I remember when I was in seminary, one of my professors said that when we pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” that we were praying for the second coming of Christ. This view, though extreme, is believed to a strong degree in the churches today. In the last post, I attempted to explain that whatever the kingdom is the kingdom is at hand. By at hand, Jesus meant “within reach”. The kingdom has drawn near to you, reach out and grab it through repentance and faith.
So the view of the kingdom as the return of Christ is a total misreading of what Jesus meant by the term the kingdom and it is at exactly this point that the church has gotten the gospel fundamentally wrong. The gospel promises the kingdom to the believers and we are to repent and press into the kingdom. This is in fact the meaning of the term “Christ”. When we say Jesus is the Christ, we are proclaiming or believing that Jesus is the one who can bring to earth the kingdom of God and that that kingdom life is available immediately.
Faith in Jesus as the Christ
We are saved through faith that Jesus is the Gospel. The Gospel is simply this, “JESUS IS THE CHRIST”. If we believe this gospel, we are saved. But if we do not know what the term Christ means or what it is the Christ brings to us how can we believe God for it. If we do not understand what we are saying when we say Jesus is the Christ, we do not have saving faith. We have no idea what the Gospel actually is? It is on this point that so many people who claim to believe that Jesus is the Christ appear to remain unchanged.
To believe that Jesus is the Christ is to believe that Jesus is the one who can bring you the kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. This is saving faith in Jesus as the Christ. God has appointed one king, one leader, one Christ to bring to mankind the kingdom of God. This one king is Jesus, the Christ. It is through His blood that he has redeemed us, qualified us for the life of the kingdom and it is by this atonement that we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to life and experience this kingdom today. So faith is faith that Jesus is the Christ and the Christ is the one who brings to His subject the Kingdom of God. So what is the Kingdom?
The kingdom is defined clearly in scripture, “The kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit”. Do you believe that Jesus can bring you a life of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit? Many people who claim to believe Jesus is the Christ do not believe that He can bring them righteousness. These people believe that Jesus can bring them righteousness when they go to heaven or at His return but they do not believe in a righteousness that is available today. They do not believe that the kingdom is available on earth as it is in heaven. This faith is faith in a righteousness in heaven or on earth in the age to come. But Jesus promises a righteousness immediately present in the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ brings to us a life, a kingdom life, of righteousness now through the Holy Spirit.
This is not a positional righteousness. This is not a righteousness in heaven but not on earth. If you believe this faith for a later righteousness, then you do not believe the totality of the blessings of the Gospel. The Gospel promises righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit in this life on earth as it is in heaven. Repent and believe.
This righteousness is not a perfect ed righteousness for certainly there is a fullness to come and a final battle to be won but the kingdom life of victory is available today through the work of the holy spirit and to believe in this immediately present kingdom quality of life is to believe in the Gospel.