Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Poverty and The Gospel: Part 2-Gospel of the Kingdom

Before we start digging into how the gospel relates to poverty, I want to start with a bigger question, "What did Jesus come to do?" What were the intentions of his ministry? Most of this will be based off of a post I wrote a little over a week ago, The Intention of Jesus, which lays this out a little more thoroughly. I'm going to try and be brief.

The reason many of us don't see poverty as a gospel issue is because our view of the gospel is too small. Either we (reformed folks) limit the gospel to justification by faith (which don't get me wrong, is absolutely central to the gospel. Yet, the gospel is bigger and effects more than just our individual standing with God) or, we forget this central tenant of the gospel (justification) and move on to the social issues that Jesus cared about. Last post we saw that both extremes are misconceptions.

To look at what Jesus came to do, I want to let him answer the question himself.

"Jesus came into Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, 'The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.'" Mark 1:14-15

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." Luke 4:18-19

I'm going to try and be brief here. A couple big picture takeaways.

First, Jesus came proclaiming the gospel of the Kingdom. In other words, the good news is that God's kingdom is at hand. God is reclaiming his rule and reign. He gives the call to repent and believe, because in reclaiming God's Kingdom, he is calling us to turn from our own little kingdom of self-autonomy. Jesus came inviting us to be a part of God's rule and reign, wherein we live under the love and righteousness of our Creator.

Second, as seen in Luke 4, under God's rule and reign (The Kingdom of God), all things are being set right. Look at all the comparatives he gives in Luke 4. The poor are receiving good news, the captive is set free, the blind see. At the heart of God's rule and reign is the restoration of humanity. Under his rule and reign, all things are being made right again. This is because under our own rule and reign (self-autonomy), we are really ruled and reigned by sin. Under the curse of sin, everything is distorted. And when I say everything, I mean EVERYTHING. Therefore, if under our own self-autonomy, everything is jacked up, I propose that under God's rule and reign, EVERYTHING is being made right. In other words, Jesus came to restore life.

To get a glimpse of what God intends life to be like, we need to look at Scripture. The place we will look at primarily will be the Creation account, because this was the only time when life was unhindered by the Fall. Genesis 1 and 2 are the only times in human history where humanity itself wasn't distorted by our own self-autonomy.

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