In his book, The Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard points out that modern presentations of the gospel have sadly reduced it to one idea -- the forgiveness of sins. Jesus came to die on the cross to bear your sins, we tell people, so that you can go to heaven when you die. Not much is expected between the moment of faith and the day you die except the daily reminder that your sins are forgiven. Now, the gospel is all of that but much more.
Jesus announced his coming as the coming of the kingdom. “Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens is at hand, accessible, right here,” he said. What he meant by that is that God’s reign, the range of his effective will, is accessible to us through Jesus. Since our sin is taken away in Jesus and our hearts have been made alive to God, we can experience God’s reign over us in this life now. He will walk with us. He will talk with us. He will help us experience life as it was meant to be, a life directed by God, in harmony with God and empowered by God. Like Jesus we can now act with God and God with us.
Willard writes, “New testament passages make plain that this kingdom is not something to be “accepted” now and enjoyed later, but something to be entered now…. It is something that already has flesh-and-blood citizens…who have been transformed into it…and are fellow workers in it…” (Willard, p28). All of our problems in life are because humanity has not been under the reign of God. Coming into the reign of God, therefore, is the most joyful opportunity. The apostle Paul simply described the kingdom of God as “righteousness, peace, and joy”. That is what we offer people, together with the forgiveness of sins. All of life can be lived with God and for God. It is the best news.