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Reevangelizing the Church: What is the Good News?

June 22, 2009
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Now that we are standing at the “crossroads” (having returned to the point of our departure from the truth), we can now look to the ancient paths: the Scriptures. In doing so, we can find the right path and recover the broader meaning of the “good news” or gospel.

Matthew records the beginning of Jesus’ ministry and message with the following words, “… Jesus began to preach and to say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’” (Matt. 4:17). In Matthew 24:14 Jesus himself describes the gospel in relation to the kingdom when he says, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world ….” Matthew again describes Jesus’ ministry by saying: “And Jesus went about all Galilee … preaching the gospel of the kingdom …” (4:23). Matthew reiterates this theme again in chapter 9, verse 35 when he writes, “Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages … preaching the gospel of the kingdom …” Our Lord told his disciples to “preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand’” (Matt. 10:7). Mark writes, “after John [the Baptist] was put in prison, Jesus came … preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God (1:14). Philip “preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 8:12). (Except where otherwise noted, scripture version used is NKJV, and emphasis is mine.)

Paul and Barnabas encouraged new believers to “continue in the faith … saying ‘We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God’” (Acts 14:22). Paul appeared in the synagogue in Ephesus “reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God” (Acts 19:8). Paul, writing about his own ministry said, “I have gone preaching the kingdom of God” (Acts 20:25). While under house arrest, Paul received many visitors to whom he “testified of the kingdom of God …” (Acts 28:23). Clearly, by Jesus’ own words and the testimony of the apostles, Jesus was preaching the good news that through him, God’s reign—the kingdom of God—has burst forth into the fallen world.

The gospel (or good news) is the fact that in Christ, the reign of God is at hand and is now breaking into the world. His redemptive kingdom, which has come, continues to come forth and will be fully consummated on the day of Christ’s return. This is the good news, which offers not only a future hope but also a present reality touching all of God’s creation. It is this kingdom reality that animates and directs the mission and purpose of the body.

Granted, this may raise more questions; most notably, “What, exactly, is the kingdom or reign of God?” A definitive answer to this question is not given in Scripture but we are given insight into the kingdom through the teachings of Jesus. First, Jesus makes clear that the kingdom has indeed come—when speaking to the Pharisees he said, “… the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matt. 12:28). The commission given to the apostles was to preach that “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 10:7). This statement is taken to mean that the kingdom of the Messiah, who is the Lord, is now to be set up according to the Scriptures.

Throughout the parables, Jesus uses the preface, “The kingdom of heaven is like ….” Through parabolic teaching, Jesus is describing the character and nature of God’s ruling reign that is overcoming the fallen world. The kingdom of God is a present reality, inaugurated at the cross when Jesus broke the power of Satan. The King of Kings has entered the enemy’s house; he has bound Satan and robbed him of his possessions, including those enslaved to sin (see Matt. 12:29). This is good news!

He has set the captives free and given them power and authority to oppose evil—to usher in the kingdom of God and apply the kingdom principles of righteousness, justice, love, mercy, and peace to this world. Because, as the resurrection demonstrates, this world matters! It is this world that Jesus is making new. This is good news!

The message of the kingdom includes the remission of sin, the gift of eternal life, and the restoration of fellowship with God; the wall between man and God has been breached. This is good news!

The message of the kingdom declares Jesus’ authority over everything in heaven and on earth and the promise that Jesus is near to his people until the end of time, when all things are finally and forever made new. This is good news!

In Jesus’ very first sermon, recorded by Luke, he enters the synagogue in Nazareth where he had been raised and, taking the book of Isaiah, he reads the following passage:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (Luke 4:18– 19, ESV)

When Jesus finishes speaking, he closes the book, he sits down, and when every eye is fixed on him he says: “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21). Jesus is describing the kingdom of God in which all that has resulted from sin and the Fall is being restored by him, the Anointed One, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords—this is the good news!

A pastor friend of mine described the in-breaking reign of God, or kingdom of God, quite well when he said the following:

There is a great conversation in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings where Samwise is talking to Gandalf and he asks Gandalf a great question:  “Will everything sad come untrue?” The Kingdom message is Christ (because of his death and resurrection) setting things right again—making everything sad come untrue.

In essence, the church bears witness to the in-breaking reign of God and serves as the instrument by which God is making “everything sad come untrue”!

The call upon humanity in the wake of this pronouncement is to repent, turn from your self and sin, and enter the kingdom of God, receiving salvation. It is the reign of God (or this full gospel) that the church is sent into the world to bring forth as God’s instrument and to which it bears witness. Again, we do not invite Jesus into our lives; he invites us into his! Jesus’ mission is the missio Dei or redemptive mission of God in which he is making all things new. And, this is the mission of every follower of Christ.

Next week we will examine how, practically speaking, the gospel mission in light of this kingdom reality is to be expressed.

© 2009 by S. Michael Craven

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Response from : Huntley Paton  

June 22, 2009 8:32 AM

Michael -- fantastic article. Yes, it is indeed GOOD NEWS. Praise God!

Response from : Jeff  

June 22, 2009 1:12 PM

This is very helpful, Michael.

Thank you for succinctly expressing and illumnating the "gospel of the Kingdom" here.

Your brother in Christ and fellow laborer in the "gospel of the Kingdom of God,"

Jeff Woods

Response from : Selase  

June 25, 2009 10:31 AM

Thank you Michael. God bless you


Response from : Misty Dorman  

June 26, 2009 10:41 AM

I was so thrilled to read this article. It is exactly what the Lord is showing me in His Word right now. I am so excited about it and can't wait to read next week's article about expressing, in practical ways, the Kingdom of God! Thank you so much!!!

Response from : eddie  

June 27, 2009 5:30 AM

The gospel is clearly defined in 1 Cor. 15:3-4. The good news is that the Son of God suffered in the stead of sinners like me. He paid the hell debt that I owed. I was hopeless and helpless and he gave me hope and became my Helper. When one hears this good news of how that Christ died for our sins "in accordance with the scriptures, was buried, and that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures", the Spirit of God brings conviction. Under the convicting power of the Spirit, one can experience repentance (a change of mind toward God in which on quits trusting himself to save himselp and trusts the One who can and will save) and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved (Acts 16:31). All of the thing about the kingdom of God are wonderful and He is King of kings and Lord of lords. However, the gospel is that specific good news that Jesus was made to be sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. May God's blessings of peace and insight be upon you.

Response from : Michael Craven  

June 27, 2009 8:26 AM

Dear Eddie,
All of what you say is true, however when you write "All of the thing about the kingdom of God are wonderful and He is King of kings and Lord of lords. However, the gospel is that specific good news that Jesus was made to be sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." you have just reduced the gospel to something less than Jesus says it is. The Scriptures are quite clear on this--the kingdom is not a collateral benefit or by-product but the central theme of God's redemptive plan.


Response from : Waylon B. Moore  

June 29, 2009 12:07 PM

The equating of the gospel to the Kingdom,etc. without hours of explanation, can not save anyone today! Paul, the ardent soulwinner and church planter defines the gospel in I Cor.15:1-4, so we can cledarly understand it and be specific in our witness. His 4 point summary is that "Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again the 3rd day, according to the Scriptures." There are four points we must make clear to see men convicted and s
aved. 1.Who is this Christ who died? Teach that Jesus died as a substitute for our sins, taking them on himself(2 Cor.5:21), that he died and was buried. And that he arose from the dead and is alive now. In this gospel presentation I present the :"annointed one" Christ, as taking on himself sin, which a holy God hates so much in our lives, that the only way we can be forgiven us to turn from our sins and receive the gift from God, Jesus as our Saviour
(John 1:12). We
surrender all that we know of ourselves to all that we know of Him. I use Rev.3:20 also as another action verb "hear my voice, open the door" which helps later in assurance of the new believer. Paul does define the Kingdom in realtion to practical in Romans 14:17,18. A lack of sharpness is giving the gospel to congregations and individuals is one reason we are loosing to faithful service some say 80% of the professions of faith made in churches today! Thank you friend WBM

Response from : Jimmy Taban  

February 2, 2012 6:43 AM

It is very encouraging word to wake up the entire body of Chist from sleep.We have diverted from the vision of the church more specially in Africa.We have many pastors in Africabut less churches due to lack of ineffectiveness in evangelism.we need evangelism conference if God can think about us the Africans.May God open you doors for this wonderful ministry.


Response from : zPriscilla Govender  

February 4, 2012 6:56 AM

Indeed,Christ's Kingdom will be estabilished here on earth.Because Jesus said He will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it
Today,His servants are all over the earth proclaiming that wonderful and glorius news that Jesus saves and there is a place called heaven where His children will dwell with Him forever.


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