One of the reasons I write is to help us see we can live the way Jesus proclaimed in the gospel of the kingdom of God. God our Father has created us to be to the praise of His glory (Eph 1:12). We can really be what God has made us and do our lives His way because of what God has done and is doing.
Jesus brought the gospel of the kingdom of God. He walked on this earth, gave us the example with His life and preached the kingdom from the beginning to the end of His earthly ministry. He proclaimed much of the gospel of the kingdom in five central messages recorded in Mathew and asked His Father to send the Holy Spirit to help us get it.
Christ Jesus exhorts and encourages His hearers, including us, to see the kingdom, orient our hearts to the kingdom, receive the blessing of the kingdom and do the works of the kingdom. These messages are core gospel of the kingdom scripture and with all God’s Word are profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction unto righteousness (2 Tim 3:16).
That differs drastically from values and worldviews, for they originate with the human whether Christian or heathen. Take for instance the value system of political correctness, which is of the flesh. In Galatians 5, Paul shows the spiritual difference between the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit.
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 18But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. 19Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness [the impurity of lustful, luxurious, profligate living }, lasciviousness [unbridled lust, excess, licentiousness, wantonness, outrageousness, shamelessness, insolence], 20Idolatry, witchcraft [the use or the administering of drugs,magical arts, often found in connection with idolatry and fostered by it], hatred, variance [contention, strife, wrangling], emulations [the fierceness of indignation, punitive zeal], wrath, strife, seditions [dissension, division], heresies [dissensions arising from diversity of opinions and aims], 21Envyings, murders [including abortion], drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
25If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another. Gal 5:16-25 KJV
We saw or heard all of the works of the flesh exemplified and endorsed in our 2016 Presidential Election campaigns and debates. None were in accord with the gospel of the kingdom. We also saw some of the fruit of the Spirit.
Adopting the kingdomview
Both John the Baptist and Jesus introduced the gospel of the kingdom by exhorting their hearers to repent. “Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand” (Mt 3:2; Mt 4:17). What did that mean to the hearers? What does it mean to us?
Jesus taught repentance as a preparation for the coming of the Kingdom.
I found a great explanation of repentance in a book written by Albert Schweitzer: The Mystery of the Kingdom of God—The secret of Jesus’ Messiahship and passion, A. & C. Black, LTD., London 1925.
It [repentance] is not merely a recovery which stands in retrospective relation with a sinful condition in the past, but also—it is a moral renewal in the prospect of the accomplishment of universal perfection in the future.
Repentance is “moral renovation in the prospect of the Day of the Lord.”
Schweitzer presents an example from Isaiah.
Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow. Isaiah 1:16-17 RSV
It is precisely this Old Testament conception of repentance, with its emphasis upon the new moral life, which one must have in mind in order to understand aright the Synoptical repentance. Both have a forward vision, both are dominated by the thought of a condition of perfection which God will bring to pass through the Judgment. This, in the Prophetic view, is the Day of the Lord; in the synoptic it is the dawn of the Kingdom. pages 94-97
I like Schweitzer’s insight. He provides the additional meaning inherent in repentance—moral renewal. Both the Old Covenant and the New Covenant have a forward vision of perfection that motivates righteous behavior—repentance in expectation of the Kingdom that is to come (Rev 21-22). That insight will help us understand and apply the gospel of the kingdom.
Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount
Just after John the Baptist was imprisoned; Jesus went up a mountain near the Lake of Galilee in early summer and taught His disciples and a multitude the relational character of the kingdom in what is called the Sermon on the Mount. This Sermon is one of the ways He fulfilled His mission to tell the poor the good news, to announce freedom to prisoners and sight to the blind, to free those who are broken down (Luke 4:18).
His audience was primarily Jews. They were poor in possessions and in spirit, prisoners, blind and broken down, far from God and His purpose for them. God had Moses announce their purpose at Mount Sinai: “You have seen what I did to the Egyptians and how I carried you on eagle’s wings and brought you to Me. And now, if you will listen closely to Me and keep My covenant, among all the nations you will be a treasure to Me although the whole world is mine. You will be a kingdom of priests and a holy people to Me. Tell Israel that” (Exodus 19:4-6). They were to be salt and light among all the nations.
Jesus reminded His audience of Jews of their mission, urged moral renewal and reaffirmed their hope for universal perfection in the future.
Five central gospel of the kingdom messages from Jesus
- The Beatitudes and Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7)
- The commissioning, Jesus sends out the 12 (Matthew 10)
- 8 Parables of the Kingdom (Matthew 13)
- Interpersonal relationships (Matthew 18)
- Prophetic insight for preparation (Matthew 24-25)