Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

Bible's Gospel: The kingdom is here

 

August 28, 2019



We are plagued with preaching that narrows the message of Christ’s Gospel, until it is only about getting your little soul to heaven when you die. A friend of mine has perceptively called this an “incantational” Gospel.

That’s probably not a real word, but he’s talking about a message that portrays the Gospel as a certain terminology — words in a certain order; and, a particular prayer prayed at the end of an evangelistic service.

This version of the biblical Gospel is really more like a magic spell. Say all the right things according to the holy and mystical formula, and your ticket will be punched forever.

However, the Bible uses the word “Gospel” differently. In the first few verses of 1 Corinthians 15, Paul’s Gospel may seem restricted to the message that Jesus was crucified for sin and then raised on the third day (verses 1-4). But if we read on, the rest of the chapter includes the good news (Gospel) that Christ is presently reigning as the promised Son of David. He is waiting on the progressive defeat of all of his enemies, and won’t return until that process is completed.

This is an allusion to the most-quoted Old Testament verse in the New Testament, Psalm 110:1, where God speaks to the Messiah, “Sit at my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool.”

Though the Gospel of Christ will save the soul of the believer, it is not merely about that. The Gospel Jesus preached is about the wider kingdom of God advancing through all the Earth. His first words in the book of Mark represent this larger message: Mark 1:14-15 says, “Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the Gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel.’”

In this, Jesus was borrowing from the common use of the word, Gospel. It was normal in that time for various Gospel messages, proclamations of good news, to be sent out by heralds into all the land. A Gospel could announce the birth of a royal son, the crown prince, or it might inform the people that a military victory had been won, and their enemies defeated.

The appearance of Jesus represented the long looked-for coming of King David’s descendant, who would usher in the kingdom of God. His preaching, including practically all of the parables, highlights this kingdom focus.

We should hear his Gospel in light of the dramatic, prophetic dream in Daniel 2. There, a statue symbolizing earthly kingdoms is smashed into dust by a stone that represents God’s kingdom. The stone grows to fill the whole world, displacing everything else.

The good news is not just that you can be saved, though that’s amazing by itself. It’s that you have a role to play in that world-changing, victorious advance of the kingdom of Christ. Everything must change, beginning with you, but not ending there.

Gordan Runyan is the pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Tucumcari. Contact him at:

[email protected]

 
 

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