For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God… Romans 1.16
With the coming of the Kingdom of God a new era has broken into human history. A new King is on the throne, and He is advancing a new economy – a spiritual economy in which grace fuses with Law, issuing, by the power of God’s Spirit, in widespread, ever-increasing love and truth among men. A new agenda governs the affairs of men: King Jesus is building His Church and calling out a people for Himself. His people pursue an altogether new priority – seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness for all of life. And they are infused with a new hope, the hope of knowing God’s glory and showing His glory to the world.
All this has come about because of the glorious saving work of our Lord Jesus Christ. His incarnation, life, death, resurrection, and ascension – and the promise of His imminent return – have ushered out the old era, overcome the old tyrant that ruled men’s souls, canceled the old economy of sin and death, replaced the old agenda and priority of mere self-seeking, and the set aside the old, unreliable hope in fleeting things and circumstances.
The Kingdom of God is thus good news – Gospel. If we could summarize in one word just what that good news consists of, surely it would be the word, power.
The Kingdom of God is power! And the active presence and ready availability of that power – the power of God’s Word and Spirit – is Good News for the world because it makes possible a life that is new and transforming in all its aspects.
In this section I want briefly to examine five aspects of the nature of the Kingdom of God – its power to transform and to make all things new.
The power of God for salvation
In the first place, the Kingdom of God is the power of God for salvation (Rom. 1.16). But salvation from what? Much, indeed.
Those who have been translated into the Kingdom of God’s own Son have been saved from a coming condemnation in which unrepentant sinners will be lost forever (Rom. 8.1-4). No condemnation awaits those who are now, by faith, in Jesus Christ. They are free in the truth of Christ and know unshakeable peace and joy in God.
The power of the Kingdom also liberates those who possess it from the power of indwelling sin, so that they may flourish in the virtues of grace and truth (Rom. 7.21-25; cf. Titus 2.14). Kingdom-dwellers are saved from lives of inveterate disobedience to God (Eph. 2.1-10); from the fear of death (Heb. 2.14-18); and from slavery to unrighteousness (Rom. 6.2-23). All these old things have passed away with their entry into the Kingdom of God’s dear Son. All things have become new in King Jesus (2 Cor. 5.17-21).
Human beings have no power on their own to rescue themselves from any of these conditions. Apart from the Kingdom of God, and submission to its King, there is no salvation for any man, from anything which holds him in captivity and hurls him toward oblivion (Acts 4.11, 12). Apart from the saving mercy of Christ and liberation into His Kingdom, men can look forward only to lives of uncertainty, doubt, disappointment, false hopes, fear, and death.
But the Kingdom of God is the power of God for salvation from all of this and more.
The power of God for transformation
Second, the Kingdom is Good News because it brings power to transform. This is clearly visible in a passage like Acts 17.1-7. The demeanor, conversation, and public boldness of Paul and his companions were so markedly different from anything the people of Thessalonica had ever seen before that they declared them to have turned the world upside-down.
The Gospel of the Kingdom is the power of God for transformation, a transformation so complete and thorough that it finally makes all things new. Those who know this power are changed by the glory of God so that, increasingly, their lives actually begin to refract the living reality of the risen Christ, their King (2 Cor. 3.7-18; Eph. 4.17-24). The fruits and virtues that flow from their lives, like rivers of living water, are precisely those most to be desired and least in supply in a fallen world (Jn. 7.37-39; Gal. 5.16-23). Together they form communities of grace and truth whose ability to transform relationships, cultures, and whole societies has been demonstrated over and over throughout the course of Church history (Acts 6.1-7; 19.18-20).
This transforming power of the Gospel of the Kingdom is the testimony of every person who, coming to salvation in Jesus Christ, has taken up the calling to seek this Kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit as his guiding orientation in life (Matt. 6.33; Rom. 14.17).
The power for new fruit
In the third place, and related to the previous facet, the Gospel of the Kingdom has power to bear new fruit. Paul summarized the character of the Kingdom as “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14.17).
Righteousness is abounding love founded in spiritual knowledge and true discernment, leading to excellence and purity in life after the example of our Lord Jesus Christ (Phil. 1.9-11).
Peace is that “beyond understanding” state of mind and heart that nothing can terrify and nothing can shake (Phil. 4.6, 7). Those who know the power of the Gospel know peace because they are settled on Christ, hidden in the palm of God’s hand, sheltered by His Word, and filled and protected by His Spirit.
The joy that issues from such peace conveys a hope that is lodged in transcendent and unchangeable realities, a hope that is so infectious that, observed, it leads others to seek a reason for it (1 Pet. 3.15).
Where the power of the Kingdom, which we enter by grace through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, is at work, the salvation of God is working transformation so that the fruit of righteousness, peace, and joy begin to be increasingly in evidence. This is the Good News that men and women in every age have delighted to know.
Power to reconcile
Fourth, the Kingdom is Good News because it brings power to reconcile, to set things right. In the Kingdom of God we are set right with God through the saving work of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5.17-20). We no longer fear His wrath against our sins; our hearts are devoted to knowing and serving Him; and we rejoice to see the evidence of His Spirit at work, making all things new in our lives.
Beyond that, the Gospel is powerful to reconcile strangers in the love of Jesus Christ (Eph. 2.13-16); to restore broken relationships and trusts (Lk. 19.1-11); to enable us to love those who wish us ill (Rom. 12.14-21); and even to return creation and culture to higher states of goodness before the Lord (Rom. 8.20, 21; Heb. 2.1-9).
The world may seek this reconciling power by a wide variety of means, but nothing short of the power of the Gospel can effect the kind of inward and spiritual transformations that are required for reconciling men to God, one another, and the world.
Power exceeding and abundant more
Finally, the Kingdom is Good News because it brings power exceeding and abundant to do more than we could ever ask or think (Eph. 3.20). Here is a power that we can never exhaust and that springs up day by day in ever fresher ever more abounding ways to make all things new in our lives (Jn. 7.37-39).
Here is power to overcome the sins that continue to plague and shackle us; renew and enrich all our relationships with the people we see each day; empower us to proclaim the Kingdom to others; impact our culture for the Lord; endow our children with a legacy of grace and truth; advance the experience of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit; sustain us in the face of trials; enlarge and expand our sense of purpose in life; and make us ever-increasingly fruitful in good works to those around us.
The Gospel of the Kingdom is the power of God to save, transform, renew, and reconcile, and do so more and more for all the days of our lives and all eternity.
This is Good News! Good News, indeed! Is this the Gospel you have believed?
For reflection and discussion:
- In one sentence, explain why the coming of the Kingdom of God is “Good News”:
- Given the Good News of the Kingdom, what is it reasonable to expect of those who have actually entered that Kingdom by grace through faith?
- What does it mean to pray, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”?