The Gospel of the Kingdom that Yeshua proclaimed is more comprehensive than his death, burial, and resurrection. Yes, hIs crucifixion and resurrection fulfilled prophecy and ordained him as our heavenly High Priest (Hebrews 5:6) and mediator. However, this was just the tip of the Kingdom of heaven iceberg.
When you examine the gospel record of Yeshua’s ministry you will find that he rarely mentioned his impending death. He focused on behaviors that were necessary to enter the Kingdom and pointed the way to salvation through repentance and obedience. On at least three occasions1 his disciples were given a head’s up regarding his death and resurrection, but they did not understand what he was saying. Moreover, Yeshua did not share this information with the general public until the eve of his death. Following his triumphal entry into Jerusalem “certain Greeks” and “the people who stood by” were told:
“The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.”John 12:23,24 New King James Version
“And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all to myself.” This he said, signifying by what death he would die. The people answered him, “We have heard from the law that the Christ remains forever; and how can you say, “The Son of Man must be lifted up”? Who is this Son of Man?”John 12:32-34 New King James Version
Yeshua’s crucifixion and resurrection fulfilled the covenant promise of a coming Redeemer — the hallmark message of the Law and the Prophets. His promise to draw all men to himself after he was lifted up would be fulfilled via the authority given to him by the Father to resurrect believers. He was that door through which the redeemed sheep could enter into the Kingdom.
Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.John 10:7-9 New King James Version
Our Messiah spent the bulk of his ministry correcting the bad doctrine taught by the religious leaders, stressing the importance of obedience to Torah. He never preached a doctrine of “once saved always saved” because he knew it was a subtle way of giving license to sin. Salvation is conditional and is predicated on our obedience.
So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;Philippians 2:12 New American Standard
Once you were alienated from God and were hostile in your minds, engaging in evil deeds. But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy, unblemished, and blameless in His presence— if indeed you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope of the gospel you heard, which has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven,Colossians 1:21-23 New American Standard
The Kingdom of Heaven: Literal and Tangible
It has been said that the word gospel can mean either the good news about Yeshua, or the good news preached by Yeshua. If you limit the gospel to information about Yeshua (as many churches do) your understanding of the nature and function of the Kingdom will remain veiled.
Unfortunately for some, Yah’s Kingdom has become a kind of esoteric and substance-less existence promoted by gnosticism and Catholicism.
The catechism of the Catholic Church defines heaven thus: “Heaven is the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness. (1024)From Catholic.com But Heaven Sounds So Boring by Paul Senz, 6/16/2021
Terms like “deepest human longings” and “happiness” are subjective. Sadly, many Protestant churches have adopted these teachings, relegating heaven to an ethereal place devoid of materiality and tangibility. They have completely ignored what the Law (Torah) and Prophets had to say. Remember, the New Testament did not exist during the time of Yeshua’s ministry. He often quoted from the Old Testament to explain matters pertaining to the Kingdom.
The Scriptures tell us that Yah’s Kingdom exists now above our heads and is a tangible place where animals, spirit beings, rivers, fruit, mountains, and trees can be found. It is a literal, material place. It is real, bruh.
And they shall come, and shall rejoice in the mount of Zion, and shall come to the good things of God, to a land of corn, and wine, and fruits, and cattle and sheep…Jeremiah 38:12
The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding: and they were not willing to come. Again he sent out other servants, saying, “Tell those who are invited, ‘See, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatted cattle are killed and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.'”Matthew 22:2-4
And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree for the healing of the nations.Revelation 22:1,2
And he answered saying: “This high mountain which thou has seen, whose summit is like the throne of God, is His throne, where the Holy Great One, the Lord of Glory, the Eternal King, will sit, when He shall come down to visit the earth with goodness. And as for this fragrant tree no mortal is permitted to touch it till the great judgment, when He shall take vengeance on all and bring everything to its consummation for ever. It shall then be given to the righteous and holy. Its fruit shall be food for the elect;1 Enoch 25:3-5 The Book of Enoch by R.I. Burns
Yeshua wants us to cling to a hope that surpasses understanding. He wants us to grasp the magnitude of a Kingdom so glorious and precious that we would sacrifice everything in this life to get there. This was the depth of the commitment that martyrs throughout history have willingly made because they considered death a small price to pay. For these brave saints the Kingdom was good news for all who embraced it and longed to be there.
Rather, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no heart has imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him.”1 Corinthians 2:9 Berean Study Bible
Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.James 1:12 Berean Study Bible
Those who heard the call to repent that John the Immerser (Baptist)2 and Yeshua preached had to enlarge their understanding of what biblical salvation meant. They had to cast aside the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees3 which was hypocrisy and doctrine which placed religious tradition4 above obedience to Torah.
“Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned.” From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”Matthew 4:15-17 Berean Study Bible
If you are reading this article you probably identify with those early believers in Messiah who sincerely desired to walk in his footsteps and embrace his Kingdom promises. You may have thought, “Ok, I have repented and believed in Yeshua to save me and usher me into the Kingdom of Heaven by resurrection. Now what?”
Proleptically born-again believers are expected to practice Kingdom behavior. This means we have to make a concerted effort to overcome our fleshly nature and deliberately choose to handle people and situations according to Messiah’s instructions. Our walk is to emulate his. The expression “What would Jesus do?” must be contemplated in every situation because his behavior was/is Kingdom behavior and complies with Torah.
For example, when someone hurts you do you try to reconcile, or do you refuse to speak to them? Do you choose to forgive others or slander them? Do you listen to the voices of unclean spirits, or handle situations based on the wisdom of the Holy Spirit as outlined in the Scriptures?
Yes, these are hard choices. Obeying the Spirit means we must reject “fleshly” behaviors that include lying, gossiping, seeking revenge, adultery, cheating and stealing. When Messiah paid our sin debt, he did not give us license to ignore the commandments. Our lives are being measured against Yah’s moral and ethical standards. (Exodus 20:1-17; Leviticus 18 & 19;Deuteronomy 5:6-21)
Before we move on, there are a few foundational matters to consider:
- Repentance Precedes Redemption
- Obedience to Torah Leads to Righteousness
- Love and Forgiveness are Kingdom Behaviors
- Kingdom Citizenship is Selective
Repentance Precedes Redemption
From the time he began his Galilean ministry until his death, Yeshua’s command to repent was required of anyone seeking admission into the Kingdom.
From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.Matthew 4:17 New King James Version
Repentance is not something to be taken lightly. Godly sorrow that is in agreement with Yah’s will produces a change in the inner man which brings us to salvation. However, the hopeless sorrow of those who do not believe will bring death. Being sorry that you got caught doing something is not repentance.
For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.2 Corinthians 7:10 New Living Translation
In the strictest sense, repentance requires abandoning thoughts and actions which do not agree with the Father’s rules concerning righteous behavior.
So produce fruit that is consistent with repentance [demonstrating new behavior that proves a change of heart, and a conscious decision to turn away from sin];Matthew 3:8 Amplified Bible
Anyone who sincerely repents of sin and stays on the narrow path for the rest of their life will be grafted into covenant Israel. (Romans 11) They will be invited to the wedding banquet.
But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands.Exodus 20:6 New Living Translation
And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.Deuteronomy 5:10 King James Version
Whoever has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me. The one who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and reveal Myself to him.John 14:21 Berean Study Bible
Obedience to Torah Leads to Righteousness
Without realizing it, many Christians have been indoctrinated into dispensationalism5 and antinomianism. Believers in Messiah are taught that “grace” has set them free from the necessity of obeying Torah. Obedience is equated with a rigid, inflexible legalism. They are told that Christ’s righteousness has been “imputed” to them so they bear no responsibility in working out their own salvation. If the notion of imputed righteousness is true, then Yeshua wasted his time preaching the importance of faith and works relative to salvation.
Jesus said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? Only God is good. If you want to have eternal life, you must obey his commandmentsMatthew 19:17 Contemporary English Version
So then, my dear ones, just as you have always obeyed [my instructions with enthusiasm], not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence, continue to work out your salvation [that is, cultivate it, bring it to full effect, actively pursue spiritual maturity] with awe-inspired fear and trembling [using serious caution and critical self-evaluation to avoid anything that might offend God or discredit the name of Christ].2 Philipians 2:12 Amplified Bible
Love and Forgiveness are Kingdom Behaviors
Both Father and Son are living examples of love and forgiveness. Unfortunately our modern culture has distorted the meaning of both. Biblical love is tied to commitment, not feelings. Forgiveness does not weigh transgressions in the balance to determine if a person is worthy to receive it. Yeshua was clear and unequivocal:
A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you also must love one another.John 13:34 Berean Study Bible
This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.John 15:12 Berean Study Bible
Love does no wrong to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.Romans 13:10 Berean Study Bible
We don’t get to decide who is worthy of forgiveness. As we have been forgiven of sin, we are expected to extend forgiveness to others.
Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against any of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself.Matthew 18: 21,22 Berean Study Bible
Then Kaypha approached him, and he said, “My Lord, if my brother commits an offense against me, how many times shall I forgive him? Seven times?” and Yeshua said to him, “I do not say to you until seven times, but until seventy times seven each.”Matthew 18:21,22 Aramaic Bible in Plain English
Kingdom Citizenship is Selective
The Kingdom will not open its doors to everyone. Yeshua was clear — “Not every one who says to me, ‘Master, Master,’ will enter the Kingdom of the Heavens, but only those who are obedient to my Father who is in Heaven.” (Matthew 7:21) Only those who continue to do the will of the Father throughout their lifetime will be worthy of citizenship.
I used to believe the “once saved always saved” dogma. However, as I have grown in my understanding of the Scriptures, I know that this statement is not true. How can it be? As a child grows and is weaned from milk to meat, we as believers in Messiah are likewise expected to grow and mature. We grow and mature by feeding daily on Yah’s word. Yeshua says we must continue to abide in him and remain faithful until we die.
If “once saved always saved” then I can live a life of reckless abandon and still expect to enter the Kingdom — right? Once saved always saved is a license to sin. It cheapens the price that was paid by Yeshua on the tree. It degrades the notion of spiritual fidelity. If “once saved always saved” then why did Yeshua consistently warn people whom he had healed or rescued to go and sin no more?
But I tell you that men will give an account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.Matthew 12: 36,37 Berean Study Bible
Therefore, beloved, since you already know these things, be on your guard so that you will not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure standing. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity.2 Peter 3:17,18 Berean Study Bible
We guard ourselves from being carried away by the error of bad doctrine by taking the time to read the Gospel message, which begins in Genesis and ends in Revelation. Bible canon is an integrated, cohesive message. When you remove the Old Testament/New Testament barriers, the Gospel of the Kingdom narrative is easily understood. The Gospel message expands beyond the death, burial, and resurrection of Yeshua.
What Is the Gospel of the Kingdom?
Simply put, the Gospel of the Kingdom is the good news of a tangible and real heaven coming down to earth. It is the blessed hope and culmination of the promise made in Genesis of a coming Redeemer. The descent of New Jerusalem, routing of the wicked from the earth, and the resurrection of the righteous from Sheol, are key events associated with the Day of the Lord.
Our High Priest Yeshua, in concert with the angels, is busy right now interceding on behalf of all believers destined to inherit this Kingdom.
But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that have come, He went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made by hands and is not a part of this creation. He did not enter by the blood of goats and calves, but He entered the Most Holy Place once for all by His own blood, thus securing eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that their bodies are clean, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself unblemished to God, purify our consciences from works of death, so that we may serve the living God!Hebrews 9:11-15 Berean Study Bible
For Christ is the end of the law, to bring righteousness to everyone who believes.Romans 10:4 Berean Study Bible
The Greek word for end is telos, which is defined as the principal end, aim or purpose of something or someone. It is part of the English word telescope. Skopos (scope) means a target for shooting at, as in hitting the mark. In other words, Yeshua is the goal that we aim at to become more like him. Like a telescope zooming in on something you look at, we observe Yeshua’s obedience to the law and strive to be like him.
Messiah being the goal of the law does not mean his righteousness was imputed, or transferred, to my (sin debt) account. This absolves the believer of his or her responsibility to obey the law; and sin is transgression of the law. (1 John 3:4)
Just as the “law” has been said to apply only to the “Jews” by the church, so has the word Torah. Torah is simply directions or instructions in righteousness given to us by the Most High. These laws are moral guidelines for us to follow in order to commune with the Father and have a blessed and fruitful life. Torah is not something exclusive to the “Jews” that some branches of Christianity oftentimes make it out to be. When we are taught to dismiss Torah, we place ourselves in spiritual/legal jeopardy.
Yeshua, Our High Priest
The Gospel of the Kingdom was known, taught and understood by Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the Prophets, and Apostles. They knew that all of humanity was tied to a covenant of blood until a Redeemer would come. He would pour out his blood on an earthly altar order to initiate a New Covenant with mankind where the shedding of blood would no longer be necessary. This New Covenant is not in force now but will be after the Day of the Lord resurrection event. (Hebrews 9:15-28)
Yeshua’s death was not “sacrificial” in the sense that he was taken against his will and killed in an effort to appease an angry god. He voluntarily laid down his life as a freewill offering in obedience to the Father. The Prophets and Patriarchs understood that the sacrificial rituals they performed are in essence pointing to a Redeemer. The offering of Messiah’s blood was not poured out on an altar in heaven. It was poured out on the alter of the earth.6 (Exodus 20:24; Exodus 23:18,19 LXX; Leviticus 17:11)
Yeshua’s blood secured our redemption by being pure and undefiled. This qualified him to become our sinless High Priest who acts as our mediator with the Father, and will ultimately resurrect us to eternal life. Hallelujah!
The way to the Kingdom is through the door of death. We get there by enduring to the end.
1 Matthew 16: 21-23; Matthew 17:22,23; Matthew 20:17-19
2 Matthew 3:1-3; 11
3 Matthew 16:6,11&12; Luke 13:21
4 Matthew 15:3; Mark 7:8,9 &13
5 Yeshua never taught dispensationalism. It was a belief system introduced in the 1830s by John Nelson Darby. Dispensationalists split the church and Israel into two different factions. It exempts the church from having to obey Torah and teaches that the promises made to Israel (the “Jews”) are different from the ones made to Christians. Dispensationalists teach that the Church will be raptured before the Tribulation and do not have to obey Torah (which Judaism refers to as the Law of Moses).
6 This makes more sense if you understand the biblical creation model. See The Gospel Worth Dying For, “Biblical Cosmography”, Chapter 7