Yesterday we began our Lent series called The Kingdom and the Cross. We are drawing from a rich resource from James Bryant Smith in which we writes: “Two key concepts of the Christian faith are these: the kingdom of God and the cross. Jesus spoke over one hundred times about the kingdom, far more than any other subject. Surprisingly, we hear very little about the kingdom in our churches. The kingdom is a life lived under the care, rule and provision of God, and it is entered by surrender. The cross was the greatest act in all of history, God dying to reconcile the world to himself. The cross is the most recognized symbol in the world. So, what do you think about the kingdom? What do you think really happened on the cross?”
Smith thoughts draw heavily upon the work of Dallas Willard who often spoke about the “Two Good Newses” – the Gospel of the Kingdom and the Gospel of the Atonement. Here’s how he describes them:
“The Gospel of the Kingdom is that you can now live in the Kingdom of God and the Gospel of the Atonement is that your sins can be forgiven. Those are the, respective, ‘Good Newses’, I suppose. The way it practically works out is this, if you have the Gospel of the Atonement, and that’s all you’ve heard, the rest of your life you will run on your own and you may or may not think of being a disciple of Jesus or of obeying him or of devoting your life to the Kingdom of God. You can still do that, but those things are all optional for you. That is where we really stand in our Christian culture today. Anything more than forgiveness of sins, and by that I mean ‘Heaven when you die’, is optional and most of our professed believers now do not know that they can live in the Kingdom of God now. “By contrast, anyone who is alive in the Kingdom of God now knows that their sins are forgiven because they have the life of Heaven in them now. So Heaven and forgiveness are natural parts of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God whereas discipleship and holiness and power and other scriptural evidences are not a natural part of the Gospel of the Atonement. I want to emphasize that sense of being a natural part.
Which Gospel are you most familiar with: the Gospel of the Atonement or the Gospel of the Kingdom? And what implications does this have for the way you live as a follower of Jesus, both individually and as a community of faith?
Here is our complete worship set:
- Salvation is Here (Hillsong)
- Search My Heart (Hillsong)
- Best Days (Lincoln Brewster)
- Prayers of Confession
- The Wonderful Cross (Chris Tomlin version)
- Jubilee Celebration
- Announcements and Offering
- Message (The Economy of the Kingdom)
You can learn what other communities of faith experienced this weekend in worship at The Worship Community.