By Ben Hunnicutt
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved...”
We frequently use key Bible verses to present the Good News. Verses like Acts 16:31 and John 3:16 are absolutely true and worth sharing. The problem arises when we limit the gospel to solely those verses. Doesn't the gospel require more than an intellectual assent that Jesus existed and died? Doesn't being “saved” mean more than avoiding hell to get to heaven?
Jesus certainly seemed to think so. He said that “those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples” (Luke 14:33). Belief in Jesus means more than accepting a factual tidbit about a historical figure. It means shifting your entire life in allegiance to a new King under a new reality. In fact, Jesus talked very little about being “saved” after death to go to heaven. The Good News Jesus proclaimed was the Gospel of the Kingdom.
What's all this fuss about a Kingdom?
Jesus talked a whole lot about this “Kingdom”—147 times to be exact. But what is this Kingdom, is it a place? Was Jesus talking about heaven? “The time has come,” Jesus said, “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15). If God's Kingdom has come near, it mustn't be referring to a far-off heaven. Rather, Jesus was ushering in a new age, one in which God Himself is arriving in human form as the new Ruler. Jesus is the King, Heaven personified. The Kingdom is about a reign, not a realm. Jesus invites all to repent—to turn from evil and themselves—and pledge allegiance to Him as Lord.
Don't get me wrong, the Good News does include hope after death. It's just that we often stop there. We try to hand out “tickets to heaven” to get people saved quick so we can move on to the next lost person. But the Gospel of the Kingdom is more than good news about the future after death. The Kingdom is here, now. It arrived when Jesus came to earth.
The Kingdom is about bringing every facet of life under the rulership of Jesus. And we, as Jesus' disciples, are tasked to to proclaim the Kingdom—His reign—into a lost, broken, and hurting world. That means welcoming the freedom and power of Jesus into our families, workplaces, neighborhoods, and cities to see the sick healed, the lonely found, the unborn rescued, the impoverished helped, and the addicted set free. And God provides us with the power to do all of it (2 Corinthians 9:8). Now that is good news.
If you'd like to dive deeper into the practical ramifications of the Kingdom of God, head on over and listen to our latest FaithWorks Podcast entitled, “Intro to the Kingdom” available on iTunes and streamable straight from your web browser or Android phone. If you're interested in supporting CDM and FaithWorks, join our Patreon page for $5 a month and gain access to our weekly premium podcasts, exclusive to Patreon subscribers.