Julie McAllen says:
Under my previous religion, our message was not the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our message was “the Kingdom”. The kingdom was the gospel and we were fulfilling the preaching campaign foretold by Jesus at Matthew 24:14. I regularly went door-to-door asking people what “the Kingdom” for which they prayed in the Lord’s prayer meant to them. Seldom could anyone give me an answer. And neither did they tell me their testimony of what the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ meant to them personally. The most I got out of “Christians” on the other side of the door was the address of their church and bake sale they had there. It continued to feed my conviction that I had the truth and my religion was the only true dispenser of it, for I knew the gospel, they didn’t. I was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
I …became disillusioned with my religion and wondered if we really had the right message. Endeavoring to read the Bible sans Watchtower [the Jehovah’s Witness publication], I filled pages with verses trying to answer the question myself, “What is the good news of the Kingdom?” At the time, the addictive quality of mind control brought me right back to the vomit of the cult as I determined that the kingdom was a heavenly government comprised of 144,000 individuals, a remnant of which existed in the Watchtower organization… but the latter part was where the doubt crept in. How did I know the remnant was really just in THAT religion?
More discouragement and finally I broke away from the constant inculcating of their teachings. It took a few years of detox at home (praying, reading my Bible) before I came to the conclusion that the good news was the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And that did not come as a result of some denomination’s indoctrination for I was still under the Watchtower-instilled paranoia of going to another church. I simply read my Bible and I came to the simple truth that Jesus died for my sins. I believed in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ and I began to share that as good news with others trying to escape the Watchtower demons in their head. Paul states clearly in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 that it is the gospel by which we are saved. And I can testify that my faith in that saved — DELIVERED ME — from the condemnation I experienced when the religion who claimed to represent God had tossed me out of their kingdom. The gospel saved me and I believed I had entered a ew Kingdom having been taken out of darkness and born from above. I became “the church” and was now enabled and eager to fellowship at an actual church too.
I got comfortable visiting churches and the language we toss around about being “saved” and “born again”…
Then a funny thing happened just as I was starting to get comfortable in mainstream Christianity. I was reading my Bible one day when I noticed the writer of Hebrews thought HE was in the LAST DAYS. And I noticed Peter got so carried away at Pentecost that PETER THOUGHT HE WAS IN THE LAST DAYS also. I determined that the ‘last days’ BEGAN IN THE FIRST CENTURY and [so I thought then] we were still in them.
I was visiting non-denominational churches at the time and didn’t even know terms such as Amillennialism or Preterism…I was a bit shy about bringing up this nutty idea of a “first century last days” among my new aquaintances. It felt nice to fit in for a while…and let the Holy Spirit be my teacher, not any religion.
The Holy Spirit taught me how to worship and open my mind to the Scriptures without fear of reprimand from elders… for I didn’t have any now! The idea of the kingdom became more pronounced that I was LIVING IN IT. I was in a spiritual kingdom every day!
When I slipped and commented on some of my ideas about the last days beginning in the first century, a woman… accused me of “Preterism” and sent me a magazine called “Israel My Glory” along with some articles by authors against this “heresy” I was evidently falling into. I immediately recognized her error…pushing the Kingdom to a future hope.
I was moving in prayer power by this time because… I tasted the power of the present Kingdom and the spiritual dominion I had been granted. To say Jesus had not been enthroned yet and wait for Him to show up in Jerusalem was a step back into insanity!..I sure wasn’t about to go back. The blessings I received in prayer coming before a living, reigning king could not be substituted with a carrot dangling in front of me about some future return. After reading the material she sent to ‘straighten me out’, I was only too happy to learn there were others like me! And now I had a name to Google… P-R-E-T-E-R-I-S-M.
Ahhh….yes, validation. We ARE in the present kingdom! This IS the new earth! That is the Good News which the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ brought forth. It is a spiritual Kingdom! And those invited into it must be born of His Spirit, therefore, it was necessary for Him to die and ascend to heaven to pour it out. Yes, the gospel of the Kingdom INCLUDES the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, for it brings out the power of this Kingdom! And it IS good news to me! But once again, I find myself at odds with institutional religion and hesitant to share my new beliefs.
After being shunned by my former friends at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses for believing the good news of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, I’m not super thrilled about the ‘heretic’ label that awaits me among institutional Christians with their hearts set on the soon return of Jesus Christ to set up His earthly kingdom. Sigh.
I find the message very confusing when Christians talk about ‘victory’ yet still ‘wait’ for their king and kingdom to arrive. If Jesus has not taken all authority yet, then there is no power in his kingdom. What power is there in prayer for those without a king or kingdom? …
I feel very privileged to have been kicked out of my former religion and taught by the Spirit. I intend to not let a religion dictate my beliefs again.
I like being part of a faith community once again and would love to plug in there more, but I hold back as if I will be disfellowshipped there too… for the Gospel of the Kingdom now that I’m a Preterist. I’ve gotten the ‘heretic’ label already and I think I am ready to wear it again if it should come. I know without a doubt that I love my Lord more than approval from any fellow believer, regardless of their eschatology. But I am human, and as such, a social creature meant to fellowship. What a shame that religion often makes Christian fellowship so difficult!
So what is the gospel really? Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so…. and keep yourself in God’s love.