“Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” (Mat 6:10)
The idea of God’s kingdom on earth is a classical Christian belief. Christians affirm this belief in the Apostles Creed: “He ascended into Heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead”. In modern western Christian thinking the concept of salvation is usually confined to the spiritual realm. We usually think of salvation in terms of a personal relationship with Christ by faith. We rarely discuss the idea of a progressive fulfillment of the concept to the physical earthly realm. We tend to think of heaven as the goal. But Jesus preached the “gospel of the Kingdom of God”. Matthew’s and Mark’s gospels are full of references to the “gospel of the Kingdom”. Yes, its good news that Jesus died for my sins so that I can be a part of His Kingdom, but the gospel is bigger than that! Yes, Jesus died for us, but why did he do that? He did it in order that He might have a people for Himself “….who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”(Tit 2:14)
Compare the modern man-centered gospel vs the gospel in the Bible:
- Me centered vs He centered
- Jesus loves me, saved me, blesses me, vs Jesus will come again, rule and reign, cause every knee to bow, make all things new.
- Me going to heaven vs Heaven coming here to earth, to us.
- Come to Jesus and get life vs Jesus called you, so give your life.
- Jesus is mine vs I am His.
- Self centered vs other centered.
But, biblically speaking, salvation is the restoration of the entire creation. That restoration starts with the individual spirit, but it will progress to the entire physical creation. Biblical salvation ends with the physical realm; the restoration of Eden.
Restoration is not accomplished in a single moment. Quoting George Ladd, “The Kingdom of God belongs to the age to come. Yet the age to come has overlapped with this present age. We may taste its powers [Lazarus] and thereby be delivered from this age and no longer live in conformity to it.” The focus of the modern western Church has changed. The common message is usually about how to escape hell and get to heaven. It shows up in how we evangelize. We ask questions such as, “Are you going to heaven?” or we invite people to come to Jesus and get healing, peace, prosperity or some other personal benefit. You don’t very often hear an evangelist say, “Come to Jesus and die to yourself.” Most Christians are not expecting His imminent return and the establishment of an earthly Kingdom. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.” (1Co 15:24-25)
The hope of the early church was expressed in Titus 2:11-13. Jesus will rule on earth with His church. (Rev. 20:4-5; Zech 14:16) God created the earth for a dwelling place with man. His plans are not frustrated; He is not a loser; He doesn’t have a plan B.
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that having denied ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live discreetly, righteously and godly, in this present world, looking for the blessed hope, and the appearance of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,….” (Tit 2:11-13)