The following is the first part of the article “The Gospel of the Kingdom,” by pastor Barry Henning. For the entire article, click here.
“The Gospel of the Kingdom”
What is the “Gospel of the kingdom”? It is the good news that God in his great love has
come to redeem a people for himself through the work of Jesus Christ, who will be set
free from their bondage to sin and enabled through the gift of his Spirit to become a
people of justice, mercy and a humble walk with God. We announce the Gospel of the
kingdom just like Jesus did – by doing justice and preaching grace.
“Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people….” Matthew 4:23
“But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God
and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized….” Acts 8:12
“For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who
came to see him. Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and
taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.” Acts 28:30-31
“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the
kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins”
Colossians 1:13, 14
“To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to
be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father – to him be the glory and
power for ever and ever! Amen.” Revelation 1:5,6
I. God’s Zeal for His Kingdom Reign on Earth
A. What is the kingdom of God?
A “kingdom” is a “king’s domain”, the place ruled by a king. God’s kingdom is the
place of his rule, but it is not tied to a particular geographic location; his place of
rule is in our hearts – “…the kingdom of God is within you” Luke 17:21, because
the presence of the King is now among us.
The great promise of God in Isaiah is that he is going to send his Son who will
both be the King and the one who establishes God’s kingdom reign. Isaiah
assures us “of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding
it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the
Lord almighty will accomplish this” (Isaiah 9:7).
One of the ways God sums up his purpose for our lives is by this phrase: “seek
first God’s kingdom and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33),
As Jesus announced the Gospel it was presented not only as the good news of
God’s love for us, but also the good news of the establishment of his kingdom
reign in the hearts and lives of his people. Are there core values of the kingdom
of God? What kind of “rule and reign” does God intend to exercise over us? What
does it look like to make seeking “his kingdom” the priority of our lives?
B. What are the values of the kingdom of God?
In order to help us understand the kind of reign God wants to exercise over us he
has given us his law, which is a reflection of his character: this is the holiness
and the righteousness he requires of us as members of his kingdom reign. The
Lord summarizes our responsibilities to the Law in several ways in Scripture.
One such summary is the Ten Commandments (Ex 20). Another is the “two
great commandments”- to love the Lord our God with all our heart…and our
neighbor as ourselves (Mt 22:38, 39). One other summary of the values of
God’s kingdom is simply “his will”. So Jesus teaches us to pray, “Your kingdom
come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
Micah 6:8 is another summary: “He has showed you, o man, what is good. And
what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk
humbly with your God.” In some important ways these different phrases are
interchangeable and are all different means of looking at the same core issues of
the nature of God’s kingdom righteousness.
Whenever the Scriptures call us to learn or pursue “righteousness,” that is just
another summary word that includes these issues of justice, mercy and humility,
loving our neighbor and loving God. As children of his kingdom, all his discipline,
love, care and promises will be bent towards shaping our lives as people who are
marked by these traits.
“For those God foreknew he predestined to be conformed to the image of his
Son, that he might be the first born among many brothers.” Romans 8:29
C. Micah 6:8 helps us to see the issues of kingdom righteousness through a
different lens than we are sometimes used to looking through. From this
passage, the core activities that God himself describes as the fulfillment of this
kingdom lifestyle include:
To act justly:
Justice, in this passage and many others in Scripture, is not referring
fundamentally to the punishment of crime, but to the positive establishment of
righteousness on behalf of the oppressed and marginalized (Psalm 9:8, 33:5,
45:6-7, 72:1-2, 140:12, 13; Isa 1:16-18). On one level, we are to make sure we
personally treat others with all goodness, rightness and justice in every situation
of life- as a merchant (Lev 19:36), an employer (Jam 5:4,5), a spouse and parent
(Eph 5), a citizen (Romans 13), a homeowner (Deut 22:8). But becoming a
person of justice has another dimension to it that is often overlooked: taking an
active role in helping others when you see them being treated them with injustice.
In other words, to do whatever good we can for those who are oppressed. (Amos
The people who are the most vulnerable to injustice, and the ones to whom
we are called by God to pay special attention are the widow, the orphan, the
immigrant and the poor. (Exodus 23:9; Leviticus 19:10; Jeremiah 22:15,16;
To love mercy:
This heart of this term refers to kindness, and is translated “mercy” as a
reference to compassion. God is calling us to be the kind of person who delights
in showing compassion for people in need – when we see people in pain,
distress or misery, to step in and take action to relieve their need. It is important
to remember that this is a “covenantal obligation.” This is not simply random
charity. It is a moral obligation to be like God- someone who is committed to
showing mercy. (Mt 5:43-48; Gal 6:10)
This call for compassion applies to all kinds of need, but God calls us to pay
attention to obvious physical need: hunger, shelter, clothing, sickness. (Isa 58:6-
12 ; Mt 25:31-46; Luke 10:25-37; 1 John 3:16-18)
What is so unusual about God’s mercy is that it comes from a God of grace: we
extend such help even to people who are unworthy or, who deserve just the
opposite; we even show mercy to our enemies. (Luke 6:27-36; Romans 12:17)
To walk humbly with our God:
We are not to pursue this lifestyle from a position of arrogance, superiority or
condescension, but from a humble walk with God: a humility that comes directly
from being the recipients of God’s great mercy in our lives (2 Cor 8:1-9); a
humility that trusts God to do His will His way – even boasting in our weakness (2
Cor 12:9ff); and a humility that means we will not rely on human sources of
strength, but on the Spirit’s power, (Zechariah 4:6; Acts 2 & 4). Humility in
Scripture includes not only a humble heart attitude, but also a willingness to
minister in humble circumstances (2 Cor 8:9; Phil 2:6-8) because the very nature
of the kingdom is that it is “for” (directed towards) the poor. (Luke 4:18-21, 6:20)
This humility, which comes first from seeing our own need for and reception of
God’s mercy and favor, means the deeds of justice and compassion will not be
marked by a motivation of making ourselves feel important, but they will be done
as a true expression of the love of God, with careful concern for the person’s true
need, and “quietly” – without drawing a lot of attention to ourselves (Isa 42:1-4).