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Isn’t the Gospel of Jesus Christ the same as the Gospel of the Kingdom of God? That is a good leading question. An answer that is correct, but not that helpful would be, “yes” and “no.” Yes it is, and no, it is not. 

I’ll explain.

But first, allow me to explain why I bring this up in the first place. It involves a bit of two and a half years of history. (If you don’t want to read this bit of history and just get to the Gospel of the Kingdom, jump down to the call out box of Mark 1:14-15.)

The churches and leaders of Fairburn Baptist Association have been on an almost three year refocus journey. When I became the associational missionary, I believe the Lord Jesus gave me a three part theme, with one part to be emphasized each year.

The three year theme is this: As an association of churches, we are moving forward together through open doors with the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. 

Thus, the focus of 2022 was to partner together so that we may move forward together. I spent most of that year getting to know our pastors, leaders and churches. We became aware of how we could partner with other organizations in our associational area. It was a time of awareness and evaluation. We had seminars and Lunch & Learns featuring other organizations that our churches could partner with - those that would make an impact in their church family and also in the wider community. 

The focus of 2023 for our association was “Open Doors.” Specifically, to go through open doors. When I write about “open doors” I’m using a metaphor. One that the Bible uses. One that both Jesus and the Apostle Paul used for an opportunity to fulfill God's will and ministry. An open door is an opportunity provided by God for you, or me, and our churches to do something that will make a positive difference in people’s lives and bring glory to God. Even our logo is an abstract image of a door that is opened by the cross!

There were a lot of open doors in 2023. There may be even more in 2024. Mental Health is a huge issue and this crisis has still not peaked. I believe that the Gospel of the Kingdom is the best news for anyone who is struggling with mental health. The Bible is full of examples of people who struggled in life and by trusting in God and leaning on the resources that God provides in His Word and through His people, they were helped. They are over-comers. Your association offered multiple training and information opportunities and resources for providing spiritual mental health. We have a resource page for it. You can find it by clicking the button below.

There are open doors in our local schools. Your association has encouraged every church in our association to adopt a school. Some of our churches have adopted multiple schools. The READ Georgia initiative by our Georgia Baptist Mission Board through Mission Georgia has been an invaluable resource for helping churches minister to the needs of the schools in their community. For more about READ Georgia or other open door opportunities, check our Open Door page by clicking the button below:

There are open doors with our first responders. When I was a pastor in Stillwater Oklahoma (home of Oklahoma State “Go pokes!”) I became the chaplain for the Stillwater Fire Department. The chief would have me come to every third shift meeting to bring a devotional and to just visit with the firefighters. I’d drop in the different fire houses with snacks and just visit for a few minutes as time allowed. Often I’d meet up with a firefighter in my church office or grab a drink at a coffee shop to hear what was on his heart. That became an open door of ministry for me. 

Frank Mercer has done this very thing in Fayette County. However, he’s taking it further and organized it into a chaplain ministry to all first responders. This ministry is 4Heroes. Our association promotes this ministry. I serve on his Board of Directors. I believe in what 4Heroes stands for and does. I suggest your church leadership look into connecting with 4Heroes to see what you can do to enhance the life and ministry of our police, firefighters, EMT’s, and 911/Dispatch. It would be a great ministry for your missions committee or team to sponsor. Find out more about 4Heroes by clicking the button below.

So, if you’ve read all this you see what has been happening, at least at some level with your association. I just believe we can do more and do better and move forward if we work together. I believe God is providing open doors for us to minister. But I also believe that we are on mission, working as ambassadors for Christ and His kingdom. We are to bring with us through these open doors the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. 

This brings us finally to the Gospel of the Kingdom. Why do I use those terms? Why not just say, “the Gospel?” 

I think you would agree that we are called to do more than work together and to help our world become a better place. We are called to share the good news of the Kingdom of God. We are called to make disciples of all peoples. We are called to immerse them in the reality of the triune God. We are called to lead others to live as citizens in our country but also as citizens of heaven, meaning to live as we are, children of the King in His kingdom. 

Yes! We are to live as children of royalty, fellow heirs in the Kingdom of God right now. That is the good news. That is what Jesus came preaching after his baptism. “Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom 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, NKJV)

Jesus was teaching more than getting people saved, he was after total transformation. Of course, salvation is hugely important. I don’t want to minimize this at all. But still, getting people saved is not all that Jesus is talking about when he speaks of the gospel of the kingdom of God. 

For me, when I think about a person getting saved, I think about a person getting to go to heaven when they die. I believe that heaven is now their home. They are going to one day get into heaven and be with God and all of the wonders and all of the saints for eternity and whatever else that may entail. But when I think about the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, I think about heaven getting into me. 

Notice what Jesus said. He basically said, “The wait is over!” All that God has been promising since the sin of Adam and Even is now coming to pass. That is huge! That deserves two exclamation points!! 

Look at what else he said. “The kingdom of God is at hand.” Again, he is basically saying that while for a long time God’s kingdom has been closed to you or has been out of your reach, today it is available to you. You can now step into it and it can step into you. No more distance. No more prohibition. 

As a result of this Kingdom of God being available, Jesus then says, you need to change your mind about it and believe the good news that I, the messiah, am telling you. 

Do you get the idea that what Jesus is doing here is more than about “getting people saved”? Does it sound like more than sharing a simple plan of salvation? The Gospel of the Kingdom certainly includes all these things, but it is more than these things. It is certainly not less. 

The good news of the Kingdom of God is that Jesus came to put heaven in the hearts of people, not to just put people into heaven. If home is where the heart is, then when your heart is heaven-ready, heaven is truly your home. 

The good news of the kingdom is that Jesus did come to save us, but he saves us by changing us. The very next words of Jesus in Mark are about him changing his people. “Then Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”” (Mark 1:17, NKJV)

Jesus said that if we would follow him, he would make us different. He would make us like him and seek to spread the good news of the Kingdom’s availability to any who would change their minds and believe the message. 

This isn’t a complete answer to “Why the Gospel of the Kingdom of God?” but it is a start. In the next blog I will begin to outline nine essential aspects of the Gospel of the Kingdom

In a day when there are a lot of “gospels” out there, I think it would be good for us to know what it really was that Jesus preached and what the Apostles believed was this good news which was worth laying down their earthly lives. If it was worth dying for, then it will be worth living for. It will give hope to a world that is in desperate need as well as courage to a church that feels powerless. 

Let’s learn what it is we are taking together through these open doors. 

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