Millions who call themselves followers of Jesus Christ know far more about the Messenger than about His Message. What is that message, and how will it affect your future—your eternity—in God's Kingdom? You may be surprised by what the Bible really says about your ultimate destiny!
I grew up in a "mainstream" Protestant church. At one time, I was president of my Sunday school class. My good friends—some two dozen fellows in my neighborhood all born around the same time—also attended various mainstream churches and certainly knew what was taught. Yet, as I look back at those years I now realize that none of us were ever taught about the real goal of a true Christian. We did have lots of songs and responsive readings in our church. We were taught about "little Lord Jesus in a manger." We were taught that "Christ died and went to heaven" and that "He paid for our sins." But we were never really taught what sin was. We were never really exhorted to fervently repent of breaking God's laws and utterly surrender our lives to the God of creation through Jesus Christ.
Most of us went to church because it was "the thing to do." We heard about "going off to heaven" when we died. And we heard a lot about church socials and activities and the need to be "good people" in a general way—though for no particular reason except the hope of going to heaven with nothing specific to do when we arrived there. There was never, ever, any mention about any exciting challenge or responsibility that true Christians might have in the hereafter. There were never any specific sermons about the living Jesus Christ returning to earth as King of kings, and what this would entail.
Does this sound familiar?
By contrast, if you will study the New Testament carefully, you will find in its pages the powerful, motivating message that Jesus Christ and the Apostles constantly preached. That message involves an exciting "job" that awaits all true Christians at the Second Coming of Christ. Is that message being preached clearly and powerfully in your church?
The message Jesus Christ brought from heaven involved His death on the cross and His Messiahship. But it involved so much more! For Jesus was sent from God the Father to bring a message about God's plan to set up His government on this earth—under Jesus Christ as King of kings—which will bring absolute peace, prosperity and radiant joy to all mankind. In His Kingdom, no longer will billions of people live in filth, virtual starvation, disease and often in fear of the human despots who cruelly rule over them.
Would you like to see joy on the faces of these billions of oppressed peoples all over the earth?
That is why the true God plans to send His Son to this earth—as a conquering King—to straighten out the mess mankind has made of society and government here on earth. He will heal the sick, comfort the downcast and give all human beings a sense of purpose and joy beyond anything they have ever experienced!
The Good News—the "Gospel" of Jesus Christ—was primarily about this great purpose that our Creator has in mind, and which He definitely intends to bring about. Jesus spoke of it. The Apostles preached and wrote about it. The prophets constantly proclaimed this great purpose as the ultimate Plan of the great God who gives us life and breath! As God's inspired word tells us: "Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, 'The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!'" (Revelation 11:15).
And yet, in mainstream "churchianity," this Good News is seldom discussed or preached about. It is almost like a "hidden" message of which many major denominations are ashamed.
When you read the Bible, it is clear that the main thrust of God's message to mankind is not just the "precious blood of Jesus." It is not just Christ hanging on a cross. Both of these are a vital part of God's message. But God's primary message—from one end of the Bible to the other—is about man's need to obey his Creator and prepare to serve, under Christ, in the coming Kingdom of God soon to be set up on this earth. Obedient, converted Christians, filled with the Holy Spirit, will then serve with God and with Christ through all eternity as full members of the family of God.
Notice! The real Jesus of your Bible came preaching the message of the Kingdom of God (Mark 1:14). It was not a "fluff fluff" gospel about a warm feeling in your heart or about just "accepting" the Person of Christ. Rather, it was about the soon-coming Government of God which will bring genuine peace, prosperity, health and happiness to this sick and confused world. Jesus told His disciples: "And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me, that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Luke 22:29–30). Most modern ministers either totally neglect this and other similar passages throughout the Bible, or else they try to "spiritualize away" these vital scriptures. But Jesus was obviously talking about a literal kingdom or government to be set up here on earth at His Second Coming. Notice what the Apostle John wrote when he was inspired to describe Jesus' return to earth: "Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: King of kings and Lord of lords" (Revelation 19:15–16). Note that the returning Jesus Christ will rule over the nations of this world—not people up in heaven!
Also, read the inspired "Song of the Saints" recorded in Revelation 5:9–10: "And they sang a new song, saying: 'You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth.'" So the true saints of God will definitely reign with Christ on the earth. There is not one single verse in your Bible, anywhere, which promises "going to heaven" as the reward of the saints!
Why do the mainstream churches fail to preach this powerful message about the soon-coming Kingdom of God on this earth? Why do they insist on talking about the Person of Jesus, yet almost totally neglect the powerful message that He brought from the Father about a coming world government?
The Apostle Paul tells us very clearly that the goal of the true Christian is to be part of that literal government that will be set up on this earth. "Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life?" (1 Corinthians 6:2–3). In this passage of scripture, Paul clearly tells true Christians that we are to prepare to "judge" or to rule this entire earth. As the Apostle John tells us: "Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years" (Revelation 20:6).
What an exciting future! What an awesome goal to aim for! What a wonderful reason to serve God, to overcome our sins and to fully surrender our lives, to let Christ live within us and build within us the very character of God (cf. Galatians 2:20). Then, and only then, will we be fit to rule with Christ in His coming Kingdom.
Although there are millions of good and sincere people in many of this world's religions—including Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Roman Catholicism and Protestantism—the vast majority of all human beings on this earth do not know and do not understand the true Jesus Christ of the Bible! The Apostle Paul urgently warned the Corinthians: "For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it" (2 Corinthians 11:4). Yes, indeed! Most people "put up" with a "different gospel"—a totally different gospel than the one preached by Jesus Christ and the early New Testament Church!
The inspired word of God is very clear on this point. The Apostle John tells us this basic truth about Satan: "So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him" (Revelation 12:9). Did John know what he was talking about? Is this inspired scripture to be believed?
The Apostle Paul was inspired to write: "But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them" (2 Corinthians 4:3–4). Satan has, indeed, absolutely "blinded" most people to the real Truth of God. In the professing Christian world, they are taught to be sentimental about "little Lord Jesus" at Christmas time—or a dead Christ on a cross at Easter time—but they are not taught the entire way of life which Jesus taught and practiced. They are not focused on the fact that Christ is alive—that He and the Father are right now preparing places or positions of authority and rulership here on earth for the true saints of God. They are not being taught to genuinely prepare themselves for positions of rulership in the soon-coming government of Christ.
God's Word tells us: "Then the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him" (Daniel 7:27). We must learn to believe Paul's inspired words: "Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters?" (1 Corinthians 6:2).
Yet most professing Christians do not believe that. Because they have never been taught that. And they do not remotely understand the supreme purpose for which we have been put on this earth—which, as some of you know, goes even beyond what I have described here!
The secular historian Edward Gibbon was able to be very objective about what was really preached in the early Christian church. For he did not have to defend the doctrinal biases of any particular denomination. In his famous and highly respected work, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Gibbon clearly states: "The ancient and popular doctrine of the Millennium was intimately connected with the second coming of Christ. As the works of the creation had been finished in six days, their duration in their present state, according to a tradition which was attributed to the prophet Elijah, was fixed to six thousand years. By the same analogy it was inferred that this long period of labour and contention, which was now almost elapsed, would be succeeded by a joyful Sabbath of a thousand years; and that Christ, with the triumphant band of the saints and the elect who had escaped death, or who had been miraculously revived, would reign upon earth till the time appointed for the last and general resurrection…. The assurance of such a Millennium was carefully inculcated by a succession of fathers from Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, who conversed with the immediate disciples of the apostles, down to Lactantius, who was preceptor to the son of Constantine. Though it might not be universally received, it appears to have been the reigning sentiment of the orthodox believers; and it seems so well adapted to the desires and apprehensions of mankind, that it must have contributed in a very considerable degree to the progress of the Christian faith. But when the edifice of the church was almost completed, the temporary support was laid aside. The doctrine of Christ's reign upon earth was at first treated as a profound allegory, was considered by degrees as a doubtful and useless opinion, and was at length rejected as the absurd invention of heresy and fanaticism" (Volume I, pp. 403–404).
Sometimes it takes a secular historian to be willing to admit what really happened to Christianity! It is clear from Gibbon and many other sources that the original Apostolic Church firmly believed that Jesus Christ would come again to this earth—this time as King of kings. They believed that Christ would then set up a world-ruling government on this earth—the Kingdom of God. They believed that the true saints, as Gibbon says, "would reign upon earth till the time appointed for the last and general resurrection."
—Roderick C. Meredith
In plain language, the hope of the early Christians was not about "floating off to heaven." It was the hope of fully surrendering their lives to God—of being true overcomers—so that in the resurrection they would join Christ in ruling this earth and in bringing peace and joy at last to our planet! As Jesus' beloved friend, the Apostle John, was inspired to write: "And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations—'He shall rule them with a rod of iron; they shall be dashed to pieces like the potter's vessels'—as I also have received from My Father" (Revelation 2:26–27). So true Christians are not merely to "believe" in the Person of Christ. They are to fully surrender—to let Christ live His obedient life in them through the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul explains real Christianity to us this way: "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20, KJV).
Yet Satan the Devil was able to deceive the early Roman Catholic "church fathers." Satan got their minds off the Gospel of the Kingdom and onto church politics and power. The early Catholic leaders began to compromise with the surrounding pagan customs and ideas, in order to gain more pagan adherents to their Catholic faith. And they began to teach that the Catholic Church itself was the promised Kingdom of God. So it was that millions of sincere but deceived people felt that their primary Christian purpose was to seek power and influence within the church itself. This is explained in The Story of The Christian Church by Jesse Lyman Hurlbut, who writes: "But the church and the state became one when Christianity was adopted as the religion of the empire, and out of the unnatural union arose two evils, one in the eastern, the other in the western provinces. In the east the state dominated the church until it lost all energy and uplifting life. In the west, as we shall see, the church gradually usurped power over the state, and the result was not Christianity but a more or less corrupt hierarchy controlling the nations of Europe, making the church mainly a political machine" (p. 80).
The church a "political machine?" Hurlbut, Edward Gibbon and many other respected historians agree that during the time of Constantine, and for hundreds of years afterward, this is what most of the professing Christian church had become. Then, when the Protestant "reformers" came along, they—for the most part—substituted worship of the Person of Jesus Christ for the Catholic ritual system. But having been reared all their lives in Catholicism, they were unable to see that the genuine Christianity of Jesus and the Apostles involves so much more than the veneration of Jesus. It involves living an entire way of life that will prepare true Christians to be "kings and priests" (Revelation 5:10) ruling on this earth under Jesus Christ. It involves wholehearted obedience, through Christ living in us, to all ten of the Ten Commandments—the very laws that true saints of God will be expected to teach and to administer in the soon-coming Kingdom of God!
Certainly it is better to worship the Person of Christ rather than some idol. But that is not enough! Jesus Himself cried out: "Why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do the things which I say?" (Luke 6:46). In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus proclaimed: "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'" (Matthew 7:21–23).
"But isn't that 'legalism?'"
If it is "legalism" to obey the Ten Commandments as Jesus and the Apostles continually taught, so be it! But what the deceived ministers who cry "legalism" fail utterly to understand is that this obedient way of life—through Christ living in us—is the very foundation of the character that God wants to build within us, to prepare us to be the kind of kings and priests He desires in His coming Kingdom. That is why, for instance, King David of ancient Israel will be resurrected and put in charge over the Twelve Apostles. King David was never involved in the sentimental worship of Jesus. But—"except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite" (1 Kings 15:5)—David obeyed God and kept His laws not just faithfully, but enthusiastically. As David exclaimed: "Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation" (Psalm 119:97–99).
Within a comparatively few years, David will once again be king, under Christ, over all Israel during the coming Millennium. Your Bible reveals that a literal government will be set up on this earth, with Jesus Christ ruling from Jerusalem as King over many other lesser kings. The Bible reveals that the people of Judah and of the so-called "Lost Ten Tribes" will be reunited under King David's rulership: "Then say to them, 'Thus says the Lord God: 'Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all; they shall no longer be two nations, nor shall they ever be divided into two kingdoms again. They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions; but I will deliver them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them. Then they shall be My people, and I will be their God. 'David My servant shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd; they shall also walk in My judgments and observe My statutes, and do them. Then they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob My servant, where your fathers dwelt; and they shall dwell there, they, their children, and their children's children, forever; and My servant David shall be their prince forever'" (Ezekiel 37:21–25).
Serving under King David—each in charge of one of the individual nations of Israel—will be the Twelve Apostles. As Jesus told them: "But you are those who have continued with Me in My trials. And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me, that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Luke 22:28–30).
Along with King David, they will be teaching their subjects and leading them in the way of God's law. "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them" (Ezekiel 36:26–27). God will bless their efforts and send the whole world "rain in due season." Then, with Christ in charge, even the desolate land of Israel will be lush and beautiful once again. "The desolate land shall be tilled instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass by. So they will say, 'This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden; and the wasted, desolate, and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited'" (vv. 34–35).
Isaiah writes that, in this soon-coming time, "out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore" (Isaiah 2:3–4). It will be a time of total peace and prosperity! Isaiah writes of Christ's coming reign: "But with righteousness He shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth.… They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. 'And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, who shall stand as a banner to the people; for the Gentiles shall seek Him, and His resting place shall be glorious'" (Isaiah 11:4, 9–10).
Isaiah describes the blessings and beauty of the coming Millennial rule of Jesus Christ and His saints: "The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose; It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice, even with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the excellence of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord…. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb sing. For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert" (Isaiah 35:1–2, 5–6).
This is not just for the "Jews," as some wrongly teach. It is for all nations of the earth! Notice Micah's inspired prophecy: "Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it. Many nations shall come and say, 'Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.' For out of Zion the law shall go forth, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between many peoples, and rebuke strong nations afar off; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. But everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken" (Micah 4:1–4).
Mainstream "churchianity" has obscured this powerful message about Jesus Christ returning in power and glory to rule the nations. The news of this exciting challenge to assist Christ in ruling over this earth has been withheld from most professing Christians. They are simply left in the dark. They are told a little bit about Jesus' death on the cross. They are told that after "accepting" Christ, or "giving their heart to Him" in some vague manner, they will "float off to heaven" with essentially nothing to do! Is that one reason why church attendance in most "mainstream" denominations has fallen off dramatically in recent years?
Jesus gave the parable of the pounds (or "minas," as the Greek word is more literally translated) because "they thought that the Kingdom of God would appear immediately" (Luke 19:11–26). His listeners plainly expected a literal government to be set up on earth! Did Jesus tell them that this idea was wrong? No! Rather, Jesus explained that He ("the nobleman") would go to heaven and then return to earth to see how much His followers had overcome, and what they had done with their talents and abilities.
To the first servant, who had multiplied his mina tenfold, what did Jesus say? Did He say: "Now you can go to heaven and rest?"
No! Jesus actually said: "Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities" (v. 17). His reward was not "going to heaven." It was the opportunity to rule over ten cities here on earth! In the soon-coming resurrection from the dead, those who are truly surrendered to live "by every word of God" (Luke 4:4) shall be greatly rewarded. Notice again God's promise: "Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years" (Revelation 20:6).
Will you, personally, believe Christ's message about the coming Kingdom of God? Will you surrender to the true Christ of the Bible to let Him live His obedient life in you (cf. Galatians 2:20)? Remember Jesus' direct challenge: "The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel" (Mark 1:15).