BY BILL BRIMER
I’ve made a big mistake. I’ve made a ton of mistakes. I’m not talking about sin here. I’m full of that too. I’ve made a big mistake in how I’ve taught the bible. I’m sure I’m going to continue to do so, but I pray that the Lord shows me my errors and corrects me. Let he who is error-free in his teaching cast the first stone. I’m expecting plenty of rocks to fly when folks are done reading this post. Just don’t aim at the face. That’s my money maker (insert hysterical laughter). In all seriousness, my big mistake involves the preaching of the Gospel and that is no laughing matter. I’ve made the Gospel way too small. I’ve narrowed it. I’ve simplified it down to the forgiveness of sins. Please don’t hear me say that it’s not about forgiveness of sins. It absolutely is. But it’s bigger. It’s way, way bigger. Part of my problem has been that I’ve seen God’s Law as something that simply shows us our sin. Now the Law absolutely does that. But it’s bigger too. I haven't been teaching, preaching or feasting on the whole enchilada.
What I’m talking about here is something that Jesus was focused on. This is so important to Jesus that He says it at least 85 separate times. He intentionally attaches the word “Gospel” to it. In the Greek the word is “basilea”. Jesus said that the proclaiming of the good news of the basilea was the reason He came (Mark 1:15, 38; Luke 4:43; Matthew 4:23, 24:14). It’s the word we know as kingdom. Now before we go any further, let me say that for the majority of my Christian life I thought I knew what Jesus meant by “kingdom” but I didn’t. The English word “kingdom” is a noun. It’s a place. So if we hear “kingdom of heaven” or “kingdom of God” we instantly think of a future place. Now to be clear it can mean that. But it turns out that the noun “kingdom” is a bad translation in most places. The Greek word “basilea”, in the vast majority of its uses in the New Testament, operates like a verb. It’s an action that means to reign or to rule. So it’s not simply a future place, it is a present active reality in Christ. He’s doing what a King does. He’s ruling. In essence, the kingdom of God really means that God is invading the realm of men with His active, transformative, restorative power through His Son Jesus Christ. It makes more sense when you read that Jesus was healing, casting out demons, raising the dead, and yes, forgiving sins. These were all demonstrations that God was invading this dark realm with His reign in Christ.
Think about the Lord’s Prayer for a minute. The second petition is “Thy Kingdom come.” It should be translated, “Thy reign come.” It’s actually not a petition for a place to come as much as it is a petition for God to act. Luther says in the Large Catechism that we’re asking that God’s Kingdom “may pervade among us through the Word and the power of the Holy Spirit and the devil’s kingdom may be destroyed.” We’re asking, “for an eternal, priceless treasure and for everything that God himself possesses.” We’re saying, “We need it all. Bring Your reign.” We absolutely need the forgiveness of sins and the righteousness of Christ. But that’s not all we need. Heal us. Teach us. Lead us. Kill our idols. Cast out demons. Raise the dead. Tear open the sky of this fallen planet and make all things new. Tear open our hearts and bring Your Kingdom of Light. Come King Jesus. Reign!
He doesn’t just forgive sins. He is the walking, talking, saving, healing, restoring, transforming Kingdom of God in the flesh. He is the King who rules and reigns. Please don’t hear me say that the forgiveness of sins is a minor thing. It’s huge! I mean that with everything in me. Jesus absolutely forgives sins and we need that proclamation desperately.
His Law does shows us our sin but it also describes His character. There is no God before Him. He loves His neighbor perfectly. It also describes life in His reign. There are no other gods in His Kingdom. There is no murder in the heart, or evil of any kind, or sickness, or terrorism. It is absolutely true that the Law cannot deliver the things that it describes. Only the Gospel can do that. The Gospel says not only that your sins are paid for, you are forgiven, and the full righteousness of Christ is yours, but that His Kingdom is yours and all that comes with it. He is actively, reigning and ruling, in you, for you, through you, and most certainly despite you. He brings His rule and reign where and when He pleases. He causes the fullness of His Law to be preached, not just to reveal our sin but to give us a description of our King and remind us of His Kingdom. He causes the fullness of His Gospel to be received, not just the forgiveness of sins but the promise of an active and present reality in His reign. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world and He is the Lion of Judah who rules with an iron scepter. He’s done paying for your sins but He’s not done healing, transforming, casting out demons or raising the dead.
There’s so much good news to the Gospel. I need my sins forgiven but I need so much more. I need the whole enchilada. Come Lord Jesus. I need you so badly. I need all of you. I need all the good news, not just some of it. Bring Your reign.
Bill Brimer is a singer/songwriter, producer and guitarist from Dallas, Texas. He is the co-founder, Associate Pastor and Creative Director at SoulThirst Church in The Colony, Texas. He has recorded and released three original albums, Snakes & Doves (Grace Bomb Records 2011), Love Above All (Grace Bomb Records 2012) and Bill Brimer & The Skybirds (SoulThirst Sound 2016). All his music is funded by donations from generous listeners and available for free download. His music has been described as a modern blend of vintage country, punk and gospel. He is the co-host and producer of the weekly podcast God Geeks.