Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
Defining the Gospel and Israelite Christianity
The alteration of the original faith led to a continuing decline into a false Gospel and finally, in the 1500s, to the Reformation which was a plea to go back to the Bible. But these reformers did not fully recapture the Gospel of the Kingdom, the Messiah's saving Message. The process of restoration is furthered when the people of Israel earnestly seek the original meaning of the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God as preached by the original Messiah!
by HOIM Staff
The Gospel, as Yeshua the Messiah preached it, is about the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God. In churches, however, the phrase "Gospel of the Kingdom" is almost never heard. This points to an absence of the central teaching of the Messiah and since the Messiah may never be divorced from his words and Gospel, it indicates an absence of the Messiah himself from much popular preaching. Defining the Kingdom and thus defining the saving Gospel of Yeshua the Messiah ought not to be so hard.
The Messiah and the New Testament taught with a view to being understood. There is much in scholarly writings which makes quite clear what the Messiah would have meant, in his first-century context, by the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God and the Gospel about the Kingdom, Israelite Christianity's saving message. From a large collection of quotations gathered over the years I offer our readers the following, hoping that they will strengthen their own hand as they share the Good News of the Kingdom with others at every opportunity.
Leading Scholars on the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God
The objective analysis of the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God in Matthew, provided by the Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels, ought to serve as a much-needed guide to all our thinking about the Kingdom:
"The Kingdom. -- The central subject of Christ's doctrine...With this He began His ministry (4:17), and wherever He went He taught this as good news [Gospel] (4:23). The Kingdom, He taught, was coming, but not in His lifetime. After His ascension He would come as Son of Man upon the clouds of heaven (16:27-28; 19:28; 24:30)...and would sit on the throne of His glory...Then the twelve Apostles should sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel (19:28).
"In the meantime He Himself must suffer and die, and be raised from the dead. How else could He come upon the clouds of heaven? And His disciples were to preach the good news of the coming Kingdom (10:7; 24:14) among all [the] nations [of Israel], making disciples by [adult] baptism (28:19). The body of disciples thus gained would naturally form a society bound by common aims...Hence the disciples of the Kingdom would form a new spiritual Israel (21:43)" (W. C. Allen, professor at Oxford University). 
The same authority goes on to say:
"In view of the needs of this new Israel of Christ's [Israelite] disciples...who were to await His coming on the clouds of heaven, it is natural that a large part of the teaching recorded in the Gospel should concern the qualifications required in those [of Israel] who hoped to enter the Kingdom when it came...The parables...convey some lesson about the nature of the Kingdom and the period of preparation for it...It should be sufficiently obvious that if we ask what meaning [the parables] had for the editor of the First Gospel...the answer must be that he chose them because...they taught lessons about the Kingdom of the heavens in the sense in which that phrase is used everywhere else in his Gospel, of the Kingdom which was to come when the Son of Man came upon the clouds of heaven.
"Thus the parable of the Sower illustrates the varying reception met with by the good news [Gospel] of the Kingdom as it is preached amongst men [of Israel]. That of the Tares also deals not with the Kingdom itself, but with the period of preparation for it. At the end of the age the Son of Man will come to inaugurate His Kingdom...There is nothing here nor elsewhere in this Gospel to suggest that the scene of the Kingdom is other than the present world renewed, restored and purified." 
MY COMMENT: The last sentence of our quotation makes the excellent point that Matthew nowhere expects Israelite believers to "go to heaven." He reports that the Messiah will come back to rule with them in a renewed earth. The perceptive reader of the New Testament will note the striking difference between the biblical view of the Kingdom and what in post-biblical times was substituted for it: a departure of the faithful at death to a realm removed from the earth. "The Kingdom, He taught, was coming, but not in His lifetime." "In Matthew [and in the NT] the Kingdom of God is conceived, first of all, as something in the future" (cited below). So say leading analysts of the Gospel records.
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia gets the emphasis on the future Kingdom right:
"'The Kingdom of God is at hand' had the inseparable connotation 'judgment is at hand' and in this context, 'Repent' in Mark 1:14, 15 must mean 'lest you be judged' [to avoid being judged]. Hence our Lord's teaching about salvation had primarily a future content: positively admission into the Kingdom of God and negatively, deliverance from the preceding judgment. So the Kingdom of God is the highest good of Christ's teaching...[Adamic] man's nature is to be perfectly adapted to his spiritual environment and man is to be 'with Christ' (Luke 22:30) and with the patriarchs (Matt. 8:11). Whatever [?!] the Kingdom is, it is most certainly not exhausted by a mere reformation of the present order of material things." 
MY COMMENT: The Kingdom of YEHOVAH God is the future revolutionary government to be initiated by the spectacular, visible reappearance on earth of YEHOVAH God Himself and the Messiah. In the present we of Israel are all urged to repent and believe in that Good News (Gospel) of the future Messianic Kingdom on earth and to conduct ourselves in accordance with the words of the Messiah and of his agents, the Apostles who spoke and wrote under the inspiration of the risen Messiah.
Eduard Schweizer, Good News According to Mark:
"Mark 1:14, 15: Mark gives a brief summary of the preaching of Jesus. Preaching and Good News are Mark's favorite expressions. The call of Jesus is accurately summed up in Mark 1:15, where the association of repentance and faith [belief] reveals the language of the church (Acts 5:3 1; 11:18; 20:21). Mark's concern is to make clear that in this preaching [about the coming Kingdom] Jesus continues to go forth into the world [of Israel] and this call, therefore, is being directed also to the one [of Israel] who reads this Gospel today. Consequently this section, Mark 1:14, 15, serves as a caption to the whole gospel.
"The Kingdom of God defined by Mark. When Jesus proclaims that the Kingdom of God is near, he is adopting a concept which was coined in the OT. Although it denotes God's sovereignty over creation (Ps. 103:19; 145:11 ff) it refers primarily to God's unchallenged sovereignty in the end time (Isa. 52:7)...Judaism spoke of the reign of God which comes after the annihilation of every foe and the end of all suffering...
"In the NT the Kingdom of God is conceived first of all as something in the future (Mark 9:1, 47, 14:25; Matt. 13:41-43; 20:21; Luke 22:16, 18; I Cor. 15:50 et al) which comes from God (Mark 9:1; Matt. 6:10; Luke 17:20; 19:11). Therefore it is something [the Israelite] man can only wait for (Mark 15:43), seek (Matt. 6:33), receive (Mark 10:15; cp Luke 12:32) and inherit (I Cor. 6:9ff; Gal. 5:21; James 2:5), but is not able to create it by himself...In the acts and words of Jesus the future Kingdom has come upon us already. It is decided at that very moment whether or not he will ever be in the [future] Kingdom...Repentance is nothing less than a whole-hearted commitment to the Good News" (pp. 45, 46, 47).
Ernest Scott, D.D., Professor of New Testament, Union Theological Seminary, NY, makes good points but seems uncertain about the Gospel.
"It seems almost impossible to define the Christian Gospel. [Then Christianity is a total failure, since no one can know what it is!] Sometimes it is identified with our religion as a whole, sometimes with some element in it which is regarded as central. To accept the Gospel is to believe in the atonement or the love of God, or the revelation in Christ or the fact of human [Israelite] brotherhood. Yet it is well to remember that the word which is now used so loosely [Kingdom] had, at the outset a meaning which was clearly understood. 'Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and saying, The time is fulfilled and the Kingdom of God is at hand.' The Gospel underwent a marvelous development...but the Good News has always been essentially what it was at the first -- the announcement of the Kingdom. It is evident from the manner in which Jesus made the announcement that he took up an idea which was already familiar.
"He did not explain what he meant by the Kingdom, for he could assume that all his hearers were looking forward to it. Their hope for it had been newly stimulated by John the Baptist...They had long been thinking of the Kingdom and wondering when it would come and a prophet had now arisen who declared that it was close at hand...In the religion of Israel we must seek for the immediate origin of the Kingdom idea of Jesus...The idea persisted long after the royal house was firmly established that the reigning king was only the vice-regent of the invisible King [cp. Col. 1:15: Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God, his Father]...Israel had been chosen by a unique God who was known as yet only by His own people, but was nonetheless King of the whole earth. The day was coming when all nations would own His sovereignty...
"On the higher levels of prophecy the purified Israel of the future is conceived as attracting all nations by its high example, to the service of the One God. More often it is assumed that Israel when fully disciplined will be restored to God's favor [Rom. 9-11 ] and advanced by Him to the sovereign place. As King of this preeminent people God will reign at last over the world...On the one hand God is already King. On the other hand it is recognized that the Kingship lies in the future...They look for a coming day when He will overcome all usurping powers and assert Himself as King. So the prophets keep before them the vision of a new age when the Kingdom of God will be fully manifested [at the return of YEHOVAH God and His Messiah].
"In that happy time Israel will be exalted, the cause of justice will be established, the earth full of the glory of the LORD. Nature in that day will be restored to its pristine glory and the wolf will lie down with the lamb and cattle will feed in large pastures; the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun. He [and His Messiah] will reign from Mount Zion and all nations will serve Him. King over a righteous nation, he will extend his dominion over the whole earth." 
MY COMMENT: The New Testament is based on the Old. Daniel 7:18, 22, 27 are ideal verses for grasping the Old Testament background to the Messiah's Gospel preaching. The Messiah came to:
1) Proclaim the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God (Luke 4:43). This is the whole reason for Christianity and therefore the whole reason for a Christian Israelite's mission today.
2) Confirm the promises made to the fathers of Israel (Romans 15:8). The promise was that the land and the world (Romans 4:13) would be cleansed by the presence of the returned YEHOVAH God and the Messiah and that peace would fill the earth and the nations live in harmony.
3) Give us of Israel an understanding that we might know YEHOVAH God (1 John 5:20). That understanding is conferred by our understanding the unfolding Plan of YEHOVAH God (the mystery) that the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God is at hand and that we of Israel are to believe in that Gospel of the Kingdom (Matthew 13:19) and live accordingly as we await the arrival of the Kingdom in the future.
4) Make the people of Israel righteous not only by his death but "by his knowledge" (Isaiah 53:11). "By his knowledge My righteous servant, the Messiah Jesus, will make the many [of Israel] righteous," i.e. right with YEHOVAH God and no longer in rebellion against Him.
5) Invite whoever of Israel who will believe in YEHOVAH's Plan for themselves and all of Israel to prepare now to rule the world with YEHOVAH God and the Messiah when they return. "Don't you know the saints [of Israel] are going to manage the world?" (1 Corinthians 6:2, Moffat; cp. 2 Timothy 2:12; Matthew 19:28; Revelation 5:10; 2:26; 3:21; 20:1-6).
In post-biblical times the original faith in the Gospel of the Kingdom suffered massive alteration, turning the Gospel into something quite different. Greeks rather than Judahites became leaders in the Church and they imported alien Greek philosophy into the church's teachings. They lost the vision of the Gospel of the Kingdom and substituted for it a vague "after-life" in heaven for disembodied souls. This made the future resurrection of Israelite believers (1 Corinthians 15:23) and the return of YEHOVAH God and His Messiah quite unnecessary! Churchgoers today labor under the very great burden of this large scale paganizing of the faith, which obscures the Gospel of the Kingdom, the saving Message of both the Messiah and his apostles (Luke 9:11; Acts 28:30-31, etc.).
This alteration of the original faith led to a continuing decline into a false Gospel and finally in the 1500s to the Reformation which was a plea to go back to the Bible. But these reformers did not fully recapture the Gospel of the Kingdom, the Messiah's saving Message. The process of restoration is furthered when people of Israel earnestly seek the original meaning of the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God as preached by the original Messiah. The Gospel itself is all about the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God and "Gospel" should never be divorced from the Kingdom. The pagan notion of "heaven" at death has replaced the hope of the Kingdom coming on earth. That paganism must be banished from the Christian Israelite vocabulary if the Bible is to be understood.
Harper Collins Bible Dictionary: "The Gospel is the proclamation of the Kingdom announced by Jesus (Mark 1:14, 15) and now proclaimed by the church" (or rather it should be!).
Gary Burge, NIV Application Commentary: "The Gospel as most of my church friends and I have known it in the past is so small a part of the whole deal, that it is hard to call it an accurate Gospel at all. Perhaps this limited Gospel message as proclaimed by modern Christians explains the limited impact it is having on America today."
In Revisioning Evangelical Theology "Stanley Grenz has reviewed the failed attempts of evangelical theology to fire the imagination of the modern world. He argues for the Kingdom of God as the new organizing center of what we say and do."
Theology, News and Notes, Fuller Theological Seminary:
"Over the course of the past year, faculty from each of Fuller's three schools have met together to discuss the question: What is the Gospel? A dozen years ago, the late Robert Guelich made the question the topic of his inaugural address, noting that years of professional work has returned him again and again to this fundamental subject. Guelich told the story of an encounter with the founder Charles Fuller after a seminary forum, with the 'inspiration of Scripture' as its topic. Fuller commented that he longed for the day when the seminary would host a forum on the question: 'What is the Gospel"' (spring, 2004).
MY COMMENT: This is an amazing admission. The fact is that they really are not sure what the Gospel is, and yet they say they are saving people by preaching "it"! The plain fact is that the Gospel of the Kingdom -- including of course the ratifying blood of the Messiah and his resurrection -- is the Gospel. Until the heaven at death teaching, which is Plato's and not the Messiah's, is dropped, how can progress be made? And how can we be sure that anyone is saved by believing the teaching of Plato and calling it the teaching of Yeshua the Messiah? Is YEHOVAH God as sloppy as we are with our thinking?! Is He so indulgent that He really does not care as long as we are sincere, although ignorant -- of the nature of the Israelite man, his destiny, the identity of YEHOVAH God and the Messiah?
Shailer Matthews, D.D., Professor of Theology, Chicago Seminary, The Messianic Hope in the New Testament:
"It is a serious error to hold that the Kingdom of God plays no important role in apostolic Christianity. Such a view both lacks historical perspective and is at variance with the entire thought of the literature of apostolic Christianity. The very name of the new movement, Christianity, would suggest the contrary opinion. So far from the eschatological Kingdom of God being a secondary element in the early church, it is its great conditioning belief. The preaching of the first evangelists was not a call to ethical ideals or an argument as to certain truths. Rather it was the proclamation of a Message [to the people of Israel]...As regards the person of the Messiah, there is of course no question that the early Church believed that Jesus was the Christ who had gone to heaven, whence he would come to introduce the new age and the new Kingdom. This was the very core of the entire Christian movement...To think of Jesus as deliberately using a term with a meaning different from what it would have been for others is not only to raise a question as to his morals, but as to his capacity as a teacher." 
Sir Winston Churchill said, "If you have an important point to make, don't try to be subtle or clever. Use the pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time; a tremendous whack."
We in no way apologize for following his advice.
 Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels, 1917, Vol. 2, p. 144.
 Ibid., p. 145, emphasis added. The same view of the Kingdom is expressed by the author of this article in his commentary on Matthew (W. C. Allen, The International Critical Commentary, St. Matthew, T & T Clark, 1907, pp. lxvii-lxxi).
 1929, Vol. 4, p. 2667.
 1931, pp. 11-21.
 University of Chicago Press, 1905, pp. 144, 155.
Hope of Israel Ministries -- Proclaiming the Good News of the Soon-Coming Kingdom of YEHOVAH God!
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