August 8, 2012

      Until Jesus, mankind only received ‘news’ from their prophets, such as Isaiah and the psalmist who each prophesied about peaceful conditions on earth where man would thrive. 


He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.”

– Isaiah 2:4


The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.....Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. In the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.”

– Isaiah 35:1, 6-7


The land yields its harvest.”

– Psalm 67:6


May grain abound throughout the land; on the tops of the hills may it sway.”

– Psalms 72:16


They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.....No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat."

 Isaiah 65:21, 22


No one living in Zion will say, “I am ill”; and the sins of those who dwell there will be forgiven.”

 Isaiah 33:24


     But when Jesus arrived, he began preaching about a new era for mankind.  Not just peaceful life on earth, but he taught that man could enter the kingdom of the heavens where he could enjoy an everlasting heavenly career.  Jesus taught:


Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

– Matthew 4:17


Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.”

 Matthew 4:23


     In his first major sermon, called the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus informed us of the invitation to enter into the kingdom of heavens:


Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,  for they will be filled.  Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”

– Matthew 5:3-11


For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” 

– Matthew 5:20


     Yes, the good news that Jesus taught is that all mankind who desire it are invited to enter into the kingdom of the heavens.  And there’s more!  Jesus taught us to refer to God as our own Father:


This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’ For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

 Matthew 6:9-15


     And if God is our Father, we are all brothers:


But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven.”

– Matthew 23:8-9


     This relationship carries with it a weighty responsibility:


But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on.”

 Matthew 5:44-45


     The promise of sonship is further supported by the writings of the Apostle Paul so that there is no mistaking this all important point: 


So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

– Galatians 3:26-28


For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”  The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”

– Romans 8:14-16


Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”  So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.”

 Galatians 4:6-7


     As children and heirs, we inherit our Father’s belongings – including the heavenly kingdom: 


Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.”

 Matthew 25:34


     Only Jesus could reveal this good news.  None of the Hebrew prophets knew about this good news because it was hidden from them:


I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness—  the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

– Colossians 1:25-27 


       It was hidden even from the angels:


Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.”

 1 Peter 1:10-12


     But our adoption as sons and daughters of God has been the Father’s purpose from the beginning of creation, even before Adam and Eve existed on earth:


Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.”

– Ephesians 1:3-5


     This is good news indeed!  Praise to the Father for revealing, through His Son, His eternal purpose from the founding of the world – the sacred secret that mankind could be adopted as spiritual sons and daughters of God and enter into the heavenly kingdom to be with our Father and His Christ.  The invitation is wide open to all. Who would deny themselves this opportunity to share in the inheritance of this glorious kingdom of the heavens and live forever in the very presence of God?


The Urgency of the Good News


     The good news is urgent because the Father wants us all to recognize our sonship and become reconciled to him now!  Many religious authorities promote an end-time ministry focusing on the ‘end of the system of things’ or ‘the Great War of Armageddon’ or some other type of cataclysmic ending.  But the reality is, we do not know when that day will occur or whether our own end will come first ‘because time and unforeseen occurrence befall us all.’ (Ecclesiastes 9:11)  Rather than wait for the end of the system, the Father wants us to come to him NOW!  Without delay!  


See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.  But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.  We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.”

 Hebrews 3:12-14


     And there is another reason why the good news is urgent.  All who accept their sonship with the Father and become a part of ‘the body of Christ, which is the Christian congregation’ (Colossians 1:17-18, 24; Ephesians 1:22-23), are asked to be ambassadors substituting for Christ to help others come to appreciate their sonship with the Father as well.  The Apostle Paul tells us:


All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.  We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.’” 

 2 Corinthians 5:18-20


       He emphasized the need to remain focused on the true message:


In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge:  Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage —with great patience and careful instruction.  For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.  They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.  But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.”

 2 Timothy 4:1-5


     When we understand the good news, we are moved to share it with others.  But from the very beginning, Jesus recognized that not all would take up this ministry.  We learn: 


Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.  When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’”

– Matthew 9:35-38


     Of those who would take up a ministry, not all would adhere to Jesus’ plain and open teachings and would, instead, teach ‘another sort of good news:’


I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!  As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!”

 Galatians 1:6-9


     The preaching of the ‘other sorts of good news’ overshadowed the true good news and caused Christianity to get off track.  But now is the time to return to teaching the actual, authentic, plain and open teachings of Jesus – the true good news of the kingdom.  We encourage you to respond to the urgency of the good news and become a kingdom ambassador, a harvest worker.


Accepting the Good News


     We must accept the Father’s invitation to be His faith-sons now, with a promise of being adopted as spirit sons and daughters in the heavens.  We undergo water baptism as symbolic of our entry into the spiritual brotherhood of sons and daughters of the Kingdom, and we undergo the ongoing baptism into Christ’s death as described by Paul where we live our lives and worship the Father as Jesus did:


What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?  By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?  Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?”  

 Roman 6:1-3


Therefore we were buried with him through our baptism into his death, in order that, just as Christ was raised up from the dead through the glory of the Father, we also should likewise walk in a newness of life.  For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we shall certainly also be united with him in the likeness of his resurrection; because we know that our old personality was impaled with him, that our sinful body might be made inactive, that we should no longer go on being slaves to sin.  For he who has died has been acquitted from his sin.”

– Romans 6:4-7


Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.”

– Mark 8:34-35


     For those of us who have already been baptized in water, we must go on following the Lamb wherever he goes (Revelation 14:4), into the Kingdom of the Heavens where he is preparing a place for us:  


Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.  My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.  You know the way to the place where I am going.”

 John 14:1-4


       This is the good news that God the Father and Christ Jesus want us to know!

Your Brothers in the Master's Ministry,


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