by Stephen Foster
Confession time again. My questioning of what comprises the “gospel of the kingdom” is a take-off of a sermon I heard a number of years ago entitled “This Kingdom Business.” The preacher of that sermon will, for now, be unnamed for reasons that will be revealed in the future.
As I recall, this sermon was another angle on the concept of righteousness by faith. The sermon has helped shape my view of this subject and of God’s judgment and mercy. The preacher said that there is nothing that we can do to qualify us to stand in the presence of God. He indicated that God is so pure and holy that He shines with a brightness that would literally obliterate anything that is impure. We could stop sinning altogether and still not qualify to be in His presence because our very natures are inherently corrupt (basically a result of having been born into sin and “shapen in iniquity.”) We therefore have nothing to commend or qualify us for the heavenly kingdom except Jesus’ blood and His righteousness.
Further, according to 2 Corinthians chapter 4, that which we see and touch is temporary and therefore not of any real value. Things that are seen and made in this world are things that, by definition, at one time did not exist. These things are also corrupt in the sense that they will, in time, cease to exist by one means or another. Things that have no end or that which will not be destroyed are, in essence, the only real things. These things are of course, not now visible to the human eye; whereas that which is temporary is also now that which is visible. Therefore, that which we see is effectively not real, but that which we do not see is quite real.
As seekers of the kingdom, we are to focus on the invisible something as opposed to the visible nothing. The kingdom of God is the invisible something and it is only accessed by the righteousness of Jesus. Once we believe this and accept this—we’re “in.” Faith in God and love for Him and for our fellow man are all that is required of us. It is through faith that the Spirit of God is quickened in our lives to love Him and our fellow man.
As for His judgment of us, God has provided that His Son is our Judge and our Advocate. If we, by accepting Him and His righteousness, enlist His services as our Advocate, we are then judged according to His righteousness; and as a result of His blood, are found not guilty.
This, in my view, is the good news of the kingdom which, when preached “in all the world,” will occasion “the end.” I now have two questions: have I missed anything; and is this traditional Adventist doctrine?