And the gospel of the kingdom wll be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)
Many Christians believe that the gospel of grace must be preached in all the world to all nations before the second coming of Christ will materialise. A careful reading of Matthew 24:14 will reveal two crucial facts that are often misunderstood.
1. It is the gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven that must be preached and not the gospel of grace before the consumation of the end.
2. The preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven is set forth as the end and not the second coming of Christ.
The 'end' as used in Matthew 24:14 comes from the Greek word 'telos' which means the final comsummate end of all things. And this only happens after the one thousand year reign of Christ on earth (known as the Millennial Kingdom). This word differs from the word 'end' used in Matthew 24:3 which is a Greek word 'sunteleios' in reference to the accomplishment of certain events before the close of the present church age.
According to the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthins 15:3-4, the gospel of grace refers to the good news pertaining to the grace of God. 'That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.'
The gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven is the good news pertaining to the establishment on earth of a corporeal kingdom which will rule and reign for one thousand years in fulfillment of God's covenant to David (2 Samuel 7:8-16).
Paramount to the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom is the call upon the nation of Israel to REPENT of her disobedience to the commandments of God. After the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, the nation was called to REPENT of their rejection and crucifixion of their Messiah.
Central to the gospel of grace, individuals are called upon to BELIEVE on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation of their spirit (Acts 19:43; 16:30-31; Romans 1:16; John 3:16).
Under the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom, signs, wonders and miracles were manifested to authenticate the messengers and the messages (Mark 16:16-20). While the preaching of the gospel of grace is to be accompanied by the Word of God from Scriptures, illuminated by the Holy Spirit and those who hear are to accept by faith.
In Matthew 24:14, the Lord Jesus focused on the end of the world, rather than the end of the church age. The preaching of the kingdom will come during the millennial age to all the nations of the world before the consummation of the end of the world.
Therefore, this end of the world will not come until after the return of Christ to earth, ruled and reigned for one thousand years and put all enemies under His subjection, including death, before delivering all things to God the Father (1 Corinthians 15:24-26).
As Christians, our task is to preach the gospel of grace to all people. The return of the Lord Jesus is not solely dependent upon the success of the churches and missions organisations to fulfill this prophecy, though it is their mandate to disciple the nations (Matthew 28: 19-20). The fulfillment of the prophecy regarding the second coming of Christ is the prerogative of God alone.
The time of our Lord's return has been set by God as given to us in Acts 15:14 and Romans 11:25, when the number of the Gentiles together with the remnant of Israel are fulfilled according to the election of grace to form the Body of Christ. When that prophecy has been fulfilled, then our Lord will return.
Adrian Fah is the author of The Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven