By Ryan Shaw
Last week we began considering the big-picture, over-arching question, “What is the Gospel?” We took Jesus’ prophecy in Matthew 24:14 as a foundation, “…and this Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”
Since it is the ‘Gospel of the Kingdom,’ experienced among all peoples globally, that is the direct connecting point with Jesus’ return, we want to grow in understanding of what the Bible means by this.
In order to faithfully communicate the Gospel in a culturally relevant way, it is necessary for people to grasp background information. Often, we simply communicate, “Jesus loves you” or the like.
What if that person or community has only negative, wrong stereotypes about Jesus? Will they be able to rightly internalize His love? What if they have no knowledge of Jesus at all? That love holds no value. Failing to provide needed context, negatively impacts the message.
The Gospel of the Kingdom revolves around a King restoring His Kingdom, currently reigning in the lives of those who trust in Him by faith, coming again to rule the whole world (with His beloved bride) in visible, physical splendor and His people living forever with Him face to face.
We introduced a five phase framework of this ‘Gospel of the Kingdom’ last week. Each phase includes many sub-truths necessary to rightly see Gospel transformation in a human life and community.
We are considering the first phase of the ‘Gospel of the Kingdom’ today – The Kingdom has come near through the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, the Son of God made King.
The true, creator God is rightful King over all, deserving honor, glory and obedience from all humanity, by the fact of being creator. Through creation, He established a Kingdom for the blessing, enjoyment and highest experience of life by human beings for all eternity.
Creation itself declares the splendor and glory of the one true King. All human beings are innately aware of a divine being they are created to have fellowship with. He is the God we are describing.
The true God created human beings in His image in love to enjoy unhindered fellowship and relationship in His Kingdom for all eternity. We are the crown jewel of creation.
The first human beings lost this fellowship and accompanying Kingdom, tempted by the evil one, choosing their own way. All humanity inherited this rebellion and has fallen short of the glory of God – separated, cut off, enemies of the intended Kingdom of God.
The intended Kingdom for all eternity was lost in the experience of human beings as self-centeredness flooded the human soul and spirit. The evil one took a measure of power, creating chaos in every heart, relationship and community.
Human beings experienced this loss profoundly, developing man-made systems of relating to the divine (religions), to fill the hunger within. These systems of false belief hold people in bondage and darkness, instead of guiding them to the true light they seek.
The creator God, the supreme and all-powerful King, possessed a plan of love from eternity past to restore this lost Kingdom, returning humanity to its rightful place of unhindered fellowship with the King and enjoying the blessings of His intended Kingdom.
The restoration of this lost Kingdom would be established in successive developments. The Old Testament prophets referred often to either one or both of these developments
(1) the Kingdom coming near through the first coming of Jesus to redeem those who would believe and
(2) the Kingdom’s complete manifestation in power and glory, ridding all evil and wickedness, through His second coming.
The creator God did something unprecedented, never seen or even considered in human history – above and beyond all His rivals. God became a human being, Jesus Christ, living a perfect life, revealing the life of the Kingdom and ushering us into all its benefits, blessings and responsibilities.
Jesus Christ, fully God yet fully man, willingly (motivated by extravagant love) received in Himself the wrath of God, reserved for human beings separated justly from God, restoring relationship, for all who believe, with the eternal, creator God.
The first coming of the great King, Jesus Christ, brought the Kingdom of God, with its accompanying blessings and benefits, near for all. God in the flesh, in humility and poverty, took the penalty of human rebellion against God for all who believe.
Through Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice and miraculous resurrection from death, the God of inexhaustible love purchased back the Kingdom of God to Himself, making a way for human beings to experience the original purpose of all humanity for all time – The Kingdom of God.
Life in this brought-near Kingdom, under the leadership of the great King, is God’s perfect will and plan for all human beings and cultures for all eternity.
The King, ruling and reigning over this Kingdom is the only true, rightful King of the whole world and its peoples. He is its creator, source and sustainer. Apart from His upholding arms all would cease to exist.
The superior and supreme King over all is beautiful in His ways, majestic in His authority, kind and good in His character, exalted among all creation as the uncreated One. Giving Him honor, affection, devotion and obedience brings the human heart its ultimate satisfaction and contentment.
Through all these sub-truths, we bear the message of the first phase of the ‘Gospel of the Kingdom.’- The Kingdom has come near through the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, the Son of God made King.