THE KINGDOM OF GOD AS THE GOSPEL
In Luke 4:43 we have another term: the kingdom of God as the gospel. This verse says that the Lord Jesus and His disciples preached the kingdom of God as the gospel. Have you ever noticed that the preaching of the kingdom of God is just the preaching of the gospel? The kingdom is the gospel of the New Testament. The gospel of the New Testament is the kingdom.
Some may argue that the New Testament speaks of the gospel of life, the gospel of grace, and the gospel of salvation. However, all these are different aspects of the kingdom. The kingdom is the center, the hub, and all the other items may be considered as the spokes. All of the spokes are centered on the hub. The gospel of life is for the kingdom, the gospel of salvation is for the kingdom, and the gospel of forgiveness is for the kingdom. All these different aspects of the gospel are for the kingdom. The kingdom is the real gospel. Our concept needs to be changed. Formerly, we may have thought that the gospel is the gospel and that the kingdom is something else. We realized we needed the gospel, but probably relegated the kingdom to the future. This is absolutely wrong. The kingdom is the gospel. If you do not know the kingdom, you do not know the gospel in a full way. If we want to know the gospel in a full way, we must realize that the kingdom is the all-inclusive gospel. The Lord Jesus and His disciples preached the kingdom of God as the gospel.
BORN AGAIN TO ENTER THE KINGDOM
Since Mark is in many respects similar to Matthew and Luke, we may pass over it for now and come to the Gospel of John. Let us consider John 3:3, 5. Did the Lord Jesus say, "Except ye be born of water and the Spirit ye can never see heaven or enter into heaven"? No! Regeneration is not for the purpose of going to heaven, although I was definitely taught this when I was young. I was told that my sinful life was simply not good enough for me to go to heaven, and that entering heaven required me to have a better life. I was told that heaven is bright, with nothing dark; it is holy, with nothing sinful; and it is good, with nothing evil. But I was told that I was evil, dark, and sinful—altogether unqualified to go to heaven. I was told that if I wanted to go to heaven, I needed another life. I needed to be born again. This is still the common concept today. Strictly speaking, regeneration is not for entering heaven; regeneration is for us to enter into the kingdom.
If we want to enter into a certain kind of kingdom, we need a certain kind of life. If we do not have animal life, we can never enter the animal kingdom. If I could receive a dog’s life and become a dog, I would immediately find myself in the animal kingdom. Likewise, if we do not have the divine life, the life of God, we can never enter the kingdom of God. If we are to enter the kingdom of God, we must have the life of God. Therefore, regeneration is for us to enter another kingdom, the kingdom of God. This is much more real than a mere dispensation. This is the kingdom of God which we enter by being born again.
We have pointed out in other publications that John is not only a book of life, but also a book of building. However, it is also a book of the kingdom. Both life and building are for the kingdom. Life is for the building, and the building is for the kingdom.
(The Kingdom, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)