The startling TRUTH of Jesus' Message has been buried long enough! Learn here the REALITY of God's prophecies and their special meaning for OUR time.
PEACE and prosperity" is to be the theme of President Johnson's political campaign for re-election. He will claim that the Democrats have kept the United States strong and wealthy. Surface prosperity certainly is evident in America and in Western Europe as well. However, a racial GUERRILLA WAR is brewing in many major U.S. cities. And just plain crime and VIOLENCE are growing by leaps and bounds. Included in the recent F. B. I. National Crime Report is the following statistic: "Half of all murders in 1963 involved husbands and wives killing each other." Imagine! American homes and marriages are so wretched and miserable that fully HALF of all murders in our "Christian" land involve a man MURDERING his own wife, or vice versa! And around the world, the specter of the bloody WARS in Vietnam, Cyprus, the Congo and elsewhere continues each year. Ominously, the so-called "Nuclear Club" is rapidly becoming less exclusive so that within a few years even minor dictators and madmen may possess the power to annihilate major cities! Scientists, statesmen and politicians agree that world government and an international rule of LAW is the only answer. But the pitiful spectacle presented by the impotent, bungling, bankrupt and divided United Nations is certainly not the answer. There is no world government now in sight and, seemingly, No PEACE ahead for this chaotic generation in which we live.
The Chaos of Cults
In addition to the chaos and confusion among the nations, there is great religious confusion in the western world today. In the United States alone, there are over four hundred religious bodies and sects all calling themselves "Christian." They all claim to believe in the same Christ. Yet they all DIFFER on the message He preached, and on the doctrines and practices that ought to be in His Church. In order to get around this problem, some denominations are now becoming "broadminded" in the varying kinds of doctrines and ideas they will permit their members to hold. A recent news item shows that in the case of one denomination making up such a "broadminded" statement of belief, "the effect was to arrive at a statement that would include the essentials, but be broad enough for persons of varying points of view." In this modern day, is it important which MESSAGE we believe? Today many modern ministers say, "Just believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved." What you believe about Christ and His message is not so important they will often say as it is to believe on and love Him and His person. What about this? Is it important to believe the VERY message that Jesus Christ preached? Or didn't He preach any certain message? Or was His message broad enough so that we can get over four hundred denominational ideas and traditions out of that message?
An Inspired WARNING
The inspired answer to that question is found in the first chapter of Paul's epistle to the Christians in Galatia. The apostle of Christ was ALARMED that these people were already turning aside NOT from Christ's person, but from His message! "I marvel that you are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would PERVERT the gospel of Christ" (Galatians 1:6-7). Notice that Paul is alarmed because people were perverting the truth about Christ's MESSAGE not about His person. He continued: "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be ACCURSED." Then Paul repeated this denunciation made this a double curse. "As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel to you than that you have received, let him be ACCURSED" (vss. 8-9). In the Apostle Paul's mind, there was only ONE true gospel any other gospel was a counterfeit that demanded a CURSE by apostolic authority! What was this true gospel that Paul was trying to keep in its pure state? What was the TRUTH that God sent to this world by Jesus Christ His Son?
Christ Was A MESSENGER
Christ came with a message from God the Father which would solve the problems of this last generation on earth today! Note the prophecy in Malachi regarding His first coming. "Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before Me: and the Lord, Whom you seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the Covenant, Whom ye delight in: behold, He shall come, saith the LORD of hosts" (Mal. 3:1). Actually, here is Christas the Logos or Spokesman of the Old Testament speaking and saying that He would send a messenger before His face who would prepare the way for Him, Christ, who was to be the Messenger of the Covenant. In Acts 10 we find a description of that message as it was first preached to the Gentile Christians. The first part of the chapter shows how Cornelius was chosen as the first Gentile to receive the true gospel of Christ, and how Peter was sent to his house to bring the truth of God. In verse 34 we read, "Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him" (Acts 10:34-35). Here Peter acknowledges that now God is calling all the Gentiles to the same truth that had recently been opened to the Jews since the day of Pentecost. He continues: "The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (He is Lord of all) that word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached" (vss. 36-37). Directly inspired of God to reach this first Gentile Christian, Peter immediately refers to the TRUTH as that word which God sent by Christ, to Israel, beginning from Galilee, after John's preaching. Peter referred to this as the message for both Israel and the Gentiles. So this was God's MESSAGE for all mankind!
The MESSAGE Jesus Brought
Now let's find where that message really began, and what Jesus actually taught! Turning to the first chapter of Mark we find the conditions that Peter gave for the beginning of this true message. "Now after that John was put in prison" this was to be the time "Jesus" here is the Messenger "came into Galilee" here is the place "preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God, and saying, the time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand: Repent ye and believe the gospel" (Mk. 1:14-15). Here we find the true Messenger, the time and the place. And here we find the true MESSAGE of God! It is Good News or Gospel of the Kingdom of God. Moffatt translates it "Reign" of God. It is the happy message of God's Kingdom His RULE His GOVERNMENT which will finally bring peace over this earth! Notice that this true gospel is not man's gospel about the person of Christ. It is Christ's message. It is the message He brought from God the Father of the coming government of God, or Kingdom of God on this earth. And it is VITAL that you believe and obey this message! For Jesus said: "He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath One that judgeth him: the Word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day" (John 12:48). So Jesus said you will be judged by His Word His message! Jesus Christ ALWAYS taught about the Kingdom of God. Luke records: "And it came to pass afterwards that He went throughout every city and village, preaching and showing the glad tidings of the Kingdom of God: and the twelve were with Him" (Lk. 8:1). Even Jesus' parables were all concerned with the Kingdom of God. "And His disciples asked Him, saying, What might this parable be? And He said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of God, but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand" (Lk. 8:9-10). Since Jesus Christ and all of the apostles and prophets spoke continually about the Kingdom of God, we need to understand what a kingdom is.
What Is A Kingdom?
There are four things which characterize every kingdom. First, there is a king or ruling agent. Secondly, there is a territory over' which the kingdom holds dominion. Thirdly, there are subjects or citizens in every real kingdom. And, fourthly, every kingdom must have laws and a form of government. Now let's understand how God's Kingdom is so organized. Isaiah reveals who will be the king or ruling agent in the coming world government. "And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of His roots: And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him... He shall not judge after the sight of His eyes... But with righteousness shall He judge the poor... and He shall smite the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips shall He slay the wicked" (Isa 11:1-4). Here is the well-known prophecy that Christ coming from Jesse through David will be the king over all the earth after His second coming. Before Jesus' human birth, an angel gave this prophecy concerning His future rule: "He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end" (Luke 1:32-33) Christ is going to literally reign on the throne of David. That throne is on this earth today! And He shall reign over the house of Jacob, or Israel. These are human beings here on this earth! If you do not understand the national identity of modern Israel, then read Mr. Armstrong's fascinating free booklet "The United States and the British Commonwealth in Prophecy." Yes, world government is soon to come with Jesus Christ as Divine RULER! One of the most tremendous events in all history is described by the Apostle John in Revelation 11:15: "And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign forever and ever." Christ will show us how to have peace on this earth! This is the ONLY way we will ever have peace!
God's Government on This Earth
Having proved that Christ is King of God's soon-coming Kingdom, let us now see where that Kingdom will be located. Did you notice in the Scripture we just cited that "the kingdoms of this world" are to be ruled by Christ? This is substantiated in Daniel 2:44. This is the conclusion of Daniel's prophecy about the four great world-ruling kingdoms which were to hold sway over the western world. As nearly all Bible scholars recognize, the fourth great kingdom is the Roman Empire which with its various revivals will hold sway to the end of this age. "And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall NEVER be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever." This clearly indicates that God's Kingdom will be on this earth Christ the "Stone" having crushed the other kingdoms and set up God's government to bring peace. In the description of that Kingdom given in Isaiah 11, we also find that it will be on this earth. "They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain (kingdom): for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea" (vs. 9). You have probably noticed by this time that the subjects or citizens of God's Kingdom will be physical human beings still left alive on this earth! Isaiah 11:10 describes Christ as the "Root of Jesse" and says, "to it shall the Gentiles seek." So here we find even the Gentile nations are being ruled over by Christ on this earth. Now continuing in verse 11: "And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt... and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth." This will be the time of the glorious regathering of the Israelitish people including many of our deceived friends and relatives who will be brought back from captivity at the second coming of Christ. They will then learn to understand and appreciate God's rule, His laws, His government and His Way of life! And what a wonderful world that will be!
The Laws of God's Kingdom
God alone knows the WAY to peace and happiness! He reveals this way from the beginning of Genesis to the end of Revelation. It does not always agree with the way that "seems right" to a man, but it is the way to real peace on this earth. Throughout the prophecies God shows that His Kingdom will be ruled according to this way. That way is based on His law. Notice Isaiah's inspired description of God's Kingdom and the way it will be administered on this earth: "And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the LAW, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (Isa. 2:3). Yes, God's rule is according to His LAW! The spiritual principles of God's Ten Commandments are the way to peace and happiness and everything this world really wants. But men are running away from that way as fast as they can! When Christ first comes, He will have to PUNISH the nations of the world to teach them to appreciate that way and His law! "And He shall judge among the nations and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: and nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (vs. 4). As King of kings, Christ will have to REBUKE the nations and literally teach them the way to peace and the laws of God which will bring peace. The prophet Micah reveals this same thing that is to take place in God's Kingdom: "For the LAW shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (Micah 4:2). Many people today are under the false impression that the New Covenant does away with God's law! However, in describing these very events which are to take place when Christ returns and sets up God's Kingdom, the prophecies reveal that God's law is the very BASIS of the New Covenant, and of the agreement which is made between Christ and physical Israel and with individual Christians of all nations as they are converted. "After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my LAW in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and I will be their God and they shall be my people" (Jer. 31:33). Man cannot have peace until HUMAN NATURE is changed! God's law reveals the very nature and character of God. After Christ returns to convert all nations, He will write God's law in the very minds and hearts of people. Thus, it will become part of their very nature! Then they will KNOW the way to peace! and JOY! and HAPPINESS! Jesus Christ Himself revealed that God's law is the very BASIS of His Kingdom. He said: "The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the Kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it. And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the LAW to fail" (Luke 16:16-17). Here we find Jesus' clear statement that the law of God is an integral part of the message of the Kingdom of God! But was Jesus speaking of the law of the Ten Commandments? Yes, He was! For He continued in the very next breath: "Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery" (vs. 18). Here He showed that the law of which He was speaking included the command against divorce and remarriage based on the Ten Commandments of God. That law is BINDING on us today! If we plan to be in God's Kingdom a part of His government forever we had better learn to keep and OBEY God's law here and now in this life!
How to Qualify for God's Kingdom
To help us understand this principle of OBEDIENCE. let us turn to the very beginning of Jesus Christ's ministry and what He actually taught when He was here on this earth. When He was tempted by the Devil, He stated one of the most basic truths of all the ages: "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by EVERY WORD that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4). Remember that the only written word of God at the time that Jesus said this was the OLD Testament! This is the Word that contains the law of God the law which so many ministers seem to HATE today! Yet, Jesus said that we are to LIVE by this inspired Word! After His temptation by Satan, Jesus began to preach the message of God's Government. "From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand" (vs. 17). Again notice that it was always the message of God's Kingdom or government which Christ preached. He showed that men must REPENT of their ways and submit to that government. The following three chapters in Matthew contain what is popularly called "The Sermon on the Mount." Few seem to realize it, but this entire sermon is filled with Jesus' exhortation to OBEY God's law! Notice Matthew 5:17-19: "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill" that is to do or PERFORM, setting us an example. "For verily I say unto you," Jesus continued, "till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled" or be in effect, as the original Greek indicates. Then Jesus concludes: "Whosoever therefore SHALL" notice this is future tense "break one of these least commandments" no matter which men might call the least "and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the Kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall no and TEACH them, the same shall be called great in the Kingdom of heaven." Jesus said that as long as heaven and earth stand, God's law will NEVER be done away! And those who are to be rewarded in God's Kingdom shall both do and teach even the "least" of God's laws and commandments! WHY HAVEN'T YOU HEARD THIS KIND OF PREACHING? A young man came to Christ asking: "Good Master, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?" Here was Jesus' golden opportunity to tell him as modern ministers would put it that there is NOTHING he had to do. "Just believe," they say, "and you will be saved." "Give your hand to your preacher and your heart to the Lord" seems to be the modern method of salvation. But what did Jesus say on this occasion? He said, "If you will enter into life, keep the commandments." And when the young man asked which commandments, Jesus began to state some of the Ten Commandments (Matt. 19:16). Here is the WAY to eternal life as. taught by Jesus Christ the Son of God! Will we believe HIM?
Is This the ONLY True Gospel?
Is this message of obedience to God's laws and preparation for His coming Kingdom or world-ruling government the ONLY way of salvation? Wasn't some of this message just for the Jews of Jesus' day? Was there some OTHER gospel introduced for Gentile Christians? Here is what Jesus Christ commanded after His resurrection from the dead! "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe ALL things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world" (Matt. 28:19-20). Here Christ commanded His apostles to go to all the world and preach exactly the SAME message of obedience to God's Kingdom and laws that He had taught them! We must REPENT of our ways and sins, accept Christ as Savior and RULER, and begin to let Him through His Spirit live a life of obedience in us to prepare us for eternal life in God's Kingdom and to be BORN as a member of His very family! This is the VERY gospel you must believe and obey in order to be saved! Jesus told His apostles: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark 16:15-16). You must BELIEVE the joyous message of God's soon-coming government to bring peace through His ways, and His LAW! And you should prepare for your part in that Kingdom here and now. What should you do, then? Showing the way to begin this life of obedience and surrender to God, Peter said: "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38). You must repent of SIN. And God tells you in I John 3:4: "Sin is the transgression of the law." The Bible says that sin is breaking God's law! You must REPENT of thisand of your entire attitude of disobedience and hostility toward God's rule and authority over your life. You should become humble, as a little child, and let God guide you and teach you day-by-day through His Word. You should be baptized as an outward symbol of your willingness to bury your old self under the water, and to give your life literally to God to use as He sees fit. Then God PROMISES to give you of His precious Holy Spirit. This is His very nature, His life, and His character which He places in His begotten sons. Notice that even the Holy Spirit is received through obedience, because Peter describes "the Holy Spirit, whom God hath given to them that OBEY Him" (Acts 5:32). After repentance and baptism, a true Christian can begin a life of overcoming and obedience to God's law and His Kingdom here and now. This is done through the Holy Spirit and its power within him. This was the message ALL of God's servants preached throughout the early inspired New Testament Church!
The Gospel Never Changes
When Philip went down to the Gentile city of Samaria, notice what he preached. "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" (Acts 8:12). The Apostle Paul preached this gospel to the Gentile Christians at Ephesus. He told them on his last visit: "And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the Kingdom of God, shall see my face no more" (Acts 20:25). At the very end of his ministry after he had turned away from the Jews Paul continued to preach this same message! "And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, preaching the Kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him" (Acts 28:30-31). The message of the soon-corning Kingdom of God was the ONLY message of Jesus Christ! It was the only message His inspired Church and apostles taught the world! It has been the message of God's true Church through the ages!
The GOAL of the Christian Life
The reason the Christian religion seems so empty and dead to most people today is that they are in ignorance of the real goal of the true Christian life. We are NOT put on this earth by God Almighty just to attend Church once a week, or to enter into "Christian" charities, or to hear sweet stories about the "little Lord Jesus," or to make this human society a better World through confusing often contradicting human efforts. We are put here to prepare to RULE FOREVER, in the Kingdom or government of God! That is why through God's Spirit we must acquire God's character, and learn to live by His LAWS which alone will finally bring this world peace and happiness! These spiritual laws show the WAY to peace and happiness and right government throughout all eternity. True Christians, then, have a JOB to do! They must demonstrate in this life through God's help and His Spirit that they will keep God's laws and develop His character so that they may be qualified to RULE others later, and teach them the same happy way of life. Notice the reward for those who overcome their own human nature and qualify: "And he that overcometh and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give POWER over the nations: and he shall RULE them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers; even as I received of my Father" (Rev. 2:26-27). Jesus repeats this same promise speaks of this same reward again and again. "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame and am set down with my Father in His throne" (Rev. 3:21). In Revelation 5:10, John was inspired to show that the saints shall become "kings and priests; and we shall reign on the earth." True Christians those who overcome themselves and develop God's character through living by His laws will be given authority as kings and priests in God's Kingdom to be set up on this earth after Jesus returns. What a tremendous GOAL we can have in this life! "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ and shall REIGN with Him a thousand years" (Rev. 20:6). Under Christ as King of kings, the overcoming saints will help RULE this earth and bring it peace and joy at last! That is WHY we must learn to obey God and His laws now! That is the real PURPOSE of the true Christian life. There is only ONE true gospel one truly "good news" and this is that VERY gospel which Jesus preached! Jesus Christ said His true Church would be preaching that very gospel as a last "witness" to all nations in our very day just before He returns again! "And this gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations; and then shall the end come" (Matt. 24:14). You are receiving that gospel this very instant! Through the "WORLD TOMORROW" broadcast and Plain Truth magazine, this message of Christ is being taken to all nations as a last "witness" to the world. May God help you to understand and HEED!