The Gospel of the Kingdom, Pt. 6

I started this series of reflections by noting that in the NT Gospels, the gospel proclamation involves “the gospel of the kingdom.”  Jesus is announcing the arrival of God’s restored order of flourishing with his advent.  And I claimed that this reality should shape how we conceive of the gospel.

Unfortunately, many good Christian people conceive of “the gospel” in terms of a “gospel presentation,” the brief summary of a transaction whereby individuals can be set right with God.

Over the last few posts, I wrote that Christians ought to think about the gospel from the starting points of Genesis 1-2 and Israel.  We see God’s original intentions for creation in Genesis 1-2, and we come to understand the broad outlines of how God aims to set things right when we consider Israel.

In thinking about the gospel, then, we should imagine the set of language that describes God’s creation of a people who embody the gracious reign of the Creator God in Christ through practices of joyful self-sacrifice, service, justice, love, compassion, care for the poor and for creation itself, confession of sin, and forgiveness.  And the gospel is speech about God’s creation of a people who embody God’s passionate pursuit of the whole of creation.

In the New Testament, “the gospel” is the news that God is currently doing this in Jesus.

Now, my discussion to this point assumes the existence of a gospel-shaped community.  “The gospel” is not a bit of information that exists in the abstract.

“The gospel” is first and foremost the church’s speech about its own identity.  The church has been caught up into the Creator God’s pursuit of his creation, to enjoy his love, to inhabit and embody his gracious reign, and to be agents of his restoration of all creation and every creature.

When it comes to speaking about the gospel to outsiders, however, “the gospel” shouldn’t be disconnected from the concrete reality of the church.  It makes little sense to claim that God has created a people to embody his love for the whole of creation when you cannot point to a community that depicts this reality.

So, if you don’t inhabit a community like this, or if you can’t point to a community that embodies this reality, should you avoid talking about the gospel with outsiders?

Not necessarily.

But you may want to consider how you can become a catalyst in your church becoming more of a gospel-shaped community that inhabits the redemptive love of God in Christ.  Perhaps your efforts can be focused more strategically toward the end of your community’s flourishing rather than announcing to others the news of God’s creating communities of flourishing without being able to point to one.

But there’s much more to say about this, and much that is hopeful.  But I’ll leave it for next time.

2 thoughts on “The Gospel of the Kingdom, Pt. 6

  1. Andrew

    Quoted: “When it comes to speaking about the gospel to outsiders, however, “the gospel” shouldn’t be disconnected from the concrete reality of the church.

    Or said another way that doesn’t presuppose particular theological baggage:

    When it comes to speaking about the gospel to outsiders, however, “the gospel” shouldn’t be disconnected from the concrete reality of the ekklesia.“.

    By replacing a pre-loaded English word with a transliterated Greek, the reader is forced to take it at face value apart from the baggage. Regardless,the point above is not only true, it is very much at the heart of the gospel, at least as much as the Jesus/redemption component, for where there is no Kingdom, there is no King. The Prophets spent as much time predicting the son of David, as they did preminiscing about the fall/restoration of the Kingdom.

    However it still begs the question “What is the reality of the ‘ekklesia’? Is our doctrine of ‘church’ biblically correct (given original references to ekklesia)? Do we, in fact, have a true sense of the concrete reality of the ekklesia? How can we be confident we haven’t created false doctrine?

    If the gospel” is first and foremost a speech about the ekklesia’s own identity (which is true), doesn’t that imply that we, ourselves had better understand and be assured of the ekklelsia’s identity?

    Current doctrine of ‘church’ is fluffy about the identity of ‘church’, since it posits an ethereal (spiritualized) rather than an actualized (concrete) entity. Although ‘church’ is ethereal biblical ‘ekklesia’ is real and concrete, more so than modern theology permits. So there’s tension between what the bible says, and how it’s interpreted.

    Consider that [Eph 1:1] To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in the Anointed One Yehshua (Jesus) … is concrete but not nearly as concrete as [1 Peter 1:1-2] To those elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Yehshua (Jesus) the Anointed One and for sprinkling with his blood:. More so still [James 1;1] “To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Rejoice!.

    These are real historical things (in space/time), not some airy fairy nameless entity too sacred to get its hands dirty with reality (or his

  2. imaginewithscripture

    Reblogged this on Imagine with Scripture and commented:
    “In thinking about the gospel, then, we should imagine the set of language that describes God’s creation of a people who embody the gracious reign of the Creator God in Christ through practices of joyful self-sacrifice, service, justice, love, compassion, care for the poor and for creation itself, confession of sin, and forgiveness. And the gospel is speech about God’s creation of a people who embody God’s passionate pursuit of the whole of creation.” Tim Gombis

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