This Gospel of the Kingdom

When asked by His disciples, “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Mat 24:3), Christ’s first response was “Take heed that no man deceive you” (v. 4). His coming and the end of the world would be preceded by a vast amount of deception. But since He gave fair warning to “take heed,” therefore if we’re deceived and perish, it will be on us. And the deceivers will be many, “For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (v. 5). They’ll be the predominant voices teaching the Scriptures. That they’re saying “I am Christ” isn’t that they’ll be claiming to be the Christ themselves. Rather, they’ll be coming in His name, confessing that He is the Christ and epitomizing sheep completely, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Mat 7:15). There will be many and they will be extremely effective. We’ve been warned.

The Protestant message of sola fide or “faith alone” being preached in the world today isn’t the message Jesus Christ preached: “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom” (Mat 4:23); “And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom” (Mat 9:35); “Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God” (Mar 1:14); “I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also” (Luk 4:43). And it’s being taught that when Jesus foretold “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” (Mat 24:14), that this is being fulfilled by all the missionaries going out preaching sola fide to all people groups. But that’s not true. It’s “this gospel of the kingdom” that must be preached in all the world—the gospel of the kingdom Christ preached.

Christ’s gospel that “shall be preached in all the world for a witness [martyrion 3142] unto all nations,” will be fulfilled by His two witnesses, “And I will give power unto my two witnesses [martys 3144], and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth” (Rev 11:3). They’ll be prophets of God, “these two prophets” (v. 10), with miraculous power reminiscent of Elijah and Moses, “These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will” (v. 6). And it will take miracles of this caliber to get people to listen to the true gospel message of the kingdom.

The miracles, signs, and wonders worked by Jesus Christ and His apostles confirmed they were speaking for God and preaching the true gospel message: “the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me” (Jhn 5:36); “the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me” (Jhn 10:25); “believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him” (Jhn 10:38); “believe me for the very works’ sake” (Jhn 14:11); “Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you” (Act 2:22); “preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following” (Mar 16:20); “Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds” (2Co 12:12); “confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost” (Heb 2:3-4). It was the working of miracles that enabled the apostles to evangelize the world with the true gospel message.

Paul foretold of a time when people would be deceived to such an extent that they wouldn’t listen to the truth, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables [mythos 3454]” (2Ti 4:3-4). We’re now living in that time. People won’t listen to sound doctrine because they’re in bondage to the myths that God is three Persons, salvation is by faith, and that their hope is heaven.

Just before the end, however, two prophets of God will preach the true gospel to all the world, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world.” They’ll preach that we must live righteously to enter the kingdom, “That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Mat 5:20), that we must do what we’ve heard Christ command, “whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them … every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not” (Mat 7:24,26), “For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified” (Rom 2:13), “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only” (Jas 1:22). They will preach “this gospel of the kingdom.”

The Tri-Part Beast

“And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy” (Rev 13:1). In this vision, John stood on the shoreline in Judea looking toward the west across the Mediterranean—the “great sea” (Dan 7:2). It was westward in Rome where this beast arose, “And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority” (Rev 13:2). It’s three different kinds of beasts yet one beast—a tri-part beast. And since the dragon gave this beast his power, therefore either of them are worshipped the same, “And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast” (Rev 13:4). And we were told earlier that the dragon is the devil, “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world” (Rev 12:9). Therefore, worship of this beast is worship of the devil.

Daniel wrote, “And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things? And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.” (Dan 12:8-10). The wise will understand and John gave that understanding, “Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six” (Rev 13:18).

“And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name” (Rev 13:17). There are three either/or equivalents: the mark or the name or the number. Since the number of the name “Trinity” is tri- or three, therefore to “count the number” would be to count the three digits in “six hundred threescore and six.” And since an entity is a being, then a three-part being is a tri-entity or a trinity. If the beast is in fact the tri-part God of the Trinity, then its seven heads would be the seven main Trinitarian organizations: Roman Catholic Church, Reformed, Anglican, Methodist, Lutheran, Pentecostal, and Baptist. Therefore, “the name of blasphemy” upon each of its seven heads is the name “Trinity” upon these seven religious groups.

The Greek mysterion in “MYSTERY [mysterion 3466], BABYLON THE GREAT” (Rev 17:5), means “hidden.” Hidden within Babylon past is Babylon present, “the beast that was, and is not, and yet is” (v. 8), “it once was, now is not, and yet will come” (NIV). Three beasts from the past form again into one great fourth beast, “And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another” (Dan 7:3), “The first was like a lion” (v. 4), “a second, like to a bear” (v. 5), “another, like a leopard” (v. 6), “After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast” (v. 7), “The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth” (v. 23). This fourth beast is what John saw rise from Rome that would be the former three but in one. Hidden within three kingdoms of the past is the fourth kingdom of today.

This tri-part beast came up from the abyss, “the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit [abyssos 12]” (Rev 11:7), “The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit [abyssos 12]” (Rev 17:8). And that’s where the devil will be cast during the Millennium, “And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit [abyssos 12] and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit [abyssos 12]” (Rev 20:1-3). The source of this beast is the devil from the abyss.

God’s people worshipped beasts in the past, “And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things” (Rom 1:23). And the beast itself is a trinity, “And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion.” It’s extremely fast like a leopard that can’t be outrun, extremely strong like a bear that can’t be fought, and its roar is extremely fierce like a lion that can’t be faced. It can only be overcome by the Lord.

Just what is the terrifying roar of this beast? Its cry is manifold: even questioning the doctrine of the Trinity is the danger of blasphemy against the Spirit for which there will never be forgiveness; if we deny it, we’ll be shamed, labeled a heretic, and deemed as never truly saved; we can’t understand the Scriptures on our own; anything disagreeing with it is new, and if it’s new it’s not true. Its roar tests us—whether we fear it, or fear God. Will we listen to the doctrines of men, or the doctrine of Christ, “Everyone on the side of truth listens to me” (Jhn 18:37 NIV)?