4. The gospel revealed in the ascension: If there were no ascension of Jesus, then we might assume that He was resuscitated in the tomb—as some of the Gnostics assumed in the second century—and then wandered off to die an old man in obscurity. For this reason the historian by inspiration of the Holy Spirit recorded what transpired with Jesus as He left this earth: While “they were looking, He was taken up and a cloud received Him out of their sight … they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up” (At 1:9,10). The ascension of Jesus into heaven is good news because we know that the resurrected Jesus was truly resurrected. He did not revived in the coolness of the tomb as some have claimed. The apostles did not experience an hallucination of Him after the resurrection, as some have claimed. They did not see a spirit after the resurrection. “Flesh and bones” ascended into heaven because “flesh and bones” had stood before them after the resurrection.
The gospel now revealed in the reign of King Jesus: It is necessary to fully understand the present kingdom reign of the resurrected Son of God in order to fully appreciate who and what He presently does in reference to the world in which we now live.
Jesus presently reigns over all things. However, some have marginalized the gospel reign of King Jesus by affirming that the church and the kingdom of Jesus are the same, thus assuming that Jesus reigns now only over those who are the church. In other words, since the kingdom is supposedly only the members of the church, then the reign of King Jesus is limited only to a small group of members throughout the world. But this cannot be true.
The preceding is an attack against the present good news that Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords (1 Tm 6:5). It is an attack against the fact that after Jesus ascended to the right hand of the Father, He was exalted “far above all principality and power and might and dominion and every name that is named” (Ep 1:21). It is an attack against the gospel that He “has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him” (1 Pt 3:22).
Though we do not now see everything subject to King Jesus, this does not mean that His kingdom is limited only to the church of submitted subjects. The Father “put all things in subjection under his feet” (Hb 2:8). “For in subjecting all things to Him, He left nothing that is not put under Him” (Hb 2:8). This is gospel news! It is good news because when we think that all things are out of control, we must remember that He has all things under His control. He upholds “all things by the word of His power” (Hb 1:3).
5. The gospel of the consummation of all things: There is an end coming, not only of the kingdom reign of Jesus, but also of all things as we now know them. The last enemy that will be subjected to King Jesus is death (1 Co 15:26). “And when all things are subjected to Him [King Jesus], then will the Son also Himself be subject to Him who put all things under Him, so that God may be all in all” (1 Co 15:28). When Jesus comes again, He will finalize His reign by returning His unique kingdom reign while the world still existed will not longer be needed after His return.
This will be the last event of the gospel, but will have nothing written about it after it has occurred. Our only information that we understand about the final coming of Jesus was recorded two thousand years ago. There will be no more revelation needed, for after the final coming of Jesus we will know all that was in the mind of God in reference to the gospel plan that was in the mind of God before the creation of the world.
Paul, as we, know the preceding gospel. His response to this knowledge should also be our response: “For woe is me if I do not preach the gospel” (1 Co 9:16). If we cannot get the gospel outside the four walls of our church house, then woe should be unto us. Therefore, “knowing the fear of the Lord we persuade men” through the power of the gospel (2 Co 5:11).
We know that in the religious world there are those who are “ignorant of God’s righteousness,” and thus, they are “seeking to establish their own righteousness” (Rm 10:3). And for this reason, they “have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God” through obedience to the gospel of God’s grace (Rm 10:3). They do not know that “Christ is the end of law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Rm 10:4). They do not know these things, and because they do not know the gospel, they do not have an opportunity to obey the gospel.
Therefore, would we dare keep the message of the gospel confined to our own self-righteous box? Would we keep the message to ourselves? If we do, then we have created our own self-righteous box in which we have convinced ourselves that the gospel will take us on into heaven without uttering a word to others about the good news of the Son of God who came into this world in order to take us out of this world.
[Next in series: March 26]