As I have proposed in the previous post, it is my opinion that somehow the Gospel of Salvation has displaced the Gospel of the Kingdom as the primary reason Jesus came to earth as the Son of God. And I want to make it very clear that I am NOT saying that the message of Salvation is invalid! It is of paramount importance to every Believer on earth. In fact, it is a central tenet of our faith, and our entrance point into the Kingdom here on earth.
That's where a lot of Christians stop. They have received salvation and eternal life and they're good to go. That's why Jesus came, they tell themselves, and if we, as the Church, can convert the pagans among us to faith in Jesus Christ, then we are good Christians. Problem is, that's not what Jesus told us to do. His first explicit command is to "Seek the Kingdom, first". And His Commission to all who call themselves His followers is this: Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover (Mark 16: 15-18).
This leaves me with two questions ... the first is this, which Gospel? For nearly 1700 years, the Church has believed it is the Gospel of Salvation. But Jesus preached the Gospel of the Kingdom everywhere He went, and only spoke about being born again (Saved) once in private to a religious leader. And He told that leader that unless he was Saved, he would never enter the Kingdom of God. Salvation was a prerequisite to the real reward of faith in Him... entrance into the Kingdom.
The second question centers around the validity of these verses in Mark. If one denies that they are inspired Scripture (as many do), then one is most likely among those Christians who disavow that we should be displaying the signs and wonders that Jesus modeled, which He did to show us that the way of life in Heaven's Kingdom was now available on earth. Furthermore, if this Scripture is declared invalid, then it is easy to also disclaim Jesus's declaration that the signs and wonders would "accompany those who believe."
So what is the grounds for most of our Bible translations noting that "Some of the earliest manuscripts do not include Mark 16:9–20." This argument is based on the fact that Mark 16:9-20 are not in two of the oldest and best preserved complete manuscripts of the New Testament. These are Codex Sinaiticus (Manuscript Aleph) and Codex Vaticanus (Manuscript B). Here is some interesting information that I uncovered about these two aged manuscripts: Codex Vaticanus (Manuscript B) was copied in 350 A.D. and is missing Revelation, Hebrews 11:14 to the end of Hebrews, and 1 & 2 Timothy. (Yet these omissions don't seem to bother Christians as much as the omission of Mark 16:9-20. Why not?) It has been in the Vatican library since 1481.
Codex Sinaiticus, dated 375 A.D., was discovered in 1859 by Bible archaeologist Constantin von Tischendorf, while staying at St. Catherine's Monastery on Mount Sinai in Egypt. There he observed a monk starting a fire with pieces of parchment from a box. On closer inspection he found in the box a bound copy of the New Testament. It looked very old to him and he asked if he could look at it. He spent all night reading it by candle light. It does not include Mark 16:9-20, but a discerning person must ask what part of the manuscript had the monk already destroyed in the fire?
And here's the thing that intrigues me: of the over 600 Greek manuscripts that contain the 16th chapter of Mark, only 3 do not have verses 9-20, and it is included in 5 other prominently accepted manuscripts from the 425-550 A.D. time period. So could there have been an agenda to discourage the belief among Christians that they had access to the power of the Kingdom of God that was exhibited and modeled by Jesus, the Apostles, and the early disciples of the Church? To whose benefit would it have been to promote the Gospel of Salvation [mentioned only 11 times in the Four Gospels] as the primary message of Jesus, but dispel the 120 times He talked about entering the Kingdom of God as His mission?
Of course the obvious answer is Satan. Since he wrested the dominion of the earth away from Adam and Eve, he would have a vested interest in not seeing that dominion restored, wouldn't he? And, just like our Father in Heaven, Satan loves to work through men. But his agenda is to distort the Word of God.
Does history show us where that could have happened? It is difficult to pinpoint the exact date when the distortion of the Gospel began, because from the very beginning of what I would call "Christian theology", there has never been a consensus regarding the beliefs and practices of our faith. Even Peter and Paul had disagreements! My research has shown me at least four distinct categories of Christianity in the first century after Christ's death: Catholic Christianity, Gnostic Christianity, Arian Christianity, and Homoousion Christianity. Take the time to do your own research and see how Satan managed to distort and warp God's plan from the beginning of the Church.
But I submit to you [my theory] that a key factor in Jesus' message [that He came to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom] being supplanted with a message that He came to bring us salvation happened in 325 A.D. at the First Council of Nicaea. This was a Council of Christian bishops who were charged with settling the issue of Jesus Christ's divine nature as the Son of God, and His relationship to God, the Father. This resulted in the first uniform Christian doctrine, called the Nicene Creed, with the intent to define a unity of beliefs throughout Christendom. This Creed has influenced all major Christian denominational doctrines for the last 1700 years. And this is how it reads:
We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father [and the Son]. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. AMEN.
Can you see that the Nicene Creed restates Jesus's own words that the Gospel of the Kingdom is why He has come, and instead, declares that salvation was the reason? And can you see that the Nicene Creed projects the Kingdom into the future at His Second Coming, and to the life of the world "to come" -- not that it is available NOW? And I find it interesting that Mark 16:9-20 doesn't appear in the two Greek manuscripts copied most recently after the Nicene Creed was written. Could it be that those verses, which speak of our power and authority to cast out demons, heal the sick, and crush the power of the Enemy, challenged the Nicene Creed's assertion that it was our salvation that was the reason Jesus came to earth? Can you see how that would render the Church powerless to help make earth like Heaven, where there is no sickness or pain or torment?
Could it be that from that moment in history until now, Scripture has been misinterpreted and manipulated by translators and theologians [through the influence of Satan on their thinking] to keep the Church from taking back dominion of the earth for God? Can you receive that the Gospel of the Kingdom is the good news of God's government on the earth through the appearance of Jesus Christ? It is the good news that God governs out of His realm, which is [for now] dimensionally separated from the earth, but that He intends to govern the earth now through us; to interact with us in order to transform the planet to His will and in accordance with the faith and belief of His people -- exactly the great commission Mark 16:9-20 gives us.
This is certainly not an agenda that bodes well for the fallen angel Lucifer. He actually likes things just as they have been since the Fall in the Garden. He is the ruler of this earth [as Jesus stated in John 12:31] and he knows if we ever get our priorities right, his kingdom will be defeated by a greater Kingdom; the Kingdom of our God. So perhaps we should reconsider what we preach in our church buildings and what message our missionaries and evangelists take to the world.
By all means, let us bring salvation to non-believers, because it is essential to God's plan of redemption. But let us show them that salvation is the key that unlocks the door [which is Jesus], and gives them entrance to His Kingdom on earth, and is the starting point of the important part they play in spreading that Gospel and seeing Him return to bring the completion of the Kingdom. Remember: He said, And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. He is waiting for us to share the good news that earth was made to reflect Heaven in all its ways. He is not coming back until that is accomplished! And that is what ALL the parables are about! Every one of them begins with, The kingdom of Heaven is like... He came to restore us to our original design in Genesis One: to be like God in all our ways and to govern the earth like He governs in Heaven.
But when Adam and Eve messed it up, Jesus had to come to, first, save us from the death that the new ruler of the earth (Satan) delights in [and which we deserve]; and once we confess our faith in Him [and not the world], then He had to show us how to walk in the power and authority we were given when God first created man, which would inevitably, cause us to begin taking back dominion.
You may not agree with my theory, and that's okay by me. But I hope I have encouraged you to search the Scriptures yourself and to ask the Holy Spirit for guidance and revelation. Neither take my word for it, nor dismiss my theory without searching the Bible. And please do not rely on centuries old doctrine to form your personal theology without doing your own due diligence. Peruse the doctrine yourselves; compare to Scripture; and then seek the Lord in Truth and Spirit. The timing of His return and the fate of the world depends on us getting this right.
Mark 1:15 His message was this: “At last the fulfillment of the age has come! It is time for the realm of God’s kingdom to be experienced in its fullness! Turn your lives back to God and put your trust in the hope-filled gospel!”