Wednesday, April 23, 2014

75. One Way into the Kingdom

“And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.”  (Matthew 11:12)


It is always imperative that we take individual verses of scripture within their context in order that we would not take the verse out of context to make it mean what we want it to mean so that if fits our philosophies rather than the Truth of God. It has been said of this verse that since ‘violent men take the kingdom of God by force’, then it’s ok to act violently when ‘taking’ the kingdom of God for ourselves. There is no truth in this concept for it is entirely antithetical to the context and to the nature of God. The inaccurate interpretation of this particular verse has fueled many a crusade and has, because of the false interpretation, revealed who has a clear understanding of the Kingdom and who doesn’t. Still today, there are false teachings and beliefs on this verse because men and women ignorantly teach that this kingdom has a present earthly manifestation and that one can violently take the kingdom by force. This is false teaching derived from ignorance that coincides with an internal love for violence.


John the Baptist came preaching, beginning with the Jews first, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” Repentance had ordinarily been for Gentiles in order that they might be converted to Judaism, so the baptism was for the Gentiles. The Jews saw themselves as children of God already for their father was Abraham. In this, they had no need of repentance of anything. The Jews presumed that the Kingdom of God was an earthly kingdom and that the Messiah would come to free them from the Roman rule with an earthly army. Hence, violence would have been the way for the earthly kingdom to come to fruition. The kingdom would have been taken for themselves, by themselves in a violent war, but that is not the true Kingdom of God that John came preaching about; neither was it the Kingdom that Jesus ushered in with His Holy Presence.


The key to understanding the Kingdom of God is to be absolutely certain that this kingdom is a spiritual kingdom and can only be entered by the blood of Jesus Christ. Jesus said that He was the way, the truth and the life and that no man can get to the Father except through Him. He also said that no man could enter the kingdom unless he was born again. All of this and all of the rest of Jesus’ teachings were of the spiritual kingdom that does not come with observation, that is, it does not come about by the life and work of men, ‘but is within you’, placed there by the indwelling Presence of the Holy Spirit. (Luke 17:20-21)


The spiritual habitation of a life given to the Lord will be the habitation of the Holy Spirit, for we are the ‘temple of the Holy Spirit’. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) We enter this kingdom of grace by His grace and by His grace alone. Jesus Christ did all of the work for us on the cross as our substitution for our sins. Yes, we must repent. Yes, must give our lives to Him. And the wonderful exchange of a life given completely to Him is that He takes us and gives us new life in Him. His life, then, is lived through us in the Presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Submission and obedience is preeminent and never violence. Be at peace and rest in Him.







Monday, April 21, 2014

74. Jesus Preached the Kingdom of God

“When Jesus finished giving these instructions to his twelve disciples, he went off teaching and preaching in towns throughout the country.”  (Matthew 11:1, NLT)


Have you ever wondered what it was that Jesus taught and preached as He went about the countryside? If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time, then you’ve heard a few people preach, teach and pray. Is what we hear today what He preached then because, as you well know, the Bible, as we know it in the New Testament, didn’t literally exist at the time. It was being performed so that it could be recorded and written down for us to know.


Matthew 4:17, says, “From then on, Jesus began to preach, ‘Turn from your sins and turn to God, because the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”  In verse 23, it says, “Jesus went about Galilee, teaching in the synagogues, preaching everywhere the Good News about the Kingdom.” (NLT)


All of the words of Jesus Christ were what He was preaching. He was consistent with His message. It was the same message that the Lord God had given John the Baptist, ‘Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.’ All of the healings, miracles and corollary events were illustrations to His teachings. He came to heal the sick spiritually, so He healed the sick in the natural. He came to open the eyes of the spiritually blind, so He healed the physically blind to sight. He came to set the captives free, to set at liberty those who were in bondage, so He freed people from their demonic spirits. He came to preach the day of the Lord that was the Kingdom of God appearing. (Luke 4:17-19)


Mark 1:14-15, says, “Later on, after John was arrested, Jesus went to Galilee to preach God’s Good News. ‘At last the time has come!’ he announced. ‘The Kingdom of God is near! Turn from your sins and believe this Good News!’” (NLT) That was Jesus’ message; the Kingdom of God is the Good News. Whether he went to the countryside or into the synagogues, He went about preaching, healing and delivering folk from the bondage of imprisonment. He set people free from whatever had them bound. This is the awesome news of God’s grace! That is to be our message of grace today. The curse of sin was broken at the cross, so we can preach to set the captives free from whatever has them bound. Preach the Good News of the gospel of the Kingdom for the entrance is at the cross and His Life in the Kingdom is forevermore!