The world is filled with war, terrorism, turmoil and confusion. While men have created many amazing technological inventions, they cannot “create” peace. Scientists have unleashed the power of the atom but are powerless to “unleash” peace upon earth. Astronomers have discovered much about the size, majesty and precision of the universe, but they cannot “discover” the way to peace. They can find galaxies far away throughout the universe, but they cannot “find” peace here on Earth.
War has been the primary means by which nations have settled disputes throughout history. It has been considered a natural state of equilibrium, while peace has been considered a period of recuperation from the previous campaign, in which preparations are being made for the next venture or conquest. A quote by Georges Clemenceau, the French statesman during WWI, accurately reflects this state of affairs: “I don’t know whether war is an interlude during peace, or peace is an interlude during war.”
General Douglas MacArthur eloquently stated mankind’s current dilemma: “We have had our last chance. If we will not devise some greater or more equitable system…Armageddon will be at our door” (April 19, 1951, speech to Congress).
In 1966, as God began to call me into His truth, I had the opportunity to meet with my United States Congressman from Ohio. I had applied to attend the United States Naval Academy and all applicants were required to have a personal interview with their Congressman in the final stages prior to acceptance. At the end of the interview, he asked me if I wished to ask him any questions. Here was a highly respected, long-time member of Congress giving me the opportunity to ask him any question on my mind.
I had only one.
I was learning about the soon-coming, world-ruling, supernatural government to be established at the Return of Jesus Christ. With this on my mind, I asked the Congressman his opinion of one world government, if it was in the hands of men. His answer was immediate and emphatic, “I do not believe it would work, but if I did, I would shout it from the housetops.” He went on to express various concerns.
This made a lasting impression. I have never forgotten my conversation with this congressman of over thirty years’ experience in the federal government.
Since that time, many have suggested that one world government is the only way to world peace and stability. But many questions arise. Who would bring it? How would it be phased in? What laws would it administer? How would they be enforced? Would sovereign nations relinquish their authority to it? Would it succeed, or would it eventually oppress and enslave all mankind? These questions always stop thinkers, planners, leaders and scientists in their tracks!
Therefore, world peace remains as elusive as ever. Seemingly everyone yearns for it, but no one knows how to obtain it. Why? Why cannot the experienced leaders and intelligent thinkers of our time find the way to peace? Why do people understand that the only solution that could bring peace is one world government yet, at the same time, acknowledge that this is utterly impossible if left in the hands of men? If men are not capable of governing their own individual lives, how could they govern the entire world?
Mankind, in his rebellion against God, likes to present his own versions of civilization in the best possible light. In like manner, the false prophets of Israel, as Ezekiel prophesied of our time, are to declare, “Peace; and there was [is] no peace” (13:10). God shows that peace will be elusive to those who forsake His ways.
It has been said that all nations are either preparing for war, at war or recovering from war. It has also been noted that history has recorded over 14,600 wars. And this figure was derived in the mid-1960s. Men seem to invariably go to war in search of peace. But, the outcome of war usually involves a truce, but always fails to yield permanent peace. This is because men cannot, and never will, find the way to peace on their own without outside help. In reality, they have no chance to achieve world peace. Here is why.
As part of an extensive prophecy about world conditions in our time, the prophet Isaiah answers this question: “The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goes there shall not know peace” (59:8). The solutions of men always lead to more wars, ruin, misery, death and destruction. The apostle Paul wrote, quoting Isaiah, “And the way of peace have they not known” (Rom. 3:17).
The governments of men simply do not work. They have never succeeded in finding permanent solutions to what are, for them, insoluble problems. They do not have the answers to mankind’s biggest questions. It has not been given to men to understand the path to peace—or, for that matter, the way to abundance, happiness, health and prosperity. No wonder the greatest thinkers, leaders, educators and scientists have failed miserably in their quest for peace on Earth! God has not yet revealed to the vast majority of mankind the solution to its unending wars, and world troubles.
Jesus stated, “Repent you, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15). But just what is the gospel? Most never concern themselves with this question. The truth of the gospel has remained hidden from view to the vast majority of professing Christians. Ever since the first century there has been a conspiracy to deceive would-be Christians about the meaning of the gospel. Shocking as it seems, this has happened.
Most believe that the gospel is about the Person of Jesus Christ. Certainly, Christ’s role is enormous, but He is not the gospel. The Bible shows that Jesus Christ is preached in conjunction with the gospel.
Others proclaim a “gospel of salvation” or “gospel of grace.” Still others believe a “gospel of miracles” or a “social gospel” or a “gospel of foods” or of “healing” or “faith.” There are also those who merely think of “gospel music” when the word gospel comes to mind. These are all manmade ideas that are not what the Bible says!
Notice Mark’s account once again! “Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God.” That is the gospel Jesus preached. It was in this context that He had said, “Repent you, and believe the gospel.” What gospel?—of the “kingdom of god.” Verse one refers to this very message when it says, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” The gospel of Jesus Christ was about the kingdom of god—not something else! One must believe and understand that gospel to be saved—not a counterfeit or substitute.
The truth of this subject is so important that God inspired Paul to warn the Galatians then—and us today: “I marvel that you are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that you have received, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:6-9).
This is a very strong statement! In the next chapter (2:5), Paul went on to stress the hope “that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.” So there is the true gospel, with all others false.
Plainly, Paul never taught a different or additional gospel, as some allege. Ironically, God used him to be the one to warn against ever allowing such false teaching. He even pronounces a curse (1:8) on any man, angel or even apostle—“But though we [apostles]…preach any other gospel”—who chooses to violate this command. What a powerful scripture!
Paul further explained that the apostles were entrusted by God to preserve the true gospel. Notice I Thessalonians 2:4: “But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which tries our hearts.” This is a responsibility not to be taken lightly. True ministers always teach what God commands, not what “pleases men” or Bible “scholars.” So any idea that Paul taught another gospel (usually thought to be about Christ) is silly. He would have been literally pronouncing a curse on himself!
All who preach a false gospel automatically pronounce a curse on themselves. Why do men not fear to do this? Why are so many willing to teach any one of a variety of false gospels? The churches of mainstream Christianity cannot agree on what the gospel is.
Since Christ said the gospel was about the kingdom of God, and men do not know what the kingdom of God is, they have concluded that the kingdom may be a particular church denomination or Christianity collectively. Others reduce it to a “warm feeling” in the “hearts of people.” Still others believe that it is the “millennium” or even the “British Empire.” Some have even concluded that the gospel of the kingdom of God is not for mankind today!
What incredible ignorance!
The masses are deceived (Rev. 12:9) by the god of this world (II Cor. 4:4), who uses his ministers as instruments to spread the most popular false gospel, about the Person of Christ, instead of the message of the kingdom of God, which Christ brought.
Notice II Corinthians 11:13-15, where Paul wrote, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness…”
This is a blunt, shocking scripture. Yet it is true that Satan has ministers who appear to be the ministers of God.
The following verses continue Paul’s description of the work of false ministers. Notice: “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that comes [speaking of false preachers] preaches another Jesus…or if you receive another spirit…or another gospel, which you have not accepted…” (vs. 3-4). If Christ IS the gospel, then why are “another Jesus” and “another gospel” listed as two separate problems?
People need to wake up to the deception—the mass delusion—of a supposed Christianity that denies virtually all the plain truths of the Bible! God’s plan for mankind is staggering—incomparable to anything human beings have devised to replace what He says. The world ignores plain, clear, unmistakable scriptures found throughout the Bible about the kingdom of God.
This booklet explains the astonishing truth that so many ignore!
Like a newscaster far ahead of his time, Christ came to make an announcement about a complete change in the way the world would one day be governed. With this change would come unprecedented world peace, and happiness, harmony, universal health and prosperity.
Everywhere He went, Christ spoke about the kingdom of God. It was the subject of most of His parables. When He commissioned His twelve apostles and sent them to preach, the instruction was to preach about the kingdom of God (Luke 9:1-2). When He later sent out His seventy disciples (Luke 10:1), He also commanded them to preach the kingdom of God (vs. 9). Paul preached this same “kingdom of God” message everywhere he went (Acts 19:8; 20:25; 28:23, 31). The terms kingdom and kingdom of God are found scores of times throughout the New Testament. Yet, it is absolutely astonishing how nearly everyone has lost the knowledge and true meaning of what this kingdom is!
The word “gospel” is an old English word meaning “god spell” or good news. The word “kingdom” is also an old English term simply meaning government. In other words, Christ preached “the good news of the government of God.” The coming of world peace, happiness, health and abundance will certainly be good news for a mankind that has not known it for 6,000 years.
Christ’s disciples asked Him what the sign of His Coming and the end of the age would be (Matt. 24:3). He warned the disciples of deception from many who would come “in His Name,” saying, “Christ was Christ” (vs. 5). He meant that they would put an emphasis on the person of Christ instead of the message He brought. But, He also prophesied that “this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (vs. 14).
We are now in the time of the end. Remember, if the kingdom of God had been preached through the centuries, from the time of Christ to the present, proclaiming it today could not be a sign that the world has reached the end of the age. Impostors and false leaders suppressed the preaching of the true gospel to the world until the 20th century. Starting in 1934, Herbert W. Armstrong began the fulfillment of this prophecy. It continues today—The Restored Church of God is preaching this gospel.
But when Christ spoke of the “kingdom,” what did He mean? The gospel of the kingdom of God has two separate aspects.
Many speak of salvation—the belief in an afterlife. Some have supposed that the gospel is exclusively about “receiving eternal life” or the popular idea of “going to heaven” upon death. Of course, the Bible has a tremendous amount to say about salvation. Actually, salvation is directly related to—is one aspect of—the gospel of the kingdom of God. (Read our booklets Is There Life After Death? and What Is Your Reward in the Next Life? to learn more.)
Most assume that God is trying to save the world now—that today is the only opportunity for salvation for all mankind. (A third booklet, Does the Bible Teach Predestination?, explains that God is not trying to save everyone now and why. It outlines His entire plan and purpose for humanity.) Most people have no idea why they were born—why they were put on Earth. They also do not understand why man cannot find peace, happiness, health and abundance on his own. The whole world has been deceived about salvation and the most important questions and answers of life. This booklet asks and answers many of those questions.
The other aspect of the kingdom of God is government. As mentioned, the word kingdom means government. When the kingdom of God arrives, it will be a world-ruling supergovernment. The Bible describes this government in detail.
The rest of this booklet will explain the “government” aspect of the kingdom. The above-recommended booklets primarily address the “salvation” aspect.
Prior to the birth of Jesus, an angel appeared to His mother, Mary. These verses describe this encounter and what she was told: “…the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto…Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, you that are highly favoured…you shall conceive in your womb, and bring forth a Son, and shall 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 forever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:26-33).
In John 18:36, Jesus stated to Pilate, “My kingdom [government] is not of this world.” Pilate asked, “Are you a king then?” Christ responded, “You say that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world” (vs. 37).
Jesus Christ was born to be a king!
Here is what was prophesied in Isaiah about Christ: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His Name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, the prince of peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever” (9:6-7).
When Christ establishes God’s government on Earth, it will usher in peace for all nations!
During a sermon in the book of Acts, the apostle Peter stated an amazing but almost entirely unknown fact of Bible history. He spoke of a time “…when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and He shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution [restoration] of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:19-21). Of course, heaven has received Christ “until” the restoration of all things. But this restitution has not yet happened—hence, the word “until.”
Imagine! Every one (“all”) of God’s true servants has preached that the time is coming when Christ will return and “all things” shall be “restored.” Prior to Satan’s rebellion, God’s government was present on Earth. (Read our booklet Who Is the Devil? to learn about this rebellion.) For thousands of years, God’s servants have foretold the details of its restoration to earth. You may wish to examine all of the Old Testament prophets to see if each of them announced, in one fashion or another, the coming of the kingdom of God and the restitution of all things. I have studied the verses many times, and you will find that they all did. (Our booklet Which Is the True Gospel? examines this in detail.)
Here is an account in the New Testament, referencing just one of God’s Old Testament spokesmen.
The book of Jude records the preaching of Noah’s great-grandfather Enoch. It is a record of what was spoken over 4,500 years ago—even before the Flood. Consider the incredible scope of the following verses: “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly…of all their ungodly deeds which they have…committed, and of all their hard speeches…sinners have spoken against Him” (vs. 14-15). Get the clear meaning of this passage. It reveals that the saints (all true Christians) are coming with Christ to judge the world—to judge “all” according to their conduct.
The Bible has much more to say about the kingdom of God than you have supposed. Once again, the truth is absolutely astonishing—even shocking—and you need not be ignorant of it.
Just as Enoch understood that the kingdom of God was a literal government that would one day rule over real people and real nations on Earth, so did the prophet Daniel. He held no illusion that the kingdom was merely some kind of “sentimental fluff” or “warm feeling” set up in the “hearts of men.” Through a series of dreams and visions (1:17), God used him to explain much special understanding about how and when His kingdom would come to earth.
All that Daniel was shown was to be “closed up and sealed till the time of the end” (12:9). We are now in the time of the end—and there are many proofs of this. (Read our booklet Are These the Last Days? to understand more about how Daniel’s prophecy was written to be understood in our time.) His message is for us, today! Daniel reported big—TREMENDOUS!—news that will affect you in your lifetime! We will see that Daniel also understood and spoke the same gospel that Christ preached—and it is critical that we understand what he said.
Daniel recognized that he was simply a mouthpiece through whom GOD was revealing His Master Plan. In chapter two, he was speaking to the Chaldean (Babylonian) King Nebuchadnezzar about matters that had come to the king in a dream. Nebuchadnezzar was the king of a vast empire that he had ruled approximately six hundred years prior to the time of Christ.
The king’s court magicians were not able to reveal what God could reveal through His prophet Daniel. It was God’s purpose to reveal, through that worldly human king, that there is an Almighty living God who rules the entire universe and all kings, governments and nations on Earth are ultimately subject to Him. The humanly-wise King Nebuchadnezzar had no knowledge beyond the existence of other human kings and their many false gods. It was the true God’s intention to reveal the existence of HIS government and that it rules the entire universe. He also intended to make plain His supreme purpose of bringing that government to the earth “in the latter days.”
Take time to carefully read Daniel 2:28-44. This astonishing and detailed prophecy reveals many things about God’s intention to restore His government to earth—including the time sequence in which this will happen.
The first several verses describe the image of a giant man. Verses 32-33 state, “This image’s head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.”
This is obviously an image of a man, but one that is constructed of four distinct parts. Verses 34-35 then describe a supernatural “stone that smote the image [and] became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.” Note that verse 34 states that this stone “was cut out without hands,” because God, not men, had formed it.
The “stone” shattered the image and replaced it, going on to eventually encompass all nations—“the whole earth.” This can only be a description of the government of god coming to earth. Daniel is merely announcing the same message of the gospel of the kingdom that Christ preached.
You do not need to believe me, because this is precisely what your Bible states. No one needs to interpret this series of verses for you.
Just notice verse 37. It plainly states, “You, O king, are a king of kings: for the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory.” Verse 38 clarifies, “You are this head of gold.” We must always let the Bible interpret the Bible.
Verses 39-40 go on to describe three successive kingdoms that would follow the kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon. This is amazing knowledge that almost no one understands today.
These verses show an historic succession of world empires depicted by different metals of which the giant image (statue) was made. These were literal kingdoms: (1) The Chaldean-Babylonian Empire of gold, (2) the Medo-Persian Empire of silver, (3) the Greco-Macedonian Empire of brass, and (4) the Roman Empire, made of iron mixed with clay in its final appearance. The message from history is that these four kingdoms (empires) ruled, and the fourth kingdom will once more rule and influence the world until the kingdom of God is established on Earth.
God expressly reveals to us now that He is the One who establishes and removes—and establishes and removes, again and again—earthly governments (kingdoms).
Many ask, “But exactly what is the Bible definition of a kingdom?” Preachers and theologians have tried to spiritualize away the meaning, because they have not carefully examined God’s definition.
This is found at the end of verse 39, which refers to these kingdoms “which shall bear rule over all the earth.” This cannot be a reference to a nebulous idea about a kingdom in the “hearts of men.” There is also no way to make this definition fit any particular church or churches. It speaks of rulership by governments with authority over literal nations on Earth—and over literal people. Will you let someone tell you otherwise or will you believe the Bible definition of a kingdom? Remember, these kingdoms “bear rule over all the earth”!
Take note of two important aspects of the towering metallic image described here. First, the metal decreases in value as we descend from the head to the legs and feet of the image. This means that the quality of each succeeding kingdom/empire is less in value than the one preceding it. Second, the metal increases in strength as we descend the statue’s body. In other words, the power and scope of each succeeding kingdom/empire is greater than the one preceding it.
Finally, notice that the two legs of iron represent a kingdom that is divided. The Roman Empire was indeed divided, with capitals at both Rome and Constantinople. The last ten toes of the feet are part of iron and part of clay. Iron does not and cannot mix with clay, so this is a picture of final instability. When the feet break apart, the entire man will collapse. Careful study must be made of three chapters in order to fully understand the succession of these four kingdoms and to see more clearly that the ten toes are actually ten separate kings who temporarily unite in the last days.
Compare Revelation 13 and 17 with Daniel 7. Together, they present a sobering and powerful prophecy about latter-day events—events that will affect you and me in our lifetime! Revelation 17:8 describes a “beast” that ascends out of a “bottomless pit” and is ridden by a “woman.” Verse 12 shows that this beast involves ten kings who shall receive power and unite under a charismatic leader who will take the role of the “beast.” This will be the seventh, and last, short-lived resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire—arising right now in the heart of Europe.
A United States of Europe is coming and lies just ahead of us. It is vital that you understand what these prophecies mean! (Read our extensive booklet Who or What Is the Beast of Revelation? to learn more about this topic.)
Something incredible happens “in the days of these kings” (the ten toes, which depict the ten last kings of Revelation 17:12). Christ’s arrival removes all doubt about exactly what the kingdom of God is. Also, God tells us when it will arrive—“in the days of these kings.” Daniel 2:44 states, “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people [God will never allow people to seize control], but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.”
That’s right! God—not men—will establish the final and greatest world-ruling empire of all time. And He tells us that He will never allow the opinions of men to intervene and disrupt it, for it will “stand forever.” This promise is sure. It will happen—whether men believe it or not!
Comparing Daniel 7 with Revelation 13 and 17 reveals that there are seven revivals of the Holy Roman Empire. Six have come and gone—and one remains that is now forming! It will last for about 3 1/2 years, during the terrible period that the Bible calls the Great Tribulation (Matt. 24:21-22), and the time of “Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:1-7). It is after this last resurrection that the kingdom of God will come.
It is crucial to understand another important connection to the seven revivals (or resurrections) of the Roman system. Revelation 17 describes each revival as having “a woman sit[ting] upon [the] scarlet colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns” (vs. 3). The seven heads are seven separate revivals, with a ten-horn final revival composed of ten kings.
Of the woman, verses 5-6 state that “…upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.” Verse 1 calls her a “great whore that sits upon many waters…” with verse 15 explaining that the “waters” are many “peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.”
This is a graphic description of a very large and powerful Gentile church that is a modern-day descendant of the ancient system of Babylon. She is a “mother” of many “harlot” daughter churches. These daughters came out of her in protest because they disagreed with some few of her abominations. Understand. This is not a small church, but rather a “great” church ruling many “peoples” and “nations.” Verse 2 speaks of her “fornication” with the “kings of the earth.” And verse 18 speaks of the woman as “that great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth.”
This is a very different woman than the one of Revelation 12, who is to marry Jesus Christ (Rev. 19:7; Matt. 25:1-10; Eph. 5:23) at His Return. This chapter describes the true Church of God that the powerful Gentile church has persecuted for 2,000 years (17:6). God will destroy this great whore and her harlot daughters by turning the beast she rides against her (17:16). But first she must “ride” the final resurrection of the Holy Roman (Babylonian system) Empire!
There is not much time left until this last revival appears—it is forming even now!—with the wonderful kingdom of God to appear soon after (Rev. 19:11-16). All the governments of men—including that of every large and small country on Earth today—will be smashed and replaced by God’s coming supergovernment.
Soon the whole world will see the fulfillment of Revelation 11:15: “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever.” Just as there is no doubt that countries today represent real, literal, physical kingdoms (governments), there can be no doubt, from just this passage, that God’s coming government is also real and literal.
Jesus Christ was born to be a King—to rule all nations of the earth forever with the help of other spirit-composed kings. This is the central theme of the entire Bible. Notice: “And out of His [Christ’s] mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should smite the nations: and He shall rule them with a rod of iron…and on His thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (Rev. 19:15-16).
Has anyone ever told you about these passages? I never learned or even heard of them in the church of my youth—and yet, here they are, available with unmistakable clarity.
The Bible teaches that the kingdom of God rules over the people and nations of the earth. The nations are not actually part of the kingdom, any more than the average citizen of any country is part of the government that rules over them. One must enter the kingdom of God to be in it. Therefore, we must ask: As distinct from those who are governed by it, who is actually in the kingdom?
In I Corinthians 15:50-51, Paul stated, “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I show you a mystery…” Certainly, this is a mystery to almost everyone—that flesh and blood human beings cannot enter the kingdom of God. It would be helpful to read the entirety of this “resurrection chapter” of I Corinthians 15. Only at the resurrection are human beings (all true Christians) changed (born again) from flesh to spirit.
Do you see, then, how no church can possibly be the kingdom of God? Churches are physical. Flesh and blood physical people are able to enter and exit a church building. So, this rules out all churches (or, for that matter, the British Empire) from being the kingdom of God. Just believe the plain truth of the Bible!
The kingdom of God cannot include flesh and blood people!
A series of verses in John 3 is commonly misunderstood by those who believe that they can be “born again” in this life (while they are still composed of flesh and blood) and see the kingdom of God.
In this account, Nicodemus, a Pharisee, approached Christ and acknowledged in verse 2: “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God.” He plainly admitted that they knew who Christ was and who had sent Him to earth. Notice that Nicodemus spoke for more than himself when he stated, “we know.” He was referring to himself and the other Pharisees who recognized who and what Jesus Christ was. They could not deny the power of God evident in the miracles that Christ was performing.
The religious leaders, the Pharisees, well understood that He was a “teacher come from God” bringing the truth. They still called Him a blasphemer, drunkard, heretic, seditionist, bastard, ignorant, demon-possessed, false prophet and more—and crucified Him!
Many people see the plain truth of the Bible, yet choose to ignore it in order to hold to their own traditions (Mark 7:7) and ideas!
Christ told Nicodemus, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (vs. 3). He explained that only by being born again can one actually “see” God’s kingdom. So, there is a limitation on who can see the kingdom. But there is no limitation on physical people seeing either a church or an empire. Anyone of any religion or belief can see any other physical item.
Grasp these critical points that Christ is making!
In verse 5, Christ states that unless one is “born of water and of the Spirit,” he “cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Yes, the kingdom is something that can be “entered into”—but Christ explains His “born of water [baptism] and of the Spirit” phrase in verse 6: “That which is born of the flesh IS flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit IS spirit.”
Flesh and blood cannot enter into the kingdom of God—but spirit can! Because Christ wanted to allow no room for misunderstanding, He likened spirit to wind. Wind, like spirit, is invisible. It cannot be seen. Therefore, those in the kingdom must be composed of spirit.
Many choose to believe that the kingdom enters into people rather than people entering into the kingdom. We have seen that people must ignore the plain statements of Christ in order to draw this conclusion. They “spiritualize away” the coming very real kingdom of God, in order to turn it into an ethereal feeling in the hearts of men. Deceivers say that to have the Spirit of God is to have the kingdom within you. Many centuries of outright deception have caused millions to believe nothing more than fiction—instead of the plain truth of the Bible.
Since it is obvious to many that people can enter into the many modern-day countries of what was once the British Empire and that people can enter into a church, deceived religionists concocted the idea that the kingdom of God rests in the “hearts of men.”
I have often heard people express something similar to the following: “The kingdom of God can be established in the hearts of men if all Christians everywhere will just work together in love to bring about world peace and tolerance toward all.”
Where do they get this idea? From a mistranslation of Luke 17:20-21! In this passage, Christ appeared to speak of the kingdom of God “within you.” We need to examine this mistranslation. If this verse actually does say that the kingdom of God is “within” people, then it contradicts all the other scriptures we have examined. And if the Bible contradicts itself in such obvious ways, we can throw it away, for it cannot be the Word of God.
Let’s now examine Luke 17:20-21: “And when He was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, He answered them and said, The kingdom of God comes not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, Lo there! For, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”
If you do not understand anything else about this verse, get this one point straight! Christ was speaking to carnal-minded, lying, hypocritical Pharisees. Even by the most vague and ethereal idea that the kingdom of God is something in men’s hearts, there is no way Christ could have been referring to it being in the hearts of these people!
The Pharisees were self-righteous and unconverted. They sought to tempt and accuse Christ at every turn. It is utterly silly and even ludicrous to say that the kingdom of God was “within” them. Do not lose sight of the fact that, when Christ responded, it states, “He answered them.” He addressed “them”—the Pharisees. Understand that the Pharisees were not in the Church, and the Church of God was certainly not in the Pharisees. Actually, the New Testament Church did not yet even exist.
Notice what Christ did NOT state in this verse. He did not say, “the kingdom of God will be set up in the hearts of men” or “in your hearts.” What He did say is, “the kingdom of God IS…” It is important that we understand Christ was not describing, in this one instance, the kingdom of God as something in the future, but rather He spoke of it in the present tense.
I have said that this is a misrendering of the original Greek. The actual Greek words that Luke used here are much better translated “in the midst of you” or “among you.” A number of other alternate translations read this way, and most Bibles with marginal references include these phrases.
The Revised Standard Version states, “the kingdom of God is in the midst of you,” and the Moffatt translation offers even more insight. He translates these two verses as “He answered them, ‘The reign of God is not coming as you hope to catch sight of it; no one will say, “Here it is” or “There it is,” for the reign of God is now in your midst.’”
Let’s ask, what—or who—could it have been that Christ was speaking of? What—or who—was it that was “in the midst” of the Pharisees? What—or who—was “among” them?
The Son of God—Jesus Christ Himself—was standing in the middle of this group of Pharisees. Think of it this way: They were in the presence of a direct representative who will “reign” in the coming kingdom of God. It was Jesus who was standing “among” them. Clearly, Christ was speaking of the kingdom of God, through Himself as its representative, being right where they were standing.
Let’s understand! The Pharisees knew of the many Old Testament prophecies and scriptures describing God’s kingdom. They were well aware of the verses that we have studied from the book of Daniel. They would have understood why Peter would later say, “all the holy prophets” spoke of the “restitution of all things.” They were familiar with the prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and many others. The Pharisees ignored the scriptures about Christ’s First Coming because they wanted to focus almost entirely on the many scriptures describing His Second Coming!
Obviously, the Pharisees did not believe the kingdom of God was a church. They certainly didn’t believe it was the British Empire—which the world was not to see for many centuries. And they did not believe it was more emotional sentiment in men’s hearts. They fully understood that it had to do with government—rulership!
The problem was that they did not understand when the kingdom was to come or that its purpose was not merely to sweep away the Roman legions from Palestine. Had they understood Christ’s First Coming, they would have better understood the “when” of His Second Coming—and why it had to come much later. So, they were hoping for a conquering Messiah who would aid them in their quest to reverse Roman rule by replacing the Romans with themselves, as their masters.
Jesus explained the fallacy of their thinking. He made it clear that the coming of the kingdom was not a small, local event, merely limited to rulership over where the Jews lived in Palestine.
The Jews were looking for a physical government located in a single nation—their own! This is why Christ told them not to think of it as being “over there” or “right here.”
Remember, in John 18:37, Christ had said that He was born to be a King. He knew that He would be the ultimate King over His Kingdom. (Daniel 7:17-18 and 23 demonstrate that the words for kingdom and king are interchangeable in the Bible.)
By simply continuing to read more of the context in Luke 17, we are left with no doubt as to what Christ was referring to. Read verse 24, where, like Matthew 24:27, it refers to, “For as the lightning, that lightens out of the one part under heaven, shines unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in His day.” Christ was describing a stunning, world-shaking event that would be as visible as lightning. But, notice the term “in His day,” which shows that it is a yet future event. Take time to read Matthew 24:26-30 and how it describes the “day when Christ will be revealed.”
By no stretch of the imagination did Christ say that the kingdom of God was in the unrighteous, carnal, hateful Pharisees—who continually plotted His death—anymore than He was saying it was a church.
Christ had previously indicted the Pharisees with a terrible warning. No doubt, it had made them angry, and it led them to try to catch Him saying something that was incorrect about either the kingdom of God or any other matter. In Luke 13:28-29, He warned them, “There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God.”
Christ was plainly telling the Pharisees that they were not going to be in God’s kingdom. They would not be allowed to enter it, as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob would—though these men have not yet entered it (Heb. 11:13, 39-40).
Someone will surely quote Mark 1:15, where Jesus had preached that “the kingdom of God is at hand.” There, recall that He had also gone on to add, “Repent you, and believe the gospel.” So some have concluded that when people repent and believe the gospel, thus becoming part of the church—they simultaneously enter the kingdom of God, which was, sort of, waiting for them—it was “at hand.”
As with Luke 17:21, people read into a verse what they want it to say. Christ did not say the kingdom of God had been set up or established—or that it was a church. These are all “traditions of men” that people observe in place of God’s plain Word (Mark 7:7).
Luke 16:16 shows that, from the time of John the Baptist, the kingdom of God had become something that was being “preached.” The kingdom had not arrived yet, but it was then being preached. Preaching the kingdom and having the opportunity to qualify to enter it certainly were then (and still are) “at hand.”
Before returning to Luke, let’s examine more of what Daniel recorded about the kingdom of God.
Remember, Christ will come like lightning shining from the east to the west (Matt. 24:27). This will be an earth-shattering event that no one could possibly miss. But will He come to rule the earth by Himself—or will there be others with Him? We could ask: When Christ establishes His world-ruling government, who else might be part of the structure that He establishes? If the governments of men require the efforts of many, who assist a supreme leader, is God’s government different? No!
Daniel 7:13 speaks of Christ coming in the “clouds of heaven.” Before His Return, God officially grants Him the authority to rule the world He is returning to. The next verse states, “And there was given Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed” (vs. 14).
Again, we ask whether Christ rules alone, or are others to rule with Him? Exactly how does God intend to manage all of the peoples and nations of the earth?
Several more verses in Daniel 7 are critical to understand. Remember that the kingdom of God is prophesied to replace the four previously discussed world-ruling kingdoms, described in chapter 2. Now notice verses 17-18: “These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth. But the saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even forever and ever.”
Believe this verse for what it says! The ultimate calling of Christians is to join with Christ in order to share rulership in the kingdom of God over all nations and all peoples. Truly, Christ is “KING of kings and LORD of lords.” These other kings and lords can be you or anyone who is willing to accept God’s terms for entering His kingdom.
Verses 19-20 shed additional light on what happens when the saints return with Christ. Their first responsibility is to replace what is called the “fourth beast,” which rules with the assistance of a “little horn.” This little horn is the religious kingdom that is the same as the woman who rides the beast of Revelation 17. This religious government (centered in Rome) has ruled over all of the previous resurrections, or revivals, of the Holy Roman Empire, since A.D. 554.
Now read verses 21-22: “I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints [plainly the work of the Babylonish whore of Rev. 17:5-6], and prevailed against them; until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the Most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.”
Finally, Daniel’s long prophecy concludes with verse 27 further confirming the marvelous potential lying ahead for all the true saints of God. Notice: “And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him.”
What could be plainer? No wonder Christ stated, “And he that overcomes, and keeps My works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of My Father” (Rev. 2:26-27) and, a few verses later, added, “To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with Me in My throne…” (3:21).
The phrase “in My throne” is used because Christ understood that His throne is on this earth, unlike the Father’s, which is in heaven. Luke 1:32 shows that Christ will sit in Jerusalem on the Throne of David. (Also see Revelation 5:10, 20:4, Matthew 5:5, Psalm 25:12-13 and 37:11.) There is no doubt that when Christ Returns, the saints will rule with Him—on earth!
Let’s now examine a very important parable that Christ spoke so that people would understand the coming of the kingdom of God and the Christian’s responsibility to qualify in order to be part of it.
Luke 19:11-27 contains a parable written to illustrate what is at stake when the kingdom of God comes. In it, Christ compared Himself to a Nobleman who went to a “far country” (a type of joining the Father in heaven) for nearly 2,000 years, until His Return. The disciples believed that the kingdom of God would “appear immediately,” and Christ wanted to illustrate that much time would pass before it did.
In this parable, Christ completely dispels any idea that the kingdom would immediately appear in the form of His Church. And, of course, He has not yet returned to this earth.
The “Nobleman” of the parable “called” his “ten servants” (a type of Christians being called out of this world by God) and instructed them to increase the worth of a “pound” (money) that He gave to each one of them for investment. The pound actually represented a kind of symbolic unit of basic spiritual worth or value. Remember that it was a parable, so Christ was not referring to any kind of literal money. He told His servants to “Occupy till I come”—or to “grow” the pound into more money. While the Nobleman was gone, several of the servants said, “We will not have this man to reign over us.” It is important to understand the intent of this statement.
These “citizens” understood that the Nobleman (Christ) was coming to “reign” on Earth. They wanted no part of this and rejected His government (reign) over them—and, thus, their future part in it (vs. 27). They understood that the kingdom of God would be a government ruling over the earth. Remember, the parable had begun with the Nobleman (Christ) going to heaven to “receive for Himself a kingdom and to return.” (We have already seen in Daniel 7:14 that God confers supreme authority on Christ just before He returns to rule with the saints.)
Upon the Nobleman’s return, He called each of the servants into His presence to receive a report of how each man had increased the pound that he had been given. Some had gained five pounds, others ten, etc., but one servant had buried his pound in the ground and produced nothing with it. Christ wanted an accounting of how “each man had gained” while He had been away.
The first servant had gained ten pounds and Christ explained his reward by saying, “you good servant: because you have been faithful in a very little, have you authority over ten cities” (vs. 17).
The servant who had gained five pounds was put “over five cities.” Because the second servant produced half as much, his reward was half as much. So, these men were given “authority”—they were put into positions of rulership “over cities.” Their reward was to “reign” with Christ (Jude 14) in His world-ruling kingdom. How obvious!
The servant who buried his pound in a napkin had wasted a wonderful opportunity to qualify for rulership in the kingdom of God. It states, “And He [the Nobleman, Jesus] said to him, Out of your own mouth will I judge you, you wicked servant.”
This servant had not grown. He had not produced anything with his life and thus had not qualified for rulership over cities in the kingdom of God. Christ gave the wicked servant’s reward to the one who had gained ten pounds—so that the latter had even more than his own reward. The cities that this man’s conduct had caused him to lose would have to be ruled by someone. Otherwise, they would become abandoned, with no ruler assigned authority over them.
Some brief history is needed to better understand the setting of this parable. Christ was a Jew who was preaching this parable in the land of Judah. Judah was merely one of twelve tribes in ancient Israel. Ten of those tribes had become lost over 700 years earlier, because they had rebelled against Solomon’s son, Rehoboam. They had been taken into captivity by the ancient Assyrians and had later migrated into Northwestern Europe, becoming the democratic, primarily English-speaking peoples of the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and certain other Western European nations. Only some of the tribes of Benjamin and Levi remained with the Jews, whose capital was Jerusalem.
(You are strongly encouraged to read our extensive book America and Britain in Prophecy to understand the big picture of what has been only most briefly described here.)
When the Parable of the Pounds speaks of the Noblemen’s citizens “hating Him,” and states that they said, “We will not have this Man to reign over us,” it is a reference to the Jews. History plainly records that they rejected the authority of Jesus Christ. This is what John 1:11 means when it states that “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.” The “ten servants” (those Christians called today) are then a reference, in type, to the lost TEN TRIBES of Israel. Christ offered them an opportunity to rule, because the Jews rejected His authority over them.
Sadly, some do not want the true Christ of the Bible to tell them what to do. They do not want Him to rule over their lives and conduct. But they do want salvation—with no strings attached.
No one will be given rulership before he has proven that he can be ruled! No one can be part of God’s world-ruling government unless he has learned to submit to the government of God and to be ruled by God and Jesus Christ in this life. This is the all-important lesson of the parable of the pounds!
When Christ called His servants into account, He was showing that all people will one day stand and give an account before the judgment seat of Christ. Like the reward of the twelve apostles, who will be put over the twelve tribes of Israel (Matt. 19:27-28), some will be given tremendous AUTHORITY to rule over cities with Christ “in the throne of His glory.”
All want to know when Christ will return. The disciples asked Him, “What shall be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matt. 24:3).
The entirety of the next forty-eight verses in Matthew 24 is Christ’s answer detailing many of the events, in sequence, that would precede His Coming. In verse 36, referring to the exact time of His Coming, He stated, “But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but My Father only.”
Just a few weeks later, in Acts 1:6-7, prior to Christ’s final ascension back into heaven, the disciples proved that they still did not either understand or really accept His previous explanation. So, they asked Him again. Notice: “…they asked of Him, saying, Lord, will You at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And He said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father has put in His own power.” Christ gave them the same answer as in Matthew—“it is not for you to know the times or the seasons.”
It is important to note that the New Testament Church would be established just ten days after this encounter (2:1). Why would Christ answer, “it is not for you to know the times or the seasons” if the kingdom of God was going to be the Church, which was to be almost immediately established (on Pentecost)—just ten days later?
The same is true for us today. We cannot know exactly when Christ’s kingdom will come, but we can know a close approximation. In Luke 21:31, at the end of a long prophecy paralleling Matthew 24, Christ stated, “when you see these things come to pass, know you that the kingdom of God is nigh [near] at hand.”
He did want them to know that “you shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you” (Acts 1:8), but not to know when the kingdom would arrive. The same is true for all who are converted today. We cannot know exactly when Christ will return, but we can know that we will receive power now to grow and overcome—and to preach the gospel of the kingdom of God until He does.
True Christians are not activists seeking to “make this world a better place”—thereby bringing the kingdom of God to earth. They have their “feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace” (Eph. 6:15). They walk through life having their “feet” covered with the knowledge of how the true gospel spells the only way to final world peace. They understand with certainty that the kingdom of God—bringing “government and peace” (Isa. 9:6-7)—is coming. They know what lies ahead for this world. They do not go off to serve and kill in the endless, futile wars of men and nations, or participate in the governmental affairs of men.
They do not take matters into their own hands, and try to supposedly “spread the kingdom,” thereby attempting to neutralize God’s purpose, which is to show man that he is not capable of governing himself! (Take time to read our two booklets War, Killing and the Military and Should Christians Vote? to understand why.)
Notice what Paul was inspired to write: “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they [leaders and religionists] shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction comes upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief” (I Thes. 5:2-4).
All who understand the truths of this booklet need never again be “in the dark” about God’s Plan or their awesome potential role within it.
Citing Isaiah 52:7, Paul also recorded, “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings [the good news of the gospel] of good things” (Rom. 10:15). In verse 16, he went on to cite another passage from Isaiah: “But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah said, Lord, who has believed our report?” (53:1).
Of course, most people will not believe “God’s report” of what lies ahead for civilization. They will not believe that they are unable to bring world peace through human effort. Many will shout “Peace, peace; when there is no peace” (Jer. 6:14; 8:11, 14-15), and most will continue eagerly believing their false predictions, even in the face of abject failure.
The professing Christians of this world will continue desperately striving to bring about the kingdom of God and world peace through human effort. Deceived religious leaders will tell them that this is their “Christian duty.” Many will see this as the sole mission of their church. Millions are looking for happiness, abundance, peace and security around every corner—but will be terribly disappointed in the short term. This is because world conditions, leading into a final devastating period of worldwide calamity, will get far worse before they ultimately get better.
But in the end, the world will not be disappointed! Good news lies ahead.
The capital city of the modern-day Jewish nation of Israel is Jerusalem. Though this city has known nothing but war throughout its history, its name literally means “city of peace.” It carries this name because Christ—the prince of peace—will return there to establish His kingdom. The Prince of Peace will rule from the City of Peace. Beginning in this single city, peace will quickly spread around the world. Eventually, it will “break out” everywhere!
Final, true world peace, happiness, abundance and prosperity will come in your lifetime. It is as certain as the Word of God!
Most people are familiar with what is called “The Lord’s Prayer.” Many can recite it without effort, having practiced it without understanding that it is simply a model or guideline for how to pray. I learned it at age four. It begins, “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth…” (Matt. 6:9-10). This short prayer continues for three more verses. But, of the millions who know and use it, how many actually think about the phrase “Thy kingdom come”—or God’s “will [His Master Plan] being done on earth”? For 2,000 years, many may have basically sought to follow Christ’s instruction, praying, “Thy kingdom come” without ever really pondering the staggering meaning behind this small phrase.
Only a few verses later, in the same chapter, Christ stated, “But seek you first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (vs. 33). Christians must be continually seeking the kingdom of God FIRST—above everything else—in their lives! How can they do this if they do not know what it is—or when it will come—or how it affects their own salvation?
But now you do!
Will you pray, “Thy kingdom come”? Will you make your “calling and election sure” (II Pet. 1:10)? Will you overcome as Christ did? Will you grow, qualify, and develop in spiritual character—gain more pounds than when you started, so God will get a “return” on His investment in you? Or will you bury your pound, and with it your opportunity to rule over all nations in God’s kingdom—to teach others the right way of life?
The following quote comes from the conclusion of Herbert W. Armstrong’s booklet WORLD PEACE How It Will Come. Found under the subhead “Can’t Know the TIME,” this is a marvelous summary of the amazing truth contained in the title statement:
“Just what did Jesus mean, ‘It is not for you to know the time or the seasons’? He explained it another time. It is recorded in Matthew 24:36. There He was speaking of the end of this world, and His Second Coming:
“‘But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my father only.’ He was speaking of His Second Coming and the setting up of the Kingdom, the time of which no man knows, but only the Father.
“However, though we do not, even now, know the day or the hour, we do know, from God’s prophecies, that it is today very near! Notice this, in Luke 21:25-32: He had been foretelling the world events, right now beginning, leading to ‘distress of nations’ in world troubles and world wars, ‘with perplexity…mens hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things that are coming on the earth’—world troubles such as never before experienced. ‘When ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.’
“So all signs show we are in the very last generation of this present evil world.
“This world trouble began in 1914, with World War I. There was a recess from 1918 until 1939. We are in a second recess now—although we have been in what we call ‘COLD WAR.’ But now at last we have nuclear energy. We have hydrogen bombs stock-piled in such power and volume that they could blast all human life off this planet several times over. There are two other destructive weapons today in existence, either of which could erase humanity from the earth.
“Today world-famous scientists say only a super world-government can prevent world cosmocide. Yet men cannot and will not get together to form such a world-ruling government.
“It’s time we face the hard, cold, realistic fact: humanity has two alternatives: either there is an Almighty, all-powerful god who is about to step in and set up the Kingdom of God to rule all nations with supernatural and supranational FORCE to bring us peace—or else all human life would be obliterated (Matt. 24:22).
“The present ‘recess’ will soon erupt into nuclear World War III—called, in biblical prophecy the ‘Great Tribulation’ (Matt. 24:21-22). But God will cut short that final supreme world trouble, and send Christ again to earth as King of kings, Lord of lords—to restore God’s government by the world-ruling Kingdom of God and to bring world peace at last.”