Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):

Where Will the Promised Kingdom Be?

"The heaven-hell reinterpretation represented a NEW CONCEPT on the Christian scene, one that is not typically found within the biblical narrative. It is a spatial concept, locating the afterlife in another dimension, place, or state, which we enter immediately upon death. THE ORIGIN OF THIS APPROACH LIES WITHIN GREEK PHILOSOPHY -- the works of Plato, Orphism, and the neo-Platonists in particular..."

by HOIM Staff

Barrie Wilson's recent book How Jesus Became Christian shows us why Yeshua the Messiah's real Christian Gospel of the (future) Kingdom has become so hazy in the minds of many churchgoers. When the Messiah did not appear as expected, what was to be done? The Church REINVENTED the Gospel without any future Kingdom at its center. REPLACING the Messiah's Kingdom Gospel we find:

1) The Kingdom really means a Kingdom in the heart of a believer or

2) We go to heaven individually at death.

Both alternatives were RUINOUS to the New Testament teaching. Both UNDERMINED the Messiah's core concept about repentance, that we are firstly to "Repent and believe [not replace!] the Gospel about the Kingdom" (Mark 1:14-15).

"Christians advanced differing strategies for dealing with the delay of the promised Messianic era. Probably some quit the movement, as failing to live up to its promises...

"Some second-century Christians continued to say that, eventually, Jesus would return to bring about the Kingdom of God on earth. That is, after all, what he talked about and promised, and they clung to this hope. This represents a 'this-worldly' or literal interpretation of the expectation. As the decades passed, enthusiasm for this approach withered. What is the length of a promise that does not materialize? How long can an unmet promise be sustained as a legitimate hope without its eventually being perceived as false?

"But there were other ways of coping with the problem of the delayed reappearance of Christ. Some began to spiritualize the concept, maintaining that the promised messianic era was not a political entity -- not a transformed world after all. On this view, the Kingdom of God came to be located within the hearts and minds of believing Christians. The Kingdom message became reinterpreted as something spiritual -- something available to everybody, in the here and now. This meant abandoning the expectation that the world would be changed in favor of the view that people would be changed. In this view, the Kingdom was a present reality that all could access. There was no need to wait for Jesus to return. Gnostics -- the ancient 'New Agers' -- veered in this direction, contending that 'the living Jesus' was available everywhere, for all who search sincerely for insight. For them the Kingdom of God was a present reality. It was just there, waiting for insightful people to discover it.

"Others, however, adopted a supernatural interpretation. On this view, the Kingdom of God was attainable in an afterlife, in a place or state called heaven, not on earth. Christians would be rewarded with eternal life in heaven, a supernatural realm, after death. Nonbelievers would be relegated to a hell, either a place of punishment or nonexistence. Thus there was no need for Jesus to return. A supernatural interpretation meant that the dream of a transformed world was abandoned. This was not, however, the biblical expectation at all. The world to come is depicted as a transformation of this earth and resurrection as a coming back to life on this planet. The supernatural heaven-hell reinterpretation of the Kingdom message spatialized the message that was originally temporal in nature.

"This original concept of resurrection, whether from the Pharisaic or Christian camp, viewed redemption as something that would happen on earth at some time in the future, at a point in history when God will make good on his promises to restore the world to its original pristine form, without sin and without evil. Those righteous people who are alive when this happens will automatically be transformed, to suit conditions in the new terrestrial environment. Those who had died -- and were righteous -- would come back to life, transformed, again to suit the circumstances of the newly created world. Paul set forth this view of resurrection, for instance, toward the end of his letter I Corinthians, and, in this, he builds on the traditional Jewish view. Thus, in its inception, the idea of redemption was a temporal one: THE RIGHTEOUS WILL INHERIT THE EARTH, at some point in the future, when God decides to re-create the world. The dead are TRULY DEAD, 'waiting' for resuscitation by God at some point at the end of the age.

"The heaven-hell reinterpretation represented a NEW CONCEPT on the Christian scene, one that is not typically found within the biblical narrative. It is a spatial concept, locating the afterlife in another dimension, place, or state, which we enter immediately upon death. THE ORIGIN OF THIS APPROACH LIES WITHIN GREEK PHILOSOPHY -- the works of Plato, Orphism, and the neo-Platonists in particular -- or within ancient Egyptian religion, the religion of the pharaoh with its examination and judgment upon the individual soul at death. According to the Egyptian Book of the Dead, Osiris and forty-two judges weigh the human soul in accordance with forty-two criteria for admission into the afterlife. This otherworldly view is often tied in with a view of human personality as involving an immortal soul, an indestructible soul substance. According to this view, judgment occurs at the time of death, and then the immortal soul is sentenced to a future eternity, either in heaven or hell (or, in some theologies, in an intermediate state called purgatory).

"These otherworldly interpretations of the expectation preserved the emphasis on transformation, either spiritually in this life or supernaturally after death. Both reinterpretations, however, ABANDONED THE NEED FOR A RETURN OF JESUS TO TRANSFORM THE WORLD. Thus there was no waiting for Jesus to return and so the problem of the delay was solved. THIS WAS NOT, HOWEVER, THE ORIGINAL BIBLICAL EXPECTATION. These otherworldly interpretations represented creative solutions to an immense pastoral problem faced by early Christian leaders" (Barrie Wilson, How Jesus Became Christian, New York: St. Martin's Press, 2008, pp.216-217).

This analysis tells us how and why the original Kingdom Gospel of the Messiah was lost. It was replaced either by a "go to heaven when I die" approach, which would make the second coming superfluous. Or, secondly, the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God was replaced with a "present" "Kingdom in the heart" teaching, usually with the appeal to a likely mistranslation in Luke 17:21, KJV: "The Kingdom of God is within you." If that is the case who wants to bother with a Second Coming to bring the Kingdom worldwide, which is the ORIGINAL Christian truth, based on the Messiah's Gospel preaching?

The fundamental problem which led to the substitution of the Messiah's Gospel with a DIFFERENT hope is candidly expressed in the work of a former President of the Methodist Church, a PhD specialist in the Hebrew Bible. We remind you of his enormously significant words. The problem is a sell-out to PAGANISM in the interests of conforming to the world and its "wisdom."

Dr. Smith wrote in 1964:

"There have always been Jews who have sought to make terms with the Gentile world, and it has in time meant the death of Judaism for all such. There have been Christians from the beginning who have sought to do this. Often it has been done unconsciously, but whether consciously or unconsciously, the question needs to be faced as to whether it is right. Our position is that the REINTERPRETATION of Biblical theology in terms of the ideas of GREEK PHILOSOPHERS has been both widespread throughout the centuries and everywhere destructive to the essence of the Christian faith...If these judgments are sound, and we believe they are sound, then neither Catholic nor Protestant theology is based on Biblical theology. In each case we have a domination of Christian theology BY GREEK THOUGHT...Are we to continue to regard Plato and Aristotle with their PAGAN successors as contributing the norm and the main ideas of Greek philosophy as the determining factors in Christian theology?...There can be no answer to the question 'What is Christianity?'...until we have come to a clear view of the distinctive ideas of both Old and New Testaments and their DIFFERENCE from the pagan ideas which so largely have dominated 'Christian' thought" (Distinctive Ideas of the Old Testament, pp. 187-188).


Hope of Israel Ministries -- Courage for the Sake of Truth is Better Than Silence for the Sake of Unity!

Hope of Israel Ministries
P.O. Box 853
Azusa, CA 91702, U.S.A.

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