Have you ever heard someone in the church use the phrase Christian-ese? I look at the passage below in Mark and see all sorts of Christian-ese (lingo that Christians use that can be confusing to someone inside and outside of the church)!
"Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, 'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.'" ~ Mark 1:14-15
➤ Gospel, fulfill, kingdom, repent, believe, gospel (again).
It turns out that in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, these words were extremely important to Jesus and his ministry! In some cases, it was the first thing he said and the summary statement of his ENTIRE ministry on earth!
"From that time on Jesus began to preach, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.'" ~ Matthew 4:17
"But he said, 'I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.'" ~ Luke 4:43
➤ Repent and believe in this good news of the kingdom of God!
Now wherever you are, stop for a moment, take a breath, and think about the people around you. It could be someone right next to you, members of your family, your neighbors, your city, your state, your country, the world. Doesn’t Jesus’ message sound like something good we could all use in our culture right now?
I can sense that deep exhale of peace as you ran that scenario through your mind! If you are a Christian, you KNOW for certain how transformative a relationship with Jesus is and how impactful it could be if the people around us came to recognize Jesus as their Lord and Savior!
Our cry for the lost is that they would repent and believe in the good news of the kingdom of God!
The reality is that Jesus has called you and me to GO and be his representatives here on this earth! Jesus’ message becomes the message we share! His good news becomes our good news to the world! His gospel, our gospel!
So now I ask you...would you be able to explain the “the kingdom of God” to someone who asked? Go ahead! Stop what you were doing, give it a try, and revisit your answer at the end of this series!
Why should anyone repent from their ways in light of this kingdom? What is the good news that we are supposed to believe?
"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." ~ 1 Peter 3:15
I have heard some say that the kingdom of God is a place in heaven, and all those who believe in Jesus will get there one day in the future.
I have heard others say that the kingdom of God is in the heart of those who believe in Christ and, therefore, given the ability to see life from God’s perspective.
I have heard some say that only a certain number of people will get into this kingdom of God, while others have said that everyone will someday be in the kingdom of God.
Surely, there are many other interpretations and understandings of God’s kingdom.
As Jesus’ representatives, we are sent to spread the gospel! Is there clarity in our hearts and minds about what the good news is?
Many of you are probably instinctively, and correctly, thinking about the cross right now! The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus! In no way is this series going to deviate from the core of the gospel message. Instead, the question we want to ask is what do the events of Jesus and the cross have to do with a Kingdom? In Matthew, why does the word kingdom appear 61 times while Jesus only explicitly outlines his death and resurrection only 3 times (Matt. 16:21-23, 17:22-23, 20:17-19)?
Here at 3Crosses, we have been talking about what it means to be a part of One Kingdom. In this 8 week series, we have put together for you a “birds-eye” perspective of the Bible that will walk you all the way from the beginning of Genesis to the end in Revelation.
Our goal is simple: to equip you with clarity about the kingdom of God so that you might be able to go and share the gospel of Jesus!
At every step of the way, our intention is to illuminate Jesus through this kingdom lens. If you have never put on this lens or have never walked through the entire Bible, we hope that you will begin to see Jesus in a way that is beautiful, fresh, and vibrant so that your relationship might deepen with the living Jesus! We pray that His Spirit would continue to spread His glory through you as you continue to be transformed by Him no matter what comes your way in this season!
Over the course of the next 8 weeks, you will be reading 4 entries per week written by various members of our 3Crosses staff! Each entry will take about 5-7 minutes. These entries are ultimately meant for you to keep not only in this study, but as a reference as you continue to study the Bible on your own.
As you can imagine, we have a lot to cover over the next 8 weeks! The best way to think about this study is in the framework of a gospel conversation:
If someone approached me about a particular book and a particular passage in the Bible, could I use it to point them to the gospel of Jesus and the Kingdom of God?
Using this framework, each entry will navigate through selected passages of scripture! Some will stop at key locations, others will summarize points to keep the story moving forward! We know how easy it can be to skim through the readings, but we encourage you to slow down and soak in each verse for what the Holy Spirit might be saying to you!
There will be no questions that follow each entry! Our encouragement to you is to approach these texts like you were reading a story. At the end of the entry, we welcome you to jot down some of your observations, reflections, and prayers so that you can allude to them in later group discussions.
On day 5, you will be given a brief summary of the week as well as a fun Share the Gospel video that navigates different problems that come up whenever Christians have gospel conversations! These are public videos and we encourage you to browse some topics on your own as well!
Finally, you will be given a set of Community Group questions alongside a short 2-3 sentence summary of each entry. These summaries were written so that you can easily remember what each section of scripture is all about! In your Community discussions, you are welcome to open the conversation with things that stood out to you or come up with your own questions based on your observations!
"Then he said to them, 'These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.'" ~ Luke 24:44
One important note is that our journey will follow the Hebrew order of the Old Testament that walks through the Law, Prophets, and Writings. If you are interested in learning more about why we went in this direction, feel free to check out this Bible Project Entry on the ordering of the Old Testament.
Finally, you are encouraged (but not obligated) to take a break at the end of week 3 and week 6. These breaks are designed to bring you into the story of Israel as well as give you time to recover from the readings and truly meditate on entries that you rushed through!
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you,” ~ Matthew 6:33
Personally, when I first heard verses like these I thought that it meant that if I would learn to tithe, that God would teach me how to manage my money and that he would add to my earthly finances.
Sure, there may be some truth to what I believed about this verse when I first heard it, but over the years, I have come to believe that what Jesus was saying to those who sat at his feet and every person today is that if we pursue righteous living and fully submit our lives to God’s will, that we could be assured that all necessary things would be given to us by God as demonstrated by his care for the birds and his concern for the grass:
"Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all." ~ Matthew 6:26-32
With that being said, today as I share the gospel with others, I am reminded to share with them that the kingdom of God is not just a pie in the sky utopia on the other side of life on earth or a kingdom here on earth with riches intended for just a certain few. I share with them that the kingdom of God is available now for everyone who believes in Jesus. They can be assured of God’s care and concern even in the midst of difficulty. I share with them that God’s kingdom expands from a life in Christ on earth to a heavenly kingdom where we eventually live with God throughout eternity!
→ We welcome you to join us as we (re)discover the central message of Jesus: Repent and believe in the good news of the kingdom of God!
I still remember one of those songs we used to sing in kid’s church growing up--”King of Kings and Lord of Lords; Glory..clap..hallelujah!” This was one of those songs that would go faster and faster until we kids would fall in a heap, giggling and laughing at how silly it all was. Looking back, I think I took two things away from those kinds of songs…(1) it should be FUN to be in church and (2) sometimes we don’t pay attention to the words; only to the fun.
I wonder if that’s true of us as adults today--do we pay attention to the words? Even if the words are work to understand? Are we into following Jesus if it’s fun, but we get out once it is work? This week, and indeed all small group season, we are going to be digging in to some WORDS. That means some specific words (like kingdom), some sections of Scripture (sampling from the whole of the Bible), and some words here on the page in our readers. Let me encourage you to keep with it--these readers are just designed to help illuminate the truth in the Word of God, so if you skip our writing to focus on the Bible, that’s the main thing!
Genesis 1:26-28 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
The day my first born came into the world was one of the most surreal moments of my life. Holding him for the first time was unbelievable. I kept going over and over in my head “This is my son. My own flesh and blood. He looks like me, smiles like me, and even cries like me.”
This is the same way our Creator, who made us in His image and His likeness, sees us in His Kingdom family!
"I couldn't earn it, I don't deserve it, still you give yourself away. Oh the overwhelming, never-ending reckless love of God!" - Reckless Love by Cory Asbury
Over the last year, my family has become passionate about planting succulents and cacti. We love to travel up and down the California coastline to discover new plant nurseries. Some of these nurseries are absolutely spectacular. They are a multisensory experience. You can see the bright colors, you can smell the fresh air and the fresh dirt, and you can hear fountains running with water. There is something about a garden that feels peaceful; like you don't want to leave.
As the Bible opens in the Book of Genesis, we see that all of life on Earth begins in a spectacular garden. God created the heavens and the earth, and then He created the first humans, Adam and Eve. Then, God placed Adam and Eve in a beautiful garden that He called Eden.
Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having. – C.S. Lewis
Have you ever had a moment where you were so tempted to do something, even though you knew you weren’t supposed to do it? We face tempting situations daily. Some big, some small, but in each moment we make a choice. I can still remember the moment when I was 7 and I had decided to cut my own bangs. When faced with the question, “who cut your bangs?” it was all too tempting to try and blame someone/something else rather than to take the blame myself. We want to hide in these moments because something in our hearts knows that we are wrong.
Our free-will often gets us in trouble, but it is also our free-will that brings out the beauty in our actions. That free-will, that opportunity to decide for ourselves, allowed humanity to choose a way back in the garden. When we think about the Creation story, we must remember that Adam and Eve were not robots or God’s puppets, they had options. And Satan was all too aware of that fact as we dive deeper into the story in Genesis.
This week, one of the key components that we are reminded of is that by its very definition, the gospel is GOOD NEWS! Jesus has given us a message that provides hope for a broken world. When sharing the gospel, this week might help you to remember two powerful realizations. First, one might be persuaded by the need for repair in this world (whether personally or globally). In order to understand the repair, we first must understand the problem. Second, the Christian worldview offers a vision of a world that is fully repaired! The journey towards the reconciliation of all things back to God’s kingdom is a great starting point for the good news!
These two things are what Genesis 1-3 have to offer!
Last week, we saw that God created His kingdom people, placed them in His kingdom garden, and ruled over them by walking lovingly alongside them and giving them purpose. Adam and Eve faced a choice between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of the serpent. Unfortunately, they chose to submit to the authority of the serpent and indulge in the forbidden fruit. This low hanging fruit came from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Genesis 2:17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.
At this point of God’s kingdom story, the one who had been assigning the label of good and evil was God Himself. It was as if the man and the woman now had access to a role that was strictly meant for God. In other words, instead of trusting God to lead them toward what is good, the man and the woman would trust their own knowledge of good and evil to pave their own path.
Romans 7:15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
Since I have become a Christian, I have seen plenty of areas in my life that have changed. My thoughts and actions that were seen as evil or unloving have mostly changed to thoughts and actions that show love. God has changed me but that doesn’t mean I am no longer affected by sin. Don't get me wrong, there are still thoughts that are sinful. Sin is part of our nature and is deeply rooted in our hearts. We, like Adam and Eve, have consciously decided to submit to the kingdom of the serpent and are formed from the same ground that was cursed in Genesis 3.
I may not be perfect, but God chooses to use those who would trust Him to define good and evil to move His kingdom purposes forward.
Genesis 11:1-9 Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. From there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth.
As we continue to better understand God’s Kingdom and its basic definition -- God’s rule over God’s family of people in God’s space -- it is impossible to imagine alignment and clarity without a common language.
Genesis 12: 1-3 NIV “The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. ‘I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great,and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.’”
As opposed to the prideful people at the Tower of Babel, Abraham (who used to be called Abram) was called by God to be the father of a humble and God-centered people. Oddly enough, Abraham was childless and past the age where he could have reasonably expected to have an heir who could carry on his name, let alone become a “great nation” that would influence the world. He had very little way to build up for himself any kind of kingdom on earth.
Despite all of this, God still announces these promises for Abraham and asks him to step into an unknown plan. While God met Abraham on a personal level, God was (and is!) orchestrating events on a cosmic scale to use Abraham’s family to fulfill His kingdom purposes, namely to bring God’s blessing and glory to all of those who would have faith in God’s lordship over their lives.
But like all other humans, Abraham was flawed.
This week, we have explored the effects of sin that are explained through Genesis 3-11. So many people get tripped up about the idea of sin when having a gospel conversation. But what if even the existence of sin, evil, and suffering could be a tool that points us to God? Check out the video from CS Lewis Doodle and try and follow along with the train of logic. Essentially, if you make the claim that evil exists, you must also admit that good exists alongside it! Then you are admitting that there is a law operating within telling us what ought to be; a question that transcends any scientific inquiry! What is the source of that law? Is it us because then that becomes rather subjective?
The existence of evil leads to the beginning of God’s pursuit of His kingdom people through Abraham! Our GOOD NEWS as Christians is that God did not sit on the sidelines as we suffered! God comes down to us and begins his rescue mission. This story is not about how we accomplish salvation, but how He chooses to make a way!
Exodus 34:6b-7 The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”
One of the most challenging moments in my life was when I saw my dream career, to which I had dedicated many hard-working years of my life, vanish right before my eyes. In the year that followed, I struggled through an identity crisis. I constantly wrestled with what would come next and whether or not I believed that, “God is good and He is in control!”
That last phrase sounds so cliche right?
Leviticus 9:22-24 Then Aaron lifted up his hands toward the people and blessed them, and he came down from offering the sin offering and the burnt offering and the peace offerings. And Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting, and when they came out they blessed the people, and the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people. And fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the pieces of fat on the altar, and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.
As we have seen, our King desires intimacy with His kingdom people! Israel’s rebellion, however, sets forth the fundamental problem of humanity: sin separates us from God. At the end of Exodus, we discover that the temporary house God instructed Moses to build for His people to have access to Him is now off limits to both Moses and the Israelites until certain conditions can be met.
How can sinful humanity be reconciled into the presence of God’s holy kingdom space?
This problem calls for a solution. The book of Leviticus sets forth the path for how undeserving sinners can experience a relationship with a Holy God and live daily in His presence.
“How much longer?” “This sucks.” “I’m so bored.” “Do I have to?” Whether you have grandchildren, children, nieces or nephews, you’ve probably heard these words before. Maybe it was during a family vacation, dinner at home, at a party, or on the way to church. If we’re honest, we’ve not only said these words as kids but even as adults. It can be easy to think that those who complain are just being ungrateful, impatient, stubborn or immature.
Though that definitely maybe the case, it may be a symptom of a deeper reality that people struggle with. That we are often disappointed and unsatisfied with our current circumstances. We feel a sense of regret and that we’re missing out on something better. We begin to become frustrated with the people we are with and with the places we are at.
After all of the amazing things that we have seen God do for His kingdom people up to this point, we find Israel still disappointed and unsatisfied in much of the book of Numbers.
After leaving mount Sinai and spending forty years in the desert, we learn of Israel’s constant grumbling and rebellion due to their sin. Yet, God shows his mercy by intervening, instructing, reminding and proving His faithfulness to His kingdom people. As they approach the territory promised to Abraham long ago, Moses pauses to speak to God’s covenant people before they enter. This is where the book of Deuteronomy begins. A huge theme in this book is for God’s people to never forget what God had done for them.
Deuteronomy 8:1-3; 11 Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the LORD promised on oath to your forefathers. Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands … Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day.
This week, we have just concluded the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible). So often, this is where people lose track of the Bible as they start from page one and move forward. Our encouragement is that you would use this study guide and other resources to remember that through all of the laws, God is crafting a story that points to Jesus.
The GOOD NEWS found in the Pentateuch is that God is beginning to reveal His pattern of His covenant faithfulness towards his kingdom purposes discussed in week 2. Even while we were sinners, God still comes through and saves us! Therefore, when we share the gospel with others, let’s keep this overarching story in mind! reconciliation of all things back to God’s kingdom is a great starting point for the good news!
My wife and I started dating at a relatively young age. The more serious we got about our relationship, the more we dreamed of our marriage in the future! When our wedding day finally came, we were thrilled beyond compare after enduring years of highs and lows. As I stood before the crowd at our wedding ceremony waiting for my bride to enter the back doors, flashbacks and memories of those youthful years filled my mind. We were going to start a new chapter of life together. As the music started, I couldn’t help but utter the words in my mind, “It’s show time”…
Have you ever anticipated something like this before? Maybe you are anticipating something right now! As the moment gets closer and closer to you, what does that heightened anticipation feel like?
I love teaching students the Bible. One of my favorite books of the Bible to teach students, especially young men is the Book of Judges. It's one of the most exciting parts of the Old Testament: it has heroes, villains, fighting, supernatural beings, romance and a hero of supernatural strength, Samson.
Judges take place in the time between the death of Joshua to the beginning of 1 Samuel. At this time, Israel had no king, instead it had temporary rulers called Judges. These Judges were heroes who rescued God's people from attacks and led them into victory. The last verse of Judges summarizes the times:
Judges 21:25 "In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit."
“To the young, I would whisper that the Bible is a myth. I would convince the children that man created God instead of the other way around. I’d confide that what’s bad is good and what’s good is square. And the old, I would teach to pray after me, “Our Father, which are in Washington [D.C.]” – If I were the Devil by Paul Harvey
In our world today, we are traversing many issues that concern the government. Debates are currently raging on about different styles of leadership, theories of governance, authoritative structures, and power dynamics amongst a wide variety of other issues. Can the solution to the human problem be found in the latest governmental system? Can we resolve our societal issues with the latest and greatest theories about the world or is there something deeper going on?
1 Samuel 13:14 But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you – Samuel to King Saul
Yesterday, we read how Israel was searching for a king who would humbly walk in the commands of the Lord and represent God’s rule over His kingdom people. Immediately after Saul’s disobedience, God takes away the kingdom and moves through Samuel to search for the, “man after his own heart.” Samuel is led by God to the house of Jesse from the tribe of Judah looking for who would become the next king of Israel. Here is the surprising scene that ensues:
One of the interesting subjects that often comes up in the era of Joshua through King David is the conquest of the Canaanites and Israel’s enemies. The question that often arises is why does the Old Testament God seem so violent in these stories? Here is one of the more clear walkthroughs about how to answer this common objection!
The GOOD NEWS is that God continues to bring His people into salvation through His ultimate judgment of sin and those who would bow their knee to the kingdom of the serpent.
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.
Last week, we saw how Israel began to drift away from the commands of God as they settled into the promised land. As a result of the ensuing chaos, Israel grew in their desire to establish a king to unify them and bring law and order to their society.
We walked alongside Israel as they chose to anoint Saul who eventually succumbs to pride in his role as king over Israel. Following Saul, we saw how God chose David, worked through him in mighty ways, and elevated him from a position of humility to become the most prominent king of Israel. In the end, God promises David that one of his offspring would be established as king over God’s people planted securely in the promised land forever! This offspring would be like a son to God himself!
Who would be the offspring of David whose throne would be established over God’s people forever?
“The Greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” -The Usual Suspects
One of the most memorable experiences I had as a baseball player were the conversations I had with my teammates off of the field. Every now and then, we would engage in serious talks about the biggest issues in our society! One night, one of my teammates threw out a question we would spend the rest of the game debating, “What are your thoughts about Christianity?”
I responded in excitement, but also in reservation fearing that I would misrepresent the message of Jesus.
As a new parent, I remember hearing from those more experienced that I should “enjoy it; they grow up so fast!” I valued this advice, but I felt like we were prepared enough on our own. After all, we had done a good job enjoying life so far and taking advantage of what God had given us. Surely parenting would be the same!
But a funny thing happened--after two weeks, it was like our newborn was a totally different person. After six weeks, he had grown into yet another stage, and at six months old, he was new again! Six more months went by, and we had a walking, talking human, completely different to my newborn. It had gone SO FAST, and we hadn’t done a good enough job of enjoying it.
At first glance, the Bible’s collection of writings seem to deviate from the chronological story of Israel. In fact, you may have come across the Psalms, the wisdom literature, and some of the other writings in devotionals and thought of them as separate from God’s kingdom narrative.
The writings, however, play an important role in the kingdom story by reminding Israel– currently in the Babylonian exile – of the hope of a restored kingdom and the mind-blowing reality that God has not given up working through His family even though they have drifted further and further away from Him.
This week, we hit the gas pedal and moved through a wide section of scripture! As we reflect on the line of David through Solomon, the long list of kings, the prophets, and the writings, you hopefully by now are seeing why it is GOOD NEWS that Jesus comes to us as the promised king! In fact the Old Testament has been pointing this out all along!
We pick up the Kingdom story with the book of Daniel as the Israelites find themselves in Babylon. There are many jaw dropping moments where Daniel and his friends stand up for the Lord even when it meant they would potentially lose their life. You might be familiar with these stories; the Daniel fast, the fiery furnace, the illegal prayers, or the lion’s den. If you are not, I would encourage you to check out the book of Daniel and those incredible stories!
However, not all of God’s people had the same courage. There was still doubt and ungratefulness from God’s people in exile. They constantly fought the battle within themselves turning to their own desires rather than to God’s glory and His Kingdom. They continued to bow the knee to the kingdom of the serpent...
When will this cycle of sin ever stop?!
John 20:30-31 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Let’s soak it all in for a moment! Here is what, or who rather, the entire Old Testament has anticipated up to this moment:
In this study, we have been following the good news of God’s kingdom!
Up to this point God’s kingdom family has been suffering from the consequences of their choice to submit to the kingdom of Satan. This choice has caused God’s image-bearers to engage in rampant sin bringing hurt, suffering, pain, and ultimately death into the world. Because of sin, humanity was excluded from God’s kingdom space and all of creation waits to be restored.
The governing ruler of sin, Satan, and death over the hearts of humanity, however, could not withstand the power of God found in Jesus; the true ruler of all things!
Doesn’t death seem so final? With death, there is no more movement, words, wisdom, fun, affection, you fill in the blank. But if we look at those in our life who have died, does their story end there? There’s got to be more, right?
I still remember the stories of the people in my life who have died. My grandpa Roger tried to show his grandkids how to do a two-person somersault. My Grandad would wash the ice off of a popsicle and sit with me on the front porch, My grandma would tell me how she used to do her chores when she lived on the farm. While they are gone, they are not forgotten. Their story will live on as long as people share it.
The death of Jesus on the cross must have seemed so final in the eyes of His followers. They probably asked how can the one who claimed to be the promised messianic king die? Didn’t he claim to be God? Was he lying to us or maybe even crazy?
It turns out that Jesus’ impact was only magnified after his death but not only through stories.
Congratulations on making it this far!!!
This week, we hit the pinnacle of the GOOD NEWS! Jesus! The promised Messiah has come! Now as you may know already, there are so many debates raging on about who Jesus is. This week, for our share the gospel video, I would like to give you a sneak peak into the Alpha course. Alpha is designed to meet the tough questions that others may have about the Christian faith. This video is a bit longer than the other videos, but it covers a lot of ground addressing many of the controversial issues that come up when we talk about Jesus.
If you are interested in learning more about Alpha at 3Crosses, check out 3Crosses.org/alpha and be sure to invite a friend!
After the resurrected King Jesus ascends to take His throne in victory over the kingdom of sin and death, he proceeds to initiate the next phase of His kingdom mission that we have been tracing throughout this series: to bless all nations! We have seen how Jesus accomplishes salvation as the promised seed of the woman who crushes the serpent. Now, Acts shows us how Jesus turns the nations into His kingdom space by adopting them into the kingdom family and establishing his loving rule over them as the everlasting King.
The book of Acts seeks to answer this question; how would a strictly Jewish message about a Jewish King become good news that is truly “for the nations” considering the surrounding cultural and traditional diversity? Even Jesus’ disciples had a Jewish Kingdom in mind! However, here is the answer that Jesus gives his disciples when they ask the question about the kingdom:
Yesterday, we saw that the last half of Acts documents Paul’s journeys to reach the Gentile world with the Good News! Today, I would like to take you on a kingdom tour alongside Paul by selecting key verses from each of his letters. These selections will capture the essence of Paul’s overall gospel message and the overarching conversations between Paul and the local church to whom he was writing.
Just like Paul, I pray that your heart may be enlightened to the hope of salvation found through the forgiveness of sins made possible by King Jesus, the rich inheritance of being a part of his kingdom family, and the victorious and powerful rule of King Jesus made available to the priesthood of believers!
Hebrews 1:3 NIV “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.”
Hebrews 2:9-10 “But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.”
If Paul’s letters explain what Jesus has done for us, the book of Hebrews explains how Jesus’ work on the cross was able to accomplish what God had in mind!
As I started to prepare the write up for this lesson, I did not think I would detail out many scriptures. I listed the references but wondered if everyone would gain better clarity if they read and highlighted the scriptures which spoke to them individually, in their own Bibles. But as I was reading the passages of scripture – back to back, the message became so clear. The beauty of the message is evident in the repetition of the concept, over and over again. Each example clarifies what it means to live the ‘kingdom life’ of love even in the midst of suffering and why we are called to do it. It felt almost like the Holy Spirit was highlighting the text for me and burning it into my soul.
I would like to invite you now into that same experience. Will you read these verses and write a brief reflection before we jump into today’s lesson? What is the Holy Spirit telling you?
We are one week away from finishing! Hang in there!
This week we talked about the Holy Spirit and the growing church. I know there are many things that come to mind when our culture hears the word church. What comes to your mind?
In our Share the Gospel video this week, we will see how the gospel affects the church! As you watch, remember that the GOOD NEWS of being in God’s kingdom family is a restored purpose; to enjoy an intimate relationship with God and obey His commands to spread His blessings and Glory to all nations!
I grew up during a time when the Left Behind series was popular. The movie and the books dramatize the biblical prophecies in Revelation. Left Behind tells the story of the end times in which Christians have been raptured (taken into heaven), leaving the world in chaos and tribulation. When I was eleven, I remember watching the movie with my family and being terrified about the future. I faced my own tribulation as I was scared that I would be “left behind” by my family and friends. If the house was too quiet, I would make sure my family was still at home and not taken to heaven. Thankfully this fear hasn’t become reality and I can happily say I’m no longer scared to be left behind.
Although the book of Revelation makes a potentially exciting story about the apocalypse, this book has so much more to offer. It brings a timeless truth that challenges God’s people to endure hardship, remain faithful, and to anticipate Jesus’ return as king. This encouragement was for the seven churches it was written to, but also for God’s kingdom people now and in the future.
In this concluding week, we have seen how God restores His kingdom rule over His kingdom people. This final entry will talk about how God restores His kingdom space!
In Genesis, we learned that God’s mission does not entail an escape of this earth. Rather it is a complete renewal of the earth we live in today! As God’s presence continues to overlap with creation, His holiness begins to completely overwhelm the earth that is still marked by the curses of our decision to submit to the serpent. We have seen that when Jesus returns, he will overthrow the rule of sin! Here is what happens to creation:
Throughout this series, we hope that you have been able to see Jesus in a new and fresh way through the lens of the kingdom of God!
Below, you will find one video that captures the essence of God’s kingdom story so well that you can share with your family and friends! You will also find a great resource called God tools that will help you rehearse and initiate gospel conversations!
For our last week's gospel video, we want to equip you as you continue to wait for the Lord’s return. C.S. Lewis offers some beautiful and practical reminders of how we can wait on Jesus’ return!
We sincerely pray that you have a new perspective on God’s word and how everything points to our king Jesus who reigns over all things and who will one day return to usher in the kingdom of God!