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Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Kingdom Of God


Many professing Christians, preachers, pastors, and evangelical types consider the gospel good news to be salvation through belief that Jesus Christ is Lord along with the repentance of sinful deeds and thoughts.  That is good news and not to be diminished at all, but the message proclaimed by John the Baptist, then Jesus Christ, followed by Paul and the apostles was the gospel of the Kingdom of God.

On the day of the Ascension of Jesus, the disciples asked Jesus, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?”  Jesus answered them, “…and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”  This answer is taken by preachers and evangelists to mean:  go out and preach the salvation of Jesus Christ by believing in Him and confessing one’s sins.”  Is that what Jesus meant?  Well, it’s a good thing to do and some churches spend a ton of money supporting missionaries, but it is basically secondary to the Kingdom of God.  It one believes that Jesus is presently King and Lord over everything (which is true):  if one lives their life as Jesus preached with the Sermon on the Mount:  if one emulates the teachings and lifestyle of Jesus as much as possible, the gospel of salvation will be already achieved.

One commentator’s definition of the Kingdom of God is:  the new world-order, in heaven and on earth, produced by the revolutionary changes brought about in Jesus' fulfillment of the Old Covenant in His life, death, resurrection, and ascension.  The Kingdom is the present Lordship and the Kingship of Jesus Christ.   He (Jesus) is the example that a living person’s life should be (must be) fashioned and shaped from.

Old Testament scriptures contained prophecies of the coming Kingdom.  Isaiah 9:6 proclaims the “government shall be upon his shoulder.”  There will be no end to His government of peace.

Isaiah 9:6-7 KJV For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. 

Jeremiah 23:5 proclaims the King will reign and prosper executing judgment and justice.

Jeremiah 23:5 KJV Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.

The Kingdom was neither a new concept nor a new term to the Judeans during the life of Jesus.  This Kingdom was seen as a coming with the Messiah of an age of true religion and universal peace and prosperity as the blessing of God spread with His dominion.  Joseph looked forward to the kingdom of God.

Mark 15:43 NET Joseph of Arimathea, a highly regarded member of the council, who was himself looking forward to the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 

The political structure of Judea rejected Jesus and His message and had Him crucified.  They envisioned a political, Israelite kingdom as the context for all the blessings prophesied. The Messiah would be the literal king of a Judean state as the kingdom of David, institute religious reforms, usher in blessing and restoration, stand as a defender of Israel from foreign domination, and then eventually extend His dominion over the whole earth.  The Judeans were looking for a kingdom as one they were aware of in the past and they continue doing so today.

Attempts to see the Kingdom of God as a future event are mostly the product of the late nineteenth century's rise of dispensationalism. The Gospels tell us the Kingdom is to be sought in our lives.

Matthew 6:33 NET But above all pursue his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

 It is to be received now.

Mark 10:15 NET I tell you the truth, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will never enter it."

 A person in Christ's day could see it and enter into it.

John 3:5 NET Jesus answered, "I tell you the solemn truth, unless a person is born of water and spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
 It can be found among us (in your midst).

Luke 17:21 KJV Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. 

Present day church people have imposed a parenthetical church age into the passage of history (dispensationalism) (rather than acknowledge a present on-going kingdom of God with an eschatological millennium as the only fulfillment.  The kingdom is now, as expressed by Paul and other writers.

Romans 14:17 NET For the kingdom of God does not consist of food and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Hebrews 12:28 KJV Wherefore we receiving a kingdom (of God) which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: 

Attempts to see the Kingdom of God as only a future event are mostly the product of the late nineteenth century's rise of dispensationalism. i.e. The entire church ( saints and the fringe group) will be raptured and bring to an end the present dispensation which is considered a 1000 year pause in the dispensation of the Jews and temple worship.

The Lord’s Supper is an emphasized part of worship that emphasizes the kingdom of God with its associated royal feast.

Luke 14:15 KJV And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God. 

A statement of Jesus, concerning this banquet, may have been derived from a prophecy in Isaiah.

Luke 13:29 KJV And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God.

Isaiah 2:3 KJV And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

The supernatural feeding of the multitudes was an act of kindness but it was also proof that He is the promised messianic King of prophecy.

Psalms 23:5 KJV Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

The kingdom feast that Jesus taught about and enacted throughout His earthly ministry was "institutionalized" in the Lord's Supper (Mat 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:17-20; 1 Cor 11:23-25). During the Last Supper, Jesus pointed to the connection between the Supper and the feast of the kingdom.  The Lord's Supper is a forerunner of the wedding feast that saints will enjoy when Jesus, the Bridegroom returns.

Matthew 26:26-29 NET While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after giving thanks he broke it, gave it to his disciples, and said, "Take, eat, this is my body." And after taking the cup and giving thanks, he gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, that is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, from now on I will not drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom."

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