Jesus’ message was not limited to individual salvation. The good news He proclaimed heavily emphasised God’s kingdom. But what was the relationship between these two ideas? Why did Jesus’ gospel message focus so strongly on the kingdom of God?
What is the relationship between the gospel and the kingdom of God? In the Gospel of Mark, chapter 1, the first recorded words of Jesus are, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the gospel.” The gospel is the good news proclaiming that the reign of God’s kingdom has come into this world.
Thus, all the miracles Jesus performed are signs of this coming kingdom. Since the rule and kingdom of God are here, our sins are forgiven. The blind can see, the lame can walk, the lepers are cleansed, demons are cast out, and the dead are raised. That is the good news. The good news of course, at its core, is the cross — the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. If Jesus did not die and rise again, he would not have won salvation for us. He would not have overcome the power of death. And the kingdom of God would not have come to us. Therefore, the gospel is the best news. The coming of God’s kingdom is the greatest blessing and joyfulness for the human race.
The message of the kingdom is intimately tied to the gospel message of death, burial and resurrection. The kingdom must be understood in terms of the Old Testament. All the way back with Adam’s fall into sin, plunging the human race into depravity, affecting all of creation, you have the promise of God that he will bring his saving rule and reign to this world. That’s worked out in a whole host of ways in the Old Testament, primarily in the coming of the Lord himself through the Davidic king — these great messianic themes.
Christ is the one who is the Lord, who is the King. He is the one who ushers in that saving reign. He ushers in that saving reign by not only his incarnation and his life, and putting to flight his enemies — you think of Satan and his powers — but he does so ultimately in consummation on the cross, in his resurrection.
The problem of sin is a relationship with God and all of its effects upon the human race. Sin has to be dealt with before God. And so, the inauguration of the kingdom takes us to the cross, demonstrated then that he has won victory over sin. He has paid our price before God’s righteous requirements. Resurrection now has taken place, and the gospel message of death, burial, and resurrection is the very inauguration of that kingdom that is here and then will be consummated in the end. So the relationship between the two is intimately put together in the Scriptures.
If we start by understanding that the kingdom of God is the rule and reign of God in hearts of men and women, and that rule and reign manifesting itself in every sphere of life in which their lives touch, the way that they come into that rule and reign is through the message of the gospel, the euangelion, the good news, that Christ has laid his life down upon the cross for their sins. And through that transforming power of the gospel, then they are called to transform the world around them and bring in God’s work of the kingdom to every area of their life.