The Key to Bible Understanding

CHAPTER XVII

WHAT IS THE GOSPEL? MUST ONE BELIEVE IT TO BE SAVED? WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?

If one understands God's plan and purpose with this earth, it is not difficult to understand the gospel. God's purpose is stated in Numbers 14:21, "But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord."

Who formed the earth? "God himself that formed the earth and made it; He hath established it, He created it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabited. I am the Lord; and there is none else." (Isaiah 45:18) Will the earth ever be destroyed? "One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh; but the earth abideth forever." (Ecclesiastes 1:4) "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." (Matthew 5:5) "The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein forever." (Psalms 37:29) For evil doers shall be cut off; but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth." (Psalms 37:9)

The Gospel - What Is It?

Paul said in Romans 1:16, "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." Reader, ask yourself this question: If the gospel is the power of God unto salvation, is there any other power that will save? Did Jesus ever preach the gospel? "Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God." (Mark 1:14) In Luke 4:18 we read: "The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor." Now read verse 43 and he said unto them, "I must preach the Kingdom of God to other cities also; for therefore am I sent." To preach the gospel is to preach the Kingdom of God. In Luke 8:1 we read: "And it came to pass afterward, that He (Jesus) went throughout every city and village, preaching and showing the glad tidings of the Kingdom of God; and the 12 were with Him." Now read Luke 9:2; "And He sent them (the twelve) to preach the Kingdom of God." I wonder if they did it? Skip down to the sixth verse and we read: "And they (the twelve) departed, and went through the towns preaching the gospel"-people today who preach the gospel will tell the people about a Kingdom, the one Jesus taught His disciples to pray for-"Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." (Matthew 6:10) (See also Luke 11:12) The scripture foreseeing that God justify the heathen, through faith, preached the gospel unto Abraham, saying: In thee shall all nations be blessed. (Galatians 3:8)

Is the church the Kingdom? No. The called out ones are heirs of the kingdom which will be worldwide. "Hearken, my beloved brethren; Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the Kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?" (James 2:5) Is it clear to you that the true followers of Christ are now heirs of the Kingdom? Paul and Barnabas preached the Gospel to Derbe-and taught many-then doubled back to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, "Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the Kingdom of God." (Acts 14:22) Now read the next verse: "And when they had ordained them elders in every church," people who think will know that the church is not the Kingdom.

The parable of the nobleman in Luke 19:12-27 carefully studied will make clear that the church is not the Kingdom. The Nobleman is Christ. He has gone into a far country- what for? To receive for himself a kingdom (not the church) and to return. The faithful church members, when the nobleman returns, will hear this: "Come ye blessed of my father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."

Did the early church expect the Kingdom to be set up or restored in their life time? Yes. After Christ's death and resurrection he spent 40 days on earth-what was he doing during these 40 days? And did His immediate followers ever see Him? Yes. Acts 1:3 gives us the answer: "Being seen of them 40 days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God." Now note what His followers asked Him: "Lord wilt thou at this time restore again the Kingdom to Israel." (Acts 1:6)

Did Israel ever have a kingdom? Yes. We read in I Chronicles 28:5, "And of all my sons (for the Lord hath given me many sons) he hath chosen Solomon my son to sit upon the throne of the Kingdom of the Lord over Israel." The Kingdom of God of the past was made up of the 12 Sons of Jacob-Saul was the first king, David the second and Solomon the third-each reigning 40 years. Solomon built the temple-It cost a lot of money-people were taxed unmercifully-When Rehoboam came to the throne, 10 of the tribes led by Jeroboam asked that their taxes be lightened. Now, note Rehoboam's reply: "My father (Solomon) hath chastised you with whips, but I will chastise with Scorpions." (I Kings 12:11 also II Chronicles 10:11) Ten of the tribes led by Jeroboam went north to Samaria, the capital of the northern Kingdom, and became the Kingdom of Israel. The two tribes remained at Jerusalem, the capital of the southern Kingdom of Judah. Will these two Kingdoms ever be brought back to Palestine and become one nation? What does the Bible say? A careful study of the 37th chapter of Ezekiel will reveal that the dry bones mentioned there are the "whole house of Israel." (verse eleven.) Now note verse 21, "Behold I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen (nations) whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land. And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all; and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two Kingdoms any more at all." If you understand Ezekiel chapter 37, you will also understand why the Jews from 74 nations are now (1956) being gathered back into Palestine. You can also understand the question in Acts 1:6, "Lord will thou at this time restore again the Kingdom to Israel?" Then, too, you will understand what Paul meant when he entered Rome with chains on his hands and said, "For the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain." (Acts 28:20) Read Acts 28:30, "And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house . . ." verse 31, "Preaching the Kingdom of God and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ."

At Pentecost, 50 days after the resurrection of Christ, Peter, filled with the spirit, Acts 2:22, said: "Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs which God did by Him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know." Now to paraphrase: Gentlemen, the Messiah, the one you have been looking for, you by wicked hands have crucified him, but God raised him from the dead. It was not in God's plan to leave Christ in hell (grave) hence this verse "This Jesus hath God raised up." God never raised any one from the dead except Christ. Why did God raise Christ from the dead? To sit on David's throne. Where is David now? Didn't he go to heaven at death? "For David is not ascended into the heavens." (Acts 2:34.) Heaven going (at death) is not taught in the Bible. Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, preached this powerful sermon causing his hearers to cry out: "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" Peter in effect said: "Gentlemen there is only one thing now that you can do. Jesus said just before he went to heaven that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His Name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. (Luke 24:47.) From Pentecost on-no salvation except in His name." "Neither is there salvation in any other for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:12.) The name was added at Pentecost, 3,000 were baptized into the only name under heaven whereby people can be saved. How can one today enter that name? Believe the good news of the Kingdom of God, the Restoration of the Kingdom of Israel, and be baptized (immersed) out of Adam into Christ. "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ." (Galatians 3:27.) Will sprinkling a little water on one's head take the place of baptism into the only name under heaven whereby one can be saved?

All the people baptized before Pentecost were baptized unto John's baptism. This included Jesus, the 12 apostles, and many from the Jordan region. In the 19th chapter of Acts we read of about 12 people (verse 7) who had never heard of Pentecost and evidently had been baptized under John's baptism beyond or on the other side of pentecost-se we read in verse 5 they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Paul in Romans 6:3 speaks of being baptized into Jesus Christ, and verse 4, "buried with him by baptism into death" and verse 5 "If we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also of resurrection," (leaving out boldface.)

In Acts 8:5 we read: "Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ unto them." In verse 12 we read: "But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the Kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized both men and women." What is meant by the things of the Kingdom? Certain elements of God's Kingdom to be set up at the second coming of Christ consist of the following: 1. A king-and all will agree that Christ will be that king. 2. Territory-the whole earth (Zechariah 14:9.) 3. Royal Household or helpers-these are to be kings and priests and reign with Christ on earth. (Revelation 5:9-10) 4. Subjects-the Mortal nations for we read in Daniel 7:27, "And the Kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the Kingdom under the whole heaven, (not in heaven) shall be given to the people of the Saints of the most high, whose Kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom and all dominions (Mortal Nations) shall serve and obey Him." 5. Laws- "The law goes forth to govern the nations on earth." (Psalms 67:4) 6. Capital-That will be Jerusalem- "the city of the great king." (Psalms 48:2.)

Would you like to be a ruler in the Kingdom soon we believe, to be established right here in the earth? In Daniel 2:44 we read: "In the days of these kings (the toe period of Daniel's great image) shall the God of heaven set up a Kingdom." Note carefully what is said of this Kingdom. 1. It shall never be destroyed. 2. It shall not be left to other people. 3. It shall break in pieces the Kingdoms of men. 4. It shall stand for ever.

Christ is to be king over all the earth. He shall have dominion from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth. (Psalms 72:8) What kind of a king will Christ be? Isaiah 11 tells us in verse 4 we read: "He shall not judge after the sight of eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears." Verse 5: "But with righteousness shall he judge," and in verse 9 we read "for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." When this takes place the song of the angel-"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men" (Luke 2:14) will be a reality.

Why can't men bring about peace on earth and good will to men? What does the Bible say? "It's not in man that walketh to direct his steps." (Jeremiah 10:23.) Can groups of men, like the League of Nations or the UN bring peace to the earth? What does the Bible say? "The Lord bringeth the counsel of the heathen (nations) to naught; he maketh the devices of the people of none effect," (Psalms 33:10.) Can great religious organizations with missionaries covering the earth ever be able to fill the earth with the glory of the Lord? The ruling powers of different nations often come in conflict with the teaching of the missionaries unless the religious leaders back up and support the government. Bertrand Russell, the noted philosopher, in his book: "Power: A New Social Analysis" page 109 declares: "Christianity was, in its earliest days, entirely unpolitical. The best representatives in our time are Christadelphians."

All true followers of Christ believe His second coming is imminent. From Jerusalem, the capital city of the world, the law will go forth to "govern the nations upon earth." (Psalms 67:4.) "He (Christ) shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people; and they shall beat their swords (all war implements) into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." (Isaiah 2:4.)

Does anyone know when Christ is coming back to earth? No one knows, but we do know that the day has been appointed. We read in Acts 17:31, "Because he (God) hath appointed a day, in the which (day) He will judge (rule) the world in righteousness by that man whom He hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto all men in that He hath raised Him from the dead." Since God never raised anybody from the dead except Christ, we know who is to rule the world in righteousness. "For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." (I Corinthians 15:25-26.)

In closing let me emphasize that all who believe and obey the gospel are "heirs of the Kingdom which He hath promised to them that love Him." (James 2:5.) "If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him." (II Timothy 2:12.)

Just before Christ returns to this earth, He pointed out in the 21st chapter of Luke, verses 26-31, certain signs-such as "distress of nations with perplexity"-that is now. Perplexity means no way out. "Men's hearts failing them for fear." Atomic warfare has the whole world in a state of fear and dread. "Behold the fig tree" the new state of Israel. All these signs indicate that the "Kingdom of God is nigh at hand."

"Thy Kingdom come" is my prayer. "Watch and be ready" is all important.

O. L. DUNAWAY


The Key to Bible Understanding
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