In a previous position I held as a youth pastor, I took on a couple interns to serve with me through the summer months. The two were an engaged couple preparing to go on the mission field, and the guy, Tanner, quickly became one of my best friends.
One of the assignments I had Tanner work with me on was the development of an evangelism training curriculum. We spent a month studying the Scriptures together, reading books on evangelism and theology, and condensing what we considered to be the “essentials” of sharing the Gospel into a 3 hour training. In that time of in-depth research, I noticed a significant difference between the way Jesus evangelized and the “Gospel conversations” of today.
The Gospel of Jesus & the Apostles
Exactly what was the message Jesus and the Apostles went around preaching? That is an important question to ask if we do not want to get the gospel wrong! The consequences of getting the gospel wrong are no doubt grave (Gal. 1:6-9), so let’s look at some Passages where Jesus and His followers are preaching to better understand the gospel as they preached it:
Jesus continued going around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness.
– Matthew 9:35
After He had suffered, He also presented Himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during 40 days and speaking about the Kingdom of God.
– Acts 1:3
As you go, proclaim: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’
– Matthew 10:7
But when they believed Philip, as he proclaimed the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.
– Acts 8:12
And he [Paul] entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God.
– Acts 19:8
Paul stayed two whole years in his own rented house. And he welcomed all who visited him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.
– Acts 28:30-31
What do all of these sermons have in common? The Kingdom of God. Jesus came proclaiming the good news. This news is not just any news from anywhere. It is the news of the Kingdom and from the Kingdom, and Jesus commanded that it be preached. In fact, the Redemptive Plan of God will not be completed until it is proclaimed to all the nations (Mt. 24:14).
To understand the gospel, therefore, is to understand the Kingdom of God. That will be the pursuit of this series of posts: understanding God’s Kingdom and how our gospel proclamation should be informed by what the Bible teaches about the Kingdom of God.
Defining the Kingdom of God
When you see the word, “kingdom,” what comes to mind? What probably comes to mind is a man sitting on a throne, wearing a crown, and enjoying the luxuries of his castle. This is what pops into most people’s minds because there are a couple elements in this imagery that are common to every kingdom: First, a kingdom has a king, one who is the ruling authority. Second, a king reigns over something – that is the king’s realm. So, every kingdom includes the king’s reign (or rule) and the realm in which he is reigning.
I’m going to describe the Kingdom of God in terms of these two dynamics:
- The Kingdom of God is God’s redemptive rule realized in the hearts of men.
- The Kingdom of God is the realm fit for God’s unveiled Glory.
Together, these two aspects of God’s Kingly rule and God’s Kingdom realm comprise the Kingdom of God.
Following God’s Kingdom
God’s Kingdom is not static; it is very much dynamic, breaking into this world. Understanding God’s Kingdom requires us to follow it along the Redemptive story-line of Scripture. We will spend the next few posts following the Kingdom through the biblical themes of:
- New Creation
Doing so will help us see that it really is good news for the King’s rule to be realized in the hearts of men who are made fit to dwell in the realm of His unveiled Glory.