What is the gospel of the Kingdom of God?
by Kelly McDonald, JR.
When our Savior, Jesus Christ, came to earth, He said, “The time has come…The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15) Jesus talked about the Kingdom. That was the central focus of His ministry. His sermons and teachings give us details about that Kingdom. What does the gospel of the Kingdom of God mean, and how do we experience that Kingdom today?
Before we can really understand this good news, we must understand the historical background behind Jesus’ words. The Roman Empire ruled the Promised Land (and most of the Mediterranean world) in Jesus’ lifetime (approximately 3 BC to 31 AD). The ministry of Christ began around 27 or 28 AD.
Just before His ministry began, the Romans had a time of peace and prosperity under the Emperor Augustus, who ruled from 27 BC to 14 AD. There was plenty of food in the empire. They had peace from all of their enemies. This led many people to call Augustus “Savior”. People began to proclaim the “good news” of the Roman Empire. The Greek term they used for good news was euangelion. There were songs written about Augustus, and his fame spread far and wide. Jesus preached the good news of the Kingdom of God. He used the same Greek word, euangelion, to describe God’s Kingdom. The term gospel is a word which simply means “good news.”
The gospel was not just a message with spiritual meaning; it also carried political ramifications. It stirred up the Romans because this gospel was about a different kingdom. This is why so many Roman Emperors over centuries have tried to destroy Christianity. They saw the gospel message about the Kingdom of God and its supreme ruler in opposition to their own kingdom. This was a true assumption on their part! The gospel message is in opposition to the idea that human governments can be supreme.
Today, the world thinks that it can solve all of its problems by human intervention. We think that by human government and effort, we can make the world a better place. We are trusting in man. Our political leaders are trusting that other nations will solve their problems peaceably and not resort to war. The Romans wanted to spread the message that the Roman Empire would take care of all their needs, provide military protection, and give them hope for their future. When the gospel of the Kingdom of God was being proclaimed, it was a challenge to Roman dominance in the lives of people. Instead of looking to people and human effort to provide for our needs, we are to look to the Almighty God. Instead of relying on human government, we are to rely on the Government of God.
Jesus was trying to focus people’s thoughts away from the earthly toward the spiritual, Heavenly realm. As Paul wrote, “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2, NKJV). By accepting Jesus Christ through repentance of our sins, we enter into a Kingdom where our needs are provided for. Jesus said in Matthew 6:25-33, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
When we seek the Kingdom of God, our needs will be provided for. We also learn from Jesus’ words a proof of God’s existence: God exists because He knows our needs and will meet them. People in other religions (which Jesus called pagans), have to run after and search for food and clothing. They are worried about their daily needs. Why is this? They do not serve the one true God that created all things. They are trying to achieve these things by human effort alone to meet their needs. We should always do our part (faith without works is dead –James chapter 2), but those that belong to God’s government receive supernatural intervention for their needs!
Human governments obtain legitimacy by offering to provide for basic human needs. Instead of forcing you to run after basic needs, they want to be your provider! Think for a moment about the things that human governments promise us. 1) food or money (food stamps and welfare); 2) healthcare for those times when you are sick; 3) protection from foreign enemies; 4) freedoms defined by law. God’s Kingdom provides all of these things as well. Jesus made the promise in Matthew 6:25-33 that our physical needs would be met. There is a built-in healthcare system in His Kingdom where we can pray for the sick and they are healed (Matthew 4:23). He promises to protect us from our enemy, Satan the devil (Luke 10:19, John 17:15). He also has a righteous body of laws that guide our daily lives (James 1:26-27, Isaiah 2:1-5).
Human governments want to take your children and teach them right from wrong. They want to train us to think a certain way so we can be subject to the state. The Lord promises to teach us all things through the Holy Spirit (John 14:26). Part of Jesus’ gospel message is that we no longer have to put our trust in human governments when it comes to our needs. Our focus is re-directed to the Heavenly Father. Being citizens of the Kingdom of God means that we are a part of a different world entirely that defies the natural realm; it defies the normal way of doing things. Our provision, our behavior, and our lifestyle will be opposed to the world as it is today. God is preparing us for the world tomorrow!