Stepping into the Kingdom
Every time you go to where God’s people are gathered to preach and hear the gospel and to share the Lord’s Supper together and practice baptism, you have stepped into the kingdom of God on earth.
This year on Easter Sunday, a really exciting thing happened. In the city of Sendai, Japan, a new church met together. The gospel was preached. Jesus, risen from the dead, was worshiped. God was glorified.
But what does it mean that a church began meeting together?
Mustard Seed Network is a network of church-planting churches in Japan’s urban areas. But what does it mean to plant a church? What is a church? What makes this new gathering in Sendai such an exciting thing?
A church is a gathering of Christians who, together, submit themselves to the preaching of the gospel in Scripture and practice the Lord’s Supper and baptism.
That’s a very dry definition…what’s so exciting about that?
In order to answer that question, we should ask another question: How does someone get saved? That is, how does someone go from not knowing God, to knowing, loving, worshipping, and cherishing him above all things so that everything in their life is transformed to be for God’s glory, and then, after they die, or when Jesus comes back, they spend eternity in the presence of God as a member of his people from all time?
That’s an important question.
The only way for anyone, anywhere to know God is through Jesus Christ (John 14:6). But how does anyone hear about Jesus?
Here’s the answer: Christians (Romans 10:13-15). Like you. And me.
In other words, the church is the way that people hear about Jesus and come to know the one true God. There’s no other way (Ephesians 3:10).
You see, right now Jesus is in heaven. He is currently seated on a throne at the right hand of the Father and he is ruling all things. And yet… that’s not really what we see on earth. That’s not what I experienced on the bus this morning. I mean, the bus was on time, but no one was singing Jesus’ praises. There was no loving God and loving others going on.
But there are “places” where we see Jesus’ kingdom. Actually, we see it in a people gathered. Every time you go to where God’s people are gathered to preach and hear the gospel and to share the Lord’s Supper together and practice baptism, you have stepped into the kingdom of God on earth.
Every local church is an outpost of Jesus’ kingdom in heaven (Matthew 16:18-19; 18:15-20). The church is the means by which people, no matter who they are or what they’ve done or where they’re from, come to know Jesus.
So when I say that in the city of Sendai, Japan — an urban area with 2 million people, less than 1% of whom even claim to know Jesus — there was a gathering of a new church on Easter, what I’m saying is that there was a new outpost of Jesus’ kingdom established in one of the darkest, most anti-God places on earth. And the light of the kingdom of heaven is shining in one more place through a few more Christians so that we can bring more people to know God through proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ.