The following are my notes from Ed Stetzer’s talk at the Send North America Conference in Atlanta, GA on July 30, 2012.
Matthew 4:17 “From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
In Matthew’s gospel Jesus says over 30 times that the kingdom is near or at hand. This was not a new idea in the minds of Jesus’ hearers. It was built on the Old Testament.
The kingdom of God came when Jesus the king came.
Let’s take a look a look at what it means that the kingdom of God has come near.
1. The Reign of God
We make a mistake if we think the kingdom of God language is new when Jesus utters these words. When we look throughout the pages of Scripture God has always been and is now and always will be sovereign over all as KING!
People like to debate about the sovereignty of God, but we cannot doubt the reality of his kingly rule over all the other. To deny his sovereignty is to be a heretic! Now we can debate how that works out here on earth, but we cannot doubt is sovereign and kingly rule over all things.
So we start with God as the sovereign ruler of the universe and then we move to see that something has gone wrong.
“And you were kdead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following mthe prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in nthe sons of disobedience.” (Eph. 2:1-2)
Now we cannot miss this or we will miss the reason for sharing Christ. We are not on a mission of recruitment to our churches. We are on a mission of reconciliation of dead men and women. We need to get this and see the world as dead.
This last week I was at my brother’s wedding and my family is not a Christian family and I love these people and I truly believe that these people are DEAD in their sins. Until we recognize the reality of the spiritual condition of the world we will lack our much needed passion to reconcile these people to the good and sovereign God.
So if the world is dead, what are we Christians?
Let’s not bemoan the fact that our people are not sharing their faith if we are not sharing our faith. At the end of the day no matter what else I am doing at my church or speaking and training pastors my role is to
2. The Already But Not Yet
Jesus uses present tense when he talks about the kingdom. This is theologically to talk about the inaugurated eschatology. It is the already but not yet. The kingdom is among us, but it is not yet fully hear and we know that as we look around the world. Not everyone is bowing down to King Jesus.
June 6, 1944 was an important day. That day was called “D-Day” because their presence on the beach of Normandy. It was strange to say that at this point the war was won because after this day there was more bloodshed then before that day. Eventually “V-Day” would be come but everybody knew that the war had been won. We live now between “D-Day” and “V-Day.” We live in between the inaugurated eschatology and the realized eschatology when Jesus will come and fully establish his kingdom.
3. The Kingdom Is Near
What does it mean for the kingdom to be near today? It means we are to share Christ and show Christ. We need to demonstrate Christ and we need to proclaim Christ. We should not ever do one without the other. We cannot share the gospel without using words. That is like saying feed the hungry and use food when necessary. The words of the gospel are necessary!!!
So I am living in Tennessee and learning about the state history with my daughters right now and I just learned that they were the last state to succeed from the session. Tennessee was the rebellion against the rebellion. Friends that is what we are in this world. We are the rebellion against the rebellion.
We need to call people to repentance. It may not need to be the first thing we say, but we must say it if we want people to be saved. People will always be offended by the call to repentance.
American Christians need to change their mind of why their around. We need to change our mind and repent of the way we are spending our time. We need to share Christ and call people to repent. We need to be the rebellion against the rebellion.