Guy Harrison and the kingdom

50 Questions

In a former blog we mentioned that the ‘short’ Gospel Guy Harrison refers to is deficient.

No Jesus, Kingdom a ruinWe cannot understand Jesus’ work on earth in isolation from the Kingdom. Jesus and others preached consistently about the Kingdom of God. In Genesis 1 we read that God created the heavens and the earth. He is the Owner and Ruler of the universe and He plans an eternal Kingdom of peace and happiness.

 

A kingdom consists of a king, citizens and a country. God is planning a perfect country or Kingdom (the key word to remember for God’s Kingdom is ‘Peace’). He will be the King who loves His people and they will love and obey Him. There will be no crime, disease, or any problems whatsoever. The easiest way to understand it is to envision a country like that. The leader is perfect with no flaws. The citizens all love the leader and obey the laws of the country. It sounds like the place to be.

 

Another way to understand God’s kingdom is to think what would make your neighbourhood peaceful and safe? All criminals will have to be jailed to eradicate theft, murder, alcohol abuse, lying, cheating, gossip, et cetera. That is precisely what God will do. He will allow no-one into His kingdom who will disturb the peace and happiness. So He tests us in this life. God observes and writes down what we do. If we love and obey Him here, we will do it there (on the renewed earth).

 

For God’s eternal planet of peace, He wants the same attitude in His people that the Trinity have towards each other (happiness, contentment, peace and love). God’s commands all have to do with love, peace, harmony, forgiveness, et cetera. Obedient citizens will be very important because God is the all knowing, holy Ruler with no skeletons in His cupboard. Yet on this side of the grave, people consistently fail to obey God’s laws of peace and love. The whole Old Testament is essentially a history of how men failed to obey God (it is called sin).

 

This makes the eternal Kingdom of peace that God plans impossible. All people have a ‘criminal record’ of disobedience and therefore cannot be part of God’s kingdom. No country accepts immigrants with criminal records and neither does God. How did God handle this problem that people consistently fail? He sent His Son Jesus to fulfil God’s decree that, ‘the wages of sin is death.’ On the Cross Jesus died for our sins. So:

  • We can have our criminal record annulled by His blood shed on the cross.
  • He also circumcises our hearts (cuts out the bad nature) so that we can obey God.
  • He brings us back into a good relationship with the Father.
  • He gives us the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us.
  • He prepares us to live eternally with God on the renewed earth, loving our Lord and serving Him.

 

As we can see, Jesus did not only ‘save from sins.’  He did much more in preparation for the eternal Kingdom. Salvation is a kind of ‘subset’ of God’s message. It is a very important aspect, so important that without it, there can be no Kingdom.But it is still only a part of Jesus’ much bigger work described in the 66 books of the Bible. The lesson: don’t believe Guy and minimise Jesus’ work.

Guy Harrison’s theology

In the first chapter of his book, 50 Simple Questions for Every Christian,

50 Questions

Kingdom of GodGuy 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 

 

To summarise 

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.

 

Conclusion

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.

 

References

  1. Kindle Edition, Location 168 of 5739
  2. Matthew 3:2
  3. Matthew 4:17
  4. Mark 1:15
  5. Luke 4:43
  6. Acts 28:31

 

Why did Jesus have to suffer and die?

 

50 Questions

Guy Harrison wrote, ‘Christians often juxtapose [place together] the horror of Lamb of GodJesus’ crucifixion with the love God shows us by allowing His Son to suffer and die.’ 1 He basically says, ‘How can God show His love to us, by letting His own Son suffer and die?’ To answer it we have to begin with Genesis, not with Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

 

Adam and Eve were originally with God in the garden. They ‘heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day.’ 2 It sounds as if they regularly visited with God face to face in their innocent state. Now we come in contact with God’s brilliance that is seldom mentioned. In His wisdom, God did not want another Lucifer or Judas in His eternal Kingdom. Adam and Eve were going to be tested. God gave them a very easy command: they may eat of all the fruit, except the fruit from one tree. If they ate of it, they would surely die.3 Most people know the story. They ate and were expelled from the garden, away from God’s presence and the agent who incited them to disobey God was ‘that ancient serpent, called the devil, or Satan’. 4

 

This episode in Genesis 3 illustrates one of the most profound miracles of God. He shows that He is both just and merciful. He has to judge their sin. But He wants to save Adam and Eve. So He clothed them with skins of animals. Why? Because of the principle of exchange. The innocent animals were killed. They paid the death penalty for Adam’s sin, and Adam and Eve were forgiven. God was just because the sin was punished, but He was also merciful because the guilty were pardoned.

 

Animal lovers will probably cry their hearts out, but it is to no avail. They can do nothing about it because it happened in the past. Today we know that Jesus was the Lamb who was sacrificed,5 because without blood, there is no forgiveness [of sin].6  In Psalm 89:14 we read, ‘Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne, love and faithfulness go before you.’

 

So if Jesus died for the whole world’s sin, is God righteous to send billions to hell? The answer is: His fair exchange of mercy for judgement is available to all people. By grace we are saved, by faith in what God did.7 The guilty can transfer their condemnation on Jesus and go free. Yet they refuse it. They insist that they will pay for their own sins with eternal punishment. They throw God’s supreme act of mercy, back into His face.

 

This answers Guy’s question about Christians believing God sent His beloved Son to die on our behalf. That is justice and mercy in action, unparalleled in the history of mankind.

 

References

  1. Kindle edition, location 189,199 of 5739
  2. Genesis 3:8
  3. Genesis 2:16 -17
  4. Revelation 12:9
  5. Hebrews 9:12,14,28
  6. Hebrews 9:22b
  7. Ephesians 2:8