Gospel of the Kingdom (part 3) – our Blessed Hope, Jesus Christ

Introduction

The gospel of the kingdom is a glorious story of hope, excitement, fulfillment and consummation of our relationship with God. It is a story that enables us to live in the present and face the future without fear. A story of a leader (Jesus Christ) who is the only person we can trust as our society turns away from God and becomes darker until the fulfilment of unrighteousness (Daniel 8:23). In fact, the last days will be a test of our trust in Jesus’ leadership and grace (love and power) to sustain us in this darkness.

The gospel of the kingdom is a story that many in the church do not want to accept. It’s too troubling. I have been taught many lessons in my life; can I share a couple with you? I was taught that you do not dig a well when you are thirsty. The time to prepare for the future is right now so do not delay. Second, at a time of grief in my life over a personal financial disaster, I was told that while facing the situation was distressing the final outcome would be understanding and hope. In other words, don’t draw away but face the difficulty and prepare as God has instructed. This has been my journey into the second-coming of Jesus and the gospel of the kingdom; great hope and excitement even as the darkness rises. I might carry a ‘woe’ in my heart but I do not lack understanding of what is happening around me. Don’t draw back from this story, it is our only hope, our Blessed Hope.

The gospel of the kingdom is a story of contrasts. As the darkness rises, the light of God rises before it. While there will be a great falling away from God there will be the greatest harvest in the history of the world. While the darkness will appear to have power and prosperity God will have the ultimate victory! Additionally, God has given us the prophetic Word which is a light in the darkness (2 Peter 1:19). He is telling us the future in the Bible; what will happen and how to prepare.

Before we start, a warning. Jesus taught His disciples that the last days would be like the days of Noah (Matthew 24: 37-39). Jesus mentions eight specific activities that will occupy us and distract us from God’s purpose for us. Eating, drinking, marrying, giving in marriage, buying, selling, building and planting. There is nothing wrong with these things; however, the people were so immersed in these things, they were ignorant of God’s purposes/warnings and they did not recognize the days in which they were living. Jesus’ warnings exhort us to reset our priorities. Are we lost in our prosperity so that safety, security and comfort have become our idol?

Begin the journey. Trust Jesus’ leadership because He has sent His Holy Spirit to guide you into all truth (John 16:13). How to start with such a vast topic: “no simple explanation can do justice to such a rich but diverse variety of teachings” (George E Ladd on the gospel of the kingdom). Jesus taught eleven parables about the Kingdom of Heaven, a good place to start is with the key themes in the first seven parables (find scripture references in the reference list below).

Gospel of the Kingdom (the present kingdom) through the lens of the parables:

Jesus teaches four key truths in these seven parables (Matthew 13):

  • Obedience to the kingdom dynamics will be voluntary and not enforced (parable of the soils, parable of wheat and tares; Matthew 13:3-9 and Matthew 13:24-30).
  • While the kingdom will start in a small and apparently insignificant way (present and working now), it will eventually fill the whole earth (parables of the mustard seed and leaven; Mark 4:30-32 and Matthew 13:33).
  • The great value of the kingdom will be hidden from many (parables of the hidden treasure and the pearl of great price; Matthew 13:44-46).
  • God will only allow the righteous to enter the millennial kingdom at His second coming (parables of the dragnet and wheat and tares; Matthew 13:24-30; 37-43; 47-50).

Other themes:

  • Jesus had proclaimed that the kingdom had come, yet it came in an unexpected way; a hidden way (a spiritual kingdom in our hearts) that did not overwhelm the present way of life as the Jewish people hoped. The Jewish people were looking for a Messiah to remove the Roman occupation and establish His righteous Kingdom (Luke 17:20-21).
  • Jesus introduced, ‘ushered in’ this hidden, spiritual reign of the kingdom (John 18:36).
  • This spiritual reign invited individuals to enjoy an intimate relationship with God. It was a walk in righteousness, peace, humility and joy (John 15:4-6; 17:3; 17:22-23).
  • Yes the Kingdom came in an unexpected way but also came in power (Matthew 12:28 etc.)
  • The kingdom was a present reality but also a future blessing (Millennial and Eternal Kingdoms; Luke 19:11-15).
  • The kingdom is a present realm and a future realm, an inheritance, where all obstacles to love will be removed. Can you imagine a righteous kingdom that dominates the whole earth (more on this later)?
  • The Gospel of the Kingdom will go out to all the world just before Jesus returns (Matthew 24:14).

Conclusion: this is the major theme of Jesus teachings that should encourage careful and diligent study. It fills us with hope and joy for a God who loves us like no other.

Written by John and Shirley Ray; edited by Joel Ratcliffe

Photo by David Peterson from Pexels

Suggested Reading List

  1. “You Matter to God”                                                                Derek Prince
  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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