cor. 9:24-10:12). As Paul notes in the last passage, Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did…. and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the age has come. So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! (1 Cor. 10:6,11-12)
Make note that all believers indeed will eventually experience eternal life with God by virtue of their faith in Christ alone (no works)! As mentioned above, however, most will be raised on the last day of the Millennial Age before the heavens and earth will be destroyed by fire and made new:
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. (2 Peter 3:10)
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. (Rev. 21:1)
God-willing, in the next article we’ll begin to study some of Jesus’ gospel teachings about the Millennial kingdom.