Why is it important to preach the gospel within the context of the Kingdom of Christ (Kingdom of God)? The Apostle Paul had his reasons for doing so, and so did Philip the Evangelist. Most importantly, Jesus Himself. They’re our examples.
When we present the gospel of Jesus Christ with the Kingdom of Christ in view, it places the focus on Him as our authority, as our King. It’s important for the listener to realize that it was Christ the King who paid the price for their sins. It’s important for the listener to realize not only what they’re being saved from, but what they are being saved to. When we place our faith in Christ, we take up a new residence. We move from the kingdom of darkness and of this world, to the Kingdom of Christ (Col 1:13; Acts 26:18).
We can’t allow the listener to believe that the message of Christ is simply about getting fire insurance. Those whom we share Christ with, must realize that this is a life-changing, all-encompassing decision they’re making. They must realize that Jesus is not only going to save them from hell, but that He is going to become their Lord and King. They need to understand that salvation consists of a new citizenship, that they will become a resident of the Kingdom of Christ, where He rules as King of kings and Lord of lords. They need to know that when we trust Christ, we no longer have a right to our own lives, that we now belong to Him.
When we present the Kingdom of Christ when sharing the plan of salvation, it gives the listener the proper perspective. They know that if they make a decision for Christ, it is with the understanding that they are entering a whole new world, a whole new lifestyle, serving a new King in their life. When we share the Kingdom of Christ, people won’t make a decision with any preconceived or false notions about what they’re doing and what they’re giving up and what they’re gaining. They’ll understand that salvation is not simply about getting to Heaven, but about gaining Christ, a new relationship with Him as Savior, Lord, God and King. They’ll understand that salvation is a new life in a new kingdom and serving a new King.
The Kingdom of Christ is an integral aspect of the gospel message. Indeed, salvation is about gaining entrance into this kingdom. We are forgiven of our sins in order to dwell in and serve in the presence of Christ the King. Sinners must know that the Kingdom of Christ is a place where righteousness dwells. Christ is a good and holy King, and as our King, He requires our allegiance. They must know that we no longer have the freedom to live our lives as we see fit. We no longer have a right to be self-serving, to pursue our own interests and goals. They must know that we now live to serve our King, to carry out His wishes, to accomplish His purposes.
While we’re not saved by works, we are saved to serve Christ the King in His Kingdom. This is not to be viewed as something negative, but as the greatest blessing we could possibly imagine. Salvation is not simply about being saved from eternal punishment. It’s about living in the safety of Christ and enjoying the kind of rewards and fulfillment that only comes through serving our King. Salvation has everything to do with living out the Kingdom life under Christ’s rule. Where we once lived in compliance to the kingdom of darkness (and this world), we now live in compliance to the Kingdom of Christ. That’s the picture of true salvation.
When we present the plan of salvation within the context of Christ’s Kingdom, then there will be no misunderstanding about the decision a person is making. They will understand that they are not only trusting Christ as their Savior, but also surrendering their lives to follow Christ as their Lord and King.
The Gospel Message
I’ve written why I believe it’s important – and biblical – to present the gospel of Jesus Christ in the context of His Kingdom. Here I provide some guidance on how to do that.
Some witnessing pointers:
There are no set ways of sharing our faith with others. Nor are there any set ways of presenting the gospel message. There are many methods and many types of presentations. Generally, I believe sharing our faith should be genuine and spontaneous, that we should just be and speak who we really are.
I believe it’s important to build friendships, to let people know that we sincerely care about them as a person. People don’t want to be made to feel that they’re just an object to be won over to our faith. As I often say, “people don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care.”
In the course of building friendships with the unsaved, we should be sharing our faith in Jesus. And again, it should be done in a natural and spontaneous manner. It shouldn’t be something that comes across as planned or mechanical. We just need to be real. Basically, that means letting people know that we’re followers of Christ, that He is our Savior and King, and that we’re citizens of His Kingdom. We do that by talking about:
- What Jesus has done for us.
- The forgiveness and peace and joy that we have in Him.
- How wonderful it is to be in a personal relationship with God through Him.
- Answered prayer.
- The peace He gives us during difficult times.
- The Kingdom of Christ, and how we serve Him as our King.
- The eternity that we look forward to in His presence.
- Our church, our fellowships, and about our pastor’s messages.
As faithful witnesses for Christ, we should also be sensitive to things that our friends are going through, and offer prayer and help, to show that we care about them. I think people generally really appreciate it when we offer to pray for them and their family, as it shows a level of concern that they don’t get from non-Christians. Plus, it shows our reliance upon God, that true blessings and meeting of needs come from Him.
We should also be learning the Word of God, to be ready to answer questions. If we don’t have the answers, we should let our friends know that we’ll look into it and get back to them.
We should ask questions, such as:
—Do you have a church that you attend? (this normally gives us a good idea what they believe, or at least what they’ve been taught. It gives us a starting point)
—What do you believe about God and the afterlife?
—Do you ever have concerns about where you’ll spend eternity?
—What do your family members believe?
—Are you fulfilled in life? Do you ever wonder if there’s more to life than this?
—Do you ever think about God, and about what you will experience once you die? Are you concerned about that?
—Do you have any family members who are Christians? Do they talk to you about Christ?
Those are just a few questions that we can ask those whom God brings into our lives through work or school or relatives or sports or clubs or through friends.
We should be alert to open doors the Holy Spirit may provide to share our faith. In other words, we should be looking for those opportunities where we can respond by saying, “I’m a Christian.” But I would add to that: “I’m a Christian, a follower of Christ in His Kingdom.” They will likely see that as an unusual statement, and may reply: “What do you mean a follower of Christ in His Kingdom? Where’s that?” But whatever the response, it may give you an open door to discuss what the Kingdom of Christ is, and what it means to serve Him in His Kingdom.
Or you can say, “I’m a Kingdom Christian, and I serve a King not of this world.” They will likely want to know what you’re talking about, because to non-Christian ears, such language sounds a bit bizarre. It’s a perfect conversation starter. A wide open door to share your faith.
Finally, when witnessing to others, there comes a time when we need to give a clear presentation of God’s plan of salvation. That means we need to have a clear understanding of the gospel message ourselves, with Scripture memorized. We need to be able to explain not only the way of salvation, but what salvation is.
Four reasons why I believe the gospel message should be given in the context of Christ’s Kingdom:
1. Upon faith in Christ and the new-birth, we enter the Kingdom of Christ. This is what salvation is. The forgiveness of sins provides us with a right relationship with God, and allows us into the Kingdom of His Son (Col 1;13).
2. When a person understands that salvation places them into the Kingdom of Christ, where He reigns as King, they know that if they receive Christ as their Savior, it means that they’ll be making a life-changing decision to serve under His authority, to serve a new Master. It eliminates “easy-believism” that excludes a life of surrender to His Lordship. In other words, it eliminates the idea that they can just say a prayer and receive Christ as Savior and keep on living the way they want.
3. It eliminates false conversions. It avoids a false sense of security about one’s salvation.
4. It was practiced and patterned by Jesus and the Apostle Paul. They routinely preached the gospel in the context of God’s Kingdom.
Below is a gospel presentation within the context of the Kingdom of Christ. You should become so familiar with it that you’ll be able to share it easily and naturally in your own words. I also provide a lot of verses you can quote or read when making your points.
This presentation can also be typed out and given to those whom you’ve been talking to about the Lord, and then you can discuss it with them after they’ve read it. Or you can email it to them. If they’re truly seeking (responding to the work of the Holy Spirit within them), they will likely have many questions.
Step One: We must realize that we’re all sinners and separated from God.
Step Two: We must realize that God is a holy and just God, and must punish sin, or He would not be a just God. Therefore, we must understand that if we die in our sins, we will be forever separated from God in a place of punishment for those sins.
Step Three: We must realize that God loves us and has provided the way of salvation, which is through His Son. Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose from the dead, and through Him we are offered forgiveness of our sins —which places us into a right relationship with God and into the Kingdom of Christ, where we have the privilege of serving Him as our King.
Only through Jesus can we have forgiveness of our sins and eternal life. Only through Jesus can we have a right relationship with God. Only through Jesus can we experience salvation. We must recognize that there’s nothing we can do of ourselves to gain favor with God. There’s nothing we can do to gain our own salvation. It’s only through Christ and faith in Him, and in Him alone.
1 Corinthians 15:3-4
1 Peter 3:18
Step Four: We must realize that we experience what Jesus did for us, through the humility of faith. That means we recognize our sinfulness and need for Christ as Savior, and then we trust Him to save us, to give us everlasting life.
Jesus paid the price for our sins. It was the sinless who died for the sinful. He did for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Our part is to simply receive it in sincere faith.
Step Five: We must realize who it was that hung on the cross for us. It was the Son God, King of kings and Lord of lords, the Second Person of the Trinity of God. Jesus left His throne in Heaven and came into this world through the virgin Mary, and identified Himself with mankind by becoming as we are — but without sin.
In recognition of who it was that paid the price for sins, we must humble ourselves before Christ, and willingly surrender to His authority as Lord and King. Who He is, indeed His very title, requires the proper response of allegiance – surrendering our will to His will.
1 Peter 5:5
1 Corinthians 2:8
2 Corinthians 4:5
1 Timothy 6:15
2 Timothy 2:19
Step Six: In recognition of Christ as both Savior and King, we must understand that salvation places us into His Kingdom, where we serve Him as our King. His Kingdom is a spiritual kingdom, where righteousness dwells, where He reigns over His people from His throne in Heaven. Thus His Kingdom extends to Heaven, where we will spend eternity with Him. However, our entrance into His Kingdom is in this life, and it’s in this life that we begin our service to Him as our King.
Therefore, we must understand that placing our faith in Christ is a decision to turn away from living our own life, to live the life that we’re called to as Christians, which is to follow Jesus as Lord and King.
1 Corinthians 15:22-25
2 Peter 1:11
Step Seven: We must realize that making a decision to become a follower of Christ in His Kingdom is not to be seen as something negative, but as the most wonderful situation possible. For it’s only in His Kingdom that we have true peace and joy and purpose in life. It’s only in His Kingdom that we are eternally safe and secure.
There’s great comfort and peace knowing that no matter what’s going on in our lives, we are citizens of Christ’s Kingdom, where He rules over lives as a loving and kind and gracious and protective King.
Step Eight: Go to Jesus. The natural and normal outworking of faith in Christ is prayer, praying to the One we believe in. Thus it’s appropriate to spend a few moments expressing your faith in Him as Savior and Lord and King. It’s good to spend time expressing the thankfulness of your heart to Him for the forgiveness of your sins and eternal life that He has provided for you. The words we use are not so important; it’s the humility of faith expressed by one’s heart that’s important.
Step Nine: Rest in the promises of God’s Word. There’s no need to doubt what we’ve been promised in Christ. Just rest in His word, and enjoy the peace and assurance of your salvation that comes through those promises.
1 John 5:11-13
End of gospel presentation
That’s the gospel of Jesus Christ in the context of His Kingdom. You can customize it as you see fit. But this is the substance of God’s plan of salvation. The more natural you’re able to share your faith, the better.
When presented in such a manner – in the context of Christ’s Kingdom – people know exactly what they’re doing when they place their faith in Christ as Savior. They understand the decision they’re making. They understand that it’s not simply a prayer that they’re saying, but a true heart-felt decision to follow the Lord Jesus Christ, to serve Him in His Kingdom. They understand that they’re making a decision to turn away from living their own life, to live the life of a Christian. They understand that they’re taking on a new identity, and that from this point forward, they’re identifying themselves with the Lord Jesus Christ — the Creator and Ruler of the universe.
Lest there be misunderstanding, I’m not teaching that it’s necessary that the gospel be given in the context of Christ’s kingdom. What’s important is that a person recognizes the Lordship of Christ in the matter of salvation. But I believe the best way to see that is within the context of His kingdom, where they understand that He reigns as King over His people. Furthermore, since our salvation places us into His kingdom, it only makes sense that we present the gospel message with that in view.
In sharing our faith, it’s important that we don’t try to rush a person to faith in Christ. We must be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading. We must allow Him time to work in a person’s heart and life. It often takes months or years before a person is ready to become a follower of Christ.
Early in my Christian life, I had a lot of zeal in sharing my faith, but I lacked wisdom and tact. And instead of moving slowly and patiently, I tried to hurry people to make a decision for Christ. I was anxious to “add another notch to my Bible.” But I found out that people can tell when we’re just looking for converts, and not really interested in them as a person and friend. We must be wise in our dealings with others, and share our faith with a sincere love for the ones we’re witnessing to. Friendships take time, and so does the revealing of truth. It’s light given and light received, little by little, truth upon truth.
Therefore, we should look at witnessing as a long-term project, rather than looking for quick decisions that may result in false conversions. We can’t work in a person’s heart; only the Holy Spirit can do that. When a person is ready, really ready to receive Christ, they’ll know it, and so will you.