THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN
BY: JOHN GAVAZZONI
JANUARY 8, 2004
[JOHN’S ANSWER TO AN E-MAIL]
Hi Gary (Not his real name),
I appreciated your thoughts about what salvation is really about. Reducing salvation to, as old preacher’s used to say, “Gaining heaven and shunning hell” has gutted the evangelical message of much of the true content of the gospel.
You’re right about Jesus occupation with the kingdom of heaven/God and it is against the backdrop of Him describing the gospel as the gospel of the kingdom that we should seek to understand the other descriptions of the gospel, such as, the gospel of the grace of God, the gospel of God, the gospel of Christ, my (Paul’s) gospel, etc. [dispensationalists who maintain that Paul’s gospel was a different gospel than the gospel of the kingdom do not understand that all the later descriptions of the gospel were a continuing unfolding of the richest implications of the gospel of the kingdom]
The Jews, of course, thought of the kingdom in terms of the theocratic government over their nation with the attendant prosperity, glory, dominance and preferential treatment it would afford them. This was a very blinding factor that kept them from understanding the true nature of the kingdom.
Essentially, I would say, that the expression, “the kingdom of God/heaven,” simply refers to the sphere of God’s rule, the domain of God, that is, what and who over which God has complete control. Very few Christians relate the rule of God, the Lordship of Jesus Christ, directly to salvation. But He can be our Savior because He is our Lord. He is Lord over all and all that pertains to all. All things serve Him, even those things that are energized by the desire to oppose Him. Simply put, God’s rule is over what is called in the Greek, “the all.” Nothing lies beyond the borders of His kingdom. I know this presents a conundrum to the natural mind. How can we say that God controls “the all” when evil is so prevalent and so entrenched in the world?
The answer lies in the fact that God, in His sovereignty has chosen to include rebellion and rebels within the borders of His domain. He regularly shows to the discerning heart, how He can and does step in and end rebellion when and where He chooses, and turns enemies into love-slaves.
Picture a king sitting on his throne when a royal messenger rushes in bringing the news that there is rebellion in a certain area of his kingdom. Imagine the king receiving the news with complete calm and saying to the messenger, “Yes, I know, I want it that way for a season. I will put the rebellion down in due time, but for now, though you do not understand, I have a glorious plan which the rebels are inadvertently and unintentionally serving. They represent no real danger to my kingdom. Let them be, for it won’t be long before every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that I am, in truth, the Lord.”
His riches in glory to you,
KINGDOM of HEAVEN, THE [John R. Gavazzoni] 1-8-04 1