Practising Ministry 11: The Kingdom of God

In the last few posts, we’ve reflected on how the death and resurrection of Jesus, and the coming of the Holy Spirit, impact us on a very personal level. This is important, because we need to realise that God is deeply committed to saving individuals from their personal sin.

We need to be aware, however, that God is at work throughout creation. This is especially important, I think, for us in “the West”: our culture and societal emphasis is increasingly individualistic. In many ways, we have lost sight of the “collective”.

The phrase used to describe God’s work throughout creation is, “The Kingdom of God”. This conveys the idea that God is King, and is at work to establish His Kingship over the whole of creation. God’s ultimate goal is to bring the entirety of creation under His authority as King.

The concept of “the Kingdom of God” is massive: this idea crops up throughout Scripture, and theologians have written tomes exploring this. I have little chance of doing justice to any of this in a short blog post. There may be, however, a couple of questions which come to your mind when you think about “the Kingdom of God”, and hopefully I can answer those here.

Why would I want to be part of this Kingdom?
If you’re not a Christian, then this is probably your main question. Why would I want to be part of God’s Kingdom? And how dare he try to assert His rule over creation!

To fully answer these concerns, we would need to spend a great deal of time reflecting on the reality that this universe is God’s creation, that He has always been its King, but that humanity rejected that rule. Because of this, our world is a broken and troubled place, and God therefore has to work to re-establish His rule.

Looking at those issues in detail may help to answer the latter concern. But what about the former? Why would anyone want to be part of God’s Kingdom? Here is why:

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling-place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death” or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ (Revelation 21: 3-4 NIVUK)

John paints a wonderful picture of a creation put to right. God the King has come to live with His subjects: He has dealt justly with the evil and darkness of this world, and has recreated the world where these things no longer exist.

In response to the question, “why would I want to be part of God’s Kingdom?”, I would as, “why wouldn’t you want to live in a place where there is no death, mourning, crying or pain?” That’s what God is working to create, and that’s the kind of Kingdom of which He wants you to be a part! The way to access this Kingdom, as we’ve seen in these posts, is to put your faith in Jesus Christ. 

What part do I play in building God’s Kingdom?
When you put your faith in Jesus, and become a part of this Kingdom, you also accept a calling from God to help build His Kingdom here on Earth, which acts as a signpost to the future Kingdom which God is working to build.

We cannot respond to this calling as individuals, so we work with other believers in what is called, “the Church”. The next post will explore this in more detail.

For now, it is sufficient to say that all of us who follow Jesus (not least me, as a minister in His Church!) have a calling to help build His Kingdom. A song which best expresses this is Build Your Kingdom Here, by Rend Collective. Enjoy!

Practising Ministry 7: What Is the Gospel?

I’ve written a post about this before. The focus here is slightly different, because I’m reflecting specifically on ministry. But if you want a general overview of the Gospel, please click the link above.

In the last couple of posts, we have been reflecting on the problem humans face as we try and relate to God. The problem is sin. Sin is the rejection of God. We all reject God in some fashion. The most common form of rejection is selfishness: hard as we might try to live for others, at some stage we do something which is solely for our own benefit.

This rejection of God has led to us being separated from Him. God cannot abide sin, because he is the exact opposite: He is Holy.

People try and bridge the gap between us and God through a variety of means. Unfortunately, none of these work because they do not deal with the underlying problem: the sinfulness of humanity.

So…what is the Gospel?

The Gospel is the reality that God has bridged this gap on our behalf. He has taken away our sinfulness and has replaced it with righteousness. He achieved this through Jesus’ death and resurrection. This has bridges the gap between us and God and allows us to relate to Him once more.

In later posts, I will reflect more specifically on how God achieves our salvation through Jesus, and what that means for us. For now, what matters is this: the essence of the Gospel is that God has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ. The relationship is repaired, and people’s lives are transformed. 

This belief is the foundation of my entire ministry.

The purpose of my ministry, then, is to help people discover this reality for themselves, and then to allow it to change and shape their lives. That is not to say God needs me to work: God is powerful enough that He could spread the Gospel without any human help.

But, God is gracious enough to allow me to participate in His mission to share the Gospel with all the world. So, when I visit someone, for example, I am not somehow bringing God to them, or them to God: God has already been present to them and at work in their life. My role is to come alongside this person, and help them to see where and how God had been at work.

My ministry is about the Gospel. While it can be very tempting to make it about me: what I have to say, what I think, and so on. But it’s not about me: it’s about God, Christ and the Gospel. It’s as John the Baptist declares when he spends his time pointing towards Jesus:

“He must become greater; I must become less.” (John 3:30 NIVUK)

As I say, we will look at the specifics of the Gospel in future posts, as well as the impact on my ministry. But whatever I do in my ministry, it is based on this foundation: that the Gospel, the Good News I have to share with others, is that God has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ; that only through the Gospel can people be in relationship to God and find their lives transformed; and that the Gospel is offered by God to all who would receive it, and my job as a Minister and a Christian is to help people see how God is at work in their lives.

Is Jesus Alive?

Did Jesus really rise from the dead? As Christians, we believe that He did. We call this the Resurrection. We also believe there is evidence to support Jesus’ Resurrection.

At Dalziel St. Andrew’s Parish Church, we have begun a new preaching series focussing on the Resurrection of Jesus. You can catch up on these services on our YouTube channel, or you can join us at 11am on a Sunday morning – we’d be delighted if you joined us!

We have also identified some resources which will help you if you wish to explore further the Resurrection of Jesus. We have listed these below. We hope you will find them an encouragement and a blessing.

Online
www.uncover.org.uk
Did the resurrection really happen?
Resurrection: history or legend?

www.gotquestions.org
Is the Resurrection of Jesus Christ true?

Books
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Alive: What Could Jesus Resurrection Mean for You? 
by Dan Clark

carson_scandalous
Scandalous 
by D.A. Carson

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The Case for Easter
 
by Lee Strobel

Videos

The Case for the Resurrection of Christ


In this video, Lee Strobel explains his book The Case for Easter.

 

Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?


This video, from Institute 360 explores in a conversational way, some of the main objections to the Christian faith. A warning to parents: this video states that Santa is a myth.