I appreciated these words from Greg Gilbert on the necessity of keeping the message of the cross and the Kingdom of God knit together:
By all means, preach about the kingdom, talk about Jesus’ conquest of evil, write about his coming reign. But don’t pretend that all those things are glorious good news all by themselves. They’re not. The bare fact that Jesus is going to rule the world with perfect righteousness is not good news to me; it’s terrifying news, because I am not righteous! I’m one of the enemies he’s coming to crush!
The coming kingdom becomes good news only when I’m told that the coming King is also a Savior who forgives sin and makes people righteous—and he does that through his death on the cross. Ignore that, downplay it, shove it out of the center of the gospel, and you make the whole thing not good news at all, but a terrifying message of judgment to rebellious sinners.
I hope that in my talking about the Kingdom rule of Jesus, I never divorce the message of the Kingdom from the message of substitutionary atonement found in Christ'd death on the cross.
I am thankful that Gilbert does not throw away the baby of the Kingdom with the bathwater of "the social gospel", which is all about healing the world of injustice and no message of forgiveness of sins through Christ's wrath-bearing sacrifice.
To hear more, listen to his talk from the Together for the Gospel conference.