In the Image of God


The Gospel
Part 1

Power! The gospel is the only power that can change people’s hearts and lives from darkness to light. The gospel activates the power of love, ahab, and righteousness.

Just what is this gospel? What is the Good News? What is its power? How can we tap into that power? How can it change our lives?

Let us begin our journey of the gospel.


The Gospel of the Kingdom of God


There are many aspects of the gospel, but the gospel of the Kingdom of God is most prominent. The first message Jesus preached as he began his ministry was the Good News of the Kingdom of God. In fact, Jesus predicted that the Good News of the Kingdom of God would be preached to the whole world, which occurred before the apostolic era ended.

(See:
Mat 4:23, 24:14.)


The Power to Drive out Demons


Let us go back to the misty, ancient, antediluvian days of yore. In a fog bound garden, a serpent hissed a sibilant challenge to God’s authority. Amazingly, the first two human beings prostrated themselves to the deadly rule of Satan. From then to the time of Jesus, Satan controlled the Earth with almost no opposition. The Earth needed to be rescued from the alien despot pretending to be an angel of light.

That rescuer was Jesus representing His Father in heaven. Jesus has the power from God to rule even the demons. Thus, when he drove out demons, it manifested the fact that the Kingdom of God had finally come. No longer would the weak Earthlings need to continue to be enslaved to the demon-horde. Now they could go to Jesus to gain their freedom. The Good News of the Kingdom of God was proclaimed.

(See:
Mat 12:28.)


The Power of Sin and Death Destroyed


With the Earthly kingdoms having been wrested from Satan, gone too are the enslavements of sin and death. The power of death is sin; the power of sin is the law. The law defines God’s Nature. Jesus obeyed the law without sin. His obedience is transferred to us by our faith. Thus, he becomes our righteousness.
Righteousness is doing right, more than just keeping the Law. Abraham’s faith was deemed righteousness. Our faith in Jesus, which is comparable to Abraham’s believing what God promised and the promises and hope of the Kingdom of God, is our righteousness.

(See:
Luke 9:11, 10:9.)


The Kingdom of God Belongs to God’s Servants


God’s servants believe the Good News of the Kingdom of God. They may first be inclined to ignore the gospel because the ways of the world and the habits of old seem so comfortable, an old shoe or sneaker. But, upon thinking about the Kingdom of God, they take a deep breath and agree to pursue the way of Truth.

Some others pretend that the Kingdom of God is special, but when God asks them to prove their faith, they are found absent. They won’t give up those pleasures opposed to God.

God’s servants become so loyal to Him that He entrusts them with prominent positions within the embassy of the exiled Kingdom of God. You see, the Kingdom of God exists, but Jesus has not yet returned to take over all the governments of the world. So God’s servants are like ambassadors or legates of the Kingdom of God, where the Church is like the embassy. The pretenders attack the true believes with words, arguments, and sometimes violence. The pretenders keep ostracizing or killing God’s servants.

Finally, God sent His only begotten Son to take charge of the nascent Kingdom of God. You know what the pretenders did to him. Nonetheless, God’s truth exemplified by the Gospel crushed God’s opponents and overwhelmed them for the better part of two thousand years.

On the other hand, God’s servants can envision the Kingdom of God in their hearts. They can see Jesus transfigured into his new body — his eyes like fire, his garments like pure white wool, and his face radiating like the sun, impossible to look at. With this vision in mind, they can quash the temptations the fire breathing dragon hurls at them. The Gospel is power.

(See:
Mat 21:28-44, Mar 9:1.)


To Be Received like Children


The nature of God’s servants resembles the open hearted trusting attitude of youngsters. With eyes agape, they stare in awe at the wonderful Truths the Gospel reveals to them. They take Jesus’s hand trustingly and allow themselves to be led into the far country, the Kingdom of God.

Lovingly, Jesus picks up God’s childlike servants into his arms and blesses them with the love and power of the Kingdom of God.

Having Jesus leading them at the head of the flock, they never look back. They are marching into that far country; they have left behind all that used to matter to them, and they stride straightforward, never swerving from the Gospel.

(See:
Mar 10:14-16.)


Flesh Cannot Inherit the Kingdom of God


No matter how righteous a person is, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is not a physical kingdom, but rather a spiritual one. Those who are God’s and are alive when Jesus returns to claim the Kingdom God gave him, will be changed to Spirit Beings as Jesus is now. Those who died in the faith will be resurrected with a new body made of spiritual stuff instead of material substance.

First, a person must be born again of water and the Spirit — baptism and the Holy Spirit within. Then at the last trumpet (on that future Feast of Trumpets), all the saved will rise to meet Christ in the sky as he returns to Earth.

No flesh will enter the Kingdom of God. All must be changed.

(See:
John 3:1-15, 1 Cor 15:50-57.)


Prophecy of theKingdom of God

The Old Testament abounds with prophecies about the kingdoms of the Earth being ruled by God. The Old Testament talks about going to the mountain of the Lord, where mountain is symbolic for God’s Kingdom.

The most powerful prophecy of the Kingdom of God is the so-called transfiguration. God revealed to several apostles what Jesus and some Patriarchs will appear like in the Kingdom of God.

So important must the Kingdom of God be to God that He filled His Word with descriptions and concepts of it.

(See:
Isa 2:3-5, Mar 9:2-7.)


Prophecy of the Gospel


God foretold even the gospel many years before Jesus’s birth. He said that Jesus would reveal God as Our Father. He said that Jesus would teach us the Ways of Life. He said that Jesus would cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

(See:
Jer 311:34, Mic 4:2, Gal 3:14, John 6:45, Jer 33:8.)


Parables of the Gospel of the Kingdom


As if Jesus did not want most people to understand the power of the gospel of the Kingdom, he explained it by stories or parables. These were metaphors or similes for the Kingdom. The people of his time probably did not comprehend much, but he did reveal its meaning to the apostles and through them to us.


The Mustard Seed

A man planted a mustard seed, which apparently is a rather smallish seed, and it grew to a huge tree, big enough for the birds to nest on its branches. What does this metaphor mean? It is not about the growth of the Church, which has always remained tiny. It is about the Kingdom itself, which will grow to enormous proportions. The Kingdom of God is His government and rule on Earth. When Jesus returns in the near or distant future, that Kingdom will begin a spurt of growth that most the people of the Earth will be determined to become citizens of the Kingdom of God. Like immigrants striving to enter the United States of America, such immigrants will want the Kingdom of God even more intensely. Today, the Kingdom of God exists as a lonely group of exiles, a tiny mustard seed. Then the explosion after the Second Coming!

(See:
Mat 13:31-32.)


The Good Seed

This parable compares the Kingdom of God to seeds, yet again. The people of Jesus’s time lived in an agrarian society, which all people did until the past century or so. Therefore, most of them knew about seeds and such. We are not as conversant with that subject. Nonetheless, this farmer just cast the seeds all over the place, roads, rocks, thorn bushes, and decent soil. Today’s farmers would not be so wasteful, but that is not the point.

People’s minds are like, a simile, the various “grounds,” which the seeds fell on. Some have minds that follow the crowds on the highway to whatever trend happens to be. The seed, or the Gospel of the Kingdom of God never finds much of an interest in these minds. The world’s highway contains the ideas of Satan. Those imbued with the world cannot get a grasp on the high ideals of the Kingdom of God.

God’s Word falls on rocky minds, hard-hearted individuals. The Word is not trampled by the world’s way, but the seed’s roots cannot penetrate the rock hard mind. So when things get a little difficult because of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, these people cannot be bothered.

Another group has a better grasp of the Word. But, they are into career building, establishing businesses, worries, and cares of life. The Word of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God gets choked, as the parable says as if by thorns. For these, it is not worth getting scratched to follow the Good News, that is, breaking out of the same old into the new.

Finally, the seeds fall on good soil, a person with a noble and good heart, and they harvest a crop of good works, which give glory to God.

(See:
Mar 4:11-20, Luke 8:15.)


A Pearl or Treasure

Here, Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to an expensive pearl or a treasure hidden on some property, black gold. Unlike most, who would not recognize the value of the Kingdom of God, these people give up everything for the Kingdom of God. They buy into the Kingdom of God by their very lives if need be.

(See:
Mat 13:44-46.)


A Householder

This parable describes people, who are strongly influenced by demon philosophies, who use every method possible to keep the knowledge of the Kingdom of God from becoming understood by people. They would kill its prophets and proponents; they even killed the King’s only begotten Son.

The Kingdom of God, like any driving force, must be opposed by those who would have the most to lose by its fruition. Those with vested interest, church leaders, governments, and demons, will fight to keep the Kingdom of God from coming. Their battles are doomed to futility. Nothing can stop Kingdom of God. Amen.

(See:
Mat 20:1-2.)


A Feast

Jesus uses the metaphor of a banquet to show how those invited to become citizens of the Kingdom of God act. The Jews disdained the Kingdom of God immediately, except for the few. Most made silly excuses for not coming to the banquet. Then God went to the Gentiles, the poor, the maim. They came in place of the ones God called first. But some of the Gentiles refused to garb themselves in the Word of God and were cast out as still being pagans and idolaters.


Conclusion


All God’s Word points toward the great plan of bringing potential Sons and Daughters into the Kingdom of God, or the God Family. Jesus preached the gospel of this Kingdom, which was as relevant then as it is now.

(See:
Luke 14:16-24.)

Next time, I will explore the various aspects of the Gospel and our response and responsibility to it.

See: The Gospel, Part 2

— Gil Kovacs
for theSabbath Christian Church

(E-mail)
kov@mediaone.net

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