When I hear people teaching on salvation and Jesus’ death on the cross, I’m left thinking it is a one-time event. I’m born again, a new creation, phew! I’m saved now I can get on with life knowing hell is no longer an issue. However, this is not the case when I look at salvation through the lens of the Gospel of the Kingdom. Salvation now appears to be a lifetime journey into intimacy with God that culminates sometime in the future.
The Gospel of the Kingdom is a vast topic; however, it may be helpful to remind you of the simple structure I’m using. This gospel or good news is about the following:
The Kingdom must have a King:
- We examine the King as the Son of Man (His first coming).
- As King with sovereignty over all (future post).
- As Bridegroom to remove all obstacles to love.
- As Judge to establish His Righteous Kingdom.
The Realm of the Kingdom is present and future (realm means territory or domain):
- The Present Kingdom is in the heart of humankind who accept Jesus as Saviour.
- The Millennial Kingdom is on the earth.
- The Eternal Kingdom where the new Heaven comes to the new earth.
There are Blessings and Responsibilities for the people living in the Kingdom.
The last post discussed the Realm of the Present Kingdom and this post focuses on one of the innumerable blessings of the Kingdom – complete salvation.
You can tell a lot about someone by what’s always on their mind! When Jesus was asked how to pray His opening gambit was “Thy kingdom come”. When Jesus spoke about the gospel, He used the term “gospel of the kingdom”. Jesus’ method was to teach in parables and yet many of His parables started with “the kingdom of God is like…”. It appears to me that this kingdom, whatever it is, was always on Jesus’ mind.
Yes, it is a controversial topic and many scholars disagree on various issues. It also engages with the Prophetic Word (2 Peter 1:19; approximately a quarter of the Bible is prophetic; Derek Prince) that is not well understood by Christians, in my experience. Is it because of these difficulties that the gospel of the kingdom has been neglected? Maybe it has just been in my journey of faith and I’m being unfair. However, I have tried to engage many Christians on this topic and have been rejected almost every time. Has the gospel of the kingdom been part of your journey?
The Gospel of the Kingdom has many aspects and we can look at these through different lenses to build a picture of the Kingdom. We can look at the Kingdom through the lens of the King, through the lens of His teachings (e.g., the parables of the Kingdom), through the lens of the realms (present and future kingdoms), through the lens of the blessings and responsibilities of the people in the kingdom or through the lens of complete salvation to mention a few. We will try to address all these lenses over these posts.
“Even so it is that Christ, having been offered to take upon Himself and bear as a burden the sins of many once and once for all [first coming], will appear a second time, not to carry any burden of sin nor to deal with sin, but to bring to full salvation those who are [eagerly, constantly, and patiently] waiting for and expecting Him” Hebrews 9:28 (AMP Bible)
I believe the Bible teaches that we have been created body, soul and spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23). I won’t be completely saved until the resurrection and my body is saved. The body is the hardware and carries in this life the soul and spirit the software. The body lives for approximately 70-80 years but the soul and spirit live forever (in heaven or in hell). When we become believers in Christ because of His death on the cross we receive a new spirit, a heart of flesh and the Holy Spirit who lives in us (supernaturally; Ezekiel 11:19). That is, God has dealt with our sin nature. A new spirit means we are now spiritually alive because God’s spirit can now testify to our spirit (Romans 8:16) that was once dead if we did not accept Jesus as our Saviour (interesting that the heart of stone mentioned in Ezekiel is a gravestone in Hebrew). God is Spirit and He communicates with us through our spirit and our senses (soul; our mind, reasoning, emotions) so we can understand what God is saying. However, the Bible teaches that our inner man (soul) is being renewed day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16) as we pursue a relationship with God. Sorry, I’m getting to the point soon.
Our current body dies and decays as a consequence of sin; however, our body will one day be resurrected (raptured) and become immortal and one with Christ (1 Corinthians 15:50-57) for those people who have believed that Christ died on the cross and are drawn into an intimate relationship with Jesus.
Finally, the point of all this. Complete salvation involves our body, soul and spirit. My salvation will not be fulfilled until I’m resurrected. Bible scholars call this justification (spirit saved), sanctification (soul being saved) and glorification (body transformed at the resurrection) or we have been saved, we are being saved and we will be saved. The gospel of the kingdom must involve all of these three elements. Jesus did not talk about the gospel of salvation/forgiveness so that we might focus on the cross only; even given the magnificence of Jesus’ sacrifice. The cross has also granted us an unimaginable inheritance in Christ. If we focus on this element alone, not wrong but incomplete, we gain a partial understanding of the glory of complete salvation. If I can put this another way: we experience salvation in part in this present kingdom, our salvation is fulfilled in the Millennial Kingdom and consummated in the Eternal Kingdom.
Jesus spoke of the gospel of the kingdom, I believe, to encompass complete salvation. This complete story reveals the heart of God in such a way that overwhelms me with the depth, height, strength and width of His love. It adds depth to Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and the unimaginable inheritance we have in Christ. Furthermore, a knowledge of the gospel of the kingdom gives me understanding of teachings in the New Testament that I could not understand before. This knowledge unveils, through God’s grace (love and power) the incomprehensible mystery of how God sanctifies us in intimate relationship with Himself. We become partakers of His divine nature! Finally, God reveals His future plan of our glorious inheritance in Christ. Amazing love, how can this be?
I want it all and not just part of the gospel of the kingdom.
Written by John and Shirley Ray, edited by Joel Ratcliffe.
- “You Matter to God” Derek Prince
- ‘Bible Psychology: Spirit and Soul” Derek Prince
- “The Gospel of the Kingdom” George Eldon Ladd
- “The Presence of the Future” George Eldon Ladd
- Mike Bickle teaching library at IHOPKC.org