By Charles Carrin
Jesus’ gospel is specific, exactly identified in New Testament doctrine, is not vague, and has the same character, nature, and disposition, as the Kingdom from which it proceeds. It is a commissioned, ambassadorial representation of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. As such, the “Gospel of the Kingdom” is permanent, secure, and unchanging. In the purpose of God, it is this same gospel, unabridged and exact from the first century, which we must preach today. We dare not--through excuse-making to justify our failures or theological maneuvering to hide our ignorance--suppose we can alter that gospel or separate it from the Kingdom. To do so isolates us from Kingdom-power and produces an imitation, inefficient gospel. Much of current Christianity is bereft of the Holy Spirit’s “signs and wonders” Jesus promised and in their place has substituted an alluring--but soulish--imitation. The greatest problem in the North American Church is its creation of this “denominationalized” gospel which has been re-designed to accommodate dozens of public opinions. In many cases, truth that does not fit local preference is carefully disqualified: I Corinthians 11 is valid, 12 is not, 13 is valid, 14 is not., 15 is valid ..., and so the emasculation of the Word continues. The result is a “church” gospel with which denominational hierarchies are comfortable--the “Kingdom” gospel has been subtly replaced.
Thankfully, this is not true in other parts of the world--and explains why their gospel is “turning the world upside-down.” Acts 17:6. In the past century, primarily as a result of full-gospel preaching, more than 100,000,000 believers in Latin America have come to Christ. In China the statistics are more amazing. Africa is ablaze.
A. Matthew 4:23-25. “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 people. And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatic, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them. And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judea, and from beyond Jordan.”
B. Matthew 24:14-15. “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”
Jesus spoke of The Kingdom 130 times in the New Testament, in most cases emphasizing a different aspect of the Kingdom’s purpose and meaning. In its widest scope, the Kingdom is the rule of God by which He governs every aspect of the Universe. That rule directs the spiritual and physical realms of Creation. Nothing is exempt from its power. Not even Hell, Satan, demons, or angels, are beyond the reach and dominion of His Kingdom’s reign. In its lessor scope, the Kingdom is the rule of God in which He extends spiritual authority to believers to rule and reign with Him. In this capacity it is possible for one to be near the Kingdom but not in it, to be an heir of it but not possess it. Most tragically of all, it is possible for one to read about it in Scripture but not believe it. In a progressive revelation, the extent of the Kingdom opens to us like pages in a great book. We may stop reading at page one or we may proceed beyond page 10,000.
Our concepts can stop at the level of tree tops above our heads or we may go light-years beyond the most remote galaxy in outer space. The extent of the Kingdom is as inexhaustible as God Himself.
The gospel of the Kingdom is a reflection of this greatness and therefore is much, much more than presentation of Bible facts. It is the vocal, audible, declaration of Jesus’ universal atonement, accompanied by the Holy Spirit’s anointing, which draws into one message all the spiritual and physical benefits of Kingdom power. In varying ways, this Kingdom-gospel is confirmed with “signs following”. Through it, the Spirit and the Bride simultaneously say “come.” In the intent of God, this is the only gospel; ageless, unchanged, eternally the same. Any lessor gospel is insubordination to the Kingdom. The purpose of the Holy Spirit’s anointing is to empower redeemed men and women with Kingdom authority to preach that gospel with all its original, miraculous manifestations. The gospel of the Kingdom is not intended for the hearer’s outer ear only but for the inner ear of his heart; its target is not merely to change his thinking but to prepare his total nature--body, soul, and spirit--into Kingdom of God citizenship.
Therefore, the authentic gospel is an extension of Kingdom authority through the human voice. When Peter preached to the household of Cornelius, “The Holy Spirit fell on all them who heard the word,” Acts 10:44-45. Today, as then, the empowered gospel can invade the physical realm, reconnect it to the spiritual by changing natural circumstances into supernatural manifestations. Peter’s presence as a messenger of the Kingdom was essential but the man himself was not the source of power--it was the Holy Spirit’s anointing upon him. Then, as now, the Holy Spirit anoints preaching that honors Jesus. “For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit ...” 1 Thessalonians 1:5. Paul further explained, “Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.” Romans 15:19-20. Today, Peter and Paul are long-gone but the Holy Spirit is still here.
Our understanding the spiritual nature of the gospel is not achieved by human wisdom. Fundamental truth comes by God’s revelation. We are to “study to show ourselves approved unto God,” II Timothy 2:15, but Paul goes on to explain, “I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Galatians 1:11-13. Seminaries, Bible Schools, are important, but their efforts are in vain if the student does not receive his own personal anointing with the Holy Spirit. Personal anointing was necessary even for Jesus: He “came to Nazareth ... And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel ... ” Luke 4:16-20. Both with Christ or us, kingdom-preaching is inseparably connected to anointing. The words “Christ” and “Christian”--from the Greek word chrios--are designations of anointing.
Information about the gospel may be learned academically but the actual ministry of the gospel can be experienced only by the Holy Spirit. The difference between preaching and lecturing is the presence or absence of the anointing. Paul explained, “Our sufficiency is of God who has made us able ministers of the New Testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” II Corinthians 3:5-7. Apart from the Holy Spirit even the “letter” of the New Testament becomes destructive. The holy anointing which speaks through the preached Word is able to destroy evil, bring light into darkness, pull down demonic strongholds, transform fallen humanity into Christ’s divine nature, and bring men to salvation. The proof of the gospel is the “mighty signs and wonders” which accompany it. Where there are no “signs” there is no full gospel. The point is this: Bible literature remains only that until the voice of the Holy Spirit speaks through it. Fully presented, the gospel produces the same results today as it did in the first century.
Jesus said to the first disciples, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching themto observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20. Jesus was emphatic. His instruction, “teach them all things,” referring specifically to the church at the “end of the age” is unmistakably clear. He expected the 21st century church is to be taught precisely what He taught the first century church. There is no change! A century ago, Charles Spurgeon shouted his warning to the church: “Death and condemnation to a church that is not yearning after the Spirit, crying and groaning until the Spirit has wrought mightily in her midst. He is here! He has never gone back since He descended at Pentecost ... Brethren, if we do not have the Spirit of God, it were better to shut the churches, nail up the doors, put on a black cross and say, ‘God have mercy on us!’ If you ministers have not the Spirit of God, you better not preach and you people had better stay at home. I think I speak not too strong when I say that a church without the Spirit of God is rather a curse than a blessing. This is the solemn word: ‘The Holy Spirit or nothing ... and worse than nothing!’”
Question: Why do those supporting the “cessation” theory claim God removed the Holy Spirit’s power from the gospel?
Answer: To justify the absence of miracles and acquit itself of failure, the modern church has blamed God for the power’s disappearance. But hear what Paul said about such a change: “I marvel that you are so soon removed from him who called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some who trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that you have received, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:6-10. How could language possibly be more plain? I know not! Quoting Paul, may I say that any “gospel” which claims to be different from the original is a “perverted” gospel. Scripture severely warns against our preaching “another gospel.” In the sight of God there is only one, the original gospel endorsed by and in tribute to His Son.
Question: Why are we not experiencing “first century” power in our day? I can give you a one-word answer: Unbelief. The power is absent because the masses of Christianity have replaced faith in Bible truth with doctrines of denial. Jesus established one church for all time; there is no such thing as an “apostolic” and “post-apostolic” gospel with different teachings, different powers, and different expectations. As Jesus is “the same yesterday, today, and forever,” so His gospel is as unchanging as Himself. Hebrews 13:8. “One Lord, one faith, one baptism.” Ephesians 4:5. But new winds are blowing! Millions of believers are returning to faith in the full gospel message. Out of a world-wide population of two billion, more than 500,000,000 Christians now acknowledge the Holy Spirit’s gifts and power. I not only believe in Kingdom-power but I am seeing it happen in many, many congregations. Jesus said, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations and then shall the end come.”
Matthew 24:14-15. The Bible’s final word of warning about changing the gospel comes from Jesus. He said: “For I testify unto every man who hears the words of the prophecy of this book ... if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. He who testifies these things says, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” Revelation 22:16-20.
2 Peter 1:10-12. “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if you do these things, you shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” ___ CC
George Whitefield was an Englishman of the 18th century and one of the greatest evangelists of all times. Today’s "signs and wonders" would seem mild in comparison to the Spirit’s astonishing demonstrations that occurred in his ministry. My request of the Lord is that He will anoint me with the same Holy Spirit’s power that He put upon Whitefield. I encourage you to do the same. Be bold in your request of God. When preaching in Boston, Whitefield ordered people in the trees to come down. He knew that once the power of the Holy Spirit fell upon the crowd many of those sitting on tree limbs overhead would drop like acorns. Phenomenal signs accompanied his preaching.
For example, in the Fall of 1756 Whitefield preached at St. Michael’s Anglican Church in the village of Haworth, north England. The local pastor, William Grimshaw, was a godly man and powerful in the Scripture. Whitefield stood on a platform erected outside an open window of the church where he could be heard by those crowded within the building and the several thousand standing without. He paused silently to pray and then in a loud, commanding voice, announced his text: "It is appointed unto men once to die, and after death the judgment."
Before he could speak his next words there was a loud shriek from the audience. A person had dropped dead. There was a moment of confusion as Reverend Grimshaw rushed in that direction. The dead person was carried away. After a pause, Whitefield repeated the text loudly again, "It is appointed unto men once to die, and after death the judgment." From a different section came another shriek. A second person had dropped dead. Both had died instantly upon hearing Whitefield’s announcement about death and judgement. This one was also carried out of the crowd. From the place where the second person had fallen, Grimshaw shouted to Whitefield, "You are standing between the living and the dead!" His reference was to the time when Aaron stood with his censer between those alive and those who perished under God’s judgement. Numbers 16:48.
We know nothing about those who died that day, the condition of their souls, or why God chose to call them to judgement at the moment Whitefield proclaimed the word. But you and I do know that a holy terror gripped the people standing before him. This man was no ordinary preacher. The congregation knew that in a paralyzing way the Holy Spirit was "confirming the word with signs following." Mark 16:20.
A century ago, the ministry of Dwight L. Moody shook the nation in a way that continues to vibrate mankind to this day. What changed an ordinary man into one of the great voices in Christian history? Moody himself gives the explanation:
"I began to cry as never before for a greater blessing from God. The hunger increased; I really felt that I did not want to live any longer. I kept on crying all the time that God would fill me with His Spirit. Well, one day in the city of New York --- oh!, what a day, I cannot describe it, I seldom refer to it. It is almost too sacred an experience to name. Paul had an experience of which he never spoke for fourteen years. I can only say, God revealed Himself to me and I had such an experience of His love that I had to ask Him to stay His hand."
Moody's baptism with the Spirit was so overwhelming, so filling with the glory of heaven, that he felt he would be physically crushed there on the streets of New York. Moody's cry, "God --- stay Your hand!," is not unusual for those upon whom the power of the Spirit has fallen. Many Old Testament saints as well as Saul of Tarsus in the New Testament literally fell to the ground when the power of God came upon them. Strange as it seems to some, that manifestation of the Spirit still occurs today. On that historic day, Dwight L. Moody left the spot as a new man ---a new minister --- and a true New Testament evangelist. What God did for him, He will do for us also who, " ... cry as never before ... hunger ... do not want to live" without being "filled with the Spirit". Jesus said, "Ask and you shall receive." Drop your religious objection and receive everything God has! Believe me, you will like the change.
Charles Carrin Ministries