The Kingdom of God
Jesus sent out the disciples to “proclaim the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:2) Luke then tells us, in verse 6, that they “they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel.” The gospel is the kingdom. The kingdom is the gospel. We probably don’t think like that often enough. But that’s because we have not considered Who the God of the gospel is.
Paul told us plainly that the God of the universe does not need anything (Acts 17:23-25) He doesn’t need you. He has never needed you. From eternity past, he was complete and happy, enjoying the beautiful and perfect fellowship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In fact, he created you so that you could enjoy and appreciate his infinite, eternal and unchanging perfections of power, wisdom, holiness, justice, goodness and truth.
As creator (Gen 1:1; John 1:3) and sustainer (Col 1:17) of all things, and director of whatsoever comes to pass (Eph 1:11), God has always exercised his kingly reign. The gospel of the kingdom of God that the disciples (and we) proclaim is that God has extended mercy to mutineers. Through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ, who lived for us and died for us, and was raised as proof that God’s wrath against us had been satisfied–, through faith in that finished work, we have been restored as his faithful subjects. There is a return to the created order of things.
The Gospel is a Message
That is good news (=gospel) indeed! But faith comes through hearing, and hearing through the word (Rom 10:17). The gospel is the power of salvation for everyone who believes (Rom 1:17). But this gospel must be heard to be believed. And it must be told in order to be heard.
Many of you have probably heard of “lifestyle evangelism”. Or maybe you’ve heard words that have been attributed to Francis of Assisi: “Preach the gospel always … use words if necessary.” The problem is, while we must demonstrate the effect of the gospel on our lives –We certainly don’t want to live contrary to the message we proclaim — Your lifestyle does not save. Your lifestyle is not the gospel. It is the effect of the gospel made evident. But it is not the gospel. We need to learn to proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God. We need to learn to turn conversations to Jesus. The gospel, a message, is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. Gestures and lifestyle, as important as they are, are not that message.
When we ponder what it will mean for family members or co-workers or neighbors … or those in far off lands … who do not know the gospel, our hearts should break. At the very least pity and fear for their sake ought to loosen our tongues. But if we really grasp the goodness and mercy of our sovereign God, our speech will become seasoned with this good news always, and we will not keep silent.
Trust the gospel’s power to save … anyone …. after all, it saved you. Reflect on the misery of separation from God for eternity. Reflect on the glory of union with God for eternity. And open your mouths to speak.
It is a privilege God has given you … not a service that God needs from you.