A “Climb Free” post. Free climbing illustrates for us the passion and purity we should have for living each day unaided as much as possible by dependence on artificial supports and our human contrivances. We are creatures of an almighty God, created expressly to live in His presence and power. To do so is the highest expression of our living. It is our “free climbing,” if you will. The posts labeled “Climb Free” will focus on the thinking and practices that allow us to live in the presence and power of our God, with as few encumbrances as possible. Images via Pixabay
Jesus proclaimed a message by His words and His life while on earth. Together, these are what is referred to as “The Word of the Lord” (and similar names) in the New Testament. From His life and words, we find the faith response to the offer of new life in Christ Jesus. This new life is ours by faith, for there are no works of righteousness on our part that can please our God, either before or after our commitment to follow our Lord. Yet within all Jesus said and how He lived will be found a kind of propositional Gospel of the Kingdom, the laying out of what Kingdom living for true disciples will be like and what it means to respond to the Kingdom by faith.
But what is that faith? Is it entirely passive, or is a saving faith evidenced by certain commitments that are likely to have visible evidence in our living? Responding to the offer of new life in Christ is a kind of transaction in which both the Savior and the saved give evidence of a true commitment to the other. In other words, we receive – commit our lives and our living – the Gospel of the Kingdom by faith, and that faith will give clear evidence of our commitment to living the Kingdom life. This is how Jesus framed it by His earthly teachings.
If one chooses to become a disciple of our Lord Jesus, what is the transaction that must occur in the person to make it so? Several important points regarding the Gospel message as Jesus delivered it and the NT writers elaborated on it are worthy of our consideration. Indeed, the Gospel of the Kingdom that was delivered by Jesus – the good news of God’s Kingdom and how we can join into it – is substantially different than the “gospel message” so often preached in this day.
Below are reference frames that are important to remember as the Gospel of the Kingdom is considered. These are not the only important frames of reference to remember but are important to this conversation.
- Thinking rightly – Our God is an awesome God. He is God over all things, and He is awesome and even fearsome beyond all imagination. The Kingdom of our God and His great salvation for us is not primarily about us. We are not the central point. Our God, His will and purposes, His greatness and glory are together the central point. Our salvation is about us joining into His purposes and reflecting His glory, and not primarily to do us a favor. We must approach Him in reverence and respect or we will approach him in error. This realization is captured in the Bible in the stories of Job, Jacob, Moses, Gideon, Isaiah, Peter, John and others. See Hebrews 10:26-31.
- The Kingdom Jesus came to initiate on earth is not of this world or its systems – The Kingdom of God is a term that is not defined in the New Testament, but it is described and illustrated often. John Bright wrote: “The concept of the Kingdom of God involves…the total message of the Bible. The Bible is one book. Had we to give that book a title, we might with justice call it “The Book of the Coming Kingdom of God.” That is, indeed, its central theme.” Throughout history, the flow of our God’s work among humans has been to prepare creation for the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth. A Kingdom requires a king who has authority, and subjects over whom the king rules. In the Kingdom of God, Jesus is the king Who has been granted all authority in heaven and on earth as the ruler. It is a spiritual Kingdom, yet it is every bit as real as the air we breathe and the chairs on which we sit. The citizens of the Kingdom are those who have rejected the world and chosen to accept the rulership of the King.
- We enter the Kingdom only by the narrow door – Jesus was clear that the “door” or “gate” into the Kingdom is narrow, and few will be able to find it and enter it. The terms for entrance into the Kingdom are hard, for it costs us everything – control, management, relationships, family, reputation in the world, and more. Few are looking for such a life-altering, life-controlling commitment, and therefore few find the narrow door. Matthew 7:13-14, Luke 13:22-27.
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is narrow and the way is constricted that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
“And He was passing through one city and village after another, teaching, and proceeding on His way to Jerusalem.And someone said to Him, “Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?” And He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin standing outside and knocking on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open up to us!’ and He then will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from.’ Then you will begin saying, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets!’ And yet He will say, ‘I do not know where you are from; leave Me, all you evildoers.’”
The next “Climb Free” post will present some of the purposes of our God in bringing us into His Kingdom.