Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Gospel of the Kingdom: The New Testament Message

Luke mentions that prior to his ascension to heaven; the crucified and resurrected Jesus spent forty days with his Apostles “speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). Stop and think about that for a moment! He could have spoken about anything, but Jesus chose to speak about one thing only—the kingdom. Thus, he ended his earthly ministry the same way he began it—declaring the gospel of the kingdom! 

                He then commissioned his follows to take the gospel to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). And what message do you suppose they preached? On Pentecost, we find Peter declaring how God raised up and exalted Jesus “to sit on his throne” (2:30–32), a kingly position of authority. We later follow Philip, to Samaria where he preaches “the things concerning the kingdom of God” (Acts 8:12). At Thessalonica, the Apostle Paul and his team are charged with teaching and acting “contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king—Jesus” (17:7). Two chapters later Paul moves into Asia Minor and speaks boldly in the synagogues “concerning the things of the kingdom of God” (Acts 19:8).

In his farewell address to the Ephesian elders he reminds them how he had spent three full years in their city testifying “to the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24), which he describes one verse later as “preaching the kingdom of God” (Acts 20:25, 31). From there he goes to Jerusalem where he is arrested and awaits trial. The Scriptures reveal that “many came to him at his lodging, to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God” (Acts 28:23). The Book of Acts closes with these words: “Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house and received all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him” (Acts 28:30-31). 

Thus, the Book of Acts closes in the same way it opens. The kingdom of God serves as bookends for the Book of Acts.

This is the NT pattern. Is this the message you preach? Is this the message that is heralded from our pulpits? Why not? Obviously, something is desperately wrong. A correction is needed.

Read “HEAVEN ON EARTH: Experiencing the Kingdom of God in the Here and Now.” It is a transformational book. You’ll never look at the gospel the same. 

[Next time, we will explore the content of the Gospel of the Kingdom]

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