Object of the Gosepl
What is the main object of the gospel?
I’ve started to consider what the Bible presents in preaching the gospel versus what most Christians (myself included) tend to preach. We find it quite easy to preach about the sins of man, the necessity of propitiation, and Christ’s redemptive death on the cross. This appeals to the emotions of the recipients and can stir up a response quite easily. My question is, does this embody the main object of the gospel?
The Bible portrays a much different theme in the gospel, i.e. the kingdom:
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 3:2).
“Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).
Before I get into what the kingdom of God is, I’d like to show you how this is most definitely a strong aspect of the Lord’s eternal purpose and that God has eternally desired a kingdom. Once again, this can be seen in the “book-ends” of the Bible, where God’s eternal purpose is most clearly visible.
“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the matter and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (Gen 1:26).
God commissioned man to have dominion over the earth, and all things in it. This is not a cool verse to share with all of your vegan friends, rather this is the divine Word of God shedding light into the Lord’s heart. God eternally desired a kingdom in which to exercise dominion, specifically dominion over a people who freely and lovingly submit.
This was almost immediately distorted when the “creeping thing that creeps on the earth,” or should I say, Satan, influenced man to come under his kingdom and dominion. When Satan deceived the woman, he hindered the Lord in His purpose and took God’s people under his control.
In the end, Satan is destroyed and this kingdom and dominion that God originally intended is made manifest:
“the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His bond-servants shall serve Him; and they shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads…and they shall reign forever and ever” (Rev. 22:3-5).
I don’t have enough room in this post to get into the details of this transfer, but I’d like to just offer a few verses to qualify this:
“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formally walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience” (Eph. 2:1-2).
“For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Col. 1:13)
Israel as Old Testament Type
The desire for God to have a kingdom on earth is seen throughout the Old Testament and the New. I don’t think I need to put as many references in regards to the Old Testament as usual, since Israel is obviously a kingdom for God and is the Lord’s desire in their taking the good land and building the temple. Here’s a few just in case you don’t see that:
“You will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Ex. 19:6).
“He is the one who will build a house for my Name,and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (2 Sam. 7:13).
What’s interesting about that second verse is that it is a “double-fulfillment” prophecy, meaning that it was initially fulfilled with Solomon, but it is ultimately fulfilled with Christ. As seen in my post earlier on God’s building, Christ is the one who builds God’s house, and the Father establishes His throne and kingdom.
Reality of Kingdom
The common view held by many Christians is that when the kingdom of God is referred to in scripture it simply means heaven. A more biblical view held by some is in reference to the millennial kingdom in the future. Few see the reality of the kingdom today and its absolute centrality to the gospel.
The object of the gospel is much more than simply remission of sins and change in our future habitation. Once we drop all of our concepts and read through the gospel and Acts, we see that the object of the gospel is repentance to become partakers of the kingdom. This is not merely a prophetic future destiny, but a present reality of being under the headship and ruling of the Lord.
The greek word for kingdom is synonymous with sovereignty, and some translations even render the word as such:
“The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, And His sovereignty rules over all” (Psalm 103:19 NASB) (Compare to ESV).
So becoming partakers of the kingdom and entering into the kingdom of heaven is not primarily about a future place, rather it is being under the present authority, rule, and sovereignty of God.
The law was inadequate to bring people into this kingdom. Our sinful nature and natural enmity towards God prevented us from obeying the Lord’s orders. This is why grace has been given. We have been forgive of our past offenses and the law has been written on our hearts:
“This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds” (Heb. 10:16).
This law is the kingdom sowed into us! It is the Lord’s present ruling from within. I encourage everyone to look at the parables the Lord uses to describe the kingdom in Matthew. Here’s one that illustrates this point:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field” (Matt. 13:24).
The Lord’s sovereignty and rule was transplanted into our hearts when we were born again, and now there is someone else living inside of us! He is the One who rules and reigns when we allow Him to. This is the ultimate goal of our Christian life: to come to the point where we can say with confidence “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal. 2:20).
Here’s a few more verses to illustrate this point:
“And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church” (Eph. 1:22).
“And he is the head of the body, the church” (Col. 1:18).
“But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law” (Gal. 5:18).
We must learn to listen to the Lord within and let Him have total authority in our life and decisions. This is the Lord’s eternal purpose:
“Making known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Himself, unto the economy of the fullness of the times, to head up all things in Christ, the things in the heavens and the things on the earth, in Him” (Eph. 1:9-10).
How this has been lost in Christianity, I can’t say. How to begin living under this divine authority is something that we all need to learn and experience in our daily lives. I don’t have enough room in this post or enough experience in my life to write on this incredible plan of the Lord’s, but I hope that in the future we can all start to experience this more.
The millennial kingdom in the end is simply the manifestation of the inward reality at the Lord’s return, and we want to be ready for that day. May the Lord be with your spirit and lead you into and under the full headship of Himself.