The Gospel and the Kingdom of God

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.

Matthew 4:23 and 9:35

Did you know the Kingdom of God is here on earth today? Seriously. If the gospel is true, if the Kingdom of God is real, then it must be partially in our world. Yes, it's true that Jesus said the Kingdom of God is not "of" this world. No doubt, it is not made of this world. Yet, it is "in" this world -- in lots of places. The job of a follower of Jesus is to work to expand the Kingdom -- here and now.

Luke4-16 today scripture fulfilled

First, here's some scripture to support this revolutionary idea. We'll start with The Lord's Prayer itself and then move on.

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Matthew 6:9-13 (emphasis added)
The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing their way into it.

Luke 16:16
The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.

Luke 17:20-21
You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God's sight. The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing their way into it.

Luke 16:15-16
Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.

Mark 10:15
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:3
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness....

Matthew 6:33

The gospel of Jesus Christ is the good news of the Kingdom of God (see Luke 4:43 on top of every page of this site). This is the key to everything. When I discovered this truth, my life was changed forever. It was a paradigm shift.

What it means is that God is alive and real and working in our world today. God cares about us and our world because he wants to use me (and you) to expand his kingdom here and now.

Discovering and believing in the kingdom of God; that it is both a present and future reality, changed everything for me.

No longer was the gospel simply about spiritual thoughts and believing in an idea that would ensure I wouldn't go to hell when I died. Instead, the gospel also became wonderful good news about how to enter and promote God's good kingdom now, on earth as well as in heaven -- after I leave this earth.

Can you see how that changed everything?

Now, doing good stuff every day matters. Loving others matters. Living unselfishly matters. Taking care of God's earth matters. Helping the poor matters. Helping the stranger, the immigrant, the sick, the homeless, the poor -- all of that, and much more, matters a lot because it's all part of promoting God's kingdom.

Now, I understand so much better why the prophets of the old testament as well as Jesus raged against injustice in the world. Why they hated hypocrisy and selfishness. Now I see that living righteously here and now is central to the gospel of Jesus.

We are to seek first the kingdom of God and seek to live righteously each day. That means promoting love, justice, mercy, peace -- here and now -- today!!

This has huge implications for everything I do from when I first wake up to when I go to bed. It has social and political implications. I choose the causes and politicians I support based on whether they contribute to or detract from God's kingdom on earth. Should I be an environmentalist or should I support unfettered capitalism? Should I support health care for all or should I support a system where only those who can afford health care get it. Should I promote a society that befriends and lifts up the poor, the homeless, the immigrant or a society that does not.

In America today, the working poor generally pay a higher proportion of their income in taxes than the wealthy do. Is this just? What would Amos say? What would Jesus say?

You can see the very real implications of believing in the Kingdom of God.

John6-9 boy with loaves and fishes

Before I "got" that the gospel of Jesus is about the good news of the kingdom of God; a kingdom which is both heavenly and earthly -- until I began to understand that, I didn't care much about promoting love, justice, mercy, or God's kingdom on earth. I really didn't think much about the selfish way I lived or the selfish economic and social policies I supported. None of that mattered because my faith was not connected to or relevant to the world around me. My faith was was mostly about attending church on sundays; saying a prayer; "worshiping" God; but never really changing my natural selfish outlook.

I don't recall hearing much in church about how christ-followers should promote justice, mercy and peace. Those were considered things that could never realistically happen on earth and we just needed to wait till we died and went to heaven to experience them. So, you see how the whole concept of God's earthly kingdom was entirely missing from the theology I heard in church.

Now, everything has changed -- for the better. Much better. Now, I'm not just waiting to die and go to heaven. Now, I'm seeking to live and grow and expand God's kingdom here and now. Now I see God's kingdom all around me. The world, our world, is not full of satanic, sinful, evil that must be destroyed. Yes, there is some, even much, of that. But, there is also much goodness. And, my task, our task, is to find the good and grow it. To live righteously (unselfishly).

Can you see what a huge mindshift this is? It really matters if we can lift the poor out of poverty and reduce pollution and make the world a better, more just, place for all. Why? Cause that's expanding God's kingdom! And, that's what the heart of the gospel is about -- the good news that the kingdom of God is at hand. Here, on earth as well as in heaven. And, Christ-followers must live like it.

The problem is that the "Kingdom of God" is often misunderstood. Some (generally considered "conservative") churches focus on the heavenly part of the kingdom and talk mostly about forgiveness of sins and individual salvation for the afterlife; while neglecting God's kingdom on earth. Other (generally considered "liberal") churches focus more on God's earthly kingdom and loving our neighbor here and now, while neglecting the spiritual, individual salvation, part of the gospel.

Actually, Jesus is clear that the kingdom of God is both an earthly and heavenly kingdom. The kingdom of God is a reality now as well as for the future. The gospel is "good news" for both individuals and society; both now and later. The amazing, often misunderstood, thing is that we can enter the kingdom of God now -- if we repent of our sins, believe in Jesus, and live "born again" lives as members of God's kingdom.

As perhaps the leading Jesus scholar in the world (N.T. Wright) says:

Jesus invited his hearers to "repent and believe the gospel." In our world telling people to repent and believe is likely to be heard as a summons to give up personal sins and accept a body of dogma or a scheme of religious salvation. This is a classic occasion where we have to unlearn our normal readings (including our faith readings) of first-century texts and allow the first century itself to tell us what to hear instead. As we see in Josephus, the phrase means, basically, "Give up your agendas and trust me for mine." This is not to say that Jesus did not give this challenge what we would call a religious or spiritual dimension. It is to insist that we cannot use that to screen out the practical and political challenge that the words would convey.

The Meaning of Jesus, pg. 38.

So, being part of the kingdom of God means something. One cannot be part of the kingdom of God and live no differently than others who are not part of the kingdom.

The gospel means more than simply having the right spiritual thoughts. It is more than a transaction in which we ask forgiveness and receive eternal life. The full gospel brings about transformation in our lives. We are "born again" and live differently. Here and now -- in this world. As part of God's kingdom, each day christians should do things to further the kingdom; to make the world a better place. A big part of the good news is that we are called to do good stuff!! Isn't that awesome? Being a christian is very much about being a good person and making the world around us better. This is what loving God and loving our neighbor is all about.

Do you think if christians did this it would make a difference in God's kingdom on earth? Would it expand God's kingdom? Would it result in more people wanting to be part of God's kingdom? Would evangelization happen naturally and more effectively?

Of course. And, this is exactly where so much of the modern christian church, especially in America, has lost its way. Christians simply don't live like Christians. In fact, for fear of offending someone, churches generally don't even talk about what it means to live like a Christian. And, unsurprisingly, studies show that most American Christians live no differently than non-Christians.

The Kingdom of God (sometimes referred to as the social gospel) should rightfully be on the top shelf of the heart and mind of every Christian. We should awake each day with the thought: How can I advance the Kingdom of God today?

Does that mean Christians should be progressives? Well, of course. Since the Kingdom of God has not yet fully arrived and we should be working to make it a reality on earth --- naturally, of course, that means we, as Christ-followers, should be striving each day to make God's world, our world, a better place. Progress, progressive -- yes, of course!

Here's more in response to the question: What is the Gospel?

Gospel and the Kingdom of God Articles:

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