Referenced in the introduction, a new question has arisen in most of the splinters, particularly the larger ones: Just what is the gospel? Is the role of Jesus Christ separate from or part of the gospel? Do those claiming to fulfill the Great Commission still teach the correct gospel?âand why does one large organization now list within its mission to actively âwitness for Jesusâ? Is healing part of Christâs gospel? Do the splinters still understand the Great Commission given to the Church? Is the subject of the gospel separate from who warns Israel? What did Mr. Armstrong teach?
All these questions and more require that this section be the longest in the book. In fact, the subject commands two chapters, and beyond.
It is hard to believe that confusion over the most central and fundamental doctrine and understanding in Godâs Word could have arisen, but it has. Most today, having been conditioned to believe the apostatesâ âgospel,â which focuses exclusively on the personage of a âJesus,â have merged the role of what is (when correctly understood) a different Jesus with the kingdom of God, creating a new kind of hybrid âgospel.â In most cases, because this has been subtle, it has been missed by Godâs people. (Of course, some have noticed but do not care.) This fogged thinking is now also developing among those who form the growing âevangelical wingâ of the smaller splinters, briefly referenced at the bookâs outset. But the large splinters have also moved much closer to a focus on the âmessenger,â with his âmessageâ increasingly subordinate to this new priority. Again, some of these now also actively âwitnessâ for their âmessenger.â
It is important to take significant extra time to make perfectly clear the distinction between the role of the true Jesus Christ and what is the correct gospel. Much more is at stake here than meets the eyeâand most in the splinters are now being badly fooled on this very centerpiece of the entire Bible! It is critical that the reader understands how all of this is connected to where and with whom you should be found doing the Work. It is also enormously important to see how this wrong approach has permitted a kind of creeping indoctrination in, and involvement with, the popular âsocial gospelâ and âanother Jesusâ of the worldâs churches.
As I have decried the false gospel circulating in the splinters, the subject of the gospel has become a hotly contested, much more serious issue to those teaching various errors. This has meant my coming under direct attack for defending the Bible and Mr. Armstrong regarding this truth.
The apostle Paul declared, âI am set for the defense of the gospelâ (Phil. 1:17) and he admonished all future generations of the Church to âstrive together for the faith of the gospelâ being âin nothing terrified by your adversariesâ (vs. 27-28)!
This becomes instruction for meâand you!âand should be received as a veritable command to every true minister alive today. I, too, am set to defend what hundreds of ministers seem to no longer even understand, let alone defend!âand I do this without apology in the pages ahead. I am certainly not âterrifiedâ of being attacked for exposing the false leaders who are in plain violation of what Mr. Armstrong taught and of all that is written here. They will not like what comes next.
Study carefully everything in these two chapters. They are of near incalculable importance to your lifeâand your salvation!
Only the Kingdom of God!
The New Testament is most plain about the true gospel, and prior to the apostasy all of Godâs people were very clear on this. Literally, in scores of scriptures, the gospel is referencedâexplicitly defined!âas âthe kingdom of God,â âthe kingdom,â âthe kingdom of Christ and of Godâ or âthe kingdom of [not in] heaven.â Nowhere, and in no sense, is the gospel described as involving âJesus,â âChristâ or âJesus Christââand not one of the over 10,000 people I worked with, either in the Worldwide Church of God or in the years after, over a 30-year period, asked about this or evidenced confusion about it! Nor did I ever even hear of one WCG pastor having to address this as a local problem. Never mind the idea of whether the Church should witnessâprofess!âJesus to all nations.
These âkingdomâ phrases are consistent with what Mr. Armstrong taught throughout his 52-year ministry. And you have noticed in his statements throughout this book so far that not once did he reference Jesus as part of the gospelânot once! Neither did he in his booklet What Is the True Gospel? I would challenge the reader to find even one book, booklet, article, letter or sermon in which Mr. Armstrong EVER even suggestedâor speculatedâthat the Person of Jesus Christ was part of the gospel. (Also, the original correspondence course certainly never taught this.) There is good reason for this and, in fact, he both taught and stressed precisely the opposite. (Those claiming he privately believed or spoke otherwise are plain liars!) You will see this momentarily within the avalanche of proof about to be offered.
Of course, Mr. Armstrong thoroughly understood every one of Jesusâ roles as Savior, High Priest, Captain of our Salvation, Apostle and Great Shepherd, as well as all of His future titles and roles. And he knew when and whereâin what contextâto stress these. He was neither âobsessed with the kingdom messageâ (as some claim), nor ignorant of the need to stress the vital roles of the true Christ of the Bible in a Christianâs life. And those who are aware of the full picture of all that he preached witnessed this!
The majority of ministers and professing Christians of the world have tried to say âthe gospel of Christâ is a gospel about Christ. So many in the splinters have forgotten they once knew otherwise. This thinking is both false and ignorantâbecause âofâ merely connotes possession. This is basic English grammar. As the kingdom of God is Godâs kingdom, so the gospel of Christ is Christâs gospel. The message about the kingdom of God is Jesusâ gospelâand this is all most basic past understanding.
How could so many forget it? How could so many so easily be pulled back into what they repudiated when God called them?
Mr. Armstrong Makes Plain
Mr. Armstrong was absolutely emphatic on the enormous difference between the MessengerâJesus Christâand the Message He broughtâthe kingdom of God (the future, world-ruling supergovernment under the God Family).
Most brethren today simply do not understand the tremendousâthe supreme!âimportance of understanding and believing the correct gospel. They have forgotten what should have been impossible to forgetâand this is only part of the mass amnesia connected to the many elements of the Work of God that will be discussed later. They should have remembered bedrock statements such as the one that follows.
Here is how Mr. Armstrong opened his booklet on the subject of the true gospel. The subhead within it is his:
âWhy should there be such perplexityâsuch confusionâin every phase of life today? It should be the function of religion to point the way. Yet here, too, we find only confusion of tonguesâhundreds of religious denominations and sects, in a Babylon of disagreement.
âEven in the professing Christian religion of the Western world, we find different sects and denominations preaching a variety of different Gospels! Some designate their gospel as âThe Gospel of Jesus Christ.â Others call their gospel âThe Gospel of Salvation.â Still others profess âThe Gospel of Grace,â some âThe Gospel of the Kingdom.â And many now blossom out with a modern âSocial Gospel,â while others call their gospel âThe Israel Message.â
âWhy have they lost the only true Gospel which God sent by Jesus Christ? Why?
How Many Gospels Are There?
âDoes it make any difference which Gospel we believe? Listen to the answer of the Eternal God as inspired in Paulâs letter to the Galatians, the first chapter, the 8th and 9th verses:
ââBut 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.â And it is made a double curse! For the next verse says: â...So say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursedâ!
âWhy, then, has the world lost sight of that Gospel? Why do people believe different gospels today?
âThis is an astounding, incredible situation! It ought to shake you out of passive indifference. Your eternity is at stake! This is not a nonconsequential, unimportant matter!
âJesus Christ said it is necessary to believe the Gospel to be saved! Yet the manyâthe hundreds of millionsâtoday, do not know what that Gospel is! Again, His parting commission to His apostles, being sent out as His ministers to build His Church, was this: âGo ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel.â They were to preach the Gospel.
âJesus then said: âHe that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damnedâ (Mark 16:16). Notice! Jesus said, He that believeth. Believeth what? Why, believeth that which they preached, of courseâthe Gospel! Not a gospel. Not any gospel. The Gospel! On the authority of Jesus Christ, it is necessary to believe that precise identical Gospel in order to be saved! And to believe the true Gospel, we must first come to know what it is!â
What is the TRUE GOSPEL?, pp. 3-4
Did you realizeâhave you remembered?âthat a person, any personâthis includes you!âcannot receive salvation unless he believes the one correct gospelâand this means âthat precise identical Gospelâ?
What could be more important? What words could Mr. Armstrong have chosen to crash louder on the ears of his listeners? Make yourself grasp and remember his warning!
What then did Mr. Armstrong teach was the correct gospel? Beginning with this quote, letâs hear it in his own words from a later portion of his booklet that appeared under the subhead âKingdom of God to Be Preached TODAYâ:
âYes, Jesus proclaimed and taught the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. But did He command His ministers, in building His Church, to preach this same Gospel? Quickly let us notice the Scriptures.
âLuke 9:1-2: âThen he called his twelve disciples together...and he sent them to preach the kingdom of God.â
âLuke 10:1, 2, 9: âAfter these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. Therefore said he unto them...heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.â
âIn Jesusâ prayer, so commonly called âThe Lordâs Prayer,â He prayed, âThy Kingdom comeââ then it wasnât here yet, and it isnât here yet, todayâbut He taught us to pray for it to come, for His Kingdom and that alone shall bring peace and happiness to this sin-sick, war-weary earth! âThy Kingdom comeâthy will, be done on earth, as it is in heaven.â The Fatherâs will.
âWhat Gospel did the early evangelists preach, in first sending out the faith once delivered? How did the early Church carry out the commission?
âNotice Philip preaching at Samaria! Acts 8:12: âBut when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the Kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.â Philip preached the things concerning the Kingdom of God. [Authorâs note: It is absolutely clear from Mr. Armstrongâs highlighting or special emphasis, and lack of emphasis, on the words he wrote, that he did not consider âthe name of Jesus Christâ to be part of the gospel. Reread this paragraph to be clear and notice the same emphasis in the next one.]
âPaul? Acts 20:25, 21: âI have gone preaching the kingdom of God... testifying both to the Jews and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.â
âAnd notice the Gospel Paul preached to Gentiles, after he had turned completely away from the Jews.
âActs 28:30-31: âAnd Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ.â
âAnd, what gospel did Jesus say should be preached today?
âMatthew 24:14, speaking of the present: âAnd this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witnessââfor a witnessââ unto all nations; and then shall the end comeâ!âthe end of this age.â
What Is the True Gospel?, pp. 10-11
This second quote leaves no room for confusion. It holds no ambiguityâno way for the sincere and honest seeker of truth to misunderstand what the gospel includes, and excludes!
However, we cannot go on to other elements of this doctrine until all doubt is removed about what Mr. Armstrong taught consistently for 52 years. This happens momentarily.
Christâs Role Entirely Separate
First, take serious warning! The idea that Jesus Christ is, or is part of, the gospel is entirely Protestant thinking. The second error of âwitnessingâ or professing Jesus is classic evangelical Protestant thinking. As mentioned in the introduction, the attempt to bring Jesus into the gospel is not only wrong, but it derives from a much greater dangerâthat of importing âanother Jesus,â borne of âanother spiritâ (II Cor. 11:3-4) into the Churchâs fellowship. This very passage describes the CorinthiansâGodâs own people!âas having fallen into belief in âanother gospelâ and âanother Jesus.â And if Jesus is, or is part of, the gospel, why did Paul list these as two separate and distinct problems of belief within Corinth (and that these problems were both connected to a third problemâthat of following âanother spiritâ)? Would you have thought these things remotely possible within Godâs Church?
History demonstrates they are!
First, for instance, The United Church of God, terribly misunderstanding I Corinthians 15:1-4 (we will look more closely at this passage in the next chapter), and possibly a couple other passages, through careless reading, and states in its âgospelâ booklet that the gospel of the kingdom includes the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Though carefully worded, it describes the apostles as having gained âenhancedâ understanding of Christâs messageâHis âgospelââabout the kingdom. This organizationâs purpose from the beginning seems to have been to include Christâs role in helping people enter the kingdom as something that is part of the gospel. Their media philosophy statement once declared this openly. Here is what it said: âPreaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God is a divine commission given to the ChurchâŚThe gospel message, which includes Godâs offer of the gift of salvationâŚâ
But the role of Jesus Christ is entirely separateâdistinctly different!âfrom the gospel of the kingdom of God.
The Living Church of God goes much, much further, and actually lists Christâs role as the first element of the gospel. They describe the gospel this way in their public mission statement: âThe Gospel of Christ is the âGood Newsâ of the forgiveness of our sins through Christâs sacrifice, and of the soon-coming Kingdom and government of God.â
This is fiction, invented entirely from outside Godâs Wordâand from inside the churches of Satanâs world. This organization also declares in its mission statement that its first purpose is âTo preach the true Gospel of the Kingdom of GodâŚAND the name of Jesus ChristâŚas a witness to all nationsâ (emphasis mine). When understood, this âwitnessingâ error is inseparable from the wrong gospel. No wonder this organization has now also gone into a third âgospelâ errorâteaching that healing is part of the gospel. (This will also be examined in the next chapter.) Remember, Paul describes false teaching as like leavenâit spreads.
This means their gospel is wrong in three distinct and separate ways!
Why? We will learn later that an emphasisâany emphasisâon Christ within the gospel leads to the next step of âwitnessing Jesus,â wherever âHeâ is preached. You will see that the drift into this automatic next step is not accidental. Neither is accepting the third error.
So many seem perfectly willing to be lied to about these things by their leaders. Why? How could they have forgotten all that is at stake on just the truth of the gospel? Why are they not âprosecutingâ the arguments and blatant deceit of their leaders? Why are thousands in the Living Church of God (and others) not asking whether another spirit could be present and leading where they think Godâs Spirit is guiding?
How could so many so quickly copy the apostates and the Protestants, and in such BIG WAYS?
Beyond ANY Reasonable Doubt!
Certain splinter leaders have made their shift to another gospel by asserting that Mr. Armstrong taught what they teach. We will see that this is a patently false claim.
First, Roderick Meredith, the man leading LCG, is a prime case in point. By âcherry-pickingâ a single statement that, after carefully ellipsing crucial portions, makes Mr. Armstrong appear to include Christ in the gospel, thousands can be fooled. Doing this requires that gross deceit be employed. The mass of contrary facts must be covered up, ignored and denied.
But you need to see proof of this. That comes now!
Mr. Armstrong spoke about the gospel of the kingdom of God literally hundreds of times in books, booklets, articles, co-worker letters and sermons. He considered this one of the two most vital truths re-established for the Church during his ministryâwith the government of Godâ and said this many times, including more than once in MYSTERY OF THE AGES. But the reader needs to see this constant theme and emphasis for himself. More important, the reader must see Mr. Armstrong did notâEVER!âplace Christ within the gospel. You will also notice that he never spoke of witnessing for or professing Jesus, discussed in detail in Chapter Five.
Any subheads from this point forward are Mr. Armstrongâs, as is all emphasis. My comments generally appear in parentheses as authorâs notes. Any bold is mine. The early quotes establish two vital points: (1) What Mr. Armstrong said constituted âChristâs whole gospelâ and (2) Christ is never included in his or the Bibleâs definition.
Do not speed read. Read everything carefully. You will see there has been no âcherry-pickingâ quotes. Mr. Armstrong taught that one of the greatest rules of Bible study is to always start with the clearest scriptures on a subject to establish the truth of a doctrine, and to only then look at less clear scriptures. The same should be done with his statements on a doctrine. We should start with the clearest ones, and only then move on to others. We begin with two very short paragraphs five pages apart in MYSTERY OF THE AGES, and two others:
âHis gospel is the good news of the now soon-coming kingdom of Godâthe only hope of this world and its mixed-up mankind!â
âHis gospel is the message he brought mankind from God the Father, the good news of the coming kingdom of God! That is the one thing above all Satan wants to defeat.â
pp. 51, 56
âNow what Gospel did Jesus preach? He proclaimed the Gospel of THE KINGDOM OF GOD (Mark 1:1, 14-15). Paul preached only the Gospel of the Kingdom of God to gentiles (Acts 28:30-31).â
Co-Worker Letter, January 22, 1982
âJesus preached a definite Gospel. That and that alone is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was a Gospel message about the Kingdom of Godâthe begotten and finally to be born family of Godâa family of divine persons, begotten and finally to be born of God.â
WWN, Recent History of the Philadelphia Era,
June 24, 1985
Letâs pause to make a point. None of these quotes have said that the kingdom of God is âpart ofâ or âmost ofâ or the âkey component ofâ the gospel, but rather always that it IS the gospel. Keep this understanding in mind as you continue to read. In fact, before returning to more statements from Mr. Armstrong, let him make plain himself this point (again, the bold is mine):
âIn other words, not one of them knows what spiritual salvation really is, what the KINGDOM OF GOD (Christâs whole Gospel) really is, WHY God put humanity here on earth: WHAT is our real ultimate human POTENTIAL, or HOW we shall reach it. They know not Godâs PURPOSE, nor His MASTER PLAN for working it out. They do not know why we are here, where we are going, or THE WAY. Those are the BIG, MAIN branches of the tree of knowledge. They are the MISSING DIMENSION in knowledge.â
Co-Worker Letter, November 19, 1976
The Story From History
Letâs return to a longer sequence of statements, and allow Mr. Armstrong to complete the big picture. At this point, he adds more to how Satan replaced the truth and injected his counterfeit gospel:
âI realize that when ministers and evangelists of this world and its organized denominations claiming to have the âCHRISTIAN religionâ preach ABOUT CHRIST, urge people to accept Christ, to believe on Christ, to âmake their decision for Christ,â etc., that they are âpreaching the Gospel.â BUT THAT IS NOT THE GOSPEL! Christ is NOT the GospelâHe was the Messenger who BROUGHT the Gospel! The GOSPEL was the MESSAGE He brought from God, as the MOST IMPORTANT AND SENSATIONAL ANNOUNCEMENT ever made to mankind.â
Co-Worker Letter, July 30, 1973
âWhat did Jesus say? That many would come in His name, claiming to be His ministers, saying that Jesus was the Christ, and deceiving the MANY. This is what happened. They preached CHRIST, but they DENIED HIS MESSAGEâHis GOSPEL! Even the ministry was deceived. The GOSPEL is the MESSAGE God sent for mankind by His Messenger who was Christ.â
âIt is THE GOSPELâChristâs own Gospelâwhich points THE WAY to world peace. The Kingdom of God is the GOVERNMENT of God, which soon will replace ALL the governments of ALL nations and bring us world PEACE.â
âBut what the world has been deceived into accepting as the Gospel has been preaching a Christ WITHOUT ANY LAWâa different Christ who is supposed to have done away with His Fatherâs Law. Those who have âpreached CHRISTâ to the world have said âthe Law is done away.â The missionaries have not taught anything in these big Gentile nations about GODâS LAW. And yet Godâs Law is THE WAY that will CAUSE world PEACE!â
âAnd THAT MESSAGE IS THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD! It is CHRISTâS Gospel, that has NOT been proclaimed before in those nations.â
Co-Worker Letter, October 25, 1973
âThe MESSAGE God sent by Christ was the GOSPELâand that Gospel was the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. It was the Message of the Covenant, which Covenant, as I said, shall establish the KINGDOM OF GOD on earth. The KINGDOM OF GOD is the GOVERNMENT of God which shall rule all nations. But also it is the FAMILY OF GOD into which we may be BORNâthe DIVINE FAMILY which becomes a SPIRIT-NATION, ruling all nations on earthâa WORLD-RULING GOVERNMENT!
âJesus was sent to ANNOUNCE that messageânot to force men to accept it, believe it, and act on it. NEVER DID JESUS PLEAD WITH A SINGLE ONE TO BE CONVERTED. He merely announced the GOOD NEWS of the Kingdom of God, and He left it to people to decide whether to believe it and whether to act on it. He did not come THEN to CONVERT the world! He did not start a âsoul-savingâ crusadeâthe Protestants did! He came to ANNOUNCE the GOSPELâthe GOOD NEWS of His coming KINGDOM! [Authorâs note: No witnessing for or professing Jesus, as only the true eyewitness apostles couldâand neededâto do.]
âBut people hated His message. Many BELIEVED on Himârealized and BELIEVED He was the Messiah. But they did not believe His messageâHis Gospel!â
âWhen the curtain lifts on that âLOST CENTURYâ of Church history, the Gospel of the Kingdom of God was no longer preached to the world. Jesus and His apostles had carried on a dual ministryâproclaiming the Kingdom of God and healing the sick. But after that âLost Centuryâ neither the Gospel of Godâs Kingdom nor healing was going out to the world.â [Authorâs note: The gospel and healing are listed as separate subjects by Mr. Armstrong.]
âThat happened. They claimed to be the ministers of Jesus Christ. They said Jesus was the Christ. They preached CHRIST (the Messenger) to the world, but NOT His messageâHis Gospelâthe Kingdom of God. And they indeed have deceived the MANYâthe MILLIONS and hundreds of millions!â
Co-Worker Letter, February 21, 1974
âThe Gospel was GOING OUT! These thousands of brethren coming in were either carrying out the Gospel, or backing those who did. And WHAT GOSPEL? The Gospel GOD SENT BY JESUSâthe Gospel of the Kingdom of Godâwhich is both the FAMILY of God and the GOVERNMENT of God. (Mark 1:1, 14-15, Acts 1:3, etc., etc.) Philip went to Samaria proclaiming the KINGDOM OF GOD. (Acts 8:5, 12.) Paul proclaimed the KINGDOM OF GOD. (Acts 20:25, 28:23, 31.)â
Co-Worker Letter, March 18, 1974
âJesusâ prophecy for NOWâour very time nowâsays, âThis gospel OF THE KINGDOM shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the END [of the world] comeâ (Matt. 24:14). The Church of God was founded in A.D. 31. About A.D. 53 the apostle Paul wrote to the churches in Galatia that they had already turned to ANOTHER Gospel! At that time a fierce controversy arose over whether the gospel to be preached was the gospel OF Christ, or ABOUT Christ. [Authorâs note: History is repeating itself. This chapter is proof.] The Gospel OF Christâthat is, the Gospel he proclaimed, was the good news of the Kingdom of God (Mark 1:1, 14-15). That Gospel (or âgood newsâ announcement) was not preached from about A.D. 53 until 1953âa century of 19-year time cyclesâwhen God opened up the most powerful radio station on earth, Radio Luxembourg in Europe, to me.â
Co-Worker Letter, January 15, 1984
âThis Work is the direct and one and only fulfillment of the prophecy of Jesus in Matthew 24:14 for this very time: âThis Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the END [of this world] come.â [Authorâs note: Again, the Living Church of God specifically adds witnessing Jesus to Matthew 24:14.] The Gospel of the Kingdom of God is the ONLY true Gospel of Jesus Christ. In the first 20 years of the founding of the true Church in A.D. 31, a fierce controversy arose as to whether the gospel to be preached was the Gospel OF Christ or a gospel ABOUT Christ. A false church rose up, teaching a gospel of false prophets, ABOUT Christ. See II Corinthians 11:3 and verses 13-15. Also both Jude and John, writing in the 90s A.D., warned of false prophets already changing the truth of the Gospel, and warning brethren to turn back to the true faith once delivered to the saints. Also, Paul wrote the churches in Galatia, about A.D. 53, that they already had turned to ANOTHER gospel.â
âFrom that time on, a false gospel ABOUT Christ was preached in the name of traditional Christianity, by which (Rev. 12:9) Satan deceived the whole world.â
Co-Worker Letter, April 18, 1984
âBut what is the gospel of the kingdom? It is the gospel OF JESUS CHRIST. In Mark 1:1, âthe beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christâ and in verses 14-15, it is âthe gospel of the KINGDOM OF GOD.ââ
âTraditional âChristianityâ has been deceived and has deceived the world with a false gospel ABOUT Christ, instead of the gospel OF Christ, which Jesus preached. He was a messenger sent from God with a message, and that message is the GOSPEL. The word gospel means âGOOD NEWS.â It was an ANNOUNCEMENT about the coming kingdom of Godâthat we can be born into that kingdom, and that kingdom IS the divine FAMILY of God.â
Co-Worker Letter, August 23, 1984
New Testament Kingdom Passages
It is worth taking at least a little time to see from the scriptures how often Christ and the apostles talked about the kingdom of God. Here are just a few passages. Also, notice how often the message of the kingdom is accompanied by healings:
âAnd Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the peopleâ (Matt. 4:23).
âAnd Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the peopleâ (Matt. 9:35).
âNow after that John was put in prison, Jesus 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 gospelâ (Mark 1:14-15).
âAnd He said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sentâ (Luke 4:43).
âAnd it came to pass afterward, that He went throughout every city and village, preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with Himâ (Luke 8:1).
âThen He called His twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. And He sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sickâ (Luke 9:1-2).
âAnd they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing every whereâ (Luke 9:6).
âAnd the people, when they knew it, followed Him: and He received them, and spoke unto them of the kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healingâ (Luke 9:11).
âJesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go you and preach the kingdom of Godâ (Luke 9:60).
âAfter these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent themâŚinto every city and place, whither He Himself would comeâŚheal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto youâ (Luke 10:1, 9).
âTo whom also He showed Himself alive after His passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of Godâ (Acts 1:3).
Mystery Of The Ages
So far our focus has been on Mr. Armstrongâs constant theme in co-worker letters of how the gospel was the kingdom of God. You saw that he never added anything else to what was always an unwavering description. He repeated these references because he wanted Godâs people, as well as all those who were contributing to the Work (many thousands of co-workers), to never lose this focus.
Obviously, Mr. Armstrong spoke in many other places about the kingdom. The reader is certainly aware that the final, largest and defining work of his life was the book MYSTERY OF THE AGES, already cited briefly. Time and again in this book he referenced not only the gospel of the kingdom of God, but also more of the history about the raging controversy surrounding what the Bible said was the true gospel. Here are just six more quotes from the book. Read each carefully to gain the fuller picture of what Mr. Armstrong explains:
âOn this point the entire world of traditional Christianity has been deceived. Here is a most important truth: Satan sitting on earthâs throne tried to kill the Christ child. He then tried to tempt and disqualify Jesus just before the Christ started his earthly ministry (Matt. 4). Satan caused the martyrdom of most of the apostles. He caused intensive persecution against the Church. He caused a violent controversy to flare up in the early months and years of the Church disputing whether the gospel to be proclaimed was the gospel OF Christ, or manâs gospel about Christ. Satan caused the latter to win out, and in less than 20 years a false and counterfeit gospel about Christ was being proclaimed by all but the persecuted few who loyally remained as the small and persecuted true original Church of God.â
â[Jesus] came also with a message from God called the gospel. The word gospel means good news. And actually, his gospelâthe message sent by him from Godâwas the good news of the kingdom of God. And the kingdom of God, as we shall see, is to be the restoration of the government of God over the earth and the ousting of Satan from that throne.
âPrior to the begettal and birth of Jesus, God had said to his mother-to-be, Mary, by his angel: âAnd, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no endâ (Luke 1:31-33). His gospel was the good news of that kingdomâthe kingdom of God.
âNow another vital prophecy. In Isaiah 9:6-7: âFor 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 for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.â Notice the government would be on his shoulder. Jesus is going to be King over all the earth. And one of the purposes of his coming was to announce that kingdom. Jesusâ gospel was not only good newsâit was an announcement or good news proclamation of the coming kingdom of God. What a tragedy that a âtraditional Christianityâ has forsaken and lost that vital and glorious gospel message and substituted their own gospel about the person of Christ.â
âHis human birth was the arrival of the âsecond Adam.â He had come 1) to qualify, where the first Adam failed, to replace the former archangel Lucifer on the throne of the earth, ruling with the government of God. He had come 2) to announce the future establishment of the kingdom of God and teach that prophetic good news (gospel) to his chosen future apostles. He had come 3) to take on himself, as our direct Creator, the penalty for our sins by his death on the crossâthat we might share in that world. And he had come 4) to be resurrected from the dead by God, making possible eternal God-life for the people of God and after his Second Coming for all who are willing, of all humanity, who have ever lived on this earth. And he had come 5) to establish Godâs Church, to be trained to rule under him.â
Ibid., pp. 209-211, 215
âWe read of it in Mark chapter 1: âThe beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God...Jesus came into Galilee, preaching [proclaiming, teaching] 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 gospelâ (Mark 1:1, 14-15).
âAnd, from Matthew, âAnd Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdomâ (Matt. 4:23).
âThis prophetic message (gospel) of the kingdom of God will be explained in detail in Chapter 7. It was the good news of the future establishment on earth of the government of God, restored and administered by the divine God familyâthe kingdom of God, to replace the present evil world of Satan.
âJesusâ proclaiming of this amazing future newsâcombined with his miracles of healing, turning water into wine and others, caused great excitement. [Authorâs note: Notice that miracles, obviously including healings, are separate from the gospel.] Immense crowds followed him and his disciples. He was teaching his disciples to become the future apostles, while he preached this message to the public.â
Ibid., pp. 222-223
âSatan is a great counterfeiter! He appears as âan angel of lightâ (II Cor. 11:13-15). And he has his counterfeit churches! His ministers are deceived by him into believing they are âministers of righteousnessâ and of Christ (II Cor. 11:15; Matt. 24:5).
ââBut I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him...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; whose end shall be according to their worksâ (II Cor. 11:3-4, 13-15).
âNotice these deceived but false churches believe they are the true church, and their ministers âare transformed as the ministers of righteousnessââin other words, appear to be the true ministers of Jesus Christ. And indeed, many of them may be entirely sincere, being themselves deceived. Yet they have neither known nor preached Jesusâ true Gospel of the kingdom of God (Matt. 24:14). Nor do they comprehend what is written in this book about the Church of God!â [Authorâs note: What a powerful message in this paragraph for those who will heed.]
Ibid., pp. 250-251
âFor that trainingâthat spiritual development of Godâs character, God has given his Church a dual responsibility:
â1) âGo ye into all the worldâ and proclaim the good newsâannouncementâof the coming kingdom of God.
â2) âFeed my sheep.â [Authorâs note: There is no third commission! The Ezekiel Warning is part of the First Commission at the end of the age.]
âBut in feeding the âsheep,â developing in them Godâs spiritual character, God has given them their part in supporting, backing up, the great commission: âGo ye into all the world.â
âThis first and great commission was given to the apostles. To a lesser extent evangelists were used in carrying forth the message. Other leadersâordained ministersâwere stationary, yet even the local pastor of a church may hold evangelistic services in his areaânot the âsoul-saving crusadeâ type, but lectures announcing and proclaiming as a witness the coming kingdom of God (the true gospel)!
âThis entire great commissionâproclaiming the good news of the coming kingdom, and âfeeding the sheepââis a combined administration and function of the Church.â
Ibid., pp. 265-266
âIt seems that today all churches have lost the gospel of Jesus Christ. They preach primarily their gospel ABOUT Jesus Christ.
âJesus Christ came preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God. Yet few preach about the kingdom of God today, for they have lost all knowledge of what it is! But does any, except Godâs true Church, proclaim the true gospel of the kingdom of God today?
âA prominent evangelist said to a worldwide radio audience that the gospel of the kingdom of God is not for us today. Some denominations proclaim a âgospel of graceâ, some what they call a âgospel of salvationâ; most a gospel about Christ; some a social gospel; some the âScience of Mindâ or âReligious Science.ââ [Authorâs note: Take note of the reference to the âsocial gospelâ for later.]
âWhat is the one and only gospel of Jesus Christ? The world does not know! It has not been preached for 19 centuries, strange as that may seem. Look into your Bible. Look at it from the very beginning!
ââThe beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christâ youâll read in Mark 1:1. âNow after that John was put in prison, Jesus 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 gospelâ (Mark 1:14-15).
âIt is necessary to believe that gospel to be saved! And how can you believe it, unless you know what it is? And for 1,900 years, the world did not know. That gospel was suppressed and replaced by manâs gospel about Christ.
âJesus went everywhere preaching the good news of the kingdom of God. He taught in parables about the kingdom of God. He sent out seventy men preaching, and commanded them to preach the kingdom of God (Luke 10:9). He sent the apostles, on whom the Church of God was founded, to preach only the kingdom of God (Luke 9:1-2). After the resurrection, before ascending to heaven, Jesus taught his disciples about the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3).
âIsnât it amazing that the world has lost the knowledge of what it is?
âThe apostle Paul preached the kingdom of God (Acts 19:8; 20:25; 28:23, 31). And God Almighty, through Paul, pronounced a double curse on man or angel that would dare preach any other gospel! (Gal. 1:8-9.)
âWhy, then, do so many dare to preach so many other gospels? The good news of the kingdom of God is something you must understand, and believe, in order to be saved! Jesus Christ said so! You had better be finding out what it is!
âThat gospelâthe kingdom of Godâis the subject of this chapter. It follows the chapter on the mystery of the Church, because the kingdom of God follows the Church. The purpose of the Church, remember, is to prepare âcalled-out-onesâ to teach and to rule in the kingdom of God.
Ibid., pp. 294-296
Much, much more of MYSTERY OF THE AGES could have been included. You may wish to reread this book just to see Mr. Armstrongâs constant focus on the gospel of the kingdom. In fact, every one of Godâs people should consider rereading this vitally important book at some point, anyway. (Be sure to get an unaltered copy.)
The Incredible Human Potential
But MYSTERY OF THE AGES and his booklet about the true gospel are not the only publications in which the gospel received special attention from Mr. Armstrong. The Incredible Human Potential included almost as much as either of these. In fact, the bookâs entire first chapter could be included as one long statement here. Also consider rereading that chapter. He explains that the gospel involves a vast expanse of knowledge. I have brought just one section, under the subhead âWhat Christâs Gospel Was All About,â so you can at least understand the broader nature of what he knew the subject of Godâs kingdom included. Christâs role is conspicuously absent:
âI say Christâs gospel â the message He brought from God â was the advance good news of the establishment of the Kingdom of God.
âBut just what does that include?
âAnd why is the Kingdom of God necessary?
âJust how does it affect and relate directly to your personal and individual life?
âActually, Christâs message of Godâs coming Kingdom is directly concerned with world conditions as they are â with human nature â its source and origin â with world evils, suffering, unhappiness â with world peace. Itâs concerned with government â with the reason present human governments fail to be the benefactors of their peoples they are supposed to be.
âHis message hits directly at the very roots of individual personal happiness and at the awesome transcendent potential of each human life. It is concerned with the CAUSES of present conditions that affect every human and with the WAY that will solve all problems.
âBut it is concerned with far, far more.
âIt is concerned with Godâs tremendous, overwhelming, overall purpose as Creator of the entire universe. Itâs concerned with the entire vast universe, filled with its uncountable galaxies, nebulae, suns, stars, planets, and with Godâs purpose for them. Itâs concerned with all the angels â with the fact that one third of all Godâs created angels turned to SIN from which there can be no redemption, and Godâs great purpose and plan to prevent such a catastrophe happening to the other two thirds.
âMost of these things are never remotely considered in religious teachings in this world. Godâs message is concerned with overall truth.
âWhat has been covered so far should be considered as merely the introduction to the entire story of Christâs gospel message.â
The reader cannot possibly miss the unwavering emphasis that Mr. Armstrong gave to the gospel of the kingdom of God in virtually everything that he wrote. How interesting that in their longer, more detailed description of the gospel is nothing about the person of Jesus.
I have included a few more quotes from other publications to complete the chapter. First is one more brief statement from his gospel booklet, and the chapter closes with another:
âNow, how do we enter into that glorious kingdom? Jesus came preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, and saying, Repent, and believe the gospel.
âJust two things we doârepent, and believe. We must believe the Gospel, and that means [Authorâs note: The believing means, not the gospel means.] also believing on Jesus Christ, the King of the Kingdom of God, and coming King of kings over all the families of the earth. It means believing in Him as personal Saviour, as High Priest now, and as coming King.
âBut to repent is to completely change the mind in respect to sin, and âsin is the transgression of the lawâ (I John 3:4)âthe Law of God by which God rules the Kingdom.
âIt means a total, complete change of mind and of life. It means we repent of transgressing the rule, the will, the laws, of God. What did Jesus say to the young man who asked Him how to inherit eternal life? He said, âIf thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandmentsâ (Mat. 19:17).â
What Is the True Gospel?, p. 10
âItâs about time that someone speaks out, in this world, and tells the world that the very Gospel of Jesus Christ was the advance announcement of this very world governmentâ a government, not by selfishly motivated man but by the living all-powerful God.
âJesus Christâs messageâHis Gospelâwas the Kingdom of Godâthe Government of the living God!â
Ibid., p. 12
âWe are not to convert everyone in the world in this age, but to declare the Gospel. What Gospel? The good news of the Kingdomâthe good news of the thousand years of restitution of all things when Christ returns to reign in power and great glory!â
Pagan Holidaysâor Godâs Holy DaysâWhich?, p. 36
âLet me explain a very important fact here. Soon after Christâs ascension to heaven and the founding of the church in A.D. 31, a violent controversy arose, according to church history, as to whether the gospel to be proclaimed was the gospel of Christ, or a gospel about Christ. [Authorâs note: The number of times that Mr. Armstrong mentions this ought to serve as a sobering warning for every one of Godâs people today. Since âthere is nothing new under the sun,â Satan would never give up his attempt to pervert Christâs message. Read carefully his even more sobering next words.] The latter won out. False prophets did arise in the first century, saying Jesus was the Christ, but omitting altogether Jesusâ gospel which was the message of the coming world ruling kingdom of God to rule all nations after Christâs Second Coming.â
Are We In the Last Days?, p. 8
âThere ensued âthe lost centuryâ in the history of the true Church of God. There was a well-organized conspiracy to blot out all record of Church history during that period. A hundred years later, history reveals a âChristianityâ utterly unlike the Church Christ founded.
âIt had taken the name of Christ and applied it to the Babylonian mystery religion. It had replaced the message Jesus brought from God with a âgospelâ about the person of Christâproclaiming the Messenger but suppressing the entire missing dimension from His message.
âAnd for at least eighteen and one-half centuries the true gospel was not proclaimed publicly to the world.â
Your Awesome Future â How Religion Deceives You, p. 5
âWhy do people not understand the very Gospel Jesus Christ taught? He taught the Kingdom of God. So did the apostles, including Paul.â
Just What Do You Mean...Conversion?, p. 8
âToday you hear preached many different gospels. Some call what they preach the gospel of salvationâsome the gospel of grace. Some the gospel of going to heaven. Some preach a message ABOUT Christâabout His PERSONâbut although they may CALL it the gospel of Christ, it is NOT the Gospel Christ TAUGHT and preached.
âNote it! The Gospel Jesus said it is necessary to believe is âthe Gospel of the KINGDOM OF GODâ. A kingdom is a GOVERNMENT. So Jesus preached the Gospelâor GOOD NEWSâof the coming GOVERNMENT OF GOD being restored to the earth!
âIt is VITAL that you establish, clearly once for all, WHAT Gospel Jesus brought from GodâWHAT Gospel God also sent to the Gentiles. For âtraditional Christianityâ HAS PREACHED A DIFFERENT GOSPEL. And your Bible says THE WHOLE WORLDâALL NATIONSâhave been DECEIVED!
âHave YOU? Better make SURE!
âNow I want you to notice TWO important points.
â1) The Message Jesus taught was SENT BY GOD.
â2) Jesus was powerless, OF HIMSELF. The WORK OF GOD, which He started, was carried on BY THE POWER OF GODâS HOLY SPIRIT. It was that Spirit, IN HIS PERSONAL HUMAN BODY, which carried on GODâS WORK.â
The Plain Truth, Personal from the Editor, April, 1968
Before concluding this chapter, we need to look at one more absolutely crucialâand definitive!âstatement from Mr. Armstrong. He removes all doubt concerning whether the gospel includes the understanding about Jesus Christâs roleâabout whether believing the gospel involves believing in or on Jesus. It also comes from his gospel booklet and appears under the subhead âWhich Gospel Did Jesus Preach?â:
Comprehensive Literature: The Restored Church of God offers to the public a wide range of free books, booklets and Bible Introduction Course lessons that thoroughly explain the incredible future awaiting every human being.
âAnd what do we read? âJesus 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.â
âNotice, Jesus said, âBelieve THE GOSPEL!â
âWhat Gospel? The one He was proclaimingââthe Gospel of the Kingdom of God.â
âBut, one may ask, donât we need to believe on Jesus? Of course. Other scriptures teach that. But at this particular time Jesus said we must believe Himâbelieve what He saidâbelieve the Gospel of the Kingdom of God! [Authorâs note: This is one of the most important paragraphs in the book. Get this! In regard to âbelief on Jesus,â Mr. Armstrong bluntly explains, âOTHER SCRIPTURES (meaning, not the gospel) TEACH THAT.â]
âSome believed on Jesus, but did not believe Jesusâdid not believe what He said (John 7:31; 8:30, 31, 46).â
âWe hear a great deal today of the gospel of men about the person of Jesus Christâconfining the message solely to the things about Jesus. As a result, millions believe on Christ, who do not believe Christ! But Jesusâ Gospel is His message!â
âAnd so now, what is that Gospel?
âThe English word Gospel comes from the word âGod-spell,â and means good news. Daily, we read the news of world happeningsâmostly bad news! We live in a troubled, chaotic world. And the very best news you can hear in this day, or any other, is the good news of the
Kingdom of God.â [Authorâs note: Not the âgood news of the forgiveness of our sins through Christâs sacrifice,â as the Living Church of God declares.]
What Is the True Gospel?, pp. 6-8
Understand that a vast number of additional quotes could have been included. (There will be more later.) But everything in life has a reasonable and natural limit. If you are not yet convinced the gospel is solely about the kingdom of God, you probably never will be. Such people are doomed to suffer the curse of acceptingâor tolerating and at least tacitly supportingâanother gospel!
Sent to Reveal the Father
The churches of the world routinely speak about Jesus Christ. How often did you hear about the Father in the church you attended before you were called? Probably never or almost never.
Remember Christ explained that His purpose was not to speak of Himself, but rather to reveal the Father to mankind for the first time. In fact, He said this: âHe that speaks of himself seeks his own glory: but he that seeks His [the Fatherâs] glory that sent Him [Jesus], the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in Himâ (John 7:18).
Consider what Jesus was saying. If the gospel of the kingdom of God was either an equation with the Person of Jesus Christ or He was a major component of the gospel along with the kingdom, then Christ would have had to speak of Himself almost continually, meaning as often as He preached the gospel. How many have thought of this? And how many have recognized that Christ would have had to routinely violate His own acknowledgement every time He preached the gospel?
Of course, Jesus certainly did explain His role as mankindâs Savior when He said, âI am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father, but by Meâ (John 14:6). Even this revelatory information given to His listeners was intended to show that He was the way to have access to the Father. Matthew 11:27 is plainer, stating, âneither knows any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him.â Jesus understood that He must both reveal the Father and point people to the Father. This is what He always did!
Now remember the âLordâs prayer.â Jesus explained that it was to teach people how to pray to the Father. Sadly, most in the world ignore this and pray primarily to Christ (or Mary) and they speak almost continually of âthe Lord thisâ and âthe Lord that.â Few pray to the Father, and even fewer regularly speak of the One who is the ultimate Head of a Family into which we are called to be His sons, not Christâs.
In John 6, Jesus also called Himself the âBread of lifeâ (vs. 48). Then, later in this chapter He spoke of how the Father must do the calling of anyone who comes âto the Sonâ (vs. 44, 65).
This is all very, very basic understanding that the entire Church once seemed to understand. Why will not the entire world of Christendom understand that the Christ who spoke the gospel everywhere He went also uttered what He did in John 7:18? Much more important, why will not the splinter leaders remember what they once knew? But the greatest question may be why so many thousands in the splinters seem so willing to believe that Christ (if He were part of the gospel) must have talked continually about Himself.
Jesus Christ did not do this, because He is not part of the gospel!
Four Keys to Deception
You have seen the plain, unmistakable teaching from Mr. Armstrong, quoting the Bible, about what is the true gospelâthat it is the kingdom of God, and nothing else!
This requires mentioning again the vital principle forgotten by so many: One of the 12 rules of Bible study is to always begin with the most basic, plain scriptures, and only then go on to verses which are less clear. We have applied that principle, only this time we employed it with what Mr. Armstrong wrote about a doctrine.
Understand a most basic point: When leaders deceive, they have to employ a methodologyâan often predetermined logic of deceptionâto the process. False teachers today must do four things ( wittingly or unwittingly), with the latter three employed when they cite Mr. Armstrong as the authority for the errorâany errorâthat they teach:
(1) Ignore (or twist) the clear weight of scripture.
(2) In this case, ignore the mountain of crystal clearâabsolutely plainâand conclusive statements from Mr. Armstrong emphatically stating, for instance, that the gospel is only about the kingdom of God.
(3) Isolate one less clear quote from him to make their point.
(4) Carefully ellipse that one statement because even it demonstrates, if shown in its entirety, that the gospel has nothing to do with Jesus Christâs sacrifice or anything else. LCG has done this in the most egregious fashion when they offer the only quote they could find to suit their purpose, which is to alter the gospel, baldly lie to Godâs people about it and continue seizing His tithes for themselves!
The subject of how splinter leaders deceive is of colossal importance to the twenty-first century people of God. Chapter Twelve will take you much deeper into why and how God has permitted their presence as one of the final great tests for His people.
God attaches such enormous importance to believing and preaching only the true gospel of the Bible that this subject is simply too big for even one large chapter. There are other errors being taught in regard to the mixed-up counterfeit gospel believed by many thousands todayâŚ