In this three-part series, similar in style to our “Seven Questions” articles, we will analyze 14 statements made by Jesus Christ, found in the Bible. Some are well-known; others are overlooked. Hundreds of millions who claim to be Christian assume they understand and therefore accept—believe!—these statements, but the reality is that virtually no one does.
Do not allow yourself to discount this series or any of its explanations simply because you are accustomed to a particular belief system, even one you have held your entire life. And do not permit your minister to use shallow assertions or smooth “answers” (or non-answers) to dismiss this series. Instead, diligently investigate in the pages of your own Bible what is stated herein, and ask God for understanding. Throw aside all preconceived ideas. Be like the Bereans in the book of Acts, who “received the word [Paul’s preaching] with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11).
Recognize that a three-article series cannot address every conceivable issue pertaining to each of these 14 statements. To gain a fuller picture of each, it is imperative you study the referenced literature. This material will expound upon each subject in thorough detail.
In our “Seven Questions” series, we addressed 14 questions ministers do not want to be asked. Based upon numerous letters we received from our readers, we have found that many, including ministers, hastily jump to conclusions before thoroughly reading a particular explanation in its entirety, with some assuming their church agrees with our positions, when this is not the case. It is evident that few took the time to study the literature referenced in both articles—or even to read each article closely.
Millions believe that when they die they will “go to heaven to be with the Lord.” Did Jesus teach that no one has ascended to heaven? If so, what is the reward of the saved?
Millions also believe a gospel about Jesus—that He is the gospel. But did Christ preach something different?
Millions believe Jesus came to bring peace. Is it possible that He came to bring a “sword” and divide families?
And millions believe they are disciples of Jesus—but are they? How can you know for sure? Did Christ clearly state how to identify His true disciples?
In the final part of this series, we will examine four more statements almost no one believes. As was the case in Parts One and Two, be prepared to learn what very few understand!
Newspaper obituaries often speak of people who “passed away” and “went home to be with the Lord.” Others write that their departed loved one is “looking down on us right now” from heaven.
Many speak of being “bound for glory in heaven,” but are unsure of what this really means. The most common ideas are that everyone will “ride clouds, play harps, walk the streets of gold in front of the pearly gates, sit in rocking chairs” and just “roll around heaven all day.”
No matter what one may believe will occur in heaven, nearly everyone believes they will go there upon death.
Yet, in John 3:13, Jesus clearly states that no one has ascended to heaven! This statement is most plain. No one means no one! There should be no room for confusion.
You might be wondering, “If no one is in heaven, then what is a Christian’s reward?”
Several verses later, Jesus begins to reveal the answer: “I go [to heaven] to prepare a place for you” (14:2). Most assume Jesus is referring to preparing a place in heaven. Yet in the very next verse, Jesus said, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again [to the earth], and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (vs. 3).
Where is this?
Many are familiar with Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount.” A clear statement on a Christian’s reward is found in this series of scriptures. However, it does not contain the word “heaven.” While most know of this sermon, few know of this important verse: “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5).
Psalm 37:11 states the same thing. It would not have been strange for Jesus to reference Psalms, since all His listeners would have been familiar with this scripture. But to have said that “the meek shall inherit heaven” would have been strange to their ears. Amazingly, the opposite is true today! Most think it is strange to believe that Christians will inherit the earth!
Consider what the apostle John recorded in the book of Revelation: “And has made them [true Christians] unto our God kings and priests: and they shall reign on the earth” (Rev. 5:10).
The reward of God’s saints is future rulership “on the earth”—as “kings and priests.”
In Matthew 25, Jesus describes His Return to “sit upon the throne of His glory: And before Him shall be gathered all nations” (vs. 31-32). Jesus is pictured in this parable as ruling all the nations of the earth—on the earth, not in or from heaven! At that point, He says to the saints, “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you” (vs. 34).
Right now, Jesus is in heaven preparing a kingdom for His people to inherit on earth! Christians will not join Jesus in heaven. He will “come again” to earth, where true Christians will join Him!
Very few people understand this fundamental biblical teaching. Has anyone ever taught you that God’s purpose for Christians is to inherit and reign on earth?
Will you believe the plain words of Jesus Christ? Will you believe His statements that “no man has ascended up to heaven”—and that the meek “shall inherit the earth”?
For much more information on heaven and a Christian’s reward, read Do the Saved Go to Heaven? and What Is Your Reward in the Next Life?
Immediately after overcoming Satan for 40 days in the wilderness, the first thing Jesus preached to the public was to repent and believe the gospel (Greek: “good news”). But what gospel are we to believe?
The majority would say something similar to the following: “The gospel is the good news of the forgiveness of sins through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ,” and would perhaps cite I Corinthians 15:1-4 as proof (for the correct explanation of these scriptures, read Which Is the True Gospel?).
Is this the gospel you believe? If so, then you do not believe Christ!
One verse earlier, Mark reveals which gospel Jesus is referring to: “Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God” (vs. 14).
How plain! This is the gospel we are to believe—about the kingdom of God! Yet billions believe a man-made, fictional gospel about Jesus and His sacrifice.
Notice that Mark did not say, “Jesus came into Galilee preaching the gospel of forgiveness of sins through His sacrifice”! While Jesus’ death is immensely important—since without it no one would have the opportunity to receive eternal life—it is not the gospel.
Consider. If this were the gospel, then Jesus would have had to preach about Himself. But this would contradict His own words (John 7:18). Contrary to what false ministers might have you believe, you will not find Jesus referring to His sacrifice as the gospel anywhere in the New Testament. Instead, throughout the accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, Jesus talked constantly about the kingdom of God. Here is but a tiny sampling:
“And it came to pass afterward, that He went throughout every city and village, preaching and showing the glad tidings [gospel] of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with Him” (Luke 8:1).
“And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people” (Matt. 4:23).
“And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people” (Matt. 9:35).
“And He said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables” (Mark 4:11).
“And He said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent” (Luke 4:43).
And the people, when they knew it, followed Him: and He received them, and spoke unto them of the kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing” (Luke 9:11).
Many more scriptures could be cited showing that Christ’s message was about the kingdom of God—not the forgiveness of sins, as most assume. Many of Jesus’ parables were about God’s kingdom. This term is found dozens of times in the New Testament.
So what is the gospel of the kingdom of God?
In short, it is the message that a world-ruling supergovernment led by the glorified Jesus Christ is coming to earth to smash the governments of men and rule all nations and peoples in righteousness—and that human beings may qualify to inherit God’s kingdom and rule with Him.
Notice what the prophet Daniel wrote: “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 not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever” (Dan. 2:44).
The kingdom of God will reign over the entire earth—all nations—and the resurrected saints shall share with Christ’s reign. “The saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever” (Dan. 7:18).
Verse 22 states, “Until the Ancient of Days [Christ here, and the Father in verse 13] came, and judgment was given to the saints of the Most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.”
Also notice verse 27: “And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions [rulers] shall serve and obey Him.”
Will you believe the correct gospel—of God’s kingdom—as Jesus commands? Or will you cling to a false gospel invented by men?
For more information on the true gospel and the kingdom of God, read Which Is the True Gospel? and What Is the Kingdom of God? You will be surprised at what you learn!
The majority of professing Christians believe that Jesus came to bring peace. Many feel it is their Christian duty to spread “love” and “peace,” because “that’s what Jesus did.” Yet, in these verses, Jesus Christ states something entirely different: He reveals He came to bring “a sword” and set “at variance” (Greek: make apart, sunder, alienate) family members. In verse 36, Jesus adds, “A man’s foes shall be they of his own household.”
In other words, Christ divides families! How is this possible?
To come to a proper understanding of this statement, we must first recognize that God is calling only a small number of people into His Church at this time. Yet most believe that God is trying to save everyone now, in this age; the thinking is that God and the devil are at war over the fate of mankind. There is supposedly a desperate struggle between good and evil—God and Satan.
IF God were calling everyone now, then He is failing miserably in His battle with the devil for control over the fate of all men. Of the estimated 6.7 billion people on earth today, only about one-third believe, to one degree or another, in the name of Jesus Christ. This represents a total that includes every conceivable brand of the over 2,000 different forms of professing Christianity. If the war to “win souls” is as most professing Christian ministers depict it, then the devil is much stronger and much more effective in his effort than is God.
Of course, God is stronger than Satan, and He is not in a war to “save souls.” He simply is not calling a large number of people in this age. Rather, He is calling a tiny few to qualify to rule in the kingdom of God during the Millennium, when He will begin to call all human beings (Jer. 31:31-34; Dan. 7:14)!
In the book of John, Jesus stated, “No man can come to Me, except the Father which has sent Me draw him” (6:44). However, billions believe they can come to Jesus on their own volition. They assume the choice is theirs to make. But Jesus says it is not!
Nineteen verses later, Jesus repeated to His audience, “Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto Me, except it were given unto him of My Father” (vs. 65). In the next verse, John records, “From that time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him.”
The many thousands who heard Jesus simply could not understand that the Father has to “draw” people and that a calling is something “given” to them. Otherwise, they cannot come to Jesus and understand His words. It is simply impossible! It is not natural for human beings to seek God and obey Him—“because the carnal mind is enmity [hostile] against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom. 8:7).
In other words, the carnal mind is God’s enemy! Only when one is called can he truly seek God.
(A detailed explanation of God’s plan to save mankind is beyond the scope of this article. To learn more, read Does the Bible Teach Predestination?)
With this briefest of backdrops, we can now examine Jesus’ statement in Matthew 10.
Since God is calling only a small number into His Church today, it can be expected that He would not, in most cases, call an entire family. In fact, history has shown that God very rarely calls the majority in a family. He may call a son, and not the parents—or the parents, but not the son and/or daughter. Sometimes, God even chooses to call one spouse and not the other. This often leads to disagreements within marriages and families, depending upon whether those not yet called are willing to accept changes in the individual being called. Some are willing, and some are not.
When learning the truths of God, a person begins to see that he must change certain areas of his life. He learns that a Christian is one who repents of his former conduct and disobedience to God. He changes his ways. He learns to refrain from eating unclean meats; to observe the Sabbath and not work from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday; observe God’s seven annual Holy Days, which reflect His overarching plan for mankind; obey God’s financial laws; not celebrate holidays of pagan origin, such as Christmas, Easter and New Year’s; among numerous other changes.
These sweeping—and sometimes sudden—alterations to one’s life can cause family members to become resentful—even fiercely angry!—with the person God is calling. They find that they cannot accept his refusing to celebrate Christmas with them, as they may have done for decades. Or they are unable to tolerate his not being available for family outings on Saturday. They may grow to despise the new person he is becoming.
This is how Jesus brings a “sword” to families. Such situations can bring division, resentment, hostility—sometimes even separation—when one person is called to obey God, while others are not.
Understand, however, that Jesus does not intentionally divide families. Rather, division is a byproduct of a person being called into God’s Church.
As we saw earlier, more than two billion people profess to be followers of Jesus. They believe they are His disciples, or students. A student is one who learns from his teacher and applies what he has learned. Yet most who claim to be Christ’s disciples fail to learn and apply what He teaches. Are they then His disciples?
Jesus clearly states that only those who continue in His word are His disciples. The Greek word for “continue” means “to stay, abide, continue, dwell, endure, remain, stand.” In other words, one must obey Jesus’ words to be considered His disciple! Students of Jesus apply what they learn. This requires action and obedience—not merely a profession of belief!
Amazingly, in John 8:37, those who professed to “believe on Jesus” (verse 30) actually sought to kill Him! Jesus said, “You seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you” (vs. 37). He further added, “But now you seek to kill Me, a Man that has told you the truth” (vs. 40). Many say they want to hear the truth—but not if it means being told they are wrong, particularly about cherished ideas, and must amend their conduct.
This biblical account comes to a remarkable conclusion. Jesus rhetorically asked, “Why do you not understand My speech?” He then answered, “…because you cannot hear My word” (vs. 43).
How could people standing right beside Christ “not hear His word”? Because “He that is of God hears God’s words: you therefore hear them not, because you are not of God” (vs. 47).
Most today who profess to “believe on Jesus” are no different from those described in John 8. They proclaim to believe Him—they claim to be His disciples—yet fail to abide in His teachings.
According to Jesus, His true disciples are identified by their obedience to Him!
In this three-part series, we have examined 14 statements of Jesus Christ almost no one believes. You have learned the truth of what Jesus taught about (1) obedience, (2) the Ten Commandments, (3) the traditions of men, (4) God’s Sabbath, (5) judging others, (6) when one is born again, (7) hell, (8) how long Christ was in the grave, (9) tithing, (10) when salvation is achieved, (11) heaven, (12) the true gospel, (13) why division sometimes occurs in families, and (14) how to identify His disciples. The meanings of these statements have been made clear.
Now we must ask: Will you believe the teachings of the true Jesus Christ? Or will you believe the soothing words of false ministers who preach the teachings of “another Jesus” (II Cor. 11:4)? Are you prepared to act upon what you have learned—and become a true disciple of Jesus?
(To learn much more about Christ’s teachings, as well as a thorough examination of His life, you will want to read The True Jesus Christ – Unknown to Christianity, to appear at rcg.org this fall. You will not want to miss this comprehensive and unparalleled book!)