In order to see the ministry of Jesus restored in our time, we must see the message of Jesus restored. What was the message that Jesus preached? Below is an excerpt from Restoring the Ministry of Jesus outlining the gospel of the Kingdom–the message that Jesus preached:
Another essential element for restoring the complete ministry of Jesus is restoring the message of Jesus. What was the message that Jesus preached? Matthew 4:23 says that Jesus went throughout Galilee “preaching the gospel of the kingdom.” Let’s also look at Mark 1:14-15: “Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.’” This is the same message that John the Baptist preached. John was the forerunner of Christ and paved the way for His ministry. Spirit-empowered preaching with a call for repentance opens the way for Christ’s ministry to operate.
There must be a shift in our message. Not only did Jesus preach the gospel of salvation, He preached the gospel of the kingdom, and it is critical that we see the difference. The gospel of salvation basically says, “Believe in Jesus so that when you die you will go to heaven.” Growing up, this was my understanding of the gospel. Jesus died on the cross so that I could be forgiven and have eternal life if I would believe in Him. Though there is certainly truth in this, it is not the complete picture. Rather, it is only a part of the gospel that Jesus preached. If we reduce the gospel to this message, it will severely limit the full ministry of Jesus.
So, what’s the difference between the gospel of salvation and the gospel of the kingdom? The gospel of salvation emphasizes Jesus as Savior. The gospel of the kingdom emphasizes Jesus as Lord. The gospel of salvation speaks of freedom from the penalty of sin. The gospel of the kingdom speaks of freedom from the power of sin. The gospel of salvation aims to produce converts. The gospel of the kingdom aims to produce disciples. The gospel of salvation is about escaping. The gospel of the kingdom is about advancing. It is not so much a matter of semantics but of substance. In other words, it is not about simply changing what we call the gospel. Like Jesus, we must preach the message of the kingdom of God in its entirety.
In saying these things, I am not implying that these two messages are in opposition to each other. The gospel of salvation must be preached as a part of the overall gospel of the kingdom, but not as the entire message itself. God certainly wants people to be saved and have eternal life, but the gospel is broader than this. For example, preaching only the gospel of salvation excludes the message and ministry of physical healing and deliverance from demons. These are vital elements of the gospel of the kingdom but are lost when the gospel of salvation is the only focus. Again, these messages are not opposed to each other. But to restore the ministry of Jesus, we must restore the message of Jesus. Let’s unpack this message a bit more.
Jesus came to establish and advance God’s kingdom—His rule and reign, or lordship—on the earth. He did not come only to bring people from earth to heaven; He came to bring heaven to earth. The kingdom of heaven is God’s revolution being launched on the earth. It calls for a complete revolt against sin and this world system that is under the control of the evil one and total allegiance to Jesus Christ as King.
One definition for the word revolution is “the complete overthrow of one government and its replacement with another.” Another definition is “a radical and pervasive change in society and the social structure.” When Jesus said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand,” He was saying that heaven’s revolution had begun. His kingdom was here to overthrow and replace the kingdom (or government) of darkness, and as a result there would be a dramatic and all-consuming change in society. If we try to change society without overthrowing the spiritual forces that are controlling it, we will not succeed at producing any lasting fruit. But when the kingdom of God overthrows the powers of darkness, you can be sure that society will be changed.
By saying that God’s kingdom was at hand Jesus was saying that Satan’s reign of terror was over. The kingdom of darkness is characterized by sin, sickness, torment, and fear. The kingdom of light is characterized by salvation, healing, deliverance, and faith. What Satan had gained through the fall of man Jesus had come to reclaim.
Let me summarize it like this. God created man and gave him dominion over the earth. Man sinned, coming into agreement with the serpent and joining him in his rebellion. What we sometimes do not realize is that when man sinned, he gave his God-given authority over the earth to the devil. This is why Jesus called Satan the “ruler of the world” and why Paul called him the “god of this age” (see John 14:30, 2 Corinthians 4:4). Through His death and resurrection, Jesus reclaimed this authority and has given it to the church.
Immediately after declaring that the kingdom of God was at hand, Jesus gave a call to repentance (see Mark 1:14-15). Sin empowers the devil’s kingdom and therefore repentance undermines it. The devil is defeated, and he knows that the only way he can gain control of people’s lives is when they agree with him. Sin is agreement with the devil and enables him to have authority over areas of our lives. Repentance from sin and faith in Jesus not only bring salvation but also make the way for God’s kingdom to invade our lives and ultimately the world around us. The gospel is meant to restore us to a right relationship with God and at the same time to release His kingdom in the earth.
The message of the kingdom is absolutely essential to restoring the ministry of Jesus to the church. It is the foundation for everything that Jesus did. He healed the sick and cast out demons, because the kingdom of God was at hand. We need a renewal of the mind as to just what exactly the gospel entails. It is not simply about securing people a place in heaven and then teaching them principles of “spiritual growth” which usually add up to ways of improving their lives. It is about the kingdom of heaven invading the earth and bringing everything under the authority of the King. God wants us saved and living in eternal life. We should certainly desire His rulership on earth as it is in heaven.
Everywhere Jesus went, people were miraculously healed, set free from evil spirits, and transformed by powerful teaching and preaching. Restoring the Ministry of Jesus calls us back to the foundation of walking like Jesus walked and doing what Jesus did. It shows how to bridge the gap from our current condition to walking in our inheritance in Christ. As you read, your heart will be stirred to seek God’s face and go after all that He has for you and the church today!