“As you go, preach this message: The kingdom of heaven is near.” -Matthew 10:7 NIV
The theme of one of our Asian conferences a few years ago in the Philippines was the Kingdom of God. It was chosen because it is one of the main themes in Scripture. Found throughout the Bible and arguably the central theme in both Old and New Testaments, it is the message that John the Baptist preached as he prepared the people of Israel to receive their King (Mathew 3:1-3). It is the first message that Jesus preached after his temptation in the desert (Matthew 4:17), and the message that He preached throughout His time on earth (Matthew 9:35, Luke 8:1).
Mary Nell and I heard the message of the kingdom of God in the early 1970’s. Bible teachers Earn Baxter, Charles Simpson, Derek Prince, Don Basham, and Bob Mumford all taught about the Kingdom of God and demonstrated its power by casting out demons and healing the sick. It was an exciting time as God confirmed His word with signs following. Then in the 1980’s, we moved with our family to Mexico and preached the gospel of the kingdom to indigenous people living in remote mountain villages. They embraced the message, and God confirmed His word by healing the sick, casting out demons, and changing the lives of all who heard and believed the message (Mark 16:17-18).
This is the example that Jesus left us: he not only proclaimed the message of the Kingdom; He validated the truth of it with demonstrations of God’s power over the enemy. He went throughout Galilee, Judea, and beyond the Jordan teaching and preaching the gospel of the kingdom and “healing all who were oppressed of the devil” (Acts 10:38). Many people heard about Him and brought the sick and demon-possessed to Him. He healed them and cast the demons out of them (Matthew 4:23-24).
“I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent” (Luke 4:43 NKJV)
Great multitudes followed Jesus because of His teachings and the powerful expressions of the Kingdom. When He began to leave their towns, they tried to stop him; but He said to them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent” (Luke 4:43 NKJV). Jesus knew that He had been sent to preach the message of the kingdom and to commit that same message to His disciples (Matthew 10:7, Luke 9:60). It is also the message that He gave to the church. Near the end of His time on earth He said, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14 NKJV).
Today the message is the same great news to all who believe: the Kingdom of God has come in the person of Jesus Christ our LORD and He will rule forever and ever! Let us live it and proclaim it wherever we go.