Who is Jesus to us? What did He come to earth to do? What does being saved by Jesus mean?
For starters, His name, “Jesus Christ”, stands for a lot more than we realize. “Jesus” means “Yahweh is Salvation”. “Christ” comes from the word “Messiah”, or “Anointed One”, which before the time of Jesus referred to the roles of prophet, priest and king that God designated among His people. “Jesus Christ” ,therefore, means:
“Saviour, Anointed Prophet, Priest and King”.
Our mission here at the Kingdom Outpost is to explore what it means to have Jesus as our King. We believe this is a central scriptural theme, the core of the gospel, and a central part of what it means to be saved by Jesus and to be His people.
“Everyone knows that!” you might think, “We sing about Jesus being “King of Kings” and about crowning Him with many crowns!”
Yet, we want to do more than sing about Jesus being King! We really want to determine what our reality is, our gospel is and our mission is as part of a kingdom that is not of this world.
So let’s start with a few basic facts:
Jesus as Saviour is Jesus as King
Here is the gospel that we often hear:
- You are a sinner, because you commit sin.
- Sin means death, and this means that after you die you will go to hell and suffer for your sins.
- Jesus’s death on the cross took away the guilt of your sins.
- If you believe in Jesus and pray a sinner’s prayer to be forgiven of your sins, you can have eternal life and go to heaven after you die.
- Going to church and reading your Bible will help you, but these things will never “save” you. To be saved, you must believe in Jesus that He forgives your sins. You are saved when your sins are forgiven.
Now, it is true that the angel who announced Jesus’s birth said that He would “save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:12). However, does that mean that everything listed above is a complete understanding of salvation? We believe it to be incomplete, which leads us to the question, “how then do we understand salvation and the forgiveness of sins?”
For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13-14)
to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me. (Acts 26:18)
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. (John 3:5)
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9)
Consistently, we see in the New Testament that to be saved and to be forgiven of the guilt of our sins is also to be saved from the power of sin, from the power of Satan and of darkness. Jesus forgives, redeems, and rescues us. He brings us into the light and transfers us into His Kingdom. We are completely born again and made into a holy nation. This is what it means to be saved.
Jesus comes to us as a saviour, redeemer and rescuer. He saves us by becoming our new king!
Jesus came to establish His Kingdom
For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
The prophecies about Jesus’s birth proclaimed Him as King– the heir to David’s throne. When Jesus was born, wise men came looking for the “King of the Jews”. The actual political king of Judea at that time, Herod the Great, was so threatened that he ordered all the newborn babies in Bethlehem to be killed.
During Jesus’s life, He proclaimed the gospel of the Kingdom.
Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15b-16)
At Jesus’ trial, Pilate asked if Jesus was king. Jesus said, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth.” (John 18:37). He explained that His Kingdom, however, was not a political kingdom like the world’s, nor one that employs physical violence and war, but of “another world”, another age.
Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” (John 18:36).
We thus believe that in His coming, Jesus inaugurated a new world, a new age–one that begins with new birth (John 3:5) and is the age to come: the Kingdom of God.
The early church proclaimed this gospel and were thus accused of insurrection against Caesar.
They are all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus. (Acts 17:7b)
Thus, being saved by Jesus means being brought into His Kingdom. However, His Kingdom is something quite different than any other kingdom or nation on earth. Jesus indicated as such when He rejected the “all the kingdoms of the world and their glory” when Satan offered them to Him (Matthew 4:1-11). We thus are no longer of this world (John 17:14) but are to be the light of the world (Matthew 5:18), just as Jesus was (John 9:5).
In today’s day and age, we forget how closely national and religious identities were intertwined in the ancient world. Like every other faith of the ancient world, Christianity was not just meant to be a religion and relegated to the sphere of religious belief, but an all-encompassing way of living. After all, Israel worshiped Yahweh, and the Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, and Canaanites had their own pantheon of gods. Soldiers of the Roman Empire engaged in sacrifice rituals and governors made decisions about religious matters. Worship was always meant to be an expression of allegiance.
However, over the centuries, this has become lost. Today, “space” that Christianity is expected to fill is much narrower and smaller. Jesus is seen as a religious Saviour and God. When we sing songs about Him being King, we think of it as being spiritual, otherworldly, or future. We don’t think about what it means to have Him ruling and reigning over us–the people of God–as a nation, and how this is actually a dangerous political statement like it was for the early disciples that went against the imperial creed, “Caesar is Lord”.
Today, we think we can have allegiance to a nation and fight for that nation at the same time as we have allegiance to Jesus and “fight” for His Kingdom, even though that directly comes into conflict with the “constitution” and “laws” of Jesus that we are supposed to observe (Matthew 28:20). In the Sermon on the Mount, for example, Jesus commands us to be poor, meek, peacemakers, to love our enemies, and turn the other cheek.
What this means for the church and the gospel
Firstly, the Kingdom of God is not simply a future reality but a present and coming reality inaugurated by Jesus at His first coming and that will be fully established upon His return. Followers of Jesus since the days of Jesus’ ministry hear the gospel of the Kingdom and are born again into this Kingdom where Christ becomes their king.
We thus believe that restoring the centrality of the now and present Kingship of Jesus will change a lot about how the body of Christ, the church, functions on this earth. The Kingdom Outpost calls the church of Jesus Christ to return to its mission on this earth by living and manifesting His now and coming Kingdom as a body.
- Jesus is King
- The church lives under His reign
- We’re called to follow and obey Him,
- To build His now and coming Kingdom
- To be loyal to no other Kingdom or nation
- To manifest His suffering love
- To reject violence and hatred
- To be separate from the world
- To go into all the world
- And call men and women from darkness to light
- Turning the world upside down
All this means that the church is a “political” body in its own right – an upside-down, distinct, just, and loving alternative to all other nations that brings the coming reality of the Kingdom of God to earth. The church is a community, and Christians must be loyal to and work for the Kingdom of God as opposed to nations, states and empires. The values of this Kingdom reflect its King and are those of peace, servanthood, love, and laying down of one’s life rather than the exercise of dominion. To this end, Christians eschew power attained by compromise, coercion or violence. We reject the dominionist pursuit or concept of a “Christian” nation tied to earthly geo-political states and we reject the pursuit of political power, especially that which is enforced by the threat of violence.
Being “separated from the world” doesn’t mean withdrawing from people and problems. Rather, the church has a mission on this earth – to go into all the world and manifest Jesus’ suffering love to both friend and enemy, calling men and women from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God.