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The Kingdom of God is Now Available



Kingdom of God is Available

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10, ESV)


Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”” (Mark 1:14–15, ESV)


The gospel (good news) about the kingdom of God is that we can live right now in it. I frequently refer to this “gospel of the kingdom” instead of just saying, “the gospel” because I want to differentiate between the popular gospel of the atonement and this good news that you can live in the kingdom of God right now. This is the heart of why I am using terminology about the “gospel of the kingdom” instead of just saying the “gospel”. 


Quote on ticket to heaven

It’s not just semantics. Neither are there two gospels. There is only one, but it is my position that we have focused so much on the gospel of atonement that we have missed the larger and all encompassing gospel of the kingdom that Jesus preached. The gospel of atonement which has been preached is that Jesus died for your sins and if you confess, repent and believe in Jesus and what He did for you at the cross, you will be saved and go to heaven when you die. Romans 10:9-10 certainly confirm this. But from this kind of preaching and teaching, one could come to believe that Jesus saves us for heaven but the rest of life is up to us. You may have your ticket to heaven but what does that do for you today? 


Not everyone has been taught this narrow gospel of the atonement. I had. In revivals we were admonished to “get right with God and be saved.” Then we were told to live the life that God wants us to live, basically on our own power. Heaven was taken care of, but everyday life was up to us. Bible reading, prayer, church attendance, inviting someone to church, giving and service were the barometric measurements of our Christianity.  


Us into heaven or heaven into us here and now.

To me, it just seems Jesus had a different view of what the good news of the kingdom was about. His was more the “inside out” focus rather than the “outside in” focus. In my experience with churchianity, the measurements of our faith were about what we did, not about who we were, or who we had now become. The gospel of atonement focuses on getting us into heaven, but the gospel of the kingdom focuses on getting heaven into us. 


When Jesus said in Mark 1:15 that “The time is fulfilled”, he didn’t mean that it was about to be fulfilled or that it would be fulfilled sometime in the future. Jesus said the opportunity was here now. At this moment the waiting is over. Time had reached the culminating point. It has reached its peak. 


You may wonder how I’ve arrived at that conclusion. It is because the verb in the original Greek for “fulfilled” is in the perfect, passive and indicative, third person singular. To put it simply, one might say the egg timer set by God has dinged, and those in the spiritual realm have heard it go off. 


Time is up

Jesus then goes on to say what the results of this “ding” brings. He says, “God’s kingdom is at hand.” In other words, it has come near, near enough for us to have access to it. When we look at the whole phrase, Jesus is telling us that over time the opportunity for us to have access to be a part of God’s kingdom and to enjoy its blessings has been moving toward us, but today, at this moment, right now this is the peak. Access to God and his blessings for your life will never be greater nor more accessible. 


This brings up three important questions. First, why would God do this? It was because of his great love for us (John 3:16). It was also because of His promise. God took on flesh and came to earth as the man, Jesus the Messiah. He is the promised one from long ago. In the Garden of Eden God made the promise of one who would come and destroy the works of the enemy (Genesis 3:15; 1 John 3:8) and create a people for God and His kingdom “to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” (Galatians 4:5–7, ESV)

 

Second, how would He make His kingdom open to us who are so far away? This is best answered by Scripture. I like the way the New Century Version reads: 

Christ himself was like God in everything. But he did not think that being equal with God was something to be used for his own benefit. But he gave up his place with God and made himself nothing. He was born as a man and became like a servant. And when he was living as a man, he humbled himself and was fully obedient to God, even when that caused his death—death on a cross. So God raised him to the highest place. God made his name greater than every other name so that every knee will bow to the name of Jesus— everyone in heaven, on earth, and under the earth. And everyone will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and bring glory to God the Father. (Philippians 2:6-11, NCV)


A view of the cross from the tomb

Third, why would He do this at this particular moment in history? The Scriptures say, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,” (Galatians 4:4, ESV) We can only speculate why the incarnation of the second person of the triune God came when He did. Perhaps it was the right time due to the Roman Empire’s enforcement of peace, the road system and ability to travel throughout the known world at that time. The Greek civilization had provided a language for Scripture that is most expressive, as well as a common language across the empire for communication. In addition to these things, there are the Jewish synagogues that were scattered around the world, making what we call the Old Testament known in its concepts of God and man. These synagogues became the first preaching points for Paul’s missionary work. 


As a result of this great news, this gospel of the Kingdom, Jesus tells us how to enter into it in the last part of Mark 1:15. There are two things. First, repent. I’ve written on this before, and I will write on it more in the future, because it is one of the essential elements of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. In a nutshell, “repent” is to change one’s mind. For us, it is to change our mind about who we think God is, what he has done for us, who we are, and what we are to do. So in short, repent means a lot of changing!


Repentance is a change of mind.

Second, Jesus tells us to “believe in the gospel.” This is to actually place your faith in what Jesus is saying about the Kingdom of God. In short, he is calling us to place our trust for life here and now and the hereafter in Jesus. To place our faith in Him means that we adjust our lives to this new reality. When we do, God meets us. 


Jesus even tells us to pray that the reality of God’s kingdom will be felt more and more in this earth. I’m beginning to understand when I pray “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” means that I am praying for God’s kingdom rule and reign to be in me first. 



Perhaps you have entered into God’s Kingdom through the new birth (John 3:3), but you still find yourself by the kingdom of this world. Praying that part of the Lord’s prayer could be a very effective way to make living in the Kingdom of God now a reality. 

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