The last entry I made here lad to some great emails and conversations over the last few days. I was quite encouraged by some of the feedback I had. Although my thoughts may have encouraged some, I realized that where I am scratching the surface some people are already scraping the bone. So thank you!
The one thing that came up the most though was the thoughts on the gospel of the kingdom as opposed to the gospel of the kingdom. The below excerpt is from Mike Erre’s book called “Death by Church” which I recently read and I thought he really put things in a way that I never could. So here it is, read, ponder and take it from there!
The gospel is, at its core, an exchange of sovereignties.
Many stress acceptance of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins, assurance of salvation, and eternal life, and then they leave it at that. But even more fundamental to the gospel is the exchange of sovereignties. Either we live in Satan’s counterfeit kingdom of darkness or we live in the kingdom of God… The sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus have defeated the powers of evil. Conversion to Christ, therefore, is a turning away (repentance) from loyalty and allegiance to what is evil and choosing instead to be loyal to Christ and stand under His reign and rule.
When we call Jesus Lord, we use the very name given to God in the Greek Old Testament. This declaration is a surrender of our own sovereignty and autonomy and leads to our submission to Him. Paul makes this confession central to kingdom life (as in Romans 10:8-9). When we declare Jesus is Lord, we are renouncing all other claimants for the title. Nothing else-no person, thing, idea, habit, and so on-can have a higher claim on our lives. All idols (including the worship of oneself so prevalent today) must be pulled down, repented of, and crushed at Jesus’ feet. Anything that takes the place of Jesus in our hearts, our devotion, or our passion must go. As Elijah the prophet said to the nation of Israel, “How long will you waiver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him” (1 Kings 18:21).
To say that Jesus is Lord is to worship Him and nothing else. Psalm 115:8 and Psalm 135:18 teach that we become like what (or whom) we worship. If we worship sex, we become filled with lust; if we worship money, we become greedy; if we worship people, we then constantly seek their approval. If we worship power, we become controlling and demanding. When we enter into the kingdom of God, we are transferred from death into life, from slavery to freedom, from self-centeredness to God-centeredness. But these are all reflections of one fundamental exchange: we are transferred from the kingdom of death and darkness into the kingdom of God and His Son, Jesus. This is all entailed in declaring that Jesus is King.
This saves us from the unbiblical idea that intellectual assent to the message of Jesus is considered saving faith. It is far too easy to “pray the prayer” and then go on living by one’s own rules and desires. Under the small gospel, where Jesus deals only with my sin problem, this is common. But the gospel of the kingdom removes such confusion. To step into the kingdom is to submit to Jesus’ authority as king. There is no middle ground.
This doesn’t have anything to do with being saved by works. We evangelicals are rightly suspicious of anything that smacks of earning our way into God’s favor. But the gospel that pictures my relationship as a spiritual transaction (where I get Jesus’ righteousness credited to me and He has my sin credited to Him) leaves out both discipleship (how do I grow) and mission (what do I do now). The result is the disconnect between belief and behavior.