Help for Today — Hope for Tomorrow
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[Steve Myers] What would you say is the central message Jesus taught? Have you ever considered that fundamental theme? Did Christ focus His teaching on a specific subject?
You might be shocked to find that His gospel message wasn’t just “take Me into your heart and be saved.” It’s also startling to realize He didn’t say you’re going to heaven when you die.
If you’re to understand the point of Jesus’ teaching, His message and His mission, you need to be sure you understand the gospel—the good news—what Jesus Himself actually proclaimed. It is vital to know what He preached.
Do you know what IS the message that Jesus Christ brought and taught? It seems like a simple enough question, but most don’t give it much thought.
Did Jesus simply preach about Himself? Did His primary message center only on Him being the prophesied Savior?
You need to know the surprising answers. Stay tuned to this edition of Beyond Today , as we examine, “Shocking Teachings of Jesus: The Kingdom of God.”
Most realize that Jesus preached the gospel. Now that word gospel means “good news” or the “good message” but what exactly is that good message? Can you explain it?
This is where things can get a little hazy. Many think that the gospel of Christ is a message exclusively about Jesus himself. It’s summed up in the idea: “Just believe in Jesus and be saved.” Now many focus almost entirely on the messenger and overlook the message He brought.
Now you may wonder: “Is that distinction really that important?” Absolutely, and this may shock you. If you fail to understand His central message, you will fail to grasp the whole point of His teachings, the reason for His coming and why He promises to come again. You’ll also fail to comprehend dozens of vital prophecies throughout the Bible. You see Jesus’ true message ties all of these things together in a theme that’s truly good news and that has great implications for you, for your future, and for the entire earth.
So what was Jesus’ message? In Luke 4:43, Christ in His own words described His purpose: “I must preach the good news of the Kingdom of God in other towns, too, because that is why I was sent” (NLT).
His message was the good news of the Kingdom of God. Do you know what Christ was talking about? This Kingdom is the focus of Jesus’ message, yet it has often been misunderstood or even ignored.
Here’s another shocking thought that may surprise you: The major subject of Jesus’ preaching was not about going to heaven at death. Imagine that! Christ taught you won’t go to heaven when you die but instead heaven is coming to this earth. The heart and core of His teaching was the Kingdom of God and that’s good news, the gospel, that the Kingdom of God would be established right here on this earth.
This Kingdom wasn’t just a minor role in His teaching. Jesus preached and He emphasized it right from the very beginning of His ministry. Mark 1:14-15 tells us how Christ started His teaching. “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.’”
Jesus’ teaching focused on the gospel, a message of good news, of His coming Kingdom. You see that right from the very start He wasn’t talking about a heavenly existence after death. Instead, He taught that people must believe that He would come again and establish God’s government. He also said there’s a requirement in order to enter that Kingdom of God. Repentance.
Well, how did people come up with the idea that they would die and go to heaven?
Almost from the start, Jesus’ message of the Kingdom of God was distorted. It was undermined and replaced with this false doctrine of going to heaven when you die. As shocking as it may seem, Jesus clearly taught against that idea. It can’t be found in your Bible. Look what Jesus’ stated in John 3:13 “no one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.”
This was recorded for us decades after Jesus died and ascended to heaven. It was long after many of His followers had died. And what are we told? No one other than Jesus had gone to heaven.
If that weren’t enough we’re also told that the man after God’s own heart, King David, he’s not in heaven either. In the apostle Peter’s famous sermon we read, “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day” and in verse 34 “for David did not ascend into the heavens” (Acts 2:2; Acts 2:34).
The challenge for all is to actually believe the true Word of God. The wrong idea of going to heaven at death stands in direct opposition to Christ’s message of the Kingdom.
Did you know that Jesus did something powerful after the crucifixion and resurrection that emphasized the importance of His the teaching about the Kingdom of God? When 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).
You see, Jesus wanted to stress that fact to His followers so they would know that the kingdom is coming to this earth. In other words He was assuring them that God’s plan was on track. It’s surprising how so much of religion overlooks the plain teaching of Jesus. Now I hope that you won’t.
There’s something else you won’t want to overlook. It’s probably the most quoted teaching of Jesus. The Sermon on the Mount. You know it as the one that includes the “blessed are’s.” Blessed are the meek. Blessed are the merciful. Blessed are the peacemakers.
Do you know what Christ stressed in that lesson? It’s the Kingdom. Let’s read it for ourselves. Matthew 5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Then he said (v10) “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.”
You might think: A-hah! I knew Jesus taught about heaven. But it’s not what you might think. Not the traditional idea of going to heaven. So what then is the Kingdom of Heaven? Is the Kingdom of Heaven different from the Kingdom of God? No. Now let’s see why.
Do you know how many books in the bible contain the phrase “Kingdom of heaven?” Just one. It’s found only in the book of Matthew. Matthew is the only writer to use the phrase “Kingdom of heaven.”
What did he mean by it? Well He meant the “Kingdom of God.” Can we prove that? Absolutely. When we compare what He said with the other biblical writers, we see it clearly. Earlier we read Matthew 5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Now let’s compare that to Luke 6:20. It says, “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” You see this verse makes it obvious. They mean the same thing. The Kingdom of heaven mentioned in the Bible means exactly the same as the Kingdom of God.
Christ wants you understand His message. He’s given us keys to that message:
1. The Kingdom of God is coming to this earth.
2. It’s not about dying and going to heaven but instead it’s about God’s government, under the command and rule of Jesus Christ coming right here. Shocking? Well it’s true. Heaven is coming right here to this earth.
Some have reasoned that since we’re to have Jesus in our heart, isn’t the Kingdom of God in people’s hearts? Luke 17 says this. “Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, ‘The Kingdom of God does not come with observation;’ 21 nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the Kingdom of God is within you.’” (Luke 17:20-21)
Let’s think about that for a moment. Who were the Pharisees? They were religious leaders of the day. What did they do? They opposed Christ at every step and denied what he taught about the Kingdom of God. They acted like enemies of Jesus. So what can we conclude? Christ was definitely not saying that the Kingdom of God was in them.
What WAS he saying? Jesus was telling them that as THE King of the Kingdom of God, He was right there in their midst expounding His message. But what did they do? They rejected Him and despised His gospel of the Kingdom and they downplayed His return as King.
Won’t the world will be shocked when Jesus Christ returns to earth? That’s what the Bible predicts. That’s when the Kingdom will again be in the midst of mankind!
Now the best part is that you can get a head start. Jesus can personally be your King now. Christ as King of the Kingdom can be “in your midst,” in your life today, if you will learn and believe what he actually taught, repent of sin and obey His teaching.
Jesus’s message should be a life changing message, not just a nice idea. How important was that in Christ’s mind? He taught the Kingdom should be your highest priority. Some are surprised to learn that Christ not only talked about it but He emphasized it. Matthew 6:33 reminds us, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” What did Christ say you should do? “Make your top priority God’s Kingdom and His way of life.” (NTE)
You see, all need to seek God’s Kingdom now. It should be everyone’s primary goal, the central focus of your life. God’s wonderful Kingdom holds the solution to your personal challenges and for all mankind’s problems and dilemmas. No wonder Christ constantly taught about it.
When you begin to understand, you’ll find it jumps out at you throughout the Bible. Notice Luke 8 where “he began a tour of the cities and villages of Galilee [and what did He do?] “to announce the coming of the Kingdom of God” (Luke 8:1 TLB).
I’m sure you see there’s little doubt that Jesus taught with a forward looking perspective. He wanted all to look to a time of hope, beyond our personal problems, beyond the stressful condition that this world is in. Since God rules over all creation the Kingdom exists now, in part, but Christ looked beyond today to a time when God’s rule will be accepted by all.
Some are shocked to find Christ’s teaching about the Kingdom of God actually was building on the message God had revealed centuries earlier through the prophets. God inspired these men of old to write of a coming world-ruling government. That’s a literal Kingdom, in which the Messiah would administer God’s law and His way of life, a way that will bring peace and prosperity to humanity.
Here’s an example. The prophet Daniel saw this “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).
So we see this isn’t something just in your heart. It’s not going to heaven at death. It’s a literal Kingdom, an empire, a government to come under the direction and authority of Jesus Christ. Mankind’s corrupt governments will all be destroyed. No more crooked rule, no more fraudulent systems of men. Jesus will return and change all of that.
The prophet Isaiah was also inspired to write many prophecies about the Kingdom of God. You’re probably familiar with this one, “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).
That’s not a Christmas passage, it a verse that pictures a powerful Savior, Jesus Christ the ruler Himself, saving and leading all nations from Jerusalem at His return. When the Kingdom of God will be established on earth God’s law and government will be administered to all and will bring a time of true world peace. It will also be a time of great spiritual awakening to God’s truth for all the nations.
Here’s another aspect to Jesus’ message that takes many by surprise. It’s a promise. Have you ever noticed the promise that He gave to His disciples? “I assure you that when the world is made new and the Son of Man sits upon his glorious throne, you who have been my followers will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matthew 19:28 NLT).
Christ’s disciples clearly understood that His teaching was a promise, that His Kingdom concerned a literal, world-ruling government under God. They grasped the gospel, the purpose and plan of God.
In fact, just after the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, they could hardly think of anything else. They couldn’t wait, they had to ask Him: “Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, ‘Lord, will You at this time restore the Kingdom to Israel?’” (Acts 1:6-7). They knew that a big part of Jesus’ mission involved restoring a literal Kingdom on earth. He promised to be the ruler of that Godly realm and that the disciples will rule under Him.
Perhaps a similar question comes to your mind. When will Christ return and establish the Kingdom of God? In Revelation 11:15 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!’”
So we are drawing ever closer to that time Jesus will return and set up that government. This world is in need of God’s rulership.
In fact, Christ taught that He will return at the most pivotal time in history when humanity staggers on the brink of annihilation. In His shocking prophecy of Matthew 24, He tells us He will intervene at a time when this world is in 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 terrible that “if the time of troubles were not cut short, no living thing could survive” (Matthew 24:21-22, REB).
The rest of His prophecy here and also in Luke 21 and Mark 13 are like reading today’s headlines. Terror, earthquakes, killings, persecution, war, hunger, disaster. God doesn’t want you to be unaware of the seriousness of the time in which we live. Jesus said, that time “will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth” (Luke 21:35).
He makes it clear that this will be the most horrifying and deadly period of mankind’s history, one that few will live through. After these painful lessons, humanity will finally be humbled and willingly submit to Jesus’ reign as the Messiah.
That’s why we need good news, the gospel message of Christ’s coming world-ruling kingdom! Humanity will at last see a world of peace, a world with happiness, a world with purpose. Jesus will finally put an end to war and other violence, starvation, disease and every other form of suffering.
Your Savior will come. He will come from heaven to save and take over the world. This isn’t just good news, it’s great news and the only hope for a world that’s rushing straight forward to destruction!
Are you sick and tired of the evil world we live in? So is God. He wants us to enter His eternal Kingdom as His children, resurrected to eternal life in His family. God says, “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:18). How wonderful will that time be.
But if we’re to enter that Kingdom, God must transform us from physical and mortal to spiritual and immortal. He tells us 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, 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).
Can you imagine it? He wants us to learn His laws and live His ways right now, in this life. You can have a different life, a better life, right now living the way your Creator designed you to live.
Then ultimately, those who are truly transformed are described like this: “Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father” (Matthew 13:43). If you’re willing to repent and believe and live under His rulership now as He commands, He extends to you the opportunity to be glorified as He is.
Can you catch the vision of what God has in store? Just imagine it! God gives eternal life to those who will live and reign with Christ in that Kingdom. They will be “kings and priests to our God, reign[ing] on the earth” to help teach and bring others into this eternal Kingdom (Revelation 5:10). Now that’s a promise! Jesus guarantees it.
As the prophet Daniel had written: “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). We see that Jesus the King will return and establish God’s government right here on earth and we as His people will have a wonderful part in it!
Haven’t you prayed for that kingdom? Maybe you didn’t realize what you were praying about. “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done” (Matthew 6:10). These aren’t just idle words. There IS a wonderful kingdom coming from God to this earth. That’s the world changing Kingdom that Jesus spoke of that’s just ahead. He will come as its all-powerful ruling King to establish His Kingdom, the government of God, over the entire earth. That’s why we often mention it at the end of our program “thy Kingdom come” because we pray and we look forward to His plan to be fulfilled and for Jesus to return. Now that’s the heart and core of His message of Good News.
Now of course it’s not good enough to just to know these things. There’s more. All of this brings us to this question: What should you do? Christ taught “but he who endures to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 24:13). So how will you endure?
First, your life must be guided by a goal, a godly vision of the future. You must receive the Kingdom, accept it right now, to enter it later. So now‘s the time to prepare. If you’re to endure the troubles that lie ahead, it’s going to require spiritual strength. So right now you can have the laws of God’s Kingdom written in your heart and in your mind, and you can have the King of that Kingdom live in you to help you obey His laws. If you truly want the future that Jesus proclaimed, you must begin living by its terms today.
Don’t let them be empty words. We are told to pray “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We recognize that God’s Kingdom now rules in heaven and so we pray that it be so on earth as well, starting with you.
So don’t wait. Now’s the time to develop a much deeper relationship with God. Remember, spiritual strength comes from our Savior, the source of strength. So make the choices to assure that Jesus Christ is the King of the Kingdom of your life, right now.
Wouldn’t you like to know more of how Jesus will govern and what will happen during that coming time? To help answer your questions, we have prepared an informative, free Bible study aid: “Christ’s Reign on Earth: What It Will Be Like.”
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Jesus taught about the Kingdom of God constantly. The gospel of that Kingdom holds the key to our world’s troubles and its true solution.
Don’t forget, Jesus said, “Repent, the Kingdom of God is at hand.” Now is the time to change. Stop the sin in your life. Get spiritually ready. Choose His rule in your life now as you look forward to His coming rule beyond today.
Take His message to heart and “believe the gospel.” Be dedicated and make the choice to be fully committed. Follow His teachings. Follow His commandments. Follow in His footsteps.
Thanks for joining us. Don’t forget our free offers and be sure to tell your family and friends about Beyond Today . Tune in again next week and join us in praying, “Thy Kingdom come.” For Beyond Today , I’m Steve Myers. Thanks for watching.
[Narrator] For the free literature offered on today’s program, go online to beyondtoday.tv.