Is there a difference between “the kingdom of God” and “the kingdom of heaven”? Or are they interchangeable?
What does Matthew mean when he talks about the kingdom of heaven? Modern readers may miss the Jewish story, and imagine he means going to heaven when we die. For example, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:23). So why is it so hard for rich people to get to heaven? Continue reading “Kingdom of God, or Kingdom of heaven?”
What kind of ruler could bring an end to war and injustice? He’d need to be a very different kind of ruler, and all humanity would need to submit to him.
As you read the Christmas story, do you see how rulers today still rely on evil and death as Herod the Great did? The spirit behind Herod reigned in the rulers who came before him: Antiochus Epiphanes IV, Nebuchadnezzar, Pharaoh Neco, Sennacherib, …
When Fidel Castro died, some rulers like Canada’s Justin Trudeau sparked a social media storm for eulogizing him (#trudeaueulogies). Michael Bird chipped in with examples of how rulers still reign through the power of death: Continue reading “One ruler can bring humanity home”
The New Testament is not a stand-alone story. It’s the surprising plot twist that resolves the old kingdom struggle in a new way.
We’ve spend six months reading the first book of the Bible, showing the kingdom of God is the theme that binds the story together. We’ve seen why Jesus thought God-as-king was the central plot line. So I’ve been bursting to bring that understanding of the kingdom over from the OT into the New. Today we’re starting with Matthew’s account of the Gospel. Continue reading “Matthew’s main message”
We’re jumping to Matthew to prepare for a meaningful Christmas.
The whole narrative of Scripture is the story of God’s kingship, the kingdom of God. Earth belongs under heaven’s reign. That’s what the kingdom of God means. It’s the central theme of the Bible, and the central character is King Jesus—the ruler who restores the earth back under heaven’s reign.
In a few weeks, we’ll be celebrating the birth of the king. Okay, that’s not how Christmas is usually viewed in our culture, but it is how Matthew described it. So instead of continuing with the story of Joseph in Genesis, we’re skipping over to the New Testament. The kingdom perspective will reshape how you think about Christmas. Continue reading “Christmas: birth of earth’s king”
Were the prophets who predicted Trump’s victory right?
Now that the American presidential election is over, I’m writing to beg my friends not to confuse your allegiance to Jesus with your allegiance to a political party or to your nation. I’m an Aussie. I’m neither pro-Trump nor pro-Clinton. I am pro-Jesus. I’m writing this because 4 out of 5 white Evangelicals voted for Trump, and some (not all) of you confused support for Trump and support for Jesus. I beg you to listen, because that’s really dangerous to your faith. Continue reading “Trump and the kingdom of God”
The core of the OT narrative is the story of God’s reign.
There’s a plotline that integrates all the little narratives of the Bible into a purposeful story. With all the twists and turns of a suspense thriller, the Bible’s narrative has a single focus: the unfolding story of the kingdom of God.
Over the last five months we’ve traced the meta-narrative of the kingdom through the first half of Genesis. In the previous two years, I’ve personally pursued that journey through the rest of Genesis and Exodus. The integrated picture of God’s kingship and kingdom is absolutely stunning. Want a taste? Continue reading “The kingdom in the Old Testament”
How do you understand the gospel? Having a personal Saviour, or being the kingdom of God?
If the kingdom is so central to the Biblical narrative, why do we miss it?
In the last few hundred years, we’ve developed a culture where the spiritual is separate from the natural, where faith is separate from science, where the church is separate from state. I grew up in this world. When I was a child, an elder of our church taught me not to worry about people’s physical needs. “Leave it to the Salvos and the do-gooders to feed their bodies now,” he said. “What really matters is to save their souls so they go to heaven when they die.”
Continue reading “Your God is too small”
Missed a few posts in the last five months? Here’s a summary of the kingdom theme in Genesis 1–25 so you can catch up.
The phrase “kingdom of God” is quite rare in the Bible Jesus used (Old Testament), so why did he think it was the main message? Most people today don’t understand the kingdom to be the main message, probably because we don’t really understand what it means. But what if Jesus was right? Shouldn’t it be the primary goal for us as well? Why did he want his followers to seek first the kingdom of God? Continue reading “The kingdom theme: piecing it together”
How can we talk about the kingdom of God when everything has gone wrong?
God reigns? What does that mean? Does it mean I’m a conqueror who can defeat any enemy and no evil can touch me?
This morning I woke to news that cut deep into my being. Someone I’d met briefly, a servant of King Jesus from our own city here in Perth, had died. Geoff Freind from Morley Salvation Army had gone to Malawi to proclaim “Good News!” He was attacked on the streets, and died in hospital. His wife and four sons are trying to come to terms with the tragedy. Continue reading “How can you say God reigns?”
Before we resume our series in Genesis, would you like a taste of how a familiar text jumps to life when read from a kingdom perspective?
John 3:16–17 (ESV)
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
This text expresses God’s love for his world, i.e. the gift of his Son who changes everything. Jesus is indeed the central character of the entire biblical narrative, so let’s situate this familiar text within the story of God’s kingdom. Continue reading “John 3:16 — a kingdom perspective”