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Articles

Plain Talk About the Kingdom of God - Part I

Pastor Dan Rhodes
Because there may be misconceptions and disqualifying concerns about the Message of God's Kingdom, there needs to be a clarifying statement of what it IS and what it is NOT.

What the Message of the Kingdom Is Not

 

  1. The Kingdom Message Is Not a New Concept

The Kingdom of God is as old as Scripture and as new as the last person who discovers its truth. Jesus began His earthly ministry by proclaiming the present reality of God's Kingdom (Matt. 4:17, 23). He instructed His disciples to pray for the Kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:9-13). He taught that the entrance to the Kingdom is through the New Birth (John 3:3, 5). For forty days after His resurrection, He concluded His earthly ministry by teaching His disciples more about the Kingdom (Acts 1:3). Finally, He declared that the end of the world will culminate with the fullest reality of God's Kingdom on earth. (Matt. 24:14; 1 Cor. 15:23-25; Rev. 11:15).

 

  1. The Kingdom Message Is Not a "Different Gospel"

The Message of God's Kingdom is not a "Different Gospel" that proclaims "Another" Jesus (2 Cor. 11:3- 4, 13-15). Therefore, it will never violate God's righteous standards as revealed in Scripture. It never once suggests that people can continue to live in sin and expect the grace of God in Jesus to forgive them without repentance (Rom. 6:1-23). It never once approves of sexual relationships outside of the holy covenant of marriage…one man and one woman under the authority of Christ and His Holy Scriptures (1 Cor. 6:9-11; Heb. 13:4). It never once allows world religions to be co-mingled with Christianity under the idea that all beliefs are equally true or that all faiths lead to God (Ex. 23:32-33; Col. 2:8). But neither does the true Message of the Kingdom degenerate into a legalistic list of do's, don'ts or religious regulations (Eph. 2:8-10; Col. 2:20-23). The Message of God's Kingdom is solidly founded on the Substitutionary Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ on behalf of fallen humankind. Only those who respond to His redeeming grace with personal faith in Him are saved (John 3:16-21; Mark 16:16).

 

  1. The Kingdom Message Is Not Man-Centered

The Kingdom of God is His sovereign rule throughout His created universe…things seen and unseen. It exists because God exists, not because man or creation exists. The King of God's Kingdom is Christ, not human authority, and His Kingdom is not of this realm (John 18:36). Fallible people are recipients of the King's saving grace on their behalf and are invited to enter His Kingdom through redemption (John 3:3-5). As such, we are continually undergoing the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit after salvation in order to properly represent Christ to the fallen world around us (1 Thess.

 

5:23; Philip. 2:15-16). Yes, the redeemed of the Lord reign with Christ (Rev. 5:10), but that's for the purpose of governing with Him…not instead of Him! We are humble servants of Christ proving to be examples of His saving grace rather than acting as exalted kings who lord over people (1 Peter 5:1-3). The Kingdom of God is about us, but it's not ALL about us. We are not the Light…but His Light shines through us for the world to see and glorify the Father, not us (Matt. 5:14-16). The Message of the Kingdom is about Christ IN us (Col. 1:27). Jesus is our example for us to follow…servants of men, not ruling over them (Matt. 20:25-28).

 

  1. Message of the Kingdom of God Is Infinitely Greater than Church Movements Such as "Dominionism" or "Kingdom Now"

 

The Biblical Message of the Kingdom is not a "Take Over" mentality. It does not advocate taking control of secular governments by Christians nor does it support the replacement of secular laws with the Laws of God as codified in the Bible (Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Pet. 2:13-17). The Kingdom Message does not support the idea that all societal institutions such as education, science, the arts, etc. will be overtaken by the Christian Church. However, the role of every Christian is to bear witness of Christ's saving grace within those kingdoms (Luke 3:10-14; John 17:15-23). God's Kingdom is godly influence (like leaven) to all the world of His reconciling grace through the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 13:33).

 

The dominion God gave human beings was to make right choices, overcome evil in their own lives and properly represent His character and intentions in the earth (Gen. 2:16-17; Deut. 30:19-20). Though God needs no help in carrying out His righteous purposes and judgments, He has sovereignly chosen to work through the principle of the witness to influence the fallen world (Deut. 17:6; Is. 43:9- 13; John 1:7; Acts 1:8)…of which Jesus is the TRUE WITNESS (Rev. 1:5; 3:14).

 

Certainly, God's Kingdom was, is and will always be NOW and we can tap into the power of the Kingdom, NOW. But the fullness of that reality on earth will not take place until Christ returns and totally restores all things back to His righteous intentions (1 Cor. 15:23-28; Rev. 11:15; 21:1-5)! Our mission is to be His witnesses by demonstrating "His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven" in our lives and influencing the world around us for Christ (Matt. 6:10; Philip. 2:15-16).

 

  1. The Kingdom Message Is Not Authoritarianism

Here is a human dilemma that we must grapple with: How do we, as recipients of the Power of God's Kingdom, represent His authority on earth while remaining humble servants of the Lord? The answer lies in understanding what Spiritual Authority really means. It's imperative to know the difference between Secular Authority and the type of authority that God gives to His Church.

 

SECULAR AUTHORITY is human organizational power over people's lives to govern and control society. Actually, this type of authority is approved by God to give order and protection to society (Rom. 13:1-4). However, if this power is misused for personal gain and egotistical dominance, it

 

becomes evil. Unfortunately, the fallen nature gravitates toward authoritarian leadership styles that grasp to control the thoughts, opinions and God-given freedom of people. It produces tyrants who demand that people show blind submission to their dictates and commands. That's precisely what Jesus said leaders of the world do, but it should not be so with His disciples (Matt. 20:25-28).

 

SPIRITUAL AUTHORITY is the Power of Righteous Rule that emanates from God Himself. God alone possesses ultimate authority in both heaven and on earth. Yet, in God's unimaginable grace, He has chosen to share His authority with His redeemed community (His Church) and trust us to accomplish His work on earth (Matt. 10:1). The Spiritual Authority we have is a delegated assignment from God to represent the righteous cause of His Kingdom and to influence people for Christ in the earth. We are accountable to Him to exercise that authority according to His character and purposes (1 Pet. 5:1-4). We represent the Government (Kingdom) of God, not our personal kingdom. Our authority is an illusion unless it's backed by God's REAL power and used as He has instructed in His word!

 

  1. The Kingdom of God Is Not the Church

God's Kingdom cannot be equated to an earthly kingdom or even to the Church itself. To believe so is both humanistic and limited in its view of God's eternal rule and reign throughout all time. Yes, we are "a" kingdom unto Him (Ex. 19:6; Rev. 5:10), but we are not "THE" Kingdom of God! According to Scripture, the Kingdom (God's rule through the Lord Jesus Christ) established the Church (Matt. 16:18). The Church witnesses to and proclaims the Kingdom (Matt. 24:14; Luke 9:2). The Church is a manifestation and instrument of Christ's Kingdom to accomplish God's will on earth as it is in heaven (Matt.6:10; 2 Cor. 2:14). The Church receives the Kingdom and is the custodian of the truth of the Kingdom of God (2 Tim. 1:14 Heb. 12:28). Finally, the Church is not the "Restored kingdom of Israel" expressed in Christian terms (Acts 1:6-8).

 

  1. The Kingdom Is Not Limited to an Eschatological Event

Certainly, the absolute fullness of the reality of God's Kingdom on earth will not take place until Christ returns and totally restores all things back to His righteous intentions. At that time, He will destroy all evil and believers will be resurrected to their glorified state to live forever with Him on the renovate and renewed earth, freed from corruption. However, we cannot deny the present reality of God's Kingdom! When Jesus began His ministry, He declared, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven IS at hand" (Matt. 4:17) and He said, "The Kingdom of God IS in your midst" (Luke 17:20-21). Since Jesus is the King of God's Kingdom (1 Tim. 6:14-16), then His physical appearance on earth 2,000 years ago meant that In Him, His Kingdom was on earth as well. That's why the Apostle Paul wrote that we have been transferred into the Kingdom of Christ (Col. 1:13). By virtue of the New Birth, we are already IN God's Kingdom! Not only that, but the Kingdom of God is also in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17). Whoever has the Spirit of God dwelling within them, has access to the Kingdom of God. That's why the power of God's Kingdom is available to us Now!

Taken from "The Logos of the Kingdom" by Pastor Dan Rhodes

Tags: Kingdom

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