Bob Thiel, Editor-in-Chief.
Published 2014 by the Continuing Church of God
Preface: This course is highly based upon the personal correspondence course developed in 1954 that began under the direction of the late C. Paul Meredith in the old Radio Church of God. Various portions have been updated for the 21st century (though much of the original writing has been retained). It also has more scriptural references, as well as information and questions not in the original course. Unless otherwise noted, scriptural references are to the NKJV, copyright Thomas Nelson Publishing, used by permission. The KJV, sometimes referred to as the Authorized Version is also often used. Additionally, Catholic-approved translations such as the New Jerusalem Bible (NJB) are sometimes used as are other translations.
Here’s good news . . . the MESSAGE sent from Heaven
WHY ISN’T the true gospel of Jesus Christ being preached by many today? Why haven’t most heard Jesus’ own gospel — the message He preached?
Understand that JESUS came into the world not as a human philosopher or idealist but as A-MESSENGER DIRECT FROM GOD, the Creator of heaven and earth, the One who gives you your very life and breath, the One who is All-Wise, and who knows the end from the beginning. Realizing this, you had better heed His message!
From the beginning to the end of the New Testament, that MESSAGE—that GOSPEL—is repeatedly taught. And yet we have multitudes of denominations, teaching a different message than Jesus did— and all of them appropriating Christ’s name.
The truth is that men seem unwilling to take JESUS’ MESSAGE literally. Men fail to realize that the same God who inspired Isaiah, Daniel, Micah, and the other prophets to write of His coming Kingdom, was the One who sent Jesus into the world to PREPARE THE WAY for that Kingdom.
Jesus BEGAN His ministry when He 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” (Mark 1: 14- 15, KJV).
Jesus proclaimed repentance in connection with the gospel of God’s Kingdom, or government. You have to be willing to change — to repent of your ways — in order to enter that Kingdom.
Notice that Jesus didn’t say, “Just believe in ME.” He said, “Believe the GOSPEL.’’ What was this gospel—or good news? Jesus came preaching the good news—not only about Himself as Savoir—but about the KINGDOM of God—the MESSAGE that God is Supreme Ruler of the universe, that He is soon going to establish His government on this earth, and that we should acknowledge His rule in our lives now. This is the true gospel! That is the message Jesus brought to this earth from God the Father!
Message Perverted Today
Most of you have heard a vague, sentimental gospel which DENIES the message Jesus brought from the Father about the SOON-COMING, WORLD-RULING KINGDOM OF GOD.
Often, you hear a lot of vague, spiritual-sounding ideas like the following: “By Christians everywhere working together to bring peace, tolerance, and brotherly love, the Kingdom of God may at last be established in the hearts of all mankind.”
Have you heard this kind of talk? Probably you have, because this is the kind of philosophy set forth by hundreds of the more “modern” Protestant ministers throughout the world today. It is also consistent with the ecumenical pronouncements coming out of the Vatican and some of the Eastern Orthodox churches. In spite of the gripping fact of the prophesied DOOM of this present world which we studied in the first lesson, many of these MEN (and in the case of certain Protestant ministers, WOMEN) apparently see no need of God’s intervention in human affairs. They TRY TO “SPIRITUALIZE AWAY” this prophesied intervention, and to hide their eyes from THE REALITY: mounting world cataclysm!
The “Kingdom of God” is often used as a sort of catch-all phrase to define the state of idealism which humans hope to attain some day through their OWN efforts. Of course, the name of God is employed to give the idea a more “spiritual” flavor, but everyone knows that the results would depend on man’s ingenuity.
Yes, most of you have heard humankind’s gospel about the person of Christ, and sentimental theories about a so-called “kingdom” just to be set up in your “heart.” But spiritual TRUTH does not proceed from human ideas and reason; it comes as a revelation from God. It is contained in His Word—the Bible.
Does your Bible reveal God’s kingdom as an objective reality—A LITERAL KINGDOM which will rule this earth? If so, then who is to be the King of the Kingdom? What are its laws? When will it take over the rule of this earth?
As you study this introduction—and the questions to follow––keep these questions in mind. The answers are found in your Bible.
Gospel Revealed to Mary
Before Jesus was born, an angel told Mary of His destiny:
“He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father DAVID. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:32-33).
This inspired angelic messenger from God revealed to Mary important truths of which this world is in total ignorance! He revealed that CHRIST would someday take over an actual throne — an EARTHLY THRONE — the THRONE OF DAVID! History and prophecy both prove that David’s throne is in existence today – awaiting Christ’s return! (If you do not already understand this truth, you may read Dr. Thiel’s paper on “Anglo – America in Prophecy & the Tribes of Israel” available at: http://www.cogwriter.com/britishisrael.htm).
The angel also said that Christ was to rule over the house of Jacob FOREVER. The angel did not say “reign spiritually, invisibly, in the hearts of believers.” He said “reign over the house of Jacob” a literal nation. He was to rule from an actual earthly throne.
Jesus Preached the Real Gospel of the Kingdom
Jesus himself preached throughout His entire ministry “the gospel of the Kingdom” (Matthew 9:35) – the GOOD NEWS OF HIS COMING WORLD RULE. The apostles knew that He would return and bring this present “world” (the inspired Greek word means “age”) to an end by establishing His Kingdom over all nations. They asked Jesus for details, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3, NKJV) – “the end of this age.”
It is well known that the early New Testament church expected Christ’s return to this earth. To teach them that this would not occur until a great apostasy first set in, Paul was inspired to write that there would be a great “falling away” – a great APOSTASY from the truth – before Christ returned (2 Thessalonians 2:3). A version of it had commenced in the church even as he wrote these words: “there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ” (Galatians 1:7).
Then in our time — at the crisis at the close of this age — CHRIST SHALL RETURN TO “RULE ALL NATIONS WITH A ROD OF IRON’’ (Revelation 19:15) for a thousand years, or millennium (Revelation 20:4) here on this earth (Revelation 5:10).
Stop and think. Do these scriptures indicate that the Kingdom of God was to be the church, or that the church — humans themselves — would improve this world’s society to the place that it would be called the Kingdom of God? No!
Even the world-recognized historian, Edward Gibbon, in his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, shows us that the EARLY CHRISTIAN CHURCH BELIEVED in Christ’s literal return to set up God’s Kingdom here on earth. In his well-known 15th chapter on the Christian church, he says:
“The ancient and popular doctrine of the Millennium was intimately connected with the second coming of Christ. As the works of creation had been finished in six days, their duration in their present state, according to a tradition attributed to the prophet Elijah, was fixed at six thousand years. By the same analogy it was inferred that this long period of labor and contention, which was now almost elapsed, would be succeeded by a joyful Sabbath of a thousand years; and that Christ, with the triumphant band of the saints and the elect who had escaped death, or who had been miraculously revived, would reign upon earth till the time appointed for the last and general resurrection.”
Here is amazing proof even from a famous secular historian that Christ’s message of God’s rule here on earth was taught and believed by early Christians. Those who lived shortly after Christ, had the TRUTH. It had not been LOST yet! If one looks at early writings from the second century, it is clear that many leaders that professed Christ, taught the millennium and the seven thousand year plan.
Jesus and others in the New Testament taught it:
31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: (Matthew 25:31-34)
9…”You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, 10 And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:9-10).
4 And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4-6)
In the Old Testament, the Prophet Micah was inspired to write:
1 Now it shall come to pass in the latter days That the mountain of the Lord’s house Shall be established on the top of the mountains, And shall be exalted above the hills; And peoples shall flow to it. 2 Many nations shall come and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, To the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, And we shall walk in His paths.” For out of Zion the law shall go forth, And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. 3 He shall judge between many peoples, And rebuke strong nations afar off; They shall beat their swords into plowshares, And their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, Neither shall they learn war anymore. 4 But everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree, And no one shall make them afraid; For the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken. (Micah 4:1-4)
Both humans and animals will do better during this time. The New Testament confirms that the whole creation will benefit during this time:
19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God (Romans 8:19-21).
The time of the “glorious liberty of the children of God” that the Apostle Paul is speaking of, happens at the return of Jesus Christ and the establishment of His kingdom.
And this is a time when the people of God will be used to help restore a damaged planet:
12 Those from among you
Shall build the old waste places;
You shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach,
The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In (Isaiah 58:12)
Thus, the people of God will make it easier for people to dwell in cities (and elsewhere) during this time of restoration. The world will truly be a better place.
WHO said that Christ was to establish God’s rule here on earth? The answer is that this message was proclaimed by the Old Testament prophets, by the New Testament apostles and evangelists, by Jesus Christ himself, and is even referred to in numerous secular histories.
This message is the very heart of the true gospel. Study the following questions in your own Bible, and prove this with your very own eyes.
Final Important Instructions
Now we are ready for the actual lesson. Is your Bible in front of you? If not, please don’t read another word!
STOP RIGHT HERE! Go and GET YOUR BIBLE.
Also several sheets of paper, and a pencil or pen, so that you can MAKE NOTES to help you remember what you learn.
This course is based on the New King James Version because it is intended to be a literal translation and uses a version of the English language that people commonly use in the early 21st century. For most of the lesson, you can use other translations, but the questions and answers specifically refer to the NKJV unless otherwise stated. So, for most, the NKJV is the best choice to use with the Study the Bible Course.
Now we are ready to begin this lesson. Remember you must open your Bible to every passage we give you in this lesson. Do not simply believe us (the teams directed by late C. Paul Meredith and/or Bob Thiel)—believe what the Bible really teaches.
You must READ, and re-read, and actually study EVERY PASSAGE IN YOUR BIBLE. This is a Bible STUDY course—a study of the Bible, not just a study of these words we sent you. Our words are intended to show you where to look in your Bible—to help you to know how to study the Bible.
Now, with your Bible, a good DICTIONARY, and your note paper and pencil or pen on a desk or table before you, here is the method of study: Write down, neatly on your note paper, the caption “Lesson 2, Part 1,” and underscore it. WRITE DOWN the lesson heading and question section heading. Then, underneath, number each question, and write down the answer to each, in your own handwriting (some of you may prefer to type or text). As an EXAMPLE, for the question section, this is what you will write on your note paper: Coming Kingdom Proclaimed by Prophets of Old. Then write:
1. Amos 3:7—“Surely the Lord God does nothing, Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.”
Also write in any other thoughts you want to remember. Study and understand this.
Keep these lessons and your own notes and answers fastened in the binder. DO NOT SEND US YOUR ANSWERS TO THESE REGULAR LESSONS. Keep them for reference. (It may be that we will offer a free certificate to those who complete the entire course and/or significant portions of it, but that would be after 2014, and we would expect to announce this online and likely elsewhere. If we do end up so, we would ask that you simply send in a copy of the lessons you completed.)
By writing down all these answers, and by writing down all the words of the every Bible passage that answers a question, you will find you will REMEMBER what you have learned. It takes a little more time, but you will really LEARN your lessons that way, and remember them.
Yet some ask, “Is this WRITING really NECESSARY?”
We want you to truly understand the Bible. Christians are to be teachers (cf. Hebrews 5:12) and need to know their Bibles well enough to “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15, KJV).
Writing down what you are learning will help you better remember.
Furthermore, YOU CAN QUICKLY REVIEW YOUR LESSONS, as necessary, if you have them in this form. Also, it will aid you greatly in explaining the Bible to others.
WE ARE GIVING YOU THE BRIEF, COMPREHENSIVE, TRUE OUTLINE OF THE BIBLE. You will want to refer to these lessons and the explanation of them in your own words time after time in future years as you apply them to clear up related points in the Bible. Remember, you are to spend at least a half hour every day studying your bible with this Study the Bible Course.
Now READ THE LARGE TYPE WORDS IN THIS FINAL INSTRUCTION SECTION right down to the end of this section—pay no attention to the small type. AND SUDDENLY—YOU HAVE A FLASH REVIEW OF ALL THE IMPORTANT POINTS! These serve as an INDEX, too. Simple and effective. All the material in the Lessons is written this way. USE THE LARGE WORDS FOR THIS PURPOSE!
Coming Kingdom Proclaimed by Prophets of Old
- 1. Does God intervene in world affairs without first revealing it to His prophets? Amos 3:7.
- 2. Hundreds of years ago did ISAIAH, the prophet, FORESEE a time when God shall establish His Kingdom here on earth? Isaiah 2:1-4. Is it pictured as being a LITERAL KINGDOM ON EARTH? Will there be “mountains” (gentile nations) in heaven? Will there be strife and war in that Kingdom as there is now among nations? Verse 4.
- 3. Is God’s rule over this earth and changing its governance FORETOLD BY DANIEL? Daniel 2:36-45. Note verse 44 particularly. Will other kingdoms still be in existence when Christ begins to set up His rule? Verse 44. What will happen to them? Does all this indicate that Daniel knew that God’s Kingdom would be a real kingdom with power over all the nations?
- 4. Did DAVID speak of God ruling over the earth? Psalm 67:4.
- 5. Did MICAH say God would establish His Kingdom on the earth in the future? Micah 4:1-5.
- 6. Where does JEREMIAH say the throne of this Kingdom will be located? Jeremiah 3:17.
- 7. Who did Isaiah prophesy will rule over the earth? Read Isaiah 11:1-4. Who is the “stem of Jesse”? Acts 13:22. Is it David or someone else? Then who is the rod or shoot? Verse 23. And who is the branch that grows out of Jesse’s roots? Jeremiah 23:5-6. Thus it is DOUBLY PROVED Christ will rule.
- 8. Did Daniel foresee a time when the Saints will be given rule over the earth in God’s Kingdom along with Christ? Daniel 7:18, 21-22, 27.
- 9. From our study, don’t we find that the Old Testament prophets and evangelists all agree in telling us that God will intervene in human affairs and establish His government — His Kingdom — here on earth under Christ? Does God’s basic purpose ever change? Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8.
- 10. Does Revelation show that Christians are going to reign on the earth with Jesus? Revelation 5:8-10, 20:4.
- 11. We have now seen that God, through many inspired Old Testament prophets, gave notice to the world of this coming marvelous event. But, in addition to this, did He also send Christ as a special messenger to proclaim in advance this glorious happening to us? And has He even sent ADDITIONAL MESSENGERS to proclaim the good news or gospel to us who live IN THESE END TIMES?
CHRIST – the Special Messenger
- 1. Was JESUS SENT WITH A MESSAGE? John 6:38; 12:49; 14:24.
- 2. From where did Jesus come to this earth? John 3:13. Who sent Him? Verse 34.
- 3. To whom was He sent? Matthew 15:24; John 1:11.
Comment: Christ was sent primarily to “His own” own nation—the the House of Israel—with His message of the Gospel! CONCERNING THE COMING OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD. Later, however, He prophesied His disciples would proclaim the MESSAGE TO THE WHOLE WORLD: Matthew 24:14; 28:19-20.
- 4. In the first sermon directed to Gentiles, Peter tells more which verifies what we have learned, and adds to our knowledge about this New Testament message. Read Acts 10:36-37 and answer these questions: (1) Who sent this word, or message? (2) To whom was it sent first—to Gentiles? (3) By whom was it preached? (4) Where was it published or preached? (5) Where did Christ begin preaching it? (6) When did this message first begin?
- 5. Read Mark 1:14-15. (1) When did this Message begin? (2) Who preached it? (3) From where did He begin preaching it? (4) What was the message, sent from God, that He preached?
- 6. In Mark 1, compare verse 1 with verse 14. Is the gospel of Jesus Christ the very gospel He preached?—the news of the coming of the Kingdom of God? It is NOT PRIMARILY A MESSAGE ABOUT HIMSELF PERSONALLY.
Comment: Few know “the gospel of Christ.” PEOPLE TODAY are taught in the churches that the “gospel of Christ” concerns only the events in the life of Christ, and of His being their Savior. They are NOT TOLD THE ENTIRE GOSPEL MESSAGE he brought—the gospel of the coming kingdom!
- 7. What does the expression in Mark 1:15, “the Kingdom of God is at hand,” mean? Remember, the gospel of the Kingdom which Jesus preached was not a message about restoring self-rule to the people in Judea 2000 years ago. How do we know? Let’s read on.
- 8. When the Jews wanted to make Jesus their king, what did He do? John 6:15. When the disciples asked if Jesus would restore the Kingdom then, what was His reply? Acts 1:6-7. Did Jesus deny the Kingdom would be of that age? Did He imply it would OCCUR IN a future age—OUR AGE? Matthew 24:3, NIV. (Recall that the Greek word for “world” means age—not earth.) Rather, the meaning of Mark 1:15 is that the time is “at hand” for us to repent so we can qualify to enter the Kingdom.
Comment: The word “GOSPEL” MEANS “GOOD NEWS,” or “Glad Tidings” of the Kingdom! God knows far more than we can realize, what a joyous place it will be! FOUR THINGS are necessary to constitute A KINGDOM: (1) territory of a (2) king or Ruler, over (3) subjects or citizens, with (4) laws and government. Therefore we might define the true Gospel as “the good news of the territory of a king ruling over subjects with laws and government.”
The TRUE GOSPEL, THEREFORE, INCLUDES the message about Christ who is the King—but it is more than that. Christ, when He comes, will become Ruler over all nations. It includes the message of salvation, which means becoming a citizen in the Kingdom (Ephesians 2:19). God’s laws will be the law of the land.
Apostles Continue the Message!
- 1. Did Jesus command his MINISTERS TO PREACH this sample gospel? Luke 9:1-2. As the apostles went to the nations, were they to teach the same message Jesus had taught them? Matthew 28:19-20.
- 2. Did PHILIP, the evangelist, preach the gospel of the Kingdom to the Gentile Samaritans? Acts 8:12.
- 3. Did PAUL preach the gospel of the Kingdom? Acts 19:8 and 14:21-22. Among the Gentiles in Ephesus, what gospel did Paul preach? Acts 20:25. What gospel did the Jews at Rome finally reject? Acts 28:23-28.
- 4. Following the Jews’ rejection of the gospel, did Paul preach the same gospel to the Gentiles? Verse 31. Then Paul preached the gospel of the Kingdom of God to both Jews and Gentiles, didn’t he?
- 5. Would FALSE MINISTERS attempt to preach “DIFFERENT” GOSPELS—other gospels instead of the true gospel of Christ? Galatians 1:6. How many gospels are right, besides the one which Paul preached? Galatians 1:8. Are these other gospels actually perversions of the gospel of the Kingdom brought by Christ? Galatians 1:7.
- 6. Since there are false ministers, wouldn’t they have to PERVERT Christ’s message of the real territory, the rulers, the citizens, the laws, or the government of the Kingdom of God? Would they not sometimes appear to be true? 2 Corinthians 11:13-15.
- 7. What gospel is to be preached and published today? Matthew 24:14; Mark 13:10.
Comment: The preachers, as a whole, in these dark days do not preach the gospel of the imminent establishment of God’s personal control over the earth and the preparation which we should make in view of this. Rather, their energies are occupied with the “Ecumenical Movement”—a movement of men’s churches to band themselves together for mutual protection!
You have now seen that the gospel message is proclaimed from one end of your Bible to the other. It is not some idea of uninspired men, but has been proclaimed “by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:21). It is the world’s last hope for peace!
Let us REJOICE in this good news!
PEACE IS AHEAD! The next vital part of this lesson will reveal when Jesus Christ will return to set up the perfect rule or Kingdom of God on this earth. Let’s understand this all-important question.
WHEN Will Christ Come?
The agnostic or the atheist may ridicule the teachings of Jesus Christ. But non-believers cannot deny that Jesus came over 1900 years ago!
It is one of the most conclusively proved facts of history.
Yet what few realize is that Jesus promised, “I WILL COME AGAIN!” (John 14:3).
At his ascension, the apostles were startled by the appearance of two divine messengers who said: “This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11).
Here we have two angelic messengers sent direct from God to confirm the words of Jesus that He would come again. The EARLY inspired New Testament CHURCH KNEW Jesus meant what He said. They believed it. They taught it. But the world has lost it.
Gradually, says Edward Gibbon in his famous history, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, chapter 15, the fact that Jesus must come a second time to intervene in world affairs was regarded as unnecessary. Within a century and a half after Christ it was treated as a profound allegory—as a fable of the Jews. Finally, after the time of Emperor Constantine, it was regarded as rank heresy and punishable by death. The WORLD still RIDICULES THE IDEA because they do not wish to believe it!
Which Idea is Right?
In this frightening age of the atom and other weapons of mass destruction, some sober thought is once again being directed toward the possibility of divine intervention of Christ’ return. Yet among those who realize that God alone can save humanity, there is utter confusion—there are literally hundreds of human ideas concocted to explain when, how and why Jesus will return.
The CHURCHES are IN CONFUSION and doubt. Most do not believe God will intervene, yet they are afraid that man will obliterate human life!
It is high time we realize when Jesus will fulfill His promise, “I will come again!”
Outstanding among the hundreds of differing ideas are THREE GENERAL CONCEPTS about Christ’s return.
Is the Church the Kingdom?
Certainly the most deeply rooted is the assumption that the churches today constitute the kingdom of god and that Jesus Christ came the second time through the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). Since Jesus declared in the gospel that He would return to rule, it is taught that Jesus committed to the apostles and their successors the right to rule and judge the nations.
From this concept developed the practice in the Middle Ages for the Church to rule over nations and to impose its will on the temporal rulers of this earth. This made the church—which called itself the kingdom of God — a part of this world, a part of this system of human rule. It OVERLOOKS the fact that Jesus said: “My Kingdom, is not of this world”— this system (John 18: 36).
This is the age of mortal human rule guided by the influence of Satan (Luke 4:5-6). Jesus’ Kingdom is NOT OF THIS AGE. It is of the world tomorrow -“the world to come” (Hebrews 2:5).
When asked if He would restore the Kingdom at that time, Jesus replied to the apostles: “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me . . . and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:6-8).
Never did Christ command His apostles to rule the nations of this world. Instead, He commanded them to witness and preach the gospel!
Notice that the apostles were not to know the time of the establishment of the Kingdom, but they were to be filled with the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. The coming of the Holy Spirit could not have been the second coming of Jesus Christ. Instead, the apostles were empowered by the Holy Spirit to be witnesses — of what? — of the resurrection and the gospel of the Kingdom. Jesus ordered the disciples to “teach all nations.” He promised to be with them in Spirit until the end of this age — the end of this present world of human misrule (Matthew 28:19-20).
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” said Jesus (Matthew 24: 14). The end of what? This age, this world order — when Jesus will come again! (Matthew 24:3). The Great Tribulation will begin and the world will undergo tremendous change (Matthew 24:21-22).
Christ did not return to found the Kingdom in the days of the apostles. Instead, He ordered the gospel preached to prepare the world for His return — His intervention in human affairs to rule this world for 1000 years (Revelation 20:4).
After the Millennium
Another and more modern concept is the doctrine that Jesus will come only after peace and harmony permeate the earth and all nations are in perfect accord! Various Catholics and Protestants seem to believe a version of this. What WOEFUL MISUNDERSTANDING of world events and Bible prophecy! The Bible warn there will be false declarations of peace (e.g. 1 Thessalonians 5:3).
The restoration of peace and harmony follows the intervention of Jesus Christ. Jesus is now in heaven. It is He “whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration” (Acts 3:21).
When Jesus returns, “The ambassadors of peace shall weep bitterly. The highways lie waste” (Isaiah 33:7-8). The earth will be in chaos — not at peace — before He returns.
CHRIST DOES NOT COME AFTER A MILLENNIUM (1000 years) of perfect human rule.
It is to abolish human misrule and establish the Kingdom — the rule — of God that Jesus returns a second time. Resurrected Christians “lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4, last part). If they reign with Christ, Christ must already have come before the 1000 years commenced!
Before the Millennium!
The third general teaching is that CHRIST COMES BEFORE THE MILLENNIUM. This was the doctrine taught in the early new testament church before the truth was lost! The early inspired apostolic Church knew that Christ was to come before the millennium.
The second coming of Christ is a vital part of the plan of god. It is all through the Bible – Old and New Testaments. God has been declaring the end or conclusion of His plan “from the beginning” through His prophets and apostles. But the world has not heeded their message (Isaiah 46: 10).
Jesus made VERY PLAIN just before His ascension that He would return visibly after a fixed sequence of events. He gave an outline of these events to His disciples upon the Mount of Olives. You will find it recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21.
About sixty years later He gave the Revelation to John, giving a more elaborate and detailed account of world events that lead up to the Lord’s day — the day of the Lord, the day when Christ returns.
In Matthew 24:32-33 Jesus gave a parable so that we might know the time of His return. Since Jesus put such stress upon watching and waiting lest that day come when we are not aware, it is high time that we study and grasp the significance of the second coming of Christ!
When Will Christ Return?
- 1. Did the people in Jesus’ day anticipate that the Kingdom of God would be established in their time? Luke 19:11. What did Jesus speak to provide an answer to this mistaken idea? Verse 12. Compare Matthew 25: 13-30 with the parable in Luke 19:11-27.
- 2. In this PARABLE is Jesus picturing Himself as THE NOBLEMAN mentioned in Luke 19:12?
- 3. Is heaven, in a sense, a far kingdom? Will Christ receive a kingdom while away in heaven? Compare Luke 19:12 with Daniel 7:13-14. Doesn’t this parable plainly cover the present church age after which Jesus returns from the far country — heaven?
- 4. Is there a duration of time during which the servants must trade and increase their talents? Who are the servants in Luke’s parable? Are Christians ever called servants? 1 Peter 2:16, KJV; John 18:36 NKJV.
- 5. What duty must the servants fulfil before the end of this age and the second coming of Christ can occur? Matthew 24:14. Did Jesus promise to be with His Church in its preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom until the end of the age? Matthew 28:19-20.
Comment: Today, do the Greco-Roman churches preach a gospel about Christ the person — and not the gospel message He came to preach? Their gospels are not the true gospel of the kingdom of god – Galatians 1:6. What was Paul’s gospel? Acts 28:31.
The GOSPEL of the Kingdom must yet in these final days GO TO ALL NATIONS BEFORE THE END comes! Matthew 24:14.
- 6. Not long after the New Testament Church began, did false teachers arise proclaiming that the day of Christ had already occurred? 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2. Did Paul reject the doctrine that Christ had already returned a second time? Verses 2-4.
- 7. Was there to occur a falling into error — an APOSTASY — at the close of the apostle’s ministry, and also before Christ returns? Verse 3.
- 8. Were apparent brethren prophesied to depart from the faith? 1 Timothy 4:1, NKJV (“fall away from the faith” Young’s Literal Translation; “abandon the faith” NIV).
- 9. Did the Apostle Paul give his “falling away” warning in 2 Thessalonians to brethren? 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4.
- 10. Who then is promised to be saved? Matthew 24:13.
- 11. What else should Christians do? Luke 21:34-36; Matthew 24:20; Luke 21:27-28.
- 12. Does Jesus come before or after the Great Tribulation referred to in Matthew 24:21? Matthew 24:29-31.
Notice, too, that the apostasy marks only the beginning of a long sequence of events, including tests and trials, covering 1900 years and culminating in the return of Jesus Christ!
Jesus Gives a Warning!
- 1. Will the day of God’s intervention and the second coming of Christ be universally expected? Matthew 24: 42, 44. Or will it COME AS A SURPRISE? Cf. Luke 21:34-35.
- 2. To what period in earth’s history did Jesus compare His return? Matthew 24:37. Did the people before the deluge realize that God would intervene supernaturally? Do the most people of today realize God will intervene in our day? Cf. Luke 17:26-30?
- 3. Will Christ come at the moment that we, would suppose He should? Luke 12:40. Are Christians promised to know the day and hour of His return? Matthew 25:13.
Comment: Is Jesus’ warning especially for our generation — those who are living “when he comes”? Notice Jesus’ reply in Luke 12:43 again. Jesus told us to WATCH world events so we could know perhaps even to the exact year — so that we could be ready whenever He comes.
- 4. Can we know very near the actual time of His return? Matthew 24:32-34. Had Jesus already given in this chapter the SIGNS of the times to which He referred?
- 5. Did Paul teach that true Christians had to have the end come unexpectedly to them? 1 Thessalonians 5:1-5.
- 6. What did both Paul and Jesus teach that Christians should do? 1 Thessalonians 5:6; Mark 13:33-37.
- 7. Does God ever act in human affairs without first making known his plan of action? Amos 3:7 and Isaiah 46:10.
Isn’t supporting the final phase of the work through the spreading of the gospel of the Kingdom before the end of the age a preparation for the time of Christ’s return to rule the nations?
- 8. Some denominations and sects have spread the doctrine that Christ is already here. Did Jesus warn that such ideas may be claimed by some not too long before He really returns? Matthew 24:26.
- 9. Would others, however, believe that it is far off in the future or that it will not happen? 2 Peter 3:4-7 and Matthew 24:48.
Are either of these right?
- 10. Despite what may some consider slackness, will not Jesus return? 2 Peter 3:8-13.
A Sequence of Events Tells!
- 1. Daniel gives a definite SEQUENCE OF EVENTS which must occur before Christ will return. Read Daniel, chapter 2, especially verse 44. Notice the ORDER OF GENTILE WORLD KINGDOMS described in verses 36 through 42.
- 2. During a FINAL UNION OF 10 KINGS in Europe, symbolized by the toes (Daniel 2:42) and ten horns (Daniel 7:24; Revelation 17:12-13), will the God of heaven set up His kingdom? Daniel 7:7, 17, 18.
- 3. Will this kingdom be left to mortals of yet another nation? Daniel 2:44. Or will Christ take this kingdom? Daniel 7: I 3, 14.
- 4. In the parable recorded in Luke’s gospel, did Christ receive a kingdom? Luke 19:11, 12. Aren’t these accounts dealing with the one kingdom, the Kingdom of God?
- 5. Jesus gives ANOTHER SEQUENCE OF EVENTS in Mark 13 and Luke 21. Before you proceed further, be sure you read both of these chapters. Now turn to Matthew 24. Does Jesus describe a tremendous noise which will rend the air? Matthew 24:30-31. Does Paul mention a TRUMPET’S SOUND at Christ’s return? 1 Thessalonians 4:16.
- 6. Is this the time of the resurrection? 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17. Which trump sounds when the resurrection occurs? 1 Corinthians 15:52.
- 7. Now notice in Scripture what is to happen at the last trump. Revelation 10:7 and 11:15. Is this the time of Jesus’ return? of the resurrection? of the establishment of the Kingdom? This tells us when Jesus will return.
Comment: In Revelation 11:15-18, John is describing the same momentous event as Paul in 1 Corinthians. Thus we see that Christ will return at the mighty blast of a great trumpet, which will be heard by all the earth and all who understand will know that Christ has come!
HOW Christ Will Return
- 1. Will Christ return in the SAME MANNER AS HE DEPARTED? Acts 1:11. How did Christ depart? Acts 1:9. Was He taken up in a cloud? Will He return in a cloud? What does Matthew 24:27, 30, say about this? Did He leave from the Mount of Olives (Mt. Olivet)? Acts 1:12.
- 2. What will happen in the day that he comes? Zechariah 14:4. Will His feet stand upon the mount of olives “in that day?” “Day” here refers to a very brief period of time — a 24-hour day. And who will appear with Him? Zechariah 14:5, last three words (NKJV).
- 3. Did Christ VISIBLY ascend from the Mount of Olives? Acts 1:9-11. Will all see Him coming? Revelation 1:7. Does this, then, say there will be a secret rapture of the saints from this earth?
Comment: When Jesus returns visibly and in great glory (Matthew 25:30-31). He will travel as LIGHTNING from east to west around the earth to gather the elect (Matthew 24:27). This is the only possible way by which every individual on a round earth could see Him.
John 14:19 is often misapplied in an attempt to prove that Jesus will come secretly and invisibly. This verse does not say that the world will never see Jesus return. It says that the people then living – 2000 years ago – would see Him no more because He went to heaven. He will be seen visibly when He returns.
- 4. Note 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17. At what signal will Christ return? Will there be a SOUND to announce His coming or will He come secretly?
- 5. Does the word “we” which is mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 mean everyone or just the saints – those who will rise to meet Christ at His coming? Will they be with Christ forever? Verse 17. Does 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 verify the above points? Who is King of the saints? Revelation 15:3.
- 6. Do the HOLY ANGELS also come WITH Christ? Mark 8:38. When Christ came to the earth the first time, did He come with power? Or was He scourged, mocked, and abused? Isaiah 50:6; John 19:1. Will His second coming be with POWER and GREAT GLORY? Matthew 24:30. Will ARMIES of angels follow Him? Revelation 19:14.
- 7. We now see that Christ and His armies of angels will descend in clouds and that the saints (the righteous – both dead and living) will rise to meet Him in the air. How is this meeting accomplished? Matthew 24:27. As He and His angels travel SWIFTLY AROUND the EARTH, the SAINTS JOIN Him and remain forever with Him.
GOD HAS A PLAN! Through the prophets He has given a fixed sequence of events leading up to the return of christ.
The manner of Christ’s return has been WOEFULLY MISUNDERSTOOD. He comes visibly to a God-rejecting world in order to enforce peace. He comes at the beginning of the millennium.
The false doctrine that the churches can bring about a millennium of peace before Christ comes is utterly impossible. World events prove it.
National leaders now realize that the only hope of saving our civilization from self-destruction is the formation of a strong world government. But all attempts at this encounter suspicion, distrust, and hate. The hard fact is that MAN HAS CONSISTENTLY FAILED – and will continue to fail to attain this objective.
HUMAN NATURE HAS NOT CHANGED.
Men are still quite willing to spill the blood of their fellows to satisfy their lust and greed. Do the men of this world really know the way to peace? God Almighty says of sinful men in general: “the way of peace have they not known” (Romans 3:17). We hear a lot of sentimental platitudes about the hopes of achieving peace through the United Nations – but the pitiful results confirm Paul’s inspired statement that carnal men simply do not know the way to peace.
The history of human woe cries out that in trying to govern himself man has been trying the impossible. It shows that within himself as he is now created, man has neither the proper desire nor mental capacity to master this world. The churches cannot reform this civilization. Christ must return to inaugurate the promised age of peace!
Why are men so in ignorance of this vital subject today?
Because they are in ignorance of the countless prophecies which clearly reveal that God has ordained that Christ shall rule this earth, teach men the way to peace, and show all men the right way to live. Your Bible shows that this is to occur after a definite series of events – and after man has had time to write a lesson in human suffering to show once and for all that humanity’s own ways lead to death (Proverbs 14:12).
The WORLD IS UNHAPPY today. Just look around the earth at the awful misery! Think of the great slaughter of human beings prophesied for the immediate future! Christ said, “I have come that they may have life [here and hereafter], and that they may have it more abundantly!” (John 10:10).
PEOPLE WILL BE HAPPY WHEN CHRIST RETURNS TO RULE. They will live abundantly happy lives! Under His guidance the necessary changes will be made in mankind so all may attain these things. “Jesus [the Savior], . . . . will save His people from their sins!” (Matthew 1:21).
Here’s the link to the first lesson: ‘Why Study the Bible?’