Kingdom vs. New Creation
The restoration of God’s rule over all things and the coming of God’s kingdom into the world converge in the life of Jesus. Interestingly, there is a noticeable difference between the way Jesus teaches and the way the apostles write about his teachings. Jesus often spoke about God’s kingdom “being at hand,” “coming,” and “advancing.” The apostles, on the other hand, wrote about the same things, but with different language. They used phrases like the “restoration of creation,” that those who are in Christ are a “new creation,” that “the time for restoring all things” had come with Christ, and that “a new heavens and a new earth” would be established (2 Cor. 5:17; Acts 3:21; Rev. 21:1).
Learn from the authors of this article and others when you join a Bonhoeffer cohort. Their cohorts train you to become a disciple-making leader. Join now.
Jesus’ kingdom-coming language and the apostles’ creation-restoration language may cause some people to think they were referring to two different things, but they weren’t. Actually, they were referring to the same thing, just using synonymous language. In other words, when Jesus spoke of God’s kingdom advancing, it was the same as the apostles’ message. They were both about God restoring his rule over all creation.
This is an important observation for understanding how the kingdom of God relates to the gospel. It helps us grasp that when we proclaim the gospel, speaking specifically about the kingdom of God, we have the biblical freedom to use either Jesus’ kingdom-advancing language or the apostle’s creation-restoration language. Either will do—or even use both! The point is that we must begin to help people grasp that following Jesus means entering into a whole new realm of life, a realm in which God’s rule is restored in people’s lives through his gospel. In other words, eternal life doesn’t begin when we die; it begins when we start following Jesus! God’s kingdom has come in the person of Jesus Christ, and as we follow him by faith, we’re living in his kingdom.