Gospel of the Kingdom (part 2)

Introduction

Mike Bickle teaches that the gospel of the forgiveness of sins is essential but, alone, it is incomplete. The gospel of the Kingdom includes the gospel of forgiveness but also includes the truth that there is a King waiting in heaven for us to be with Him (the resurrection). The Gospel of the Kingdom is about a King who will come to rule all the nations on earth (the Messiah) and remove all who oppose Him. I will try to unpack some of what I have learned over the next few posts. Since the Gospel of the Kingdom is about a King, Jesus, we should start there. 

A short explanation of the Gospel of the Kingdom

  1. A kingdom must have a King
  2. The realm of the kingdom is present and future:
    • There is a present Kingdom
    • There will be a Millennial Kingdom 
    • There will be an Eternal Kingdom

3. There are responsibilities and blessings for the people who live in these kingdoms

A Kingdom must have a King

A kingdom has to have a king and we need to understand the nature, character, plans, actions and beauty of the King. Where to start? Samuel Whitefield (Reference 1) started with Jesus’ identity in the gospels that He chose to describe Himself. The ‘Son of Man’! I did not know that Jesus used this title more than any other (78 times) to describe Himself in the gospels. Jesus used this title more than Messiah (the Saviour who will establish His righteous kingdom; ‘the Christ’ 11 times). Jesus did not present Himself publicly as the Messiah instead He associated His messianic function (to establish His righteous kingdom on earth) with His second coming (Reference 1; Mark 8:29). Jesus also warned His disciples to keep His Messianic title secret (note He did not deny He was the Messiah; Mark 8:29). This must be significant!

Why did Jesus stress one particular title (Son of Man) and hide the other (Messiah)? The title Jesus used was a declaration of what He would accomplish on earth. The Son of Man would usher in the present kingdom and the Messiah would usher in the Millennial Kingdom. Additionally, the Jewish people were expecting the Messiah and wrongly thought the Messiah would remove the problematic rule of the Romans in Israel. This was not Jesus’ purpose in the first coming and He did not want to use a title that would suggest this and create confusion. 

When Jesus used ‘Son of Man’, he was quoting Daniel 7 to declare His divinity. Jesus had to come as the Son of Man to fulfill the Daniel 7 prophecy and to fulfill the second coming sign Jesus described in Matthew 24:30 that mirrors Daniel 7 (the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with great power and glory; the Messiah).

            The title of the Son of Man has a message attached to it and it is the Gospel of the Kingdom summarized by Samuel Whitefield from Daniel 7:

  1. The identity of Jesus is at the core of the Gospel of the Kingdom.

Jesus is a divine man first. He is also the Messiah, Saviour and Suffering Servant.  Jesus is also Bridegroom, King and Judge. We must understand what these titles mean.

2. The cross is at the centre of His identity.

Suffering reveals His nature. One of the endless expressions of His heart for us.

Needed to reconcile man to God. 

3. He is gathering His people.

People are transformed into His image (2 Peter 1:4).

They will inherit a kingdom present and future.

They will be exalted, matured and purified through suffering just like Jesus.

4. Jesus will be given a kingdom.

A righteous kingdom centered in Israel (The Millennial Kingdom). Jesus will rule from Jerusalem.

Part of this Kingdom will be a transformed Israel.

People from all nations will be part of this kingdom.

5. Jesus will come as judge.

Jesus judgments will remove all obstacles to love.Jesus will come on the clouds. Only God can come on clouds. Therefore, this is speaking of the ‘Son of Man’ as a divine man. Furthermore, Jesus stands before the Ancient of Days and only a divine man can do this (Moses couldn’t; see Daniel 7)

When I was reading this material, something struck me. The first and second coming of Jesus are inextricably connected. They cannot be separated and must be taught together if we are going to understand the Gospel of the Kingdom. Let me explain. Daniel in his vision saw something ‘like’ the Son of Man. Daniel thought he saw a man. However, Jesus was the Son of Man (i.e. a divine man). Jesus second coming, on the clouds of heaven, must be a divine man because only divinity can ascend on clouds (Acts 1:9) and come on clouds (Matthew 24:30). So, Jesus must be a man and a divine man to do this. Jesus had to become a man to fulfill the Daniel 7 prophesy and become the ‘Son of Man’. He did this at His first coming (John 1:14; Philippians 2:7; 1 Timothy 2:5). Therefore, the second coming of Jesus cannot occur unless the first coming has happened first. The Son of Man must come before the Messiah comes to judge the world and establish His righteous (Millennial) kingdom on earth. The first and second coming cannot be separated if we are going to take the Gospel of the Kingdom to all nations (Matthew 24:14).

Jesus is a King but He is also a Bridegroom and a Judge (see previous blog April 12, 2020).

Can you recall a time when you have heard the Gospel of the Kingdom taught? In my journey of faith, the second coming is rarely taught. If it is taught the focus and controversy appears to be associated with the events leading up to Jesus second coming rather than the beauty of the ‘Desire of the Nations’ (Jesus), His nature, character, and plans. Could it be that the second coming of Jesus is such a controversial topic that shepherds shy away from it and the Gospel of the Kingdom has been lost?

Written by John and Shirley Ray; edited by Joel Ratcliffe

Photo by David Skyrius from Pexel

SUGGESTED READING LIST

  1. “Son of Man: The Gospel of Daniel 7”                                     Samuel Whitefield
  2. “The Gospel of the Kingdom”                                                  George Eldon Ladd
  3. “The Presence of the Future”                                                  George Eldon Ladd
  4.  Mike Bickle teaching library at IHOPKC.org

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