is the true Gospel?
After Jesus was baptized in the
River Jordan by John the Baptist, he went throughout every city
and village preaching the Gospel of the kingdom of God
[Mark 1:14; Luke 8:1]. The word 'Gospel'
means 'good news' so Jesus told the people the good news of the
Kingdom which God will establish in the earth, teaching his disciples
to pray, "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it
is in heaven" [Matthew 6:10].
Kingdom of God
Like any other kingdom, the Kingdom
of God will consist of a king; territory; people; rulers; laws;
and a capital city.
The King will be Jesus Christ
[Psalm 2:6-7] who is to reign in righteousness
[Acts 17:31] as the King of Israel [John
1:49] and the ruler of the whole earth [Zecheriah
The territory of the kingdom
and its empire
The territory of the Kingdom
will be the land of Israel [Micah 4:8;Ezekiel
36:8], called the “Holy Land” [Zecheriah
2:12] because it is God’s land [Jeremiah
2:7]. This land was originally called “Canaan”
lying between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean, and it will
stretch from the Euphrates in the north to the Negev desert in
the south [Genesis 15:18]. The kingdom
of God will also have an empire extending over all the earth [Daniel
The citizens of the Kingdom will
be the people of Israel whom Jesus will gather out of the nations
to the promised land [Ezekiel 37:21-22],
and all other peoples will be the subjects of his empire [Psalm
The rulers with Jesus will be
God’s faithful people [Revelation 3:21]
who will be raised from the dead [Daniel 12:2-3]
when Jesus returns and, like him, be made immortal to live for
ever [Philippians 3:20-21].
The laws of the Kingdom will
be God’s laws [Micah 4:2] which are
just and equitable [Isaiah 11:1-5].
The capital city
The capital city of the Kingdom
will be Jerusalem [Psalm 48:1-2; Matthew 5:35]
where Jesus will sit upon the restored throne of David [Luke
The blessings of Christ’s
The people of Christ’s
kingdom and empire will be greatly blessed when there will be
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will
toward men" [Luke 2:14]. Many passages of Scripture describe
these blessings, most notably Psalm 72: "He shall judge the
poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and
shall break in pieces the oppressor. In his days shall the righteous
flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth.
All kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve
him. And men shall be blessed in him: all nations shall call him
blessed. Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel, who only
doeth wondrous things. And blessed be his glorious name for ever:
and let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen".
This glorious future and the blessing of mankind is the subject
of wonderful promises that God has made.
The promises of God
There is no doubt that the Kingdom
of God will be re-established in Israel [Acts 1:6-7]
because it rests on two promises that the LORD has made in the past
[2 Peter 1:4].
God's promises to Abraham
The first promise was made to
Abraham about 2000 BC. He lived in Ur of the Chaldees [Genesis
11:31] where he received a call from God to leave his city
and move to a promised land: "Get thee out of thy country,
and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto
a land that I will shew thee: and I will make of thee a great
nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou
shalt be a blessing: and I will bless them that bless thee, and
curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of
the earth be blessed" [Genesis 12:1-3].
Abraham obeyed this command and travelled via Haran to the land
of Canaan where God promised: "Unto thy seed will I give
this land" [Genesis 12v7].
God made this promise when Abraham
had no son [Acts 7:5] but Abraham had complete
faith in God’s promises and this was counted to him for
righteousness and we can be counted righteous by the same faith
[Romans 4:19-24]. When he was a hundred
and Sarah was ninety, they had a son, Isaac, through whom the
promised seed would come [Genesis 21:12].
After Abraham had lived some
years in the promised land, God called upon him to sacrifice his
beloved son, Isaac, through whom God’s promises were to
be fulfilled [Genesis 22:2]. Abraham knew
that if Isaac died he would be raised from the dead and, because
of this faith in God's promises [Hebrews 11:17-19],
he obeyed the commandment but an angel prevented him actually
slaying Isaac [Genesis 22:11-12]. Afterwards
God said to him: "By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD,
for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy
son, thine only son: that in blessing I will bless thee, and in
multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven,
and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall
possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the
nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice"
Jesus is the Seed of Abraham
So the Saviour of the world would
be the "seed of Abraham" and we know this is Jesus because
the apostle Paul wrote: "Now to Abraham and his seed were
the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but
as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ" [Galatians
From the promises God made to
Abraham we see that he and Jesus are to possess the land of Canaan
(later called Israel) for ever; that Abraham’s children
are to be a great multitude [Genesis 15:5];
that Jesus is to completely defeat all his enemies [Genesis
22:17]; and that all the families of the earth will be
blessed in him [Genesis 22:18].
The land promised to Christ is
precisely defined as the land of Canaan [Genesis
12:5-7], stretching from the river Euphrates in the north
to the river of Egypt which is between Israel and the desert in
the south, and between the Mediterranean and the Dead Seas then
occupied by seven nations [Genesis 15:18-21].
This is described as: "From sea to sea, and from the river
unto the ends of the earth" [Psalm72:8].
Abraham will inherit this land with Jesus when the kingdom of
God is established [Luke 13:28], the borders
of which will corresponding precisely to the land promised to
them both [Ezekiel 47:13-21].
These promises were repeated
to Isaac [Genesis 26:1-5] and Jacob [Genesis
28:13-14], Abraham's son and grandson, and wonderfully,
if we become related to Christ we also shall inherit these same
promises: "As many of you as have been baptized into Christ
have put on Christ. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s
seed, and heirs according to the promise" [Galatians
3:27-29] - "heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ"
[Romans 8:17]. Abraham is counted the "father
of the faithful" [Romans 4:16] and
God changed his name from Abram to Abraham, meaning "the
father of a multitude" [Genesis 17:5],
because innumerable people, "as the stars of heaven for multitude"
would be counted as his seed [Genesis 15:5]
God's promises to David
The second promise was made to
David. When he was ruling on the throne of the LORD over Israel
and had peace from all his enemies, he desired to build a house
for God. His request, however, was refused but God made him a
promise: "When thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep
with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall
proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He
shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne
of his kingdom for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be
my son" [2 Samuel 7:12-14].
Although the fulfilment of this
promise was illustrated in the reign of Solomon, David’s
son, the New Testament teaches that the promise will be fulfilled
in Jesus [Hebrews 1:5]. He is the Son of
God [Matthew 3:17]; he will build a house
for God’s name [Haggai 2:7-9; Hebrews 3:6];
and he will reign on David’s throne over the Kingdom of
God for ever [Luke 1:32-33].
The Kingdom of God in the past
The kingdom of God existed in the
past. About 1500BC, the people of Israel were slaves in Egypt but
God saved them through Moses. They journeyed through the wilderness
to Sinai, where God declared the Israelites would constitute his
kingdom, and they then entered Canaan, and the Kingdom of God was
established in the land of promise.
God himself was the King [1Samuel
Israel were the citizens of the
Kingdom [Exodus 19:5-6].
The territory was the land of
Israel, called "the LORD’s land" [Deuteronomy
11:12; Hosea 9:3] and corresponded with the land promised
to Abraham, between the Mediterranean Sea and the Dead Sea; and
from the river Euphrates to the desert [Exodus
The rulers of the Kingdom in the
land were Judges appointed by God [Acts 13:20],
the first of whom was Joshua [Deuteronomy 31:23].
The laws were God’s laws
given to Israel through Moses [Deuteronomy 4:8]
called "the Law of Moses" [Joshua 23:6].
Jerusalem eventually became the
capital city of the Kingdom [2 Samuel 5:5].
This kingdom was a theocracy in
which the people were blessed and living in safety and prosperity
if they obeyed the commandments of God and lived righteous lives.
The Kingdom of God under the
For about 400 years God placed
judges over the Kingdom until Samuel, the last judge, when Israel
desired a king whom they could see, like the other nations [1
Samuel 8:4-5]. Their request greatly distressed Samuel
but he took it to the LORD who replied: "Hearken unto the
voice of the people in all that they say unto thee; for they have
not rejected thee, but they have rejected me that I should not
reign over them. Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit
yet protest solemnly unto them and shew them the manner of the
king that shall reign over them" [1 Samuel
Kings upon the throne of the
God chose Saul to be their king
[1 Samuel 15:1], but the LORD still remained
the true King [Isaiah 44:6] with Saul as
his representative in his kingdom. Sadly, Saul was disobedient
to God and the Kingdom [1 Samuel 15:22-23]
was taken from his family and given to David, "a man after
God's own heart" [Acts 13:22]. During
his forty year reign [2 Samuel 5:4], David
defeated all Israel’s enemies and brought peace to the Kingdom
[2 Samuel 7:1].
David’s son, Solomon, succeeded
him on the throne of the LORD [1Chronicles 29:23]
and peace continued throughout his reign [1 Kings
4:24-25] of forty years [1 Kings 11:42].
Solomon was given wisdom to rule God’s people of Israel
[1 Kings 4:29-34], but foolishly he took
three hundred wives [1 Kings 11:3], foreign
princesses, who turned him away from the worship of the true God
[1 Kings 11:4]. The LORD therefore told
him that when he died the kingdom would be divided [1
Kings 11:11]. Solomon also built great palaces, and taxed
the people of Israel severely, as Samuel had forewarned them [1
Israel divided into two kingdoms
After Solomon's death, his son
Rehoboam became king [1 Kings 11:43] and
the people requested that he reduce the taxes which were such
a great burden to them [1 Kings 12:4].
But Rehoboam listened to the counsel of his young friends and
threatened to tax them even more heavily [1 Kings
12:14]. Ten of the twelve tribes, led by Jeroboam [v12],
rebelled [v16] so that Israel was then divided into two kingdoms
[v20]: the ten tribes in the north, called the kingdom of Israel,
and the two tribes in the south called the kingdom of Judah. These
two tribes (Judah and Benjamin) remained loyal to Rehoboam, the
rightful heir, who sat on David’s throne over the Kingdom
of of the LORD [2 Chronicles 13:8].
Israel taken into captivity
The ten tribes became increasingly
wicked and idolatrous, despite God sending his prophets to turn
them to righteousness [Jeremiah 7:25-26].
They never had a righteous king and after about three hundred
years, God punished them for their wickedness. He brought the
Assyrians against them who carried them into captivity from which
they never returned [2 Kings 18:11-12].
The two tribe kingdom of God,
known as Judah, had some righteous and some wicked kings but eventually,
after about four hundred years from Solomon, despite repeated
warnings from God through his prophets, they became so wicked
that God removed them out of his land by Nebuchadnezzar, King
of Babylon [2 Kings 25:1,21].
The scattering of the Jews worldwide
and their return
After seventy years the Persians,
who had defeated the Babylonians, allowed the Jews to return to
their own land [2 Chronicles 36:22-23].
This was in accordance with the promise God made through Jeremiah
[Jeremiah 29:10] but only about forty thousand
returned [Ezra 2:64] and these were the
ancestors of the people in the land when Jesus lived there.
After the return from Babylon, Judah was ruled in turn by the
Persians, the Greeks, and the Romans who, in AD70, destroyed the
city of Jerusalem, killed multitudes of Jews and sold the rest
into captivity all over the world. The Jews remained among the
nations for many centuries thereafter but, in accord with God’s
purpose, many have returned to the land since 1917 and the state
of Israel was established in 1948. God’s promise is that
the Jews will not remain scattered for ever but will all return
to the promised land and the restored Kingdom of God [Ezekiel
The promise of the rightful King
When the Kingdom of God was overturned
by Nebuchadnezzar, the king on the throne of the LORD was Zedekiah
to whom God said: "Remove the diadem, and take off the crown:
this shall not be the same. I will overturn, overturn, overturn,
it [God’s throne and kingdom]: and it shall be no more, until
he come whose right it is; and I will give it him" [Ezekiel
21:26-27]. So the Kingdom of God was overturned and it has
never existed since. But it will be re-established [Amos
9:11] when “he comes who right it is”.
Jesus, the future King of the
Kingdom of God
We can have no doubt that Jesus
is this promised king for the angel Gabriel told Mary: "Behold,
thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt
call his name Jesus. He shall be great,
and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall
give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign
over the house of Jacob [another name for Israel] for ever; and
of his kingdom there shall be no end" [Luke
The return of Jesus from Heaven
Jesus is to be the future King
in the Kingdom of God. He must therefore return to the earth to
take possession of the throne of the LORD in Jerusalem. When Jesus
left his disciples to go into heaven, two angels appeared and
said: "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven?
This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall
so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven"
When Jesus returns from heaven
he will be both king of Israel [John 12:13]
and ruler of the whole world [Zecheriah 14:9].
All the Jews will be brought back to their land, which will become
a paradise like the garden of Eden [Ezekiel 36:35-36],
and they will be greatly blessed [Malachi 3:9-11].
He will also bring blessings upon all the people of the earth
[Psalms 72:17] who will enjoy peace and
prosperity [v7], living in a world full
of righteousness [v2], godliness, love,
joy and rejoicing [Psalm 67:4].
The everlasting Gospel
When Jesus reveals himself to
the nations, the gospel will be preached again throughout the
world informing all people about the Kingdom of God and the reign
of Christ [Revelation 10:11; 14:6; 11:15].
They will be called upon to accept Jesus as the ruler of the world
[Philippians 2:9-11]. Unfortunately, many
nations will prefer to fight, but they will be defeated [Revelation
17:14]. Jesus will then abolish war and destroy all weapons
[Micah 4:3] to establish righteousness
and peace [Isaiah 31:1,17] for a thousand
years [Revelation 20:6].
Jesus and his faithful disciples,
called “saints” in the Bible [Psalm
50:5], will reign for a thousand years during which the
nations will be blessed and "the knowledge of the glory of
the LORD will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea"
[Habakkuk 2:14]. Righteousness will be
the characteristic of the age and the unrighteous will have no
political power during this time [Revelation 20:2-3]
but individuals will still be able to sin and disobey God [Isaiah
People of all nations will be
required to go up to to Jerusalem and the Kingdom of God once
a year to worship the LORD in the feast of tabernacles [Zecheriah
14:16]. Any nations refusing to go up to worship will be
brought into line by the withdrawal of rain [Zecheriah
14:17], which indicates how readily the nations will be
controlled during the Millennium.
The end of the Millennium
At the end of the thousand years,
there will be a rebellion of the nations against Christ [Revelation
20:7-10]. When this is overcome there will be a another
resurrection followed by the judgment of those people who have
lived during the Millennium [Revelation 20:12].
Those rejected among these will
be subject to the second death [Revelation 20:14]
and those accepted will be given eternal life with Jesus and the
saints who have ruled with him for a thousand years. Then everyone
living on the earth will be immortal, and death will have been
completely eradicated [1 Corinthians 15:25].
Jesus will then hand all authority
to his Father, and God will be all in all [1 Corinthians
Belief and baptism
Jesus commanded his disciples to
preach the gospel of the kingdom of God throughout the world with
the promise: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved"
By baptism, which is total immersion
in water [Acts 8:38], disciples are symbolically
buried with Christ and arise from the water, as Jesus did from the
grave, to newness of life [Romans 6:3-4].
They are born again [1 Peter 1:23] to a new
life of obedience to the commandments of God [1
John 3:9], in the hope of being accepted by Jesus [Hebrews
2:11-12] at his return [Mathew 16:27; 2 Timothy
4:8], to live and reign with him in the Kingdom of God [Revelation
The things concerning the Name
of Jesus Christ
After Jesus went to heaven the
apostles preached the gospel of the kingdom of God and the
things concerning the name of Jesus Christ [Acts
8:12]. They taught the people the truth, both about God’s
coming kingdom [Acts 19:8] and about salvation
through his Son Jesus Christ [Acts 4:10-12].
There is only one true and living
God [1 Thessalonians 1:9] as Jesus said:
"Hear, O Israel; The LORD our God is one LORD and thou shalt
love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul,
and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength” [Mark
12:29-30]. God’s name is "Yahweh", sometimes
translated "Jehovah"[Psalm 83:18]
but usually "the LORD" [Psalm 110:1]
or "GOD" [Psalm 141:8] (in capital
God is the creator and sustainer
of the Universe who dwells in heaven in light unapproachable by
mortal man [1 Timothy 6:16]. He is almighty
[Genesis 35:11], all wise [Jude
1:25], and everywhere present [Jeremiah
23:24; Acts 17:28]. He is love [1 John
4:8], He is kind [Psalm 117:2],
compassionate [Psalm 78:38], merciful [Psalm
103:8], longsuffering [Numbers 14:18],
holy [1 Peter 1:15-16], jealous [Exodus
34:14], and righteous in his judgment [Psalm
19:9], rendering to every man according to his deeds [Romans
2:5-11]: "The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering,
and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands
[of generations], forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin,
and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity
of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children,
unto the third and to the fourth generation" [Exodus
34:6-7]; "Behold therefore the goodness and severity
of God" [Romans 11:22].
The Holy Spirit
The Spirit is God’s power
[Luke 1:35; 24:49; Acts 1:8], out of which
everything is made [Psalm 104:30] and by
which all things are kept in existence [Job 34:14,15].
It is by his Spirit that God is ever where present [Psalm
The word 'holy' means 'separate'
so that the Holy Spirit is power which is separated for a particular
purpose such as healing the sick or raising the dead. For example,
the Holy Spirit came upon Mary for Jesus to be born [Luke
Holy Spirit gifts were given
to men in the past. Jesus himself was anointed with Holy Spirit
after his baptism which enabled him to perform miracles [Acts
10:38]. On the day of Pentecost it was given to the apostles
[Acts 2:1-4], who also were able to perform
miracles [Acts 4:16]. They could pass the
Holy Spirit to others [Acts 8:14-17], but
these were not able to pass it on in turn [v19],
so since the apostles and the first disciples died no men have
had the Holy Spirit since [1 Corinthians 13:8,13].
The fact that no-one can perform miracles like the disciples in
the first century is evidence that none has the Holy Spirit today,
and none will have it until Jesus returns. The first disciples
had a "foretaste of the powers of the age to come" [Hebrews
6:5] and in that future age the Holy Spirit will be possessed
by the saints to a greater extent than in the first century [John
14:12] for the benefit of all mankind [Isaiah
Jesus is both the Son of God
and the son of Mary [Luke 1:30-32]. He
came into existence when the power of God overshadowed Mary and
he was born. He had no existence previously but was in the mind
of God as the focus of his purpose [John 1:1,14]
and therefore we read of him in the Old Testament long before
he existed [Psalm 22:16].
It was necessary for Jesus to
possess the same nature as us so he could gain his great victory
over sin and death [Hebrews 2:14-18]. From
his mother Jesus inherited our nature, which is sinful and dying,
so he was tempted in all points as we are [Hebrews
4:15] but, being the Son of God [Hebrews
5:6-9], he was able to resist temptation and live a perfect
life [1 Peter 2:21-22]. From his Father
he inherited God’s mind which enabled him to keep his body
in complete subjection to his Father's will [John
Although Jesus never sinned,
he inherited Adam’s sinful nature [1 John
4:2], and he therefore suffered the consequences of Adam’s
sin, which is death [Romans 6:23]. However,
because he was perfect in character, it was not possible for God
in justice to allow him to remain in the grave, so after three
days he was raised from the dead [Acts 2:24].
By his death Jesus declared God’s
righteousness [Romans 3:25-26], condemned
sin in the flesh [Romans 8:3], and provided
a way by which we might not perish but have everlasting life [John
3:16]. Before we can benefit from this we must become related
to him in the way he has commanded, i.e. by belief and baptism.
Some forty days after his resurrection
[Acts 1:3], Jesus was taken up into heaven
[Acts 1:9], to sit at God’s right
hand [Psalm 110:1] in glory [Acts
7:55]. There he is a High Priest [Hebrews
4:14] and mediator between God and man [1
Timothy 2:5] so that, once we become related to him, we
can approach God in prayer through him [John 14:13,14;
1 John 5:14] and he will intercede for us [Romans
The devil is sin
Jesus destroyed the devil by
his death for it is written of him: "Forasmuch then as the
children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise
took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him
that has the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them
who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage"
[Hebrews 2:14]. It is sin that has the
power of death, "for the sting of death is sin" [1
Corinthians 15:56-57], and Jesus died to save us from death
by destroying sin [Hebrews 9:26].
The word "devil", "diabolos"
in Greek, means "false accuser" [2 Timothy
3:3], and sin is the greatest false accuser because it
causes us to do things which falsely accuse God. The word is used
in the New Testament as the personification of sin. Personification
is common in the Bible, e.g. wisdom [Proverbs
3:13-18] and love [1 Corinthians 13:5]
are personified as lovely women; riches are personified as Mammon
[Matthew 6:24]; and sin is personified as a master who pays out
the wages of death [Romans 6:23].
Jesus fought against the devil,
or sin, all his life and defeated it daily [Luke
4:13]. By his perfect life, death and resurrection, Jesus
destroyed sin [Romans 8:3; Hebrews 10:12].
Since his resurrection, sin has been unable to affect him [Romans
6:9-10] and when he returns he will destroy sin for all
his faithful servants [John 1:29; Hebrews 9:28;
Luke 20:35-36; Revelation 21:4]. At the end of the thousand
year reign of Christ, he will also destroy sin for the faithful
of that age so that sin is totally eradicated from the earth with
no-one subject to sin or death ever again [1 Corinthians
God’s promise in the garden
The victory of Jesus over sin
was promised by God in the garden of Eden. After Adam and Eve
sinned, God pronounced punishment upon the serpent because it
had beguiled them, saying to it: "I will put enmity between
thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it (the
woman’s seed) shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise
his heel" [Genesis 3:15].
This promise gave mankind a hope
because it indicated that sin (symbolised by the serpent) would
eventually be destroyed. Sin would cause great misery and death
but the time would come when a "seed of the woman" would
destroy it, although in the process he would suffer injury. Jesus,
born of a virgin [Matthew 1:23; Luke 1:27,31],
is the "seed of the woman". He fought victoriously against
sin by living a perfect life, and then destroyed it by his death
Although the Romans and Jews
killed him [Acts 4:26-28] by crucifixion
[Acts 2:23], Jesus recovered from this
injury in being raised from the dead [Acts 2:24],
free from sin.
'Satan' is a Hebrew word meaning
'adversary' and anyone or anything can be a Satan. In the Bible,
an angel doing the LORD's bidding [Numbers 22:22,32]; Peter [Matthew
16:23], and many others are called 'Satan'. There can be
good and bad Satans because we can oppose one another for good
'Demon' was the name given by
the Greeks to semi-gods who were supposed to be messengers between
their gods and men. For instance, when they heard about Jesus
they thought he was such a demon [Acts 17:18].
They also considered that mental illness was caused by demon possession.
This was the terminology of the day so that when Jesus healed
mentally ill people this was described as "casting out demons"
[Mark 3:14-15]. Likewise the word 'lunatic'
was used because of the belief that the phases of the moon also
caused mental illness [Matthew 17:15,18].
"By one man sin entered
into the world, and death by sin" [Romans
5:12]. Adam and Eve sinned with the result that death came
into the world [Genesis 2:17] and, as we
all inherit Adam's nature [1 Corinthians 15:48-49]
we all die [Psalm 89:48], and as we all
sin ourselves [Romans 5:12], our natural
destiny is to remain in the grave for ever [Ecclesiastes
Adam was told he was made of
dust and that when he died he would return to the dust [Genesis
3:19]. This is what will happen to us all [Ecclesiastes
3:20]. When we die, we cease to exist [Psalm
49:20]. We become unconscious and are incapable of thinking
[Psalm 146:2-4], loving, hating [Ecclesiastes
9:5-6], or even praising God [Isaiah 38:18-19].
Adam was made a "living
soul" [Genesis 2:7] which the New
Testament explains is a "natural body" [1
Corinthians 15:44-45]. We do not have 'immortal souls'
and this phrase is nowhere to be found in the Bible. It comes
from Greek philosophy. 'Soul' in the Bible means life or being,
and the word is used in the same way as we might say "poor
old soul" or "Save Our Souls", e.g. "The soul
that sinneth, it shall die" [Ezekiel 18:20].
We are not immortal. When we
die, we go into the grave and return to dust, not to Heaven or
any place of eternal suffering. The Lord Jesus Christ who went
to Heaven [Acts 2:32-34], but declared
that no others would do so [John 3:13; 13:33].
The promise is that he will return to be with his disciples on
earth [Acts 1:11].
The word "hell" means
a "covered place" and is used for the grave. We see
the use of this Anglo-Saxon word in "helmet" which is
a covering for the head just as hell is a covered place for a
dead body. Jesus was said to be in "hell" for three
days and nights [Acts 2:31], when he was
actually in the grave [Matthew 12:40].
The Hebrew word for this is "sheol" and the Greek word
There is another word translated
'hell' which in the Greek is 'Gehenna'. This was a valley outside
Jerusalem which was used for the city's rubbish, into which the
bodies of criminals were thrown, and in which Israel had sacrificed
their children by fire to their idols [Jeremiah
7:31]. A fire in Gehenna was kept burning so that it continually
consumed all that was thrown into it [Isaiah 66:24].
Jesus used this as a figure for the judgment of the wicked, warning
his disciples to live righteously that they might not be counted
criminals by him and thrown into "Gehenna” [Mark
Resurrection from the dead
The only hope of escape from
the grave is to be raised from the dead [Ephesians
4:4; 1 Peter 1:3; Philippians 3:7-11], as Jesus was [Acts
17:31]. This hope of Christ’s disciples was expressed
by the apostle Paul, "I count all things but loss...that
I may know him, and the power of his resurrection...if by any
means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead" [Philippians
3:8-11]. There is an definite order to the resurrection:
"Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's
at his coming" [1 Corinthians 15:23].
Thus the resurrection of the faithful will take place when Jesus
returns and this is the first thing he will do, after which he
will also gather to him his disciples who are still alive [1
God has appointed Jesus to be
the judge of the living and the dead [Acts 10:42]
and he will bring to judgment all who are responsible to God [Acts
24:15]. These will include those who have heard his invitation
in the gospel, whether they have believed and been baptized or
not, and they will stand before his judgment-seat to give an
account of themselves [2 Corinthians 5:10].
People who are not counted responsible by God will remain in the
grave for ever [Isaiah 26:13-14].
Those who are rejected by Jesus
will experience the "second death" and return to dust
for ever [Revelation 21:8]. Those who are
accepted by him will have their bodies changed into immortality
and incorruptibility so they live for ever [1
Corinthians 15:51-54; Philippians 3:20-21]. This has been
the wonderful hope of the faithful throughout all the ages. For
example, the Psalmist exclaimed, "As for me, I will behold
thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake,
with thy likeness" [Psalm 17:15].
The source of our knowledge
The Bible alone reveals God’s
truth. In our days, there is no other source of information about
God and his purpose.
The Bible is the wholly inspired
word of God, for "holy men of God spoke as they were moved
by the Holy Spirit" [2 Peter 1:21],
and all their writings in the Scriptures are true and infallible
[2 Timothy 3:16].
The principle that the Bible is
the wholly inspired Word of God is the foundation upon which we
base all our beliefs and we do so with absolute confidence.
What we must do to be saved
Jesus, immediately before
he went to Heaven, commanded his apostles: "Go ye into all
the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth
and is baptized shall be saved" [Mark 16:15-16].
This is what we must do to be saved and this transforms us from
sinners into saints in the eyes of God. However, to receive a saint’s
reward, we must obey the commandments of Christ given through his
apostles [John 14:15; 15:10; Luke 10:16; 1 Corinthians
Jesus himself said "Thou
shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy
soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is
the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou
shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment
greater than these" [Mark 12:30-31].
There are many other commandments
of Christ, the purpose of which is to develop characters in us like
that of God and his Son. If we keep these commandments Jesus will
not be ashamed to call us his brethren and sisters when he returns
[Hebrews 2:12] and will say to us, "Well
done, thou good and faithful servant" [Matthew
25:23] and "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the
kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world"