Last week, I began a book report on Greg Gilbert’s What Is the Gospel? (Crossway, 2010), so I would advise you to read that before beginning here, but I hope that this second post will be helpful for seeing how many of the key aspects of the gospel are all tied together.
Chapter Six: The Kingdom
Though God’s rule, in a sense, extends over everything, there is a deeper and fuller reality to the kingdom of God. His kingdom is a kingdom that is thoroughly extended to those who have been redeemed by the King himself. In his sacrifice upon the cross, Jesus made a way for people into his kingdom by his blood.
Poorly conceived, the notion of the kingdom of God was just the thought that the people of God would be restored in their own earthly kingdoms, namely the Israelites in Palestine. The prophetic scheme, however, pointed to three very different savior types long before Jesus was on the scene. There was the prophesied Messiah (king) found throughout the Psalms and prophets, but there was also this divine being called “the Son of Man” from Daniel, and additionally an atonement providing suffering servant in Isaiah. It wasn’t until Jesus arrived that it could be clearly seen that these three were actually the same One. So, what we have then, is a King of divine origin who rules over his people, but his people are only those who were purchased by his atoning blood. They do not have a geographically defined border. As the Peter says, “I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh,” (1 Peter 2:11).
So back to the question, what is this kingdom? In order to answer that, we must first realize that the kingdom is not some sort of earthly realm. Jesus came on the scene proclaiming that the kingdom of God had arrived (Matthew 12:28). As I mentioned above, a critical key to the kingdom of God is that it is a kingdom of redemption, where Christ’s redemptive work for his people is the basis for inclusion in the kingdom. Our King loves us.
So if you think about it, the kingdom of God is found in the church, though the church itself is not the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is still being built and it will be fully culminated when everything under heaven and earth has been restored to the King. However, though the problems of death, sin, evil, and suffering still remain, in their essence they were dealt with at the cross. As death itself was robbed of its power at the resurrection, there will be a day when death will die, a day when sin and evil will be annihilated, and when suffering will be crushed under the weight of glory. This will fully occur in the new heavens and the new earth. But if you want an appetizer of the things that are to come, then come to the church to experience lives redeemed by a very good, and very powerful King as they are helped and guided by his Spirit.
Chapter Seven: Keeping the Cross at the Center
There is a danger in capitulating to the thought that there needs to be more than the cross to the solution that the gospel gives us for all of life’s problems. This is simply untrue. When it comes to our standing before God, the cross is all that we have. How else would this holy and righteous Creator be able to allow those of us who had rejected him into his presence? It is tempting to present the nuances of the gospel (themes of lordship, re-creation, cultural transformation, etc.) as the gospel itself, but apart from the message of the cross, that gospel is gospel-less. It may be tempting to try and not mention it because it incurs the ridicule of the world, but it is infinitely better to be seen as a fool by the world, than as a fool by the Lord of the world.
Chapter Eight: The Power of the Gospel
It is incredibly easy to lose sight of the gospel. Incredible because it is such a vastly huge and important feature of what our lives ought to be all about, and yet we miss it so often. This is because we still wage war with our lazy, tired, sinful flesh. However, if we are to live in the light of the gospel, it will do several things. Understanding and meditating on it will cause us to rest our tired hearts in the Lord himself, he is our promised rest (Matthew 11:28). We will also begin to love God’s people more, since we know that they have come to know, love, and rest in that very same savior. The deep reality of God’s grace to us will also give us mouths that are prepared to speak the gospel into a world that is just as lost as we once were (and still would be if it weren’t for him). And lastly, it will give us a deep longing for the Lord’s return, when his kingdom will be consummated. But more importantly, it will be when his people will be able to behold him free from sin once and for all.
As I mentioned in my introduction in the last post, this was a great book. Even going over it again reminded me of so many things that I wish I would have posted in here, but didn’t for lack of space. Honestly, find it and buy it. It is a worthwhile investment for your own understanding of God’s rescue plan as well as a great resource to get in the hands of others. It’s incredibly accessible and easy to read. Most of us would be able to finish it in a day or two. I just hope that some of the remarks made in these posts will be worthwhile, and I hope it give you greater desire to go adore and serve our King.