RUSSELL MOORE, THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM AND ERIC GARNER
By William Dwight McKissic, Sr.
Our nation is ill-at-ease. The number one item purchased on Black Friday was guns. Ebola, ISIS and terrorism are threatening us from afar. Questionable and controversial Grand Jury decisions have erupted into civil unrest within. Race-relations; family life; definition of a family; church attendance; economic wellbeing; and optimism about our collective future are all undergoing serious revisions, doubts and uncertainty daily.
It seems as if foundations are crumbling. Land marks are being removed. Creation is groaning. The church that Paul described as the pillar and ground of truth is virtually helpless to address the nation’s ills. Because we are divided by race, denomination, doctrine, politics, and a common vision, the church is essentially seated on the side lines—while Rome is burning—trumpeting an uncertain and muted sound.
We often hear that the only hope for our nation is the gospel of Jesus Christ. But the reality is, the church—even Southern Baptists—don’t all agree on what the gospel is. Could it be that families, churches, school systems, city governments, police departments, court systems, the white House, and American Society as a whole are suffering from a deprivation of, definition of, and delivery of the gospel? The church is engaged in a debate as to what really is the gospel? How can we proclaim a gospel to a decaying and dying world that we can’t even define?
The first time the word gospel is mentioned in the New Testament it has a qualifying term accompanying it: “…the gospel of the kingdom…” (Matthew 4:23). Jesus made it clear that before He returned, not just the gospel, but the “gospel of the kingdom shall be preached” (Matthew 24:14).
“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come (Matthew 24:14).
The American Evangelical Church has preached the gospel, but have we preached the “gospel of the kingdom”?
During slavery the Baptist churches in the South would preach the gospel of the cross one Sunday, and the gospel of segregation and slavery the next? Were they truly preaching the “gospel of the Kingdom”?
The gospel preached in America has the qualifying element often missing, that Jesus said is indispensable to the preaching of the gospel, and that is—“the kingdom.” It is impossible to preach the gospel as commissioned by Jesus without preaching “the kingdom.” Much of our preaching is devoid of “the kingdom” which may explain the leanness in our souls and in our pews.
“Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.” (Matthew 9:35)
Not only did Jesus preach “the gospel of the kingdom” he told his disciples, “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” (Matthew 10:7). Jesus’ final message to his disciples concerned itself with “things pertaining to the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3).
The disciples followed Jesus’ model and obeyed Him preaching the kingdom. Consequently, they “filled Jerusalem with your doctrine” (Acts 5:28). What doctrine? The answer is “gospel of the kingdom.” The same doctrine Jesus indoctrinated them with for forty days (Acts 1:3). The disciples “turned the world upside down…saying that there is another king, one Jesus” (Acts 17:6-7). The disciples preached, not just the gospel…but “the gospel of the kingdom.”
Fast forward to today and we are debuting whether or not the gospel includes the kingdom. Southern Baptist pastor, Dr. Randy White, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Katy, Texas, considers the preaching of the kingdom as a present reality and a further hope is “The Kingdom Error.” Pastor White believes that the Kingdom is exclusively a future hope, but not a present reality. He believes that “One of the most pervasive doctrinal errors in the church today pertains to the kingdom of God.”
Pastor Randy White believes,
“The Kingdom of God is the future, earthly Kingdom in which Christ is the sovereign King who rules the nations from the throne of David. It is a physical Kingdom, based in Israel, with the Messiah as the sole Monarch. It is the coming Theocracy. It has Israel at its core, the Messiah on its throne, and the nations of the earth as its sphere. This is the kind of Kingdom that is so clearly taught by the Prophets and understood by the Apostles. In fact, no sane interpretation of the Prophets could conclude anything other than a future physical Kingdom for Israel and established by God with the Messiah as monarch. To conclude any less would be to grossly abuse every principle of Biblical interpretation.
To “seek first the Kingdom of God” does not mean to get your spiritual priorities in order. In fact, such an interpretation would make the remainder of Matthew 6:33 contradict many other Scriptures, even in the Sermon on the Mount. Because the Kingdom is future and physical, to seek His Kingdom is to live for the coming age, not the current age. It is to understand that this age is filled with poverty and persecution, but the coming age is when all these things will be added unto you. To seek His Kingdom is to long for His appearing (2 Timothy 4:8), and to pray come quickly, Lord Jesus!” – See more at: http://www.randywhiteministries.org/2012/02/23/the-kingdom-error/#sthash.ESP7O1X4.dpuf
Pastor White preaches and applies his view of the kingdom to current reactions to the verdict in Ferguson.
“Ferguson, MO has erupted in barbaric violence that should cause all law-abiding citizens to demand the restoration of the rule-of-law, but the Evangelical world is preaching kum-ba-ya sermons about race-relations.” – See more at: http://www.randywhiteministries.org/2014/11/26/dont-understand-evangelical-response-ferguson/#sthash.b4hsszLu.dpuf
Pastor White seems to see no connection to the happenings in Ferguson to race-relations. Interesting? He admits, “I’ve gotta say, I just don’t get it.”
Pastor White strongly objects to Vice President of Academic Affairs at Southern Seminary, Matthew Hall’s, position that “all Christians should be mindful of the gospel’s demand for racial reconciliation and justice.” Pastor White believes that racial reconciliation is “not a doctrinal or theological issue, and certainly not a ‘gospel demand.’ If there is something biblical that expresses racial reconciliation as a gospel demand, I’ve missed it.”
Along comes a fellow Southern Baptist, Russell Moore, who articulates quite a contrarian, but biblical, viewpoint related to White’s view of the gospel not demanding racial reconciliation. Dr. Moore acknowledges that there are those in the south who are saying “there is no gospel issue in racial reconciliation.” To which he responds:
“Are you kidding me? There is nothing clearer in the New Testament that the gospel breaks down the dividing walls that we have between one another. The gospel is what turns us away from hating our brother so much… If that is not a gospel issue then I don’t know what is.”
When one considers that we are commanded to not just preach, but preach “the gospel of the kingdom” that Kingdom would inherently include justice and racial reconciliation. Micah 6:8 says:
“He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?”
Jesus said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32). Jesus made unity with all people a prerequisite to world evangelism. He prayed:
“that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.” (John 17:21)
Jesus commanded that the gospel be preached to every creature which implies racial reconciliation. Because we have separated the gospel from the kingdom, we don’t see the gospel’s relationship to kingdom justice. Thank God for Russell Moore, he sees it!
The Evangelical Church has been preaching a gospel devoid of justice, kingdom and racial reconciliation. We are now reaping the harvest in our land of a kingdom-less gospel. May we all begin to preach the gospel of the kingdom!
- The gospel of the kingdom is the good news that salvation through repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus is available now (Acts 20:21).
- The gospel of the kingdom is the good news that eternal life through the only true God and Jesus Christ is available now (John 17:3).
- The gospel of the kingdom is the good news that abundant life is available to the believer through a vital relationship with Christ the king…now (John 10:10).
- The gospel of the kingdom is the good news that the Kingdom of God has invaded the earth realm through Jesus Christ the King, and His kingdom is an unshakeable kingdom (Hebrews 12:28).
- The gospel of the kingdom is the good news that Christ’s kingdom is an eternal Kingdom (Luke 1:33).
- The gospel of the kingdom is the good news that inherent in His kingdom is spiritual, relational, emotional, and economic resources for the poor and poor in spirit (Luke 6:20; Matthew 5:25-31; Philippians 4:19).
- The gospel of the kingdom is the good news that inherent in His kingdom is racial reconciliation, inclusion, and equality (Revelation 22:17; Matthew 13:47; Galatians 3:28).
- The gospel of the kingdom is the good news that Christ came to liberate the oppressed (Luke 4:16-19).
A gospel that does not demand racial reconciliation, justice, and mercy is a gospel that I don’t want. Thank God for Russell Moore who stated, “Christian, if you don’t believe these are gospel issues we face today, we don’t believe the same gospel.”
For years the Southern Baptist Convention preached that the ground was level at the foot of the cross, but then made it multi-level in classrooms, church rooms, board rooms, halls of Congress and court rooms. It may be that God is giving Southern Baptists a second chance to get it right. May we not just preach the gospel, but preach and practice the “gospel of the kingdom”!
When we received the King, we also received His Kingdom. Now the question is one of application. As the kingdoms of this world are shaking, people are going to begin to search for an “unshakeable kingdom.” May the Lord place us on one accord so that we can preach, proclaim and demonstrate His unshakeable kingdom to a world desperate for answers!