THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS AT HAND! IS THIS REALLY "GOOD NEWS"?
The message of John the Baptist prior to the baptism of Jesus was "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Matthew 3:2
The message of Jesus after He was baptized and He began His ministry was
"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Matthew 4:17
Matthew 4:23 -- "And Jesus was going about in Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people."
Matthew 9:35 -- "And Jesus was going about all the cities and the villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people."
** Note: Apparently the healing of every kind of sickness and disease is connected to the proclamation of the kingdom of God -- this is definitely good news!
Mark 1:14 & 15 -- ",Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God and saying, 'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believer the gospel."
Luke 4:43 -- "But He said to them, 'I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose."
John 3:3 -- "And Jesus answered and said to him, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless on is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God,"
John 3:4 & 5 -- "Jesus answered, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."
Jesus gave instructions to His 12 disciples about what to preach:
Matthew 10:7 & 8 -- "And as you go, preach saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons; freely you received, freely give."
** Note: Apparently not only is the healing of every kind of sickness and disease is connected to the proclamation of the kingdom of God, but it also includes deliverance or the casting out of demons -- this is definitely goods news!
After Jesus was resurrected He returned to earth and spent 40 days with His followers:
Acts 1:3 -- "To these He also presented Himself alive, after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days, and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God."
Philip's ministry in Samaria was considered good news--
Acts 8:12 -- "But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike."
Paul's ministry included the the teaching of the kingdom:
Acts 19: 8 -- "And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God."
* Apparently Paul was not only "preaching", but he was having conversations with them trying to reason with them and persuade them toward the kingdom of God. It was not just a Sunday morning sermon.
Acts 20:25 -- "And now, behold, I know that all of you, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, will see my face no more."
* Paul's farewell to the Church he raised up in Ephesus
Acts 28:23 -- "; and he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God, and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from morning until evening."
Acts 28:30 & 31 -- "And stayed two full years in his own rented quarters, and was welcoming all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered."
When we read the New Testament we find something interesting in connection with the message of the kingdom of God that was proclaimed by John the Baptist, Jesus, the original 12 apostles, the apostle Paul, and the early Church. This interesting connection is that after the the resurrection of Jesus the Scriptures say that the message being proclaimed was not just that the the kingdom was at hand, but now they preached"JESUS".
Acts 8:5 -- "And Philip went down to the city of Samaria and began proclaiming Christ to them."
* Remember that while Philip was proclaiming Jesus, he was also proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. See Acts 8:12
Acts 9:20 -- "and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues saying, 'He is the Son of God."
* This proclamation was Paul's first message after his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus.
THE PROCLAMATION THAT THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS AT HAND WAS THE GOOD NEWS. WHY WAS THAT GOOD NEWS?
Hang in here and we will find out.
Sideline issue before we go any further:
In the modern day church we say that the gospel is the good news. Today, when someone talks about the gospel they are generally referring to the gospel of salvation. The message of salvation is good news, but it is only a small part of the gospel of the kingdom.
I am not trying to diminish its importance, but truth is truth. When all we focus on is the salvation message we are leaving out the most important part of the gospel message. Remember that in the New Testament Jesus is referred to as Savior only about 25 times, but He is referred to as the Lord over 600 times. The over-whelming role of Jesus is as the Lord and King over His kingdom.
The next question that has to be answered is WHAT IS THE KINGDOM OF GOD?
Answer: The kingdom of God is a condition -- it is the rule of the King in the lives of His willing subjects. It is the sphere of influence where Jesus Christ is Lord and King. It includes the Church, but the Church is not the whole of the kingdom of God. See Colossians 1:16.
**The kingdom of God is at hand and Jesus is Lord is the good news!
The next logical question to be addressed is: WHY IS THE KINGDOM OF GOD BEING AT HAND SUCH GOOD NEWS?
It appears that the message of the early Church that Jesus was building was the kingdom of God and the Lordship of Jesus and the demonstration that it was at hand confirmed by the healings, deliverances, and miracles.
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