In the first installment of our explanation of the Gospel tenet, we endeavored to show that all gospels are blood covenants with their respective gods, the majority of which sacrifice their citizens on the altars of bureaucracy, through taxation and institutional authority, in socialist fleshpots of mutual destruction. In the second installment, we expressed the revolutionary nature of Christ’s Gospel, focusing on the political meaning of baptism as an exchange of civil citizenship, highlighting the need to be born again into a literal kingdom characterized by liberty, as free souls under God. In the third installment, we elucidated how Christ “became like us in all things” to undergo the same idolatrous and authoritarian temptations that we face, and maintained his integrity in obedience to God. In the fourth installment, we provided an introduction to Christ’s teachings by putting into political perspective some of Christ’s expository lessons, including the Sermon on the Mount. We also put into political context some New Testament events, including the feeding of the five thousand, the Lord’s Table, and the Last Supper. Because so many professing Christians myopically limit the Gospel to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and because this sequence of events immediately follows the Passover meal account, perhaps it would be beneficial to address the significance of this biography in the context of Christ’s Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven in our final installment.
Less than a week before Passover, Christ had been publicly recognized by the people of Jerusalem as the rightful King of Judea, and not just of Judea, but of every Jewish person, even of the ancient kingdom of Israel before it was divided in a civil war under the oppressive administrations of Israel’s pagan-style kings. It is no wonder then that the people of Judea looked to Jesus Christ, a king who came to serve, for salvation from the kinds of kings who came to rule, and whose yokes of taxation and legislative authority were too heavy for the people to bear.
“And many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way. And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.” (Mark 11:8-10)
The Greek word hósanna literally means “save us, we pray”, as a combination of two words originating in Hebrew. One is yasha which means “to deliver,” “be liberated, saved (properly placed in freedom),” “deliver, save (properly give width and breadth to, liberate),” and “of God, who saves his people from external evils.” The other is na which means “we pray, now” as a “particle of entreaty or exhortation.” The second time Hosanna is mentioned in the passage, it is followed by the phrase “in the highest,” from the word hupsistos, the superlative form of hupsos, a term of political rank. The entire scene represents the people expressing their recognition that the man in front of them had a legitimate claim to the throne of Judea, as its only rightful, living heir in Davidian pedigree. The practice of hailing a man with palm trees is typical to a royal procession, and in John 12:13, where the story is repeated, the people specifically call him the King of Israel. Even Christ’s enemies had no legitimate excuse to not to recognize Him as their king. After hearing the children in the temple declaring Jesus’ claim to the throne, the Pharisees became angry, but the following exchange took place soon after:
“While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David. He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying,
The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool?
If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.” (Matthew 22:41-45)
The Pharisees were not more ignorant than the people who were convinced of Christ’s kingship. They were familiar with Jesus’ lineage to the royal house, and already understood that He was their rightful king. This conversation, however, implies that the Pharisees had to also realize that Jesus must be God. Most of them would never admit to this recognition, however, because their conflict of interest in being politically validated by the most powerful man in the known world, Caesar, and in receiving their standard of living by the heavy legal and tax burdens they placed over the people, would require that they reject a King and a Kingdom characterized by voluntary service and humble stature. It was from these burdens that the people cried out to Christ for salvation, believing on His political campaign message of liberty and its light yoke of personal responsibility and voluntary community in the Kingdom of God. Free people have no need of human magistrates, and the proposition of another Kingdom growing in popularity among the people left only one recourse among the existing political party: the arrest and regicide of the people’s champion as an example to His followers to quell their allegiance to him and to make him bear their sin of insurrection.
“Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation. And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.” (John 11:47-53)
The nation of Israel then, like it is today, was validated by its subjection to, and being sustained by, foreign empires to be included in a global orchestra of political cohesion. As mentioned in the first blog post of this series, Israel’s rulers loved Rome, looked to Rome to be its Benefactor, and enjoyed partaking in its social order, redistributed wealth, and civil privileges. The threat of Christ’s message and independent Kingdom, without the need for rulers or treaties with one-world governments, would dismantle the political authority maintained by the Pharisees, and the way of life to which they had grown accustomed under Roman provision and civil structure. To keep the people of Israel as their indentured serfdom, these men only had to pay thirty pieces of silver. Such human sacrifice has always been intrinsic to human civil government, and scapegoats are always purchased with blood money.
On the night of His arrest, Jesus’ kidnappers, as can be expected from men in political power, committed blatant and unashamed conspiracy against their prey. After marching him from Gethsemane, they presented false witnesses of fabricated crimes, they shuffled him between interrogators, and they stripped him of his dignity. This motivation of such an expedited arraignment in front of a kangaroo court was to get the deed done before the His loyal supporters could be alerted to intervene and save him. Passover Week was a busy time for the people, and they were distracted with their ceremonies at the Temple. Planning to go through this farcical process and illegal charade while the people were busy with the liturgical services of the Feast of Unleavened Bread is typical evidence of the schemes politicians will commit to in order to retain their power at any cost.
It was during the early hours of the following morning that Jesus was taken before Pontius Pilate, a procurator of Rome. Pilate’s political function was mainly military, with the added obligation of collecting imperial taxes in order to fund his peacekeeping capacity. While he had the privilege of minting coin for the local currency supply, he was only a promagistrate over the region, meaning he had no magisterial power of his own. He only had delegated authority over limited judicial functions, which naturally included mitigating political insurrection and rebellion. He was not elected by the people, but given office by Rome. It was this consigned responsibility which Christ called into question when he says “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.” (John 19:11) It is fairly common, though without merit, to declare that this “power” was given to Pilate from God, assuming that the phrase “from above” is referring to Heaven for some imagined reason. But it is not “the greater sin” for the Pharisees to deliver Christ into the hands of “God’s man” who bears “the lesser sin” in receiving him. It would not be sin at all if it was God who gave Pilate his power over Christ. Rather, it is because Pilate’s entrusted authority from Rome extended over matters of political insurrection as a peacekeeper, that the pretext of condemning Jesus as “reckoned among the transgressors” was successful for the Pharisees, and made them guilty of “the greater sin” in the plot to depose Him. It is Pilate’s lesser sin to sentence an innocent man who was already arraigned by the Pharisees under dubious circumstances. Their own legal agreements with Rome barred them from executing criminals themselves, and so they delivered Jesus to the only man around who had delegated jurisdiction over such matters, complete with fabricated evidence to seal the deal. But not without due hesitation on Pilate’s part, and a sidebar with the defendant:
“Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews? Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?
Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done? Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.
Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all. But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews? Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.” (John 18:33-40)
This exchange put to rest the debate of the times as to who was the rightful king in Jerusalem. Since the exile of Hyrcanus, the execution of Antigonus, and the deaths of the ethnarchs, there was no King of Judea. However, by the pedigree of His earthly parents and the providence of His heavenly Father, Jesus Christ had legitimate claim to be the rightful king of the Jews. This was affirmed by the Magi at his birth, recognized by the people of Jerusalem, feared by the Sanhedrin, and even proclaimed by the promagistrate of Rome who expressed it, not once, but twice, and even nailing it to Christ’s cross as a sympathetic expression in favor of His innocence and in rejection of the Pharisees’ decision.
Recalling the second installment of this series, it is necessary to reiterate the fact that when Christ says that His Kingdom is not of “this world,” he is not referring to the celestial body of “Earth,” claiming that His kingdom is in some ethereal, intangible realm, but rather the Greek defines it as the “apt and harmonious arrangement or constitution, order, government,” referring to Rome, kingdoms like Rome, and the kingdoms in treaty with Rome under the Pax Romana. All of which, in that moment and circumstance, was represented by Pilate. If Christ’s kingdom was of the world of Rome, it would include a bureaucratic hierarchy that existed by force and violence, much like that of the Pharisees who had appealed to Rome to settle the dispute over who should be the Jewish King between brothers Hyrcanus and Aristobulus some decades prior. Their servants did fight each other on behalf of their respective kings in a civil war before Pompey inserted his Roman military into the situation to bring law and order, and legitimize Judea’s authoritarian king.
Free from that history and the nature of such kingdoms, Christ formed His kingdom to have a different character where His servants are not given over to bloodshed in the pursuit of political power. Pilate knew such behavior was the way of Imperial Rome, but here Christ was declaring that he had no jurisdiction or legal ability to judge Christ or His followers since His Kingdom had no contract or treaty with Rome, especially regarding the charges of insurrection, since His servants did not fight. Pilate, attending to Christ’s answer to his question of “What hast thou done?,” soon learns that Christ and His Kingdom was outside of Rome’s jurisdiction and ceremoniously washes his hands as an expression of dismissing the false charges of sedition and political insurrection against Christ. The washing of one’s hands is a (not exclusively) Pharisean custom to wash away impurity, such as the impurity caused by convicting an innocent man. So Pilate hands the matter over to the Sanhedrin, forcing them to choose between granting the freedom of Jesus, and that of Barabbas. Barabbas, on the other hand, was legitimately guilty of being a violent revolutionary against the Judean government, including the Pharisees themselves and their preferred policies and policymakers in Rome.
“It is possible that Barabbas was merely a robber or highwayman, but more likely, given the use of the term ληστής (lhsth”) in Josephus and other early sources, that he was a guerrilla warrior or revolutionary leader. See both R. E. Brown (John [AB], 2:857) and K. H. Rengstorf (TDNT 4:258) for more information. The word λῃστής was used a number of times by Josephus (J. W. 2.13.2-3 [2.253-254]) to describe the revolutionaries or guerrilla fighters who, from mixed motives of nationalism and greed, kept the rural districts of Judea in constant turmoil.” (Footnote to John 18. From NET Bible)
Surely the Pharisees would choose to release Christ under such circumstances, considering He was harmless to their authority in contrast to Barabbas. However, the reprobate need for compromise inherent to the unrighteous with their power centers, encourages them to make bedfellows with their own political enemies in order to stamp out those who promote righteousness and liberty under God. A lawful King who fires moneychangers and disrupts the systematic concentration of wealth of society through taxation and inflation is a much bigger threat to the kingdoms of “the world” than political opponents who agree with the ideology of archism, but differ only on who should rule. As they emulate, it is better to rule in Hell than to serve in Heaven.
“And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar. When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.
Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away. And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst. And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin. Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews. Pilate answered, What I have written I have written.” (John 19:12-22)
Pilate, always unpopular with the Jews, is quick to be intimidated by these threats against his reputation and did not want to fall out of favor with Emperor Tiberius, being his granddaughter’s husband. He may have been bloodthirsty, inflexible, and unnecessarily harsh with the Jewish people, but threats to hold him accountable to Caesar often made him a pushover. To save his own reputation, he must crucify an innocent man. Likewise, to keep their status as rulers over the people, the Pharisees must double down on their rejection of the Kingdom of Heaven and repeat their insistence that Caesar is their lord and savior. Their suppression of the truth is so great that they demand that Pilate remove Christ’s title from Christ’s cross but Pilate’s inflexibility (and maybe a degree of conviction) prevent him from displaying this crucifixion as nothing short of regicide.
According to the Mishnah, at the Temple in Jerusalem at 9 in the morning, the first lamb of the daily Tamid would be sacrificed, which focused on atoning for sins and the restoration of relationship with God. According to the account of the written gospels, at the hill of Golgotha at 9 in the morning, the first-born of creation and the Lamb of God, was self-sacrificed to atone for the sins of those in “the world” and restore the repentant to the Kingdom of God. By noon, the second lamb of the daily Tamid would be presented and tied to the altar in the Temple to be sacrificed three hours later at 3 in the afternoon, for atonement for the sins of the community and for the restoration of fellowship with God. By noon at Golgotha:
“Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?…
Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom… Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.” (Matthew 27:45-54)
The impeachment of Christ is coupled with more than a few supernatural assertions, but maybe the most significant for this discussion is the tearing of the temple veil, removing any excuse for the people to continue to perform their religion through a temple made of human hands. As we have discussed elsewhere, the altars of God were always meant to be “built” with living stones, referring to an adhocratic network of righteous people who sacrifice their charity to sustain their neighbor. This is to contrast against the temples of pagan kingdoms which were government buildings of bureaucratic function, where the sacrifices are compelled by taxation and distributed in socialism. Even the temple in Jerusalem was this way, and it is obvious that the building of it was never in God’s design. However, due to the increasing idolatry of the Jewish people to be like the pagan kingdoms of the world, they traded in their pure and undefiled religion for institutional bastions of civic satanism where they raised up human rulers to be their lords and saviors. As we discussed in the first installment, these rulers were invariably “sons of God,” claiming divine right to rule over the people.
A few things are important to note regarding the death of Christ as it relates to the good news of His political campaign on behalf of the Kingdom of Heaven. Firstly, the tearing of the temple veil does not only herald the destruction of the necessity of the inherently useless government building and federal reserve in Jerusalem, but it is also a metaphor for how the consummation of Christ’s ministry at the cross reveals that all bureaucratic institutions in all worldly kingdoms are erroneous usurpers to how God prescribes society should be maintained. The veil separates the initiated higher class of politicians from their uninitiated subject citizens, creating a dependency of the latter onto the former to perform the weightier matters of the Law through authoritarian policies and bureaucratic compulsion. The tearing of the veil intimates that God is not a respecter of persons, and restores to all men the responsibility to perform the weightier matters through justice, judgment, mercy, and faith, and therefore restores their God-given rights to their land, labor, property, and family without the meddling of human civil government.
Secondly, the record of the centurion’s realization that Christ was the Son of God is a competing truth claim to the legitimacy of the authority of all human rulers. A citizen cannot serve two masters, belong to two kingdoms, or believe two gospels simultaneously, and the supernatural power emanating from Christ’s death is as much a testament to his Divine right to be a servant king as the Father’s proclamation at his baptism, and as Elijah’s summoning of divine fire to consume a drowned altar atop Carmel. The majority of miraculous events recorded in Scripture are related to the competition of the Kingdom of God against the kingdoms of Satan, and naturally its victory over them. This is especially true for the ten plagues against Egyptian nationalism (which will be expanded upon shortly), the marching around Jericho during its moon festival, and the aquatic transportation of Jonah to delegitimize the ocean deity of Nineveh.
Thirdly, that His ultimate self-sacrifice as a servant-king entirely contrasts the sacrifices made on the altars of “public servants” and ruling kings over pagan nations. While those false gods sacrifice the blood of their subjects through taxation and inflation which lead to economic dearths and society-wide pestilence, and sacrifice the lives of their subjects through statute labor and military service which lead to lifelong slavery and literal death, Jesus Christ instead sacrifices His own life to rescue the lives of those who would follow Him as King, to liberate them from the kingdoms of bondage, and make them a prosperous nation as free souls under God.
“And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” (Colossians 2:13-15)
Scripture everywhere declares that the covetous practices that entice people to subject themselves to human authority through contracts to receive benefits at their neighbor’s expense are actually a self-destructive snare that makes them merchandise of ruling men. It is because they lack self-control that their flesh is not consecrated to God, and it is the pursuit of the comforts of the flesh that lead them into bondage. Sin leads to death, so to speak, but Christ voluntarily subjected himself to the ultimate expression of that death: capital punishment. Even though He was an innocent man, Jesus of Nazareth underwent the worst of the torment that is inherent to all pagan governments so that those who found themselves under their power through sin by running headlong into destruction for socialist benefits would not have to experience such justice for their sin. As such, he not only forgave the sins of the idolaters who transgressed God’s Perfect Law of Liberty, but also crucified the very legalistic administrations that kept the people in bondage under the heavy burdens of bureaucratic elements. If “love conquers all,” then it was Christ’s selflessness that triumphed over kings, presidents, and tyrants and gave the deathblow to their self-destructive selfish kingdoms. The Kingdom of Heaven naturally follows His example, inspiring the love for one’s neighbor and personal servanthood as the redemptive and preservative agents of a free society.
There is a historical significance for these implications. When the Israelites coveted their neighbor’s goods by receiving Pharaoh’s benefits, they found themselves in the bondage of Egypt (the undisputed world power of its day) for generations before God liberated them. He did this through a supernatural invasion, as evidenced in the plagues of Egypt being a series of opposing fronts from God against the superstitions of Egyptian civil and economic society. Each one is a testament that He, and not their pantheon of rulers, is sovereign over the elements represented in their institutions and pagan gods. The plagues culminate in a literal wave of death washing over the nation, only to pass over the repentant, sparing them for salvation unto a free society. They were to sacrifice their Passover lambs and coat their wooden door frames with the blood to be eligible to be counted in the Exodus from their bondage. These events and their purpose are galvanized in Hebrew history as a sort of Independence Day which memorializes their being taken out of bondage and into the Kingdom of God. Is it any wonder then why the crucifixion of Christ occurs during the annual Passover celebration? The blood of the Lamb of God is coated on the wooden door frame of the cross to make Christ the doorway out of the civil bondage of Rome (the undisputed world power of its day) and into the Kingdom of God, leading the repentant sinners of the world into a free society. All of those who chose to receive this sacrifice were made eligible to be counted in the second Exodus at Pentecost.
The miraculous imagery does not end with the afternoon of Christ’s crucifixion. A man dead after three days is hardly ever expected to come back from the dead, but the dead have no jurisdiction over the living and the kingdom of Heaven must be reduced to wishful thinking and blind belief in Neverland in the absence of a living King to lead it, so it is necessary for Jesus Christ, the servant king of freemen, to be raised from the dead on Sunday morning in order to lead the people who are to be liberated by his death. Christ’s resurrection is a testament that the kingdoms of the world have no lasting power over the innocent and the righteous because they find supernatural Providence in God. While the jurisdictions of darkness provide only debt, death and destruction, the jurisdiction of light brings life, liberty, and the restoration of all that has been sacrificed on the altars of the jurisdictions of darkness. Not restoration of the principle only, but with interest too.
“And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” (1 Corinthians 15:17-26)
The resurrection of Christ, Paul says, is a prerequisite for being allegiant to the Kingdom of God. One puts their faith into that which they are faithful, and a vain faith belongs to an unfaithful citizen. There is little hope to be faithful to God without being in a free society, and there is no free society without a risen King to lead it. So, without Christ’s resurrection, there is no remission for sin which is what brings one into civil bondage. Always mingling the tangible with the ephemeral, Paul declares the victories of King Jesus over the kingdoms of the world, his political enemies, physical death, and the spiritual death inherited by wordly jurisdictions. Christ’s resurrection is a promise of physical resurrection for those who are born again under His jurisdiction, just like physical death is a guarantee for all of those who are born from Adam’s lineage of mortality. And if literal death has no lasting power for those who follow Christ, then what lasting power do the kingdoms of spiritual (and capital) death hope to have over true believers in Christ’s Gospel? Their rules, authorities, and powers are under His feet. “But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel…” (2 Timothy 1:10)
Before His ascension to the spiritual realm at the right hand of God the Father, Jesus Christ gave “many infallible proofs” for forty days after being resurrected. He continues right where he left off in teaching the people what it means to be a part of the Kingdom of God, and how to maintain it. The most significant of these recorded teachings is perhaps what we call The Great Commission:
“Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:16-20)
The word worship here is inherently a political one that means to show homage to men of superior rank, as all men do for whatever magistrates they recognize in their respective kingdoms. This makes simple sense considering that to be an apostle is to be an ambassador for a Kingdom, on behalf of a King, and as we see in this instance, to spread a message of political reconciliation amongst citizens of kingdoms in rebellion. It is to these citizens, and not to their governments, that is referenced in the word “nations,” or “ethnos” in the Greek. It refers to a multitude, as in a tribe or people group, or individuals of the same nature, like a family. This is fitting considering those in bondage under a certain form of government all share the same civil father, which is the meaning of the word patriot. The point of teaching God’s way to those in bondage under a civil father is to adopt them through baptism into the Kingdom of God the Father. It was in the second installment of this series where we tackled the meaning of baptism as an expression of exchanging one’s civil citizenship. That adoption comes with its own house rules, so to speak, which are centered on keeping the weightier matters by obeying God’s Law. This includes organizing the citizens of God’s Kingdom into adhocratic networks of families accountable to each other in faith, hope, and charity, so this kingdom could last from generation to generation. Christ ends the Commission with the promise that He would remain with them until the end of the age, which could very well mean eternity.
The Great Commission is also mentioned in Mark’s gospel account, with some notable details to consider:
“Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” (Mark 16:14-18)
The first thing to consider here is that the word used for “world” is not the same as the “world” used in the Matthew account meaning Age. This world is, in fact, the same “world” with which Christ explained to Pilate that His Kingdom had no affiliation or political treaty or logical compatibility: the “apt and harmonious arrangement or constitution, order, government” of Rome, kingdoms like Rome, and the kingdoms in treaty with Rome under the Pax Romana. This is also the same “world” from which James later warns Christians to remain unstained as they practice their pure religion. This is especially important because the word for “creature” in this passage is not some idiomatic expression referring to all living things including trees, birds, and mammals as a synecdoche for mankind. Rather, it is the word used for founding, establishing, or building ordinances and political corporations, which are the very civil institutions that make up “the world” and enslave the worldly. The King of Heaven desires that His ambassadors go to where the captives are and preach the two-sided coin of repentance and liberation in the shadows of the very bastions of their bondage. Essentially, this is a callback to Moses who marched into Pharaoh’s palace and demanded that he “let my people go” so that they may be given an Exodus and restored to the liberty under God’s jurisdiction to keep His commands and organize themselves into a free society. Those who repent, Mark records, will be baptized into the Kingdom of Heaven and therefore saved from their civil bondage. Those who remain faithful to the false gospels of human rulers, however, will not be saved, but will be given over to the inevitable self-destruction of those kingdoms when they receive their reckoning of fiscal and moral bankruptcy, culminating in weeping and gnashing of teeth in the outer darkness of social, economic, and political collapse, as is the fate of all pagan and socialist societies. Mark also records that these evangelists will be supernaturally protected and supplemented as a testament to their message and the Magistrate that sent them, making the implication that it is those within God’s jurisdiction, and not those who merely call themselves Christians, that can expect to see miracles and divine intervention.
It is true that many fans of Christianity and enthusiasts of scriptural scholarship will limit the notions of salvation and damnation to some after-life experience, basically professing that those who have an emotional instance of short-lived contrition where they recite some incantation of mental belief in the existence of a creator god, and the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, are guaranteed to be ushered into a Heavenly place the moment they die, and that those who do not recite this incantation will go to the other place. While not a complete falsification of the Gospel message, this superstitious collection of wishful thinking and veritable witchcraft certainly truncates the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven. A more accurate simplification of the truth might could be expressed thusly: Whichever kingdom one belongs to in this life determines the kingdom he will go to in the next. If you are property of the State, belonging to authoritarian kingdoms characterized by contracts, entitlements, and taxation, then you are in bondage under Satan’s jurisdiction, both literally and spiritually. If you have repented and are seeking or have entered into the literal Kingdom of Heaven, which is for free souls under God, and binds them in faith, hope, and charity, then you will be saved from both the present and the future fate of the former, and be given life and life abundantly.
The early Christians understood this relationship, and it was only a week after Christ ascended to the Heavenly realm when they experienced its political and supernatural effects in real time. The Jews would be observing the Feast of Weeks, a celebration commemorating the ratification of their Constitution as a nation, when God had given them the Law with which to maintain their embryonic free society after their declaration of independence from Egypt through Passover and an exodus from bondage. But just like the experience of Passover was renewed and repeated with the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, so too was the transcendent experience of Moses on Sinai with his divine constitution renewed and repeated at Pentecost.
“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance…
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” (Acts 2)
There is much more to the second chapter of Acts than we have presented here, and the content omitted for time and ease should be reviewed and appreciated as a display of supernatural proof accompanying Peter’s logical dissertation regarding Biblical prophecy, as well as the legitimacy of the Kingdom of God, and the servant King who was sacrificed to secure it. Those who believed in Christ’s Gospel before Pentecost had been put out of the temple administrations and barred from its services and civil enrollment. They were excommunicated and banished from the “free bread” and welfare offered by the socialist society of Herod and the Pharisees. They were marked and declined any benefits offered by Herod’s social security schemes. This also meant that they were free from any of the civil encumbrances tied to the bondage of his citizenship, which is why Christ said it made the word of God to none effect. In turn, they would have to be sustained by a voluntary network of assistance, as instructed by both John the Baptist and Jesus Christ. At Pentecost, it is recorded that three-thousand souls proclaimed that Jesus was their King, which guaranteed their exile from the kingdom of the Pharisees, Herod, Rome, and any other. This also meant that they could be counted and enrolled through baptism into the Kingdom of God, thereby saving themselves “from this untoward generation” by sustaining each other through the redistribution of charity containing their daily bread. Their salvation was not merely from some afterlife punishment, but from the very form of bondage that Moses had saved their fathers centuries prior. Every man that believed on the political campaign of Jesus Christ was restored unto his family and his possessions and his power of choice, into a kingdom of freemen who experienced the abolition of both death and taxes by the only magistrate who has the power to truly abolish anything. History attests to the success of this Gospel in recording the overtaking of the Roman Empire by the Christian Kingdom. History also attests to the reason why this Gospel was superior to that of Rome:
“Our curiosity is naturally prompted to inquire by what means the Christian faith obtained so remarkable a victory over the established religions of the earth. To the inquiry, an obvious but satisfactory answer may be returned; that it was owing to the convincing evidence of the doctrine itself, and to the ruling providence of its great Author. But, as truth and reason seldom find so favourable a reception in the world, and as the wisdom of Providence frequently condescends to use the passions of the human heart and the general circumstances of mankind, as instruments to execute its purpose; we may still be permitted, though with becoming submission to ask not indeed what were the first, but what were the secondary causes of the rapid growth of the Christian church. It will perhaps appear that it was most effectually favoured and assisted by the five following causes:
I. The inflexible, and if we may use the expression, the intolerant zeal of the Christians, derived, it is true, from the Jewish religion, but purified from the narrow and unsocial spirit which instead of inviting, had deterred the Gentiles from embracing the law of Moses. II. The doctrine of a future life, improved by every additional circumstance which could give weight and efficacy to that important truth. III. The miraculous powers ascribed to the primitive church. IV. The pure and austere morals of the Christians. V. The union and discipline of the Christian republic, which gradually formed an independent and increasing state in the heart of the Roman empire.” (Edward Gibbon. The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume 2. 1781)
It was the Christian Gospel that enabled the early Christians to abolish the dominion of Rome over their lives, exactly how the Israelites abolished the dominion of Egypt over theirs in their repentance. It is on this same consistent message of abolition that the worldview of Abolitionism rests. It is not by coincidence that the Gospel fits in the center of the five tenets. ERGON reveals that every other tenet pivots on and revolves around the message and mission of King Christ. Without the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven, there is no abolition of the human archism of every other kingdom. The injunction is a simple one: Call on the name of the Lord, not on the names of other politicians, to save you from the fears, dangers, and maladies of this life and the next. Pray to God for the Providence of His daily bread, and not to the false gods for their socialist benefits. Come together to form a network of adhocratic congregations or abolitionist societies of daily ministration in the keeping of the weightier matters through faith, hope, and charity. Be rescued from the unequal yokes of bureaucratic bondage and authoritarian jurisdictions that keep you in a competitive ouroboros of contracts, entitlements, and taxation. These are not new injunctions. This is the message that permeates all of scripture, and with it, all of history: Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.