Modern Christianity teaches that the beginning, middle, and the end of the gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is understandable considering what the Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15. However, Jesus Himself preached the gospel from the very beginning of His public ministry without a mention of these events until they were imminent (Mark 1:14-15). And Jesus called it the gospel of the kingdom (Matthew 4:23 and 9:35). In fact, the four books documenting the life and ministry of Jesus are called the “gospels,” not just the events of the last chapters. His followers likewise preached this message (Acts 8:12, 19:8, 20:25, 28:23 and 28:31).
Paul said that he received his gospel not from man, but directly from the Lord (Galatians 1:11-12). Yet during Jesus’ ministry, Paul was in opposition to Him. How could this be? Paul’s first documented encounter with Christ was during his conversion, in which Jesus appointed him for ministry and defined his call. During this encounter, Paul’s gospel was presented (Acts 26:18-19). Paul reiterates this message in similar terms in Colossians 1:13-14. This message speaks of redemption from the domain of darkness and transference into the kingdom of God, through the forgiveness of sins by faith. This is the gospel of the kingdom.
Humanity was granted dominion over the earth but was deceived into disobedience becoming enslaved to Satan and condemned under the law of sin and death (Hebrews 2:14-15). Satan became the de facto ruler of this world (John 12:31, 14:30). God so loved us that He sent Christ as a ransom to redeem us (John 3:16). Christ was condemned and crucified, though the grave could not hold Him because He had so sin (Acts 2:24). The power of Satan was defeated, that is, the sting and condemnation of the law of sin and death, all in one swoop (1 Corinthians 15:54-6). Defeating Satan, Christ established His rule here on earth. His kingdom, prophesied throughout the Old Testament (Daniel 7:13-14, Psalms 2, Isaiah 9:6-7). God’s eternal plan is a complete restoration of dominion (Matthew 6:10, Revelation 11:15, Daniel 2:44-45) and relinquishing a redeemed world back to the Father (1 Corinthians 15:24-28). This is indeed good news, but it gets better.
Christ, being the first fruit to rise from the dead, extends the same opportunity to us all. By faith, upon repentance and baptism, our sins are forgiven, washed by the blood of Jesus, and we are reborn through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). This is how we enter the kingdom of God (John 3:5). Through our forgiveness, we are reconciled back in relationship with the Father. We are set free from the power of the enemy, and condemnation under the law of sin and death. Without sin, death is powerless to hold us as it was powerless to hold Christ.
Our participation in the gospel of the kingdom is indeed granted through the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. But this isn’t the whole story. The establishment of the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven is the whole story. Our invitation and transference into God’s kingdom through the work of Christ is just our personal benefit. God’s plan of complete dominion over Satan, sin, and the world will occur with or without or involvement. We are granted an opportunity to change our allegiance during our short sojourn here on earth. Which kingdom will you serve?
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