Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Your Kingdom come!

If you ask any Christian what Jesus came to save us from, the very likely answer is divine wrath and hell. To many evangelical Christians, salvation is escape from eternal punishment in hell. But that is not what Scripture tells us.

The angel who announced to Joseph about Mary's pregnancy told him to give Mary's baby the name Jesus because "for he will save his people from their sins" (Matt 1:21). We confuse cause with consequence. Jesus came to save us from the cause (sin) rather than the consequence (hell). In other words, the problem Jesus came to deal with is not impersonal hell but personal sin. According to Jesus, the eternal fire was originally "prepared for the devil and his angels" (Mt 25:41)). However, man now shares the same eternal destiny as the devil and his angels because he has sinned against God. So, Jesus came to save us from ourselves, not from hell.

Saving us from our sin is only half the Good News. Jesus did not just save us from our sin as an end in itself but as a means to a more glorious end: the Kingdom of God. Jesus came to preach the Good News of the Kingdom of God. We are delivered from the kingdom of the Devil (sin) so that we may be transferred into the Kingdom of Christ (righteousness). Jesus is now our new King, reigning over us and restoring the Kingdom presence & power in our lives through the indwelling Spirit. That is why Jesus taught us to pray, "Your Kingdom come!" The Kingdom of God is not some futuristic post-mortem experience but a NOW experience in order that "Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.." Salvation means the Kingdom of God manifested in our midst so that God's will may be done ON EARTH. God's will is always done in heaven and the Lord's prayer is irrelevant for heaven, but is necessary while we are living here on earth.

Salvation does not refer only to some other-worldly existence, but is a this-worldly experience of God's kingship through the Spirit. Paul declares in Romans 14:17 that the Kingdom of God is "is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." He did not say, the kingdom of God will be but is "righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit!" It is a NOW experience and our prayer daily is for God's Kingdom to be manifested in our midst TODAY.

Of course, what we experience now is only a foretaste of the fullness of the Kingdom to come when Jesus returns. But if even a foretaste is life-transforming, what would be the fullness be like? It would be beyond our imagination. So Paul writes in 1 Cor 2:9-10, "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him—these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit."

Salvation, according to the Gospel of the Kingdom, is not "Your Kingdom I go" but "Your kingdom come!" That is why in Alpha, we have the Weekend to teach about the Holy Spirit because we cannot separate the Spirit's coming with the Gospel of the Kingdom.

2 comments:

  1. Shalom Then Chee Min,

    Very good insight and edification.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Amen, we do often misunderstand the order too, and also condemnation to our consequences regardless of the cause.

    ReplyDelete

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