In the first chapter of his book, 50 Simple Questions for Every Christian,
Guy Harrison discusses the essence of the Christian belief. He asks, Does Christianity make sense? The following is his summary of what Christians believe: ‘God sent His Son, Jesus into the world so that He could die for us. His sacrifice was a pardon from our sins that allows us to be saved from death and enjoy eternal life in heaven. Without Jesus we would all be doomed because of our inherently sinful nature. In this great act of mercy, God saved us from ourselves. And all we have to do in return to accept this gift is to repent our sins and embrace Jesus as our only lord and saviour.’ 1
His summary is accurate, but is this ‘abridged’ version the complete gospel? Can we only acknowledge the basic principles that Jesus saves from sin, people are inherently sinful, et cetera? Why does he give no attention to the Bible’s main message of the Kingdom? God’s kingdom will consist of Him as the Ruler, the elect as the citizens and the renewed earth as the country. This is where God is heading to. At present He is gathering the citizens.
Matthew, Mark and Luke teach about the forgiveness of sins, but the Kingdom of God is mentioned many more times.
- John the Baptist preached: ‘Repent for the Kingdom of God is near.’ 2
- Jesus preached, ‘Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.’ 3 NB! The expression, Kingdom of Heaven is synonymous with Kingdom of God. In the rest of the book of Matthew, we find the word ‘Kingdom’ many times.
- Mark says that Jesus began by preaching the good news, ‘The time has come…. The Kingdom is near. Repent and believe the good news.’ 4
- In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus said, ‘I must preach the good news of the Kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.’ 5 Jesus was specifically sent to establish His Kingdom.
- The apostle Paul, a prisoner in Rome, also preached about the Kingdom, ‘Boldly and without hindrance he preached the Kingdom of God – and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.’ 6
Jesus was sent to establish His Kingdom and open the way for people to become part of it. Salvation is the entrance into the kingdom, but it is not the whole gospel. From Genesis to Revelation the Bible deals with different aspects of the Kingdom. If you limit the many functions of Jesus to salvation from sins, you are in a sense taking away from the glory that is due to Him. Salvation fits into the wider context of the Kingdom.
We are of the opinion that the version of the Gospel that Guy presents is not the core of the Bible. The Bible reveals God’s plan for the establishment of His Kingdom on earth. That cannot be done without Jesus, because the Old Testament demonstrates that people cannot obey God. Yet obedience is necessary to make the Kingdom of peace a success. Jesus makes it possible for those who accepted His offer to become obedient. He changes hearts, gives the Holy Spirit, and much more. The Kingdom of God is the main message. Disregarding it leads to a disjointed, illogical understanding of the Bible.
- Kindle Edition, Location 168 of 5739
- Matthew 3:2
- Matthew 4:17
- Mark 1:15
- Luke 4:43
- Acts 28:31