God’s Unique People
We read in Mathew 4:23 that the Lord Jesus came preaching and teaching the gospel of the Kingdom, as He did so He was also healing and delivering people from all kinds of diseases. He, the Son of God came into the nation of Israel, the nation of which God was king. Oh, that they had always behaved as His happy subject people! It was He that brought them out of Egypt and carried them on eagle’s wings and brought them to Himself. He instructed them to obey Him and in so doing they would be a peculiar treasure unto Him, above all other peoples and become His kingdom of priests and a holy nation. He gave them His laws and commandments, showing them the way He wanted them to live and become unique among the nations. He desired to be their God and they to be His people, living under His protection and provision; in return He desired that they love, obey and worship Him. By the time Jesus came preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, they had already gone astray; they rejected and hardened their hearts against Him, so many of them being characterized by pride and hypocrisy. Although there was always a faithful remnant many put all emphasis on outward observance of His law instead of the inward, keeping the formalities of a dead religion and following legalistic traditions and ordinances turning what had been the precious into meaningless religious practices. No nation nor individual can reject God and not reap the bitter fruits of apostasy. Israel had refused His scepter of righteousness; they rejected God from being their king, and were now living under the dominion of a cruel master, unrighteous Rome. Of course their pride prevented them from accepting the fact, but nevertheless it was so, they were the slaves of Rome outwardly, but worse than that, they were the slaves of sin inwardly.
Failure and its consequences!
Now we must understand that what was true for Israel is true for the human heart, for when it becomes void of God, and rejects Him as King and Lord the soul of a man becomes a kingdom of darkness within. Full of deceit and pride, unrighteousness and wickedness, the human heart becomes a place where Satan reigns and his ways are natural to it. If the Lord is not the King of the heart, another king comes and establishes his kingdom of sin, fear and death there. The heart is made by God to be His throne, in other words we are not to live and do as we like, but to dwell in God and work according to His will. Once God is King in the heart, there is no problem in submitting to His authority of love with joy. He seeks the best for us and we are able to pray without fear, “Your will be done in my life Lord.” The absence of Christ as Lord within will mean that instead of being a fruitful garden, our heart will be a wilderness, rather than being the temple where God is worshiped, our inner man becomes a den of thieves. It does not matter how educated a person is or how religious, if the Lord does not have His throne in the heart, other lords and other spirits shall come and dwell there, bringing nothing less than increasing misery and unhappiness. If the Spirit of God does not rule within, another spirit will do so, man shall have either God ruling there, or Satan will do so even though the man will think he is his own master.
So we see why Jesus came preaching and teaching the Kingdom of God. Although it was first to Israel He came it is unto all mankind He speaks for all are in apostasy and far from the reality of this kingdom. The message He was preaching was full of good tidings and John His forerunner was also announcing the kingdom of God as being near, calling people to repent. The time had come, God was intervening to undo the works of Satan and set His people free from Satan’s authority and power, now the hour had come and the souls of men can be loosened from the tyranny of their enemies, from the shackles of sin and those nasty deadly habits of unrighteousness that were keeping their poor souls in the dark dungeons of hell. The kingdom of God is near; both John and Jesus declared the message and many heard them gladly.
The glad tidings in an atmosphere of animosity
The kingdoms and governments of the world, rage against God and against His anointed King, this is what Psalm 2 tells us. “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against His Anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us” (Psalm 2:1-3). Not only was Israel angry against God in times past but nowadays nations that once had a Christian heritage are displaying an awful animosity against Him and His ways. They refuse to acknowledge His Being God Almighty that created the heaven and the earth and all that there is. They expect nothing from Him and feel they owe nothing to Him either. Even nations that prospered because the gospel had come in gracious power to their people, in these last times have become a wilderness, they have despised God’s covenant, rejected Christ and broken the bands and cast away the cords (laws and commandments) of His government. They have diluted and even replaced His laws and statutes with the foolishness of their own ideas, enacting into legislation immorality unto their shame and destruction. Because of this the world, has become unspeakably unclean, demonic, morally abominable and even nature has become polluted because of the greed of man, the sea, air and rivers becomes defiled for example. In many societies of today almost anything is allowed and considered normal and acceptable. Those things that only a few years back were considered disgusting and abominable are regarded as the behavior of the wise and free. This is the type of society we live in; millions of unborn children being murdered with thousands of couples living together unmarried. The latter used to be called, “living in sin” a phrase that accurately conveys that position in the sight of God; laws are passed, that allow man to marry man and woman to marry another woman. Such unions are an abomination in the sight of God, in particular because they are the ultimate denial of God’s Being in Whose image God man male and female that they should become one and so be fruitful and multiply. These many aberrations are a direct result of humankind not submitting to God and His government. Like the Jews to whom Jesus spoke, the world cries out, “we will not have this man to reign over us”(Luke 19:14). They refuse to receive the testimonies of God and accept the One He has sent to bring salvation, even Jesus Christ. Not only so, but they do so with adamant tenacity and stubborn persistence. Now, once pagan nations that had been converted to God through godly men and women who laid down their lives to bring the gospel, are turning back to their abominable idolatries, with all the sordid results that come with the worship of idols. “They have returned like a dog to his own vomit and like a sow to her wallowing mire” (2 Peter 2:22). These are those that say again and again, “we will not have this humble Nazarene be our King.” What they mean is, we will not have God rule over us, we will live as we please, we will not have Him tell us what to do and how to live, we will break free into our self-chosen liberty with our own rules and build our own society free from God. This is original sin and the root of all sins. This is Satan’s sin and what he sowed in man, in Eden man drank into the spirit of rebellion and apostasy; it is the stubborn position of the heart against God and has its origin in the prince of darkness. Perhaps now we can begin to understand why the announcement of the gospel of the kingdom by John and Jesus and later the apostles was accompanied by the call for repentance.
Prepare the way of the Lord.
John the Baptist was sent to prepare the way of the Lord. He was a voice crying out in the wilderness, but it was into the barren places of the human hearts to which he spoke not the wilderness area east of Jordan, that needed no repentance! All around him was dead, there was almost nothing of the fruitful field the people of God had once been, it was just for a little while that they had been a holy nation and a peculiar people. The vineyard the Lord had planted and cared for, instead of producing grapes, brought forth something wild, in place of justice there was oppression; instead of righteousness, behold a cry (Isaiah 5:9). There was almost nothing left of the former glories, the truth was trodden down, God’s commandments were replaced with the traditions of men, His feasts became meaningless, any vision of God was lost and Pharisaic hypocrisy characterized the times. One day, a voice was heard crying out, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight and the rough places plain: And the glory of the Lord shal be revealed and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it’ (Isaiah 40:3-5). John the baptist had a mission, he was the promised one who would prepare the way for the coming King, Jesus Christ the Lord. John’s message was a message for repentance. True repentance is not that which rises in the heart because some gain or some profit is promised in return. It involves the conviction of sin the Holy Spirit initiates and brings much pain and sorrow to the heart because we have treated God and His goodness with indifference and even rebellion in times past. The goodness of God brings us to repentance as the realisation comes that whilst we were yet sinners, He loved us and gave His Son to die for us. Though He did no sin, God made Him sin for us, so we can be justified before Him and be saved from destruction and everlasting death. This godly sorrow generates repentance unto salvation, not to be repented of writes Paul to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 7:10). The sorrow of repentance pierces the heart opening it towards God and giving ability to turn to God in humility seeking His forgiveness. Such a breaking of the heart must take place sooner or later if we are to receive true and lasting salvation. A person must understand that they deprived the Righteous God, the God of love of what was owed Him, loving obedience, worship, honor and thankfulness for all His generosity and goodness. Along with this there is a growing understanding that God has been disregarded when He called, despised and rejected and instead, those things that He abhors have been the habit of the the heart without a trace of shame. To embrace Christianity because it is the right thing to do is inadequate but to be convicted of sin and so turn to God through Jesus Christ will be a good foundation for His further works of grace. How can the glory of the Lord, be revealed in our hearts, if at first we do not realise that we are and have been wrong before Him, that we have not lived unto Him but unto ourselves, nor did we obey Him, but hated the kingdom of His love and served and worshiped the gods of this world? How can God clothe us with the righteousness of His Son, if we do not accept that our own righteousness is as filthy garments? The heart that is stands apart from God, is like a desert, with conditions of complete desolation, nothing good grows in it. There is neither peace or joy nor lasting gladness though, for a while, there may be a certain kind of satisfaction but eventually sorrow of heart and the vexation of spirit will be the fruit of such living. What a day it is when the voice of the preacher comes to the soul in its wilderness states commanding us to repent, (something we do not hear from many preachers in our day), make the crooked ways straight the rough places plain and the Lord shall come, the King and His glory shall be revealed. How can the Lord come to His house and the King of glory walk in the paths of our souls unless these are not made straight? We must be ready to turn away from our crooked ways, willing to let go of those bad habits and empty our minds of evil thoughts, passions and lusts, our greed and our anger with the pride and bitterness and injustice that has been resident within must go. How can this be accomplished unless there is a profound humiliation before God and strong desire growing to live in obedience, brokenness, submission to Him with recognition of our mistakes, hidden sins and hypocrisy?
Grace belongs to God, for when we turn to Him, He comes immediately to dwell in our hearts by His Spirit and establish within us His Kingdom. Remember what Peter said, “Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). What a gift! God Himself in us, establishing His Kingdom within our souls.
Submitting to the righteousness of God
The first message of the gospel is repentance from the sin of standing against God. Such rejection and rebellion was always the reason that God withheld His blessing from His people, allowing His enemies to have an upper hand over them. We see it so very much in the Old Testament writings. God’s call through His prophets, was that His people should return to Him, and be saved and live in victory over their enemies, ‘If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword’’(Isaiah 1:19-20). The call of repentance must therefore be in the heart of the gospel, not so much repentance from specific sins as repentance from the sin of rejection and rebellion against God. Paul’s message to the Jews and Gentiles was that of repentance, “and strongly urging both Jews and Greeks about repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts. 20:21). Peter, in his first sermon, made it absolutely clear, “Therefore know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus Whom you crucified…..repent!’(Acts. 2:36). He said that to those, who, with pierced hearts, asked him what they should do to be saved. Repentance is the sincere recognition that we have been wrong before God, even if we think we are right with everyone else. It involves the profound heart recognition that we were the children of disobedience and not subjected to His righteousness, His commandments, and His ways. We are enlightened to the fact that we have deprived Him of what was due Him, the glory, the honor and the thanks and that we are now ready to return to Him all that we owe and put things right. Repentance means that we are coming into full agreement with God, ready to be subject to Him, to become obedient and to receive the righteousness He wants to impute and impart to us through faith in Christ Jesus. This positive response to this great gesture of His great love (in giving His Son to die for our sins), enables God to set us free from our powerful enemies and transfer us from the authority of Satan to the Kingdom of the Son of His love. When a person believes in Christ, it is the indisputable proof that he is now willing to submit to the righteousness of God and this Jesus Christ is the righteousness of God. Jesus Christ through His unlimited, unconditional, absolute allegiance and submission to the will of His Father fulfilled all righteousness and thus became the righteousness that God imputes to all who believe in Him. Through faith in Him we are have now put on the perfect, spotless garment of the righteousness of Christ.
His kingdom is here
In the days of Jesus the kingdom of God was locally limited to that place where Jesus happened to be at any given time. On one particular occasion, after He had cast out a demon and was questioned about the kingdom He replied, “if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you”(Matthew 12:28). The kingdom was among them because its King was present! On the day of Pentecost however, another era began, the era of the Spirit. Whilst Jesus was present on earth, the Kingdom was confined to Him and those in His immediate presence who could taste some of the powers of that kingdom but when the Holy Spirit came all was to be made available and administered by Him; the Spirit of God and of Christ would be busy in the affairs of the kingdom of God. Jesus prophesied beforehand saying, “Verily I sawy unto you, that there be come of them that stand here which shall not taste of death until they have seen the kingdom of God come with power” (Matthew 16:28). Those who heard those words did not understand at that time, but remembered afterwards. On the day of Pentecost more than three thousand people entered into the kingdom of Christ, a kingdom that it is not of this world. This realm is so very different and not to be compared with the many earthly kingdoms that for had ruled and would continue to attempt to rule on earth. They are all, to a lesser or greater degree, kingdoms that contain injustices and sometimes cruelty. Their glory is temporary and shines for a while and fades. So often in the visions of scripture both in Daniel and Revelation they are pictured as being beast like and a new one emerges and devours the earlier and there is nothing worthy of permanence in them. That day of Pentecost was a glorious day indeed; they were saved from the illusion that had led them to anticipate the Jewish kingdom for which they had waited so long. That notion was no longer an issue. They began come to divinely enlightened realization that the Kingdom of God was far greater than their carnal idea of a Jewish kingdom which was to be above all other earthly kingdoms. The kingdom of God was first spiritual and its subjects are to be people from all nations, those that are born from above, receiving Christ as their Lord and King through the ministry of the Spirit that had begun that Pentecost Day. Thus, for the last two thousand years wherever the gospel is preached through the Spirit, the kingdom of God comes with power bringing faith and setting at liberty those who have lived under the delusion that they are lord and king of their own life.
The Kingdom and its laws
Jesus, in His famous kingdom sermon said, “Whoever therefore shall break one of these, the least of the commandments and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven. But whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:19-20). The kingdom of God differs vastly from the kingdoms of men and its laws and ways of righteousness are from the heart of God its King. On one occasion the disciples asked Jesus who is the great in the kingdom of God, He replied, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven”(Matthew 18:2-4). The kingdom of God, has its own rules and its own way of life and unless a man is willing to exit his own kingdom and its ways he cannot enter the kingdom of God in which the humble, the child like are greater that those are strong in their self-will. It is the kingdom of the Son of His love, a paradise of peace and joy indeed. In this kingdom, if someone smites you, you do not smite back, if someone compels you to go a mile; you go two, if someone takes your coat; you let him have your cloak also. Where God’s kingdom fully comes in the heart, no divorce is practiced, those truly subject to its ways are reconciled, they learn to humble themselves and live in harmony, honoring one another in love and righteousness. What a kingdom this is! For its fullness we wait but it has begun here already, upon this earth. Whilst we await its completeness in the future we should be learning to live in its reality here and now for Jesus brought it to earth during His ministry and it is here now through ministry of the Spirit. The kingdom of God is amongst us today, it shall come in its fullness in the future, but for those that have eyes to see, who are born from above they can see the kingdom of God is present enter into it because it is a spiritual kingdom (John 3:3-5). Often the habit of consigning something to the future clings to us, and that is often because we are not ready to give the full obedience of faith to God’s ways. Some do not enter in because they are ignorant that such a kingdom life is possible, others may not willing to enter in or move in more fully so the kingdom of God is put off as something for much later. This violates the kingdom of God, making distant what is near, we might draw near and claim some of its blessings but this is not enough, we must enter in through faith, not just touch it. Initially we are not citizens of this kingdom, for we were not born in it, we were born in the kingdom of the flesh and we are therefore flesh, we were born in the kingdom of darkness, having in us a nature that was sinful and evil. We must not therefore think that we can grasp the kingdom of God, making it our own, using some of its blessings as and when we feel like it. We must enter into it through the pathway of the childlike heart that repents and believes on the gospel of the Lord Jesus. If it were not for the grace of God, we would never be entitled to receive the least benefit of this Kingdom. Yet now the call is out for us to enter and become citizens of it and as we respond and enter we are delivered from the spirits that work in the kingdom of this present dark world in all their forms. So the word of Jesus is fulfilled in us, “if I, by the finger of God cast out demons, then the kingdom of God is come amongst (in) you.” Are we ready to let this kingdom come within us, to let God, be God, a King who cares about us and loves us and shall provide for us and Who will protect us from all our enemies? Are we ready to trust Him and enter fully into the kingdom of the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God? On that day of Pentecost the kingdom that cannot be moved was established on the earth with power. Those into whom this kingdom comes shall never be moved either, “wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear”(Hebrews 12:28).
The kingdom of God is righteousness and peace and joy
This is how Paul describes this kingdom (Romans 14:17). The kingdom of God is not food and drink, but is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Note carefully the sequence, it is simple and it makes perfect sense. How can a soul have joy if it is not at peace with God, if it is still under the guilt of sin? How can a soul have peace if it is not right with God, if it is burdened by condemnation and tormented by fear? Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God writes the apostle Paul (Romans 5:1). Oh the river of joy that floods the heart when we are forgiven by God and washed, justified, redeemed by the blood of the lamb and given a place by Him in His kingdom. His church on earth consists of men and women that through the righteousness of Christ have entered and live already in God’s kingdom. So Jesus came preaching and teaching the good news of a Kingdom of righteousness, peace and joy, calling people to repent first because the King had come and God was about to bring in a new day. Things were about to change in heaven and on the earth because God was ushering in His Kingdom and the hearts of human beings would be changed forever. He had already chosen His King; He was and is; Jesus the son of David, ‘yet I have set My King on the holy hill of Zion’ (Psalm 2:6). The humble Nazarene was chosen by God to be His anointed King, the Christ. The nations and all the kingdoms of the world would soon become His and He would be Lord over them, but first, He must suffer the death of the cross. The heathen raged against God, refusing His government, but God had spoken saying, “kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in Him”(Psalm 2:12). Blessed are those who, by God’s grace, cry out, ‘My Lord and my God’’ and kneel and worship the Son.
The Headship of the King
The will of God is, that in the dispensation of the fullness of times He will gather together in one all things under the headship of this King, things which are in heaven, and which are on earth (Ephesians 1:10). He is doing that right now, this very minute God is bringing all His enemies under the feet of Christ. We read that Jesus, not only preached the good tidings of the kingdom but He healed those suffering with different diseases and torments and those possessed with devils and those that were lunatic and those that were paralyzed. Jesus was demonstrating before their eyes that the restoration has begun and because this is so they can lift up their heads with hope for His kingdom is indeed a kingdom of righteousness and peace and joy. Sin is a vile and detestable thing; it steadily kills the souls of human beings and separates them from God. They are increasingly deprived of a sense of God’s blessings and thrown into misery. Jesus knew what was ahead and before salvation was to be accomplished, the agony of Gethsemane was before Him and His crucifixion, all that was necessary so that our sins might be laid upon Him and taken away. Sin had held sway for so long and now, in all its hideousness, hatefulness and hell-deservedness was to be removed. Calvary was inevitable for Jesus, He would let nothing stop Him from going through, He had come to break the power and dominion of sin. It had dominated mankind since Adam. He trusted Himself to God His Father Who had promised to raise Him from the dead. It would be a triumphant resurrection after which He would ascend on High from where He would send the Holy Spirit so He could bring those that believe in Him could receive the life that was already within Him. The life of the King would be the life that all the subjects in His kingdom would share in. He could not tell them all that yet, but during His earthly ministry was preparing them for that great day of their deliverance. The great deliverance their fathers had experienced when they were delivered from the slavery of Egypt was to be a picture of the inward, spiritual redemption in which they were to be to be delivered from Satan, sin and death.
Bad habits have an incredible power over us, we may make great efforts to break their hold in our lives and even have moderate success but none can deliver us, Christ alone frees from sin, the awful plague we suffer from. Sin is deceitful causing a subtle blindness so that we are unable to recognize it. The sinful heart becomes hypocritical and hard against God, the mind is darkened, the emotions are distorted and a person becomes increasingly lost. Christ came in order to remove it once and for all, so that the vilest man can say, “Jesus, You have reconciled me to God, You have washed me with Your blood, You have made me clean and I am made a king and a priest before Your Father.” This is the good news of the gospel of the Kingdom. God would not leave us to carry on and rot in a hell of utter darkness, tormented for ever and ever, but He loved us and intervened personally, in Christ dying on the cross, the penalty for sin was paid by God Himself, death was that penalty and now, we through faith in Him we can go out free, forgiven and changed. Now there is life instead of death and we can be holy, having entrance into His kingdom as the result of the Lord and King, Jesus Christ indwelling us.
The everlasting gospel
The last book of the Bible, the Revelation contains many visions and in one of them John saw an Angel, who, with a loud voice was proclaiming the eternal Gospel, “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment is come and worship Him that made heaven and earth and the sea and the fountains of waters”(Revelation 14:6). Was this gospel he proclaimed a different gospel from the gospel of salvation? Opinions are divided about this but we must agree that the everlasting gospel, is the gospel of salvation and it is also the gospel of the kingdom, the same one that Jesus and later his disciples preached (Matthew 4:3, Acts 28:31). There is no other gospel; it does not change with time. There is not one gospel for that age and another for ours. The prophecies of old contained the same elements in their message, first, the day of salvation, and then the Day of Judgment, the great and terrible day of the Lord (Acts 2:18-21). That which defers that inevitable day is the longsuffering of our Lord (2 Peter 3:5).
That which characterized the day of salvation was the coming of the Messiah, the son of David. He came to establish an everlasting kingdom, a kingdom not of this world. In the minds of the people of Israel, including the disciples, this kingdom was directly connected with the nation of Israel, but they had misjudged the purposes of God and were wrong. Jesus attempted to clarify this vital matter several times, especially when He said that the kingdom of God comes without observation. The kingdom that He was preaching is invisible and therefore spiritual; one can enter in through faith. He indicated to them that His very presence amongst them brought the kingdom and made it to be at hand. Because the King (Himself), was already present and John the Baptist had been His forerunner the kingdom was present! That was the first phase and was followed by the day of Pentecost, where the kingdom of God came with power through the Spirit (Mark 9:1) and thus the kingdom continues to this day in the presence of the Holy Spirit Who seeks to establish it in the hearts of those He fills. Wherever the gospel is preached in the Spirit, the kingdom comes in power and people enter in and they are saved from their enemies.
Salvation and judgment
The Messiah came for two specific purposes, salvation and judgment and these are profoundly connected whilst also being apparently opposite in character. Salvation precedes the ultimate judgment; in this era of grace those that turn to God in obedience and believe in His Son are saved and become citizens of the Kingdom of His beloved Son. The gospel of salvation is the gospel of the kingdom, it is the everlasting gospel and through it perishing men are being saved. This gospel declares the good news that God has brought into this world a kingdom of His own, a kingdom in which His own son in resurrection power and glory is the sovereign ruler that saves His people from their enemies (Luke 1:71).
The angel, John saw in his vision was proclaiming this salvation and warning the hearers about the imminent judgment about to come in the world. This is the other face of the coming of God’s kingdom. That day is approaching fast, time is running out, the second advent of the Lord is near, the King having put all His enemies under His feet is returning to complete and perfect the great salvation to all that wait for Him and to judge the world in righteousness. The angel with a loud voice was making a last appeal from a merciful God, crying out to a deaf humanity just before the final judgment. The absence of the fear of God in human hearts is one of the characteristics of our days. Human beings have become increasingly atheistic, there is hardness linked with rebelliousness even religious hypocrisy so that God as present any more. The attempts of the prince of this world to corrupt the church continue without respite. His intention is to delay the Lord’s coming for he knows that Jesus is coming for the pure bride that is His church. Nevertheless there are those who are pure unto their Husband, the Lord Jesus and the return of the King Who has received the Kingdom is approaching fast. He is coming as a thief in the night, “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ”(2 Thessalonians 1:8). How great at the mercies of God as He makes His last appeal through that angel before judgment finally comes. This announcement is made in heaven by the angel and echoed upon the earth through the preaching of many faithful ministers, “fear God and give glory to the Creator.” How appropriate this is for our times.
To proclaim the gospel of the kingdom is an entrustment to faithful servants. Paul was a called and proven man and thus declared the gospel knowing that it was an unspeakable privilege that had been given him. We must have in mind the story that Jesus told, about the unfaithful steward (Luke 16:1-13). He credited his master’s debtors with less than what they owed and did so in order to become acceptable to them. In effect he diluted the message of his office as His masters steward. We are the stewards of our Heavenly Master and the kingdom is His, not ours, we must speak faithfully of the debt owed and the privileges to be gained in the kingdom house of our Master; our gospel must not be watered down so as to please men. Through it, men must be reminded of all they owe to God. God does not owe to us; we are His debtors and have not thanked, honored and worshiped Him. We have not given Him His rightful place but have despised Him instead. What a great and immeasurable debt man owes to God and is so often unwilling to pay. The bill grows larger and larger and all the wealth on earth and heaven, all the silver and the gold and all the humanistic works are not enough to pay it. The wages of sin is death and we must look at Calvary to understand, Christ on the cross paid our debt in full so that can respond to the everlasting gospel and enter into His kingdom of righteousness, joy and peace and dwell there.