The kingdom and personal evangelism

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”

The kingdom and prophetic engagement: speaking truth to power?

Does being the kingdom of God mean speaking out against abuses of power in the current political system?

Quick: give me a Bible verse on social justice. What comes to mind?

Continue reading “The kingdom and prophetic engagement: speaking truth to power?”

So what is the kingdom?

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?”

KINGDOM SUMMARY: Matthew 1–10

How central is the kingdom of God to Matthew’s message?

Open Matthew.

The Good News according to Matthew is that Jesus is restoring heaven’s reign on the earth. His opening sentence is bursting with good news, “Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (1:1). He’s arrived: the divinely appointed ruler (Messiah) from Israel’s royal family (son of David) who restores the blessing of divine rule to the nations (the Abrahamic family commission).

What a revolutionary story! By confronting the powers with self-sacrificial love on behalf of earth’s oppressed people, this king brings God’s two realms back together in himself. Via a staggering trajectory, he receives all authority in heaven and on earth, and commissions his agents to bring all nations under his command, promising his regal presence until it’s done (28:18-20).

Every chapter of Matthew’s Good News tells this story. He wants us to recognize Jesus as our divinely appointed king, the one who implements heaven’s reign (the kingdom of heaven) on earth.

Continue reading “KINGDOM SUMMARY: Matthew 1–10”

Why do the apostles rarely mention the kingdom?

Are there other ways to talk about the kingdom that will communicate better in our time and culture? Here’s a lead to get us started thinking that way.

Jesus chose particular language to describe his identity (son of man) and his mission (kingdom of God). Yet his followers don’t use these terms as frequently as Jesus did. Why?

The first step is to analyse the distribution of the word kingdom in the New Testament.  Todd Scacewater posted that survey on Logos Academic. Check it out: Why the Apostles Rarely Mention the Kingdom.

Armed with that information, we can then proceed to uncover the language Paul and Peter and the others do use to proclaim the kingship of Messiah Jesus is gentile territory. Understanding what they did could prove invaluable for us as we seek relevant and appropriate ways to communicate Jesus’ kingship in our time and in our culture where “kingdom” language can sound archaic. Continue reading “Why do the apostles rarely mention the kingdom?”

The kingdom story so far (Genesis – Matthew 6)

Want a quick overview of the story of the kingdom of God? Here it is: the plotline from Genesis to Matthew 6.

God designed earth to operate under heaven’s management. God designed people as his representatives, to care for the earth and its creatures on his behalf. Grasping power that should have been in God’s hands led to hostility against God and violent conflict with each other. It’s what’s wrong with the world as we know it: a beautiful world, where people do ugly things.

Our heavenly sovereign wanted to repatriate us under his governance, but he would never force himself on us. He allowed the nations to go their way. Then he chose a family to build a designer nation to showcase his rule, so the nations would see the blessing they were missing. Exodus tells the story of God rescuing this family from human rule to be the first nation ruled by God.

Continue reading “The kingdom story so far (Genesis – Matthew 6)”

What is seeking the kingdom?

We’ve finally reached the verse that launched this blog. So what did Jesus mean by “Seek the kingdom”? What is God’s kingdom? How do we seek it?

Open Matthew 6:33.

Because we don’t understand the ancient world of kingdoms, Matthew 6:33 is one of the most misapplied verses in the Bible. It’s very popular in journals, study guides, and spiritual formation books. These writers want to make the application as personal as they can for their individual reader. As they understand it, I enter the kingdom through personal faith, and I seek the kingdom through my devotional life and spiritual disciplines. The goal is to encourage me to personally seek God, so his kingdom comes into my heart and his righteousness comes into my life. Great personal goals, but it’s not the kingdom.

Here’s just one example of “kingdom” applied personally. This is what the Word Bible Commentary series says about the command to seek the kingdom (Matthew 6:33): Continue reading “What is seeking the kingdom?”

As true as our king (Matthew 5:33-37)

While asking us to be truthful, Jesus revealed how he understood the kingdom.

Open Matthew 5:33-37.

You know those “aha” moments where you finally catch on to what someone was talking about? Something they took for granted finally clicks into place for you. There’s one of those embedded in what Jesus said about avoiding oaths. Here’s a chance to see how he understood the kingdom. Continue reading “As true as our king (Matthew 5:33-37)”

Short Video: Gospel of the Kingdom

Relax and enjoy the animation.

The Bible Project produces animated video summaries of Bible books and themes.

They’ve created a great little summary of The Gospel of the Kingdom (5 minutes). Watch on YouTube, or save a copy by right-clicking the Download button on this page (430 MB).

They also have some great introductions to books of the Bible, giving you the background and overview you need when you go to study a book. Check them out. My favourites are Genesis and Romans (2 videos each).

bibleproject_gospelofthekingdom

Kingdom of God, or Kingdom of heaven?

Is there a difference between “the kingdom of God” and “the kingdom of heaven”? Or are they interchangeable?

What does Matthew mean when he talks about the kingdom of heaven? Modern readers may miss the Jewish story, and imagine he means going to heaven when we die. For example, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:23). So why is it so hard for rich people to get to heaven? Continue reading “Kingdom of God, or Kingdom of heaven?”

One ruler can bring humanity home

What kind of ruler could bring an end to war and injustice? He’d need to be a very different kind of ruler, and all humanity would need to submit to him.

As you read the Christmas story, do you see how rulers today still rely on evil and death as Herod the Great did? The spirit behind Herod reigned in the rulers who came before him: Antiochus Epiphanes IV, Nebuchadnezzar, Pharaoh Neco, Sennacherib, …

When Fidel Castro died, some rulers like Canada’s Justin Trudeau sparked a social media storm for eulogizing him (#trudeaueulogies). Michael Bird chipped in with examples of how rulers still reign through the power of death: Continue reading “One ruler can bring humanity home”