As we talked about last week, the gospel message and salvation are about so much more than just forgiveness of sins and getting into heaven. The primary message of the Gospel is the inauguration of the kingdom of God. It’s within this “kingdom of God” that there is forgiveness of sins, power and a new life now and forevermore. To understand the gospel of Jesus we must understand what the kingdom of God is.
What is the kingdom of God? A kingdom is where a king rules, holds power and authority, and for the most part, is highly honored and respected among the people residing within that kingdom. So now, when talking about the kingdom of God, we are talking about 1) an invisible kingdom; as Jesus said in John 18:36, “My kingdom is not of this world.” 2) it is where God reigns, holding all power and authority, and is highly honored among the people of His kingdom. When we reduce the gospel to promote some worldly pursuit, power or pleasure, or make it all about us, we are missing the heart of the gospel. In reality we are preaching a different gospel and working against the advancement of God’s kingdom rather than for it. We must remember that everything about the kingdom of God goes against our worldly and human intuitions. That’s why the first word of the gospel is repent (turn). John the Baptist said, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Mt 3:2). Jesus said, “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news” (Mk 1:15). The second word is speaking of a kingdom that has come upon us… or, is near. In other words, turn from the ways of the kingdom you are following now, for a new kingdom is near.
In this context, the gospel is the good news of God establishing His kingdom within and among sinners. To understand the gospel, then, we must understand the kingdom of God. That’s why Jesus mentions and teaches about the kingdom of God throughout His ministry and time with His disciples. When Jesus called people, He didn’t lead them in a prayer of forgiveness. He simply said, “Follow Me.” Salvation is a matter of following Jesus into His kingdom. This kingdom has a King. And this King is the King of kings! He is above all other kings that ever reigned. He is good. He is faithful. He is loving and forgiving. He is highly honored, respected and revered among nations of people. He holds all power and authority and His kingdom will never end! That’s so much more than we can say for any earthly kingdom that ever existed. To that end we say, BRING IT ON, GOD! Which literally means, “Thy kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven…”
But there is a cost. To be a part of this kingdom you must “deny yourself and take up your cross”. You must die to your old life, your old kingdom values and goals and follow Jesus into this new way of living, not according to our fleshly desires but according to the Spirit. The gospel is a matter of following Jesus and constantly turning from our ways. It will require self-denial and maybe even our life. It’s a daily commitment and lifestyle not a one-time decision. That’s why Jesus warned people to “count the cost.”
Is that the gospel you signed up for? Do you understand the cost? Maybe the question we should be asking is, “Am I willing to pay the price?” Anything less is not the gospel of Jesus. Anything less is a “different gospel” that Paul warned us about in Galatians 1:6-8 and 2 Corinthians 11:3-4. Anything less will not lead us to God or heaven.
The gospel you preach is the kind of disciple you make. Be wise and do your part to grow in the knowledge, love and joy of the Lord and pass it on to another.
"If a commission by an earthly king is considered an honor,
how can a commission by a Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice?"