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The Gospel of the Kingdom - The Book of Revelation
Week 36, 2017
This week we come to one of the most wonderful and exciting declarations in the Bible:
Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever."
And the twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying,
"We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign” (Revelation 11:15-17).
The seventh trumpet, or the seventh worldwide message to go forth, is the greatest of all—the King is taking up His kingdom and will now rule over the earth. “Gospel” means “good news,” and the earth has never heard better news than this.
Jesus said this Gospel of the kingdom must be preached throughout the earth before the end of this age could come (see Matthew 24:14). It is the opinion of many that this Gospel has not been preached to the whole earth, and that it has not been preached since the first century. What has mostly been presented is the gospel of salvation, not the Gospel of the kingdom. The gospel of salvation is certainly “good news,” and so wonderful that it is understandable that this alone could become the focus and have such power to transform the world. Yet, it is not the whole Gospel, and it is not the Gospel that must be preached to the whole world.
The Gospel of the kingdom is about the coming kingdom of God. It begins with the redemption of the earth by the cross of Jesus, but it goes on to the reconciliation of the earth to God. This is followed by its restoration from the consequences of the Fall. It is consummated when the Son delivers the restored earth to God, the Father, and God Himself comes to live on the earth among men.
To know that the earth will be the paradise that it was originally intended to be is almost too wonderful to comprehend, but to know that Almighty God has chosen the earth to be His ultimate dwelling place takes it beyond comprehension. God is going to walk with man in His garden again. Now consider this—the way has already been opened for us to experience this now.
The Lord has used the Fall of man to bring forth “a new creation” that transcends the original creation, and we have been invited to live in this now. Becoming a new creation is not just being restored back to what Adam had, but it is an invitation to become members of God’s own family and take on His divine nature in the resurrection. He has invited us to sit with Him now on His throne and become more at home in the heavenly realm than in the natural, earthly realm.
As one of the ancients wrote, “We are not called to be natural men who have occasional heavenly experiences, but we are called to be spiritual men who have occasional natural experiences.” The new creation means to be a new species that is both natural and spiritual, but one that is morphing into becoming more and more spiritual. Some believe that this is what Enoch did so that there had become such a thin veil between him and the heavenly realm that God just pulled him over into heaven. Perhaps, but there are many references to this being our calling in Christ—to keep our eyes on things above and not on the earth.
The resurrection at any level will be more wonderful than we can comprehend in this life, but we are also told of “a better resurrection” that some attain to. This is the “high calling of God in Christ” that Paul wrote about in Philippians 3. Paul did not consider that he had yet attained to it, but he had come to the place of focusing everything on attaining this high calling.
In II Timothy 2:15, we are told about “rightly dividing the word of truth” (KNJV). We cannot take just one Scripture verse or concept and apply it to the whole when there are others that address the same issue differently. These differences are not in conflict with each other, but they reveal different aspects of an issue. For example, some have taken the references to the heavenly resurrection to assume that all who are given eternal life and are resurrected in heaven when many other Scriptures talk about those who inhabit the earth after the resurrection. These are not in conflict, but both are true. The heavenly resurrection is “the better resurrection” that some attain to, but not everyone.
Some have assumed that everyone who believes in Christ will attain the heavenly resurrection, and that the earthly one is for those righteous ones who walked with God before Christ. Yet, there are Scriptures that refute this. Even so, the Scriptures are pretty ambiguous about both resurrections, so we should not be dogmatic about our conclusion. Nonetheless, we can be sure that there is “a better resurrection” that some attain to.
Keep in mind that we see in part, and so remaining open, it appears that the multitude that stands “before the throne” in Revelation has gained eternal life by their faith in the atonement of the cross of Jesus, but they have lived less than overcoming lives. Most Christians today would fall far short of even being a disciple, according to the incredibly stringent qualifications for this that Jesus gave. Yet they are resurrected and have gained eternal life by the faith they have in His atonement. However, they will be those reigned over by those who attained authority in the age to come through the ways Jesus specified in His teachings, such as in the Parable of the Talents.
There are many deep and rich discussions and debates about this from teachers in church history. Even so, I think the Lord intentionally left this so ambiguous to keep us pressing on for the prize, like Paul the apostle expressed. However, about the kingdom itself we have many more specifics, and these we must know and begin to proclaim. This is the next great message that I am expecting to hear proclaimed.
next week 37