The Gospel: Heaven & Hell or The Kingdom of God

One of the hardest, yet most important, jobs that I have as a biblical studies teacher is to get my students to reframe their understanding of the Gospel around the Gospels.  In particular, many of my students come to me only familiar with a “get-out-of-hell-free” version of the Gospel and struggle to make sense of Jesus’ announcement of the Kingdom of God and the evangelistic sermons in Acts.  Here is a version of a handout that I pass out yearly in order to try and get my students to see the profound differences between the truncated “heaven and hell gospel” and a more robust “kingdom of God” gospel.

The Heaven & Hell Gospel

1) Christianity is primarily about the invitation to experience eternal life after death
2) Christianity is primarily focused on escaping to the spiritual world (heaven) where we will experience eternal life as disembodied spirits
3) Our actions in this life are fairly inconsequential to our future of eternal life, so long as we check off the appropriate boxes to “accept Jesus” [requirements are different in each tradition]

The Kingdom of God Gospel

1) Christianity is primarily about the invitation to experience eternal live [enter into the Kingdom] now, during this life
2) Christianity is primarily focused on the redemption of this world (earth) and God’s will being accomplished with the end result of a New Heavens and Earth & a physical resurrection of the dead
3) Our actions in this life are extremely important to whether we enjoy the gift of God’s eternal life now (and if we aren’t in the Kingdom now, we might question whether anything will magically change after we die)

The “Heaven & Hell Gospel” is centered around (eternal) life AFTER death.

The “Kingdom of God Gospel” is centered around (eternal) life BEFORE death (which will continue on even after death).


A Universal Gospel

“The church’s call to be universal touches the very issues that seem to perplex the church today: the impact of liberation theology, the urgent challenge of global justice and peace, debates over pluralism in dogma and praxis, dialogue with Judaism and non-Christian religions, church government, the emergence of new forms of ministry, the role of women.  Having to struggle with such issues is a necessary consequence of belief in a universal gospel.  For by definition that gospel cannot be bottled up in one culture, one social class, or one power group.  The Bible itself would raise these issues even if contemporary Christian life did not.  The pages of the Scriptures–both Old and New Testaments–are filled with the struggles of God’s people to be faithful to his covenant, to bring justice and salvation to the poor and defenseless, to reach beyond the boundaries of Judea and Samaria, to find identity as God’s people in new times and new places.  The mission question is intrinsic to the Bible.” – Senior and Stuhlmueller, The Biblical Foundations for Mission (1983:2)

Warp and Woof (2.8.13)

Wife is home and blog will return to regular schedule next week. For now, interesting reads from across the world wide web…

Brooks (NYT) on Data – I love to read people’s explanations for what do we know and how do we actually know it. It will be interesting to follow Brooks as he examines how we use data. On another note, just received This Explains Everything in mail this week. Hope to blog about it as I read it.

The Problem with Queer Theology – Michael Bird posted a quote from Oliver O’Donovan on his blog that I thought was brilliant. His reflection on the tension between creation and redemption could open up so many conversations.

Jackson Wu on Contextualizing and Compromising the Gospel – In a article in the latest volume of Global Missiology, Wu argues that settling for the truth compromises the gospel. I have some questions about engaging different perspectives of reading/understanding (for example, reader-response), but thought-provoking essay. He answers some questions about the article on his blog here and here.

Sinners – Tim Gombis writes on one way Paul finds unity between Jews and Gentiles in Romans. By the way, his blog is quickly becoming a favorite: regular posting, insightful posts, and engages with commenters.

Ben Blackwell and I thought I knew you.

Finally, Happy LXX Day. Great day because I don’t have to feel bad about the state of Hebrew. Free to read all I want in Greek!

Warp and Woof (8.31.2012)

This week in my little corner of the world:

Digital Afterlife – Almost everyone now has at least some presence on the internet (even my dad who barely knows how to turn a computer on is on Facebook and carrying an i-Phone)…but what happens to all this stuff when we die. I know this is not the most uplifting topic, but interesting nonetheless, especially if you have ever received a friend/follow request from some no longer with us.


Jesus and the Gospel – The Gospel Coalitions conference theme and this video discussion by D.A. Carson, Tim Keller, and John Piper have caused a stir in the realm of biblioblogs. See hereherehere for examples, but I think these 7 propositions by Michael Bird offers a nice summary and I agree with his opening line, “…reflecting on the issue (that I still cannot believe we are discussing), whether or not Jesus preached the gospel!”


And Haven’t We Felt Like This At Some Point – Sometimes the hardest thing to find is ourselves!


My undergraduate alma mater is #1 – Not sure exactly what this means, but think the list should have been called “The Places You Never Go Except to Go To School”!


In conclusion, it has been a big week in the Chambers’ household: youngest boy Nate turned 3 on Wednesday, wife turned “..” on Thursday, but the biggest event of the week has yet to happen 🙂 Have a good weekend, I know I will…college football is back!