I had the privilege of participating this past weekend in a conference entitled, “Kingdom Come: Awakening to a Gospel-centred Life” at Bayview Glen Alliance Church in Toronto. Seeing so many people of varying ages and from all walks of life who were willing to give up a significant part of their weekend to reflect more seriously on what it means to live as God’s people today was itself a wonderful expression of the reality of the Kingdom. Noted pastor, theologian and author David Fitch challenged us over the course of three presentations to reflect more deeply on the questions: “What is the Gospel?” “When is the Kingdom?” and “How does the Kingdom Come?” I also had the opportunity to sit-in on breakout sessions led by one of my colleagues at Tyndale, Duncan Reid, and a former student, who I’m pleased to count as a friend, Robyn Elliott. Duncan helped us to see the intricate connection between the Kingdom and discipleship in the Gospel of Matthew by drawing us more deeply into the Sermon on the Mount. Robyn gamely took on the daunting challenge of exploring the theme of the Kingdom in the Old Testament prophets and, as expected, did so in a most gracious and winsome fashion. Special thanks to Dave Lewis, Claire Willison, Scotty Rade, and their team at Bayview Glen for their hospitality and all of their efforts that went into making the conference a reality.
I presented what was, admittedly, a rather ambitious talk entitled, “‘It’s the End of the World as We Know It’: Paul, the Kingdom, and Living between the Times.” I was able to capture audio from my presentation. Since I know there are some who were interested in hearing my presentation, but were unable to be there, and since there may be others who were there, but might want to hear it again, I’ve decided to post it on the blog. Unfortunately, the large size of the audio file necessitates that I break the presentation up into smaller morsels for posting. So over the next several days I will be posting the audio of the presentation in serial format. Since I was assigned the topic of the Kingdom of God in the letters of Paul, I begin in the first part by wrestling with the question of why “kingdom” language appears so infrequently in Paul’s letters.
Part 1: The Riddle of the Missing Kingdom in Paul