Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Kingdom Identified

Kingdom Identified

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt 4:17).


Welcome to today’s Truth for the Journey! Here we will continue with our discovery of the Kingdom and its true identity. Let’s begin by saying that since the very beginning of history, men have always tried to create the “perfect” society! For instance the famous Greek philosophers like Plato always dreamt of the “ideal society” - based upon ethical, political and social philosophies – but in reality their desires were always too “idealistic” ever to be realized!

When it comes to the Bible however, it was first via the Old Testament prophets that a picture of a future age emerged, where men would live together without armaments of war! (This was something that Plato and others where idealistically “reaching” for and would ever find “unattainable” based on their humanistic and philosophical ideals that were outside of God!) It was Isaiah who spoke of spears being turned into pruning hooks, and nations not lifting up swords against each other. In fact, the peace of the world would be so dramatically different that he used the images of a wolf lying down with a lamb, leopards with kids, and calves with young lions to signify the radical change in world affairs, which would come in the future.

As our opening scripture states, the message, which Jesus preached, was one of repentance because the beginning of a new era was at hand (Matt. 4:17) and His teachings, illustrations, and parables primarily dealt with the kingdom of God. Including the prayer that He taught His disciples; “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). Jesus continually emphasised the kingdom with His disciples. When studying the gospels this is very plain to see but when it comes to Matthew’s gospel he called it the “kingdom of heaven” simply because it was written primarily for the Jews. However it remains that little agreement exists on what the kingdom of God is and what the message of the gospel of the kingdom should be.

For instance Dr. Paul Y. Cho in his book, “More Than Numbers” states, “Augustine perceived the kingdom of God to be synonymous with the church. The Reformed movement had a large part in redefining the meaning of the kingdom of God. Calvin basically agreed with Augustine. He differed on what aspect of the church represented the kingdom of God. His feelings were that the true church, which was within the obvious church, was the earthly manifestations of the kingdom of God.

The task of the church would be made possible by the use of a special power called the gospel of the kingdom of God. This gospel of the kingdom of God would so affect the lives of first men and then nations that there would be a mighty transformation of social, political, and economic reality. The church was likened to leaven which would slowly so permeate the dough of the earth that at a point in history the earth would proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and King. At this point the Lord Jesus Christ would return to earth to accept the kingdom prepared for him by his heavenly Father.

There has been another school of theology, which does not try to explain the kingdom of God in terms of the future but tries to understand the kingdom of God in its present social context. Harvey Cox is just one of many modern theologians who view the kingdom of God as a social order brought about by the church. The problems of inequality, prejudice, as well as the rest of our social concerns are to be addressed and dealt with by a church, which is conscious of its mission. Biblical terms are redefined to make them more relevant of today’s problems. Many of our liberal church leaders are motivated by what they see is the lack of concern within the more conservative evangelical church leaders.”

However theological views of the kingdom of God are intrinsically flawed and a much greater foundation exists than mere “reason” for establishing what the kingdom of God really is; which is the very Word of God. The following are basic biblical principles that reveal what the kingdom of God is:

  1. The kingdom of God is not only for the future, but also for the present. “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Romans 14:17). Paul reveals to us that the kingdom of God transcends the natural existence of man and caused him to experience in the here and now, the fruit of the Holy Spirit. That if you associate with the Holy Spirit you will become like the person you are associating with. The natural result of association with the Holy Spirit will be a way of life, which is more concerned with the quality God bestows to life rather than the essential aspects to life, eating and drinking.

  2. Paul also reveals that the kingdom of God is something that we have entered into as a result of our being regenerated by the Holy Spirit. “[God] hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Col. 1:13). The word, “translated,” used in our English text, in the Greek is metestasen, which literally means to change sides. As I study this verse, I see a picture of a football game. Each team is on the opposite end of the field. On one side is the team, which represents the kingdom of darkness. On the other side is the team, which represents the kingdom of God. During the game, one of the main players of the darkness team takes off his shirt and number, goes to the opposing bench and puts on the kingdom of God shirt. Then he goes on the field to play against the darkness boys. He simply switches sides. This is what happened to us. We were transformed from one kingdom to the other, the Kingdom of our Lord.

  3. The kingdom of God is also described in its future prospect for eternal blessedness: “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly in the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:10,11 KJV). In Matthew Jesus spoke of the future when he said, “Many will come from the east and west and sit at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven” (8:11). Yet in Matthew 13, our Lord tells parables which give further clarification to what he meant by the kingdom of heaven. He says that once the kingdom is purged, the righteous would shine like the sun.

  4. Jesus is the representation of what it is like to be in the kingdom. “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Lo, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you” (Luke 17:20-21, RSV). This verse can be applied to the fact that the kingdom of God was there in their midst. The “you” here is the plural, which in English is hard to understand. Jesus was there in their midst. The Pharisees were not to look for a glorious manifestation in the future, but the kingdom was before them and they were too blind to observe that God was working without a lot of fanfare.

  5. The kingdom’s paradox has to be viewed on the basis of a balanced understanding. Jesus told Pilate in John 18, “My kingdom is not of this world.” Yet he also said in Luke 13 that the kingdom of God would start out rather unobservable, like a mustard seed. Yet, this seed, almost unnoticed, would grow up and affect the entire world. Rather than seeing opposing views in Scripture as contradictory, I consider them as a balance. Therefore, the kingdom of God is future, but it is present. It is not of this world, but it affects this world. It can be entered into at the present time, but there is a future fulfilment. You can’t see it with the natural eye, but the kingdom of God is everywhere Christ is. As we analyse the kingdom further we realise that the word kingdom can be understood in different ways.

    Both the word baileia, the Greek word translated kingdom; and the Hebrew word malkuth signify the rank and authority exercised by a king. Our present thinking deals with the people who are under the king’s authority or the actual territory over which kingly authority is exercised. So the nature of the authority may be closer to the understanding of the biblical concept of kingdom than the actual subjects of the authority.

    Psalm 145:13 expresses in poetic terms something of this idea, “Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.” In classical Hebrew poetry, the two verses of the poem are to express the same idea in differing ways. Therefore the poet’s concept of the kingdom was that it was God’s actual dominion.

Take for instance King Herod – a.k.a. “Herod the Great!” - the unpopular king of Israel. Although he rebuilt the temple to majestic grandeur and built a great many fine public buildings in Jerusalem, he had no real kingdom. There was no genuine basis for his authority apart from Roman might. He had gone to Rome and had been given the kingship over Israel without a legitimate basis for having this kind of authority.

He was not born to it. A recognised prophet did not anoint him. He was not a descendant of Judah. He had no legitimacy. Although he lived in a palace, wore a crown and was called King Herod, his kingdom was bought and not earned. In Great Britain there are estates that can be bought which will carry a title with them. So if you have enough money, you may buy a title. Yet, this is not the same as being given a title by the queen; or being born into a noble family. Money might buy you a title, but that title is not legitimate.

As we analyse this thinking further, it causes us to understand the prayer which Jesus told us to pray: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” More than asking God to take over the world in a cataclysmic event, there seems to be the desire in the heart of the Lord for the authority of God to be as obvious to the earth as it is obvious in heaven.

To conclude then, I personally believe that the kingdom of God concerns the nature of His reign and His authority; genuine, indisputable and eternal! The reign of God is present, but it will also be in the future. God has always been in charge! He is the Creator of the earth and for that matter the entire universe. He is all-powerful. However, in this human arena called earth, God has allowed Himself to be limited. Satan was given a realm of authority; he is the god of this present age. He has authority over this world’s systems. His seat of authority is in the immediate atmosphere surrounding the world. Nevertheless God provided an escape from the territory over which Satan rules or has authority. He provided Jesus Christ, the last Adam! Amen.

PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Father thank You for complete and utter victory through Christ Jesus! I gladly reserve my life for Your glory. I give myself to Your Kingdom. To Your rule and authority. Amen.

CONFESSION OF THE DAY
Today I walk in the authority, power and rule of almighty God, because I seek first His Kingdom. I allow Him to govern my life. I am liberated; spirit, soul and body! I am no longer subject to the powers of darkness. I am no longer oppressed. Because the Son has set me free, I am free indeed. Glory be to God!

THANK YOU FOR HELPING TO MAKE THIS MINISTRY POSSIBLE!
WE LOVE YOU…!

Motto: ‘God Chooses, then the Spirit Tests, but You Must Respond!’

Copyright 2011 © Alan Pateman Ministries

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