Tom: You’re listening to Search the Scriptures Daily, a program in which we encourage everyone who desires to know God’s truth to look to God’s Word for all that is essential for salvation and living one’s life in a way that is pleasing to Him.
Dave Hunt’s book, When Will Jesus Come? Compelling Evidence for the Soon Return of Christ, is the topic, and we are sprinting for the finish line as the last chapter is in view.
Well, Dave, “sprinting” may not be the best term I could use, but we are moving along.
Dave: Well, we got to the last chapter, so…
Tom: There you go! Last week we read some verses that referred to the kingdom. For example, Matthew:24:14: “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” Now, Dave, I know you went over that a little bit last week, but what did Jesus mean, and what is this gospel of the kingdom?
Dave: Well, Tom, as you know, many people use this Scripture to say that every tribe and tongue and so forth, every person on this earth, must hear the gospel before the Rapture can occur, and that is obviously not the case, because the Rapture could occur at any moment. Then that would…
Tom: Right, there is no condition.
Dave: Right. That would do away with imminency, number one. Number two, the Rapture is not the end. This is talking about the end: “…then shall the end come.” Well, what does He mean? The end of what? I think it means the end of this old world order. In I Corinthians 15, Paul says: “Then cometh the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to the Father, and God shall be all in all.” So, I believe that that takes place at the end of the millennial reign of Christ on this earth, which is not the ultimate kingdom of God, and then we have a new heavens and a new earth. We have a whole new beginning for the entire universe.
Tom: Dave, the gospel—what is this gospel of the kingdom? That’s something…
Dave: Well, Tom, that’s another debate in the church. It’s been going on forever. I was raised with a group of brethren who—well, the gospels were for Israel, the epistles were for the church. It wasn’t quite that clean cut, but that was pretty much it. And the message about the kingdom was for the Jews. God was offering a kingdom; Christ offered Himself to be the king, and they rejected it. And then it became the gospel of the grace of God and salvation.
I think it’s one and the same gospel. I could argue it like this, Tom—we don’t have a great deal of time to go into it: Jesus sent out His disciples preaching the gospel of the kingdom. No question about that—this is what the gospels say. But in Matthew 28— well, Matthew 28, He says, “Make disciples of all nations.” But in Mark:16:15, Jesus says to His disciples, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” Well, what gospel would that be? It doesn’t tell us that He changed any gospel, and those who say, “Well, it got changed.” They say it got changed at the end of the Book of Acts.
So, what gospel is Christ talking about? There is only one gospel. Obviously, He is telling them, “The same gospel that you’ve been preaching, I want you to preach that to the whole world.” Well, what is the gospel? Well, the gospel of the kingdom is like any other gospel—it’s the only gospel: “How that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures; buried and rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures.” When Paul, in Romans:1:16 says: “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one who believes,” what gospel is He talking about? The only gospel.
If a Jew is really going to be in the kingdom, he’s going to have to believe the gospel. Now, how can I say that? What about this millennial kingdom? The millennial kingdom is not the ultimate kingdom that God has in mind, and we can prove that very simply by a number of Scriptures. Even Nebuchadnezzar said, “His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.” Psalm 145 says the same thing. Isaiah:9:7 says: “And of His kingdom and peace there will be no end.” So it couldn’t be the Millennium.
Now, the Millennium is the kingdom reign of Christ on this earth, but He is reigning over saved and unsaved, and it doesn’t help the unsaved—it doesn’t cure them of their rebellion. So at the end of this earthly kingdom, they rebel, and when Satan is loosed, they all come against the Lord. So, all I’m trying to say to our audience out there—there may be some people who want to split theological hairs, which I don’t try to do, because I don’t know how to split them—but let’s not get too complicated about the kingdom. And then, Tom, there are other verses…
Tom: Well, Dave, before you go there, I want to back you up to something. We may have some listeners out there who heard what you said about the gospel, but they’re a little confused with regard to…if it’s an everlasting gospel, if the gospel is preached Old Testament and New Testament, what’s the difference? How would those in the Old Testament regard the gospel? What would be preached to them as opposed to those, as you quoted Paul, and even Jesus, with regard to the gospel, according to the Scriptures, and so on?
Dave: Yeah, well, Jesus, in Luke 24, when He is talking to the two on the road to Emmaus, it says—well, He says, “You fools! (You idiots!) Slow of heart to believe all the prophets have spoken. Ought not Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” Okay? And then it says: “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself.” And He told the rabbis in John 4, “You search the scriptures, but these are they that testify of Me, but you won’t come to Me.”
So, Old Testament, as well as the New Testament, testifies to Christ. And Paul, as you pointed out, Tom, preached the gospel from the Old Testament. That was all they had. So, in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul says, “This is gospel that I preached unto you, by which you are saved, wherein you stand,” and so forth. “If you keep in mind the things that I said to you, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; He was buried and rose again the third day according to the Scriptures! So, I mean, I could just go to Isaiah 53, and I can give you all of that right there: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way. But the Lord Yahweh has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities.” Okay? Then it goes on, and it says, “He is cut off out of the land of the living.” But then it says, “He will see of the travail of His soul and shall be satisfied.” Well, Isaiah:9:7, which I was quoting, says, “Of His kingdom and peace there will be no end.”
So, this one who is going to be born in Bethlehem, He is going to rule forever! But how can He rule forever if He is cut off out of the land of the living? And if He is cut off out of the land of the living, how can He see the travail of His soul and be satisfied, because that’s going to go on for centuries? Well, obviously He must be resurrected! This is why Jesus is saying, “Why don’t you guys pay attention to what the prophets said?” Of course He had to suffer these things.
So let me just give you a couple of other reasons why the millennial reign is not the ultimate kingdom. Jesus said in John 3, to Nicodemus, “Except a man be born again, he cannot even see, much less enter into, the kingdom of God.” Well, there will obviously be many people who are not born again who are living in the Millennium. Otherwise, who are these people that come in number like the sand of the sea against Jerusalem to destroy Jesus? They were born during the Millennium to—who knows—believers, unbelievers? A lot of them are born to unbelievers.
So, you can’t say that you couldn’t enter into the Millennium unless you’re born again, because there will be many people there who have not been born again, and who never will be born again. And then Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15 says: “Behold, I show you a mystery. We won’t all sleep,” and so forth, and he says, “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. Neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.” Well, but there will be flesh-and-blood people in the millennial reign. Okay.
So, what is the kingdom? It’s the eternal state. And what is it about? Man repents, and he bows the knee, he falls on his face before God, and cries out for forgiveness and reconciliation, and he receives the message of the kingdom—that is, that the King came and He died—they rejected Him, and He died. He died for our sins, He paid the penalty for our sins, and He rose from the dead, and He is going to rule over an eternal kingdom! And if you will put your faith and trust in Him, acknowledge Him as your Lord, believe He died for your sins, and rest your eternal destiny in His hands, on that basis, you have been born again. You are a new creation in Christ, Paul tells us, 2 Corinthians 5, and, therefore, you will be in a new creation because God is going to make a whole new universe, a new heavens and a new earth, and only those who have been born again, who have been made new—new creatures, a new creation—will be in the new creation.
So, it’s pretty much the same, Tom, except in the Old Testament they look forward to Christ. Jesus said of Abraham, “Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad.” And David prophesied of the crucifixion, of the resurrection, and so forth.
Tom: Dave, even Job, who was among the patriarchs, said, “I know that my Redeemer liveth.”
Dave: Right, and that “He will stand on this earth in the last day—although the worms destroy my body, in my flesh I will see God.” How about that? First book written in the Bible, we think.
Tom: And, Dave, things that run a little contrary to this—there are some professing Christians who teach that there are really two ways to salvation—one for the Jews and another for the Gentiles. That’s not consistent with what we’ve been talking about.
Dave: Well, Tom, I didn’t finish Romans:1:16, where Paul says: “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek,” to the Gentile. And everywhere Paul went, preaching the gospel, every town he went into, he went first into the synagogue, and he preached the gospel there.
Tom: The Bereans, for example.
Dave: Yeah, and Jesus said—we already quoted Him: “Go into all the world, preach the gospel to every creature,” but what did He say? “Begin at Jerusalem!” I love it, Tom. Why did He say, “Begin at Jerusalem?” Because the heart of the gospel, the heart of Christianity, is the resurrection. If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, we’ve got nothing! So Jesus didn’t say: “Hey guys, I want you to steal my body, and do away with it somewhere, and then tell them that I rose from the dead. And then you start preaching this down in the tip of South Africa and way out in Siberia where they can’t come and check up on it!”
No, He didn’t say that! He said, “I want you to begin in Jerusalem.” Wait a minute! They are declaring the resurrection of Jesus in Jerusalem just a few days after His crucifixion. “Well, let’s go check that tomb out there. I mean, I know that they put the governor’s seal on there, they had Roman soldiers guarding it. He’s got to still be there. You go out there and check it!” And what do you know? The stone is rolled away, and the place is empty!
So, this is why He said, “Begin at Jerusalem.” But the point is, you begin at Jerusalem, and then Judea, and then you go…so, it’s to the Jew first? Who was living in Jerusalem? The Jews! There might have been a Gentile here and there in those days, but not many.
So, obviously, the same gospel is for Jew and Gentile. Tom, when I grew up, dear people, they were wonderful Christians, and I can tell you, in our fellowship, our assembly of brethren (that’s what they called it), you knew who was saved and who was lost. And when anyone got saved, boy! That was a big event! Everybody knew it! There was rejoicing, you got baptized, and so forth.
But some of the brethren tried to get a little too complicated, and they would try to say, “Well, now, you know sometimes it says, the kingdom of heaven, and then sometimes it says, the kingdom of God. Well, there is a distinction there,” and they would even preach on the difference between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven. Tom, the same things are said about the kingdom of heaven as are said about the kingdom of God, so you couldn’t do it. But anyway, let’s not get complicated folks, let’s just take it simply for what it says.
Tom: Dave, when you’re talking about—well, from this verse that we quoted, Matthew:24:14: “… and this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations.” Now you bring up an interesting point in your book, When Will Jesus Come? Compelling Evidence for the Soon Return of Christ—you talk about the two witnesses. That’s a point in which the world will hear the gospel. Could you explain that?
Dave: Well, two gentlemen are coming back from the dead, and they will stand in the streets of Jerusalem…
Tom: Except I don’t know that one of them died, did he?
Dave: Well…thank you, Tom. Two men are going to appear, seemingly out of nowhere, in the streets of Jerusalem, and they are going to preach the gospel. Probably everybody will see it on TV. This will be some event, because the Antichrist comes to try to destroy them and he can’t. You can bring tanks against them; you can bring airplanes against them, and these guys will knock them out. So, a great fear comes upon the earth, and maybe that would cause a few people to believe what they are saying.
Tom: Dave, how long a time span would this be?
Dave: Well, the Bible says, Revelation:11:3-6, “I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand-two-hundred-and-three-score days—1260 days, that’s 3 and 1/2 years, in a 360-day calendar, clothed in sackcloth.” Wow! That’s three-and-a-half years they are preaching in Jerusalem. That’s going to kind of wear on the nerves of the world who are watching this on TV, because these guys are going to lay it on!
Tom: Plus, they are impervious to any kind of attacks—that’s got to draw some attention right there.
Dave: It says, “If any man will hurt them [wow!] fire proceedeth out of their mouth and devoureth their enemies.” Whoops!
Tom: Do you think that’s literal, Dave?
Dave: I don’t think so. I think it’s just the power of the gospel they preach. Well, you could almost get a little hint of it, and one of my favorite passages in the Bible—I mean, they are all favorites: Titus 2, Paul’s prayer for Titus is: “In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works and doctrine, showing un-corruptness, gravity, sincerity.” Then he says this: “…sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.” They are coming to destroy them, and these guys, what they say is so piercingly powerful in its truth that they are just knocked down; they are smitten.
Tom: But you can see in these verses—this is, again, Revelation:11:3–6, that “they have power over waters to turn to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.” So, these guys are powered.
Dave: I think that’s literal. Yeah, that’s literal.
Dave: Yeah, see, you can bring tanks and planes against them, but it isn’t going to stop them. But then suddenly, they’re killed! Antichrist is able to kill them, and the world rejoices, and they leave their dead bodies lying three-and-a-half days in Jerusalem. And then—it’s on TV everywhere across the world—suddenly, they stand up on their feet, and they are taken to heaven. That ought to be frightening!
Tom: But the reason I wanted to talk about these two, Dave, is that this is a time in which the gospel will go out to all the nations. We’ve had, you know, evangelists and so on, we’ve had presentations of the gospel that have reached many, many thousands, maybe millions, of people, but nothing like this.
Dave: Yeah, nothing like this. There are two angels flying and they present the everlasting gospel also.
Tom: As well, right.
Dave: Yeah, but Tom, still, this isn’t the end. So, I think it continues, of course, during the kingdom, in our resurrected bodies we’ll be here on this earth, representing Christ, and it will be preached everywhere. Then the end is going to come at the end of the millennial reign of Christ, when we have a new heavens and a new earth.
Tom: Dave, one last—we’ve got about a minute-and-a-half—but one last observation, maybe even a correction, here. Jesus said in Luke:17:21, speaking to the Pharisees, He said: “The kingdom of God is within you.” Now, that’s the King James Version. People will have a little problem with that.
Dave: Yeah, well, I think another translation—and I’m not a Greek scholar, but you can reason about it, “is among you.” He’s the King.
Tom: Obviously, the kingdom of God wouldn’t be within the Pharisees. I mean, they were anti-…
Dave: No, “It’s in your midst. Here is the King.” And they rejected the King. Tragic— but, actually, Tom, the kingdom is in our hearts. The King has already come to reign in our hearts, those of us who are Christians. It’s an everlasting kingdom. It’s begun, and it will go on forever in us, and then the visible manifestation of it is something else, and that’s what we will be talking about.