We've all heard many sermons on being saved (or at least I hope you have) but how much instruction have you received about the kingdom of God? We hear a lot of emphasis on attending church. But "church" is not the Bible's main focus. Now, I love the church, the gathered saints, the body of Christ; not religious substitutes or phony counterfeits pretending to be the church.
Here is the difference. If you preach and teach the kingdom, you get the church. If you preach church, you get a watered-down shadow of the real thing. The real thing liberates and invigorates. An artificial thing brings sadness and bondage.
Ecclesia is the Greek word used by Jesus and the Apostles for the church. It describes the assembled saints, not a facility. These assemblies were disciples gathered by approved shepherds of Christ, meeting informally but regularly in small groups, who were devoted to the Word and to prayer. The true church, regardless of where they meet, is the saved people of God.
The major theme of the Old Testament was to prepare a people for the
King. The main theme of the New Testament is the arrival of their King named Jesus. The gospel, which means "good news," is specifically about the kingdom of God. The sad news is that Israel rejected their King and handed him over to Rome to be crucified. (John 1:12)
Today, because Jesus was raised from the dead, we can enter the kingdom of God by the power of the Holy Spirit. This new birth takes faith on our part, especially faith in his saving work on the cross, and it also requires a deliberate decision to change our thinking.
That's the hard part!
Stubbornness and pride can prevent people from surrendering to Christ's rule. Perhaps if we had as much preaching about rebellion or independence as we did about particular sins, more people could more easily turn toward God.
To be honest with you, I never found sin to be a problem for the Savior. After all, he is called Jesus, and he has power to save his people from all their sins. Sin is not an issue for God. Jesus shed his blood to cleanse us and his name still has power to free us. But rebellion is always an issue!
In my ministry I have met many religious people trapped in rebellion, pride, and yes, in their sins. The reason they were stuck in sin was that they never submitted to Jesus so that he could do his saving work in their lives.
The humble, the weak, those admitting their need, those willing to come under the authority of Jesus as Lord and live as citizens of his kingdom are delivered and blessed. And that occurs now on earth, not awaiting us in heaven. If there were no heaven or no hell, I would still be a Christ-follower because his kingdom way is simply the best way to live.
You see, I didn't only get saved from my sins, I was also saved into the fellowship of the church, the community of Spirit-filled believers, into the realm where Jesus is my Lord. As for going to heaven, where else can I go? My Savior and Lord is there.
Ron Wood is a pastor, writer and a former Meridianite. Write him at