John J. Blanchard – Listen to audio
Good morning everyone. The gospel is often spoken of. You hear it in many venues. Many churches speak of the gospel. By and large, they all know that the gospel means the good news. It is euaggelion in Greek (#2098, Strong’s Concordance, 1995). It is the good message or the good news.
In Matthew 4 and in other places in the New Testament we can find that Christ brought the gospel message–the good news. Let’s start in Matthew chapter 4, verse 23. As Christ began His ministry we are told: “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.”
Christ indeed brought the gospel. If you notice here, the gospel is connected to the kingdom of God. You hear that much less often than the gospel is the good news. The fact that it’s linked to the kingdom of God is a very important bit of information. They are connected. What is this kingdom of God? Where is it? What is it composed of?
It is hard to put your finger on the kingdom of God, and I think that’s why a lot of people just don’t talk about it. It’s one thing to say Christ brought good news, salvation, and that our sins could be wiped away. The kingdom of God is sort of a nebulous thing. It is surrounded in mystery, and the Scriptures tell us that.
If you go to Matthew chapter 13, beginning in verse 10 we read: “And the disciples came and said to Him, ‘Why do You speak to them in parables?’ He answered and said to them, ‘Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.’”
Christ Himself says the gospel of the kingdom is surrounded and shrouded in mystery. Go to Mark chapter 4.
Mark chapter 4, verse 10: “But when He was alone, those around Him with the twelve asked Him about the parable. And He said to them, ‘To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables, so that “Seeing they may see and not perceive, and hearing they may hear and not understand; lest they should turn, and their sins be forgiven them.”’”
The good news of course is that sins can be forgiven. That is wonderful and will apply to all mankind eventually. But Christ said this is a mystery that I want you to understand. I don’t want everyone to understand the gospel of the kingdom just yet. Yet the gospel really is good news. It is good news about the kingdom of God. Why would Christ want to hide or obscure good news, any portion of it? There had to be a good reason.
At this time we probably can’t know all the answers to that question. It may take Christ’s return when we can physically ask Christ to explain it. However much can be learned from the Bible about the good news with Christ’s help.
The Bible is good news for everyone certainly, but there are certain aspects that are taught to mankind in a specific chronological order. All knowledge spreads and grows by being disseminated. It requires a teacher. It requires someone. It doesn’t matter if it’s physics, chemistry, or whatever, you learn from someone who teaches you. That means the knowledge itself is disseminated, and it travels from person to person. But it has to start somewhere.
Many scientists talk about Einstein’s Theory of Relativity today, but it took one person to be inspired or come up with the formula E=mc2, so they could start discussing the subject. It is the same thing with Edison and the lightbulb. We have lights everywhere now. People are inventing new forms of light because of the initial invention from Edison. It’s always that way. The knowledge starts with somebody who was the first to see it or discern it, and then it’s disseminated around the world.
THE HOLY SPIRIT HELPS US UNDERSTAND
To understand the gospel of the kingdom, we have to go to the Bible. The Bible tells us we can only understand it if Christ helps our mind learn it. It originates with Christ, as we saw in His work itself where He began spreading the gospel of the kingdom.
Turn to I Corinthians chapter 2. We are told here that without God’s help—the mind of Christ—we really can’t understand spiritual mysteries. In I Corinthians 2, we will begin in verse 6. “However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’ But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.”
We must have the Holy Spirit working with us in order to understand the mysteries of God’s word.
Continuing in verse 12 of I Corinthians 2: “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”
In other words, comparing the invisible to the invisible. It’s knowledge. Knowledge itself is invisible. What you do with knowledge may be visible, but the knowledge itself is invisible.
I Corinthians 2, verse 14: “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For ‘who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.”
Therefore the Holy Spirit is the mind of Christ teaching us the mysteries of God’s word. He teaches us to show us various aspects about the kingdom of God, and one of them is that there is a chronological order to the kingdom of God and who receives it.
AN ORDER TO SALVATION
Go to I Corinthians chapter 15, verse 20: “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.”
We see Christ is the firstfruit and then there are those who belong to Him who are also firstfruits, but not the first of the firstfruits. That’s only Christ, who was the first one resurrected from the dead. Then when He returns, there are those who are resurrected from the dead who are His. In other words, they had the Holy Spirit working in them when they died. That is the order. Then eventually comes the whole world because we are told, as in Adam all die, in Christ all will be made alive. Eventually that salvation is opened up to everyone, which means everyone will understand the parables and the mysteries of the kingdom of God.
Continuing in verse 24 of I Corinthians chapter 15: “Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom of God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. For ‘He has put all things under His feet.’ But when He says ‘all things are put under Him,’ it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted [speaking of the Father putting all things under Christ’s control]. Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.”
We see here that God the Father is ultimately in charge. Under Him is Jesus Christ who is given everything that is made. That includes everything that is out there in the universe. But until that happens, Christ reigns, but He is not reigning over everything in the physical sense until all enemies are defeated by Him. That includes death, and death is still out there. People are dying every day. We see an interesting verse there, and that is verse 24.
Let’s reread verse 24: “Then comes the end…”
After the first of the firstfruits—Christ is resurrected—then there are the firstfruits of His that belong to Him. They are resurrected. He then “delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.”
Christ literally says, here is the kingdom, Father. I have put all enemies under My feet. Where has the kingdom been? At the resurrection, Christ gives it to the Father and says, here’s the kingdom. I have defeated all My enemies. Where was it? That is at the resurrection. That is the final resurrection with Christ’s return. Where and what is the kingdom, is one of the great mysteries of the Bible.
With help from the mind of Christ, we should be able to understand this. We should be able to put the Scriptures together, and with the mind of Christ working with us, understand this subject. He told the disciples, I want you to understand the mysteries of the kingdom. We believe we are disciples of Christ. We are learning from Christ. That means Christ should be teaching us these things, but we have to focus on it and try to understand God’s word. We need to put the Scriptures together and let Him talk to us through the Scriptures.
When you study the kingdom of God, you are going to find out that the parables contain a wealth of information about the kingdom of God. They have a wealth of information! There are certain logical requirements that I want to put in place, so when we look at the parables, we’ll know what we are looking for.
A kingdom must have four things that I have identified today. First of all you must have a king. A kingdom requires a king. Second of all, as we have learned in the past, a kingdom requires territory. It requires physical soil—territory. Thirdly, it must have subjects. A king with no subjects isn’t much of a king. Lastly, it has to have laws to rule the kingdom by.
THE KING OF THE FUTURE KINGDOM
First of all let’s look at the king. Let’s turn to John chapter 18. This is where He was getting brought before Pilate. John 18, verse 37: “Pilate therefore said to Him, ‘Are You a king then?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.’”
In other words as we just read in I Corinthians 2, the Holy Spirit—the mind of Christ—teaches us, and we should be able to hear His voice talking now about the mysteries of the kingdom. But He says straight out to Pilate just before His crucifixion, yes, I am a King.
Go to Revelation 19, which is not totally fulfilled yet, of course. Revelation 19, verse 11: “Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself.”
He is going to defeat all of His enemies. That’s what we were told in I Corinthians 15. He makes wars on His enemies, and the last enemy to defeat is death itself.
Verse 13: “He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations.”
That sharp sword is the Word of God—the Bible. That is His name as well.
Continuing in verse 15 of Revelation 19: “And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”
Jesus Christ is the King.
THE LAWS OF THE FUTURE KINGDOM
I want to skip now to the fourth of the four requirements—the laws of the kingdom. Then we will come back to the territory and the subjects. Let’s go to Matthew chapter 5. We have done many sermons on the law of God. Let’s just do a quick review in Matthew chapter 5.
Matthew chapter 5, verse 17: “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill [Jesus Christ says]. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
It is obvious the Ten Commandments are the basis of the laws of the kingdom of God, and we are blessed if we observe them now. If we do not observe them, or worse yet teach others not to observe them, and if by some way we make it into the kingdom of God, He says we will be the very least in the kingdom. He says this because we did not obey and teach the law when we were alive and had the opportunity to do so physically.
We can see we now have a King, and we have the laws for the kingdom. We have to have territory and subjects. Let’s look at territory for a moment.
THE TERRITORY OF THE KINGDOM
Territory is soil. We are on the territory now of the Upper Peninsula in the territory of the United States. There are various territories around the world, but they are composed of land—soil, dirt.
Go back to Matthew chapter 13 where Christ talks about the soil here in the Parable of the Sower. Read Matthew13:1-9.
Here we are talking about soil, the depth of earth, good soil, and fertile ground. Obviously Christ is talking about Himself as a sower and human beings as the earth—the dirt, the territory.
Go to the epistle of James chapter 5. This goes with the concept of Christ sowing seed. James 5, beginning in verse 7: “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”
God is indeed a farmer. Christ is sowing the seed. He sows it in humanity, so that humanity can become His territory if they are part of those who receive the gospel of the kingdom and have the Holy Spirit working with them.
There is something very interesting back at the beginning of the Bible in Genesis. Go back to Genesis chapter 2. We see the creation of Adamic man here, and we are told in verse 7: “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”
You see territory in the making! Earth was brought together in the form of human beings to receive the seed that the Holy Spirit could work with to teach us the mysteries of the kingdom, which is the subject of today. With that in mind, let’s go back to I Corinthians chapter 15, and we will read a little bit more of that chapter.
I Corinthians chapter 15, verse 35: “But someone will say, ‘How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?’ Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies. And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain—perhaps wheat or some other grain. But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body.”
In other words, there are seeds for all types of living things. There are seeds for pear trees, seeds to grow carrots in the garden or corn or wheat, like the Parable of the Sower. He goes on to explain the difference between men and animals and men and angels.
Drop down to verse 42 of I Corinthians chapter 15: “So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption.”
The body is sown so that it will die. We were just told nothing can bear fruit unless it dies first. Christ could not bear more fruit until He died, so that we could have our sins removed.
Continuing in verse 43 of I Corinthians 15: “It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.”
We are all weak and frail physically but also spiritually. We all sin. We all fall short of the glory of God.
Verse 44: “It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.”
When we are resurrected, we can have a spiritual body.
Verse 45: “And so it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual.”
We must have a physical body first in order to bear fruit and have a spiritual body, ultimately.
Verse 47: “The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.”
We all look something like Adam and Eve. The purpose of God through the spreading of the gospel of the kingdom and salvation is that we will take on the image of God the Father and Jesus Christ. We will look like Them. He is speaking mostly in the spiritual sense. We are working toward that state where we can have a perfect body, which means a perfect mind in a perfect body. We will no longer be subject to the temptations of sin, having overcome that. That is a spiritual state that is impossible for us to fully comprehend because we are so physical, and we sin all the time. But that is the promise held out to us, and it is a great mystery in its own right!
WE DO NOT ALWAYS SEE THE RESULTS
With all this knowledge now that we have just looked at these Scriptures, let’s look at another parable or two. Turn to Matthew chapter 13. This is the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares.
Matthew chapter 13, verse 24: “Another parable He put forth to them, saying: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field…’”
We see the kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. We just saw that Christ is the sower.
Continue reading Matthew 13:25-30.
We have this parable of good seed hopefully landing on good soil, but an enemy putting in tares. These are bad plants among the wheat. It’s another mystery. How did Satan get away with this? That was supposed to be the seed for God’s kingdom. That’s what the parable was telling us. Why didn’t Christ stop it? Why didn’t He say, no, you cannot put seed in there, Satan! He had more power than Satan. He defeated Satan at the great temptation. After forty days of fasting, He defeated Satan, so why was this allowed?
Let’s go to Mark chapter 4. There is a fascinating little parable here. We are going to start in verse 26 of Mark 4. “And He said, ‘The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how. For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head. But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.’”
Put that knowledge together with the wheat and the tares where the tares are gathered up before the good wheat is gathered into Christ’s barn. But there is some interesting information about the gospel of the kingdom.
Christ obviously is the sower, and He scattered seed on the ground. Yes, He went to sleep. He died. We are told that when He died, it was night. He said when I am alive and walking the earth, it is daytime. When He died, He said that was night, because the truth had died, temporarily until He was resurrected.
It said that the sower, “should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how.” How is it that Christ does not know how? When He was dead in the grave, He did not know what was happening. But there was something else that He did not know as well.
The “earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head. But when the gain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”
Those who have followed Christ have sown seed in His name ever since. Do they know how it spreads? We have websites. We have literature. It’s going all over the world. Do we know what it’s doing? Absolutely not! God the Father does. The same principle was applied to Christ’s life while He was asleep. When He died, there were three days and three nights that He was in the grave. One hundred and twenty people believed in Him out of those innumerable multitudes really that were following Him around. There were thousands of people. He knew there were eleven who believed Him. Judas may have believed Him, but he went bad. He knew the eleven, but he did not know necessarily who all would be there on Pentecost! He said, if you listen to Me, be at such and such a place on Pentecost. One hundred and twenty people came. There is a reason why Christ does not know exactly who is going to have the seed sprout in them. Turn to John chapter 6. The answer is very simple.
John chapter 6, verse 41: “The Jews then complained about Him, because He said, ‘I am the bread which came down from heaven.’ And they said, ‘Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, “I have come down from heaven?”’ Jesus therefore answered and said to them, ‘Do not murmur among yourselves. No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets. “And they shall all be taught by God.” Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.’”
It is up to the Father to draw. Christ does not run around picking which seed will take hold, so He scatters the seed not knowing! The Father is in charge of that. Obviously when the Holy Spirit enters (that is Jesus Christ’s mind), He then knows this one is Mine, but it was the Father who set all that up. The Father is in charge.
Let’s go to John chapter 5. Back up a little bit. John chapter 5, verse 16: “For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath [speaking of some healings]. But Jesus answered them, ‘My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.’”
He says, My Father and I work. That’s what we do, but we are working to save the human race. That is His whole purpose.
Let’s go to John chapter 9, flipping over just a few pages. John chapter 9, verse 1: “Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him. I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.’”
This is why when He died, the sunlight went out. He did not know what was going on. The Father alone was in charge of whose seed was taking hold and who would show up on Pentecost. Christ awoke from the dead and said, this is wonderful, Father! You arranged all of this for Me! He says this because no man can come to Christ unless the Father draws Him. Here Christ says, I and My Father both work, but My Father is in charge. I do the work of Him who sent Me.
There is this order of authority, and Christ stuck with what He was supposed to do. He didn’t try to usurp His Father. He did His job, and He did it exceedingly well. The Father continues to do His job, drawing who He will to Jesus Christ and making it possible for them to understand the mysteries of the kingdom. It is an amazing system! You look at all the parables of the kingdom, and it just starts to open up how amazing this all is!
SEED FOR SPIRITUAL FRUIT
Let’s go to Luke chapter 13, verse 18: “Then He said, ‘What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and put in his garden; and it grew and became a large tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches.’”
You plant this tiny seed in your garden. I am always astounded by that. Some seeds are so small. Beet seeds and carrot seeds are so tiny, yet you get this big plant from them. He says eventually it can be like a mustard plant which grows up big enough and strong enough to support birds that land on it. Now that in essence is talking about a spiritual lesson for us that if we get the seed in us and we become big and strong, angels can literally support themselves on our branches. They can come back and forth. They can help us get messages from God. We have talked about that in the past.
Now let’s go to Matthew chapter 13 once again because God the Father is in charge of fixing the mess, so to speak. This is the Parable of the Sower once again. Matthew chapter 13, verse 7: “And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”
God the Father is going to make sure the seed lands on good soil that Christ can work with, so that we can bear a crop a hundred, sixty, or thirtyfold. That is in our own life, growing in the fruits of the Spirit. Also it is seed that we in turn have scattered, and we have no idea! But by our example and what we do for others and teaching them, it can sprout and land somewhere else! God the Father is once again in charge. It is an amazing system. It is amazing how God is doing all of this.
Tares are definitely in the field. We know they are there. Sometimes we can even identify them because of their fruits. We shall know them by their fruits. But God the Father will take care of uprooting the tares when it is the right time. He will tell the angels to go forth and remove the tares, so that He can put good, clean grain in His barn.
Now let’s go to Matthew chapter 18, just over a few pages. In Matthew 18:6 we are told something interesting: “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!”
There will be offenses in the Church, just like there are in the world. Those offenses are what makes God’s plants stronger. How is that? We are not talking about weeds in our own lives or stony ground in our own lives. We are talking about those around us who may be tares. They make life difficult for us. God allows those tares, so that the seeds that He has sprouted will have something to resist and learn very crucial things that will be needed in the kingdom of God: judgment, mercy, faith, compassion, and forgiveness. These are the real fruits of the Spirit that He wants to grow in us sixty, a hundred, or thirtyfold. We learn those things by getting offended and people being hard toward us and difficult. It is how we gain invisible fruit.
God the Father looks down on the earth as the Farmer and says, look at how My seed is doing. My Son scattered the seed. Now His sons of the kingdom are scattering the seed, and it is bearing fruit for Me. That’s what we were told in James chapter 5.
Now let’s go back to Matthew chapter 13 again. These are all going back and forth in the parables and what have you. In the explanation of the Parable of the Tares, we are told this beginning in Matthew 13, verse 40: “Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness.”
That’s why we are told, woe to those who cause the offenses. They will be gathered out of the kingdom. There will be no offenses in the kingdom of God when it is physically here over the whole earth.
THE KINGDOM IS NOT HERE YET
There are people now who are God’s territory. These are His subjects who live by the laws of God and who are developing forgiveness, mercy, and compassion as subjects of His kingdom. It is an invisible kingdom composed of the people who receive the Holy Spirit and who are operating under His laws.
The kingdom is not here yet, in essence, everywhere over the terrain globe—over the land we stand on. Someday it will be. But those of us who are the earth to God—the soil—we are part of His kingdom. We are learning as kings and priests. There are many places you could read about that.
Therefore firstfruits are now providing subjects for God’s kingdom that will eventually be all over the earth. The firstfruits are the soil and the territory—the land that God can use to plant and sprout His seed while we await our King who will establish the kingdom over the whole earth. Eventually God’s seed will shine, we are told, like the sun. We will be able to be kings underneath our King in the kingdom of God and shine like the sun just like Jesus Christ does, when the kingdom is a reality for the whole earth.