Jesus Christ commanded, “Repent you, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15). But exactly what is it that we—YOU—are supposed to believe? Just what is the true gospel? Do you know? Are you certain? Be careful of assumptions. Did Christ teach the same gospel that Paul preached to the gentiles? And what does the word “gospel” mean anyway?
The vast majority of professing Christians do not know the vital—ALL-IMPORTANT—answers to these most basic questions—and many others related to the true gospel of the Bible! This is because the knowledge of what the gospel really is has been hidden from the world for centuries!
Christ, at His First Coming, came as a first-century NEWSCASTER, bringing advance GOOD NEWS of staggering events to occur just beyond the horizon, and the bad news occurring throughout today’s world. This climactic news involves you—and eventually every human being on earth.
Six new books on religion are published every day in America! And there are over two thousand separate religions in America! Yet there has never been more confusion and disagreement about the answers to life’s problems. Troubles, woes and human difficulties of every kind are multiplying. World peace is more illusive than ever. Why?
Why is there so much knowledge available to mankind, yet so much ignorance of the truth of the answers to life’s BIG questions? All this has everything to do with the gospel!
Revelation 12:9 reveals, “Satan…deceives the whole world.” What a staggering statement! Do you believe it? If this is true, then it certainly applies to the truth of a matter so crucial as the meaning and correct understanding of the gospel.
Almost everyone believes that the gospel is merely about the Person of Jesus Christ. Certainly, Christ plays an extremely important role, but He is not the gospel. The Bible shows that Jesus is preached in conjunction with the gospel. Again, His role is vital to Christianity. But He is not the gospel.
Some proclaim a “gospel of salvation” or “gospel of grace.” Others believe a “gospel of miracles” or a “social gospel.” Still others think of “gospel of foods” or of “healing” or “faith.” And there are some who merely think of “gospel music” when they hear this word. These man-made ideas ignore the truth of the Bible!
Notice Mark’s account again: “Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God.” This is the gospel that Jesus preached. It was in this same context that He said, “Repent you, and believe the gospel.” Which gospel?…of the “kingdom of God.”
Mark 1:1 refers to this message, when it states, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” The gospel of Jesus Christ was about the KINGDOM OF GOD—not something else! One must believe that gospel—not a counterfeit or substitute.
This subject is so important that God inspired the apostle Paul to warn the Galatians then—and us now:
“I marvel that you 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. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that you have received, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:6-9).
This is a very blunt statement—and strong warning to all who will heed!
In the next chapter, Paul stressed his hope that the “truth of the gospel might continue with you” (2:5). So there is only one true gospel, with all others false!
Plainly, from this verse alone, it is obvious that Paul never taught a different or additional gospel, as some assert. Ironically, God used Paul to warn against ever allowing such false teaching. He pronounced a curse on any man, angel or even apostle who violates this command—“But though we [apostles]…preach any other gospel” (1:8).
What a powerful scripture!
Paul explained that the apostles were entrusted by God to preserve the true gospel. Notice I Thessalonians 2:4: “But as we [apostles] were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which tries our hearts.”
This responsibility is not to be taken lightly! True ministers always teach what God commands—not what pleases men or Bible “scholars.” So, any claim that Paul taught another gospel (usually thought to be about Christ or about “peace”) is wrong. Had he done this, he would literally have been pronouncing a curse on himself!
Notice this Old Testament prophecy about Christ, found in Malachi 3:1: “Behold, I will send My messenger [John the Baptist], and he shall prepare the way before Me [Christ]: and the Lord whom you seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, whom you delight in.” Christ was the Messenger of the gospel, not the message itself. His message is actually the very core of the entire Bible!
Now compare the above statement with another verse: “The law and the prophets [only Old Testament scriptures had been preached previously] were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presses into it” (Luke 16:16). Remember, we have already shown that Christ preached the “kingdom of God,” and called it the gospel.
The word gospel is an old English word meaning “god spell” or good news. The word kingdom is also an old English term, simply meaning “government.” It is accurate to say that Christ preached “the good news of the government of God.” We will see later the who, what, where, when, why, and how of this good news, and how it relates to the Bible’s greatest prophecy.
The kingdom of God is the dominant theme of not only the New Testament, but the entire Bible. Yet most know little or nothing of it. This world’s ministers are oblivious to this gospel and never preach about it. Virtually the whole world stands in ignorance of this great truth!
The word “gospel” is found 104 times in the Bible. Sometimes it is found alone, and sometimes “of the kingdom” follows it. Other times, it includes “of the kingdom of God,” or the equivalent phrase “of the kingdom of heaven.”
Note that it says, “of heaven,” not “in heaven.” It is heaven’s kingdom, and there is a big difference between the two. Just as kingdom of God means God’s kingdom—not the kingdom in God—the same is true of the kingdom of heaven or heaven’s kingdom.
Understand this crucial point!
Throughout the New Testament, the word “kingdom” is found 27 times. The phrase “kingdom of God” is found 75 times, and “kingdom of heaven,” 34 times. All are clearly one and the same.
Recall Mark 1:1: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” What is the “gospel of Jesus Christ”? Is this a different, second gospel? Did Paul forget about this gospel?
No! But most preachers teach that the gospel of Jesus Christ is about Christ. They claim that Christ is the kingdom of God—that the gospel of the kingdom refers to Jesus Christ. This is not what the Bible says! The gospel of Jesus Christ is HIS GOSPEL—HIS MESSAGE about the kingdom of God!
Messengers carry messages. As said, Christ was a Messenger sent from God with an announcement. His message was not about Himself—it was about the kingdom of God! In John 12:49-50, Christ said, “For I have not spoken of Myself; but the Father which sent Me, He gave Me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that His commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto Me, so I speak.”
Plainly, Christ functioned as a messenger—a representative—a SPOKESMAN for the kingdom of God.
In John 14:24, Jesus said, “the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s which sent Me.” Christ brought the Father’s message. This should now be clear! He stated, in Luke 16:16, “The law and the prophets were [preached] until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached.”
That is what this Work is doing today, and, through this article, this kingdom is being preached to you.
Matthew 6:33 states, “But seek you first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness…” If you are to seek something as your first goal and focus in life, you must know exactly what it is! This chapter contains what many call “The Lord’s Prayer” (vs. 9-13). Christ instructs Christians to pray “after this manner,” and then continues by adding the phrase, “Thy kingdom come.” Knowing what you are praying for will make your prayers far more meaningful!
(This article’s primary purpose is to explain the true gospel of the Bible. To understand the kingdom of God in detail, read our free booklet What Is the Kingdom of God?)
But let’s now ask, at least briefly: What is the kingdom of God? The word kingdom simply means “government.” Of course, you cannot have a government without a nation to govern. Therefore, a kingdom is at least one nation with a government.
There are four necessary components of any kingdom: (1) Land, property or territory—however large or small. In other words, one must have a specific and definite set of boundaries that constitutes the size of the kingdom; (2) a ruler, king, monarch or governor leading the government; (3) people or subjects living within the territory governed; and (4) a system of laws and rules and a basic structure of government.
No kingdom is complete without these basic elements.
But how does this apply to the kingdom of God? Is this to be a literal, physical place on earth, with people and laws, presided over by a ruler?
Most do not understand the most basic elements of the kingdom of God. Some believe that the kingdom is in the hearts of men. Others believe that it is wherever you find a particular church. Still others believe that it is Jesus Christ Himself. Some believe that it is here now. Others believe that it is yet to come, but do not understand how or when this will occur.
Such confusion! One must be born again into the kingdom of God—and this will be explained in the next issue.