We’ve been discussing the fact Jesus came to deliver the Kingdom of God, not just to preach the gospel of salvation as has been so emphasized by the Church since institutionalization.
Let’s continue that discussion.
Recorded in Acts and the epistles of the Apostles, we can easily identify the message that they preached is also the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. (The Kingdom mentioned by name 33 times after Jesus ascends into the sky in Acts)
As the Apostles waited in Jerusalem, following the instructions of their Lord, they received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. The Church was thus born and the Kingdom came to be true upon the hearts of Man. That very day, Peter, faced with false accusations and great confusion, preached the Gospel by the Holy Spirit (Acts 2). The core of the message is that the Jews had crucified their Messiah as they were unable to perceive the nature of the Kingdom of God, and thus could not recognize who Jesus was. With this message, three thousand in Jerusalem were converted that day.
Peter and other apostles worked many miracles as they continued to preach their Lord and His Kingdom in the face of great opposition from the religious leaders of the day. From that day forward, they were never afraid, even though their ministry was mainly among the Jews.
In the meantime, God raised a very unique personality to carry the Gospel of the Kingdom to the Gentiles. Saul was a devout Jew and well educated as a Pharisee. He was zealous of the tradition of his forefathers, so much so that he volunteered to persecute the followers of Jesus. The Lord “ambushed” him on his way to Damascus as he determined to carry out the persecution there as well. He was blinded for three days, only to be restored by the prayer and the laying on of hands of a follower of Jesus, Ananias. Then he was baptized and became a disciple of Jesus himself. Paul never turned back. He fulfilled his life mission. In his decades of hard work, preaching and teaching the Gospel wherever he was sent, he laid the foundation of 10 churches in the major cities of the Roman world, especially in the area of Asia Minor.
This advancement of the Kingdom through the works of these faithful servants of God spurred a movement of such magnitude and impact that the Roman world, the most powerful and civilized Empire in history at the time, was forced to endorse Christianity officially within 300 years after the Gospel was first preached by Peter. Even though they had been persecuted, those of the Kingdom had spread and 51% of Roman citizens had come to follow Christ.
What an amazing God!
Although there was some good from this Roman proclamation, it replaced Kingdom life with institutionalized religion.
We’ll continue this thread in tomorrow’s post.
This post is _Part 4_ in a series on the Kingdom of God. To continue with this series, click on Part 5. To use this as a growth tool to better understand your own calling, you might start by reading the explanation of this series and then read Pt 1, Pt 2, and Pt 3.
Photo credit: biogaz78