Then the One seated on the throne said, “Look! I am making everything new.” He also said, “Write, because these words are faithful and true.” Revelation 21:5
Have you ever had a morning where you woke up totally refreshed, fully rested and feeling so good that it almost felt surreal? I had one of those moments years ago that I will never forget.
I was on staff at a church as the assistant pastor. I woke up one morning feeling completely refreshed and feeling absolutely amazing. I poked around the house getting my coffee ready and was enjoying this great moment when I began to think to myself, ‘Something is not right … what am I forgetting?’ It then dawned on me that this was Sunday morning! Worse still, church was about to start. Thankfully, I was living in the parsonage that sat adjacent to the church property. I literally ran over approximately 7 minutes before the start of the service. Some of the board members and youth leaders were waiting with for me with smiling faces as they realized what was happening. Pastor Joel had slept in. Thankfully it was one of those rare Sundays that I was not involved with music, so my absence was not that noticeable until the main service was about to begin. They all had a good laugh at me running over in my suit while tucking in my shirt. I later learned that they were taking wagers to see if I would actually make it on time or at all. All in all, they were really good about it, and my senior pastor laughed it off but said that I had better not do that again! I haven’t since.
In John’s gospel we read about a conversation that Jesus had with a very prominent religious man named Nicodemus. We are told that Nicodemus was a highly esteemed and devout Pharisee who was not only an expert in studying the Scriptures, but also sat among the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin were ruling members of the Jewish community that essentially interpreted the Torah and other Jewish laws that pertained to Jewish events and people.
In this conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus makes a bold statement about the need for Nicodemus to awaken to the reality of God’s Kingdom. For this to occur, Nicodemus would need to experience something new. Jesus said this: “I assure you: Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Jesus essentially tells Nicodemus he needed to be remade.
One of the promises that the Risen Christ declares about Himself is this very thing. In Revelation we are told that Jesus is the One who makes all things new (Rev 21:5). In fact, when John writes out this apocalyptic vision of Jesus, he makes sure to tell us that the ‘newness’ of Jesus is something that is happening now and will continue to happen. The verb making is in the active, present tense.
Also, the word that John uses for ‘new’ is kainos, which means a newness in quality or essence (rather than time). That word also seems to hint and link our new lives in Christ now with God’s ultimate renewal involving creation. But what does all this have to do with Kingdom Awakening and Nicodemus?
I am convinced that Jesus only preached one gospel. I am also convinced that He sent out His followers to only preach the one, same gospel. What gospel is that? The gospel of the Kingdom of God.
The gospel writers tell us time and time again that Jesus came preaching this one very thing. It seems to be His only message. In other words, the Kingdom of God seems to be God’s good news to humanity. If the gospel is good news, and the Kingdom of God is the gospel, then what good news should we be preaching?
Here’s the thing. I cannot help but to think that the Western Church has drifted away from this central message. In fact, I believe that most traditions within Western Christianity preach a specific Reformed theological worldview more than the Biblical worldview of God’s Kingdom.
I have recognized this within my own Pentecostal tradition. We often talk about people getting ‘saved’ and being ‘filled with The Spirit’ in a moment in time with little emphasis for the continued newness in quality and essence that is to accompany the ongoing work of Jesus within. Furthermore, our focus often is individualistic and neglectful of creation itself. In other words, people often refer to their personal salvation as something done in a moment in time rather than a continued journey of Kingdom newness that is linked to a greater reality. For that matter, the Kingdom of God itself is a subject that we often neglect in our post-Reformation theological worldview. We have seemingly forgotten about the only message that came from heaven.
I am thankful that God is stirring in me a passion for His Kingdom once again. At our church we are attempting to realign ourselves with the gospel of the Kingdom and implement a Kingdom worldview for our church and all who attend. We want God’s Kingdom to be a present spiritual reality for every believer and our church (Romans 14:17). We also believe that the preaching of God’s Kingdom brings a demonstration of God’s supernatural Presence and Power that affects our physical and spiritual reality. Just ask some of our people who have experienced God’s supernatural healing power in our services. From dizziness, aches, pains and sickness being healed to legs miraculously growing and crutches being left behind; God is accompanying the gospel of the Kingdom by healing the sick, releasing the oppressed and establishing His favour among us.
As a church we believe and pray for an awakening to happen for those Nicodemus-like people who are lost in a religious worldview that is void of God’s life-bringing Spirit. We are also believing for an awakening to happen for those lost in their own surreal world of day-dreams and slumber. We are believing for an awakening to happen in our personal lives, families, church and community. We are believing for God’s Kingdom to manifest on earth as in heaven.
It’s been said that when a church asks what the Kingdom of God is and then further asks how the Kingdom should drive what we do – and even determine what we pray – that church is asking the right questions! This is what we are asking ourselves at Calvary these days. This is the path we choose: May your kingdom come and will be done on earth as in heaven.