Kingdom.03 …then, finally, the end will come.
Jesus said… And the Good News (Gospel) about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it: and then, finally the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)
If you are around the American church long enough you will hear it said that the only thing keeping Jesus from returning is that the Gospel has not yet been preached to the whole world. But as soon as that happens, bam, we are out of here. So the goal of most evangelicals for the last 100 years, or more has been to systematically take the Gospel to, and translate the Scriptures into, every language on the planet. Wycliffe Bible Translators website says that there remain only 200 million people who do not have the Bible in their language. When you think about it that is amazing and a formidable job done by this group. (You can find out about them here.) So if what I quoted from Jesus is correct, then with only 200 million out of nearly 6.5 billion left to go, is the “end” in sight?
I am not in anyway trying to suggest that the efforts to expand the Gospel to every “people, nation, tribe and tongue” is not an important task for Christians and I am certainly not making fun of Wycliffe and other mission organizations. I am suggesting, however, that we be sure the Gospel we are taking to these people, is the gospel we are called to take.
Look at those words of Jesus again. Does it say “take the Gospel or Good News to the whole world and then the end will come?” No it doesn’t. It says: the Good News or Gospel about the Kingdom will be preached, then, finally, the end will come.
Is it possible that the end is delayed because we have not, and we do not, preach and teach the Good News of the Kingdom? I think it might be. But how can we teach it, preach it, or live it when we don’t know what the Kingdom is?
Do you know what it is? Is it a celestial rest home for those who have left us (heaven)? Is it a reference to a future period of time in which Jesus will reign on this earth for 1000 years? Is it something that is “within you”? We are told to “seek first the Kingdom of God…” but if we don’t know what it is how can we go about seeking it?
Here are some areas of faulty thinking that we need to deal with related to the Kingdom of God before we will be able to see it.
We separate the Gospel from the Kingdom. Not only do we see in the pages of the Bible the prominence the Kingdom of God had in what Jesus taught, but we can readily see how utterly connected the Gospel is to the Kingdom. There is no gospel that stands alone or separated from the Kingdom. Jesus came into Galilee “preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God” It is the Kingdom that makes the gospel, the gospel. It is the Good News concerning the King and that King’s Kingdom. Why is this important? If the Gospel preached today seldom if ever mentions the Kingdom of God is it really the Gospel? Think about it! Whatever goes lacking from a presentation of the Gospel, the “presentee” will go lacking as well.
We remove the King from the Kingdom. The Kingdom is not some appendage laying around out there, detached from the Person of King Jesus. You can go to England, stay for a year and never meet the Queen much less develop a relationship with her, but as I wrote yesterday, you cannot enter the Kingdom of God without a relationship with the King. You cannot get “Kingdom” things without intimacy with the King. Kingdom is not power, or secret knowledge, it is not some goal to be achieved divorced from the One whose Kingdom it is. When I hear about Kingdom “stuff” I listen to hear if this “stuff” comes with the King. This Kingdom revolves totally around the King. It is His inheritance we share, emphasis on the word share.
We raise the church above the Kingdom. The more we know about the Kingdom the more we discover that this Kingdom goes far beyond the rather small realm of any local religious institution. The Kingdom is not easily seen but churches can be seen all over the place. Most “Christian” people focus their entire attention on their church, or group, meeting place or denomination and never ever see the Kingdom.
The church serves a strategic purpose in the Kingdom but the Kingdom never serves the church. The more we see the Kingdom, understanding what it is and what it is to do, the more we will understand what the church is and what it’s part and role is in the Kingdom. In fact I would suggest that what we think about as church is so far off the mark we might have to come up with a different name to distinguish a truly Kingdom serving group of people, from the church. More on that another time.
If we are really anticipating and longing for the “end” to finally come, wouldn’t it be good to see if the Gospel we are preaching is really the right one?
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