Kingdom has come and is coming…

What great changes we are seeing in practice and thought patterns, I firmly believe that we live in an age that the people of God are experiencing a new reformation at every level.    A massive transformation is happening around us, Dispensational practice and theology is in images-6the last shakes for survival as the ‘Gospel of the Kingdom’ is growing and affecting the thinking of the church, the people of God.   Its onward advance is transforming our responsibility for creation rather than upholding a hoped escapism, it brings an accountability for transformation in our societies rather than doing away with a fallen world, it is the Kingdom of God at hand!

We are born to a very challenging yet exciting moment of advance as Father God makes known God’s purpose and will.   Today we are much more given to the language and practice of ‘mission,’ ‘transformation,’ bringing the rule of God to earth to see the coming of the Kingdom of God.    Jesus said the kingdom ‘…has come….and is coming…’, for some this means that over the years we have had to deal with the immediacy of the kingdom ‘…has come…’ being careful not to get lost into triumphalism with ‘Kingdom now’, only now having to deal with the onward transformation of ‘…the Kingdom is coming and will come…’, this is where our labour comes in, the travail until Jesus receives the ‘travail of his soul’ Isa 53:11

Church historians tell us that following every move of God approximately 30 to 35 years on, those affected in the move turn to transformation initiatives prior to another move of God.   Historically an example of this can be seen following the move of God in the UK with John and Charles Wesley in their education, health, etc, initiatives.   The UK experienced a move of God some 30/35 years ago commonly name the ‘house church movement’, this was a move, as it changed the structure of the church and theology.   Note it also was not isolated to the UK.   Similar move happened with a groups of men and women in South America, South Africa, USA and I am told Australia, they may have been under different names but there was a move of God afoot.

However, I can only comment on the UK, I believe what we are seeing in the UK now is not a recycling of history but the impact of a Kingdom Gospel.   Time will only tell, if it is history recycling we are on the verge of another move, but I seeing it as the coming of the Kingdom along with our growing grasp of understanding relating to the Kingdom of God.   I write this as an introduction to a book review that I believe all should take time to read to ensure our Kingdom is foundationally correct in all the changes we are seeing.   Please note this book was written many years ago and does not contain all the advances made over the last 40 years however a good place to commence a journey from. It is imperative we establish continually our foundation as we advance and fresh revelation breaks in on us, it is necessary to be able to contain revelation.

I will introduce chapters for you, this blog will only deal with the initial chapters so you can think on them, then we will return in the next blog to further chapters continuing our thinking.

‘The Gospel of the Kingdom‘       George Eldon LaddUnknown

Chapter 1 – What is the Kingdom of God? – There are diverse interpretations of the Kingdom of God. This is the result of the many varying different interpretations that are found within the Bible. The Kingdom of God is seen as a present spiritual reality, (Rom 14:17) the Kingdom is also an inheritance which God will bestow upon His people. (Mat 25:34)  The Kingdom of God therefore holds two tensions closely; it is a present spiritual reality but at the same time the Kingdom has a future realm as well. The Kingdom of God is God’s rule, reign and sovereignty now. Gods rule is also an everlasting rule and reign. In order for one to enter the future realm of the Kingdom of God, one must submit himself in perfect trust to God’s rule here and now. The Kingdom of God is God’s rule, reign and sovereignty now. It is an everlasting rule and reign.

Chapter 2 – The Kingdom is Tomorrow – George Eldon Ladd explains how the Kingdom of God can be held in two different spheres as a present spiritual reality & a future hope by explaining that there are two different ages; this age and the age to come.

This age is dominated by wickedness, evil & rebellion against the will of God, whilst the age to come is the age of the Kingdom whereby God’s rule and reign will be at the centre. Ladd explains that the drive of ambition for wealth & success are all involved with the cares of this age. He suggests that the spirit of this age is hostile to the Gospel of Jesus. In Ephesians it talks about Satan being the prince of the air, this age is defined by Satan having the power of the air.

The age to come will witness the fullness of God’s Kingdom, the perfection of God’s reign. Ladd explains that we will never experience the full blessings of Gods Kingdom in this age as he argues that death will not be destroyed until the final judgment at the end of the rule of Christ talked about in Revelation.

Chapter 3 – Kingdom of God is TodayHeb 6:5, ‘who have tasted the goodness of the Word of God and the power of the age to come,’ displays that which belongs to the future has become a present reality.  By the power of the age to come may be delivered from the from this present evil age. Within this chapter Ladd goes onto explain that the Kingdom of God has invaded this age.

In the last chapter it was suggested that death will not completely be destroyed until the end of the millennial rule of Christ.  Although this is true it is important to note that through Jesus’ resurrection the triumph over death has begun and Satan has already been defeated. (Heb 2:14) Jesus life on earth broke the power of Satan. Satan is a defeated enemy and because of this we may be delivered from the power of this evil age into the Kingdom of God.  Therefore we can bring God’s rule and Kingdom, age to come into the present evil age.

Chapter 4 – The Mystery of the Kingdom – The Mystery of the Kingdom is that it has come amongst men, but yet men can reject it. God’s Kingdom is working among men, but it will not compel them to bow before it, they must receive it through a willing heart and a submissive will.  The Kingdom of God does not force itself upon men; it is not like a stone grinding an image to powder but the Kingdom requires a submissive heart & will.

The Kingdom of God has come to work among men, destroying human rule & abolishing all that stand against the Father will from the earth.  The Kingdom offers men blessings of God’s rule, delivering men from the power of Satan. However the Kingdom will not work with an ‘irresistible power,’ but will work within the hearts of men that have submitted to God’s rule & reign.

 

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Kingdom… which one?

As they gathered their armour shimmered in the sun light, at midday when the sun was high in the sky they stood proud upon the hill-top looking into the valley where their armies stood waiting for the agreed moment for battle to begin.    Swords ready, spears poised, shields raised, men clad in chain and battle armour, horses covered with shining metal all in battle array.   The clash of the realms of Kingdoms.   They stood one invader, one defender, the battle was for the Kingdom.    The King’s sat considering strategies and the fight for the Kingdoms began.

Perhaps this is the most familiar picture that we think of when introducing the language of KINGDOM into every day life.    Two realms attempting to establish or even usurp themselves, Knights, armour, spears, shields, jousting., maidens, chivalry, white horses and all that.     Perhaps its just the hollywood picture we all have.     For sure its two realms that belong to a distant past.

We don’t have kingdoms of this order any longer, it has even become more popular to say we live in GB rather than United Kingdom.    Kingdom seems to be an old term yet when it comes to things in relation to Jesus it is a term we must grapple with and take into our lives.    Jesus came announcing the Kingdom of God, he walked demonstrating the Kingdom of God, he was the Kingdom of God!

Today the language of the Kingdom of God is more popular than ever, declared from pulpits regularly, taught and inspired, it seems if you don’t have it in your teaching as a Christian you are strange.   I recall the day when we grappled with it as God was unfolding its truth, when it was not so popular.      Yet it is not about its popularity but more about the truth of the Kingdom.   You and I who have ventured out and began our faiths journey, submitting ourselves to King Jesus it is a real realm that we are part of.

Today Kingdom is still challenged by Empires. Empires of the mind, of people, of agendas even by an empirical church.    The teaching has sometimes been over taken to establish this one or that ones control, and certainly not to establish the Kingdom as proclaimed and practiced by the Christ of God.

The kingdom of God Is not about making any person greater, richer or exclusive above any others it is about bringing the order of God to bear on all creation, it is about making mature saints.   Humanity being mature, Christ filling all in all.

In the Matthew 6:33 passage we are told to “seek first the Kingdom of God” these were words that at the time they were spoken were aimed at confronting the world, today they still do that, they challenge our minds, they hold a plumb-line up to our actions discovering where our hearts are focussed!

The Father, from our first introduction breaks into ‘void and darkness’ with confrontation, presenting from the beginning God in action, and so it is with “seek first”.   It makes us stand up and re-evaluate, assess our days, and align with freedom, to seek first the Kingdom of God.

Matthew 6 addresses the “all” of our lives with such simple, direct words, in terms of, if we seek first the eternal, the cosmic realm our needs will be seen too.   We are met with an invitation to bring our supreme loyalty to the King and seek his Kingdom.     In seeking the Kingdom of God we create a following, with all things being added along with the significance of the Kingdom of God.

If we do not seek the kingdom of God we will be seeking first the kingdom of self.    This kingdom of self is the kingdom of subtraction, as when possessions get hold of you, you discover that owning them becomes, being owned by them.

Your biggest need is a cosmic backing and when this is lacking the house of mankind is empty of meaning and purpose and God

Seeking the Kingdom brings to us All it unshakableness, All its forgiveness, All its at homeness, All its freedom, All it’s joy, All is everything-belongs to you.    The good news-here and now

Jesus said in Luke 4:21, 22 something had been fulfilled, in a room filled with people, with all these eyes fixed upon him, he not only spoke but did something, he “SAT DOWN”, what a scandal, how ridiculous, who did he think he is?   In every synagogue a chair was given as the seat of the Messiah and in this chair the drama played itself out, Jesus sat in the Messiah’s chair!

In this sitting down and declaration he said the word of the kingdom has become fleshed out in me, the kingdom has broken through and the realisation of that is in me.      You have heard about it now see it!      I am the kingdom of God standing in the synagogue

A thought went through my mind while thinking on the Kingdom and its implications,  “We have made songs about the REIGN of Christ and his Kingdom into songs about RAIN on me”

We have been born from above to bring heaven to earth, to be the reign of God on earth and to herald the Kingdom of God in all creation, to declare, sing, live and act out REIGN ON ME!

Jesus brought a blueprint for a new World order not just salvation, he tabernacle in the mankind model,  we have now become the working blue print model of the Kingdom of God.

You Are A New World order-tasted of the age to come

Jesus called disciples of the new world order, the Kingdom of God, he called disciples to go and make disciples, we have gone out to make disciples of Jesus.   Jesus actually made disciples of the Kingdom, sons of the Kingdom.   Not disciples of Jesus but disciples of the Kingdom of God!     Now that’s got you thinking and all stirred up, we have perhaps made the wrong disciples?     My aim is to consider this next time!

 

Power in our World of Words

As Christians we are taught of the power one carries in our spoken words they can encourage, discourage, and affect atmospheres.   The scriptures say, “…the power of life and death is in the tongue…” In other words what comes out of the mouth will have some effect in the world that surrounds us as well as affect me.    Words can transform environments yet our society tells that the seat of power lies in the brain or our minds, I would suggest we realize that really it is in our mouths and what comes out is more powerful than any thought.    As I speak I groom my mind, it sets a course, along with this, what I say tells you where my thoughts are, “…out of the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks…” the bible says this is where real transformational power lies.  “…As a man thinks so he becomes…” is only true when first it’s in the heart in our inner person and then our mouth speaks it then we can begin to become it.   Our words can transform first our selves and the worlds we live in.   Words spoken over children, words spoken to loved ones; friends and enemies all have an effect that will produce.   Perhaps that’s why we are to forgive those who come against us not just as a thought but verbalizing our forgiveness as part of the process of transformation allowing the words sown to lodge in hearts and begin their transformation changing actions accordingly.   

In the same way words spoken to each other affect words uttered over nations and people groups also have within them a seed of change, of transformation, of molding their listeners.   Before I write any more I need to say I am not a monarchist yet our Queen has a unique impact in our nation and beyond, she does carry an authority and has a unique way of entering our homes every year on 25th December.  The clock turns each Christmas day to 3:00 PM and a long tradition across our nation begins to sit and listen to her words over the UK and beyond.   This year was no different to any other yet the content this year seemed, from a faith in Christ perspective, a different ring.   I have copied her 5 min speech, which of course can be down loaded on any computer to watch, but here is the text and her presentation of a faith in Christ over our world.   Thank you for your words may they impact 2012 and beyond in finding “…It is my prayer that on this Christmas day we might all find room in our lives for the message of the angels and for the love of God through Christ our Lord….”.    Thank you Ma;am’.

Here is the text in full of the Queen’s 2011 Christmas message, which was recorded on 9 December – before her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, was treated in hospital for a blocked coronary artery.

“In this past year my family and I have been inspired by the courage and hope we have seen in so many ways in Britain, in the Commonwealth and around the world.

We’ve seen that it’s in hardship that we often find strength from our families; it’s in adversity that new friendships are sometimes formed; and it’s in a crisis that communities break down barriers and bind together to help one another.

Families, friends and communities often find a source of courage rising up from within. Indeed, sadly, it seems that it is tragedy that often draws out the most and the best from the human spirit.

When Prince Philip and I visited Australia this year, we saw for ourselves the effects of natural disaster in some of the areas devastated by floods, where in January so many people lost their lives and their livelihoods.

We were moved by the way families and local communities held together to support each other.

Prince William travelled to New Zealand and Australia in the aftermath of earthquakes, cyclones and floods and saw how communities rose up to rescue the injured, comfort the bereaved and rebuild the cities and towns devastated by nature.

The Prince of Wales also saw first-hand the remarkable resilience of the human spirit after tragedy struck in a Welsh mining community, and how communities can work together to support their neighbours.

This past year has also seen some memorable and historic visits – to Ireland and from America.

The spirit of friendship so evident in both these nations can fill us all with hope. Relationships that years ago were once so strained have through sorrow and forgiveness blossomed into long-term friendship.

It is through this lens of history that we should view the conflicts of today, and so give us hope for tomorrow.

Of course, family does not necessarily mean blood relatives but often a description of a community, organisation or nation. The Commonwealth is a family of 53 nations, all with a common bond, shared beliefs, mutual values and goals.

It is this which makes the Commonwealth a family of people in the truest sense, at ease with each other, enjoying its shared history and ready and willing to support its members in the direst of circumstances.

They have always looked to the future, with a sense of camaraderie, warmth and mutual respect while still maintaining their individualism.

The importance of family has, of course, come home to Prince Philip and me personally this year with the marriages of two of our grandchildren, each in their own way a celebration of the God-given love that binds a family together.

For many, this Christmas will not be easy. With our armed forces deployed around the world, thousands of service families face Christmas without their loved ones at home.

The bereaved and the lonely will find it especially hard. And, as we all know, the world is going through difficult times. All this will affect our celebration of this great Christian festival.

Finding hope in adversity is one of the themes of Christmas. Jesus was born into a world full of fear. The angels came to frightened shepherds with hope in their voices: ‘Fear not’, they urged, ‘we bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

‘For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Saviour who is Christ the Lord.’

Although we are capable of great acts of kindness, history teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves – from our recklessness or our greed.

God sent into the world a unique person – neither a philosopher nor a general, important though they are, but a Saviour, with the power to forgive.

Forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian faith. It can heal broken families, it can restore friendships and it can reconcile divided communities. It is in forgiveness that we feel the power of God’s love.

In the last verse of this beautiful carol, O Little Town Of Bethlehem, there’s a prayer:

O Holy Child of Bethlehem,

Descend to us we pray.

Cast out our sin

And enter in.

Be born in us today.

It is my prayer that on this Christmas day we might all find room in our lives for the message of the angels and for the love of God through Christ our Lord.

I wish you all a very happy Christmas.”