The Kingdom of God
When Christ returns – and an earlier lesson has shown this will be soon – his first work will be to raise the dead.
‘Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake.’ (Daniel 12 v 2)
‘For this we tell you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left to the coming of the Lord, will in no way precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with God’s trumpet. The dead in Christ will rise first.’ (1 Thessalonians 4 v 15-16)
The judgement will follow, and the reward of everlasting life will be given to the righteous who will then help with the government of the kingdom of God.
The Bible promises that the reign of Christ will see the end of the evils which at present corrupt the world.
CONDITIONS IN THE KINGDOM
There will be no oppression (Psalm 72 v 4) and no more war,
‘And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.’ (Isaiah 2 v 4)
The reign of the king will be righteous and just.
‘He shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither decide after the hearing of his ears; but with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and decide with equity for the humble of the earth.’ (Isaiah 11 v 3-4)
Sickness will be controlled and the curses of illness and disease will be removed,
‘Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.’ (Isaiah 35 v 5-6)
Many countries today suffer famine and thousands of people are dying daily from hunger. In that day there will be no famine. Springs of water in the desert will enable crops to grow where they cannot today.
‘In the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert. And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water.’ (Isaiah 35 v 6-7)
‘May there be abundance of grain in the land; on the tops of the mountains may it wave; may its fruit be like Lebanon;’ (Psalm 72 v 16)
Finally, death itself will be destroyed
‘Then the end comes, when he will deliver up the Kingdom to God, even the Father; when he will have abolished all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death.’ (1 Corinthians 15 v 24-26)
‘And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.’ (Revelation 21 v 4)
It is clear why this teaching about the kingdom of God is called the Gospel – we have learnt that the word means ‘Good news.’
After his resurrection, Jesus sent his disciples out with these instructions, ‘“Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He who believes and is baptised will be saved’ (Mark 16 v 15-16)
It will be seen that baptism must follow a belief of the gospel. The verse continues – ‘but he who disbelieves will be condemned..’
On the day of Pentecost the apostle Peter spoke about the resurrection of Jesus and the hope of his Second Coming. The people who heard the address were moved by what they heard, and asked what they should do. They were told to repent and be baptised. To repent means, to change your mind – to make a fresh start.
‘Then they that gladly received his word were baptised … And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.’ (Acts 2 v 41-42)
Notice the same order – Understanding and belief (that is, faith), followed by obedience in baptism. Then follows a continued effort by the believer to live his life in a way that pleases God.
Then the baptised Christian, who is spoken of as ‘risen with Christ’, can wait confidently for the coming of the Lord.
‘If then you were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, our life, is revealed, then you will also be revealed with him in glory.’ (Colossians 3 v 1-4)
When, during the time of this waiting for Christ, the Christian does wrong, he knows that Jesus is a sympathetic advocate on his behalf, because he knows what temptation is like. In the Letter to the Hebrews, we are reminded that our High Priest was tempted in the same way as we are, although he was able to resist and did no sin. (Hebrews 4 v 15) The Christian can be confident that his prayers will be heard.
‘Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.’ (Hebrews 4 v 16)
THE GIFT OF GOD
We cannot manage by our own effort. It is only by the love and the mercy of God that we can obtain salvation through Christ. So the apostle Paul wrote, ‘for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.’ (Ephesians 2 v 8)
‘The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.’ (Romans 6 v 23)
THE NEXT STEP
You have now completed the twelve lessons of Stage 1 of this correspondence course. You have read in these lessons a brief outline of what the Bible teaches about God and His purpose with the earth. You may be like some of the people of Athens, who listened to Paul and ‘when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear you again of this matter.’ (Acts 17 v 32) In other words, they had been glad to listen, but were not very interested in continuing their studies.
You may be like the people of Berea that the apostle visited, who ‘searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.’ (Acts 17 v 11)
To whichever group of people you belong, the purpose of God will still be fulfilled. Peter wrote that in the last days people would scoff at the idea of the return of Christ. Peter said that they mocked at the preaching of Noah, but when the appointed day came, the rain began. In the same way, whether people take notice or not,
‘The day of the Lord will come’ (2 Peter 3 v 9-10)
A SPECIAL MESSAGE FOR YOU
The apostle concludes this letter by saying that, as you know this, ‘what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness?’ (2 Peter 3 v 11)
This question must be left to each individual student to answer. We trust that you will ‘be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.’ (2 Peter 3 v 14)
PASSAGES FOR BIBLE READING
Isaiah 65 v 17-25 Romans 13 Ephesians 5 Isaiah 66 v 1-2 Colossians 3 ll Peter 3 Ephesians 2