Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the gospel

Mark 1:15 represents the first words Jesus spoke after returning from the wilderness after his baptism. The message is very simple. First the kingdom of God is at hand. That means that it is very near the time. The Greek word translated as at hand, eggichen means near at the time of the hearers and readers. It is not near 2000 years later, and cannot be construed to mean that. The kingdom of God came essentially by two things. First, one must change their minds from their current belief system, and second, one must believe the gospel. Faith in the gospel is more than mental assent. As I have stated in the past it is apprehending it. Believing it so much that one holds on to it no matter what.

Notice also that Jesus says that the time is fulfilled. The Greek here is important. Time is kairos, the ripe time, and fulfilled is pleroo, complete. So, the statement is this…. The ripe time is complete, the kingdom of God is near, change your mind and believe the good news. How is anyone going to push that into the distant future and have it be a true statement? It simply cannot be done. The kingdom was near, the time was complete and ripe. This is very easy to understand. So, if that was two thousand years ago and if the kingdom was near back then, where is it today? Is the kingdom the church? No, I don’t think so. The church is the called out ones the ecclesia. The kingdom is the reign of God. That means that God is in charge. Since God is in charge what should be done? Jesus answer was to change one’s mind and believe the good news.

So then let’s look a little farther into this matter. The called out ones, the assembly, is to believe the gospel that God reigns. That is, the called out ones individually, and corporately. The reign of God becomes evident when individuals in community believe in the reign of God, and agree what that means practically. This is precisely why the church is not the kingdom of God. There is no essential agreement on what the reign of God means practically. Rather, there are thirty thousand various denominations all believing differently. That is merely the kingdom of confusion.

Has prophecy failed? Did the kingdom fail to materialize? Or… did the prophecy of the strong delusion come about just as prophesied? Did the church miss out on the kingdom of God and instead build the kingdom of church? I think this is precisely what happened. While it is true that the kingdom of God was available from the first century forward, the fact is that Christians did not really believe it. They missed the signs and are awaiting the fulfillment of the kingdom promise; still waiting today. They are looking forward to the establishment of the kingdom and it is available by merely changing the mind and believing the gospel. So then, in a way Jesus is still saying to anyone who will listen, “the time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe the gospel. What does repent mean? It means to change the mind and embrace the reality that the kingdom is a spiritual kingdom and it is here for the apprehending today.

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