Friday, July 20, 2012

Defining the Gospel of the Kingdom


Someone asked me what “the gospel of the kingdom of God” is. Here is a brief answer.

To see what the gospel of the kingdom of God is, let’s look where the Gospel of Mark tells us that Jesus came preaching it (Mark 1:14). We find it in the very next verse, where Jesus said, “The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand” (Mark 1:15). The promises of God and the expectations of the prophets in the Old Testament were all about the coming age of God’s kingdom. When Jesus said, “The time is fulfilled,” He was announcing that the wait is over. When He said, “The kingdom of God is at hand,” He was saying that it was now coming into the world.

The kingdom of God is the rule and reign of God. It is the will of God being done earth as it is in heaven, just as Jesus taught us to pray (Matthew 6:10). Jesus preached and taught about the kingdom, what it is about, what it looks like, and He even manifested the kingdom itself through healing diseases, expelling demons and through the other miracles He performed — they revealed the power of God and the kingdom of God.

The end result of the kingdom will be that all things in heaven and on earth will be gathered together into one in Jesus, God’s anointed King (Ephesians 1:10). And all things in heaven and on earth will be reconciled to God by King Jesus, having made peace through the blood of the Cross (Colossians 1:20).

We are not yet at that point, and the kingdom has not yet come in all its fullness. That will not happen until King Jesus returns. But it has already begun. We are presently living in between the times of the beginning of the kingdom and its complete fulfillment. As the apostle John said, “The darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining” (1 John 2:8).

Now, within the good news of the kingdom of God, God has provided a plan of salvation by which we can enter into the kingdom and have eternal life (which is the life of the age to come, that is, the life of the kingdom of God). We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus, God's Anointed King. We enter into the kingdom of God by being “born again” through faith in King Jesus (John 3:3). But the plan of salvation is only part of the gospel. The gospel is bigger than whether you and I go to heaven when we die, it is as big as the kingdom of God. Eternal life is not just about the age to come, it is about this life as well, because the age to come, the age of God's kingdom, has already broken through into this present age.