“From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand. And Jesus; walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon Peter and Andrew his brother, casting their nets into the sea, for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. They immediately left their nets and followed Him.” (Mathew 4:17-18)
One of the weak points of the Church today is the poor understanding of the mission of Jesus Christ on earth. Before reading this article, what has been your understanding of why Jesus came to the world? An average Christian will always answer that Jesus came to the world to die for our sins and to save us from eternal death.
Yes, that is true that he died for our sins, but that is not the big picture of why he came. He came to establish the kingdom of God on earth, and through his death on the Cross, he will save sinners, destroy the powers of Satan, and take over from Satan the rule over this world and establish the rule of God on earth – the Kingdom of God.
In Revelations 11:15-16, the Bible gives us a glimpse of the final victory on the mission of Christ on earth – “Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdom of our Lord and His Christ and He shall reign forever and ever. And the twenty-four elders who sat on the thrones fell on their faces and worshiped God”.
To further buttress the point about the mission of Christ on earth, whenever He preached, it was always about the kingdom – “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand (Mathew 4:17). There is a link between the kingdom of God and repentance. Only those who repent can enter into the kingdom.
So, our salvation through the merits of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the means by which we enter into the kingdom. If you are a citizen of a country, and you want to visit another country, you have to get a visa to enable you to enter into that country.
At birth, we became members of the kingdom of this world because we were born in sin. Therefore, repentance is the visa or entry permit for us as sinners to come in or enter into the kingdom of God.
Without repentance, we cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Jesus, through his preaching, urged his listeners to repent – to change their minds and heart in order to enter into the kingdom of God. This is what is meant by being born again, saved or redeemed. When we repent, we become brand-new persons different from what we were at birth (2 Corinthians 5:17).
If you are a very good student of the Bible, you will observe that all of Jesus parables were always about the kingdom of God – “The kingdom of God is like a sower who went out to sow seeds (Mathew 13:3-12); like a mustard seed (Mathew 13:31-32); like ten virgins (Mathew 25:1-13); like a man found a treasure buried in land, and he sold everything and bought it (Mathew 13:44-46); etc. Jesus taught so much about the kingdom of God, using parables to illustrate his messages.
The repeated and constant emphasis on the kingdom of God is the way Jesus used to communicate to his hearers what his mission on earth is all about. When he preached, it was about the kingdom; when he told parables, it was about the kingdom; when he taught his disciples to pray, it was about the kingdom – “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth”.
So, what is the kingdom, and where is the kingdom? A kingdom exists to serve a king. Because Jesus is a King, and he is God, there exists a kingdom of God. He was born ‘King of the Jews’ (Mathew 2:1-2); but much more, he is the king of all nations and the King of kings.
So, when he preached, taught his disciples, told parables, healed the sick, and raised the dead, his death and resurrection, he was declaring his kingdom. The kingdom of God as represented and preached by Christ Jesus began with his birth and continues to advance today through the preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom by the Church.
But, this kingdom will fully be manifested at his second coming when he will judge and destroy the works of Satan, and establish a new earth and a new heaven. The kingdom of God is unlike any other kingdom.
It does not have a physical or geographical boundary. Rather, it is a movement within the kingdoms of this world. It is evident and present everywhere because God is everywhere. It is a movement of ordinary people like you and I who believe in Christ and are called to follow Him so that through us, he will draw all men to himself.
The reason why the impact of this kingdom of God is not as evident as it should be is that the Church is busy preaching only the gospel of salvation instead of the gospel of the kingdom.
The gospel of salvation focuses only on the salvation of the souls of individuals, while the gospel of the kingdom focuses both on the salvation of individuals and the reconciliation of all things back to God – social systems and the entire creation.
The Church emphasizes evangelism and de-emphasizes social transformation; emphasize numbers, but de-emphasize maturity in faith; emphasize believers, and de-emphasize disciples.
There are tens of millions who believe in Jesus Christ and are saved, but there are only tens of thousands who believe and follow him as their Lord. Only those who follow (disciples) are enlisted by the Lord to advance his kingdom.
The majority of believers are like newborn babies who cannot accomplish anything for the Lord (1 Corinthians 3:1-2). These multitudes of believers are contented just being saved and enjoying the blessings of God.
But the Lord is looking for followers (disciples), not just mere believers. He called all his disciples to, “Come and follow me” (Mathew 4:18-22). Following Jesus is a life commitment to live your daily lives in obedience to his teachings and the examples of his own life.
Following Jesus is a costly life, no wonder many are not willing to do that, because it involves leaving some things behind – the life of sin, the pride of this life, love of money, ungodly friends, etc. But, there is more reward and honor in following Jesus than what it costs to follow him (Mathew 19:27-30).
Are you a mere believer in Christ, or are you a follower of Jesus Christ? Believers are mere infants who daily need milk and food, while followers are the soldiers of the cross who march through nations and cultures and bring them to obedience in Christ. I encourage you today to choose to be a follower, a disciple, and a soldier in the kingdom of God.
The Reverend Ebere.N Eze, Ph.D.
This article was written for Destiny Moulders by Rev. (Dr) Ebere N.Eze
Brief Bio of Ebere Eze, Ph.D.
Rev. (Dr.) Ebere Eze is an ordained Anglican Priest, and serve as the Associate Rector for Anglican Church of the Pentecost, Harrisburg, PA, an arm of the Church of Nigeria North America Mission.
In addition to his role as an Associate Rector, he also provides leadership for children, teenagers and youths ministry as the Chaplain within the Diocese.
Prior to his coming to the United States, he worked as NIFES staff for 27 years after graduation. While on staff, he served as the Training Secretary, Bookshop and Publications Manager, Area Director for North East Nigeria, and Director of Associates/Graduates Ministry.
His last role in NIFES was providing leadership for graduates ministry, referred to as Associates Department. This department is saddled with three main thrusts, namely: mobilizing our graduates as resource persons for ministry among students, building partnership relationships that will sustain the funding of NIFES operations, and equipping our graduates through marketplace seminars and workshops for Christian impact in society.
After Leaving NIFES, he worked with the Institute for National Transformation, where he pioneered the Next Generation Youth Leadership Center as a Director.
Rev. Dr. Ebere Eze is one of the writer of “I am a Christian” devotional and equally a regular contributor to NIFES ANCHOR since its debut in 1999 till date.
The NIFES Anchor was first produced under his leadership as the manager of NIFES Bookshop. For 21 years now, the NIFES anchor has remained the most used devotional among our students and graduates globally.
Through many years of leadership, Rev. Dr. Ebere Eze have come to realize that God has called him to be a Church Reformer and A Nation Builder, and he is committed and sincerely playing that role to the glory of God.