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by Dr. John Thomas
This is a most important demonstration; for it enables us to determine when we hear the gospel.
The gospel is not preached when the things of the kingdom are omitted.
And this is one grand defect in modem preaching.
Either there is nothing said about the kingdom; or a kingdom is preached which is a mere matter of speculation; a kingdom of heaven in principle, in the hearts of men, or somewhere beyond the skies!
But the gospel does not treat of such a kingdom as this; a mere fiction indoctrinated into men's minds by "the cunning craftiness of those who lie in wait to deceive".
So inseparable is the idea of gospel from that of kingdom that we find them, not only substituted for each other, but associated together as terms of explanation.
Thus, "Jesus went throughout every city and village, preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God"; and in the prophecy of Mount Olivet it is written: "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the habitable (ejn o}lh/ th`/ oijcoumevnh/ Roman Empire) for a testimony to all the nations; and then shall come the end".
After he rose from the dead, he commanded the apostles, saying, "Go, preach the gospel to every creature: he that believes and is immersed shall be saved; and he that believes not shall be condemned"; and "Lo, I am with you always, until the end of the world".
In view of these texts, can anyone be so mystified as not to see that salvation is predicated on believing the gospel of the kingdom, and being baptized into Jesus Christ?
They were to preach "this gospel of the kingdom" in the name of Jesus.
How did they execute the work?
"They went forth and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following".
They began at Jerusalem, passed throughout Judea, then went to Samaria, and lastly, to the end of the earth.
They began on the day of Pentecost, and preached only to the Jews for several years; at the end of which, Peter and Paul began to proclaim the kingdom to Gentiles also.
The labours of the apostles were indefatigable.
They filled the Roman empire with their doctrine, and made such an impression upon it that tumults were excited; and they were charged with treason against the state, because they proclaimed another king than Caesar, who should rule the world in righteousness as the sovereign Lord of all the earth.
"They spake the word of God with boldness".
"The multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul"; and great kindness was among them all.
In about thirty years, the gospel of the kingdom was proclaimed in all the world, to every creature under the heaven.
They finished their work, and fell asleep, the Lord having abundantly fulfilled his promise of co-operating with them to the end of the world.
Thus, the same gospel that was preached to Abraham was preached also to Jews and Gentiles by the apostles after the ascension of Jesus to the fight hand of power.
There was, however, this difference: when it was preached to Abraham and to the generation which perished in the Wilderness, it was altogether a matter of promise; but when preached by the apostles to the Roman nations, some things connected with the promise were fulfilled: so that the gospel of the kingdom, as they preached it, was partly a matter of promise, partly a matter of history, and partly doctrinal.
It was thus presented to mankind in a threefold point of view, which may be stated in this form: -- Promises to be fulfilled; or, things concerning the kingdom of God.