A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

Showing posts with label Gospel of the Kingdom. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gospel of the Kingdom. Show all posts

January 24, 2024

The Gospel of the Kingdom & the Kingdom Lifestyle: Putting the Puzzle Pieces Together

If you are familiar with my blog, then you know that my husband, Mark, and I have put sharing (and doing) a Kingdom lifestyle at the core of our how we live our lives and conduct our ministry. I have shared how frustrating that has been at times, as if everything we say is falling on deaf ears, but we continue to be obedient and try to find different ways to engage friends, family, and the Church. To that end, we recently invited our good friend, Steve Harmon, to come speak to a group of our acquaintances that the Holy Spirit highlighted, and who might be interested to hear Steve's message. 

Mark and I are always careful to discern who can be trusted to teach God's Word accurately on this subject. And through our years of friendship, we have found that we and Steve are closely aligned with each other's theology regarding an authentic understanding of the Gospel of the Kingdom. So, I'm going to try and summarize the high points of his 7 hours of teaching the best that I can. So, I hope you are blessed with this teaching on the Kingdom of God.

When you meet Steve Harmon, he is a bundle of high energy, whose rapid-fire enthusiasm for the Kingdom of God demands that your spirit sit up and pay attention. From the time we picked him up at the airport until we arrived home 2 hours later, and until we went to bed after midnight, he regaled us with his latest ministry exploits. We hardly got a word in edge-wise, because we had lots to catch up on. But when he told us how excited he was that we had asked if he was interested in teaching about the Kingdom of God, then the three of us entered into our happy place... talking about the Kingdom. We discussed what he would cover and finding that we were all on the same page, we told him, "Go for it! And don't hold back"! So here are the golden nuggets that came from his excellent teaching...

The Kingdom of God ... what is it? We Christians pray "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth and it is in heaven", but do we understand the breadth and depth of what God's Kingdom is? On one level it is His government -- He reigns and rules. Kingdom includes His authority, His dominion, His military, and all things (and people) under His influence. His dominion is the territory over which He reigns.

That question of dominion on the earth is addressed in Genesis 1:26-31, where God tells us He made us in His image and gave man dominion (authority) over His creation. We were to rule the earth [both physically and spiritually] as He rules in Heaven, incorporating His rules, statutes, and laws. But, as we know, Adam (the first man given dominion over the earth) gave it up and handed the dominion over to Satan through his disobedience in the Garden. 

Remember, when Satan is tempting Jesus in the wilderness, he tells the Lord in Luke 4:6-7,  “I will give You all this realm and its glory [its power, its renown]; because it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You worship before me, it will all be Yours.” So, it's important that the Church understand that Satan claims authority over the earth through the "legal transaction and transference" done by Adam when he ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. In 2 Corinthians 4:4, Paul teaches his followers, "among them the god of this world [Satan] has blinded the minds of the unbelieving to prevent them from seeing the illuminating light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God". And Jesus refers to Satan in this way in John 14:30, "I will not speak with you much longer, for the ruler of the world (Satan) is coming. And he has no claim on Me [no power over Me nor anything that he can use against Me]". But has the Church taught this truth so that the Body of Christ understands the authority the Enemy has and the importance of the Kingdom and our position in it?

What is your theology regarding the Kingdom of God? Do you understand that when Jesus began His ministry and said, "The Kingdom of God is at hand", that He meant it is here NOW, and it is within reach? Many in the Church teach that it is a future event, but when Jesus came to re-establish the Kingdom over 2000 years ago, He intended to show men how to take back their dominion and territory in people's lives from Satan, and how to sow the seeds of God's will in the earth. 

The Kingdom of God exists now and into the future. Re-establishing the Kingdom is a process we are to engage in until Jesus returns, when He will defeat His enemies and rule and reign on the earth. It doesn't just manifest itself, and it's not based on how you "feel" about the Kingdom. You can't worship it in; you can't establish it within the four walls of your church building and expect it to expand across the earth; and prayer alone won't increase the Kingdom. A Kingdom lifestyle requires a renewing of your mind; letting go of old paradigms and seeing God's Kingdom on earth through His perspective. And it requires action. It's a verb! You must apply, exercise, implement, execute and carry out the Kingdom in your life! You should base your theology [belief system] on the fruit you bear for the Kingdom. A Kingdom lifestyle is a bold [cold-hearted] and fearless act of your free will to "DO Kingdom".  

What did Jesus come to teach/preach -- Gospel of Salvation or the Gospel of the Kingdom? If you asked any group of Christians that question, I contend that the majority would say Jesus came to Save us. So, would you be surprised to know that Jesus talks far more often about the Gospel of the Kingdom than the Gospel of Salvation -- (especially in the Book of Matthew)? "Salvation" or "Saved" is mentioned 11 times, and I have counted 62 times that He talks about "the Kingdom of God/Heaven". 

Sadly, Jesus's message has been distorted down through the ages, until now the Church has adopted a platform of Saving the world; teaching the Good News that Jesus came to die for our sins. But that was not the primary message of the First Century Church; it's not what the Church in the Book of Acts nor the Apostle Paul focused on when preaching and teaching. The last verses in Acts tell us that Paul spent two years teaching about the Kingdom of God and about the Lord Jesus Christ. And, yes, Salvation would have been a part of his teaching about what the Kingdom of God offered, but he taught so much more. 

Read the Book of Romans. Yes, Jesus paid the price to give us Eternal Life and erase the penalty of Death for our sins. Paul taught that we are to yield to Jesus as our Lord, not just our Savior. "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved". Salvation is the result of believing and submitting to Jesus as LORD and MASTER of the Kingdom. That word "Lord" refers to our recognition of His power, authority, and majesty as God -- His dominion as owner of the earth, which belongs to His Kingdom. And notice how that sentence is constructed --- IF you recognize and yield to His Kingdom, THEN you will be saved. 

Salvation is dependent on your understanding and recognition of His Kingship and Kingdom. The Church has taught that Salvation should be our priority -- "save me so I can go to your Heavenly Kingdom". Salvation is focused on getting to Heaven. Kingdom is about submitting ourselves and our lives to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to earth -- to make earth look like Heaven. Salvation is our reward for a lifestyle of Kingdom. 

REMINDER: Adam was given dominion of the earth, but he forfeited it to Satan. Man could no longer walk in that intimate relationship with God that Adam enjoyed in the Garden, where death did not exist. After the Fall, man was subject to a mortal death that meant eternal separation from our Creator. But Jesus trumped Satan's strategy by taking Death upon Himself and paving a way [through faith in Him] for us to avoid eternal death and receive Eternal Life. Jesus, as a mortal man, had to win back our freedom from death. God couldn't do it. Our eternal relationship with God was lost by the first man [Adam], so it had to be won back by a man, Jesus, as the second Adam. That act foiled Satan's plan for eternal possession of the earth [through death], and established the dominion of the earth once again through the Kingdom of God.

Jesus came to make those changes on the earth and to change our position with the Father; seating us in heavenly places with Him and uniting us in His resurrection life -- He overcame death and we overcome life in this world; He ascended and we can ascend [in the spirit] to receive His counsel and guidance; He came to life in this world and we come to a new life in Christ, seated in heavenly places. 

How do we walk in a Kingdom lifestyle? The reason the modern American Church doesn't know the answer to that question is because the American Church preaches the Salvation message only. They do not teach Christians how to take back dominion from Satan's kingdom of darkness. Instead they try to "do kingdom" by impacting the so-called 7 Mountains of influence -- Family, Religion, Education, Media, Entertainment, Government, and Business. But that's not God's way. For instance, Christians put too much stock in politics, thinking if they can get a good Christian in office, that person can guarantee our personal and national safety. 

But incorporating that mindset into your theology won't keep you safe. Your best chance of being protected in this life is to be in a deep relationship with God. You are protected because the previous generation(s) have set up protected borders through their relationship with God. But consider our latest generations. Did they do that for us? Go test the American Church's theology of protection over in Iraq. How protected do you think you would be? God's protection comes from the spiritual lifestyle through which you are living. That's what matters -- not the politicians, not your religion, not your business model, or anything of this earth. 

God's way of walking in a Kingdom lifestyle is to submit to our Lord Jesus and His ways in order to bring His Heavenly Kingdom to earth. Part of that submission includes living a lifestyle of prayer. We also need to engage with people the way Jesus did ... He was led by the Spirit and He did and brought "Kingdom" everywhere He went. We have been given His power and authority to do what He did --healing the sick; casting out demons; cleansing the lepers [the socially unacceptable]; raising the dead; and spreading the Good News of the Kingdom everywhere He stepped foot. 

When we carry out the King's agenda [and our purpose for being here] we will live a supernatural life. We will walk in great signs and wonders. We will encounter angels. We will move and live in the spirit realm. We will enjoy God's provision. We will receive special revelation. And most importantly, we will live in the love and presence of God.

What are the hindrances to walking in a Kingdom lifestyle? Once again our theology and what we believe about God and His Kingdom will either advance us or hinder us from stepping into the Jesus-like lifestyle that we so desperately need.

One of the simplest hindrances to discern is the false image that the pursuit of the American dream of a house, two cars in the garage, a vacation every year, and a healthy bank account is the evidence that you're walking in the Kingdom of God. That's the Prosperity Gospel, not the Gospel of the Kingdom. Jesus never promised that. In fact, He told His Disciples that He had no place to lay His head at night, and they needed to leave all their possessions behind, grab their cloak and sword [if they had one], and come follow Him. It would not be a ministry of affluence, but they would receive everything they needed by "Seeking the Kingdom first and righteousness". 

One of the most pervasive impediments to a Kingdom lifestyle is the false teaching that God is in control of everything. Put another way, it is the teaching that God has "allowed" everything that has happened in your life, whether good or bad. But that doesn't take into account that God, in His Sovereignty, has given us all Free Will, and therefore some of our experiences are the results of choices we have made, or choices another person has made against us, or the choices of action by our Enemy, the devil.   

God's "Sovereignty" doesn't mean He will control everything; only that He can, if it is His will/desire. We must not forget that we have an Enemy who prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. We must be careful to make righteous decisions, and not give him the legal authority by being in agreement with his unrighteous temptations. We cannot, and must not, lay the evil deeds of the Enemy at the feet of our Just and Righteous God. 

And one more stumbling block to the Kingdom lifestyle is End Times Eschatology. None of us know what it will actually look like at the End of the Age. Our understanding of Tribulation and the teaching of an End Times Rapture of the Church is only a little over 200 years old, thanks to John Darby and Cyrus Scofield. None of the early Church Fathers taught it! And they were 2000 years closer to Jesus than we are. If we believe in this theology, we receive the message that we are not destined for wrath and will be "raptured" out of this world before "the bad stuff happens". This does nothing but convince us to sit on the sidelines and wait to be swept up to Heaven. It does nothing encourage us to enter or walk in the Kingdom of our Lord. 

My summary statement: This doesn't by any means capture everything that Steve Harmon taught. But it highlights some of his key points, especially the understanding that the key to a rewarding and fruitful Kingdom lifestyle is the desire to experience that deep spiritual relationship with God that comes only from putting Him and His Kingdom first in your life. You have to be willing to give up everything for Him; to pour out your life before Him and sacrifice [give up] all that this world has to offer -- your family, your money, your job, your status, and even your life! 

The Kingdom lifestyle is not an escape from this world so we can go to Heaven. It's an invasion of Heaven into this evil world. It's a restoration to the lifestyle Adam enjoyed in the Garden with God. We are to take back ground from the false kingdom of Satan wherever we find ourselves -- in our families, our communities, our jobs; even in Walmart! If we can manifest the presence of Jesus wherever we go, we can and will see the increase of His government, and it will have no end. 

That, my friends, is a quick summary of Steve Harmon's Kingdom teaching. Of course, it was impossible to give a synopsis of the entire 7 hours in this one blog post, but I encourage you to visit his website for more teachings: steveharmon.org. And, I know Steve would agree with me when I say this ... if your spirit is feeling uncomfortable and challenged, that’s not a bad thing. Let that tension help you to examine your theology and take your questions to God and ask Him … how do I need to renew my mind so that I am in sync with your thoughts and ways? Will you teach me how to see and enter your kingdom and begin to influence people for their healing… physically and spiritually? Tell Him you want to grow up into that super level of experiencing the Kingdom in your life; of entering the Kingdom in the fullness of your destiny and purpose.

Let me leave you with a prayer that expresses my heart on the subject of the Kingdom lifestyle ... Father, We thank you for providing the opportunity of attaining the fruit and the benefits of seeing and entering the kingdom. And from our kingdom position, help us to use the power and authority you transferred to us to take back territory from the kingdom of darkness and transition it into your kingdom on earth.

I pray that each of us will make the choice to make Jesus Lord of our life. That we will GO and take the Good News that Jesus invaded the earth, bringing His Father’s Kingdom and its authority and dominion to the earth so that we can partner with Him to make earth look like Heaven. 

Lord, change our hearts to help restore the earth for the glory of your Kingdom — on earth as it is in heaven. Help us to walk in the miracles and signs and wonders that the Kingdom is at hand… it is here NOW and it is for us! Amen!

#Kingdomlifestyle #GospeloftheKingdom #KingJesus #WhatdidJesusComeToTeach? #Kingdomtheology #HindrancestotheKingdomofGod #BenefitsoftheKingdomofGod #FalseTheologyoftheWesternChurch #steveharmon 

Isaiah 9:7    There shall be no end to the increase of His government and of peace, [He shall rule] on the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From that time forward and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.     



August 14, 2023

Part 1: Why We Need to Understand & Preach the Gospel of the Kingdom

I want to present an idea that is clearly explained in the Bible, yet we, as the Body of Christ, often don't recognize it. As elucidated in Luke 4:43, the purpose of Jesus's coming was to announce that the Kingdom of God would be established on earth. Christians today, however, tend to focus on His message of Salvation, and we rarely proclaim what He taught about the Kingdom of God, or the Kingdom of Heaven, which are the same thing. Remember that in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you”(Matthew 6:33).  Salvation was not his primary focus ... the Kingdom of God was. 

Jesus is teaching His disciples the importance of knowing what He meant by the Kingdom of God, and making sure they knew it was His purpose; why He was sent. And when Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God, He spoke in terms of a real government—a structured, organized entity with the very authority of God behind it. (Certain rulers who heard Christ's message recognized the political implications and viewed His words as a threat to their own power. This became a factor in Christ's eventual crucifixion).  

But God is a God of order. To Jesus and His disciples, the term "Kingdom of God" meant a government that would be established on earth. They anticipated that its arrival would amount to nothing less than a sweeping, overwhelming change in the world order. And those in power could not let that happen. The powerful still don't want to recognize the supremacy of His government!

We also need to recognize that there are two different fulfillments we need to consider when discussing the Kingdom of God: 1) The Bible shows that when the Kingdom comes in the future, the returning Christ will take His place as divine ruler of the earth. It is a literal Kingdom on earth, with Jesus as the ruler.  2) Since the Kingdom is wherever the King is ruler, if He is the ruler of your heart, then the spiritual Kingdom of God exists in you HERE AND NOW.  

In light of these two fulfillments, it is important that we contemplate the chapter of Matthew 13, which consists entirely of parables about the Kingdom of Heaven. The disciples asked Jesus, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” And He answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.” Notice that He doesn't say you have been given the knowledge of Salvation ... No! He was teaching them about the significance of the Kingdom of Heaven and why it was important, both in the present and in the future.

In each of the parables in Matthew 13, Jesus presents an argument that begins with, "The Kingdom of Heaven is like...".  I don't know about you, but for years, I read those parables in terms of what moral lesson He was trying to teach me. I never made the connection that they all pointed to the Kingdom of Heaven. As I looked for a lesson in each one, I missed that He was giving us valuable information that pertained to Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.  Let me give you a short synopsis on each of the parables and why it was important to Jesus that we get this concept. I recommend that you read these parables in Matthew, Chapter 13, with a new spiritual eye towards The Kingdom of God.

The Parable of the Sower:  Each soil represents one of four responses to the teaching of the Kingdom of God. With each response, but one, the message is lost. 

The Parable of the Wheat and Tares (Weeds):  There was corruption in the Kingdom, but it will be sorted out at harvest time.

The Parable of the Mustard Seed:  (This is the most fascinating to me, and is an alternate view of the one most often presented!)  This parable accurately describes what the kingdom community became in the decades and centuries after the Christianization of the Roman Empire. In those centuries the Church grew abnormally large in influence and dominion, and was a nest for much corruption.  Close study of birds as symbols in the Old Testament, and especially in the literature of later Judaism, shows that birds regularly symbolize evil and even demons or Satan.

The Parable of the Leaven: Three measures is far more leaven than is needed to make bread, and represents the addition of corruption and impurity through “paganizing influences” introduced into the Kingdom.

The Parable of the Hidden Treasure: The man is Jesus and this parable speaks of how highly the King values the people of His kingdom.  The treasure that is so wonderful that Jesus would give all to purchase is the individual believer. This powerfully shows how Jesus gave everything to redeem the whole world to preserve a treasure in it, and the treasure is His people.

The Parable of the Pearl of Great Value: Again, Jesus is the buyer and the individual believer is the pearl that He sees as so valuable that He would happily give all to have it forever. To the ancient peoples that Jesus was speaking to, a pearl was the loveliest of all possessions; Jesus is telling them that the people of His Kingdom are the most valuable thing to Him.

The Parable of the (Drag)Net: Jesus shows that the world will remain divided right up until the end, and the Church will not reform the world. The King will return, the angels will assist the King in the work of judgment, and He will establish His Kingdom on earth.

As I have studied further about Jesus's teachings on the Kingdom of God, I now understand how the early Church might have been confused about it's significance, and how that has translated to near ignorance on the part of the modern Church. 

In fact, the hope of the early church was that the Lord would return in the clouds to establish a Kingdom of peace and justice. That is what Jesus preached! They had yet to learn that the Kingdom was in them! The Disciples believed in the literal return and reign of Christ on earth. Jesus, Himself, said in Matthew 25:31, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.” He goes on to say in verse 32, that He will then judge the nations, separating the sheep from the goats. But He also told them in Luke 17:21:  "You won't be able to say, 'Here it is!' or 'It's over there!' For the Kingdom of God is already among you."  We can see both the future and the present Kingdoms of God presented here.

So, how have we come to lose the importance of Jesus's message about the Kingdom of God?  It began to change through the centuries as follows: The Church began to limit the idea of the Kingdom of God to just mean the 1,000 year reign of Christ in the Millennial Kingdom. While The Kingdom of God and the Millennial Kingdom aren’t the same, they do overlap. Then theologians began arguing if the Millennial Kingdom was literal or allegorical. The early Church fathers Papias, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and Tertullian believed in a literal Millennial Kingdom. In the 3rd Century, Origen was the first to present the allegorical theory. Then just a few years later, Augustine changed the theory even more.  He “identified the Church with the Kingdom of God and maintained that the millennial age had already come”.  In his highly influential book The City of God, Augustine wrote: “Therefore the Church, even now, is the kingdom of Christ, and the kingdom of heaven” (Book XX, Chapter 9). In essence, Augustine taught that the Church in this present world is the Kingdom of God, and “the thousand years stand for all the years of the Christian era”. 

We need to remember that the Hebrew prophets showed that the arrival of God's Kingdom on earth would bring worldwide peace, physical abundance and divine righteousness.  Isaiah 2:4 tells us that He will judge among the nations, and rebuke many people; that people will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; and that nations won’t lift their swords against other nations, and man will learn war no more.

But history shows us that the “Christian era” or “the Church era” that Augustine equated with God's Kingdom has been a time of violence, war, death, starvation and widespread lawlessness. We certainly can’t say mankind is no longer learning war! So the Church, in this "Age of Grace," has obviously not spread Jesus’s Gospel Message about the Kingdom of God! 

Continuing from the historical perspective, in the 18th Century mankind adopted “the Age of Reason”, and instead of basing all knowledge in Biblical revelation, they tried to build on the foundation of human reason.  Theologians that adopted this concept believed that “Western civilization was establishing Christ's earthly rule”. And they began to teach that Mankind was “improving” and through our human power and ingenuity we could establish a righteous world. (SIDE NOTE:  We’ve left the “righteousness” part of that world equation behind, and now through our human power and ingenuity, we’re going to “improve” through transhumanism, including man merging with machine).

Those theologians also taught that as the Church, we should set good examples of Christian living, which would influence society and culture… we haven’t done a very good job of that if you look at our society today. And even though that idea was preached by the theologians of the day, the Church received no commission to politically reform the society by seeking God’s righteousness, and from the Roman Empire on, we have NOT seen the governments of the world conform to what Jesus said the Kingdom of God was: a structured, organized entity with the very authority of God behind it.  And throughout the centuries, the Church has not preached that as a goal!  Instead, church members heard from their leaders that they should hope and pray for God's Kingdom to come [in the future], while concentrating on the Salvation message.

That literal Kingdom on earth WILL COME and Jesus WILL be the Divine Ruler of His Kingdom on earth.  In that sense the Kingdom of God is future and we look forward to our inheritance. BUT the Kingdom of God also refers to the King’s realm into which we may now enter to experience the blessings of His reign in our hearts.  REMEMBER:  the parable of the Sower is all about what is sown in our hearts; that’s the personal realm that Jesus concentrated on and wants to be King of.

So, in this earthly realm, it is perhaps easier to comprehend that the Kingdom of God exists in our hearts.  Our spirits give us hints that He is there, and our souls (our minds, emotions and will) will show us He is real and there is evidence of Him --- IF WE SEEK THE KINGDOM OF GOD FIRST.  

As for the literal establishment of God’s Kingdom at the return of Christ, God's timetable may differ from man's. God does not allow man to foresee the chronological details of His plan, but the outcome is certain. God will do what He has promised. 

Finally, here is the really important concept I hope you will grasp ... After the true biblical teaching of the Kingdom of God was removed, the gospel message was changed from the message about the Kingdom to a message primarily about Jesus Christ.  It would become a message that Christianity would triumph over its enemies in the world. And it was a message that faith in Jesus would yield eternal salvation ... both true, but these were not the "Good News" that Jesus had come to preach, nor the purpose for which He was sent.  (Read the Scripture that follows). In other words, Christianity kept the name of Jesus Christ, but abandoned His message.

Part Two of this topic will take a look at what Jesus meant by the "secrets" or the "mysteries" of the Kingdom.

Luke 4:43   But He said, “I must preach [the good news of] the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because I was sent for this purpose.”

August 8, 2023

How Do We Live a Kingdom of God Lifestyle?

More and more Christians are coming to the knowledge that there is more than the Gospel of Salvation that we are to share with the world. You will hear various Christian groups and pastors presenting the Good News that Jesus preached the Gospel of the Kingdom, as well. And as I stated in yesterday's post, it is important for us to understand our position and purpose in this Kingdom on earth. 

Personally, I have spent several years growing my understanding of the concept of God's Kingdom on earth by studying what the Word says throughout the Book of Matthew about His Kingdom. And I gained more than a heart knowledge that came from the Holy Spirit counseling me and teaching me the spiritual ramifications of the existence of the Kingdom here on earth. So, besides head and heart knowledge, I also have knowledge that comes from actually "walking out" or experiencing what living in [and by] Kingdom principles actually does in my life, and how it affects the lives of others. I'd like to share this bigger picture in the context of where we are today.

To begin, when I first came to an understanding of the Kingdom of God, I "spiritualized" it. In other words, my spirit was overcome with the concept that when Jesus announced that "the Kingdom is near" or "the Kingdom is at hand", He was proclaiming that He came to bring the foundation of Heaven's belief and behavior system to earth; that "on earth, as it is in Heaven" was not just a part of a prayer, but a reality that He wanted to establish. The idea that we could participate [as followers of Jesus] in establishing Heaven on Earth was mind-blowing!

But now I can see just how that idea relates to any other kingdom that exists [or has existed] on earth. In fact, the kingdoms of the earth are a mirror of the Kingdom of Heaven -- they have just developed within a corrupt "world system", rather than a righteous "heavenly system". So what is the standard that God has set in His Heavenly Kingdom? What are the principles we should be following?

• Just like any earthly kingdom, the Kingdom of God has a government that maintains order; has dominion or jurisdiction and control; has power and authority. But God's Kingdom acts in righteousness, and for the good of His people. I'm not seeing much order today, nor does the power and authority look righteous. 

• The Kingdom of God has a constitution, which is the covenant He has made with us. This covenant regenerates God's people by his Holy Spirit and renews their hearts so that they obey Him. Our constitution was designed to establish laws that reflected Heaven's justice, peace, welfare, liberty and prosperity. But now it is mocked and scorned. How can we expect to live a Kingdom lifestyle?  

• The Kingdom of God has Law. The Word of Righteousness cannot be broken; not even by God. He established it; it is forever settled and never changes. It is the established foundation of the Kingdom. The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether (Psalm 19:7-9). All this language pertains to the laws of the Kingdom of God. But what of our laws? They are anything but perfect, sure, fair, right, or untainted.

• The Kingdom of God has citizens, and to become a citizen, there has to be an entrance system. Our nation originally established an eligibility requirement and a naturalization process to becoming a citizen. Now, like many of our laws, that system has been decimated. In the Kingdom of God, Jesus is the entrance; the door to citizenship. Here's the thing, there is only one door into the Kingdom of God [through Jesus], but many doors into Religion (Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, etc), but they don't lead you into the Kingdom. And before you think that just because you are a Christian, you are a citizen of the Kingdom, consider what Jesus said to the religious leaders whom He brought the Kingdom message to .... But woe (judgment is coming) to you, [self-righteous] scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven in front of people; for you do not enter yourselves, nor do you allow those who are [in the process of] entering to do so (Matthew 23:13). So, as Christians, it is imperative that we ask ourselves, "Have I entered the door into the Kingdom, or have I entered the door that led to Religion"? Am I showing others the way, or am I shutting the door in their faces?

• The Kingdom has an economy. There is a shared loyalty among the citizens and a sharing of the wealth. In the world this is known as a "commonwealth". In both the world's kingdoms and the Kingdom of God, it is the King's responsibility to take care of its citizens. The economy of the Kingdom of God is the Good News of the Gospel of the Kingdom, and it is our responsibility to share the wealth of that Good News. Again, our economy is failing, and there is no sharing of wealth. In fact, the distance between the classes is widening in an alarming fashion. 

• The Kingdom of God has its own culture. When we are involved in "Kingdom living" it produces a unique environment by which we should live our lives, and it is not a religious or worldly culture. And it's our responsibility to learn how to live in that culture. What does the Kingdom culture look like? It is the commission that Jesus gave His disciples to establish a culture that observed everything He had taught and commanded them to do: heal the sick (physically, emotionally, and spiritually); cast out demons, freeing the citizens to pursue their purpose in the Kingdom; cleanse the lepers (restore people back to their families and communities); raise the dead (if it is before the time Jesus has written in their Book of Life); spreading the Good News of the Kingdom and what it means in the lives of Believers; make disciples (teaching people to learn of Him. believe in Him, and obey His words); and baptize them (which is an act of declaration to the kingdom of darkness that we have chosen a side) -- Matthew 28:19-20. It makes my heart sad to see how our culture resembles so little of what Jesus commanded.

• The Kingdom of God has keys, or principles of how to live. In Matthew 16:19, Jesus tells us, I will give you the keys (authority) of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind [forbid, declare to be improper and unlawful] on earth will have [already] been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose [permit, declare lawful] on earth will have [already] been loosed in heaven. Once again you see that the Kingdom has a foundation of laws that establish the principles of how we are to live. Does our nation [or the world] look like we have taken those keys and bound ourselves to the Kingdom of God? Or have we pledged ourselves to the self-aggrandizing standards of the world?

I will tell you that it is past time that we abandon the corrupt world system of government, laws, economies and culture, and be restored to God's vision of the Kingdom of God on earth! We were made to reflect His attributes and nature, and I want to assure you that it is actually possible to live as a citizen of the Kingdom of God while on earth. Jesus showed us how! Contemplate what Matthew 4:23 tells us: And He went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the good news (gospel) of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people [demonstrating and revealing that He was indeed the promised Messiah]. This verse is telling us there is no disease (such as cancer or diabetes or deadly viruses) in Heaven, nor sickness (spiritual issues like depression, unworthiness, shame, guilt, or anger). Therefore, as a citizen of the Kingdom of God, we have been given the keys (power and authority) to heal them just as He did when He represented the Kingdom while He was on earth. We have the Holy Spirit's power in us [just as Jesus did] to transfer ourselves out of the realm of this sinful and corrupted world into another realm -- the Kingdom of God on earth. And our existence can look like Heaven! 

So, why is the world so sick? Because, first of all, we haven't been taught that we have the keys, and secondly, we are scared to use them. What if I fail? What will people think of me? Jesus will find me unworthy! People, that's a lie from the devil! He wants us to try, and keep on trying! If we attempt to live this lifestyle for one day and nothing happens, are we going to quit? Did Jesus quit when His miracles and acts of power failed to change the hearts of the Jewish people, to whom He came with this Good News? Do not fear man! Do not seek the rewards of this worldly culture, but rather seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness first! And keep on seeking it! Your rewards in Heaven will far outweigh anything this world offers. 

As I wrap up this post, I want to state that it is important to us, [as the Body of Christ, who is to share the Good News of Jesus Christ], that we understand that if we have not been taught [or are not teaching] within the context of the Kingdom of God, we are teaching another gospel. It is important to know what Gospel Jesus taught. I know that sounds like an indictment of the Church, but here is what I see ... Everything has to fall under the umbrella of Kingdom Living and Kingdom Teaching because that's what Jesus did! 

And lest there be any misunderstanding, I want to be perfectly clear .... If we are preaching/teaching grace and salvation, that is not wrong. Salvation is necessary to see and enter the Kingdom. It is the first step! It is just not an exact representation, nor the fullness, of what Jesus taught! Too many Christians are living saved lives, and offering grace and mercy to others, but are neglecting to teach all of what Jesus came to establish. And the result is that our culture, our nation, and the world, does not reflect "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven". The world certainly does not look like Heaven! And it is increasingly looking like hell!

It's time that we understand the fullness of that verse, and start living it. It's not enough to know the Word, we must experience it; start living in it; and sharing it. It is apparent that too many are still living as citizens of this world, and not as citizens representing the Kingdom. I realize that my message might offend some of the religious Christians who read it. Jesus offended the religious people, too, as He tried to speak about the Kingdom. But it didn't stop Him. May I prove to be worthy to follow in His steps. 

Luke 4:43     But He said, “I must preach [the good news of] the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because I was sent for this purpose.”   

August 2, 2023

Jesus's Warning To Those Who Reject His Message of the Kingdom of God!

Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah

As I stated in the previous post, there is no doubt that we are at a critical juncture in our nation. And the theme of today's post is one that I continue to return to often, because it is so important to our future as individuals and as a nation. We have turned our back on the living God, believing the lie in the Garden that we can be our own god. Many have abandoned the truth, knowledge, and wisdom of the Bible, deciding to depend on themselves to figure it all out. But I caution all who call themselves Americans that there are a lot of quotes from Jesus in that Holy Book that, quite frankly, are alarming and terrifying. And I want to specifically point out to Christians and Believers that Jesus puts us on notice that our professed faith does not make us immune from judgment. But perhaps the two quotes I point to in Matthew 10 and 11 should make us all sit up and take notice.

In Matthew 10:5-15, Jesus sends out His twelve disciples, instructing them to go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel and proclaim that the Kingdom of Heaven has arrived. They are told to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers and cast our demons. They are told that when they come to a town and find out those "who are worthy", they are to stay with them. They are to let their peace come upon the house if the inhabitants are worthy; and if anyone will not receive them or listen to their message about the Kingdom, then they are to shake off the dust from their feet and leave that town. And here is the warning: Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.

Before we dissect the meaning of that dire warning, we need to understand what Jesus meant by being "worthy". According to Strong's Concordance it means to be found righteous on the grounds of being fit for the Good News of the Kingdom. And "being fit" means a willingness to receive the Kingdom; to "see" it and "enter" it. And as we know from John 3:1-5, Salvation is the entry point into the Kingdom. Once Saved, we are called to "do" the works of the Kingdom and take back dominion over the earth [defeating the devil's kingdom], starting in people's lives by healing them, casting out the demons that have kept them in bondage, raising them from the dead [if it is before their time], and teaching them to share this Good News and do the works of the Kingdom themselves, thereby expanding it until it covers the earth. 

But Jesus says that if a town is witness to these evidences that the Kingdom is here, and they refuse to listen or receive it, then they will be judged harsher than Sodom and Gomorrah. Wow! Most of us know that the Bible tells us how wicked and evil Sodom and Gomorrah were and that God destroyed Sodom. But do you know the extent of their wickedness? The ancient Book of Jasher gives us more historical insight into the deeds of Sodom. [NOTE: I am not saying that the Book of Jasher is inspired Scripture! But it is referenced in both the Old and New Testaments as a book of historical record. I have found that it fills in some of the gaps in the historical narrative of the Bible, and I believe God inspired the writers to reference it so we would have additional information to illuminate His inspired Word. Remember: It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, and the glory of kings to search it out [Proverbs 25:2)]. 

So, back to the story of Sodom. In the Bible, we tend to see Sodom as one city, but actually it was a kingdom. And our Christian doctrine primarily describes the sin of Sodom as either rape/sodomy, lack of hospitality, or pride. But it was much more! According to Jasher, the cities of Sodom had four judges to the four cities. These four judges issued a decree that beds were to be erected in the streets of the cities, and if a man came to these places, the citizens were to lay hold of him and force him to lie down on the bed. They would measure him according to the length of the bed, and if he was shorter, they would stretch him until he died. If he was longer, they would fold the bed up and crush him to death. 

Another favorite pastime of Sodom was equally appalling. If a poor man came to their land and entered their cities, they would give him silver and gold, then decree that no one in the city could give him anything to eat. Should he die from starvation, then the inhabitants of the city would come and lay claim to their silver and gold and fight over the man's clothes and belongings. 

Then there is the story of Paltith, a daughter of Lot that we don't read about in the Bible. During Lot's sojourn in Sodom, one of the men of Sodom takes Paltith as his wife. The Book of Jasher says that Paltith's soul was so moved with pity for a man who was being starved in Sodom that she secretly fed him bread and water, and he was revived. When it was discovered that Paltith was aiding the man, she was seized and taken before the judges of Sodom and was burned to death. Another young woman attempted to aid another traveler in the city of Admah [in the kingdom of Sodom] and her judgment was to be covered with honey from head to foot and placed before bee hives. Jasher records "the young woman cried out... and her cries ascended to Heaven. And the Lord was provoked at this and at all the works of the cities of Sodom, for they had abundance of food, and had tranquility amongst them, and still would not sustain the poor and the needy, and in those days their evil doings and sins became great before the Lord. And the Lord sent for two of the angels that had come to Abraham's house, "to destroy Sodom and its cities." I can't help but recognize the similarity in our blessings of abundance and tranquility among many in our nation, yet so many others are in need of sustenance. But I digress...

It is hard to imagine anything more despicable than these works of the cities of Sodom, and they will certainly be judged for their evil ways. But what does that say about our sins of mutilating kids to change their genders? And don't you think that making billions of dollars off trafficking children for sex is going to be measured  just as evil?  Jesus [in Matthew 10] says on the Day of Judgment, it will be more bearable for Sodom than for towns where the people will not receive or listen to the Gospel of the Kingdom! The cities of Sodom did not get the opportunity to hear about the Kingdom or see the works of the Kingdom displayed. Today, Christians DO have that opportunity! And I know the frustration of trying to share the Kingdom message and its works with people I think are worthy, and having it rejectedBut when I see the judgment that is coming against those who refuse what Jesus commanded, it breaks my heart.

And if you doubt the truth of this warning, Jesus makes it again in Matthew 11:20-24! He warns the cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum because they witnessed the mighty works of the Kingdom of God, yet they refused to repent -- which is refusing to change the way they think and "see" and "enter" the Kingdom of God which was being presented right before their eyes. Again, He tells them it will be more bearable for the evil towns of Tyre and Sidon, and more tolerable for the land of Sodom, than for these cities who were blessed with the confirmation of the Kingdom.

But now, I have to ask ... is it any different for us today? Won't we be held to the same standards as Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum? Won't the same judgement be issued for those who have seen evidence of the miracles of healing, and the casting out of demons, yet refuse to step into the Kingdom and continue the works of Jesus as He commands in the Great Commission? Yes, we have the benefit of Salvation, but Jesus commanded more. He preached the Gospel of the Kingdom. He didn't stress Salvation as our goal. We can't even see or perceive or understand the Kingdom without Salvation, so, yes, it is the essential first step. He tells us to seek the Kingdom first! Salvation is a given at that point. There is more to our purpose than getting Saved, and it is to advance the Kingdom through the works He did and to share the Good News that these works are part of the Kingdom; restoring us back to our original state of dominion which He gave men in Genesis 1:26-28 . 

If we are Saved, what's keeping us from taking that next step and seeking the Kingdom? Is it that the teachings of the Church have changed? I ask you to consider that after His resurrection, the Bible tells us in Acts 1:3, that Jesus appeared to the Disciples "over a period of forty days and [talked] to them about the things concerning the Kingdom of God". Acts 8:12 says "they believed Philip as he preached good news about the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ". And Acts 28:30-31 tells us that Paul "lived there [in Rome] two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the Kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance". Shouldn't we be doing the same? Does the Modern Church need to revive these foundational teachings of the Early Church?

So, here is what I'd like you to understand -- and what I believe the Early Church understood. The Gospel of the Kingdom includes the gospel of Grace, which offers people Salvation, and entry into God's Kingdom of Heaven. God's good news of Grace features the forgiveness of sin, God's redemption, and eternal life. The good news of the Kingdom is about the heavenly ruling of God and His authority over His creation. The good news of Grace, Eternal Life, and Salvation are all aspects of the good news that the Kingdom exists; they are part of the Kingdom and part of Kingdom living!  

It is time we take Jesus's warning in Matthew to heart. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Jesus sent His Disciples out and instructed them, saying, "proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand". That goes for us, too!  We are to preach it in every town we enter, and if the people will not receive us or listen to our words, then it will be more tolerable for the towns of Sodom and Gomorrah, Tyre and Sidon, Chorazin and Bethsaida on the Day of Judgment than it will be for them. None of us are exempt from the judgments He decreed over the people in the Book of Matthew. 

I pray that a holy fire of revelation and faith in the promises of the Kingdom of God will sweep our land. We have much need of repentance and an acceptance of the Message of the Kingdom. I am happy to see progress being made, in that Believers are moving beyond "Kingdom" as the latest Christian buzzword or part of an advertising campaign to sell the idea of Church and gain new customers. Kingdom is more than creating and packaging the latest image of Christianity. It is a call-to-action, just as Jesus demonstrated 2000+ years ago! We need to not only hear it and receive it, but do it! It is time to preach it, teach it, equip and train! I do not want to see my country fall under the condemnation and judgment that Jesus warns us about! Let us understand, enter, do, and preach the Kingdom of God until it reaches the ends of the earth!

John 12:48    If you reject Me and refuse to follow My words, you already have a judge. The message of truth I have given you will rise up to judge you at the Day of Judgment.   

February 3, 2023

How Do You Define The Power of the Gospel?

There are very few nationally known Pastors that I admire more than Bill Johnson. And, yes, I know he has become a lightning rod among the ultra-religious, Pharisaical branch of the Body of Christ -- those who are self-righteous and hypercritical when a ministry doesn't adhere to the strict man-made rules and traditions that they follow. Let me be clear ... I'm not advocating an "anything goes, in the Name of Jesus" model of ministering. But my spirit discerns that Bill Johnson seeks after the Father's heart and is able to make His will for us understandable and comprehensible as he shares the Truth and Spirit of God. 

So, I want to share something he said the other day that so eloquently expressed what I have been hearing in my spirit -- only he says it better than I could. Here are his wise words: "There seems to be a greater faith for the return of Christ than for the power of the Gospel ... in other words, the faith is in the return of Christ to come and fix things, instead of Him returning to something that's been fixed". Did you hear that, Body of Christ???

Ever since I came out of my fog of traditional and orthodox man-made teachings of the Bible and started seeking the revelation of God and Jesus in the Word [with the help of the Holy Spirit] I have been awakened to a clearer picture of God's redemptive plan for mankind, and how many of us Christians have been blinded to His truths. When I spent a year studying the Book of Matthew and, for the first time, I realized that the Kingdom of God was the focus of the parables in Chapter 13, and not simply a moral code I was supposed to follow. I began to see the Fall of mankind in Genesis in a different light and a much bigger picture. And I was able to connect it to the Book of Matthew and why Jesus said He came.

In Genesis 1, man is made in the image of God and given dominion over "all the earth", to govern it in the manner that God governs Heaven. Think of earth as being a colony of Heaven, and man has been created as the Governor of earth to oversee the implementation of God's Divine Laws of Heaven on earth. But observe how quickly man gives in to the temptation of Satan and relinquishes his authority, power, and dominion to God's Enemy. That dominion over the earth was transferred to Satan, and God's redemptive plan is put into play. He will spend the next 4,000 or so years trying to get man cleaned up to reclaim his authority over the earth. And because man is continually evil, the Father sends His own Son to rescue earth and reclaim the dominion for Himself.

Jesus comes the first time to wrest the government of earth away from the devil, stake His claim as the rightful ruler, and then give His authority and power [over the earth] back to mankind. He admonishes men to "Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand"! In other words, "Mankind, you need to start thinking differently ... see your actions from God's perspective, and know that the Kingdom of God now occupies the earth. The kingdom of darkness is being replaced with the Kingdom of Light! Start taking back territory"!!

For the next three years, Jesus will teach people how to return to a lifestyle that not only pleases the Father, but regains dominion [rule] over the earth. He clearly states that His purpose for coming in Luke 4:43 ... “I must preach the good news [the Gospel] of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” The Gospel of the Kingdom of God is how God's Kingdom in Heaven operates, and how it should be mirrored here on earth. But that will require that man [we] begin to step into that original purpose for which we were designed, which requires that we be made holy before the Father. Sadly, we cannot do that on our own, and so Jesus paid our debt to the Father by taking the sins of the world upon Himself and sacrificing His life as a substitute for ours. Once we make that decision to follow Christ, we are ready to be commissioned to begin taking back the territory which was originally given to man to rule on behalf of God.

But before He left this earth to return to His heavenly home, Jesus promised that He would return to defeat Evil and take the Righteous and Holy back home with Him. All who recognized and received Him as their Redeemer and Savior would have the right to be called Children of God and rule and reign with Him on the earth. But until that time comes, we must fulfill our commission and duty here on earth -- continue the work of Jesus to heal the sick [not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually, too], cast out demons, cleanse the lepers [those whom society rejects and marginalizes], raise the dead, and spread this Good News about what the Kingdom of God on earth is supposed to look like.

So, for 2000 years that has been mankind's assignment from the Son of God. But Satan has corrupted that message among the Body of Christ, and false doctrine has crept in to divert us from our purpose. The most damaging to take root was invented in 1803 by a man named John Darby, and called "The Pre-Tribulation Rapture". According to multiple websites, prior to 1830, no church taught it in their creed, catechism or statement of faith... with one exception: Morgan Edwards wrote a short essay as a college paper for Bristol Baptist College in Bristol, England in 1744, where he confused the Second Coming with the First Resurrection of Revelation 20 and described a "pre-tribulation" rapture. However, this idea of Edwards, which he admitted was brand new and never before taught, had no influence in the modern population. That title belongs to Darby.

Although the word "Rapture" does not appear anywhere in the Bible, we are told in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, that upon the Lord's return we, who are still alive, will be caught up in the clouds to meet Him in the air, and will be with Him forever in Heaven. Nowhere is there given a time in which this event will happen. The Bible tells us there will be tribulation upon the earth until Jesus' return and we are not appointed to His wrath, which will be poured out upon the earth against all who reject Jesus to join forces with Evil. There is no overt promise that we will avoid the tribulation that is coming, and which I believe is now manifesting. 

It's only natural that man, given a choice in doctrine, would choose being a part of "the Rapture" over having to experience "the Tribulation". And thanks to John Darby, the Church has had over 200 years to embrace [and propagate] this false teaching, while largely ignoring what Jesus taught in the Book of Matthew. Think again upon the words of Bill Johnson ... "the faith is in the return of Christ to come and fix things, instead of Him returning to something that's been fixed".  Too many Christians are counting on Christ to come back and fix the problems of the world; to be our Rescuer so we don't have to experience the wars, and violence, and child sacrifice, and all the evil that has permeated our society. They have forgotten John 14:12, in which Jesus says we, who profess belief in Him, will do the things He did and even greater, because He's going back to the Father [until His appointed time to return and wipe out all the Evil that still remains].

Sadly, I'm afraid He is disappointed in how we've carried out our responsibilities. Instead of taking back territory from the kingdom of darkness, we have ceded more ground to Satan! Instead of setting the captives free from demonic oppression by healing the physically, emotionally and spiritually sick, and personifying Christ in our love for each other [which would fix nearly all the world's problems], we have abandoned our assignment in favor of hoping Jesus will do the work and bail us out. A poignant example is the fact that we have allowed the murder of over 60 million of His babies to become the law of the land, along with numerous other laws that are in direct violation of Heaven's Divine government. 

He showed us the way to take back the territory that Satan absconded from Adam and Eve, and even gave us His power and authority to do it. That's the Power of the Gospel and His message -- not the hope of a false doctrine that releases us from acting on our faith, as Jesus instructed us to do. It is far past the time that the Church rediscover the true Gospel that Jesus brought at His First Coming. Each human being since 33 AD will be held responsible when we stand before Him, and He asks us, "What did you do for my Kingdom after I left"? We have no excuses. We have the Word of God which has given us clear instructions. And we must ask ourselves, "Is my faith more rooted in what Jesus has told me in His Word ... or is my faith established by what man has devised to soothe our fears"? 

Jesus has had 2000 years to view how we have responded to His teachings and commands. He knows our successes and our failures. He sees how the seeds of Religion and legalism were sown and have sprouted. He sees the hypocrisy and pretences of our intentions, and how we have justified our actions and laws to cover our disobedience to the Divine Laws of God's Kingdom government. He sees how the attempts of the Early Church to follow the commission He left us has been corrupted and distorted. (That's one of the reasons I wrote my book, Through A Kingdom Lens: Rediscovering What The Church Lost). But Jesus is also looking for those who have responded to His Gospel of the Kingdom --- whose faith in that powerful message includes sharing the love of Christ and the Gospel of Salvation, which leads one into both the understanding and the entrance into the Kingdom of God (John 3:1-5). So, what doctrines and which message will you decide to follow? As for me, I will continue His work and devote every day to taking back territory from the Enemy in the lives of anyone who wants to truly know and follow Him.

#returnofchrist #powerofthegospel #falsedoctrineoftherapture #johndarbyfalsedoctrine #willjesusfindfaith

Luke 18:8    Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?

May 19, 2022

The Coming (And The Progress) Of The Kingdom of God - Part 2


In Part One of this discourse on Luke, Chapter 17 and the anticipated arrival of the Kingdom of God, we established that Scripture shows us Jesus announced it was "at hand" with His appearance on Earth. Now, several of the dictionary definitions I have researched describe "at hand" as meaning happening or present at this time; currently receiving attention; located at that point; in other words, it is just as Jesus said: "The Kingdom of God is among you (because of My Presence)."

So, if we accept that the Kingdom of God arrived with the presence of Jesus on earth, what were the expectations of those who heard His declaration? What can we expect? And what effect has the existence of the Kingdom of God had on earth and its inhabitants? There is a generalization that I think has existed throughout time since Jesus made His announcement, and it is this: for those who think it is yet to come [as a future event], they continue to inquire when it will materialize; not being aware that it is already among us. Jesus came and preached the Gospel of the Kingdom [that it was already here]. He confirmed it by the miracles He performed that gave them a picture of what God's Kingdom in Heaven looked like, and should be proof to us. The presence of the Kingdom on earth was embraced and welcomed by multitudes who accepted His pronouncement, so that those who embraced this Truth [even to this day] might accept that it had come to their nation, though not everyone has received it in their hearts.  

Today, there are many believers in the present Kingdom on earth who struggle with why we see so much strife, division and evil. They don't understand why, if we are "Kingdom people", we should be subjected to battles in our lives. Even Jesus's disciples thought Jesus had, for the most part, defeated Evil when He defeated Death. They expected constant success as they continued His work for the establishment and expansion of the Kingdom that He inaugurated. Yet, as we know, Jesus told them that opposition and disruption would be their companions on their journey as Kingdom ambassadors. 

Again, I would like to share the wisdom of the 17th Century Nonconformist minister, Matthew Henry. ["Nonconformist" refers to his unwillingness to conform to the governance by the "established" or "state church"]. And, oh, how I wish Matthew Henry was preaching from our pulpits today! He explains Jesus's admonition to His disciples in such non-religious terms: "Christ tells them it [their expectation of constant success] would be otherwise: "The days will come, before you have finished your testimony and done your work, when you shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man" (one such a day as we now have), "of the prosperity and progress of the gospel, and shall not see it. At first, indeed, you will have wonderful success" (so they had, when thousands were added to the church in a day); "but do not think it will be always so; no, you will be persecuted and scattered, silenced and imprisoned, so that you will not have opportunities of preaching the gospel without fear, as you now have; people will grow cool to it, when they have enjoyed it awhile, so that you will not see such harvests of souls gathered in to Christ afterwards as at first, nor such multitudes flocking to him as doves to their windows."

And, so it has been! The preaching of the Good News of the Kingdom has not always been met with loud and enthusiastic approval by the un-churched. Nor has the Church always been in loving agreement over Kingdom doctrine or theology. Outside forces [both material and spiritual] have sought to hinder and impede the progress of the Kingdom upon the earth. And from the days that Jesus walked the earth until now, we have seen evidence of the battle over the advancement of God's Kingdom... all we have to do is look at our culture today to know that Jesus was right when He said, "The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it."

That was true for the nation of Israel and the city of Jerusalem, who were warned by Christ to look at "the days of Noah" and what the wickedness of men yielded, yet they took no heed of the warning. They felt too secure in their position, and continued about their business and indulgences, counting on the perpetuity of their profitable ways. They were happy living their lives of self-gratification and pleasure, believing in their self-reliance and self-sufficiency, while ignoring the judgments that Jesus said would be theirs if they didn't repent and enter the Kingdom. It makes me sad to say this, but everything I just wrote could be applied to those who mock the Kingdom of God today. I thank the Lord that there is a remnant among us today that mirror the men of Nineveh, who not only heeded the warnings of judgment, but continued to fast and pray, repent and seek revival. 

 For even though Jesus makes it clear that the judgment of God will be a sure thing, [just as it was in the days of Noah, and in the days of Lot at Sodom and Gomorrah], there will be Christians who escape the destruction. God will take a deliberate course of action to preserve those who are His. Jesus lays out what that will look like in Luke 17:30-37... Whoever seeks to save his life will [eventually] lose it [through death], and whoever loses his life [in this world] will keep it [from the consequences of sin and separation from God]. What did He mean and what would that look like? Jesus gives examples that are plain to understand and cannot be misinterpreted! There will be two [sleeping] in one bed; the one (the non-believer) will be taken [away in judgment] and the other (the believer) will be left. There will be two women grinding [at the mill] together; the one (the non-believer) will be taken [away in judgment] and the other (the believer) will be left. [Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other will be left.”]

I want to make sure that we all understand that this is not "the rapture" that the Church sees in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 when Christ returns in the air [not to the earth] and gathers believers to be with Him. Jesus is telling us in Luke that the believers will not be subject to God's judgment and taken to hell, but will be left on earth to be with Christ [upon His return to earth] during the Millennium. The final question in Luke 17 comes when the disciples ask Jesus where those who are subject to God's judgment will be taken. He responds, “Where the corpse is, there the vultures will be gathered.” This response was most likely a phrase well-known to the disciples in their time ... wherever the wicked are will be well-identified, just as the vultures smell and discover where the dead carcasses lie.

But rather than that gruesome image, I want to end this post and discourse on the First Coming of Christ [and the inauguration of the Kingdom of God on earth] and His final appearance at His Second Coming [and the actualization of the Kingdom in His Millennial reign on earth], by reiterating the essence of Jesus's warning of judgment and His assurance of our deliverance into the Kingdom of God. As Matthew Henry states, "Though the sword devours one as well as another, and all things seem to come alike to all, yet sooner or later it shall be made to appear that the Lord knows them that are his and them that are not, and how to take out the precious from the vile".  

I would leave you with this Truth ... We rest assured that the Judge of all the earth will do right by us, His followers. Although His judgment will be sure and "His terrible swift sword" will enact His justice upon the wicked, He will take particular care that NONE of those who glorified Him, and stood in awesome reverence at the foot of His Cross, will be "taken away" in judgment. We will be marked as His own, preserved to enjoy being in the midst of the presence of the Messiah on earth. His Kingdom will be manifested in all the earth as the saints gather to Him in glory. What a magnificent day that will be! 

Psalm 2:10-12        Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in Him.



March 17, 2022

Warning! The Roller Coaster Is Fast Approaching Its Pinnacle!


I had so many alternative titles for this blog post today and it was hard to pick the right one. I first typed, How To Survive in A World Gone Crazy! And then it was going to be, The Time For Fence-Sitting Has Come and Gone! I finally settled on the one you read now. Any of them would have been appropriate, so I'm just going to try to get my thoughts [that are coming rapid-fire] typed out, before they are gone. 

By this time in the Spring of 2022, I would venture that most people in the nation [and the world] are aware that our lives as we've known them are coming under attack -- both in the physical and the spiritual. Everything that we've built our physical lives upon, and trusted in before, is under suspicion. We can now no longer trust our government to tell us the truth. Who is playing whom in the Russia/Ukraine conflict? Who is using whom, and who is really benefiting? Which leads us to the fact that we can't trust our media; propaganda is reported as truth, and the truth is labeled fake news. We can no longer trust our economic system. The dollar as the world's global currency is hanging on by a thread; the elite bankers' option to just keep printing money as a solution to our debt is about to come to an end; and there seems to be no check on inflation. There's all kinds of warnings in which we can't trust that our food supply is sufficient. What we're buying in the stores is last years harvest. Prices of gas and fertilizer are making it nearly impossible for farmers to afford to plant this year. Famine is a very real possibility. And speaking of gasoline, we can't trust that we will have enough energy resources to meet our needs, even though we have been naturally blessed with an abundant supply. Then there is our education system. We can't trust that our children are being taught the values that we, as parents and a nation, hold dear. We can't trust our medical care system. News stories abound of the ways we've been lied to and manipulated, and millions of people died for it. And perhaps the biggest threat in our physical world is that we can no longer trust in the reputation and status of the United States. As a nation, we have fallen from grace and we are no longer respected. 

So, my title reflects this image that I have of a train of roller coaster cars climbing to reach the pinnacle of the ride before it drops suddenly into a steep decline and the riders experience the full force of gravity, and the twists, turns, and drops of a ride from hell. I want to shout a warning because if you are just now realizing that maybe you should have taken your prepper neighbors a little more seriously; or tried a little harder to get out of debt; or maybe even come out of that normalcy bias bubble a little earlier, then I hope you're ready for that sharp curve on the ride that I'm afraid is just ahead of us. The time for preparation has almost expired. The surplus of goods we are used to is quickly disappearing. And all the world's "systems" we've relied on may soon come to an end, so the soft landing we've come to expect may not happen.

But we must also look at the spiritual side of this ride called life. As I've so often said through the pages of this blog, I'm not sure the American Church is ready for the speed and direction that this roller coaster is going to take in the spiritual realms. Yes, if you are a true believer in the power of Jesus Christ [through your faith in Him] to give you Eternal Life, you have no fear of what we may experience in this world until that glorious day of Jesus's return! And, likewise, if you are a true believer in Jesus Christ, then you know what His Word says about about what we will undergo during that time before His appearance. 

You should be able to discern that the kingdom of darkness is working in tremendous power in these last days. As we approach the apex of the roller coaster ride [in the spiritual realms], we feel the coming pressure of all that the Dark Side has brought to bear on the human race: the corruption of our bodies through confusion over gender identity; genetic alteration of our DNA; the exploration of artificial intelligence and human hybridization. And those with heightened spiritual discernment recognize that the darkness is permeating every spiritual realm and is intensifying. The final showdown between God and Satan is approaching and the change that is coming upon the earth is a time for both trepidation AND rejoicing.

The change will bring trepidation and apprehension to those who have sat the fence; those who have not been willing to surrender the temporary promise of their worldliness and its benefits in favor of an eternal lifetime of blessings in the Presence of their Creator. But there is still time before the roller coaster descends into a darkness spent in the continuous dismay of loops of evil! The time for sitting the fence is past! It is time to choose Jesus, His Salvation, and His Kingdom! Not to choose, is a choice. You must make a declaration of faith in the only One who can deliver you from the consequences of mankind's rejection of the Redeemer! Those consequences are real and clearly spelled out in the Bible (see this link to a previous post).

While this post may seem as if I am speaking only of disaster, darkness, and destruction, those states of being will be reserved for those who reject Christ; those who "reviled and blasphemed the Name of God, refusing to repent of their sin, loving their wickedness, and refusing to glorify Him" (Revelation 16-9-11). The purpose of this post is to proclaim that there is still time and there is still hope! But that roller coaster train is approaching the critical moment when a decision must be made! And I acknowledge that we don't know for sure the hour or day of Christ's return. This hour of perilous uncertainty may yet pass away [through God's grace and mercy] and there may actually be more time for the human race before God decides to send Jesus to destroy Evil.

So, there is rejoicing for all those who have made the decision to pick up their cross and follow Christ. They are secure in their faith; they know whom they serve, and they eagerly share the Gospels of Salvation and the Kingdom, knowing an eternal inheritance awaits them. No matter what the future brings, they will remain steadfast in their purpose and the reason that they are here on the earth. The dizzying heights and depths of this ride on earth will not move them from their position as a child of God, and they will not fear any man or evil spirit! They know their power and authority in Christ and they are unwavering in the face of evil!

But I am concerned about those who call themselves Believers, yet their faith is pushed to the limits. I am speaking of those that Paul describes in 2 Timothy 3:5, as "holding to a form of [outward] godliness (religion), although they have denied its power". In other words, they do not recognize the power and authority Jesus has given us to overcome evil in our lives. They look the part of a Christian; they say the right words; they have the head knowledge of Scripture, but not the heart knowledge. Sadly, many are imposters and hypocrites, even to the point of doubting that they are saved! Many times in our Inner Healing sessions people will say they believe they would go to Heaven if they were to die, and they believe they are saved, yet they also say they doubt their salvation. How can that be? This uncertainty tells me "the Church" has failed in teaching the truth of Scripture and left a lot of doors open for Christians to fall away, or at the very least, to become insincere and hollow in their faith. The fact that there is so much Biblical illiteracy in our nation, yet we call ourselves a "Christian nation", is one of the reasons I am warning that we are approaching the pinnacle; that time when the consequences will come to bear for those morally corrupt and hypocritical "Believers" who have grown lax in guarding the Kingdom of God from the wolves in sheep's clothing. 

Corrupt and counterfeit faith which seeks to imitate the righteousness of our Savior, but falls short of genuine holiness, is exactly what Jesus is referring to when He states, "Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day [when I judge them], ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, and driven out demons in Your name, and done many miracles in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them publicly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me [you are banished from My presence], you who act wickedly [disregarding My commands]." Many proclaiming faith may have been able to deceive the world, but Jesus will not be fooled.

So, if you are solid in your faith, and you know Jesus as your Rock, your Fortress, and your Deliverer, then you're prepared for this roller coaster ride we're on. But if you are clinging to the rail car and in fear of being thrown overboard, then I plead with you to step out of the world and seek Jesus! You won't find your confidence or security in politics, in your wealth, or in any of your "stuff"; not even in your religion. The answers to feeling free from danger or threats (in both the physical and spiritual) lie in a genuine and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. Do not waste another moment looking for it elsewhere. As simple as it sounds, open your Bible and ask the Holy Spirit to lead you into true revelation of the only One who loved you enough to endure an excruciating death to cover your sins and make a way for you to live eternally with Him in His Kingdom of Heaven. I speak from experience ... you will be blessed beyond measure as you pursue Him and He turns to welcome you into His embrace. The dazzling temptations of this world fade in comparison to the Light of His encompassing Love! We are still climbing towards that pinnacle ... choose Him before it's too late!

2 Corinthians 4:4  ... among them the god of this world [Satan] has blinded the minds of the unbelieving to prevent them from seeing the illuminating light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.