Jesus didn’t proclaim the gospel of forgiveness and heaven, he proclaimed the gospel of the Kingdom of God. His gospel of the Kingdom of God differs radically from the gospel of go-to-heaven-when-you-die.
Why not take a few minutes and check out these passages:
That’s all four gospels, and we’re just getting started:
- John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus by preaching the Kingdom (Matthew 3: 1-2).
- The very first message Jesus shared was the Kingdom of God (Mark 1: 14-15).
- Jesus said the reason he came to Earth was to preach the Kingdom of God (Luke 4:43).
- He said the new birth was the way to enter the Kingdom of God (John 3: 5).
If the words “Kingdom of God” seem awkward when they appear after the word “gospel” perhaps it’s because we have shortened the gospel to mean exclusively redemption from sin and going to heaven. The rediscovery of the gospel of the Kingdom, along with Jesus’ commission to “make disciples and teach them to obey” stand as the greatest need in the North American church today. Discipleship under the Masters’ hand and maturity in Christ depend on the gospel of the Kingdom of God....
- The book of Acts opens and closes with the Kingdom of God (Acts 1: 3 & 28: 31).
- The Kingdom of God was Paul’s message from Corinth to Ephesus to Rome.
- The book of Hebrews describes a kingdom that can never be shaken (12:28).
- Peter and James depict the Kingdom of God as the calling of all believers.
- The Holy Spirit inspired more than 150 references to God’s Kingdom in the pages of the New Testament. And don’t even get me started on pictures of the Kingdom in the Old Testament.
.....The Kingdom of God is the true context for discipleship. No serious student of Jesus ignores his teaching or demonstration of the Kingdom. Yes: demonstration. Jesus explained his actions in terms of the Kingdom of God. Healing, deliverance, and feeding the masses were all signs of the Kingdom of God. The world longed for the rule and reign of God to come to Earth, they received their answer in the actions and teaching of Jesus. In his absence, Jesus expects us to demonstrate and explain God’s Kingdom today. To be about the Kingdom is to be about the Father’s business.
Perhaps one reason the church struggles in the area of spiritual formation is that we are not making disciples of the Kingdom. In our enthusiasm over God’s forgiveness and mercy, we have overlooked his purposes and plans. Everyone who trusts in God can expect to go to heaven, but Jesus is after more than eternal reward. He wants us to join him in the family business.
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
I haven't posted much about Kingdom Theology recently, so here's a good summary from Students of Jesus on The Gospel of the Kingdom of God: