For many years I looked for something I dared call “the church”; something I was confident would be the recipient of the promises of God that are made only to “the church.” Perhaps the greatest of the promises I hoped to see the fulfillment of was Philippians 1:6. Were the members of that church, across the board and with few exceptions, growing and being dealt with by God?
I had never encountered such a church.
The other qualification I was looking for was a church that had not crystallized. I really didn’t believe it was possible in our modern society, with so much truth lost and Christians so comfortable with ignoring large portions of Scripture, that a church could really have recovered everything. Thus, a church that is following Jesus their King and learning infallibly from the Holy Spirit (1 Jn. 2:26-27), should be learning, and thus changing, on an ongoing basis.
I finally found such a church, and I have remained with them for 20 years. Thus, I change, too.
Yesterday, I referenced my Christian history site, and I cringed just a bit. I have had the site since 2009, and I long to go back through it and make some adjustments.
Don’t get me wrong. I was careful with the historical parts of the site, and they are based on solid history. However, I’m hardly the kind of person who stands idly by to let history speak for itself. Too many people ignore history. I can’t just write about it; I have to apply it.
I don’t want to retract those applications, the “proclamation” parts of the site. They’re not incorrect. I just want to improve them.
In specific, I have only recently come to understand the kingdom of God. About a year ago, I had someone sit down and show me what the Scriptures have to say about “the Gospel of the Kingdom.” I was astonished that I missed it, and as my understanding of the Kingdom Gospel has grown, so has my respect for the importance of it.
The Gospel of the Kingdom has infiltrated its way into everything I teach, everything I say. It affects my life, and I have been running across missionaries and theologians who have learned and preach the Gospel of the Kingdom.
I would love to revamp the teaching parts of Christian-history.org to infiltrate the Kingdom Gospel into it the way it’s integrated into my current teaching.
What is the Gospel of the Kingdom?
Simply said, it is the Announcement that there is a new King, and that King is Jesus of Nazareth. That King is chosen by God, and he will destroy all other governments and reign forever. He is given authority by God to rule over the living and the dead, and one day he will judge everyone who has ever lived.
In the early days of the faith, the Announcement of the new King was done by those who witnessed his resurrection. The resurrection was the proof that Jesus is this prophesied King.
Today, the Announcement of the new King should be made by those churches who have descended from that original message and those original churches. Those churches, according to the King himself, can prove to the world by their unity and love that he is King (Jn. 13:34-35; 17:20-23).
Frightening, isn’t it?
What is frightening is that Christians are known for division and bickering, not unity and love. How are we to prove that he is King without witnesses of the resurrection and without the breathtaking spiritual unity and love that descends from heaven?
Not to worry. We’re prone to thinking about the universal church, but the universal church has very little practical application in our lives.
I am not denying that the universal church, that great cloud of witnesses, may have an important influence on our lives by their prayers and a general spiritual connection. And I am certainly not denying that the universal church is important. I am saying, however, that if you want a real and ongoing impact on your life, it’s the local church you need.
It’s the local church that will exhort you daily (Heb. 3:13), consider how to provoke you to love and good works (Heb. 10:24), assemble with you (Heb. 10:25), bear your burdens (Gal. 6:1-4), listen to your confessions and pray for you (Jam. 5:16), do their part to grow together with you into Jesus (Eph. 4:16), protect you from deception (Eph. 4:11-13; 1 Jn. 2:26-27), rebuke and correct you (2 Tim. 3:16), share their possessions with you (2 Cor. 8:13-15), and in every way be the family of God and support of the truth with you (1 Tim. 3:15).
Whether “christendom” reveals the love and unity that the Spirit of God creates, we, as the local body of the King, who is our head, can devote ourselves to one another. We can—by the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit and by the guidance of the anointing of God—give ourselves to maintaining the unity of Spirit in love and to building each other up in obedience to our King who has bestowed on us the Spirit of God.
We, together, can prove the Gospel message, that Jesus is King.