Into the Future

Romans 15:17 – 19 (NIV)
Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God. I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.

Our 21st Century is watching statistical decline in organised religion across western Christianity.

Now, we must not try to plan what God could be doing about it all but there is an avenue which he already blesses with his love, his presence and his might. It can be seen in the advances being made in the proclamation of the nearness of his kingdom.

Now, there are so many ideas about mission around these days that we might be forgiven for thinking that here is just another one but there are certain truths to be got direct from the Bible, sometimes unnoticed parts of the Bible, so the idea that proclaiming the kingdom is absolutely essential to church growth is not just the writer’s personal opinion.

‘But don’t I do it right every week?’ Asks any Christian involved in sharing the Good News. It would help us find the answer to such a personal question by watching the results of an almost straightforward test.

It is to do with the difference between preaching and teaching. Throughout the New Testament, both words often occur but it is only ‘preaching’ that is usually followed by kingdom movement.

The two words ‘preach’ and ‘teach’ are not synonymous. They are often both used to describe Jesus’ and his disciples’ early activities, sometimes even both words in the same sentence.

Perhaps surprisingly, when ‘teaching’, the subject being taught is almost never mentioned. When ‘preaching’, the subject is usually mentioned. Not only that but, when ‘preaching’, such occasions are mostly followed by a mention both of the subject being preached and the presence of signs and wonders from God to confirm what is being spoken about. The subject is always the kingship of Christ, in one form or another.

Those who ‘teach’ were full of good advice — those who ‘preach’ were full of good news! It is much the opposite today. Our preachers have plenty of good advice for us but good news?

If we rarely see any signs and wonders, any kingdom miracles, then we may, Biblically, be still ‘teaching’ to a most high degree but ‘preaching’? That’s the missing bit. Is this important?

Well we, in our organised religion, are constantly seeking to find new ways to attract people into church. Was Christ’s ministry on earth focused on getting more people into the Synagogue each week?

No. He was not pulling in but pushing out. He was taking the message out to the people.

Was that message a mass of good advice? No, it was the good news of the nearness of the kingdom. What’s more, both through his preaching and the almost forgotten preaching of the early church, God repeatedly pierced through our darkness with signs and wonders of that wonderful kingdom, working with us to prove the rightness of what was being spoken about.

And God does not change. Our comprehension of the kingdom of God may diminish and become watered down across the centuries but God does not change. It is us, not God, who restrict the flow of miracles.

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mountains and hiker an example of the kingdom adventure