Torstai 20.9.2018
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Tuonelan kohdusta minä huudan apua, ja sinä, Herra, kuulet ääneni. Joona 2:3

God’s kingdom and the power of the gospel

in English 24.5.2016 14:00 | Siionin Lähetyslehti
Jesus urges to search for God’s kingdom and his righteousness (Matt. 6:33). We pray together “Thy kingdom come” and we believe “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever” (Matt. 6:10, 13).
God’s kingdom “is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 14:17). For many, God’s kingdom means heaven where God lives and where believers will go one day. But according to the Bible, God’s kingdom can be found and experienced already in this life.

God’s kingdom can not be seen on a world map. Instead, it travels where the believers are. They believe in the existence of one holy and Christian congregation. Their speech includes the thought that “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 10:7). For Martin Luther, God’s kingdom was “a group of Christians”. They are a congregation endeavoring here on earth, whose members wish to reach the jubilant congregation or the congregation of glory in heaven.

What is God’s kingdom like?

God has drawn the borders to his kingdom, so we as people can not move them. We also do not want to cross those borders ourselves, because outside of God’s kingdom we are in the power of darkness and without God. The parable of the sheepfold (John 10) emphasizes that one can only enter God’s kingdom through the door; those who try from other ways are “a thief and a robber”. About entering, Jesus says: “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved” (John 10:9). In another portion, Jesus exhorts to strive to enter through the narrow door, through which many want to go, but are unable (Luke 13:24).

It is safe to live in God’s house, because Jesus has promised his own an abundant life (John 10:10). The story of the good Samaritan ends with the same promise: if you must spend more, I will repay you when I return (Luke 10:35).

The call to be God’s child

God has created each person in His own context. We have been born into mankind redeemed by Jesus, and we belonged to God’s flock when we came here. Many of us lost our childhood faith and were separated from God and His kingdom. But God loved us, awakened us and called us to repentance. Believers offered the gospel, and we had the gospel proclaimed to us according to Jesus’ commandment and through the power of his Spirit.

In this way we were moved from the kingdom of darkness to God’s kingdom. We joined those who had remained in faith since childhood or who had repented before us. We also started the battle against sin, because giving up sin is the fruit of repentance. Forgiveness brings peace to the conscience and gives strength to reject sin.

We can become God’s own only through repentance. Through repentance, the weight of sin is wiped away, and we are born into God’s kingdom and become a child of God. In repentance, God gives us the Holy Spirit. All that are led by God’s Spirit, are God’s children (Rom 8:14). “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Rom. 8:9).

Believers are just as sinful people as all others, but God has called and pardoned them. They make up a holy temple and God’s dwelling place in the Spirit. The love God has given joins them together and this building lasts (Eph. 2:20–22).

No one remains a believer through their own strength. To remain believing, we need the Heavenly Father’s work and his power. Only through faith and God’s power can we reach glory (1 Pet. 1:5). God gave us his gospel for exactly this reason.

The gospel is God’s power

The gospel is the good message of Jesus Christ and the salvation which he has prepared. The gospel has been preached to us when Jesus’ actions and teachings have been clarified to us. He has won the powers of sin, death and darkness. The essence and staple of the gospel is the forgiveness of sins.

The gospel is God’s word which does its work in believers (1 Thess. 2:13). It is given life by the Holy Spirit because Jesus connected these words to the power of redemption and binding: “Receive ye the Holy Ghost” (John 20:22). This is why all believers, and only believers, have this power: the Holy Ghost has consecrated believers as priests.

Each Christian is a worker of God’s kingdom. They have a right and duty to preach the gospel to others. Christ’s love directly requires this work of us: we instruct people, because we know that the Lord should be feared (2 Cor. 5:11, 14). We also have been sent into the world, as our Father had sent Jesus (John 20:21).

The gospel has great power: it closes off hell and opens up heaven. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians: “For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance” (1 Thess. 1:5). Now it is our turn to rejoice of this power of God, just as the Jews and Greeks did in their time (Rom. 1:16).

Text: Mauri Hyvärinen
Source: Vuosikirja 2003, Jumalan pelko suo turvan
Translation: AH

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