I am starting a 7 week Summer Bible Study on Wednesday nights called, Jesus and the In-Breaking Kingdom of God. I have come to believe that the gospel that we have been preaching in much of the Western Church is too small. Many people believe that the gospel is just the good news of the forgiveness of sins. They are to turn from their sins, ask for forgiveness, and believe that their sins are forgiven. Then, they are to stop sinning, or at least try real hard. But, that is a gospel that is all about sin. Sure, sin is what keeps us from God and solving our sin problem is essential to having a relationship with God and to having eternal life. But, somehow I don’t think that Jesus saved us just so we could continue a life long focus on sin. Jesus saved us so that we would be a people unto Himself. He saved us so that we could participate in His Kingdom. The gospel of the Kingdom is much bigger than just having our sins forgiven. Through the gospel of the Kingdom, we participate in the reign and rule of God. We live our lives for Him. We love others sacrificially. We put the needs of others above our own. We humble ourselves. We give up all to pursue the Kingdom of God. It has direct results on how we live our lives now. The Gospel of the Kingdom is more than just forgiveness of sins, although that message is central. It affects our whole life and the lives of others, both near and far.
I am beginning to believe that the some of the weaknesses in our churches may stem from a lack of preaching and living out the Gospel of the Kingdom. Instead, we are often preaching and living an individualistic substitute that makes the work of God in space-time all about us, when in reality, it is all about Him and His glory. God wants to catch us up in what He is doing because He loves us and He wants us to co-labor with Him.
Any thoughts on what the Kingdom of God is and how it might make a difference that we believe the full-orbed Gospel of the Kingdom instead of just the message of forgiveness?