The Kingdom of God Is at Hand
By Gerald Flurry • August 12
Mark 1:15 is one of the most inspiring verses in the Bible, yet most Christians don’t understand it. Christ declared, almost 2,000 years ago, “[T]he kingdom of God is at hand ….”
This scripture is basic and reveals the truly great hope of God’s plan. But it is also profound. We need to understand it because it links God’s Church to God’s Kingdom right now.
Back to verse 1: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” The word gospel means “good news.” God’s Church is built on good news! God wants us to understand the good news in a very evil and discouraged world that refuses to submit to His teaching. The gospel begins in God’s Church but is a message for the entire world.
“And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness. And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him. Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel” (verses 11-15).
What does all this mean? How was the Kingdom of God then “at hand”? The Greek word engidzo here means “near” or “to come near to.” The Kingdom was near during Christ’s time—not 2,000 years away! It means right now. The Kingdom of God is near—right now.
To really understand this, we also have to answer the question: What “time [was] fulfilled” back then?
As Herbert W. Armstrong explained in Mystery of the Ages, the time was fulfilled because Christ had qualified to replace Satan on Earth’s throne. Satan is still the “god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4), but Christ will soon wrest the government from him. First, Christ is preparing teachers and rulers to sit on the throne with Him.
Satan tried but failed to tempt Christ to sin (Mark 1:13). By winning this titanic battle of the ages, Christ qualified to replace Satan at His Second Coming!
This is the epitome of hope and joy! God and Christ are going through the process of helping people be begotten and born as God’s children—as the Bride of Christ. When Christ comes to rule the world, He will need a helper. That’s where you and I come in. Mr. Armstrong said in a June 5, 1982, sermon:
Why was it [the Kingdom of God] at hand? Brethren, I don’t think you ever realized that; and I know the world doesn’t realize why the Kingdom of God was then “at hand.” You are going to have to come to see that the Church—that means all of you, and all of the rest of the Church all over this world—the Church is the Kingdom of God in embryo. Not yet born, not yet developed very far. Only an embryo or a fetus, so to speak. Unborn, but begotten. We are the Kingdom of God in embryo. I don’t think we’ve ever really come to realize that at all.
The first man, Adam, had a chance to qualify to replace Satan, but he failed. Satan remains on Earth’s throne, but Christ fulfilled the time by defeating him. Right after this, Christ began to establish His Church. Members of the Church will rule the Earth with Christ when He returns!
The Kingdom of God starts with the Church of God and flows right into the return of Jesus Christ. He says His Bride will rule on the throne of David with Him for all eternity! That is the reward for those who come out of the world today, obey God, do His work, deliver His message, and allow Him to build His character in them.
“But what is wrong with the world, and why must we come out of the world? You know, we are the beginning of another world. We are the beginning, just in embryo; or you might say, we are just the begotten fetuses. We are begotten children of the World Tomorrow. We are the World Tomorrow, not yet born” (ibid). If we are members of God’s true Church, we are only begotten—not born again, as many people believe.
The Greek word for “church” is ekklesia, which means “called-out ones.” Christ called His 12 original disciples out of the world to follow Him. He ended up with just 120 followers (Acts 1:15). This was the start of God’s Church.
“And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). The word rock should be capitalized. Jesus Christ is the Rock. He promised that His Church would never die! It is the Kingdom of God in embryo!
Look at this present evil world. It is dangerous, violent, evil and corrupt. Where is the solution? Right here! The Kingdom of God is at hand. The Second Coming is really near (Matthew 24:33).
Adam and Eve led the whole family of man into following Satan. They rejected the tree of life. Eve was deceived; Adam was not. They chose the “get” way of life, not the “give” way.
Only a tiny group of people is going against the “get” way today. God has made (past tense) His loyal firstfruits kings and priests (Revelation 1:6). We are not kings and priests yet—but we are kings and priests in embryo! In God’s Kingdom, church and state will work together again, and we will be involved in both. That is quite a lot of authority.
God’s Church in the Old Testament was the congregation of Israel. God didn’t pour out His Holy Spirit on groups of people at that time—just the prophets mainly, because they had to deliver a warning message to give Israel and even the world a chance to follow God more closely.
But when it comes to the Church of God, the Holy Spirit flows. God has built His Church! It is not a church of man, but the Church of God! We are the beginning of the Kingdom of God! We must work to understand this.
Titanic Battle of the Ages
Let’s examine the titanic battle of the ages in more detail to see how Christ conquered the devil.
“Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred” (Matthew 4:1-2). Christ’s body was crying out for food! We can’t fast for 40 days like He did, but we do need to fast to draw close to God and keep away from carnal human reasoning and following men. We must get through to God and see from His view.
“And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (verses 3-4).
Satan tried to appeal to Christ’s vanity—but Christ has no vanity. Christ didn’t feel compelled to prove His identity as the Son of God. He knew that Satan knew better. He simply quoted the Bible (Deuteronomy 8:3), which is Jesus Christ in print.
“Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God” (Matthew 4:5-7).
Satan twisted Scripture, quoting Psalm 91:11-12 to make it seem like the Son of God in the flesh shouldn’t suffer or experience any trials and tests. But Christ had more trials and tests than any man ever! From the time of Adam and Eve, Satan has twisted Scripture to deceive mankind. Christ countered by quoting Deuteronomy 6:16.
As we go through this, continue thinking about Mark 1. This confrontation between Christ and Satan led to Christ’s promise: The Kingdom of God is at hand (verse 15). If you really know your Bible, you can know all these wonderful truths and build real hope and excitement for this thrilling message!
“Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Matthew 4:8-10).
Satan rules the world. The whole world is deceived (Revelation 12:9). Everybody seems to underestimate the devil. He has enormous power. He offered Christ a position as his second-in-command, which didn’t impress Christ at all.
While under attack by the devil, Christ’s mind was on a new world—a world that has already begun in embryo in His Church. He is concerned not about worldly kingdoms but about the Kingdom of God!
Christ rebuked the devil, and he was forced to obey. God gives us the same power!
“From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). As soon as Christ defeated Satan in the titanic battle of the ages, He qualified to replace Satan on his throne at the Second Coming. Satan has already lost. He won’t accept that yet, but Christ is about to end his rule in just a short time.
Christ preached that the Kingdom of God was at hand almost 2,000 years ago because He conquered Satan and established His Church at that time, which will become the world-ruling Kingdom of God when He returns. We in God’s Church are Christ’s Bride, and we must make ourselves ready for the marriage (Revelation 19:7). Through seven Church eras (Revelation 2-3), Christ has worked to build His wife so we will be able to help Him rule the world. This reward will last for 1,000 years, then continue out into the universe forever! It is the greatest opportunity you will ever find anyplace.
“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne” (Revelation 3:21). Christ tells us to overcome as He overcame. We are kings and priests in embryo already, but we must conquer Satan to receive the opportunity to share David’s throne with Jesus Christ forever. Only a tiny remnant today is offered this magnificent reward.Read More