How does the kingdom of God relate to the message of salvation?
In my student days, I stood at the edge of the Grand Canyon. It’s embarrassing, but I remember saying, “That’s not a canyon; that’s a huge cliff.” I expected to see another cliff on the other side of the canyon. Eventually, somebody pointed it out: “See over there, 18 miles in the distance, that’s the other side.” I had totally failed to understand the scale of the canyon.
Salvation can be a bit like that. It’s so much more than we take in at first. For 500 years, we’ve stressed that it’s all of grace, nothing of human merit: by grace alone, by faith alone. We know it so well:
Ephesians 2:8–9 (NIV)
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
How does salvation relate to the kingdom? That’s an important question if we are to understand the gospel Jesus preached, i.e. the good news of the kingdom (Matthew 4:23; 9:35; 24:14; Mark 1:15; Luke 4:43; 8:1; 16:16). Continue reading “God’s kingdom and salvation”
What’s God’s vision for the church? Is your church demonstrating communal life as our king desires?
What’s the connection between the kingdom of God and the church? Continue reading “God’s kingdom and the church”
How does the kingdom of God relate to the nation of Israel today?
Israel did not exist as an independent nation for more than 2,500 years (586 BC – AD 1947). What is the significance of Israel’s rebirth 70 years ago?
For many Jews, it means coming home to the home they never had. Some see it as the fulfilment (or re-fulfilment) of God’s promise to resurrect their nation (Ezekiel 37:14).
Some Christians also see Israel’s return as a significant fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy in our time. Is this so? To answer that question, we need to review the crucial role Israel played in the kingdom of God narrative. Continue reading “God’s kingdom and Israel today”
Social justice isn’t an angry fist; it’s a cross, bearing the injustice away.
Imagine a world without gender conflict, where males and females value each other as persons. Imagine a world where no one no one dies of preventable diseases, where no one starves while others horde wealth. Imagine a world without racism or slavery or war, a world where no leader forces themselves on people. Imagine a world where people shun violence and retribution, calling on God to bring justice instead.
Lofty ideals? It’s our future. This is the world we will know when it runs as our heavenly sovereign intends — as the kingdom of God. The big question is how do we get there?
Continue reading “God’s kingdom and social justice”
How can love survive against evil when evil has the weapons to destroy God’s people? (Spoiler alert)
Spiritual warfare is a kingdom matter. Ever since the coup in Eden’s Garden, earth has been at war with our heavenly sovereign. Unlike the evil emperor in Star Wars, God did not build a death star to destroy the planet and its rebels. Instead he called Abraham away from Babel, to build a family that would bring the world back into his care.
Predictably, Abraham’s family were enslaved by this world’s rulers. With ten “mighty acts” God demonstrated Pharaoh was a fraud. Egypt’s king could not even stop natural invaders like frogs, flies, or gnats. Pharaoh could not protect the families of Egypt, not even his own family, not even Egypt’s heir.
Pharaoh agreed to let God’s people go, but he still had the forces to recapture them. That’s the big question: How can love survive against evil when evil has the weapons to destroy God’s people? Continue reading “The kingdom and spiritual warfare”
How is the kingdom of God connected to the 1000-year reign in Revelation 20? Does it help to ask who this vision is about, rather than when?
What comes to mind first when you hear the phrase kingdom of God? For some, it’s a future era of global peace with Christ reigning for 1000 years. Continue reading “God’s kingdom and the millennium”
What’s the relationship between the kingdom of God and the power of the state?
Mixing religion and politics could start an argument, but we can’t avoid the gnarly question.
How should Christians interact with the power of the country we live in? Should we be politicians, law makers, advisors, ambassadors, judges? Should we lobby politicians over issues like same-sex marriage? Should we oppose institutional injustice like incarcerating people on Manus Island?
Should churches promote and fund activist agendas to challenge government policy? Or should we do those things only as individual citizens? Or is this whole thing diverting us from our calling? Continue reading “God’s kingdom and politics”
Does “the kingdom of God” mean I have a life of health and prosperity because I’m reigning with Christ?
Following E. W. Kenyon, Kenneth Copeland and others proclaimed that God has given the kingdom to his little flock (Luke 12:32). We are seated with Christ on the throne, with everything under our feet (Ephesians 1:20-23). If we maintain this positive confession, nothing can touch us. Sickness is gone: it was part of the curse from which we’re redeemed (Galatians 3:13). Wealth is guaranteed: it all belongs to our Father who is pleased to give it to his children. Because Jesus conquered, we’re more than conquerors (Romans 8:37)..
Is this what Jesus meant by the kingdom of God? Continue reading “The kingdom and personal power: more than conquerors?”
How do we present “the good news of the kingdom”?
I grew up in a church were we didn’t talk much about the kingdom of God. If we did, we thought of it as something internal, like putting Jesus on the throne of my heart. We asked individuals to make that decision, to pray the sinner’s prayer by which they would be born again. Isn’t that how someone enters the kingdom? Continue reading “The kingdom and personal evangelism”
Does being the kingdom of God mean speaking out against abuses of power in the current political system?
How does the kingdom of God translate into twenty-first century Western democratic life?
Open 1 John 4:7-12.
Search the internet and you’ll find kingdom of God used for whatever a speaker wants it to mean, e.g.:
The kingdom of God contains a wide spectrum of activities and ideas, but none of these on its own is the kingdom.
White light consists of the whole spectrum: red, green, blue, and in-between colours. If you think white light is red, you’re wrong: you’re wearing filters that stop you from seeing the green and blue. The problem is that most of us do wear filters that stop us seeing the multi-faceted nature of the kingdom of God. We fail to grasp the breadth of its spectrum.
So what is the kingdom of God?
Continue reading “So what is the kingdom?”