The Gospel of the Kingdom

God is the Creator of all that exists. He made it by the power of His Word. This is a fundamental truth that cannot be avoided or ignored. All that is, exists because of His will and His choice. He is the only One who has the power and ability to bring anything into existence from nothing, and this is exactly what He did. Mankind can take what God created and manipulate or alter it to create new items, but all elements exist by God’s choice and power alone. (Genesis 1:1; Job 38:4-7; Acts 17:24-28)

As Creator, God has the right to rule and reign over creation. Our obedience to Him is the foundation of our worship of Him. God should receive all glory and honor from His creation, and He has the authority to determine how His creation should live. His rules matter. We understand and accept this as it relates to laws of nature, laws of mathematics, and laws of science. In fact, it doesn’t even matter whether we agree with or understand physical laws; those laws apply regardless. Gravity has existed since the moment of creation. We can choose to ignore gravity if we want, but only to our detriment. It is the same with God’s moral Law. He has the right to make that Law, and to expect us to honor and obey it. It really doesn’t matter if we believe it or not; the Law of God applies regardless. Unfortunately, mankind has always chosen to reject God’s rule. Since the Garden of Eden, all mankind – regardless of race, gender, or social status – has lived in defiance of God’s Perfect Law. And this has put each and every one of us at great risk. (Psalm 95:3-7; Psalm 103:19; Psalm 135:5-6)

Because we were created by God, and God has established a perfect moral Law, we have only one choice: obedience. But as we have seen, all of mankind has chosen to live in opposition to the rule and reign of the Creator. But God is more than Creator and Ruler: He is also the Judge. He has the right, and even the responsibility, to judge any of His creation that opposes Him. And His judgment is perfect and severe. The punishment for violation of the Law of God is eternal separation from Him in an eternal Hell. To some, this seems harsh and unmerciful, but this only illustrates the reality that within each of us is a desire to violate God’s Perfect Law. His judgment is based on His perfection, not upon our failure. Yet God has also made a way of redemption. (Psalm 96:11-13; Jeremiah 9:23-24; Isaiah 33:22)

God’s Law is clear: justice must prevail. But God is also a God of love, mercy, and grace. His desire has always been to dwell in communion with His creation. So God – the Creator, the Ruler, and the Judge – has provided salvation to those who would choose to worship and honor him. He called out a man from Ur, named Abram, who yielded to God the Creator. Though Abram would fail and make many mistakes, he understood that God the Creator was the Ruler and Judge over all, and he surrendered to live according to God’s Law. God tested Abram – and later changed his name to Abraham – and found that Abraham possessed the one attribute that God knew was necessary if one was to honor and follow Him: faith. Because of this, God vowed He would bring forth a nation through Abraham, and that nation would demonstrate His glory to the world. (Genesis 12:1-3; Genesis 15:6; Deuteronomy 7:7-9)

The descendants of Abraham – the nation of Israel – struggled with fulfilling the calling that God had placed on them. They were commissioned with displaying God’s glory before the world, and to honor Him with their obedience. But mankind’s desire to live in opposition to God often prevailed over obedience to Him. Eventually, this resulted in judgment over the nation, as they were conquered by the empires of Assyria and Babylon, and exiled out of their land. Disobedience to God’s Perfect Law always results in judgment. During this exile, their prophets foretold of a coming Messiah who would not only lead them back to obedience to God’s Perfect Law, but would also redeem the slavery that resulted from their disobedience. After centuries of waiting, this Redeemer came as prophesied. But He was much more than a man or even a king – this Messiah was God in the flesh. This was the only solution to the judgment that was required by mankind’s opposition to God’s Perfect Law. It would never be enough to ask a fallen and disobedient people to try to obey Him. The Creator knew that the penalty for disobedience must be paid. And that is why the Creator came to the earth in the flesh. The Bible calls Him – Jesus. (John 1:1-14; John 3:16-21; Romans 6:23)

A Perfect Creator, Ruler, and Judge required a Perfect Sacrifice in the place of all mankind. We could never earn our way to a restored relationship with God, for God’s perfection itself is the standard, and one single violation of His Perfect Law required ultimate judgment. The Perfect Sacrifice was Jesus. In love for us, God poured out His judgment for our sins on His Perfect Son – God Himself in human form – and substituted Jesus’ Perfection in place of our sin and imperfection. Jesus conquered the penalty of sin – death – when He rose from the dead three days later. His resurrection sealed His victory, and opened the way for all mankind to live eternally in relationship with the Creator as He originally intended. This payment for our sin purchased the eternal souls of any of us who would willingly surrender our all to God. We trade everything in our lives – our passions; our families; our ambitions; our goals; our desires; our possessions; our future; our past; our very lives – in exchange for salvation and a restored relationship with the loving Creator. In return, we receive the free gift of eternal life. (Romans 10:9-10; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; 1 Corinthians 15:53-58)

And this offering of redemption and eternal life was extended beyond the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In a twist that surprised even the most educated religious leaders in Israel, the invitation to become a part of God’s Kingdom was presented to anyone who would pledge their allegiance and obedience to the Messiah of Israel. (Ephesians 2:11-22; Ephesians 3:1-13; Acts 15)

The amazing message of the Gospel is that God has done so much more than just pay for our sin. God has adopted us into His family. He calls us His children and becomes our Eternal Father! We are not to be slaves working for Him out of duty or coercion. We are His sons and daughters making known the amazing love of our Father to a world that is in desperate need of salvation. (1 John 3:1; Galatians 4:1-7; Romans 8:12-17)

As God’s children, we no longer need to live in fear of His eternal judgment for our sin. We long to obey and honor Him, because He deserves it. And because we are adopted into God’s family, we know that He is a Father that will love and protect us, just as we love and protect our own children. He has promised to provide for our needs, and to care for us. We are free from anxiety and fear. We can trust our Heavenly Father as a little child trusts their earthly father. (Matthew 6:25-34; 1 John 5:18; Matthew 6:9-13)

God is our Father, and He loves us just as we are. But He refuses to leave us this way. He created us to be so much more than we’ve become, and He desires to work in our lives to make us into His image, as was perfectly demonstrated in His Son, Jesus. Therefore, our Father disciplines and corrects us, molding us daily to become what He originally created us to be. (Proverbs 4:11-12; Hebrews 12:7-11; 1 Corinthians 11:32)

Our Creator is perfect, holy, and just. He has created us for a relationship with Him. But that relationship has been broken by our disobedience, called “sin”. Therefore, our Creator is bound by His perfection, holiness, and justice to stand in judgment on us for that sin. But that judgment was taken by His perfect, holy, and just Son, Jesus the Messiah. Our first response is to understand that we are in violation of God’s Perfect Law; that we deserve judgment for that violation; and that Jesus has taken our place. We must repent and turn away from our willful rejection of God’s Perfect Law. We must ask God for His forgiveness, and plead with Him to accept Jesus’ sacrifice on behalf of our sin. This is a conscious decision to reject sin and disobedience, and to turn to God as our Creator, Ruler, and Judge. (Acts 2:37-39; Acts 3:17-21; Acts 17:30-31)

After we repent and turn from our willful disobedience and sin, we must surrender ourselves to God’s rule from this point forward. This is more than a mental understanding that God reigns. It is a choice to submit fully to His will for the rest of our lives. God controls everything: our choices regarding marriage and family and job and where we live; our decisions regarding how we spend our money and our possessions; our activities and entertainment; even whether we live or we die. God is in control. This isn’t an easy decision. We are warned that we must fully count the cost of following God. The choice lies between spending our lives and our eternity separated from God, or surrendering completely to Him and living eternally in relationship with Him. But that relationship requires total surrender. After all, He is God. (Luke 9:23-27; Matthew 10:37-38; Luke 14:25-33)

It’s one thing to feel sorry for our sin, and to claim that we surrender ourselves fully to Him. It’s quite another to live that out for the rest of our lives. This is done through obedience. Remember, God has the right to tell us how to live. He’s the Creator, Ruler, and Judge. If we have truly repented and surrendered, then we will desire to live in obedience to God. This obedience will not be out of fear or coercion or obligation, but out of love for our Father who gave all to save us from the judgment for our sin. This is the ultimate measure of our salvation: will we obey Him? (Matthew 7:21-23; John 14:18-21; John 14:15)

And finally, we are commanded to go out into the world and bring His Kingdom to all we come in contact with. The Good News – the Gospel – is that we have been invited to return to God’s original intention for Creation; to walk in perfect obedience and intimate relationship with the the Creator and all who follow Him. The Gospel of the Kingdom is the invitation to return to the Paradise that we were created for. This Paradise will not be fully realized until Jesus returns and defeats rebellion once and for all. But this Kingdom is advancing and unshakeable. (Matthew 4:23-25; Revelation 21 & 22)

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