Sunday, September 08, 2013

central in the ministry of jesus

From Marlene Nathan in Small Group Bible Studies:

But He said, "I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent." (Luke 4:43)

Perhaps you have also given little, if any thought to the kingdom of God. Perhaps you have also been taught that the kingdom is something that won't be experienced until heaven or some point far off in the future and so, it is not something to be concerned about right now. Certainly anyone who reads the daily paper and watches the evening news doesn't see much evidence of the kingdom of God.

Yet the Kingdom of God literally dominates the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament. It is obvious that He did not see the kingdom as something restricted only to the future with little relevance to everyday life. In the four gospels alone, the phrase "Kingdom of God" or "Kingdom ofHeaven" appears 84 times. To contrast, the word "cross" (undeniably central to the ministry of Jesus and the life ofthe Christian) appears only 17 times. And the words "gospel" and "good news" (which is the message Jesus and His disciples preached) appear only 23 times.

The kingdom is central to the teachings ofthe apostles in the early church as well. When the apostle Paul traveled to Ephesus, Luke writes in Acts 19:8 that he "... entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God." While under arrest in Rome, meetings were arranged, and "From morning till evening he [Paul] explained and declared to them the kingdom of God...". And the final verse in the book ofActs reads, "Boldly and without hindrance he [Paul] preached the kingdom of God [for two years] and taught about the Lord Jesus."

If the Kingdom of God plays such a prominent role in the New Testament, then it is vitally important for us to both recognize this and to understand the implications this has for our lives.

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