1 Corinthians 15:1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures
I've no doubt this is part of the gospel,but should it be to the exclusion of Jesus's main gospel?
Luke 4:43:“I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.”
Matthew 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
Let's examine the historical and biblical context of these Corinthians passages to help us determine if the truth of Jesus's death and resurrection is all we should preach.To quote Anthony Buzzard from his book "Our fathers who aren't in heaven:the forgotten Christianity of Jesus the Jew":
"The point at issue in the Corinthian letter was the resurrection of Jesus which some of the Corinthians were beginning to doubt.--"How do some among you say there is no resurrection from the dead?"(1 Cor. 15:12)In response to this particular crisis in belief,Paul reminds his audience that the death and resurrection of Jesus are of absolutely fundamental significance in the Christian gospel.Without the death of Jesus to gain forgiveness for all of us,and without his return from death to life through resurrection,there can be no hope of salvation in the coming Kingdom.The Gospel of the Kingdom is nullified if in fact Jesus has not been raised from the dead."p.326
"The Corinthians had already accepted that belief(in the Kingdom of God)as part of the Gospel of salvation.Thus Paul is able to elaborate on the already understood doctrine of the Kingdom only a few verses later.Having just mentioned the future coming of Jesus(1 Cor. 15:23),he speaks of the kingdom over which Jesus will preside at his coming.(verses 25-27)."p. 326
Christians should not be isolating these Corinthians passages out of context as the sole Christian message because the theme of the bible is ALSO the kingdom of God,from Genesis to Revelation.
The ground was cursed and the tree of life was off limits to Adam who brought death upon himself and every man via sin,rebellion,and disobedience.(Gen. 3:17,24,Rom. 5:12)The Last Adam(Jesus the Christ) via faithfulness,obedience and love for Yahweh his father and his God(John 20:17) restored everything the first Adam lost.(Rom. 5:19,1 John 3:8,Heb. 1:9,1 Cor. 15:22,Rev. 21:1-4,22:2)Since this is the message from Genesis to Revelation,then we should be preaching it just as Jesus and the apostles did with vigor and determination to follow Jesus's footsteps closely,to give hope to mankind!(1 Pet. 2:21,2 Peter 3:13)The message of Jesus's death and resurrection without the promise of a heavenly kingdom on a new earth in the future,at the Last Day when Jesus returns from heaven with his rewards,(Acts 3:21,Rev. 22:12) is missing a key INTEGRAL component.For that was the whole purpose for Jesus's death and resurrection!To impute righteousness to faithful mankind so that they may inherit the earth and dwell forever upon it in peace and bliss.
Psalm 37:29:The upright will have the earth for their heritage, and will go on living there for ever.
Psalm 72:7:In his days may the righteous flourish, And abundance of peace till the moon is no more. 8:May he also rule from sea to sea And from the River to the ends of the earth
Matt. 5:5: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth."
How could Christians possibly miss this biblical theme and promise as an essential preaching tool to bring disciples to Jesus,the king of the upcoming eternal kingdom?It's pretty devastating when you think about it.
On one hand ,we have the Jehovah's Witnesses who faithfully proclaim a new earth for humanity while at the same time denying that all Christians have this hope(144,000 will be disembodied heaven dwellers),and that to have the hope at all,those within their organization must obey a few men who are anointed and born again while the rank and file simply cannot be.(John 3:3,Eph. 2:15-22,4:5)Satan has entered the picture and tainted it with deception!On the other hand,we have orthodox Christians who faithfully(well,some of them) proclaim that we become disembodied immortal spirits at death while we fly off to heaven.And that the resurrection isn't of actual people but simply,well,"dust."Essentially transferring the hope for mankind to something far removed from a genuine resurrection at the LAST DAY that was the true hope of every single biblical believer,as opposed to a glorification and inheritance LONG BEFORE.(1 Cor. 15:52,1 Thes. 4:16,2 Tim. 4:6-8,Heb. 11:40,Acts 2:34)Again,Satan has entered the picture and tainted it with relentless deception.
Abraham was to look all around him at his inheritance that he saw afar off but with eyes of faith knew would come to fruition.(Heb. 11:8-10)He wasn't commanded to look UP to the sky because he would inhabit the same residence as those made to be angels and heavenly beings.This SAME hope for Abraham was prepared in heaven,and is being still,(John 14:3)for Abraham's offspring,heirs of the SAME PROMISE,a new earth.(Matt. 6:10)This truth is so far removed from modern Christian thoughtforms that it's downright astounding.
Genesis 13:14 The Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward, 15 for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted. 17 Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.”
Galatians 3:29:And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God's promise to Abraham belongs to you.
Romans 15:8: For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God's truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs
"The promise made to Abram(Gen. 12:1-4) provides the bedrock foundation for God's subsequent dealings with mankind.The Christian faith is incomprehensible when divorced from the divine oath of promise which formed the basis of God's covenant or contract with Abraham(Gen. 15:18),justly called "the father of the faithful"(Rom. 4:1,11,12,16).As Paul the apostle remarked,the Christian good news(or gospel) of salvation had been preached in advance to Abraham.(Gal. 3:8)God's dealings with Abraham forge a link between the patriarchs and the Christian faith as taught by Jesus,uniting the story of the Bible in a coherent whole."p.21 "Our fathers who aren't in heaven:the forgotten Christianity of Jesus the Jew" by Anthony Buzzard
The hope of Christians is the same hope Abraham had,again,to inherit the land..north,south,east,and west!And to have dominion over Paradise.:)We will be sitting at that same kingdom table,feasting with Jesus and the OT patriarchs(Matt 8:11),who again weren't promised to reside in heaven but to inherit a new earth,a kingdom from heaven,a heavenly kingdom.Anything that comes from God could be described as Godly or heavenly.Anything with it's origin from God in the heavens could be said to be heavenly.
Daniel 7:27: And the kingdom and the dominion
and the greatness of the kingdoms UNDER the whole heaven
shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High;
their kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom,
Hebrews 2:5: Now it was not to angels that God subjected the world(the land,or earth) to come, of which we are speaking.
We were made MEN and WOMEN by God,to inherit a new earth(if faithful) from heaven,under heaven.He made angels and the like for a different purpose,a different glory.I don't see anything good in scripture coming from anyone desiring to reside where they weren't created to reside or to be who they weren't created to be.(Gen. 6:1-7)Paul scoffed at the idea of disembodiment and his hope was for a CLOTHING at the Last Day.(2 Cor. 5:2-4)Logically,this means he never wanted to be a disembodied spirit creature or to inherit immortality before the Last Day.(2 Tim. 4:6-8,Heb. 11:40)How could this be missed by the majority of modern Christianity?
God will descend to dwell amongst men(whether that's literal or not would be conjecture on my part since he can dwell in people and amongst people without LITERALLY stepping down.) New Jerusalem DESCENDS to the earth after being prepared in heaven..In other words,we don't fly away to live in heaven with God and New Jerusalem doesn't ASCEND.As propounded from biblical cover to cover,our eyes on the prize should be a transfigured land,a transformed heavenly earth,even as we place our hope in heaven from whence our blessings will descend.(Rev. 21:2,3)
"The gospel records of our Lord's life and teaching DO NOT SPEAK of going to heaven,as a modern believer so naturally does.Rather the emphasis is on that which is "heavenly" coming down to man...Our modern way of speaking of life with God as being life "in heaven" is not the way the gospels speak of the matter."----William Strawson "Jesus and the Future Life" p. 38
I appreciate the way Anthony Buzzard words it in his book when he articulates what the gospel of the death and resurrection of Jesus WITHOUT the true kingdom message involved means:
"The loss of Christianity's central point may be likened to a team hoping to go to the moon.They decide that they need a launching pad and a spaceship in order to realize their dream.After they have acquired the necessary equipment for the journey,they forget what it was they needed the equipment for.Their interest in the pad and the spaceship remains,but the trip to the moon is forgotten.
In NT Christianity the prospect of a place in the future Kingdom of God provides the stimulus to the whole Christian venture.The death and resurrection of Jesus make possible the believer's hope for a share in that kingdom.Grasping the nature of the hope is the first step to be taken by the disciple.Belief in Jesus provides the way to the goal and guarantees its ultimate realization.
In contemporary presentations of the "Gospel" people are being asked to "believe in Jesus," in the absence of a clear idea of what Jesus stands for.They are not exposed to Jesus' Message about the kingdom,which he preached long before he spoke of his death and resurrection.The situation is comparable to a political campaign in which a candidate appeals for support before the voters know what his manifesto is.It is difficult to express intelligent faith in Jesus unless one understands what Jesus meant by his "News about the kingdom"--the gospel as Jesus proclaimed it."pp.338-339 "Our fathers who aren't in heaven:the forgotten Christianity of Jesus the Jew"
The disciples asked:
Acts 1:6:“Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”
No one should doubt that the disciples knew what the kingdom was,where it is going to be,and what their inheritance was!If Jesus preached the kingdom constantly along with his apostles,is anyone REALLY to believe they didn't know what it was?Jesus didn't rebuke them for their definition of it but simply for trying to know the times and seasons that only his father knew.They were eager for that land promised to Abraham!Why exactly are the best known theologians,the majority of preachers,the every day Christians oblivious to these basic bible truths?Well,there are many reasons,but I'll espouse one,as quoted in Anthony's book:
"Like all concepts the meaning of religious terms is changed with a changing experience and a changing world view.Transplanted into the Greek world view,inevitably the Christian teaching was modified--indeed tranformed...Jewish presuppositions tended to disappear.Especially were the MESSIANIC hopes forgotten or transferred to a transcendent sphere beyond death.When the empire became Christian in the 4th century,the notion of a Kingdom of Christ on earth to be introduced by a great struggle all but disappeared.Immortality--the philosophical conception--took the place of the resurrection of the body....As thus the background has changed from Jewish to Greek,so are the fundamental religious conceptions..We have thus a peculiar combination--the religious doctrines of the bible run through the forms of an alien philosophy."--G.W Knox(professor of philosophy and the history of religion) Encyclopedia Britannica 11th ed. vol. 6 p. 284
Basically,what is obvious to me and noted by too many scholars and experts past and present to count,modern Christianity has divorced biblical revelation from it's Jewish context,it's Messianic hopes,and imposed upon scripture Greek philosophical concepts that simply aren't really present at all,except through egregious misuse of scripture and a blind denial of clear texts.
"The NT speaks always of disapproval and usually with blunt denunciation of Gentile cults and philosophies.It agrees essentially with the Jewish indictment of the pagan world...The modern church often misunderstands its relation to the OT and Israel,and often inclines to prefer the Greek attitude to the NT view."--F.V. Filson,The New Testament Against Its Environment,pp.26,27,43
Again,to exclude the bible's hope from Genesis to Revelation,a restored renewed earth,from our gospel is an injustice to the message,creating a truncated one.
What God begins and ends his holy book with should demand attention and proclamation!
Genesis 2:9:And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.(KJV)
Revelation 22:2 through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
FINALLY God's purpose for man fulfilled..from the first book to the last,at last his kingdom come,the heavenly government where blessings will flow from the heavens to the earth and we can only imagine the gifts to come!
Ecclesiastes 3:11:It is beautiful how God has done everything at the right time. He has put a sense of eternity in people's minds. Yet, mortals still can't grasp what God is doing from the beginning to the end [of time]
That's one integral reason why we must declare: "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!"(Mark 1:15)
Romans 10:16“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
Preach the Lord,his death,resurrection and the purpose for it!The Kingdom of Yahweh and His Christ.
Revelation 11:15:“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.”
Daniel 2:44:the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever
"How different the churches might be if they ceased trying to fit Jesus into a traditional Greek philosophically-influenced straitjacket and presented him as the Jewish Messiah and savior of the world,offering his followers something far beyond promises of "heaven"--as a disembodied soul!...The Bible,if read as a Messianic document,tells a thrilling story of a gracious Creator's intention to rescue our planet and restore permanent peace and security for all nations."p.12 "Our fathers who aren't in heaven:the forgotten Christianity of Jesus the Jew" by Anthony Buzzard
Christians should be able to properly define death(because if they can't do that then naturally our real hope at the Last Day will be transferred and all but ignored) and God's kingdom,to recognize where our hope for immortality and glorification REALLY lies and when..at Christ's return and not prior..Generally,they're not.It's inexcusable and tragic.Their reliance on and utter trust in their blind leaders and tradition is every bit as disconcerting as the Jehovah's Witnesses'.Some of Christendom's false doctrines like hell,automatic immortality of a soul,and the trinity have led many astray TO religions like Judaism with no Messiah,the WT society,even atheism.Their bloodguilt is profound.I'm not condemning individual Christians just like I'm not condemning individual JW's..I'm simply appalled at certain systems and certain Greek philosophically influenced and saturated doctrines within them that have strayed from the truth and refuse to be properly reformed.Because they think they already are.