Kingdom of God

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The Blessedness of the Kingdom

Posted by on 03 Aug 2011 | Tagged as: Kingdom of God, Tim Keller

The Kingdom and the Church

Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.

John 18:35-36

The Kingdom of God is the presence of the future–a foretaste of heaven. It is a foretaste–an advance sample–of what life will be like when dwelling in God’s exquisite presence in heaven. The kingdom is the inbreaking of heaven: the dynamic rule and reign of God has come and presently is touching the earth. All that heaven will be–freedom from sickness, deliverance from oppression, joy in forgiveness, etc.–experienced now in Christ Jesus. The Kingdom has come in Christ and is advancing throughout the world and the Kingdom will be fully established upon the return of Christ.

Presently, the kingdom of God spiritually reigns in the hearts of those who have made Christ Lord of their lives and is manifested in and through them by the Holy Spirit’s presence, preaching of the Gospel, healing of the sick, and release from demonic bondage, etc. (Luke 4:16-20, 43). The Kingdom of God advances by conquering men and women’s hearts through the power of the Cross: the Holy Spirit changes us from self-centered slobs to Christ-centered servants (John 3:3; 2 Cor. 5:14-15).

What is the relationship of the church to the kingdom? On the one hand, the church is a “pilot plant” of the kingdom of God. It is not simply a collection of individuals who are forgiven. It is a “royal nation” (1 Peter 2:9), in other words, a counterculture. The church is to be a new society in which the world can see what family dynamics, business practices, race relations, and all of life can be under the kingship of Jesus Christ. God is out to heal all the effects of sin: psychological, social, and physical.

On the other hand, the church is to be an agent of the kingdom. It is not only to model the healing of God’s rule but it is to spread it. “You are . . . a royal priesthood, a holy nation . . . that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9). Christians go into the world as witnesses of the kingdom (Acts 1:6-8). To spread the kingdom of God is more than simply winning people to Christ. It is also working for the healing of persons, families, relationships, and nations; it is doing deeds of mercy and seeking justice. It is ordering lives and relationships and institutions and communities according to God’s authority to bring in the blessedness of the kingdom.

Timothy J. Keller, Ministries of Mercy: The Call of the Jericho Road, 2nd ed. (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R), 54.

HT: Between Two Worlds

 

Kingdom of God Is . . .

Posted by on 01 May 2011 | Tagged as: Jesus Christ, Kingdom of God

jesus-teaching

Parables of Jesus

The Kingdom of God is like . . . (Matt. 13:31).

Last year at Lamb of God, we studied the parables of Jesus. Jesus continually used parables to explain the nature and purpose of his kingdom. In an earlier post, I defined the Kingdom of God as the presence of the future–a foretaste of heaven. The Kingdom is an advance sample of what heaven will be like when we sit and enjoy the unparalleled presence of God. The Kingdom of God advances as men and women’s hearts are conquered through the power and love of the Cross. The Kingdom rules internally, but does manifest itself outwardly through the healing of the sick, deliverance from demons, joy in forgiveness, and relief for the least, lost, and lonely.

In essence, the Kingdom of God is the royal rule and reign of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in our hearts now and this internal reign will be fully manifested to the world upon his Second Coming. Contrary to the notes in the Scofield Study Bible, the kingdom is present now in this life and then will be fully realized in heaven.

Signs of the Kingdom’s presence in the life of the believer . . .

1. Born from Above: A supernatural change of heart performed by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit (John 3:5).

2. Lordship of Christ: Jesus rules in our hearts leading and directing our lives by his most beneficent rule (1 Peter 3:15; Rev. 11:15).

3. Cross-Centered: The death, burial, and resurrection of Christ has transformed us. Our motivation is changed from self-centeredness jerks to Christ-centered servants (2 Cor. 5:15).

4. Presence of the Holy Spirit: A life lived in the realm where God is present. This abundant life is typified by righteousness, joy, and peace in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17).

5. Manifestations of the Spirit: Healing of sickness, deliverance from demonic oppression, and overcoming power from sin. The Kingdom advances as lives are taken out from under the domination of Satan and brought into the righteous rule of Christ (Luke 4:18-19).

Jesus answered, ‘My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.’

John 18:36 NLT


The Kingdom of God Is . . .

Posted by on 30 Apr 2011 | Tagged as: George Eldon Ladd, John Stott, Kingdom of God

 

The Now and Not Yet of the Kingdom

Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

Luke 12:31-32 ESV

The Kingdom of God is the presence of the future–a foretaste of heaven. It is a foretaste–an advance sample–of what life will be like when dwelling in God’s exquisite presence in heaven.  The kingdom is the inbreaking of heaven: the dynamic rule and reign of God has come and presently is touching the earth.  All that heaven will be–freedom from sickness, deliverance from oppression, joy in forgiveness, etc.–experienced now in Christ Jesus. The Kingdom has come in Christ and is advancing throughout the world; however, the Kingdom will not be completely established until the Second Coming of Christ.

Presently, the kingdom of God spiritually reigns in the hearts of those who have made Christ Lord of their lives and is manifested in and through them by the Holy Spirit’s presence, preaching of the Gospel, healing of the sick, and release from demonic bondage, etc. (Luke 4:16-20, 43). The Kingdom of God advances by conquering men and women’s hearts through the power of the Cross: the Holy Spirit changes us from self-centered slobs to Christ-centered servants (John 3:3, 2 Cor. 5:14-15). In the future, the Kingdom of God will be firmly established on earth upon the visible return of Christ.

We celebrate our feasts with joy, because we have a foretaste of a future world in which we may discard all that is temporal and earthly, and in which the Lord himself is everything.

Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt, Jesus Is Victor, Keep Your Feasts with Joy (Breakfast with Blumhardt, Daily Email Devotion), May 3, 2005; available from http://www.blumhardts.com/.

When Jesus spoke of the kingdom of God he was not referring to the general sovereignty of God over nature and history, but to that specific rule over his own people which he himself had inaugurated, and which begins in anybody’s life when he humbles himself, repents, believes, submits and is born again.  God’s kingdom is Jesus Christ ruling over his people in total blessing and total demand.

To ‘seek first’ this kingdom is to desire as of first importance the spread of the reign of Jesus Christ.  Such a desire will start with ourselves, until every single department of our life — home, marriage and family, personal morality, professional life and business ethics, bank balance, tax returns, lifestyle, citizenship — is joyfully and freely submissive to Christ.  It will continue in our immediate environment, with the acceptance of evangelistic responsibility towards our relatives, colleagues, neighbors and friends.  And it will also reach out in global concern for the missionary witness of the church.

John Stott, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount, The Bible Speaks Today Series (Leicester and Downers Grove: IVP, 1978), 170.

A New Reality

Posted by on 15 Oct 2010 | Tagged as: Gospel, Holy Eucharist, Kingdom of God, Lesslie Newbigin

His Seal Makes a New Community

And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal (Greek: arrabōn) on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

2 Cor. 1:21-22

Bishop Lesslie Newbigin is one of my favorite figures in church history (1909-1998). You may not have heard of him: bishop in the Church of South India, street preacher, theologian of the post-modern age, lover of the sacraments, Holy Spirit led and directed, and missions pioneer.

Gratefully, I had the opportunity of meeting Bishop Newbigin about year before his passing. I attended a special missions conference held in Newbigin’s honor at Beeson Divinity School. This conference would be his last formal speaking engagement before his passing. In our conversation, Newbigin was gracious, unusually anointed of the Holy Spirit, and a fine conversationalist. Officially, he spoke twice that day and continued to be a powerful preacher of the Word though blind and weak.

This quote is a little longer than I normally post, but these thoughts from his seminal work, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society, are quintessentially Newbigin.

This presence of a new reality, the presence in the shared life of the Church of the Spirit who is the arrabōn of the kingdom, has become possible because of what Jesus has done, because of his incarnation, his ministry as the obedient child of his Father, his suffering and death, his resurrection, his ascension into heaven, and his session at the right hand of God. When the apostles are asked to explain the new reality, the new power to find joy in tribulation, healing in sickness, freedom in bondage, life in death, this is the explanation they give.

It follows that the visible embodiment of this new reality is not a movement that will take control of history and shape the future according to its own vision, not a new imperialism, not a victorious crusade. Its visible embodiment will be a community that lives by this story, a community whose existence is visibly defined in the regular rehearsing and reenactment of this story which has given it birth, the story of the self-emptying of God in the ministry, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Its visible centre as a continuing social entity is that weekly repeated event in which believers share bread and wine as Jesus commanded, as his pledge to them and their pledge to him that they are one with him in his passion and one with him in his victory.

Instead of the celebration of the sabbath as the end of God’s old creation, they celebrate the first day of the week, the Lord’s Day, as the beginning of the new creation. In this they find enacted and affirmed the meaning and goal of their lives as part of the life of the cosmos, their stories part of the universal story. This story does indeed lead to a glorious end and is therefore filled with meaning, but the end is not some far distant date in terrestrial history. The end is the day when Jesus shall come again, when his hidden rule will become manifest and all things will be seen as they truly are. That is why we repeat at each celebration of the Lord’s Supper the words which encapsulate the whole mystery of the faith: “Christ has died, Christ has risen: Christ shall come again.”

Lesslie J. Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralistic Society (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1989), 120 [paragraphing mine].

HT: Euangelion