Understanding the Kingdom of God is important in the life of the believer, especially considering that Jesus instructed his followers to be concerned about it above everything else. In addressing the Kingdom of God I will seek to answer two main questions: 1) what is the Kingdom of God? And, 2) why did Jesus instruct us to seek first this Kingdom? By answering those questions the benefits of the Kingdom of God are revealed.
While preaching His most famous sermon, Jesus said “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” This key instruction was given after emphasizing that no one can “serve two masters” and by a series of reminders of Gods faithfulness that is obviously seen in nature. The conclusion being that if God takes care of those aspects of His creation, how much more will He take care of us. In this context, another way we could phrase this passage of Jesus’ teaching is, why be concerned with the trivial matters of life when we could be focused on what matters most, the Kingdom of God.
A. What is the Kingdom of God?
The kingdom of God refers to His absolute rule over all things. Before defining this rule more specifically a couple things should first be understood concerning the kingdom’s existence and how mankind participates in it.
1. THE KINGDOM HAS ALWAYS BEEN
The kingdom of God existed before humanity; this is somewhat obvious but important to point out because the kingdom is not man-made or even about us. Humanity has the privilege of experiencing a kingdom that is far superior to anything we could create or rule, this kingdom is godly and heavenly. In the beginning chapter of the book of John, understanding can be gained of the eternal rule of the Godhead. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” Scripture teaches us that life originates with God. We read of our beginning in the book of Genesis, “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”
Adam and Eve, who were the beginning of mankind, for a time, experienced a life that was full and complete as participants in God’s kingdom, just as He intended when He created them. When God breathed His Life into Adam consider the transaction that took place. Rather than beginning with the dilemma of sin mixed within their nature, like we are, Adam and Eve were perfect. In the same way that a parent naturally passes on certain traits and characteristics to their offspring, I suggest that God passed onto them the fullness of His love, the fruit of His Spirit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” Life freely flowed from God to his created beings.
2. SIN AFFECTS HOW AND WHEN MANKIND PARTICIPATES IN THE KINGDOM
When Adam and Eve partook of the forbidden fruit, a life-altering shift took place. Sin entered each of their hearts through disobedience to God. This event is described beginning in Genesis 2:
“And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
When God instructed Adam concerning the tree, He clearly told him that he would die from eating it. How and why would Adam and Eve die? Scripturally we understand that life is more than flesh and bones but more importantly spiritual. Because of this, Adam and Eve would not only die physically but also spiritually. Later on we read that they actually ate from the tree:
“Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.”
Ultimately death entered humanity because a disconnect happened between man and Gods Kingdom. Essentially Adam and Eve unplugged their self from life and power when they ate from the tree. This is true because life originated, and is sustained, in/by God and therefore cannot exist without Him.
Because of this separation between God and mankind the kingdom of God would need to be re-established on the earth. This has been done through the work of Jesus Christ as he led a perfect life and defeated death and Satan by resurrecting from it. Throughout scripture a double-meaning is gathered concerning the fulfillment of the kingdom. In one sense it is already here through Christ’s rule within the believers’ heart, and in another the kingdom is yet to be completely established. Or, in other words Gods rule is already taking place but not yet.
“These two understandings of the kingdom are both truly taught by the Word of God and coexist in a type of already/not yet reality. They are so interwoven that to refer to them as separately is a misstatement; rather, we ought speak of the two aspects of the kingdom as truly a future kingdom that has penetrated the present.”
In the book Foundations of Pentecostal Theology Duffield and Van Cleave differentiate between the Church and future reign of God:
“The Church is not identical to the kingdom of God, for the kingdom of larger than the Church. However, the Church is the present instrument of the kingdom and will inherit the kingdom (Jas. 2:5; 2 Pt. 1:11)”
“The ultimate kingdom of God will include, not only the Church, but the Old Testament saints, the regathered remnant of Israel, and the righteous nations that will be a part of the millennial reign of Jesus (Mt. 25:32-33; Rv. 20:4; Is. 66:18-23; Jer. 3:16-18; 23:3-6; 31:10-12; Zec. 14:8-9).”
B. Why Does Jesus Instruct Us To Seek The Kingdom Of God First?
As stated above living outside of submission to Gods rule leads to death which presents the answer as to why Jesus would tell us to seek His Kingdom first, because living according to and in the kingdom of God is life. Consider the following passages:
“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.”
“Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
“For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
“I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
In each of the above portions of scripture, there is a direct correlation between Gods kingdom and life; when a person is a participant in God’s Kingdom they have received power for living according to Gods original plan. Life is more than living for God, but more importantly from God (in His power, through the life He gives us). It is more beneficial for the believer to receive the kingdom of God than to seek to fulfill it. His kingdom is being fulfilled as the believer receives life in Christ.
Adam experienced an unhindered relationship with God, a life untainted by sin. Jesus came that we might have life (unhindered relationship with God, restoration). One can conclude that Jesus instructs us to seek first His kingdom because He desires that we would live and experience the life God created us to have.
The kingdom of God is His absolute rule over everyone and all things. His power has existed from all time. Because of sin, mankind’s participation in Gods kingdom has been affected. Sin separates us from God but through Christ one can be redeemed and enter into Gods kingdom.
God’s kingdom should be understood in two ways: 1) It has been established on earth in the hearts of those who put their faith in Him. And, 2) He will come again wipe out all sin and its leaders.
It is Gods desire that we be part of His kingdom because in it is life. God created us to fellowship with Him and sent Jesus to fix what was broken, our fellowship with Him. To summarize, the kingdom of God is life as He intended it.
 Matthew 6:33-34, NKJ
 Matthew 6:24, NKJ
 John 1:1-4, NKJ
 Genesis 2:7, NKJ
 Galatians 5:22-23, NKJ
 Genesis 2:16-17, NKJ
 Hebrews 4:12
 Genesis 3:4-7, NKJ
 Genesis 2:7
 Colossians 1:16-17
 Colossians 3:15-17
 Revelations 20:1-10
 Foundations of Pentecostal Theology, pg. 452
 Matthew 7:13-14, NLT
 John 3:3, NKJ
 Romans 14:17, NLT
 John 10:10, NKJ
Thank you to http://www.teachingchristschildren.com/ for reviewing Why God Made Armpits! You could win a free copy of the book by visiting and commenting on their site. For other great Christian books and reviews visit: http://www.teachingchristschildren.com/
If you are an author what successes have you had? Which avenues have helped you the most in realizing your dream?
According to Matt. 16:24 Following God seems more like a dangerous walk than a stroll in the park, despite what some may lead you to believe.
Many of us tell God we will go anywhere or do anything for Him.
And no doubt after 14 years of trusting in Jesus there have been many opportunities to go places and do some neat things.
But have you ever felt like Jesus has placed on hold the adventure and wants you to stay where you are?
Look at this verse:
38The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39“Return home and tell how much God has done for you.” So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him. (Luke 8:38-39 NIV)
Is it possible that the man was a little disappointed?
The following three truths will be helpful in deciding when and where to go:
1. Submit To Authority.
The man begged to go with Jesus but He told him to go home.
Of course we should submit to Jesus but also to those who are in authority in our life.
2. Be Obedient.
The man did just what Jesus told him to do which leads us to the next point.
3. Examine The Fruit
Are you producing fruit where you are? If so, it could be a good indication that you should stay there.
So, how does God help you to keep a fresh perspective on “home”, wherever that might be?
The Bible is a tremendous collection of numerous letters and writings, written over a vast span of time, that is comprised into one consistent book. The Bible comes from the Greek word biblos which literally means books. In addressing scripture I hope to address the usefulness of it and why it is necessary not just for the Christian but for all people. I will categorize the application of scripture into two main areas: PRIORITY and PRACTICE. In doing so I will cover the importance of reading the bible, how to learn from it, and why it should be obeyed.
PRIORITY: Reading the Bible
Anyone who is sincere about growing spiritually must be willing to consistently spend time in God’s Word by reading and hearing its writings.
The Bible was originally written in Hebrew and Aramaic (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament). It has now been translated in many different languages, one of them being English. We also have various types of translations. All of the translations can be categorized into two main types of translations: Exact and Dynamic
An exact translation means that it is word for word from the original text intended to be a literal transcript. A dynamic translation seeks to translate the main idea of the passage in a thought for thought manner.
The Protestant Bible contains a total of 66 “books”, and was produced by about forty writers, but has only one author, God. It has historical significance due to the place and time in which it was written.
The discipline of reading the Bible can be difficult to initiate if we do not understand why the book was given to us, however its purpose is discovered within its own text . Most importantly, the Bible is spiritually significant because of its ultimate reason for being written. Consider the following passage:
“29Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” 30Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:29-31, NIV Bible)
Belief in Jesus is vital to life, earthly and eternally. The Bible tells us that Jesus is/gives life. Because Jesus came to give us life we can determine if we are experiencing this “life” the Bible promises is available by considering what our life resembles. We can conclude if we are living the life that Jesus intended to give by examining the differences between life and death and answering honestly which they relate to more.
Understanding that God’s Word is life to the reader provides good reason for it to be read. The Bible tells us it is inspired by God . In Greek the word used is theopneustos which literally translates: God-breathed.
There are basic elements of life that we cannot physically do without; air, food, and water. These things sustain our body and allow us to function correctly. We find in scripture that these same elements are represented in the personhood of God and are life to our spirit. Consider that scripture is breath , bread , and water . The Bible also tells us that Jesus gives water and that He is bread . We also read that Jesus is the Word . Jesus is the perfect embodiment of the Bible and the Bible is the perfect embodiment of Jesus. When we read the bible we are not just learning something but experiencing Someone, God.
If God’s Word is breath, bread, and water for us, and if Jesus is the Word, how can we expect to know Him or become like Him in image and character if we do not read the Bible?
If you consider how long the human body can physically last with food, water, or air it is easy to connect how vital reading the Word of God with understanding should be to all people. Simply put, you will be unsatisfied if you do not read God’s Word. There will always be uneasiness within without proper knowledge of God; this only comes through the Word .
PRACTICE: Learning the Bible
If one is going to truly learn a skill or understand an idea it will require practice of those things. In Romans we are instructed to “offer” our bodies so that we might live as a sacrifice unto God, one in which we are being transformed and able to discern Gods will . This is referred to as sanctification. We understand that God is the one who completely cleanses and sets us apart ; however, there is the act of obedience to what God calls us to that allows this work to take place. How can a person experience this work without the daily application and practice of what is read? This is a cleansing work that is for our good. Though, potentially painful at times it is an act of love so that the fruit of our life will be more productive and available to all who surround us. In the book Foundations of Pentecostal Theology the author writes:
“Sanctification is seen to be a continuing process throughout a Christian’s lifetime. It is not something negative. A man in not considered holy because of the things he does or not do. Virtue cannot be judged by the vices from which a person abstains. There must be a positive conformation to the image of Christ. This is seen as a gradual growth in, not into, grace…”
The believer in Jesus Christ should understand salvation in three ways or tenses: Past, Present and Future . When a person trusts in Christ He saves them from past sins and from the penalty that those sins warrant. Salvation from our past sins is referred to as Justification. We are righteous before God, the price has been paid, and the believer is justified before God because of Christ. In the above paragraph taken from FPT the writer is specifying the difference between the past and present tense of our salvation as he writes, “This is seen as a gradual growth in, not into, grace” meaning the believer is already into grace, he is righteous. However, because we live in the grace of God we can grow in it, or be sanctified. Sanctification is the saving work of Christ that frees the believer from the power of sin and death on a daily basis . And lastly, trust in Christ will save the believer from the presence of sin when Jesus comes back a second time for His people . This is known as glorification and is described in 1 John:
“Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”
A sobering couple of sentences are found in John 8:
“Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
This passage is startling because Jesus makes it very clear who are true disciples: those who abide or hold fast to His teachings found in the Bible. Abiding in the Word of God is vital to one’s growth and understanding of how the words of the Bible should be applied. There are tremendous benefits mentioned for the one who will do so: 1) they will discover truth and 2) they will be free. Freedom requires knowledge of what is true. One can read this passage as an if/then series of events; if we will remain in the word then we will know what is true. If we know what is true then we will be free.
In a book I once read the writer described a conversation that he had with a drunkard. The two were discussing the bible and the issue of freedom. Suddenly during the talk the drunkard rebutted that he was free to drink; to do whatever he willed. To this the writer agreed but also asked the question, “Are you free not to drink?” For the one who is growing and learning the ways of God the beauty and power of His grace is displayed in the freedom to overcome, think differently, and to pursue what is honorable.
The Bible informs us of a God who saves, enables us, and helps us to become more like Him. The practical application of the Word of God reveals His faithfulness and the truth of what is written. Because of this emphasis and focus should be placed upon reading and learning it. God offers to humanity grace that goes beyond the present and contains power to redeem eternally, saving from the power of sin in every way.
Guy P. Duffield and Nathaniel M. Van Cleave, Foundations of Pentecostal Theology, Foursquare Media, 2008
Ethix: Being Bold In A Whatever World, Sean McDowell
New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
New International Version Study Bible, Copyright 2002 by Zondervan Corporation
Five years ago I wrote a short childrens story, for years it layed dormant in a file on a flash drive.
About a year ago I put a note in the dashboard of my truck next to my speedometer, that read something like this: “Finalize Book: 1. Find a illustrator. 2. Create blog. 3. Promote Book.” I believe now more than ever in the power of keeping a “vision” before your eyes. The bible talks about this in Habakkuk 2: Then the Lord replied: “Then the Lord answered me and said: “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.”
More recently I was driving on one of the main streets in the small town that I work in and noticed a truck cap sitting in a empty parking lot with a sign taped on it that read: “FOR FREE”.
I am somewhat of a scrappy guy and knew there was profit to be had. I quickly found a driveway to turn my vehicle around and then loaded the cap into the bed of my truck. After about five minutes of research I posted the newly found treasure to craigslist and within a few days sold it to a very happy buyer!
What to do, what to do with my new purse of cash. I waited and even asked God how I should use the money. I felt instructed to begin moving forward with the book. Long story (actually a rather short story) short, the money made from the cap was enough to pay an illustrator and even begin the printing process for the books. God has a way of working in our life that at first glance seems to be random and out of the blue. You want an example? A TRUCK CAP. What will make the difference is our ability to see and hear His very purposeful intentions for the presented opportunity.
I am not sure what will come of the book. I know what I hope to have happen… I also know that I am one more time going to, “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it”.
I’d love to hear about the endeavors you are undertaking? Are there opportunities surrounding your life that you need to view just a little differently?
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