And the Gospel _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Will Be Preached…


Christians are very familiar with the term “the gospel”, and are aware of the need to share “the gospel”.

But what is our understanding of the term?

 

We think of it as “the good news” – but what is the news that is good?

 

I’ve been trying to think of some of the ideas I’ve come across during the decades since I first came into contact with “gospel” preaching Christians.
At various times I’ve accepted several of these ideas – or at least parts of them. Other’s I’ve heard but have never accepted.

 

To what extent have we REALLY tried to grasp what the Bible says about “the gospel”?
How was it preached by Jesus and the early church?
What was preached by Jesus and the early church that could be described as “the gospel”?

 

1) Receive Jesus and escape hell
2) Come to God, He has a wonderful plan for your life.
3) God’s eternal, righteous Kingdom is accessible
4) You are going to hell if you don’t accept Jesus
5) God wants to prosper you – turn to Him.
6) Join God’s mission to turn this world around.
7) God loves everyone so much He wants to be their friend.
8) Come to God as you are, God loves you anyway.
9) If God has chosen you as part of His elect – you’ll be saved.
10) Repeat this sinner’s prayer and you’ll be saved.

 

There are probably many other examples, but those given above probably give a reasonable taste of the various messages that have been presented as “the gospel”. Some of those statements contain part of the truth, others are far from the truth, but I believe only one gets close to the real heart of the gospel. I’ll address that later.

 

From a personal level, I suppose my initial interest in the gospel message came about through a desire to avoid hell. At the time I thought I had nothing to worry about because I’d grown up with a belief in God and I thought that was enough to make me safe. Then somehow a school friend who’d recently become involved with a Pentecostal church managed to convince me of the need to ask Jesus into my life through the reciting of “the sinner’s prayer” – so a few of the phrases listed above played a part in my introduction to Christianity.

 

However, while those messages served a purpose, they didn’t exactly set me on a path to a strong Christian faith. They put ME at the centre, and I don’t recall myself ever considering that maybe God should be at the centre of the gospel. That the gospel was more about HIS intentions for the whole of His creation, than about keeping me as an individual out of hell.

 

If I now had to choose which one of the above statements best expresses’ the heart of the gospel, it would be the third: “God’s eternal, righteous Kingdom is accessible”. That’s the message John the Baptist preached in preparation for the introduction of Jesus, and that is the message Jesus preached from the beginning of His ministry: “the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

 
Jesus later spoke of the “gospel of the Kingdom” being preached in the whole world as a precursor of the end.

But the end of what?

The end of this world’s disconnection from, and its rejection of, the Kingdom of God; when “The kingdoms of the world […] become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah”.

The purpose of the gospel is to proclaim the good news of God’s coming Kingdom, and the fact that we (mankind) can be part of it. That the corruption, the hypocrisy and the injustices that pervade every aspect of the world’s Kingdoms will be brought to an end.

The gospel is the good news of the Kingdom; GOD’s Kingdom, the Kingdom of Heaven.

 

31 thoughts on “And the Gospel _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Will Be Preached…

  1. Tim, thanks for this excellent post ! Exactly the right question for all of us who are Christians.

    Much to ponder here, and I am/will.

  2. Thanks Steve,
    I wanted to start putting some of my recent posts into a relevant context.

    The injustice and unrighteousness of worldly kingdoms contrasted with the Kingdom of God.

    It comes back to that early part of the Bible where Joshua set out the challenge of choosing who to serve.

  3. As I say, this seems to me exactly the right question for us to ask, who are charged with proclaiming the gospel/good news, as Jesus told us to do: what IS the good news Jesus proclaimed ?

    Scripture several times says the good news Jesus proclaimed was “the Kingdom of God” (Matthew 4:23, 9:35; Luke 8:1). We’re subsequently told He sent his followers out to proclaim the Kingdom (Luke 9:2 and 9:60).

    That makes sense in the context of Jesus’ saying that the Kingdom of God is the FIRST priority (Matthew 6:33).

    (More, much more, could be said about Jesus’ proclamation of the Kingdom: including that it was the charge on which He was sentenced to death under Roman law.)

    I think you’re spot-on too, that salvation/Christianity is usually urged upon us (people) in ways that “put ME at the centre.” And as you also say, that doesn’t lay the foundation for a strong Christian life, if Jesus was right that it’s all about GOD’s rule.

    Thanks for this post ! It’s set many thoughts percolating. I’ll very much look forward to hearing those it raises in the spirits of the perceptive commenters who read your posts.

    Blessing to all !

  4. I’d long believed in God, but had only ever seen Jesus as ‘the babe in the manger’ – until a friend opened his Bible one day at Tech College and showed me some scriptures about how each one of us is a sinner. That introduction to Jesus the Messiah changed my life at age 21, however, no mention was made at that time of His coming Kingdom.

    Some of your ideas list were later presented as reasons, but none at the time of my first introduction to Him as Saviour, and yes, at that time, I was at centre, He cares for me as an individual.

    David Nathan, of Moriel, confirms both your thoughts above, in this sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ym5YeuwpG0o and looks at scripture from a Jewish perspective, as one who knows Jesus as THE Messiah and KING.

    Another of his teachings, looks further into that Jewish perspective of scripture understanding: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYcFP-YXnSE

    Blessings to you both in His name.. 🙂

  5. Thanks Roger, I’ll try to make time to see those sermons during lunchbreaks.

    I think ignorance of the gospel being the gospel of the Kingdom (and what is meant by “the Kingdom”) is closely linked to sidelining the Jewish foundations and connections of the gospel.
    The Kingdom to come will initially be focused on a Jewish King, ruling from throne in Jerusalem within a Jewish nation that in its entirety has come to repentance and recognised Jesus as their Messiah (King).

  6. I remember how my church “equipped” me to share the gospel with others – giving me a collection of bible verses that described how all fell short of God’s glory and that we needed to be saved by grace through faith (etc).

    It’s interesting to note that when Jesus preached it’s not often that He quoted the bible in his interaction with others.
    The following occasions come immediately to mind. One of them was when he spoke in his local synagogue and He read from the scripture scroll. The other when He was answering Satan’s misuse of scripture during the temptation in the wilderness.

    The majority of the time He was preaching about the Kingdom of God, using illustrations from every day life to get His message across, not trying to prove His point with scripture quotes.

    Far better than knowing the “right” bible quotes relevant to His message, Jesus knew the God and the Kingdom He came here to preach about.
    He couldn’t just quote scripture, He lived it and He expressed it relevantly in word and deed in very practical ways, and the people felt He taught with authority unlike the recognised, official religious teachers.

  7. in the context of Jesus’ saying that the Kingdom of God is the FIRST priority

    While we have tended to look at the gospel as being related to salvation FROM hell, is it more fitting to see the importance of being saved FOR the Kingdom?

  8. I’ll second Marleen’s “yes.” In God’s purpose and priority, I think we are saved FOR the Kingdom.

    Not that “saved FROM hell,” and “saved FOR the Kingdom” are opposites. They seem two sides of the same mercy. The scripture that comes to mind is Colossians 1:13, that God “…has rescued us from the dominion of darkness AND brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves” (my emphasis). The dynamic that Jesus talked about in Matthew 12:43-45 seems to apply here.

    I’m thinking too there are probably valid reasons the good news of the Kingdom comes to us, and has to come to us, as initially about ourselves.

    In the nature of things, we only perceive reality/life/the Big Show from a personal perspective: I can’t see things any way except the way I (capitalized, in bold, and underlined) see things. When MY perspective is the central (indeed, to me, the only) viewpoint on all things, it’s natural and easy to assume that I MYSELF am central to it all. Our first relationships in normative family-life often reinforce that perception.

    Most (though not all) of us modify our wholly-egotistic worldview as we mature. But self-interest remains a greater or lesser part of our consciousness, probably most of our lives. That has a necessary and good aspect, in its proper balance.

    God’s commandment that Jesus quoted as (one of the two) greatest was “you shall love your neighbor AS YOURSELF” (My emphasis: Leviticus 19:18,34; Matthew 19:19, 22:39; Mark 12:31, Luke 10:27, and also Romans 13:9, Galatians 5:14, and James 2:8). It’s normal and healthy, indeed God’s commandment, that we love ourselves (albeit not exclusively).

    Outside the Kingdom, we don’t expect to find anyone living the definitive Kingdom life, whole-hearted love of the King manifest in obedience to the King. We do find some “outsiders” whom God has graciously bless with love for others (even if their primary motivation may be love for their own altruistic self-image). But all we outsiders are motivated by our love of self: especially of self-preservation.

    Rightly considered, “salvation” is the ONLY and ultimate means of self-preservation for any man. But it seems doubtful any of us DO rightly consider it, in the moment we assent to it.

    Most of us probably perceive our “salvation” as our own choice. So it is…though we later realize it’s also our first step in agreeing with God’s choices for us. And even if we view “our” choice as a mere calculation of self-interest (which it probably usually is, in the moment), don’t we come to understand that God has graciously imparted HIS wisdom to us, by which we calculate that continuing to “turn to our own way” (Isaiah 53:6) is utterly self-destructive, in this life and the next ?

    We probably do a great many good things for the wrong reasons. But however flawed and selfish our motives in doing them, all good things and perfect gifts, as “salvation” is, have their source in God.

  9. This quote from A. W. Tozer’s “The Unconverted Church,” received today from the Revival School website, seems timely and relevant:

    “The knowledge that revival campaigns can come and go without
    raising the moral level of the cities and towns where they are held
    should surely give us serious pause. Something is wrong some-
    where. Could it be that the cause back of this undeniable failure
    of the gospel to effect moral change is a further-back failure of the
    messenger to grasp the real meaning of his message? Could it
    be that, in his eagerness to gain one more convert, he makes the
    Way of Life too easy? It would seem so.”

  10. At the same time, I was recently frustrated (not really new, but it was a moment). I was conversing with someone about people who are supposedly of such brilliance but are neglectful (and that is putting it in a nicer light than might really be the case)… people in key (and often lucrative) positions (parents have more power and resources but aren’t always anything like in a lucrative place, yet should be seen as influencial or key) who don’t take sufficient responsibility). I said (to the person with whom I was speaking) that it can make you hope at least for purgatory. We subsequently talked a bit about C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien. It was mostly thinking out loud, as the other person likes to play at “conversing” sometimes. His take on most everything is “that’s how it is.” (It’s pretty close to “so what” as long as his immediate life [as opposed to plain old death] and potential future buying of new technology isn’t in danger.)

    I mentioned Lewis’ touching on purgatory. I mentioned that I don’t think this person has read much of Lewis, I mentioned that Lewis didn’t necessarily “believe in” purgatory but maybe considered it because of interaction with his friend Tolkien, I mentioned that I knew the person I was talking with preferred Tolkien (in fact claims to be a fan). (Lewis is sometimes considered more childish or less sophisticated, so that wouldn’t be taken as a criticism of him; he would take pride in preferring the right guy. I thought the fiction or individuals who wrote their fictions would be more appealing or accessible to him than philosophy or theology or feelings.) This guy is cringing (even though he’s fine with the ruthlessness of the world and with the intense Tolkien fiction itself), just at the idea of some experience of consequence after death was out of bounds. I didn’t mean it to cause cringing.

    To me, it was a conversation of ideas. Then I pointed out that Tolkien actually was Catholic… so probably did think there was pergatory for sure. More cringing, closing of ears (which is the constant state even when the pretense of conversation begins, but then the facade becomes thinner). At least he grasped — said himself — that Middle Earth [or something] might be purgatory (his wording was more like he supposed I would say this). I said, though, more than once, at least people would have a chance, that it would be temporary. Cringe, cringe, it’s like the wicked witch in Oz with water. [Note that I’m not trying to promote Purgatory; I was simply expressing thoughts. In fact, it’s not uncommon for even atheists to wish for a hell to repay child abusers and such.]

  11. That was kind of long. My main point is supposed to be that I don’t like focusing on hell much, but that there are moments (an admission or confession of sorts, or maybe simply a form of transparency). [And I didn’t initiate that real time interaction.]

  12. Not that “saved FROM hell,” and “saved FOR the Kingdom” are opposites.

    Hi Steve, I agree.
    But I think the difference can be illustrated this way.

    If our car breaks down and we get it repaired, do we look at the repair as a means of saving the car from being scrapped – or is the purpose of the repair to get the car functioning properly again for its intended purpose?

    Of course if the car is left unrepaired and left unused, eventually it will only be fit for the scrap yard. But if it’s continually well maintained it could last indefinitely.

    An imperfect example, but on the surface I think it gives a relevant contrast to the way salvation is viewed.
    Yes salvation from hell (the scrap yard) is important, but there’s something far more glorious in being save FOR something rather than from something.

  13. That’s true, Onesimus. I think part of the difference then will or would be thinking as to what is desirable (by God especially but also by us). Sadly, some Christians decide what they want (and what is [ostensibly] good) is “prosperity” in the form of goods, money, visibility, power or manipulative ability, and so on [not that nice things are bad, but they aren’t the gospel]. I don’t know how it is that one person goes to church during all of life and thinks that way, while another comes through it thinking something else. But I like Steve’s shared quotation of Tozer. I’ve been thinking, lately, that evangelism is only making life worse.

    On the comparison to a car, which, incidentally, came up in my mind as a comparison to something similarly more important [which I’m not going to specify] just today (before reading here), I have an uncle who has taken care of a car since the sixties (mid 1900s). It’s in great shape, and he uses it all the time (it doesn’t sit in a garage like say a model T except on special days).

    {P.S. It’s interesting posting over the weekend, when other people are posting too while it’s not visible yet, and then seeing how that comes out in the lineup so to speak.}

  14. Hi Marleen
    Gloria’s dad’s car was bought in the mid 70s and was driving it until the time of his death a few years ago. He kept it very well-maintained and was getting frequent enquiries from people who wanted to buy it off him.

    Sadly, a few even tried to “make a deal” in the days immediately after his death (who didn’t want to pay its full value). Eventually Gloria’s brother took it and arranged the sale several months later.

  15. There’s another quote I came across this weekend, but briefly. I think it was said by St. Francis of Assisi, but I’m not a hundred percent sure (although I tried to “look it up”). I’m also going to paraphrase: Why should we rage about the wolf around us when the wolf is among us?

  16. I was looking for exactly where an admonition is that probably all of us remember from the Bible. Surprisingly, it almost didn’t come up at all with multiple searches. I found it here, among a larger treatment with other addresses (I never did find it on its own — which I think is a sign of our current western culture, since almost any other verse that I enter part of will bring up more than one sermon or readouts at least):
    http://www.crossroad.to/HisWord/verses/topics/judge.htm

    What I was looking for can be found in First Corinthians (not too far down on this page).

    Before reaching that, I read (on this page) of Solomon praying for understanding to judge.

    Then it crossed my mind that this king said to cut a baby in half. Somehow, even in a supposed kingdom run by God (while we know [?] it wasn’t and isn’t THE Kingdom), it made sense not to be rock solid against things that we know to be wrong. (The individuals responding to the situation are being judged for their heart and response, but the king of Israel was shocking.)

    “I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner — not even to eat with such a person. For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges. Therefore ‘put away from yourselves the evil person.'” 1 Corinthians 5:9-13

  17. For the record, Nicea wasn’t the Kingdom; Byzantium wasn’t and Turkey isn’t the Kingdom; England wasn’t the Kingdom; Germany wasn’t and isn’t the Kingdom; Russia (so-called Third Rome) isn’t and won’t be the Kingdom; America or the United States hasn’t been the Kingdom (so, “inside” doesn’t mean under the flag… not even the vaunted imaginary Christian Flag). A modern application is that when a person in or aiming for official capacity is an adulterer or drunkard or covetous, etc., people who want to claim they stand for God should not argue for the lies, coverups, morality (or instant “forgiveness” afforded, to those who have posed as spiritually special, with no consequence other than exposure), nor for a desirability, of such a person — saying the person represents them as if in a godly and superior manner (for example because of mouthing favorite selections of Torah with little regard for adherence or for similar or related selections of Tanakh). I don’t think this means a Christian shouldn’t vote for a person who doesn’t say he believes in God; rather, it means people gaining traction presenting themselves as speaking for God or Christ shouldn’t gain rationalizations (especially not outstanding rationalizations as if to say putting on/hypocrisy is “sufficient” demonstration of the Holy Spirit).

    On a smaller scale, but no less important (maybe more importantly), “honor” or place of say or way should not be protected among individuals or families or within ostensible community via coverup, lies, oppressions, neglect, hushing, and so on. I hesitate to add this, as I didn’t intend to — and it could be distracting from general principle, although it doesn’t have to be distracting in that regard — but I will admit I’m not entirely sure how to apply what I just said in all matters. It’s not enough to kick a man out of your church. He can go and find another. We saw also the Catholic institution move abusers around, to the detriment of additional unsuspecting victims. My mother came to visit (without this being previously agreed upon, her just showing up) last week and forwarded her defenses toward “understanding” (accepting) men when they do offensive things, at least men from “other places” (such as the South or possibly along the lines of the game Roy Moore’s legal representative had asserted earlier, that an old fashioned man [notwithstanding an anglo-saxon American heritage] is like men from “other countries” known to be Muslim, while Muslim remains unspoken… not to mention a ridiculous turnabout for people who voted in favor of a Muslim ban and the dog whistle of law and order).

  18. A reminder; and this has more of a tendency to fall on deaf ears:

    Sexual immorality isn’t all that’s listed in
    that communication. (And… other
    things could conceivably
    be included in another letter.)

    The First Corinthians
    source includes

    “the covetous”

    “extortioners”

    -as well as-

    “idolaters”

    (such as people
    who cannot see any
    issues with capitalism
    or big institutions as long
    as they are private and lack
    government oversight… rules).

    There are so many news stories in these areas.
    This isn’t a plain matter of if a poor person robs a store.

    If that is what was meant, I doubt these more complicated words
    would have been chosen; we would have gotten something like “don’t steal,
    murder, seduce your neighbor’s wife” [even with the deniability of of no intercourse].

    Christians have been too simplistic as to what morality under God entails. On top of that, they have allowed themselves to be dumbed down (even seemingly enjoyed this or taken comfort in the sense of ease) for decades by false notions of magical thinking in the market and all the bigger fish out there (with money) who surely
    {I believe, I do believe, maybe even bark-arf} care about them and everyone else — so Christians or, rather, “capitalists” {believers [note of correction to the blind… Christianity and capitalism (or pawns almost mindlessly submitting to capitalism) aren’t supposed to be the same thing, but my use of “believers” denotes “true” (fooled) believers in capitalism who genuflect so as to minimize risk of being accused as commies or socialists} don’t have to think and pay attention to detail or seek information, don’t have to value laws to cut down on fraud and abuse and theft by upper echelons perpetrated on others (who must have it coming).

  19. A few more thoughts on the Kingdom, and the gospel:

    It is especially crucial, as the great teacher Derek Prince said, to get our DEFINITIONS from scripture. Only when we mean the same thing by a word that God means, can we be said to agree with Him. And only if we agree with Him can we walk together with Him (Amos 3:3). (We’ve discussed before the problems American Christians fall into by using their founders’ definitions of “liberty” and “freedom,” instead of God’s).

    Earlier I mentioned several scriptures where Jesus speaks of the Kingdom of God as the “good news” (or “gospel”). There are a couple other definitions in scripture.

    In the Lord’s Prayer, the phrase “Thy will be done” is a rhetorical construction (the name of which I can’t remember) that explains the phrase preceding it: “Thy Kingdom come.” (The debate over whether Jesus meant only God’s final and complete rule is probably irrelevant here. I tend to believe He meant God’s rule in our lives on earth even NOW…there are scriptures where He emphasizes the current presence of the Kingdom…as well as in its echatological fullness: but in either context, Jesus defined “The Kingdom” as God’s perfect will being as fully executed on earth as it is in heaven.)

    Another definition is in Romans 14:17: “…for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Again, I consider those outworkings and inworkings the definition of The Kingdom here and now, as well as hereafter.)

    I’d also characterize The Kingdom in political/governmental terms (which of course “kingdom” is) as “radical:” completely different at its root (“radix”) from anything else. In God’s Kingdom the first shall be last, strength is shown by yielding, the greatest is the servant of all, and a little child shall lead them. Even our concept of “good” …of what is “right” or “fair”…is inoperative before God’s EXTRAVAGANTLY greater will and way (Matthew 20:1-16).

    BLESSING to all here !

  20. I don’t really know anything about Derek Prince, although I’ve heard the name before. Anyway, I agree with the idea of getting definitions for Bible words and terms from the Bible. I don’t think the word “fair” is a word we hear much of, if at all, in Bible teaching. And that’s okay, but it still has meaning. I used the word recently, and I saw from the response then that people have very different understandings. An example of not being fair would be if a girl is sold as a sex slave (and/or maybe maid, etc.) into marriage and ends up living in a western country that (for the most part) thinks this doesn’t exist; instead, life is all choices and power… if you’re doing it “right” [here, I appreciate that you mentioned this word in your post, Steve]. She, as a suffering adult, calls into CBN (who tell her life will be all peaches when she’s good). And she tells Pat Robertson (past presidential candidate extraordinaire) how unkind and inconsiderate or abusive her husband is and that she doesn’t know what to do. He says, dismissively (and fully convinced), “Well, you picked him.”

    {There are variations of possibilities along this line. A girl might not have been sold but given or neglected away by her father/mother for the reduction of responsibility or cost that would result; this happens in western countries. And I recently shared, not at this site, although it was linked to from here, information about religious zealots who brainwash their kids into abusive and passive thought patterns. Obedience in general, to parents and husbands, has strange results as well.}

    I think it was unfair (in addition to disobedient to the Law) when religious leaders in Israel brought a woman in front of Jesus to be put to death for adultery — but no man. And the weirdness of that set-up begs the question of whether she was indeed a wanton woman; she could have been forced into prostitution or raped or something… this kind of thing is not unusual (which is not to say there is no such thing as an adulterous woman). I think also of the woman at the well. She was with a man who was not her husband; does that mean it’s her fault? (It’s also possible, even likely, that the world around them saw the man as her husband… yet, somehow he wasn’t — maybe he was disqualified according to the Law, but still got his way.) And what about a mother who looks the other way when a father or brother or other person rapes or uses her daughter, then shames the daughter about how irresponsible and immoral she was when she ends up with a baby?

    I understand that there are people in the world who think it’s not “fair” they can’t have what they want if they know how to trick it out of someone or straight-up take it or can afford it. That’s not what I mean or meant. (There’s a line in The Matrix where the top agent says “it’s not fair. ” I’ve actually heard Christians liking the movie and assuming Neo is supposed to learn to conform to power, like the agents. I disagree. Clearly, the movie is an imperfect messenger… but thought-provoking.)

    I like what you said about The Kingdom being radical at its root.

    As for liberty and freedom, I agree about freedom having different meanings in some ways (and, obviously, the founders of our country meant freedom and liberty for only certain people). On the other hand, since now isn’t The Kingdom, I think it’s better to permit freedom (and protect it by law, for all). Those who are physically weaker and/or more at risk can pretty much only be protected by law (if the law is just). Without law, the strong simply have their options (good, bad, and ugly… survival and gratification of the “fittest” or biggest… or meanest) — and that’s that. That seems to be how things “work out” just the same, but we shouldn’t approve of it. I believe the world has both improved and descended (or contains both directions). Each of us picks which we prefer for the long run. I like your terminology of “outworkings” and “inworkings” toward improvement.

    God bless you, too, Steve.

  21. This is something I wrote (days ago) before I wrote my just previous post. I’ll go ahead and post it now. The starting quotations, I lifted from a link I shared in an earlier post above.

    Few realize the consequences before they are too blind to see and too corrupt to care:

    “…
    Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way
    And be filled to the full with their own fancies.
    …”

    (From Proverbs)

    “Because they hated knowledge
    And did not choose … the Lord,
    They would have none of my counsel…”

    …then [THE] congregation shall judge between the manslayer and the avenger of blood…”
    Numbers 35:22-24

    This can be taken a number of ways. For instance, it can be about discernment of why someone has died (it’s not always murder even when effected by a human). It can be about revenge belonging to the LORD. I will guess it is about anything and everything getting sorted out properly and not ending with injustice. [I will mention, too, that the last time I tried to counsel or correct my mother, she tried to say it was how I get when I drink. This was from out of the blue. It was deflection, not to mention emotional abuse and spiritual derangement — and false. I, as well as most everyone at dinner the day before, had chosen to have something to drink with dinner — but not my mother and her twin. Somehow, yet, they are so pristine in their own minds while they have found it in their hearts to have affairs with married men (and arguably worse, which doesn’t mean having affairs with women).]

    So… I’m trying to return to focusing on the Kingdom in this thread as what to do in this life. The best I can say (other than that we have to wait, and hang in there, mainly for later) is that I had a number of good Christian communities in my upbringing (including a public school for fourth through sixth grades where the principal was as good as the principals in my private schools). I’m very thankful. These were places where if someone was wrong it would be admitted in a decent amount of time if not immediately. But most of the time, activities throughout each and every day were constructive and lit with value. It is possible for people to work together for elevated results. [Sadly, people who care have to keep their eyes open for the rot or infection always ready to take over and ruin things. (I thought that my mother had the values by which I was surrounded, because she and my dad were sending and taking me to these places; I was wrong about and blindsided by her, in ways that resulted in long-term fallout for me).]

    I know the pieces fit. They can fall, though. And then we have to hold on to hope and do whatever we can to not grow weary. (Not growing weary in keeping an eye on watch when things look good also matters. But I don’t know how, without going really long, to explain this as differentiated from what my mother did, which looked like protection from dangers in the world and an expression of parental authority for many years but turned out to be manipulation through hiding and mixing her intentions.)

    Onesimus [and I’ll add Steve], how do you think we focus on the Kingdom in solid, living ways?

    Contemplating how is of great concern to me. It is my impression that Christian schools now will mostly be about the sick politics of our day. That’s not what they were then. And when I briefly had one of my sons in kindergarten at a local public school, after I’d had my fifth child, a flabbergasting Christian contribution to that school— I don’t know how a local church got approval for this — was to have a special assembly wherein they talked to kindergartners about a baby being put in a trash can (by a high school student somewhere in the country). I can’t for the life of me see why my five-year-old should have heard about that.

    Part of proclaiming the gospel is bringing up children. And that is non-stop. This saying will apply in consideration for them and not only whoever was originally meant. “Proclaim the good news; if [or when] necessary, use words.”

  22. { I actually tend away from speaking communications that seem like (or are) cliches. I’ll go ahead and comment on that. First, while that last quote is in fact a “saying” (the source of which we don’t know), it has to be clarified such that “if” is taken as when (rather than an avoidance, particularly rather than a mistaken blanket omission on any person’s part — subject to that person’s own belief of course). [This can be compared to when “or” on a logic tree includes the possibility of both options being true (there doesn’t have to be an exclusion of one side or the other to the or statement)].

    I looked up the statement or exortation; found it bothers some people.

    https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/factchecker-misquoting-francis-of-assisi/
    https://www.christianpost.com/news/preach-the-gospel-and-since-its-necessary-use-words-77231/

    Yet, it is an objective fact that we aren’t going to be doing something like quoting John 3:16 ALL the time. Not only that, but the tendency to conflate the gospel with political stance doesn’t qualify as preaching the gospel (in the sense of imagining the name of Jesus was brought into that school by exposing children to “conservative” talking point horrors). And I say it is important enough to have locations of good will where children can learn to read or practice reading (words), that the basic activity itself is worthy.

    And then, in reality, we should recognize that there is much more to life — walking out twenty-four hours a day — than reading the Bible. There is also grammar, logic, mathematics, art, music, and so much more. We need to be honest with ourselves as to what a full life involves.

    [Even if there is someone who reads or repeats the Bible all day, he/she is most likely dependant on producers or preparers of food, wells, plumbing, shelter, and so on and so forth. “Someone” is showing people how to deal with others honestly and conscientiously. “Someone” is spending time as an example to children of happy and constructive ways to fill one day after another.] }

  23. And then, in reality, we should recognize that there is much more to life — walking out twenty-four hours a day — than reading the Bible. There is also grammar, logic, mathematics, art, music, and so much more. We need to be honest with ourselves as to what a full life involves.

    I recall one pastor of the church I attended about 30 years ago, excitedly saying that being in heaven would be like a never ending church service where we’d be singing and worshipping the Lord for eternity.
    What a terrible distortion and misrepresentation of what God has planned for His people and could only be promoted by someone who has no idea of what scripture actually reveals about the coming Kingdom.
    But it’s a view that plays into the agenda of religious institutions and their employees, who want to promote devotion to their particular church programs. In other words, get used to what we’re getting you to do because that’s what God will have you doing for ever and ever.

  24. “…how do you think we focus on the Kingdom in solid, living ways?”

    That seems exactly the right question, doesn’t it ? If the Kingdom is “God’s rule,” it’s shown, and seen, in its effects on His “real-world” subjects on earth (us), obeying Him with the spontaneous promptness that denizens of heaven do.

    You and Onesimus’ discussion already offers several good insights toward that question, I think, which set me pondering further.

    Meanwhile, the scripture that comes to mind as “solid, living ways” is Micah 6:8’s “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.” (The latter part of which brings back to mind again Amos 3:3’s “agreeing” with God as a prerequisite of “walking together” with Him. Perhaps doing justice and loving mercy is the ultimate agreement in “solid, living ways:” agreement of ours with His CHARACTER, and purpose ?)

    Was struck by your reference to “…when ‘or’ on a logic tree includes the possibility of both options being true.” I’ve always been somewhat bothered by a few scriptures that I perceived as being “contradictory.” The classic example being Proverbs 26:4 and 26:5, which tell us in successive verses we should not answer a fool according to his folly, and that we should answer a fool according to his folly. Logic, I thought, mandated that BOTH can’t be true. (But both were scripture: I’m willing to concede God’s counsel trumps logic…but still…)

    I’ve always thought of logic as a strong Christian tool, pointing to truth But thought of it always as pointing to the truth as a single possibility (Jesus is, after all, the “One Way”). The “logic tree” you mention seems to show more wisdom on that score, allowing that truth may manifest in more realities than one. Proverbs 26 seems to show so. The Kingdom, here-present and ultimately-present, seems so.

    Not sure how I missed that my concept of logic would also eliminate the “BOTH” realities of anyone being God and man. Jesus seems to say I need to seriously re-think my concept of logic. LOL.

    Thanks for bringing up the fruitful wisdom of that “logic tree,” and BLESSING !

  25. I’ve been reading through here for some days now, and all your comments have given me cause to ponder too..

    Micah 6:8 was the verse given me at the time of my water baptism – I’ve tried, and failed many times.. thankfully, He is there constantly to remind me I walk in His strength – which I partly see as that daily ‘Kingdom life’.

    I’m never sure about logic – I have in the past been too analytical and needed to be reminded that I should trust in Him, have faith, and understand that His ways are higher than mine – He knows best. My own logic often fails. 🙂 I am still learning to continually go to Him for all answers.

    Your question about those verses in Proverbs Steve.. someone far wiser than me helps here. He suggests that we shouldn’t answer a fool according to his foolishness, (lest we become like him). However, we may answer according to our God given wisdom (so the other one may learn that his ‘wisdom’ isn’t wise) .

    I can remember Jacob Prasch sharing how he believes ONE reason for the Millennial reign of Lord Jesus here on Earth was necessary so that we will be able to learn how to live with our Lord God for eternity.

    Blessings to each one here, and thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  26. I can remember Jacob Prasch sharing how he believes ONE reason for the Millennial reign of Lord Jesus here on Earth was necessary so that we will be able to learn how to live with our Lord God for eternity.
    I recall David Pawson pointing out something along the lines of the Millennium providing a lengthy period when the world is ruled by a prefect, righteous and just King; when Satan’s influence is completely taken away; and yet – mankind still isn’t satisfied, and when given the opportunity, and when Satan is finally released, many join him and rebel against that righteous and just King.

    We may tend to think of the Millennium as a time of perfection on earth, and yet there is still sin and death, and there is still disobedience on a national scale. (see Isaiah 65:20 and Zech 14:16-19). It could be seen as a final and incontrovertible proof of man’s unrighteousness, when sin can’t be blamed on “the devil made me do it”.

    There is a reason that Jesus returns to rule with a rod of iron.

  27. I don’t remember quite where David Pawson spoke on his videos or tapes of that – but your comment reminded me to have a relook at his ‘When Jesus Returns’ book.

    In there he speaks as you say, quite detailed as he compares the various end time beliefs, together with his own for the timing of the resurrection/rapture and aspects of the millennial reign of King Jesus on this aging Earth.

  28. It’s a long time since I heard it so I’m not sure which particular talk it was in. If I get the time I’ll check through some videos and post something later.

    I’ve found it and have posted it on the blog.

  29. My daughter and I were talking about things last night; and I was reminded of this passage in Shane Claiborne’s 2008 book “Jesus for President:”

    “Some might read the popular phrase ‘My kingdom is not of this world,’ and mistakenly think that Jesus meant,
    ‘My kingdom is not in this world.’ But Jesus was talking more about essence than location. In other words, he [sic, and so throughout] was talking about the ‘real world.’…

    Jesus didn’t mean that his kingdom has no interaction with or claims to make about the world. Jesus even insisted that his whole life was a thrusting of truth into the world, affronting it. Nor did Jesus mean that his goal was to get people ready to die and go to heaven—as if the earth were just a waiting room for the afterlife. The people who were working for Jesus’ execution understood that his identity wasn’t just an abstract theological heresy…His claims had political import…: the titles of King, Messiah, and Son of God (all used in the Gospels’ accounts of Jesus’ trials) were claims competing against the emperor in Rome.

    When Jesus said, ‘My kingdom is not of this world,’ he wasn’t saying that his kingdom is apolitical; rather he was saying how his kingdom is political. He clarified his statement right after he made it: the essential difference is that in my kingdom, we do not fight to maintain the kingdom.”

    — Shane Claiborne, “Jesus for President,” pp. 109-10

  30. https://www.thoughtco.com/caesar-augustus-first-roman-emperor-701063

    https://www.thoughtco.com/herod-the-great-enemy-of-jesus-christ-701064
    King Herod the Great was the villain in the Christmas story, a wicked king who saw the baby Jesus as a threat and wanted to murder him.

    Although he ruled over the Jews in Israel in the time before Christ {and obviously while the Messiah was very, very young}, Herod the Great was not completely Jewish. {He was of a line of false converts.} He was born in 73 B.C. to an Idumean man named Antipater and a woman named Cyprus….

    King Herod was a schemer who took advantage of Roman political unrest to claw his way to the top.

    ……

    Herod reigned 37 years. His kingdom was divided by the Romans among his three sons.

    One of them, Herod Antipas, was one of the conspirators in the trial and execution of Jesus.

    Herod the Great’s tomb was discovered by Israeli archaeologists in 2007….

    ……

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