I will not be able to share on the Kingdom of Heaven/God in my blog in any way close to the depth I will be on Sundays, but I will endeavor to capture some of what God is showing me in posts over the coming weeks. It has been an eye-opening journey as I study and I hope it blesses you as much as it has me. Bear with me through these initial posts as, short of becoming book length, they will inevitably raise more questions than I can address or answer here.
It strikes me that the Kingdom message was one that we have lost in our sharing of the Gospel—and yet it was dominate in their sharing of it. John the Baptist declared it. Jesus declared it. The first verses of Acts tell us it is what Jesus taught on between His resurrection and ascension. The chapters of Acts tell us that it was dominate in what the Apostles taught. The last verses of Acts tell us that it is what Paul was teaching from his confinement in the last records of his life. Jesus even said that it was the gospel of the Kingdom that would be preached throughout the whole world, and then the end would come.
What is the Kingdom message or gospel? I'll address that in later posts, but it is, in a very short summary, the place where God reigns. A kingdom is a king's domain—where he has authority. Paul tells us, in Colossians 1:13, that God, ". . . has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son." Jesus made no bones about declaring Satan the ruler of this world, but He announced a ruler, or King, greater had come—a new and greater Kingdom was "invading" the world that was, and is, under the sway and authority (or domain) of darkness.
In some verses the Kingdom is declared to be here. In others it is still coming. And both are true. The invasion began with Jesus. Then, by His death, burial, and resurrection He "bound" the strongman—He removed Satan's basis of authority and power. What awaits is the plundering of the strongman's goods. (I am referencing His parable of the strongman which He told in multiple of the Gospels when accused of casting out demons by Satan's power.) We are in, as Peter declared in his first sermon when quoting Joel, the "last days"—plural. We are waiting for the last day—singular. It would seem that we are in that inbetween time when the Kingdom of God has broken in, where Jesus has bound the strongman, and when the strongman's goods are being plundered by those in God's Kingdom—where we are called to go out, in His name and authority, and share and demonstrate this Kingdom to a world in darkness.
Some have believed that we are to usher in the final Kingdom by social justice and working to make the world perfect. That won't happen. The Bible makes it clear the world is going to be in chaos and pain until Jesus comes back. The Kingdom is not a world Kingdom, it is God's rule in and over a person. We absolutely care for the downtrodden, and love the lost, and rebuke the demonic realm, and "plunder" that which Satan owns . . . but we do it person by person, one by one, loving them and sharing with them the good news of Jesus' death that bound Satan's hold and gave us a way to freedom and being brought back together again with God, who loves us so much.
The thing that a "Kingdom" understanding does for us is help us understand our full calling in Christ. So often we present the cross as the end or the gospel—"get saved" so you can go to heaven. We then "get saved" and then wait, or "hold on," until heaven. The "Kingdom" understanding awakens us to our tremendous calling to go, in Jesus' authority and name, letting Him live and rule in us, as our King, plundering that which He died to buy back, that which He dearly loves. Jesus has gone ahead of us to prepare a place—and the day will be here in a twinkle of the eye when He ushers us in to it!—but until then we are called to kneel before our King, to serve our King, to allow Him to be King in us, and to be His hands and feet in winning back that which He paid the dearest price for. I believe that it would be impossible for a Christian to ever truly understand this calling and Kingdom gospel and to ever be bored. I am convinced that word "bored" and the word "Christian" should never exist in the same sentence (yes, I know I just used them both in one).
The great news is that while we are warned through the New Testament to be aware of the devil as we live and serve, nowhere does it say we are to be afraid of the devil. To the contrary—to understand the Kingdom gospel is to understand that Jesus defeated him with the cross and that we are to go in Jesus' name and authority and be His Kingdom "knights"—plundering that which was the devil's, but which Jesus bought back. In fact, the New Testament encourages us and reminds us that when we resist the devil he will flee, and that greater is the One in us than the one who is in and of the world! Thanks be to God for His gift, His love, and the calling we have to be a part of His "invasion" from Heaven to earth! May His Kingdom come, and His will be done, here on earth as it is in heaven, in each area and place He has called me and you to live and walk in His name and authority, as His ambassador and soldier and bride!