Jesus began his ministry with a simple call to men to ‘repent, believe the good news for the kingdom of heaven was at hand. The restoration of the kingdom of God was the message of Jesus, all that he did by his death, burial and resurrection was to it this possible for you and I to have a place in the kingdom, so let’s look at what this means for us today.
Jesus the revealer of the kingdom
Until the coming of Jesus the message life and power of the kingdom of God was hidden to mankind, it was Jesus who threw back the veil and brought to light the manifest power and authority of God’s kingdom.
John the Baptist began his ministry by proclaiming the imminence of the kingdom of God.
“In those days came John the Baptist preaching in the wilderness of Judea,And saying, repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” Math 3: 1-2.
What really is the kingdom of heaven or God? (both terms are used interchangeably), the word kingdom is from two words king and dominion, meaning the king’s dominion, or the area or sphere under the power, authority or rule of the king. The kingdom of heaven is the area or sphere under the authority and power of the king of heaven, it is not a physical sphere but a spiritual one because the king is a spirit (John 4:20) just as God has a kingdom so does Satan, we need to realize that every kingdom takes on the dominant character of it king, so God’s kingdom is not meat and drink but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17).
When Jesus came, He brought the kingdom of God to the earth, He was the first to live a life completely submitted to the authority of the King of kings, in Him was the fullness of the revelation of the kingdom of God.
Everything He did and said was a revelation of that kingdom, He revealed the laws that govern the operation of that kingdom, laws of faith, righteousness, love, power etc.
“And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people” Math 4:23.
The good news of the kingdom! What makes the message of God’s kingdom good news? O! You must see, it is a message of deliverance, of restoration, of hope and of joy, praise God.
You remember that the fall of Adam brought humanity under the cruel rule and oppression of the devil, Satan was in charge before Jesus came, the whole world lay under the power of the evil one( 2Cor. 4:4), but as Jesus began to proclaim the restoration of the kingdom of God and demonstrate it, He begin to break the power and shackles of the dominion or kingdom of Satan in the lives of the people, make no mistake about it, sin, sickness, poverty, fear, all are oppressions and manifestations of Satan’s dominion on earth today.
“But for this cause, the son of God was manifested that He may destroy the works of the devil” 1 John 3:8
“How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and power who went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed of the devil for God was with Him” Acts 10:38.
“And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” Luke 13:16.
The message of the kingdom was the heart of the message of the Lord Jesus Christ, He taught many parables seeking to open up the people to the workings of the kingdom, all that he did and taught was a revelation of the life of the kingdom.
This is where the church needs a readjustment, the early apostles made the kingdom of God the cornerstone of their preaching, teaching and living, they understood what it meant to live under the authority of the king’s dominion, but today we do not.
Look at this:
The former treatise have I made o Theophilus, of all that Jesus began to do and teach.
Until the day in which he was taken up, after he showed himself alive after that he though the Holy Ghost had given commandment unto the apostles whom he had chosen ……….. and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. Acts 1:1-3
“But when they believed Phillip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized both men and women. Acts 8:2
And He (Paul) went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for the space of three months disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God” Acts 19:8.
“And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see me no more” Acts 20:25.
We need to rediscover the life of the kingdom, the Holy Spirit is given to us to perpetuate that life, the Church of Jesus Christ is not the kingdom of God, but it is a part of it, into the hands of the Church God has committed the responsibility of revealing the kingdom to the world for the Church is Christ on earth today, the power of the Holy Spirit is the tool for revealing that kingdom and overthrowing Satan’s kingdom.
Where does it all begin?
How do we enter the kingdom?
Jesus said in John’s gospel,
“Except a man be born again (or born from above) he cannot see the kingdom of God”
“Except a man be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” John 3:5.
Putting aside all debates as to what it means to be born again of water and the spirit, we can readily see that entrance into the life of the kingdom begins at a definite point in the life of an individual, and that it is separate and distinct from natural human existence, the tragedy of Church life today is the multitudes of the Christian who knows little of the life and power of the kingdom.
The point at which the New birth occurs is the point when people submit to the authority of the kingdom of God, and this happens when they accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, central to the new birth is this, the acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Savior, why is this so? Because prior to this, we have lived our lives under the authority and power of Satan, so the confession of the Lordship of Jesus that arises out of faith takes us out of the dominion of Satan’s kingdom and brings us into the dominion of God’s kingdom.
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” Rom. 10:9
“Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear son” Col.1:13.
We have been delivered from the authority of Satan, we have been translated into God’s kingdom through faith in Jesus Christ, something remarkable has happened, we have received a new citizenship!
So the very essence of the apostolic restoration will be to bring the church to that place where it lives under the Lordship of Christ, for it is here that the life of the kingdom is manifest.
The heart of Jesus’s message was the kingdom of God, in his teachings and parables he opened up to us the operations and workings of that kingdom, he taught on faith, love, holiness, giving, hope, forgiveness etc as essential characteristics of the kingdom.
He spoke to us, telling us that the born-again experience was the entrance into that kingdom but it was not the kingdom itself, in the Church today we urge people to give their lives to Christ and be born-again, and rightly so then we tell them to start coming to church, to try and live good lives, so that God will bless them and they will eventually make heaven, but we leave them to with no consciousness of this fact, that they are now citizens of the heavenly kingdom and they must live in the reality and understanding of who they are as members of God’s kingdom, see what the Apostle had to say.
“And now behold, I know that ye all amongst whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, ….. Acts 20:25”
The purpose of salvation is not in enjoying the blessings of God, or going to heaven, (these are true benefits of salvation) it is in bringing us into God’s kingdom and making us a people chosen by God who represent his values, who enforce his dominion on the earth and who are zealous for his good works.
Just as Jesus was the revelator of God’s kingdom on earth in his day, so we today through him are revelators of that glorious kingdom.
One day Jesus said to me, ‘Son you need me that you may have life but I need you to live through and work through on earth today’, (Is.53:10)
Today we through the churches seek the ‘blessing’ of God, when God is seeking to send us out into the world to manifest his glory and dominion.
Seek ye first God’s kingdom and its righteousness, this should be our earnest desire and pursuit, the internalization of the teaching of Christ of the kingdom to which he has called us and the outworking of that teaching on a daily basis.
We who are ministers of the Gospel have a solemn responsibility before God, to understand the nature of our calling within the reality of the kingdom and work to help others live out their callings within this reality.
The message of the gospel is the good news of the kingdom, when the kings dominion is enforced by the power of the Holy Spirit, every other dominion will become subject to it.
Today the kingdom God is within us and as more and more people submit to the Lordship of Christ by our teaching and example, the kingdom grows in the hearts of men, as we disciple them and establish them in the ways of the kingdom, the kingdom becomes more visible.
The day comes when the nations of this earth will become the kingdom of our God and his Christ, until that day may we live daily saying ‘Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.