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 Demonstrating the Gospel of the Kingdom

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PostSubject: Demonstrating the Gospel of the Kingdom   Mon May 19, 2008 9:57 am

Demonstrating the Gospel of the Kingdom
By Jonathan Benz


Saving the lost begins with preaching the Kingdom, not promoting ministries, churches and conferences. God has called all of us to demonstrate the Kingdom of God through social reform.

God has called all of us to demonstrate the Kingdom of God through social reform. The Western Church has typically – and usually unwittingly – promoted itself instead of the Kingdom of God. We have preached the Gospel of the Church instead of the Gospel of the Kingdom.

We have built programs, organized Bible studies, held anointed conferences, and developed training curricula to propagate and sustain church and ministry activities instead of equipping believers to build the Kingdom. This focus has resulted in an insular, inward mission instead of an outward expression of bringing the Kingdom of God to bear upon the kingdoms of this world.

As we go to the streets with the Gospel, we must remember that the message is the Kingdom. The Church is the voice and the vehicle for that message. Promoting ministries doesn’t get people born again. Promoting the message of the Kingdom does. Ministries are strategic and vital instruments the Lord uses to bring the Kingdom of heaven to Earth. But ministries are not the end-all. The bottom line is the Kingdom of God.

“The evangelical Christians of the 19th century combined revivalism with social reform and helped lead movements for abolition and women’s suffrage – not to mention…the American civil rights movement led by the black churches,” Jim Wallis, a theologian, evangelical preacher and author of God’s Politics, said. “History is most changed by social movements with a spiritual foundation.”

In reading Wallis’ words written more than 100 years ago, it should remind us that our goal is to establish the Kingdom, not to grow a church. That’s because a church may grow numerically and even spiritually but not necessarily result in Kingdom growth. Healthy ascension-gift ministry in a territory will always result in the Kingdom of God impacting that territory – and then “the Church” will grow. In other words, Kingdom growth always results in church growth.

According to some biblical scholars, Jesus only mentioned the Church twice in Scripture. However, the Bible records Him preaching the Kingdom of God in many places and at many times. We also know that the first apostles followed Jesus’ example. What can we learn from this?

From Old Testament prophets’ cries of justice to New Testament apostles appointing individuals to provide practical mercy to widows and orphans we learn that the outworking of the apostolic and the prophetic have always resulted in practical outreach that brings transformation to society. Today we should see the same as the Lord restores both these gifts to the Body.
How do we move from mere ministry survival and the newest church-growth strategies to extending the Kingdom of God to our communities and reaching the lost? We do it quite simply by embracing altruism, practicing benevolence, and giving alms.

Altruism is unselfish concern for the welfare of others. Even animals and other creatures in nature are instinctively wired with a charitable cooperative behavior.

The opposite of altruism is egoism. We see demonstrations of egoism when ministries supplant the interests of the needy with their own selfish interest.

“When we cast our bread upon the waters, we can presume that someone downstream whose face we will never know will benefit from our action, as we who are downstream from another will profit from that grantor’s gift,” says actress, poet and author Maya Angelou who describes the spiritual effects of altruistic behavior in humanity. This type of downstream blessing should be expected as we sow seeds of evangelism in our various territories.

We can also practice benevolence. Benevolence is a disposition to do good or an inclination to do kind or charitable acts. Benevolent acts demonstrate good will, release blessing, promote happiness and flow out of a love for humanity. The 19th Century Scottish writer Thomas Chalmers wrote, “Benevolence is not merely a feeling but a principle; not a dream of rapture for the fancy to indulge in, but a business for the hand to execute.” When we are kind to others we promote the Kingdom of God.

Then there’s giving alms to the poor, which has always been the duty of the righteous. Alms should be given in addition to tithes, offerings and first fruits – and never as an equivalent substitute. King Solomon in all his wisdom said he who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and the Lord will repay back to him what he has given (Proverbs 19:17). The Apostle James put it this way, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27).

We must remember that being apostolic and prophetic is more than promoting anointed conferences and offering inspiring symbolic revelation. It is crying out for the needs of those suffering in our communities and bringing the Kingdom of God to displace kingdoms of oppression, tyranny, and darkness.

We cannot ignore our highest moral responsibility to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom in season and out of season and ministering to those around us with altruism, benevolence, and alms. These are essential hallmarks of an apostolic and prophetic people. This is the pattern that our Chief Apostle and Prophet left His Church that brings about true social reform and a demonstration of the Kingdom of God.

Jonathan Benz is resident prophet and pastor of prayer and outreach at Covenant Centre International in West Palm Beach, Fla. Benz is also an apostolic prayer leader and president of Emissary International, networking intercessors in South Florida and internationally. Jonathan has authored six booklets on prayer and has written for popular Christian magazines.
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