In the order of the doctrine of last things, Jesus in Matthew 24 makes it clear that the preaching of the gospel has the primary place. He says, “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). He speaks of various signs that are to be expected as harbingers to his coming. But the main thing is the preaching of the gospel in all the world. Amazingly we are told that the end of the world waits upon the preaching of the gospel. Until that takes the place the end cannot come. God alone knows the day and hour when the end will be, it is set in his eternal counsel, but with the intent that the preaching of the gospel will run its course in the world first. All the other things that are to take place prior to the end are secondary and will serve the preaching of the gospel. Astonishing, earth-shaking events but all subservient to the preaching of the gospel.
The coming of the Antichrist, when the entire world will be united under one mighty ruler, opposing God, his Christ, and his church. However, something hinders his appearing (2Thessalonians 2:6). It is he who will put an end to the preaching of the gospel, but the sovereign God will make certain he does not do so until the gospel is preached in all the world. The coming of the Antichrist and all end-time events are subservient to the preaching of the gospel.
Yet in spite of this, there is a pitiful wickedness abroad in the church today, in its higher echelons, albeit, that seeks to downgrade, to do away with preaching. Churches that ought to know better, whose roots go back to the Reformation even. Now they seek to remove preaching for a mess of other means, chat shows, films, endless worldly music, social reform, and a cultural mandate. Jesus is clear as to what the church’s mandate is, the preaching of “this gospel” (Matthew 24.14). The gospel of the kingdom. The good news of salvation from sin, death and hell by the blood of the cross, the gospel, the scriptures, the entirety of the word of God in other words. The testimony God concerning the Saviour who died for sinners and arose mighty from the grave. It’s the news about the kingdom, not of a man, but of God. The kingdom of man is the kingdom of the Antichrist, a kingdom without God, i.e., 666. It is a heavenly kingdom, not of this earth. It is the rule of God’s righteousness, the rule of Jesus Christ by his Spirit and word in grace. Into which men are translated by faith in Jesus. This kingdom must, shall be preached in all the world before the end.
Alas, what is propagated in churches today? An earthly kingdom, earthly peace, earthly prosperity, earthly riches, earthly power. The preaching that God’s Son says shall be preached in all the world is mocked, sneered at as something foolish, ineffective, it doesn’t work is the mantra (1Corinthians 1:18). But, “Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty”
(1Corinthians 1:25-27). The preaching of the gospel of the kingdom, of the gospel, of the word of God, is not man’s word. It’s God’s activity in the world, it is the sowing of the incorruptible seed, “being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (1Peter 1:23). It is dynamic, it calls into being what is not, a universe, life, calls God’s elect out of their natural state of death, out of death and hell, into the kingdom of heaven. God speaks through the preaching of the gospel and it is done. There is nothing more important than the preaching of the gospel.
The preaching of the gospel will fetch the end. It will not produce the conversion of most of humanity, with a Christian utopia, Christian politics, judiciary, and society, a golden age. It’s from this false teaching along with Kuyperian common grace that the cultural mandate comes from. A dream without foundation in divine revelation. The time prior to the end, it is made clear by Jesus, will be a time rampant with sin, false teachers and Christs, apostasy, appalling suffering for Christians, so evil the days will be shortened for the elect’s sake (Matthew 24; 2Peter 2). But meanwhile, the white horse and its rider go forth conquering and to conquer, Daniel’s little stone grows, the preaching of the gospel declares the conquest of the cross and the empty tomb. “(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2Corinthians 10:4-5).
The spiritual nature and effect of the preaching of the gospel Jesus has made clear, “for a witness to all nations” (Matthew 24:14). That’s the purpose of the preaching of the gospel, not that all men be saved. The elect, the elect, only the elect, as referenced by Jesus in Matthew twenty-four. Neither an earthly society, but a witness to all nations. Mankind, in general, denies the truth, the very existence of God revealed in creation and more clearly and fully in his holy and divine scriptures. They too have a cultural mandate that they build from an evolutionary worldview, notice will you how the cultural mandate fits neatly with theistic evolutionary thinking? The world of humanity seeks the kingdom of man without God. The preaching of the gospel is an effective witness to God and his kingdom. The result, not that everybody is saved, but that men know that God is God, that they are guilty sinners and that God’s kingdom is the true and everlasting kingdom. So the intent and the effect of the preaching of the gospel is, one, that it renders the masses inexcusable when God judges them. For they heard the good news but rejected it. Further, the effect of the preaching of the gospel is to harden them, in order to fill up their cup of iniquity, ripening them for the final judgement. Jesus forewarns us, “ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake” (Matthew 24:9).
The other intended effect is that it saves the elect, translating them into the kingdom, of God’s dear Son (Colossians 1:13). This is the purpose of the preaching of the gospel in all the world, the primary purpose. For the end cannot come until it is done, till all the elect out of all nations is gathered, through the preaching of the gospel. In the light of this learn what a mighty and important, vital business is the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom, and no other. In season and out of season. Following Pentecost, the gospel went out into all the world then. By now almost all the nations have received the witness, by which we know the end is near. Wherever this gospel of the kingdom is preached, in a one to one situation, on a street corner, from a church pulpit, it is effective, powerfully soo, it shall not return unto the Lord void, it will accomplish his two-fold purpose (Isaiah 55:11). So when you hear these foolish men whining that the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom does not or is not working, away with them. It is and it will, it is God’s indestructible and unchangeable counsel that it shall, therefore it must. Therefore, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).
(James R Hamilton, written July 2020)