Why the salvation gospel needs the kingdom of God

An integrated gospel merges two themes: kingdom of God and salvation.  Through his life, death, resurrection and return, Jesus brings the kingdom of God and saves people into it.  For several posts, we’ll ask: WHY should we integrate them into a single gospel?

Reason #1: They need each other.  Neither by itself is capable of carrying the full freight of apostolic preaching.  But when they work together, they preserve and advance everything Jesus taught us.

Consider: Jesus didn’t fit into the categories of his day. He was not the kind of Christ people envisioned.  His kingdom was not established in the way they hoped.  Even his own disciples saw no need for crucifixion, didn’t anticipate resurrection.  So Jesus had to work on two fronts: (1) Create new categories for his followers and (2) Keep them from squeezing him into their own presumptions.

It still happens today.  The gospel of Jesus is unlike any contemporary dogma.  But unwitting kidnappers sit in church pews.  They come eager to hear something that will confirm what they already “know” to be true and good.  When they hear it, the inner kidnappers snatches it and diverts it to his own devices.  In this way, the gospel leaks power.

How the salvation-only gospel gets kidnapped
Consider, for example, how the salvation theme often gets co-opted.  The kidnapper in this case is named “consumerism,” our ingrained habit of weighing every relationship as benefit derived versus cost paid.  When either end of the equation gets out of kilter – the benefit unattained, the cost too high, a better deal available elsewhere – the consumer is quick to move on.  It’s a perfectly reasonable way to buy cars and bananas, but what happens when a consumer comes to church?

The salvation gospel sounds at first like a great deal!  “Jesus died to pay for our sin so we can be forgiven and have life.  He does it all as a gift of grace.”  The benefit is endless.  The cost is free.  What’s more, this gospel is true, the promise shouted from the pages of Scripture.

But what happens when the consumer, persuaded with a salvation-only gospel, runs into discipleship commands of Jesus?  Consumers move on when the cost gets too high.  Tim Keller describes this phenomenon:

There have been many times in New York City that I have seen people make professions of faith that seemed quite heart-felt, but when faced with serious consequences if they maintained their identification with Christ (e.g. missing the opportunity for a new sexual partner or some major professional setback) they bailed on their Christian commitment.  They probable reason is that they had not undergone a deep world- view change.  They had fitted Christ to their individualistic world-view rather than fitting their world-view to Christ. ("Deconstructing Defeater Beliefs: Leading the Secular to Christ" - LINK)

How the kingdom of God helps
But what if the consumer had heard from the outset that Jesus is creating a new kingdom, that he is saved by grace into this kingdom?  This is a worldview-changing message!  The kingdom gospel prepares the consumer for the challenges of discipleship to follow. 

So an integrated gospel is both powerful and self-correcting.  Salvation by grace alone resounds as good news.  The kingdom of God ensures that the consumer is converted by to the gospel’s worldview, rather than converting the gospel to his own presumptions. Working in harmony, the integrated gospel creates converts and disciples, not just church consumers. 

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

References (2)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
  • Response
    Response: seo moscow
    seo moscow} available
  • Response
    Response: Ebon Talifarro
    Integrated Gospel - Home - Why the salvation gospel needs the kingdom of God

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>
Main | What is the Integrated Gospel? »