Christ is our salvation and the sacrifice for our sin, yet He came preaching the Kingdom of God. He understood the connection between the two. We cannot separate the Kingdom of God from salvation because the two are very much one. Think of the Kingdom of God as the final outworking of salvation. If you take salvation to its final conclusion, the outcome is the Kingdom of God.
We are born into Christ, but then we must grow and mature. Everything about our salvation must increase, because the truth is, it will increase throughout eternity. The process of salvation is not a one-time event. One approach to salvation tells someone, “You are a sinner, and you need to be saved.” Then you get that person to accept Christ, and you walk away saying, “That’s done. Now that person’s soul is saved!” But that picture really does not describe salvation. Salvation is maturing. It grows in the heart of the believer.
According to Peter, the salvation process is like the dawning of a new day (2 Peter 1:18-19). To understand how salvation works, simply get up while it is still dark and wait for the dawn. It is beautiful to watch. At some point you can see a little bit of sunlight on the tops of the mountains. Then the light moves down and gradually the dark valleys begin to brighten up. The light increases and spreads out until the sunlight bathes everything you can see. Eventually, everything is consumed by sunlight. Our salvation is the same. It is like a new day dawning in your life, and the day does not begin in full sunlight; it begins in darkness and then progressively becomes light.
It is true that salvation happens at a certain moment, but at that moment there is still a lot of darkness. When you first receive Christ, you are only at the beginning of the salvation process. There are still many things in your life that God needs to work out before you experience the full light of day. Paul’s writings contain this idea as well: “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).1 What God started in you, He is determined to perfect. He is going to finish the work (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).
God is at work in you to will and to work for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). Do you know what His good pleasure is? It is the Kingdom of God. It is the total release of all creation from futility. God put futility on all creation because of man’s fall, and He will release all creation because of man’s breaking through to become the sons of God (Genesis 3:17; Romans 8:21). The sons of God were with the Father before the fall ever happened (Job 38:4-7), and it was at that moment when He commissioned man to be over the earth. That is why God chooses the base things of this world for His purpose—and out of everything He created there is nothing baser than mankind (1 Corinthians 1:28). Yet, through us, He will release all creation from futility as He completes the maturing process in us. Creation is literally crying out for the Kingdom of God (Romans 8:19-23). Every moment that God is working in your life is changing creation. We should dedicate our lives to be a people burdened for the Kingdom of God to manifest in the earth!
1 All Scripture references are from the New American Standard Bible 1995 (NASB1995).