The Gospel (good news) of the kingdom – what is that?
In Jesus, the Gospel, and the Kingdom – Part 1, we discussed the ancient and modern Jewish expectation of the kingdom promised by God. We left off with the question, “If Yeshua was preaching the Gospel of the kingdom before He had died or rose from the dead, then what exactly was He preaching?”
One possibility is that Yeshua was speaking about His future death and resurrection. However, that does not seem likely as His audience would probably not have understood this particular “good news” – nor do we have any indication that Yeshua Himself equated the good news of the kingdom with death and resurrection.
Later in the New Testament, however, the Scriptures do refer to the Gospel as death and resurrection. This leads me to believe that there two parts to the Gospel, or good news:
1) The promised, Messiah-centered kingdom
2) How to be a part of that kingdom
These two pieces seem to make up the Gospel.
In the Old Testament, it is understood that the kingdom would bring peace to Israel as both Jews and Gentiles would recognize God’s authority and worship Him in unity. In the New Testament, Yeshua has quite a bit to add to this picture of the kingdom. He describes the kingdom of God throughout the book of Matthew, such as in chapter 13, where He teaches all about the kingdom of God through many parables.
Today, we understand that the kingdom of God is at hand (Mark 1:15) – but we also know that it has not yet fully arrived. We can draw two conclusions from parables such as those of the sower, the wheat and the tares, the mustard seed, and the leavened bread: 1) The kingdom of God is growing; and 2) God will vindicate the good fruit when He comes. In other words, we as believers in Yeshua are part of the growth of the kingdom of God, and in the end, God will reward those who have been faithful in spreading His kingdom.
Only one question lingers: “How do we become part of the kingdom?”
The answer to that question is the second half of the Gospel. If we rely on our own efforts, there is no way for us to be a part of God’s kingdom, which is characterized by holiness and reverence without selfish desire. From birth, we exemplify everything that is the opposite of God’s kingdom – but the Messiah’s death and resurrection allows us to be cleansed and thus enter the kingdom.
Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. – 1 Corinthians 15:1-4
In order to be a part of God’s kingdom, which will be ruled by Yeshua, we need to recognize what He did to enable both the kingdom’s coming and our participation in it – namely, He came, died, and was resurrected!
One day, Yeshua will be on the throne of God’s restored creation, and He died and was resurrected so that we could join Him. That is Good News!