After writing Releasing Kings and rethinking much of my Christian life, I’m excited about the message of the Gospel. The “Good News” I used to share was a traditional message similar to the 4 spiritual laws. That is:
1.We are all sinners (for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God Rom 3:23)
2.We not only have sinned but we have sinful tendencies and sinful hearts (Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. 1 Tim 1:15 KJV)
3.We need to invite Jesus into our lives and surrender our personal ambition (e.g. bring our sinful nature to “death”)
(I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. Gal 2:20)
4.We can look forward to, and have confidence in going to heaven
5.God has a wonderful plan for our life
What people hear from that message is that they are basically bad and that God hates sin and probably doesn’t like them very much either. What we communicated is that people are evil, they need to get saved and forsake all their selfish aspirations. Some of the verses we used were:
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. Matt 16:24-25
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. Gal 2:20
Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. Rom 6:3-4
The Lemon Juice Gospel
– There’s nothing wrong with this message except that it stops short of any incentive to implement it. That’s why traditional churches are in decline – the message doesn’t resonate with what the Holy Spirit is already saying to people. See, what’s different about Christianity is the living Jesus and the activity of the Holy Spirit. We don’t just speak words to people. When we share a more Bible-based gospel, the Holy Spirit causes the message to resonate in people so that they are really hearing God instead of just us.
God isn’t telling most unsaved people they are evil and have sinful aspirations. He’s telling them he loves them, created them in his image, and their heart’s desire overlaps with His plan for their life. Some have sin issues, but many more have good desires and they are basically good people. The sin emphasis in our message is true but it’s not the biggest problem most people face in meeting Jesus. The background theology is in Harold’s book “Precious in His Sight.” I recommend it and don’t have room to repeat the basis in a newsletter.
– Why do I want to get saved? It’s not just about Heaven. God has an inheritance for us now! It’s called the Kingdom. When we pursue God, the windows of Heaven open, we’re blessed, and we bless others. It’s much more exciting than “sitting” and “waiting.” The Kingdom starts now.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. Matt 25:34
“Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Luke 12:32 NKJV
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe Heb 12:28
Being Born Again
– lets us get our first glimpse of the Kingdom we’ll inherit.
3 In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” John 3:3
– As we’re baptized and receive the Holy Spirit, we can enter the Kingdom we’ll inherit. Being born again, baptized, and receiving the Holy Spirit are the keys that let us in the door of the Kingdom – not the goal.
5 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. John 3:5
The Church has the Keys
– Note Mt 16:18-19 Jesus gave the keys (salvation, baptism, etc.) of the Kingdom to the church. The role of the church is to equip the saints for the work of the ministry (Eph 4:11-12). But the “ministry” of saints called to be Kings is out in the Kingdom, not inside the walls of the church. When we’re “equipped” we have the power to unlock heaven’s blessing and expand the Kingdom of God on earth.
And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Matt 16:18-19
The Gospel of the Kingdom
– After Jesus’ death there was a huge emphasis on the Kingdom or the “Gospel of the Kingdom.” That was the primary message of Good news… not just the death and burial (that we identify with in salvation and baptism) but the resurrection life where we live out our Christian life.
After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. Acts 1:3
But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Acts 8:12-13
“We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” Acts 14:22
Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. Acts 19:8
They arranged to meet Paul on a certain day, and came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying. From morning till evening he explained and declared to them the kingdom of God and tried to convince them about Jesus from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. Acts 28:23
Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ. Acts 28:31
What’s the message of the Kingdom?
1. You have an inheritance!
– There’s an inheritance for us in “This Life.” We do have to be saved, etc. but the glass is “half full” – actually it’s a cup running over. The Kingdom is much more than a life of duty and sacrifice and then eternal life after we die.
“I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields-and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life. Mark 10:29-30
2. You have power!
– Once we’re saved God equips us for the “work of the ministry” through our local church. We start co-laboring with Christ and doing the “works” outside the church in the Kingdom.
I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. John 14:12-14
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. 1 Cor 4:20
3. You have God’s Heart!
– God’s imprinted us with his own heart so that our heart’s desires match His. It’s His goal to give us the desires of our heart.
Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Ps 37:4
This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. Heb 8:10
4. We’re winners!
– The real emphasis of the “Gospel” seen in its Biblical entirety is not just death, burial, repentance, surrender, trials, and persecution (we don’t deny any of those things); it’s also being victorious overcomers, healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out demons.
As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. Matt 10:7-8
5. We Bless Others!
– The Gospel of the Kingdom also means learning to receive and use wealth for ministry. We’re called to bless all nations.
18 But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today. Deut 8:17-18
2 “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Gen 12:2-3
Will bad things happen?
– of course, but it’s not your commitment, self discipline or strength of character that will see you through them. It’s the “joy set before you” – not just heaven, but all of your inheritance in the Kingdom in this life. Yes you have a cross to bear – but it’s pretty light compared to every good thing God has put in front of you.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Heb 12:2-3
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. James 1:2-3
The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. 42 Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ. Acts 5:41-42
And the good news is…
Instead of just warning people how hard it is to be a Christian and how bad they are, tell them how good Jesus is and how blessed they will be by their inheritance in the Kingdom. That’s when your presentation of the Gospel will really be balanced.
“Sin” isn’t the biggest problem
most people face right now. The biggest issue that weighs on their hearts is “Why am I here?” My neighbors aren’t drug dealing, wife swappers destined for skid row and prison. They are hard working, married, have kids that get good grades… and lost with respect to finding the adventure, passion, romance, joy, and meaning that God designed their hearts to experience. You see sin is just a 3rd rate substitute for the eternal pleasures of knowing Jesus that begin when we get saved.
You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Ps 16:11
A relationship with Jesus is the answer to: “Why am I here?” A picture of everything God is doing in the Kingdom with his people is liberating, exciting, romantic… an adventure filled with the tempest of warfare, the thrill of heroism, the camaraderie of friends, and the generosity of abundance. Each of us has a unique and specific inheritance that we can choose to possess right now. Choose life… in fact, choose abundant life. Let the Lord overflow your cup so much that others get blessed too.
Life is an adventure. People are a blessing. God is amazing. We’re winning.