Yesterday’s post was motivated by a growing trend I see in Christians today: the avoidance of the concept of sin. Jesus didn’t come because of sin; he came because people were being oppressed. The kingdom isn’t about helping sinners find redemption; it’s only about allowing otherwise good people to join in a great cause.
I blame it on the typical pendulum swings that the church goes through. There was a time in the past when gospel preaching was all about convincing people that they were going to hell, then offering them a chance at salvation. (which was often presented as a chance; you MIGHT get to heaven if you do things right from now on) The gospel was all about baptism. What about the kingdom? Well, the church is the kingdom, baptism gets you into the church, so it’s still all about baptism.
Over time, people rightly came to reject this distortion of the good news. Now it’s all about the kingdom. We help usher the kingdom into this world, attract others to the kingdom by the way we live, and live kingdom-style from now on. Jesus died to conquer Satan’s kingdom and establish his own. People outside the kingdom aren’t lost because of sin in their lives; they are lost only in terms of not having yet found the kingdom. (Some go further, moving on to universalism; everyone will eventually become a part of this irresistible kingdom, either in this life or after death)
I’m glad we’re talking more about the kingdom. I think we need more emphasis on the king than on his kingdom, but it’s healthy that we’re recognizing that the gospel includes a vibrant kingdom. But I’m sorry we lost the concept of sin along the way. Frankly, we lost the holiness of God, which made us lose sin.
I think the good news of the kingdom includes the bad news that we are sinners in need of grace. We need to see that when men come before the throne of God they cry out “Holy!” and they cry out “Woe to me a sinner.” (Isaiah 6) They fall on their knees and recognize their unworthiness (Luke 5:8). No one who has seen the holiness of God says, “Well, I’m essentially a good person.” They look and see their humanness, their flesh, and don’t like what they see (Titus 3:3; Ephesians 2:3).
In our people-pleasing, politically-correct culture, we’re scared to call sin by its name. We’re scared to recognize that the greatest need of our world is the forgiveness of sin. We need justice. We need mercy. We need love for one another. But the biggest problem mankind has is the problem of sin. And the only answer for that problem is Jesus Christ.
If Jesus is not at the center of your explanation of the gospel, you got it wrong. If the King and his Kingdom aren’t the theme of your presentation, you got it wrong. If the cross isn’t the power behind the message you present, that message is being driven by bad theology.
“For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:2)
Would people say that about you after hearing you talk about the gospel?