The “Gospel of the Kingdom” Vs. the “Gospel of the Person of Jesus”

Are mainstream Christian Bible teachers and pastors really teaching what Yeshua and his apostles preached?

Recently, I received a letter where the writer asked the following question: Is the  gospel of the kingdom is different than that of the death, burial and resurrection or are the two connected?
Here is my answer to this excellent question:
The phrase, “gospel of the kingdom” is found in Matt 4:23; 9:35; 24:14; Mark 1:14, 15. We also find that the Gospels record that John the Baptist preached the message of repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matt 3:2). The same words were used to describe the message that Yeshua preached (Matt 4:17). At the same time, both Yeshua and John preached the gospel of the kingdom of heaven as well (Mark 1:14, 14 and Matt 4:23; 9:35). Yeshua’s disciples were to preach the same message to the world (Matt 24:14). Therefore, it is logical to conclude that the message the gospel of the death, burial and resurrection as the apostles taught and the gospel of the kingdom are one in the same. Succinctly, they taught that one cannot enter the the kingdom of Elohim without placing one’s faith in Messiah. Therefore, these two messages are linked, indivisible and two sides of the same coin.
The problem is that the message of the kingdom is foreign to many Christians. They know about Yeshua, but little is taught or known about the kingdom of Elohim, even though this was a core component of the gospel message. This is because, in the minds of most Christians, when you die, your immortal soul “goes back to heaven” period. So what is the relevance of talking about the kingdom of Elohim in this paradigm? Little if any. Yet the kingdom of heaven/Elohim was one of the subjects that Yeshua talked about the most—certainly more than heaven or hell!
Let’s let the data speak for itself. Years ago I cataloged by topic the subjects Yeshua talked about the most in the synoptic Gospels (Matt, Mark and Luke). This is what I discovered:

1 Yeshua Speaking About Himself (316 references)

2 Yeshua Speaking About His Father (184 references)

3 Yeshua Interacting With the Disobedient/Hypocritical Religionists (177 references)

4 Yeshua Speaking About the Kingdom of Elohim (144 references)

5 Yeshua  Talking About the Torah (96 references)

So where does the gospel message that the mainstream church preaches fit into this paradigmatic scenario? Is it really preaching what Yeshua himself preached? Well, from the data above, it seems that that they’ve got the first subject covered quite well, thank you very much. But anyone with any church experience will see that that they’ve missed it big time on subjects two through five! This, in my opinion, is why the gospel of the kingdom, not to mention the subject Torah are such foreign concepts to the average Christian.
After that, Yeshua talked most about these topics:

6 Yeshua Speaking About the  Path of Righteousness (71 references)

7 Yeshua Teaching on Judgment (58 references)

8 Yeshua Speaking About His Death, Burial and Resurrection (54 references)

9 Yeshua Teaching About Obedience/Faithfulness (45 references)

10 Yeshua Speaking About Spiritual Rewards (43 references)

Sadly, the church doesn’t have much to say about most of these subjects as well.
By comparison, some of the things about which many churches teach the most frequently are are near the bottom of the list of what Yeshua preached about if even on the list at all. These include:
  • Money: 3 references (although “the perils of materialism” had 19 references)
  • Blessings: 4 references
  • Miracles and signs: 25 references
  • Physical needs: 2 references
  • Love (brotherly): 10 references
  • Love (of Elohim for man and vice versa): 19 references
The following subjects are not on the list of topics Yeshua discussed despite the fact that they are popular subjects within Christian circles (go to any Christian book store and see what the subjects of the best selling Christian books are!).
  • Financial security
  • Pleasure and entertainment
  • Retirement
  • Sexual pleasure and fulfillment
  • Self esteem
  • Psychology
So when John and Yeshua preached the gospel of the kingdom, and when Yeshua commanded his disciples to do the same (Matt 10:7), while at the same time preaching the basic message of the good news of Yeshua the Messiah (Matt 28:18–20; Mark 16:16; etc.), this is what they did, even though the church, by in large, doesn’t preach half of the gospel message, that is, the kingdom of Elohim and repentance.
Suffice it to say, briefly, the Scriptures teach us that the kingdom of heaven/Elohim was brought to this earth by Yeshua, is currently in force among his people, and will be made universal when Yeshua returns to this earth as King of kings and establishes his millennial kingdom here. Belief and faith in Yeshua along with repentance of sin (violation of the Torah) and obedience to his Torah commands will be requisite to being a part of that kingdom.
 

Thankfully, YHVH will have the last word!

Think of all the evil schemes that wicked men and women from their high and powerful positions in politics, the military, finance, education, religion, the media and entertainment are perpetrating upon the human race.

Now consider the daily sewage and filth that calls itself the news headlines, but is usually not much more than mean-spirited and destructive gossip, libel, salaciousness, innuendo, hearsay, false accusations, invasion of privacy, perversion of morals, attacks on biblical values, the promotion and elevation of all that the Bible denounces as evil and corrupt, and the attack on and persecution of Bible believers and Elohim himself. Are you sickened and disgusted already? So am! I!

Now encourage yourself and wash your brain out with these words from Psalm chapter three.

A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son. LORD, how are they increased that trouble me! many are they that rise up against me.

Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help [Hebrew: Yeshua]  for him in God. Selah.

But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.

I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah.

I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the LORD sustained me.

I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about.

Arise, O LORD; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly.

Salvation[Hebrew: Yeshua] belongeth unto the LORD: thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah.

Folks, our day is not only here, but it’s also coming! Don’t forget that one person standing with Elohim MAKE A MAJORITY. So stay strong in Him, and keep looking upward. As I like to say, the outlook is bleak, but the uplook is glorious.

Thankfully, when all is said and done, YHYVH Elohim will have the last word, not men!

A new day is coming. Get ready…

 

 

Our Words and Actions—A Pebble in the Lake of Life

While bushwhacking off trail in the Mount Hood National Wilderness the other day, I stumbled onto this little no name lake that’s not even on the map—a pristine jewel in the vast wilderness! Almost no one comes here. The beauty of it caused me to pause and reflect on some of the deeper things of life.

Everything we do, say and think is as if we were dropping a pebble in the lake of life, in the sea of humanity; the ripples reach out and far and wide and touch many lives, affects many people, and can even affect the course of human history for good or bad in ways we don’t know. Ask yourself this: In  everything that I do, say and think, am I advancing the kingdom of Elohim or not? Am I glorifying Him and pointing people to Yeshua or not? A simple but serious question.

A little no name lake in the Mount Hood National Forest.

I’m naming this no nameLake Jared Lake after my youngest son with whom I was able to share this experience in Yehovah’s vast, untouched, pristine wilderness.

If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of Elohim. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which Elohim supplies, that in all things Elohim may be glorified through Yeshua the Messiah, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Pet 4:11)

 

Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of Elohim. (1 Cor 10:31)

 

And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Yeshua, giving thanks to Elohim the Father through Him. (Col 3:17)

Yehovah Elohim, help me to be salt and light in this world at all times in all ways! Amein.

 

A Better Resurrection? First, Second and ??? Place in the Kingdom?

Hebrews 11:35, A better resurrection. This verse indicates that there is more than one resurrection of the righteous dead, and that there is at least one resurrection that is better than another one.

Likely, the first resurrection will be the best resurrection, since the righteous dead saints and the righteous living saints will be resurrected at that time to meet Yeshua in the air at his second coming.

The resurrection/s that will occur subsequent to that (whether it/they will occur/s during the millennium or at the white throne judgment) will likely be inferior to the first resurrection. Why is this?

Those saints who will be part of the first resurrection are those who endured and overcame the world, the flesh and the devil and remained faithful to Yeshua against such opposition. They are the strongest and most righteous saints, since their mettle, loyalty, faith and endurance was tested under the most trying circumstances, and they still remained faithful to Yeshua. They will likely be those who will be greatest in the kingdom of heaven (Matt 5:19).

Those saints who will be resurrected subsequent to that will have had to go through great refining trials because they are spiritually subpar. This will be because they weren’t faithful in living up to the spiritual light they were given, or because not as much was given to them in the first place, so not as much was required of them (note the Parable of the Talents in Matt 25:14–30; Luke 12:48).

Those who come to faith in the millennium will likely have a lower reward, since their overcoming faith didn’t need to be as strong. This is because they lived during ideal times when evil was suppressed because Yeshua was ruling the world and Satan was imprisoned in the bottomless pit, thus making it easier to be a saint.

All this goes to show that there are levels of rewards in the kingdom of heaven (e.g. Matt 5:19; Matt 25:20–23, 29; Rev 2:23; 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21; 20:12), even as there are levels of punishment (e.g. Luke 12:47–48).

Those who are currently lukewarm believers and who turn their lives around now and who open the door of their life to Yeshua (Rev 3:20) becoming red hot for him prior to his first coming (and first resurrection; Rev 3:15) will have a shot at the highest reward in the kingdom; that is, to sit with Yeshua on his throne (Rev 3:21). This  shows the mercy and grace of YHVH in that he can take even lukewarm saints who desire to turn their lives around and to repent and reward them with the highest position in his kingdom.

Lest we get smug in our spiritual complacency, let’s not forget what Peter said, “the righteous are scarcely save” (1 Pet 4:18). Every saint living is lukewarm to one degree or another by YHVH’s highest, righteous spiritual standards. Those who don’t think they are lukewarm are blinded by their own pride and self-righteousness, which is the greatest sin of all! In fact, the Bible teaches that our best righteousness is as filthy rags (Isa 64:6). Yet, at the same time, there is hope for us all to come to the higher spiritual level! This, however, won’t occur without our having to go through the refining fires of trials (Rev 3:18) or, for some, even great tribulation (Rev 7:14) at the end of the age prior to Yeshua’s second coming.

 

Yeshua the Boat Rocker!

Yeshua definitely didn’t suffer from the disease of non-rock-the-boatitis!

Luke 14:1, House of one of the rulers. Yeshua was invited to a Sabbath meal at the home of a Pharisee who was a ruler (likely a wealthy member of the Sanhedrin). Had Yeshua been a typical man, he would have engaged in the customary small talk of a polite and gracious dinner guest not wanting to offend his host. Yet Yeshua was not there to schmooze—to curry anyone’s favor in an effort to gain personal influence. As he required his own disciples to maintain a salty or spicy demeanor at all times (Matt 5:13; Luke 14:34–35), he was definitely up to the task to lead his disciples by example. The following discussion that Yeshua initiates is what some may consider to be a prime example of how to insult one’s host and the other guests. First Yeshua confronts a controversial issue head on by asking a question, and then by healing one of the other invited guests on the Sabbath, which was a Pharisaical taboo, though not contrary to the Scriptures (Luke 14:2–6). Next, Yeshua takes some of the guests to task who were prideful social climbers and religious status-seekers. He challenges them to humbles themselves and let Elohim exalt them in the eyes of men (Luke 14:7–14). Yeshua raises the discussion around the table to a higher level when he tells the Parable of the Great Supper (Luke 14:15–24). Doubtless, a few of the guests were made to feel awkward, since they likely resembled some of the characters in Yeshua’s story. There was no small talk of sports, the weather, one’s job or tidbits of gossip going on around the table at this dinner party. Yeshua was showing us how to be salt and light wherever we go, even at the risk of offending one’s hosts, but all for the greater good of expanding the kingdom of Elohim in the lives of men.

Luke 14:18–24, Make excuses. This passage is a continuation of Yeshua’s previous discussion and must be seen in that context. Buying a piece of property and a yoke of oxen and getting married is equivalent today to buy a new home, a new car and getting married. These are among the three most notable, expensive and life-changing events to happen in a person’s life. In the eyes of a secular-minded man, to put one’s religion ahead of these things seems weirdly strange. Such a person will likely be viewed as a religious fanatic, extremist, a Bible thumper or Jesus freak. Yet such a reordering of priorities in one’s life is required of a person who desires to enter YHVH’s everlasting kingdom (Luke 14:15). The path to this lofty goal is narrow and sadly few will choose it.

Luke 14:26–33, If any man comes to me. This discourse is a continuation of Yeshua’s previous thoughts, both of which were part of a larger discussion relating to the kingdom of Elohim that Yeshua initiated while at the dinner party of a rich, Pharisee who was a ruler (likely a member or the Sanhedrin, Luke 14:1). In this passage, Yeshua continues the line of thought on what is required to enter the kingdom of Elohim. First, one must count the costs to enter the kingdom, which in the world’s eyes is high. Next Yeshua sets himself squarely in the position of being the door to entering the kingdom, and then demonstrates in the most graphic terms that one must love him above all else including close family members and even one’s own life if he wants to be part of YHVH’s kingdom. Such a man, for certain, would be viewed by his secular contemporaries as a religious fanatic! Yet this is what Yeshua requires of his disciple (Luke 14:33).

Luke 14:34–35, Salt is good. Yeshua then ends his discussion with a pithy analogy involving salt. What is the hidden message in this? Elsewhere, Yeshua states that his disciples are to be salt and light in this world (Matt 5:13–14). In this passage, Yeshua implies the same thing and concludes that salt that has lost its saltiness is useless. Salt is a necessary ingredient to the body’s survival. It also stands out in the food it seasons and acts as a food preservative in that it prevents spoilage by killing pathogens. Yet Yeshua warns against salt losing its saltiness. How is this possible? This occurs through dilution. If Yeshua’s disciples are to be like spiritual salt to the world, then they can lose the quality as a seasoning, life preservative, killer of spiritual pathogens if they allow their priorities and spiritual focus to become watered down if the cares of this life take precedence over the service and obedience to Yeshua as he outlines in the previous verses. This is a how a disciple of Yeshua loses his saltiness and becomes useless to the kingdom of Elohim.

 

Spiritual Nuggets from Luke 13

Luke 13:12, Woman…spirit of infirmity. Sometimes Yeshua healed people who neither asked for it, nor evidenced faith to be healed simply that the glory of YHVH might be manifested. From time to time, we hear of miraculous healings and divine interventions that saved people’s lives occurring for no apparent reason. Perhaps YHVH likes to stir the pot of human affairs occasionally just to draw men’s attention to him, bring glory to his name and to raise men’s hopes a bit in pointing them to the fact that there is an Elohim who is sovereignly orchestrating things behind the scenes and who cares about humans.

Luke 13:15, Hypocrite. Yeshua was able to defend his actions and contradict the leader of the synagogue because he knew the Torah better than they did. This teaches us two things. First, just because one is a church leader doesn’t mean they know the Torah or the rest of the word of Elohim very well. Paul taught the “whole counsel of Elohim,” including the Torah. How many Bible teachers do that in our day? In fact, the New Testament as we know it didn’t even exist in Paul’s day; all he has was the Old Testament from which to teach. More often than not, the church’s modern day Bible teachers know religious tradition and doctrines of men better then the actual word of Elohim. Second, as a minister of the word of Elohim, one will need to defend it against those who are false teachers and  who teach the doctrines of men that make of non-effect the Word of Elohim. To be able to do this, the Bible teacher must study and know YHVH’s word intimately down to the most minute details and better so than one’s opponents. On this score, Yeshua was preeminent, and was able to leave his accusers speechless and without rebuttals. As his disciples, we must endeavor to imitate his example.

Luke 13:18, Kingdom of Elohim. The kingdom of Elohim not only grows from a tiny seed to become like a mighty plant, but with it comes healing for the sick, sight for the blind, food for the hungry, liberty for the captives, happiness for the mourners and freedom for the oppressed. It literally becomes a shelter or a protective covering for those who seek refuge, for now, in its truth and hope, and, eventually, in its universal reality when it is established globally at Yeshua’s second coming.

Luke 13:30, First who will last. Many people have been caught up in religiosity even while professing the name of Jesus (Yeshua), but have not walked in righteousness (i.e. Torah obedience). As Yeshua states in Matt 5:19 and Matt 7:21–23, Torah obedience not only determines the level of one’s rewards in the kingdom of Elohim, but whether our faith in Yeshua is genuine. Its genuineness is determined by the fruits of our actions (John 14:15; 1 John 2:3–6; Jas 2:14–26; Rev 22:14). What we believe in and have a heart for, we will back up with actions. These are those who Yeshua will let into the narrow gate of his kingdom. The workers of iniquity or Torahlessness will be left outside the gate to Yeshua’s kingdom (Luke 13:27).

Luke 13:31, Some Pharisees came. Not all the Pharisees were the evil enemies of Yeshua. Some were genuinely questioning whether he was the Messiah or not. Some later became believers (e.g., Paul and the Acts 15 believers). These Pharisees were warning Yeshua of death threats and urging him to escape his enemies.

 

Mysteries Pertaining to the Kingdom of Heaven Explained

new-heavenearth

Matthew 13:1–58, Yeshua unlocks fundamental mysteries pertaining to the kingdom of heaven. 

Let’s systematically analyze this amazing chapter section-by-section to see if we can unlock some deep mysteries pertaining to the kingdom of Elohim.

In the Parable of the Sower, Yeshua reveals that he is sowing the seeds of the gospel message far and wide across the field of the world (v. 38). That seeds falls on all types of ground and there are external influences (i.e., the world, the flesh and the devil) that affect whether the seed will germinate and come to fruition or not. The bottom line is that the majority of seed gets destroyed along the way and fails to produce fruit.

Yeshua then explains the purpose of parables (see comments on v. 14). The main point of this discussion is that only those who are genuine and earnest truth seekers will find the deep spiritual truths of Yeshua’s kingdom behind his parables. These are the ones who have “eyes to see and ears to hear” who will eventually become part of his kingdom. All others will fall by the wayside having disqualified themselves by their lack of spiritual zeal and tenacity to enter into his kingdom.

Yeshua’s Parable of the Wheat and Tares is an expansion of one aspect of the of the previous parable. In the Parable of the Sower, bad seed (i.e., the sons of the wicked or the lawless/Torahless one, vv. 38 and 41) can also be sown by the enemy (the wicked one or the devil, v. 39) into the field in which the good seed on the good ground is sown. This means that of the seed that is sown there’s a reduction factor of four to one. Only one in four seeds or twenty-five percent comes to fruition. Amongst the remaining twenty-five percent, tares or noxious weeds that are planted by the Satan will grow up around the good seed or wheat. The wheat plants are the saints or the sons of the kingdom (v. 38) or the righteous (v. 43) who must be tried, tested and spiritually refined along the way by the tares amongst them. Will the saints be faithful to the Master, or will they fall victim to the lies and dessemblance of the false saints or satanic elements among them? Distinguishing who are wheat and tares is only possible by evaluating the fruits that are produced (Matt 7:15–20). This takes time to determine as a plant slowly develops and it then becomes evident whether it’s a wheat or a tare. At the end of the age, Yeshua will send his angels to separate out the wheat and the tares (see Matt 24:31 and Rev 7:1–8 cp. 14:14–20). The former will inherit his everlasting kingdom, while the latter will be burned up in the lake of fire.

Through the process of separation, refinement and elimination, the good seed in the fertile ground germinates and begins to spread its roots and grow into a large plant. Though the saints are like many individual plants in Yeshua’s spiritual field, Yeshua likens the expansion of the kingdom of Elohim in the life of the saints to a singular mustard seed that though it is very small, in time it becomes a very large tree-herb in the garden. Even as a large plant that is now well established in Yeshua’s garden (despite the opposition of the tares), the wicked one will continue to send his demonic agents (the birds of heaven, see vv. 4 cp. 19) that will attempt to find shelter within the branches of the tree. As demonic spirits and their agents were attracted to Yeshua (Mark 3:11) and his apostles (Acts 16:16–18), even so in our days, those with demonic spirits will be attracted to the congregation of the righteous.

Next, Yeshua likens his kingdom to the action leaven in bread dough. This is the only reference in the Scriptures to leaven as a positive thing. In this case, bread may be viewed as a metaphor for the spiritual body of Yeshua. Indeed, Yeshua is the bread of life (John 6:26–40) that is unleavened or sin-free. However, when humans become part of Yeshua’s kingdom or spiritual body it will expand, which is a good thing. However, because humans aren’t sin free, but are like leavening (a biblical metaphor for sin), the bread or body of Yeshua will grow, though comprised of sinful humans who have been redeemed from sin. This calls to mind the bread waving ceremony the priests conducted on the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot) where they waved two leavened wheat flour loaves of bread representing the two houses of Israel above the altar before YHVH for his acceptance. Though YHVH is set-apart or holy and hates sin, his mercy triumphs over his judgment against men’s sin, and he graciously accepts humans who have been redeemed from sin by Yeshua the Messiah, who is the Bread of Life. His eternal kingdom will be comprised of imperfect humans who have been redeemed from sin, which is why he likens the expansion his kingdom to leaven being used to expand the bread.

Yeshua then likens the kingdom of heaven to a treasure buried in a field, which a man discovers and sells all he has to buy the field containing the treasure. This parable shows the heart attitude that one must have if they want to be part of Yeshua’s everlasting kingdom. They must seek first his kingdom above everything else in their life (Matt 6:33), and be willing to die spiritually to anything that comes ahead of Yeshua (Matt 10:39; 16:25).

The kingdom of heaven is also like a pearl of great price — an ultimate treasure — that one must be willing to sell all to “purchases.”

The Parable of the Dragnet teaches us that as the gospel is preached, it is like a giant fishnet that is cast out across the seas of humanity. Many people will respond to the glorious gospel message of salvation and the kingdom of heaven. However, like the Parable of the Wheat and Tares, the gospel message will attract both the sons of the kingdom and the sons of wicked into the same field (as in the earlier Parable of the Wheat and Tares) or fishnet (as in the Parable of the Dragnet). Again, Yeshua reveals that at the end of the age, his angels will separate out the good fish (the sons of the kingdom) from the bad fish (the children of the devil). The latter will be cast into the lake of fire (see Matt 24:31 and Rev 7:1–8 cp. 14:14–20).

Yeshua finishes his teaching on the kingdom of Elohim by explaining that only those who study the Bible deeply and diligently will understand these mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. They will view them as priceless treasures and desire to share them with others.

Sadly, Matthew 13 ends by showing that Yeshua’s own friends and family largely rejected his teachings on the kingdom of heaven. “A prophet is not without honor except  in his own country and in his own house,” he concludes.