The Gospel of the Kingdom & the Missional Manifesto

Recently, some leading thinkers and practitioner in the missional movement have framed what’s been called the “Missional Manifesto.” I have not looked at it, but I plan to do so soon. Ed Stetzer (who is one of the contributors) has been blogging through the various components of it—again, I haven’t followed this either, but its been added to my “Read Later” section in Evernote. I did, however, catch this post where he grapples with the role “Kingdom” plays with missional churches.

At some point during my third year at OSU, I decided to live in the gospel of Luke for a year. So I asked around and got some good commentaries, and spent the bulk of my time digging into Luke’s narrative. Of course I in typical fashion got distracted and never really finished that study, and I’m still digging into it. One of the things that was most enlightening to me during those first couple of months was this stream that flows through the narrative. The stream is the “good news of the Kingdom of God.” It’s in other gospels, but it was the first time I began to grapple with the Kingdom as good news—or, as the good news.

I had always been taught that the gospel was that Jesus died in my place to pay for my sins—what is referred to by scholars as penal substitutionary atonement. Jesus died to pay the penalty for us and acted as a substitute for our death so that we could be forgiven and go to heaven. In my church we directly tied “gospel” to I Corinthians 15.1-3, but I always struggled to see how the resurrection had anything to do with gospel if the gospel was all about Jesus subtitutionary death.

Now, let me be clear: I believe that Jesus died for our sins and suffered death in our place which allows us to stand as righteous before God and experience eternal life with him.

But for much of my life (even before I was a follower of Jesus), I thought that this penal subtitutionary atonement was the sum-total of the gospel. It’s all that I heard and it’s all that I knew. So when I saw that prominence that the good news of the Kingdom of God had in Jesus’ preaching, it shook my paradigms. I later came to know that the idea of the cross as the divine pacifier in the mouth of God was only about 200 years old. The particular understanding that’s so popular today and viciously defended as the only form of gospel orthodoxy rose out of modern western legal theory.

The gospel of the Kingdom helps us to develop a fuller picture of the work of God in the world. More specifically, it changes our notions of what faithful service looks like for the church. If the gospel is the kingdom, then its not enough for get a bunch of people to pray “the Sinner’s Prayer” or get baptized. Nor is it enough to get the form of worship and structure right. Because the gospel is bigger than that. Those things are included (in as much as they are included in Scripture…), but the church’s role is bigger than that because the gospel is bigger than that.

Congregations are called to cultivate the knowledge of the rule of the King throughout the world. This means that local churches cannot be ends in themselves because the church is not the ultimate end of mission. Local churches are, rather, the instruments of something much larger than themselves.

For example, when people look into the church (not the building of course, but the covenant community of Christ followers) and they see marriages restored, people made whole, and miracles taking place, they should say, “Oh, that’s what the Kingdom of God looks like.” Thus, the church is a sign and an instrument of the Kingdom. It engages in Kingdom work for a Kingdom agenda. The church is the Kingdom’s tool.

2 Responses to The Gospel of the Kingdom & the Missional Manifesto
  1. Jake Reply

    thanks for writing this brad.

    i too have struggled with defining a more complete and compelling understanding of the good news. this does not remove or demerit the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross … it actually re-envisions it to be much more important in the grand scheme of things. we’ve been forgiven … but we’ve also be re-birthed into a new creation, living in a new way, helping unearth a new kingdom.

  2. [...] EXCERPTED FROM Kingdom Of God Worship source

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