By Ryan Shaw
Communicating the Gospel of the Kingdom among unreached and unengaged people groups includes several important phases. First, we help those from different worldviews understand the background of God as source of all and His Kingdom as what all were created to enjoy (phase one).
Phase one enables an understanding of the need to be born again from above to relate with that God and His Kingdom and how this is possible (phase 2). From there, we teach new believers to understand and walk in the big picture of all that has been made available to them in His Kingdom (phase 3).
Along with the blessings and privileges of His Kingdom, come responsibilities and expectations of our aligning with His Kingdom power and purposes (phase 4).
The Gospel of the Kingdom is not complete, however, without teaching phase 5 – The ‘brought near’ Kingdom in this age will be fully established in the world by a transition to the next age through the physical and visible return of the King, Jesus Christ.
History is moving toward a coming birth – a transition from this age to the age to come;from the present age of the Kingdom, inaugurated yet hidden, known only by faith, to the age of the full fledged Kingdom in visible and physical power and glory.
Old Testament prophecy refers more to Jesus’ second coming then His first. It is the focal point of the Biblical account – leading to the transitioning phase from this present age to the age to come.
Both the King’s comings are distinct, definite and physical. In the first He came in humility and obscurity, fully God and fully man. In His second, He comes in glory and military power destroying all that opposes holiness in the earth.
Both the King’s comings are instrumental in establishing different phases of the Kingdom of God – His first providing a way for all to enter that Kingdom by faith through Jesus’ redemptive work, and His second casting out all that hinders His rule and reign throughout the earth.
As we near the “birthing,” there is greater escalation of His glory, power and manifest presence, while we contend in faith for the full expression of His light in the earth.
Simultaneously, evil and the depths of sin and depravity are also escalating with opposition and persecution growing toward the King, His Kingdom and every Kingdom citizen.
The present age is characterized by evil, wickedness and all that is hostile to God. Satan is called “the god of this age” and the Bible says he is the “prince of the power of the air.” All this is overcome by Jesus’ second coming – the rightful King of all the earth reigning in open, unhidden glory and power.
What we see in the world today is not the last word. Jesus, as Son of Man, will come again, in the glory of His Father, and bring all the angels with Him to administrate the affairs of His Kingdom on earth.
Upon His second coming, He will immediately overthrow governments and implement His divine government over the earth. He will gather and celebrate all that is according to His will and Kingdom and destroy what is against His Kingly reign.
To these ends we watch (taking notice of the Biblical signs, trends while observing the impact on culture) and pray for His Kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth just as it in heaven. We worship and enjoy our coming Bridegroom, with lamps full of oil, guarding from letting “love grow cold.”
Jesus’ second coming produces the full restoration of the Kingdom lost through the first act of rebellion against God – the divine reversal bringing about the original Kingdom conditions in the world.
As citizens of that established Kingdom, we will rule and reign with our King, as He implements His holy infrastructure. This is based on how we lived for Him during our lives. All disciples will be with Him but not all will be rewarded with roles in that Kingdom.
Jesus has told us a primary condition of His return is the fulfillment of the Great Commission – or this ‘Gospel of the Kingdom’ being known and experienced in power among all the ethnic peoples of the world. His patient love for all, that none should perish, is what holds back His immediate return to establish His Kingdom.
In the process of waiting for the birthing of His established Kingdom, there is great conflict of the powers of darkness and the Kingdom of light – the body of Christ shares in that conflict, contending in the Spirit.
Opposition, persecution, even physical death are a part of this conflict. These are experienced as victories just as Jesus’ apparent defeat on the cross was in reality the greatest victory ever won. This is part of the weapons of our warfare as we contend against the rising evil and spiritual darkness in the earth.
These 5 phases of the Gospel of the Kingdom are communicated to unreached and unengaged peoples in culturally understood and relevant ways. Through seeking and using bridges to these phases and sub-truths, we are faithful to Jesus’ call to “preach this Gospel of the Kingdom as a witness to all the ethnic people groups…”