Joel Rosenberg just wrote an excellent article on the Kingdom model of the gospel.
I read it, and then sent a commentary back to a the friend who sent it to me:
This has been bubbling around in my heart this past year also. The whole idea that what the gospel is really about is AUTHORITY. It’s mentioned in all 4 gospels, and specifically that Jesus has both the authority to rule and to judge since He is God. The first message He preached, “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is near”, informs us what His ministry is really about. It’s not just being saved so you won’t go to Hell, that’s a by-product of the central issue. And there are plenty of false converts out there, as I’m sure you know. The central issue in repentance is surrender to His authority to be Lord over your life. In other words, most folks just want Him to be their Savior, and that’s the piece that saves you from Hell, but true salvation, true conversion, is a complete turnaround, surrender of Your will to His, as is implied in the Lord’s prayer.
True surrender then requires recognition of Jesus’ authority over our lives. The Jews of the time, the Pharisees anyhow, they couldn’t see it for the most part. Cheryl and I discussed this topic this morning when she was reading Matthew 16, at least the first part where the Pharisees demand a sign. The news of Jesus had spread far and wide and I think we must assume the Pharisees had heard as much or more about Jesus than the common folk had. Even still, the common folk heard rumors of a “Miracle worker” (or Messiah) and brought their sick, their paralyzed, their demon-possessed, and Jesus healed ALL who were brought to Him. Jesus Himself cautioned many who were healed not to go and spread news of their healing, but instead to go and either offer the Priests what was customary, or to “Not sin anymore”. Obviously, this was done so that people would not simply come to Him for “What they can get”.
And that is the key, the real key, is that Jesus IS God and deserves our love and loyalty, simply because of who He is, not for what He can do for us! When the Pharisees demanded signs, it was because unlike the common folk, who came and humbled themselves at His feet, the Pharisees were wanting Him to PROVE His authority because they didn’t really want to give up their position and their power (pride). They couldn’t be like simple folks who just believed, they had to have proof! We all can be like that some times I think, we treat Jesus as if He were a “Genie in the Bottle” and we rub and rub and rub and ask Jesus to do our will. We quickly forget that we’ve submitted ourselves to the King of the Universe, the Creator, the Almighty God, the first and the last, the eternal and unchanging one in whom there is no shadow of turning! That means we gave up the right to try to impose our will over His when we entered His Kingdom.
This to me, is what the “Kingdom” perspective tells us about Jesus. To me, it’s the true message of the gospel. We worship Him for who He is, not for what He can do. We thank Him, of course, for our salvation, and the good things He does in our lives, but we must realize that false preachers, and false converts running around thinking that it’s all just about “Getting saved” or “Getting right with God” are very shallow and should really have no hope in their eternal destiny, and likewise should not be spreading hope to the masses that their “Praying a prayer” does anything at all. But then again, we all start somewhere, and it’s the soil that determines whether or not the seed grows, right? Jesus said: “But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 24:13)
And that’s the attitude we really need to have, that this is a marathon, not a sprint. We are to be striving, seeking the prize our whole lives. We went to hear a Missionary concert last night, they are quite good, and their ministry is having an impact. They themselves were concerned about those “Decisions”, as they had heard the quote from D.L. Moody when somebody asked him about all those wonderful people making decisions for Christ, he said: “I don’t know, we’ll see in about 6 months I suppose”. The leader of Christafari said last night that they went to Kenya last year, and a fellow who was on that trip went back some months later and was asked to speak at a congregation. He was impressed with the large audience and asked how long the congregation had taken to get so large, and they told him the entire congregation was started as a result of their mission trip earlier in the year! Wow!
The guy who leads this band had made a decision a few years back to stop visiting places around the world where they could “Afford” to bring he and his band. Instead, he decided to become a “Musicianary” and to do it God’s way, to go to places where they had no money to pay them or bring them over, rather they started raising support for each trip, and paid their own way entirely. That way, they were able to start visiting the slums and orphanages in Haiti, Brazil, Kenya, Papua-New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and other places. It was a huge step of faith he said, but the numbers prove God is in this. Prior to making that decision he said, they’d only been having about 5,000 “Decisions” for Christ each year in their ministry. After, the number has roughly doubled every year since, such that this past year, they had nearly 60,000 decisions for the Lord! Praise God! They were in Colorado last year, we’re trying to figure out where and when they were there, possibly at Calvary Chapel, but we don’t really know. They’re definitely doing the Lord’s work though (and doing it His way)! It’s exciting!
On his site, he gives his full testimony about this and his rationale for how he came to make that decision about becoming true missionaries. Their band had been quite successful – in the world’s eyes. They were traveling all over, being drawn to large venues, their music sold lots of CD’s and folks raved about them. But the impact for the Kingdom just wasn’t there. Interesting, no?
Oh, and BTW, those Sermon notes from Joel Rosenberg’s article are actually all there, but many of the lines are hidden/cut off in the “View” of his blog. I took the liberty of copying them out and into an Open Document. I have attached a PDF from that to this email.