|A Voice Cries Out Amid Religious Confusion
WHAT AND WHY THE GOSPEL?
COULD ANYTHING BE more unbelievable? To say that the Gospel of Jesus Christ was not proclaimed to the world for 1,900 years—100 time cycles—from the middle of the first century until the middle of the 20th—assuredly sounds preposterous.
And yet that happened!
One may well ask: "But hasn't the Gospel about Jesus Christ been preached throughout the world all through the centuries? Have not missionaries carried the message about Jesus Christ into most or all pagan countries? Isn't Christ preached around the world today—by radio, by television, in print, by personal evangelism? Isn't a well-known radio program called "Bringing Christ to the Nations"?
Ah yes, true! But from about A.D. 53 until 1953 the Gospel of Jesus Christ was not proclaimed to the world. You see, preaching about Jesus Christ—proclaiming that He is the promised Messiah, the Son of God, is not proclaiming the Gospel OF Jesus Christ.
The world has not known that Jesus Christ came as a NEWSCASTER, forecasting world-shaking news of the FUTURE. It is recorded in Malachi, chapter 3, verse 1, that Jesus was to come as a divine Messenger, bringing a supremely important message from the living God. Jesus taught that message to His original apostles. He sent them forth proclaiming that message. That message was Jesus' Gospel!
The word gospel means good news. In this case it was advance good news—to occur soon now in our time. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not man's message about Christ. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the Message that God the Father sent to mankind by His divine Messenger.
In about A.D. 53 the apostle Paul wrote a letter to the churches in Galatia. Immediately after his opening salutation, Paul wrote: "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel, which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ." Already the true Gospel was lost in Galatia!
The Gospel was SUPPRESSED! No longer—after about A.D. 53—was the Gospel proclaimed to the world! However, the true Church of God retained the Gospel—but they were forced by persecution to "go underground," holding services secretly, communicating the truth of God privately only to those to whom they felt it safe to reveal the truth. But through the generations and centuries even the true Church lost vital portions of that Message. One must remember printing was not to be invented for centuries. Written copies of all the Scriptures were being preserved. But these were not readily available to the brethren of the persecution, often hiding out, meeting secretly. Remember millions of the faithful were tortured and martyred. Copies of the Scriptures—all hand-written—were not available to them.
(Incidentally, it is paradoxical that the great, politically powerful false church "Mystery, Babylon the Great" (Revelation 17:5), which tried to obliterate the truth, was the very instrument God caused to preserve the New Testament scriptures that expose them! The Jews were caused by God to preserve the Hebrew Old Testament Scriptures.)
This will explain why, by 1927 the author found the true Church had lost so much original truth. By 1927, of course, all the Bible was readily available in many translations in print.
The Church of God was founded by Jesus Christ, A.D. 31. It was about A.D. 53 that Paul wrote his letter to the Galatians. A century of time cycles later, January, 1953, Jesus' very Gospel went out over all Europe over superpower Radio Luxembourg.
If a different Gospel has been foisted on a deceived world, what Message did God send to earth by His divine Messenger Jesus Christ?
The prophecy of this Messenger in Malachi 3 leads us directly to the very beginning of Jesus' proclaiming this Message in Mark 1:1; "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God."
The second verse quotes this prophecy from Malachi, showing how John the Baptist was the human messenger preparing the way before Jesus' first appearing on earth. Then, verses 14-15: "Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching"—preaching what Gospel?—"preaching the gospel of the KINGDOM OF GOD, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the KINGDOM OF GOD is at hand; repent ye, and believe the gospel."
Believe what Gospel? To be "saved" Jesus said we must believe the GOOD NEWS about the KINGDOM OF GOD! That is the GOOD NEWS Jesus brought from God.
But that GOOD NEWS had been SUPPRESSED! The KINGDOM OF GOD has been misrepresented, counterfeited, nullified. Some have represented it as "the Church." Just "join" the church—any church—and you are in "the Kingdom of God." Many teach that it is a kingdom in heaven—an expression that does not appear in the Bible. Some say it is an ethereal nothing "set up in men's hearts." There was even the teaching in England that the British Empire was to become the Kingdom of God.
The most universal belief has been that "heaven" is the Kingdom of God. That fallacy may be derived more or less from the fact that the New Testament book of Matthew uses the term "kingdom of heaven," whereas Mark, Luke, John and all other New Testament writings use the term "Kingdom of God."
Many believe that "salvation" means "going to heaven." A world-known evangelist, in a televised "crusade" before a huge crowd of many thousands, said that some in his audience might "die before tomorrow morning. If you don't receive Christ tonight it may be too late. If you do come forward and make that decision for Christ tonight you may be in heaven by tomorrow morning."
Apparently it is supposed that the Kingdom of heaven, to use Matthew's terminology, is supposed to say "Kingdom IN heaven." But nowhere does the Bible say that.
A minister who knew the biblical truth was speaking to a crowd one evening. He shocked the audience saying that no one ever did, or ever will go to the heaven of God's throne. He offered a cash sum to any in the audience who could show any scripture or statement in the Bible saying that anyone ever did, or anyone ever would (except Christ) go to that heaven—or any promise in the Bible that anyone ever could go to heaven.
One woman raised her hand, "I'm just mercenary enough to take that cash offer," she said. "Did not Christ say, 'Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven?' "
"True, Jesus said that," answered the speaker, "but two verses later, Jesus said, 'Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.' Now how do you reconcile those two verses?"
"Well," said the woman, a little embarrassed, "I suppose the poor in spirit go to heaven when they die, but those who are meek stay on earth." Obviously she was a little confused.
"Are you not a schoolteacher here?" asked the speaker. She was. "And do you really think you are qualified?" pursued the speaker.
"And you do not know the difference between the two little two-letter words of and in? There was a bank in New York called the Bank of Morgan. Mr. J.P. Morgan was the principal owner. Was that giant bank in—inside of—Mr. Morgan? You surely know that the word of does not mean 'in' or 'inside of,' but it denotes ownership. Mr. Morgan owned (or was principal owner of) the Bank of Morgan. GOD owns the Kingdom of God—so it is called "the KINGDOM OF GOD." Since heaven is God's throne, or abode, Matthew used the term "Kingdom of heaven" denoting ownership.
"Further, Jesus said, 'No MAN hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man' (John 3:13). Now do you think you earned the cash sum I offered?"
"No," she grinned.
The GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST is the MESSAGE God the Father sent to mankind by the divine Messenger Jesus Christ. That MESSAGE is the Gospel—the GOOD NEWS. It is FUTURE Good News!
It is NOT man's message about Jesus the divine Messenger. It is NOT a message about going to heaven. Just WHAT—and WHY, then—is the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
Already I have shown it is the Message of the now soon-to-come KINGDOM OF GOD. But what is the Kingdom of God—and WHY?
This Message was prophesied centuries before by God's prophets. Notice a few such prophecies.
In a prophecy written centuries before Christ came to Old Testament Israel, the prophet said: "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the GOVERNMENT shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his GOVERNMENT and peace there shall be no end upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this" (Isaiah 9:6-7).
This foretold clearly that Christ would come as a newborn baby, a son of Israel, to become KING over GOVERNMENT and sit on the earthly throne of DAVID, forever.
Another prophecy: "Therefore the LORD himself shall give you a sign; Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel" (Isaiah 7:14). Immanuel means"God with us."
The promise to Mary, mother of Jesus: "… thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his KINGDOM there shall be no end" (Luke 1:31-33).
Jesus was born to be a KING, ruling over a KINGDOM FOR EVER!
Again, the angel of God said to Joseph, betrothed husband of Mary: "… Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy [Spirit]. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1:20-21). This was in fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14 above.
This revealed Jesus was coming to make eternal salvation possible. So now we have TWO purposes for which Jesus was to come: 1) to set up an eternal KINGDOM, and 2) to bring eternal salvation to those called who repent and believe.
Just what, then, is the Gospel MESSAGE that God the Father was sending to mankind by Jesus the divine Messenger?
It is the announcement of the GOOD NEWS (Gospel) of THE KINGDOM OF GOD. It is news IN ADVANCE—a PROPHECY—news for the FUTURE!
But, as we have seen, that news was SUPPRESSED—no longer proclaimed to the world, after the approximate middle of the first century. The apostle Paul, beside his letter to the churches in Galatia, quoted above, also wrote to the Church at Rome: "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness SUPPRESS the truth" (Romans 1:18, Revised Standard Version).
Go back, for a moment, to the prophecy of Malachi 3:1. Jesus is called "the messenger of the covenant." Of what covenant?
In part 6 of this volume, it was explained how God made a covenant with the ancient nation Israel. In the New Testament that covenant is called "the old covenant." Moses was its mediator. That covenant was a MARRIAGE covenant. The people of ancient Israel were "married" to God (Jeremiah 3:14), yet more unfaithful than any harlot!
The old covenant also made the children of Israel one of the earth's NATIONS. They were ruled by theocratic government—by God's government as administered by a man whom God chose. In the days of the prophet Samuel they demanded a human king like the other nations of this world (I Samuel 8:1-7).
But Jesus Christ came from God as the Messenger of the NEW covenant (Jeremiah 31:31 and Hebrews 8:6-13). There it says the NEW covenant is also to be made with Israel and Judah—not with a different basic law or constitution, but with better promises.
Jesus Christ is to be the Mediator of the new covenant. Old covenant Israel was given only national and material promises, with the same basic spiritual Law. But the New Testament Church is given better PROMISES—eternal life in the KINGDOM OF GOD!
The Israel of the old covenant consisted of the human-born children of the human Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel. The Kingdom of God will be composed of the BORN (by a resurrection) children of GOD—immortal members of the divine Family of GOD.
Jesus was the Messenger of this new covenant, bringing the Message of the NEW COVENANT, which will make the born children of GOD the FAMILY OF GOD! And that Family shall be the KINGDOM OF GOD—as ancient Israel was BOTH a human FAMILY and a NATION, so the Kingdom of God shall be both the divine Family of God, and the earth-ruling KINGDOM OF GOD—eventually to rule the entire UNIVERSE!
Now Jesus came, at the very beginning of His Gospel ministry, proclaiming the Kingdom of God.
He said, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand." WHY did He say that?
Remember, in earlier chapters of this volume we have seen the background. Angels had inhabited this earth prior to man. They at first were ruled by the government of GOD, with the archangel Lucifer on the throne. But Lucifer had rebelled and turned his angels (a third of all angels) into demons. He had abolished the Government of God, and his name was changed to Satan the devil.
The first man Adam had opportunity to reject Satan's WAY, accept God's WAY—the way of the LAW of God's government, and reestablish the government of God on earth. But Adam followed his wife into rebellion. It remained for the "second Adam," Jesus Christ, to come and QUALIFY to set up and rule the Kingdom of God by REJECTING SATAN'S WAY, overcoming Satan, GIVING Himself to GOD'S way.
Jesus had done that (Matthew 4:1-11). Jesus Christ had QUALIFIED! Therefore THE TIME WAS FULFILLED! For the first time, the Kingdom of God could be ANNOUNCED! One had qualified to set up and rule that Kingdom! The TIME WAS AT HAND. Therefore Jesus called on hearers to repent and BELIEVE the advance GOOD NEWS!
Savior as Well as King But Jesus came also as Savior of all mankind who, when called, will repent and believe.
Very early in His ministry a prominent Pharisee sneaked in by night to see Jesus.
"We know," he began (that is, "we Pharisees know"), "that thou art a teacher come from God."
Jesus did not waste words, but struck straight to the point. "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God" (John 3:1-3).
Nicodemus could not understand this.
He asked, "How can a man be born when he is old?" People today can't understand it. But at least Nicodemus knew what it means to be born. "Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?" he asked.
Jesus answered plainly. "That which is born of the flesh IS FLESH; and that which is born of the Spirit IS SPIRIT," He explained. When one is born of the Spirit, he shall no longer BE flesh or matter—he shall then BE Spirit—composed of Spirit. No longer human!
Yet thousands and perhaps millions today who are still mortal FLESH, composed of MATTER, claim they have been "born again." That is a twist on Jesus' plain statement.
Jesus also said, verse 5, the Kingdom of God is something that may be entered into—but only after one becomes Spirit—IS Spirit—composed of Spirit—no longer flesh and blood!
In I Corinthians 15:50, 53: "Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. For this corruptible must PUT ON incorruption, and this MORTAL [as we now are] must put on IMMORTALITY."
Those who erroneously think they are already "born again" are still mortal—still flesh and blood—still corruptible. They are not yet composed of SPIRIT. They are not yet IMMORTAL. But what they ARE is "DECEIVED"!
The Word of God to man tells us that Satan has DECEIVED THE WHOLE WORLD!
HOW is the whole world deceived? The foundational LAW—the very Constitution—of the government of God is a WAY of life. It might be summed up in the one word LOVE. But God's LOVE is an OUT-flowing concern for the good of those loved! It is the way of "GIVE"—of serve, of cooperate, of share.
But this world—following Satan's WAY—is on the WAY of "GET." The way of "ME," of vanity, lust, coveting, greed—of envy and jealousy—of competition, strife and violence—of rebellion against authority.
The way of this world may be summed up in the three-letter word GET. That attitude—that motive—that approach—is the CAUSE of all this world's evils, sufferings and death.
It is THE WAY that nullified the government of God under angels. The GOSPEL of Jesus Christ is the GOOD NEWS of the WAY of "GIVE" that shall epitomize the KINGDOM OF GOD.
The restoration of the Kingdom of God was foretold by all the prophets. Notice an example in the book of Daniel.
Daniel was one of four outstandingly brilliant Jewish young men taken captive by the Chaldean forces in the captivity of the nation Judah. These four were placed in positions in the government of the Chaldean Empire—the very first WORLD empire.
The king, Nebuchadnezzar, was exceedingly troubled by a dream. In it he saw an enormously huge statue—of frightening size. It had a head of bright shining gold, breast and arms of polished silver, belly and thighs of brass, legs of iron, feet and toes of iron mixed with miry clay.
The prophet Daniel was called upon to tell the king what he had dreamed, and its meaning. Daniel prayed, asking God to reveal the dream and interpretation.
Daniel said before the king: "… there is a God in heaven that … maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days … "(Daniel 2:28).
Daniel then told the king what he had dreamed, and gave the interpretation:
"Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory… . Thou art this head of gold. And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth. And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things … shall it break in pieces and bruise. And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potter's clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided… . And as the toes were part of iron and part of clay, the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken… . And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall … break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever" (verses 37-42,44).
Thus God revealed in brief the history of world governments from the time of Judah's captivity until the KINGDOM OF GOD.
Where are we, now, in the panorama of that prophecy? The prophecies of Daniel 7 and Revelation 13 and 17 speak of the same chain of gentile world governments until Christ's Second Coming to RULE in the Kingdom of God. We are now at the time of the toes—awaiting the restoration—or resurrection—of the "Holy Roman Empire" of 554-1804—a reunion of 10 nations in Europe. Already it has been started, economically, in the European Common Market.
Other prophecies foretell the coming Kingdom of God. Yet the world seems to know nothing of it!
Jesus taught His future apostles about the Kingdom of God. He sent them out on a special mission to proclaim the future Kingdom of God (Matthew 10:5-7; Luke 9:1-2). He also sent out another 70, two together, to proclaim the future Kingdom of God (Luke 10:1,9).
Jesus Himself, in His ministry, "went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom" (Matthew 4:23). The parables of Jesus concerned the Kingdom of God. After His resurrection, Jesus was with His disciples "forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God" (Acts 1:3). The apostle Paul proclaimed the Gospel of the Kingdom of God to the gentiles (Acts 28:23,31). Paul pronounced a double curse on man or angel who preached any other gospel than the Kingdom of God (Galatians 1:8-9).
For the first preaching to gentiles, God sent Peter (Acts 10). How did Peter proclaim the first message to gentiles? He said, "The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:) That word [or Gospel] I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached" (Acts 10:36-37).
Take time to notice that. WHO sent the Message—the Gospel? Peter said, "The word which GOD sent." To whom first sent? "Unto the children of Israel." Who was the Messenger who brought it? "Jesus Christ." Where was it proclaimed? "Throughout all Judea," Where did it begin? "From Galilee." And WHEN? "After the baptism which John preached."
Now that takes us immediately to Mark 1:1, 14-15. The "beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ… ." There is the Messenger who brought the Gospel Message. WHEN? "After that John was put in prison, Jesus came." Where did it begin? "Into Galilee." Preaching WHAT Gospel? "Preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God."
That Gospel began in A.D. 27. By about A.D. 53 Paul wrote to the Galatians they were being turned by FALSE PROPHETS to another gospel—the Gospel of the Kingdom was being SUPPRESSED!
Paul wrote to the Romans, "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men, who by their wickedness SUPPRESS the truth" (Romans 1:18, Revised Standard Version).
Jesus Foretold Suppression and Today's Proclaiming The central key prophecy of the New Testament is Jesus' prophecy in Matthew 24, also recorded by Mark in his chapter 13 and Luke in chapter 21. This, by the way, is Jesus' explanation of the very heart of the book of Revelation, which is chapter 6.
It is a prophecy entirely misunderstood, wrested and twisted by many ministers, theologians, evangelists and preachers today. It is very IMPORTANT!
Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, to the east of the Temple. His disciples came to Him privately. He had been speaking of the future destruction of the Temple and also of His later return to earth.
"Tell us," asked the disciples, "when shall these things be, and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?"
Notice, they asked two questions: 1) "When shall these things be?" and 2) "What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?"
First, what things? His disciples had just been showing Him the buildings of the Temple (verse 1). Jesus replied, "See ye not all these things?" Luke's account makes more clear what Jesus was saying: "And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he [Jesus] said, As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down" (Luke 21:5-6).
So the disciples' first question was when the great buildings of the Temple would be destroyed. Actually that did happen in A.D. 70.
Most theologians assume falsely that all of Jesus' reply referred to the sign of His Second Coming to earth. But first He was explaining what would happen between then, A.D. 31, and the destruction of the Temple which did occur in A.D. 70.
Jesus answered as to things that would happen in their lifetime, prior to A.D. 70: "Take heed that no man deceive you"—meaning "you disciples," in your lifetime. "For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many" (Matthew 24:4-5).
Understand what Jesus was saying. He was NOT saying, as theologians erroneously interpret today, that "Many shall come in my name, saying that they are Christ."
What Jesus meant was that many would come in His name—that is, representing to be Christ's ministers, and saying that Jesus is the Christ, and yet deceiving THE MANY. Jesus said "MANY" such false preachers and evangelists would come, and deceive the MANY!
Next Jesus said, "And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye"—you disciples living in A.D. 31—"be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet"—catch that! Jesus was not answering their second question yet, about the end of the world. These things were not the sign that would signal that the end of this world—this age—and the coming of Christ—was near. He specifically said these things were not that sign. Yet most preachers today believe He was speaking of that sign. Not yet.
Jesus proceeded to warn them of how even they—His original apostles in the first century—would be delivered up to be afflicted and killed. AND THAT ALL HAPPENED!
In verse 13 Jesus said, "But he that shall endure unto the end"—of his lifetime—"shall be saved."
Then, verse 14, Jesus came to their second question about the END of this world and Christ's coming. Here it is. Read it twice:
"And this gospel"—the same Gospel JESUS proclaimed—"of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world, for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come."
The Gospel of the KINGDOM, as shown above, was suppressed by mid-first century. It was not proclaimed again worldwide until this writer proclaimed it over the most powerful station on earth, Radio Luxembourg, first week in January, 1953—A CENTURY OF TIME CYCLES SINCE IT WAS SUPPRESSED! That was one time cycle after it had been proclaimed to all America!
But the sign Jesus gave by which it should be known that the END of this world (this AGE) and His coming in supreme POWER and GLORY is near is the proclamation of "this Gospel of the KINGDOM"!
That time is now NEAR! Many other prophecies describe world events now occurring or about to occur at the very END time!
But now, WHAT and WHY the CHURCH? People assume the existence of the Church as if churches had always existed. They take for granted that the "good" people go to church on Sunday mornings to hear beautiful music and a 12-to-15-minute pleasing sermon.
But why did Jesus Christ say, "I will build my Church?" WHY, and for what PURPOSE?
Just as no religion knows WHO or WHAT God is, WHAT and WHY man is, WHY the nation of ancient Israel or WHAT and WHY the Gospel is, so it would seem no one knows WHAT and WHY the CHURCH is!