In recent years, I’ve gone through what I can only describe as a theological awakening. This change started when I began seeing the Kingdom of God mentioned everywhere in the bible, and I’ve since come to believe that the message of Jesus and the apostles was not salvation, but the establishment of God’s promised kingdom through the presence of His chosen King through which salvation is also available.
Now, I find myself working out the practical implications of this, and it isn’t easy. I’ve thought a lot about how Christians are to act in this world, and I’ve come to the conclusion that the way of Jesus really is radically different from anything else we see around us. I accept that the message of Jesus was the coming of the Kingdom, and that the Kingdom is already present wherever Jesus is. If Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, is present among those who follow Him, then the Kingdom is present among them too. If the calling of the Christian is to be like Christ, this means that preaching the message and living out the ethics of the King and his Kingdom are our primary calling. The Kingdom of God looks like Jesus, and the people in the Kingdom should look like Jesus too.
Well, I have to admit that I’ve bogged down on this series of posts from Scot McKnight’s The King Jesus Gospel. I’m still trying to figure out how to blog through a book, and I fear I’ve made this one terribly boring. If you’re snoozing through it, I promise to do better next time.
In chapter five, McKnight discusses how he thinks we moved from a gospel culture (the King Jesus gospel) to a salvation culture. There is good information in that chapter, but I’ll not go through it in any detail. Suffice it to say for our purposes that a major contributor to this movement is found in the Protestant Reformation.
In the last post in the King Jesus Gospel series, we discussed how our author interprets 1 Corinthians 15 to be the closest we come in scripture to an actual summary of the gospel message of the apostles. After giving us an explanation of the text, McKnight begins to examine the specific nature of Jesus as he is discussed in 1 Corinthians 15. See my summary here.
So you’re not lost in the discussion, read the passage first.
1 Corinthians 15:1–5; 20-28 (NIV84)
1 Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. 3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.
20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.
In this lecture, Wright is picking up on the same theme as we are discussing in The King Jesus Gospel by Scot McKnight. He believes that we have largely been preaching a truncated gospel. Wright words some things a little differently than McKnight, but the direction is the same. Wright is a huge scholar, and he is worth listening to if you have about an hour.
The January Series of Calvin College – N.T. Wright: January 24, 2012.