A story about a famous
theologian and a Chinese
“Most Christians don’t know
what the gospel really is.”
“Brian, how would you define
“Shouldn’t we let Jesus define
What if we have become confused about
what the gospel of Jesus Christ really is?
What if we are proclaiming a gospel about
Jesus, but not the gospel Jesus proclaimed?
What if there are two gospels being
proclaimed within Christianity?
The gospel about going to heaven …
You are a sinner. You are going to hell.
If you believe our message and say a
prayer, you will go to heaven.
It’s very easy, free, and convenient.
Our contemporary gospel is primarily
HOW TO GO TO HEAVEN
AFTER YOU DIE
with a large footnote about increasing your personal
happiness and success through God.
with a small footnote about character development
with a smaller footnote about spiritual experience
with a smaller footnote about social/global transformation.
“Shouldn’t we let Jesus define
After John was put in prison, Jesus
went into Galilee, proclaiming the
good news of God.
The time has come, he said. The
kingdom of God has come near.
Repent and believe the good news!
There is a fascinating
choreography between Jesus’ life
and John’s. John is imprisoned …
Jesus begins teaching the kingdom
John the Baptist: A Religious
Baptism wasn’t radical. Ceremonial
washings were commonplace in Judaism.
It was WHERE John baptized that was
radical … and who he was.
Where did John baptize?
in the wilderness, at the
not in the temple.
He was the son of a priest
operating outside the
What does it mean, then,
for Jesus to accept John’s
And why would Jesus
begin preaching when
John was put in prison?
And what would it mean
for Jesus to preach “the
kingdom of God?”
realities in Jesus’
There was no
new religion - but
could get you
To proclaim a
meant a new
authority … and
it meant a new
way of life.
Jesus proclaimed a radically different
framing story … Good news of the
Kingdom of God.
Good news - announcement of a new
regime, administration, victory.
Kingdom - reigning, relationships,
values, laws, customs: the uniﬁed whole
God - which one?
The kingdom of God …
A God who forgives …
A God who includes …
A God who notices …
A God who serves …
A nonviolent God who reconciles …
A God who heals …
A God who transcends boundaries …
A God who sides with the poor …
A God who is present …
A God bigger than organized religion …
Why do so few people realize the
radical nature of the message of
the Kingdom of God?
2 possible reasons …
1.The Matthew Problem:
Many think “kingdom of God”
means heaven (after you die).
Why do Mark and Luke say
“Kingdom of God,” but Matthew
says “Kingdom of Heaven?”
As the most Jewish gospel …
Matthew follows the Jewish
reticence about using the name of
God directly. “Heaven” substitutes
It is clear that “kingdom of God” (or
heaven) does NOT mean “heaven
after you die,” because the Lord’s
prayer teaches us to pray …
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done on earth as it is in
It does NOT teach us to pray …
May we come to your kingdom
when we die.
May we all go to heaven where,
unlike earth, your will is done.
2. The John Problem:
John uses “kingdom” only in chapters 3
and 18. Elsewhere, he uses the phrase
“life” - life to the full, or eternal life.
But it is also clear that “eternal life”
doesn’t simply mean “life in
heaven after you die,” contrary to
Eternal life is deﬁned by Jesus
clearly in John 17:3 -
Now this is eternal life: that they
may know you, the only true God,
and Jesus Christ, whom you have
ZOIEN AIONIAN - life of the ages,
life knowing God in Christ …
Jesus doesn’t send us out to make
“Christians” - but to make
The Gospel of Matthew ends with these important words:
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the
mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When
they saw him, they worshiped him, but some
doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All
authority in heaven and on earth has been given to
me. Therefore go and make [spiritually form]
disciples [apprentices] of all nations, baptizing them
in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the
Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I
have commanded you. And surely I am with you
always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew
The gospel of the kingdom must
produce disciples who learn a
radical new way of life.
As disciples, we learn to live the way
of life that Jesus lived - life in the
kingdom of God.
Similarly, Paul speaks of …
Being con-formed to the image of Jesus (Romans
Being trans-formed by the renewing of our
minds (Romans 12)
Christ being “formed” in us (Galatians 4)
And Paul speaks of learning “a way …”
Walk in Christ …
Walk in the Spirit …
I will show you a more excellent
Follow the way of love …
Heaven (God’s will)
Gospel of saving individual souls
from hell, and abandoning earth to
Gospel of saving earth* from
human sin, beginning with us.
Two gospels …
One of evacuation (warehouse)
One of transformation (community
of practice …)
The church is the unique disciple
forming community that passes on
ways of Jesus, the ways of the
Learning to play …
… learning to play in the way of the
The Prayer of the Kingdom of God
1. Our Father above us
and all around us …
2. May Your unspeakable
Name be revered.
3. Now, here on earth
may Your kingdom
4. On earth as in
heaven may Your will
5. Give us today our
bread for today.
4. Forgive us our
wrongs as we forgive.
3. Lead us away from
the perilous trial.
2. Liberate us from the
1.For the kingdom is
yours and yours alone.
2. The power is yours and
3.The glory is yours and
4.Now and forever, amen.