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The Gospel of the Kingdom: THE BEGINNING OF THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST


A few points from chapter four of Mauro’s book, The Gospel of the Kingdom:

CHAPTER FOUR

THE BEGINNING OF THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST, THE SON OF GOD

THE words of our chapter heading are the first words of the Gospel by Mark. They are enlightening words; and indeed they are quite sufficient in themselves to answer a question that confronts us at this point: When did the Gospel era begin? It is exceedingly important that we should have the right answer to that question; and we know where to seek it.

We have seen that the Bible distinguishes two great eras, and those two eras are closely related, the one to the other, though there are marked differences between them; the first being variously designated as, “the old covenant,” “the law and the prophets,” or simply “the law”; and the second being variously designated as, “the new covenant,” “the kingdom of God,” or simply “the gospel.” Our Scripture tells us we are now at the “beginning” of something; and that that something is “the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Could we have a plainer answer to our question?

And the passage goes on to tell what it was that marked “the beginning of the gospel”; and further to declare that the event that marked it was something that had been foretold in the Scriptures. For we read: “As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before Thy face, which shall prepare Thy way before Thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.” The reference is to Isaiah 40:3; and the prophecy was fulfilled, as this first chapter of Mark’s Gospel declares, in the preaching and ministry of John the Baptist.

This was the very “beginning,” the very first event of that long expected era. “THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST, THE SON OF GOD.” But John’s ministry (John the Baptist) was of short duration; for the enmity of the Jews was speedily aroused, because of the contradiction between his preaching and their expectations; and he was cast into prison. And then happened another event of transcendent interest; for the public ministry of Christ Himself (whose “way” John had been sent to “prepare”) forthwith began. For it is written:

Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, 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” (vv. 14, 15).

These words make it evident that “the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God,” and “the gospel of the Kingdom of God” are one and the same. Moreover, the words, “The time is fulfilled” manifestly point to something of exceptional importance whereof promises had been given by the prophets. They refer, of course, to that promised era of victory over sin, that era of the bruising of the serpent’s head, of the salvation of God for all men through the coming of the promised Deliverer, the era of the everlasting covenant and the sure mercies of David; in a word, they referred to the appointed time for the fulfilment of all the glorious things that God had spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. “The time” for the thing for which all believing hearts had looked and longed, was “fulfilled.” So said Christ; and He also exhorted those who heard the announcement, to repent, and believe the gospel.” Note that the proclamation that the time was fulfilled He calls “the gospel.”

But, in direct contradiction to these statements (which are as plain as is possible for anyone to make) the “Scofield Bible” asserts that the dispensation of the law, with its “pitiless severity” and all the appalling characteristics of condemnation, death and the curse which that publication attributes to it, continued until the crucifixion of Christ; and it further asserts that “the Kingdom of God” (which that dispensational authority takes to mean the earthly kingdom of Jewish expectancy) was not “at hand,” but was in the far distant future.

Here then we have a very serious situation. For if this era of John the Baptist were not “the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God,” then the plainest of plain Bible words, which have been understood for nineteen centuries in accordance with their apparent sense, have a meaning altogether different to what has always been supposed. And if the Kingdom our Lord said was then “at hand,” was not at hand at all, but far away, He certainly caused those who heard Him believingly and all who have listened to His words for nearly two thousand years, to believe what was not true.

We take up first the question:

What Kingdom was it that Christ said was at hand?

In considering this question let it be noted that there was a “Kingdom of God” then at hand; for Christ’s servants shortly thereafter began to preach it as a present reality (Acts 8:12; 14:22; 20:25, etc.); and moreover, the apostle Paul, in his great Gospel letter, gave a definition of it (Rom. 14:17). Are there then two different Kingdoms of God; one of which was at hand, and one afar off in the future? Is God the author of confusion? And if there were two Kingdoms of God, one then close by and the other afar off, is it conceivable that the Kingdom of God which Christ said was then “at hand” was the one that was actually in the remote future?

How is it possible, I ask, for any who undertake to explain the Scriptures to arrive at the conclusion that the “Kingdom of God” which actually was “at hand,” is not the “Kingdom of God” which the Lordsaid to be “at hand”; or, (to state it the other way) that the “Kingdom of God” which the Lord publicly declared at hand, proved to be not at hand at all; whereas, marvelous to relate! another “Kingdom of God” whereof He made no mention, was at hand?

I have carefully examined the notes of the “Scofield Bible” in quest of the explanation of this. I find on one hand that no Scripture is cited to support the editor’s view; for there is not one word in the Bible to the effect that the Kingdom announced by the Lord has been “postponed” or is “in abeyance.” The Lord’s own statement, from first to last, never modified, but proclaimed with ever increasing emphasis, was that the Kingdom was “at hand.”

But the teaching of the Scofield Bible as to the Kingdom of God is founded nevertheless upon the baseless assumption that the prophets of Israel, in predicting the coming of the Messiah and of an era of blessing, salvation and victory for His people, were foretelling the restoration of the earthly greatness of the natural Israel. Therefore the editor of the Scofield Bible, having committed himself thoroughly to this startlingly novel idea, and having lost sight of the many interpretations of those prophecies in the New Testament which show that they referred (in figurative language) to Redemption and to the Spiritual Kingdom based thereon, has attempted in his notes to make the New Testament agree with his mistaken theory.

But the attempt is an impossibility. In fact the editor himself abandons it completely after carrying it partly through the Gospel of Matthew. Anyone can see this for himself who will take a little pains to examine the matter. For we have to begin with the bold but unfounded assumption that the words “Kingdom of God” and “Kingdom of heaven” on our Lord’s lips meant the earthly kingdom of Israel. Then we have the equally bold and equally unfounded assumption that the supposed “offer” of the earthly kingdom to the Jews of Christ’s day was rejected by them, and that, as the result of such supposed rejection, it was withdrawn and postponed; though there is no trace whatever in the inspired records of any such offer, or rejection, or withdrawal, or postponement; and though there is no hint that God’s purpose to introduce the Kingdom which He had announced (and announced without any qualification whatever) was, or could have been, defeated or postponed by the action of the Jews of Christ’s day.

In the “notes,” the alleged rejection is located at Matthew 11:20, as appears by the following statement:

“The Kingdom of heaven announced as ‘at hand’ by John the Baptist, by the King Himself, and by the twelve, and attested by mighty works, has been morally rejected.”

Then the Lord’s words recorded in Matthew 11:28, 29, are called by the editor, “The new message of Jesus–not the kingdom but rest and service”; and this, we are told, is “the pivotal point in the ministry of Jesus,”–that is to say the point at which He abandoned His message about the Kingdom’s being at hand, and began to substitute a message of entirely different character!

I earnestly protest that these statements are wholly erroneous, and confidently maintain that the Lord had but one message, which was the gospel of God, and that the Kingdom which He preached while on earth and introduced when He sent the Holy Ghost from heaven, is the very “rest and service” which He offered and still offers to all the weary and heavy laden ones.1

Following this is a note (on Mat. 12:46) which asserts that our Lord, “rejected by Israel,” now intimates the formation of the “new family of faith.” But the fact is that the “new family”–composed of the children of His Father in heaven–had been previously addressed at length and in the most precise terms as to their relationship with God, in the Sermon on the Mount. But inasmuch as it would upset the editor’s theory completely to find any hint of the “new family” in that part of Matthew, he firmly closes his eyes to the conspicuous presentation of it in those chapters, and locates the first“intimation” of it in chapter 12. For it is as plain to any babe in Christ as the sun in the sky at noonday, that in the Sermon on the Mount God, the “Father in heaven,” is speaking to His own “children” on earth, by the lips of His own Son. But that fact, so vital to all the household of God, would, if acknowledged, completely destroy the editor’s theory, so he ignores and even contradicts it.

In order to obtain an appearance of support to his views, the editor states in a note on the Lord’s interview with the woman of Syrophenicia, (Mat. 1:2 that “For the first time the rejected Son of David ministers to a Gentile.” This is necessary to the theory we are examining; for if Christ should be found ministering to a Gentile prior to Matthew 11, that action on His part would destroy the “Jewish” and “legal” character which the editor imputes to that part of the Lord’s ministry; and would demolish the theory completely. How is it possible then that the editor and associate editors and all who have been helping to correct the errors of his edition for more than a score of years, have been blinded to the fact that the Lord healed the centurion’s servant, as recorded in Matthew 8:5-10, and in connection therewith used those remarkable words, “Verily, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith no not in Israel”? And how can we account for the failure on the part of all those learned men to observe the record in Matthew 4:24 that the fame of Jesus went throughout all Syria, and they brought to Him all sick people, and He healed them? And for their failure to observe also that, even before the Lord began to preach publicly in Galilee, He ministered and revealed Himself as “Christ” to the woman of Samaria, and that many of the Samaritans believed on Him? (John 4).2

These are but a few of many instances which show that the advocates of the postponement theory are mysteriously blinded to the plainest facts when those facts are in conflict with that theory; while on the other hand they claim the ability to “see” things in the text of Scripture which support their theory, although others are utterly unable to find a trace of them. But, without dwelling upon this, I would ask particular attention to the fact that, even according to the kind of proof by which our friends seek to maintain their theory, the facts concerning the centurion’s servant and the Lord’s personal ministry of salvation (the “living water”) to the Samaritans, refute that theory completely.

Chapter Four is Continued HERE

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