Wednesday, 10 December 2014

The Kingdom

What is the Kingdom of God? How does it relate to the church? 

Jesus brings in the Kingdom of God ‘The Kingdom of God is the redemptive reign of God dynamically active to establish his rule among [humankind], and that this Kingdom, which will appear as an apocalyptic act at the end of the age, has already come into human history in the person and mission of Jesus to overcome evil, to deliver men from its power, and to bring them into the blessings of God’s reign. The Kingdom of God involves two great moments: fulfilment within history, and consummation at the end of history.’ G.E. Ladd.

Jesus fulfils OT prophecy (I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth. Isa 49:6). Remember there hadn’t been any prophecy for 3-400 years. This lead to a crisis. In any good story there is a crisis, and some kind of resolution or rescue. Lord of the Rings—stuck in Helm’s deep surrounded by innumerable orcs and uruqhai and they ride out for one last fight—for death and glory. And there is Gandalf on the horizon ‘Look to my coming at first light, on the 5th day. At dawn, look to the East.’ That is the pivot, the defining moment, in LoR part 2. Definitive moment of history—Jesus’ debut in Galilee. Dawn of salvation (‘fullness of time’ in Paul). Kairos—critical or opportune moment Mark 1:15.

When you became a believer, what happened? Did you assent to some creed, or sign up to some kind of statement? No, you decided to follow Jesus. At that point you entered the Kingdom. That’s how Jesus talks about the Kingdom. You enter it. Jesus simply calls people (outsiders, the poor, etc.) to follow him. ‘The call to the four fisherman is not rooted in the Torah, nor even in the name of God, but in Jesus’ messianic authority alone.’ Edwards. It has struck me recently how Jesus-centred the gospels are. Jesus, by his own authority, heals the sick, raises the dead, teaches a whole sermon that goes beyond the Law of Moses (though not one jot or tittle is replaced), and even forgives sins. All of these are jobs that only God had the authority to do. ‘Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ Yet here we have Jesus forgiving sins. It must have been shocking to the Jewish believers of the time.

Jesus begins a new community (among Judeans, mostly—those who are already believers, those walking with God and, as good Jews, trying to keep the requirements of the Torah). But he also goes cross-culturally to gentiles, a mission mainly carried out by Paul, Philip, and others. Still, it’s easier to start with those who are already open to the things of God. That was Paul’s practice—to go to the Synagogue first. If we plant a church it’s good practice to talk to believers in that area first, of course, and community leaders. We have friends church-planting in a Russian-Orthodox area of the Ukraine and they are going to call it a home-group, not a church, out of respect for the local Priest.

It's all about mission-shaped church (Jesus calls us to follow him, then calls us to service—sends us out to reach others). Book: Martin Robinson (Dr.). Churches need to be able to replicated themselves. Once a church has become comfortable it’s v difficult to turn it around to being mission-shaped again.

  • Sending out? (African model—fishers of people). Contra. S America, Korea, China (52-60 M Christians living amongst 1.3 Billion people
  • How?
  • To do what?
  • If there is a church we work with it and under it.
  • My calling into mission was through v38. We need to be ready to move onto the next village.
Taken from Mark chapter 1.
 Recommended reading: Planting Mission Shaped Churches Today, Martin Robinson, Monarch books.