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The Kingdom of God - Intro

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          The term “ Kingdom of God” appears in the New Testament (KJV) 69 times in ten different books, including and mostly in the four gospels. The first reference is Matthew 6:33But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” What is the kingdom of God? How does it relate to us? Is it now or in the future? Are we a part of it now or in the future? These are all questions that we need to consider. These questions will not be fully answered in this foundational message.

          Also the term “ Kingdom of Heaven” appears in the New Testament 32 times, all in the book of Matthew, of which 13 are parables about the kingdom of heaven. The first reference is Matthew 3:2Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Is the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven the same thing?

          This subject is a very large and therefore will take a number of messages to begin to properly deal with it and explain the kingdom and the workings of the kingdom. We will begin with some basic definitions.

First of all, a kingdom by definition is a country whose head is a king or queen. Only a king can have a kingdom. In the natural realm, there can also be a queen, but in the spiritual realm, there are only 2 kingdoms, each with its own king. One is the kingdom of light and the other is the kingdom of darkness. One is the kingdom of God and the other is the kingdom of Satan. Every human being is a member of one of those kingdoms and therefore under the authority of its king. There is no third choice. To say, I don’t believe in either god or the devil doesn’t matter. To say I don’t serve either one doesn’t matter. We are by birth, because of the fallen nature we inherited from Adam, members of the kingdom of darkness. All who have not been born again of the spirit of God and been born into the kingdom of God are still of the kingdom of darkness. Christian children are under the covering of their parents and are therefore considered sanctified until the age of accountability, where God then holds each accountable for his/her own actions and choices (1 Corinthians 7:14).

In John 8:44 Jesus was speaking to the religious Jews of the day and he said; “Ye are of your father the devil.” Jesus had admitted in verse 37 that they were of the Jewish race, “I know that ye are Abraham's seed;” and therefore not of the Gentiles or Gentile nations of the world, but of God’s chosen people who were given His Word. He gave the reason why He said they were of the devil, or part of his kingdom in that same verse when he said, “because my word hath no place in you.” This discourse began a couple verses above in John 8:31-32 when Jesus said, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” In response to this statement they started claiming that they were Abraham’s seed and in bondage to no man.

But they were missing the point and as all natural men, thinking in the flesh and not having understanding of that which is spiritual, they were not even considering the fact that they were in reality under the bondage of Rome. That shows how clouded the thinking becomes in those who are only religious and whose fear of God is taught by the doctrines and teachings of men. They are converted to religion; they have a religious spirit, but know not God.

Obviously Jesus was not talking about natural things and He gave the answer to this in Verse 34 “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.” All those who are members of a particular kingdom are the servants of the king that is over that kingdom. And by nature, we are not born into the kingdom of God, but the kingdom of sin, that which is of the devil. Even though a sinner may think that he/she is not serving the devil, to not be serving God is by default to be in rebellion against Him and His kingdom which is His authority and that is what the kingdom of darkness is all about. Satan and his kingdom, whether the demons that serve him or humans who reject God’s Word and authority over them, are all together and united in rebellion against God’s kingdom because they are in rebellion against His authority. That is what unites them, even though most humans don’t realize and know the truth and therefore are without understanding and in bondage.

To further show these two kingdoms; Matthew 6:24No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.” You can’t serve God and self, you can’t serve God and the flesh, you can’t serve God and the devil or anything or anyone else. You can only serve one master at a time. Romans 6:16Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” One master is sin the other is righteousness and they belong to the two kingdoms, darkness and light. Colossians 1:13 says “Who (speaking of the Father in verse 12) hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:” We were translated from the kingdom of darkness, its power and authority or rule, to that of Jesus, the Son of God. This is why it is impossible for a truly born again of the Spirit of God, child of God to be demon possessed. You cannot have two master and the Holy Spirit and an evil spirit cannot and will not inhabit or live within the same person at the same time. It is a spiritual impossibility, no matter the doctrines of some who are ignorant of spiritual truth and reality.

Romans 6:18Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.” You were made free from sin, the power of sin and that kingdom of which it is a part, to be no longer servants of sin, but of righteousness, of Jesus who is our righteousness. Hebrews 1:8But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.” So we are now under the authority or rule of righteousness. You can’t serve two masters, sin and righteousness, but will cleave to one or the other. This is also stated in Romans 6:20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.” Now, we are free from sin to be servants of righteousness which we read in verse 18. Which are you serving, which kingdom and authority and rule are you submitting yourself too? You can only be a part of God’s kingdom by submitting to His authority, but you can be a member of Satan’s kingdom without intentionally serving him, as a Satanist, witch or occultist or new age spiritist, simply by not serving Christ and submitting to His Lordship over your life.

Let’s now go back to where we began and the first verse about the Kingdom in Matthew 3:2 and John the Baptist as he proclaims, “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” He didn’t say the kingdom had come or was there yet, but was at the door, at hand, about to be revealed. At hand has the connotation that it is so close you can reach out and touch it. It is almost in hand, you can almost grasp it. What is it to repent and what does this have to do with God’s kingdom coming and how does it come? First we must define repentance, what it is and why it is important and how it is the entrance or door by which we enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Repent is the Greek metanoeo, met-an-o-eh'-o; meaning to think differently, to reconsider, from two root words, one which is noieo, noy-eh'-o; which literally means to exercise the mind, to consider, perceive, think, understand. What it means is that we consider the truth about our life and lifestyle and the demands of a Holy God and we reconsider and come to a change or mind about our lifestyle of sin and disobedience to God’s Word and we make an about face to turn back to Him and put ourselves under His authority. To God, repentance is a turning away from our own ways, to God’s ways, a turning from rebellion, disobedience and living our lives independently of God and apart from His commandments and submitting ourselves to His lordship, to his being our Lord and therefore Savior. It is coming to realize that our life apart from God and His commandments will lead us to judgment and eternal damnation and therefore we change our minds about our way of living and decide to serve the Lord Jesus and allow Him to be Lord in our lives. Most of “Christianity” today is so corrupted and far from Biblical truth that they make God their servant and they make demands of God instead of surrendering to His will and asking for His will in their lives. No, instead they want God to bless and promote their own will and give them their way and do things their way and that is not of God. Let us see these things in scripture. Repentance, Lord and Savior and His will or our will.

First, more on repentance. When a person is repentant, they are sorrowful for their sin and rebellion against God. To be repentant means that you are convicted about your sin and are no longer comfortable with it or to continue on the same way as if nothing has happened. Too many today are no more than converted to religion, to some religious activity and think that if you go to church and do religious things then you are a Christian.

screenshot of Kara Borden online profileRecently in the news (November 2005) was a tragic story of a young 14 year old girl named Kara Borden and her 18 year old boyfriend David Ludwig who shot and killed Kara’s parents because of their strict curfew rules. The parents got upset that he kept Kara out after her curfew. They argued and he shot and killed them and the two of them took off in a car. Well, come to find out both had bolgs on a server called MySpace.com. On their internet profiles, both listed themselves as Christians. In fact, under interests, Kara’s said in this order, “JESUS!” in all caps, then “church, my youth group, other youth groups, family, friends…” and on it then said “parties, OH YEAH BABY, going to parties”.

Yet, this religious girl lied about her age and said she was 17 and showed she liked to party, but she was only 14. The kids each have a headline for their web space and hers was “meant to live.” Authorities say she had all the signs of a teen being over protected by her parents. Basically, her blog could have been a plea for help; kind of a plea for more freedom. In another word, she was rebellious against her parents’ authority and control. She wanted freedom to do what she wanted, as she wanted and didn’t like the limits they placed on her.

At first they thought she was kidnapped, then found out she went willingly with David. This says a lot about the girls’ heart condition. The question is; how can two Christians commit murder so callously and do what they did? He did it, but she didn’t see to object and was happy to run away with him after the murder of her parents. They also showed no remorse or guilt when caught.

The problem today is that if you go to church and actually that isn’t necessary anymore, if you just give mental assent to some basic facts of the existence of God and Christ, you are a Christian. Why? Because you say so! God no longer has anything to do with it, any say in it and His Word about the issue is no longer relevant or important. We are what we say we are. But that is plain deception and wishful thinking. God has to call us to repentance and then has to grant us repentance and outside that there is no salvation. Salvation begins and ends with God the Father, not with man. (Luke 5:32, John 6:44, 65; Acts 11:18, 2 Timothy 2:25)

2 Corinthians 7:10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation…” Repentance means that we are remorseful about our sin and that we turn to God and ask forgiveness for living independently of Him and then ask Him to take over our lives, to enable us to live for Him and promise to stop our intentional, willful rebellion against His authority. We become a part of His kingdom because we submit to His Lordship and make Him our Lord, our king.

Romans 10:9 … 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.” To confess the Lord Jesus in this verse doesn’t mean lip service; doesn’t mean saying the words but is a personal confessing Him as your personal Lord, from the heart, in sincerity and truth. It is a personal confession of submitting your life to His lordship, to His being Lord to you, for you, over you. It has more to do with the attitude of heart than the words that you speak, for as such, words without faith and truthfulness of heart to back them up are meaningless.

There is a false teaching that the simple foolproof way to tell if a person is demon possessed is to ask them to say, “Jesus is Lord” and if they can then they don’t have a demon. That was based on a false understanding of 1 Corinthians 12:3 “…no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.” Again, it has to do with personal identification, not empty words. The demon will tell you “Jesus is Lord” all day and make a mockery of you. What he will not say is “Jesus is my Lord and Master and I love and serve Him.”

Today, there is more dishonesty and outright lying than ever in history and it is come into the church and is justified and glossed over and that is why so many so easily lie without conscience or question, as Kara did about her age, trying to be something and someone she was not. Most live lives that are a facade, a lie in one way or another. We talked about that issue in detail in the message “Why Doesn’t God Think Lying is Harmless”, a message on the 9th commandment not to bear false witness. Yet it is pervasive in our society and in the church. If we believed God and were under the authority of His Word then we would not lie so easily for He commanded us “Thou shalt not bear false witness.” Period! It doesn’t matter if it is about you or someone else. God doesn’t accept liars into His kingdom. Why? Because Satan is the father of lies and liars. John 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He … abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”

In Revelation 21 in speaking of the city of God, the New Jerusalem and who will be able to enter it, John wrote by the Holy Spirit in Revelation 21:27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.” Obviously, from this verse those who lie do not have their names written in the book of life, because it is made as a contrast, one against the other. Then again in Revelation 22:14-15 concerning that city, John wrote, “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.” There in that verse you have two references to the liar, first as one who is not keeping the commandments and then again “whoever loveth and maketh a lie.” So he has told us three times in those 2 verses that liars will not enter the city of God. Another verse about the end result of being a liar and living by lies is Revelation 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” That is not eternal life.

The lake of fire is the final place of damnation for all who live in rebellion against God and His Word. That is the final place of abode for Satan and his angels and all who follow his ways. Revelation 20:10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” Revelation 21:14-15 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” I believe these verses make it clear that you cannot live a lie and have eternal life and yet so many today give lip service to God, claiming to be believers, Christians and love Jesus and yet they live a life that is a lie, contrary to His Word. That is addressed by the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 29:13 Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:” It’s all just man made religion and being religious and going through religious motions but without a change in heart and being born of His spirit which is the only way into His kingdom.

In John chapter 3 Jesus was talking to a ruler of the Jews named Nicodemus and in John 3:3 Jesus told him, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus was confused and as all natural men, thinking in the flesh, said, “wait a minute I am an old man, am I going to enter my mother’s womb a second time and be born again?” In John 3:5-7 Jesus answered him saying, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” Some will see the kingdom but not enter. The question is, will you and will I enter in? This kingdom is not natural, not of this life, but spiritual and when you become a part of that kingdom by faith and obedience; then you are a citizen of heaven, not here. Your citizenship is transferred from a natural one to a spiritual one and you are only a resident of this country. Let us look at that.

This issue of the kingdom and when it should be was asked by the Pharisees and yet today we still ask and don’t believe what Jesus said in Luke 17:20-21 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” Yet it is not within everyone and it was not within them because they did not believe and God’s word was not in their heart, as Jesus clearly told them when He said they were of their father the devil. The kingdom of God is in the hearts, within those who are born of God and submit to His Lordship, His authority. Philippians 3:20 says, “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:” The Greek word translated conversation is politeuma, pol-it'-yoo-mah; and literally means community or citizenship. It comes from the Greek root word politeuomai, pol-it-yoo'-om-ahee meaning to behave as a citizen. We are to behave as citizens of heaven, not earthly ones. We are to be “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20). That means you are a representative of Him on this earth, not you are a part of this earth, of all that it is. We live in the world but are no longer of and citizens of it. This is a teaching also left out of today’s Christianity that says you can have the best of this world and heaven too.

Today’s Christianity has lost that knowledge of who they are to be in Christ. As His ambassador, we speak for Him, we speak His message to the world around us and we represent Him in the life we life. 2 Corinthians 3:3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart.” We are to live a life that represents our King and His kingdom upon the earth. That is true Biblical Christianity, but it is not being taught by a harlot church and leaders who don’t have a clue as to what its all about and are only religious hirelings for whom it is only a job, no different than any other, just what they do to make a living, rather than doing it because of the call of God upon their life to do it. Many in the ministry are serving self and building their own little kingdoms that are not God’s doing.

All the men and women of God in the Bible who served the Lord were called of God and didn’t just choose what they did to make money. In fact, for most, whether in Old or New Testament times, they suffered great persecution for representing the Lord and speaking on His behalf. Hebrews chapter 11 is dedicated to telling of the Old Testament saints and what they went through and what it cost them to represent and serve Jehovah. Acts and other books in the New Testament tell us what it cost the apostles and other believers then to live for Christ. The world didn’t love them or accept them.

Serving Christ now is not going to make you popular, it never has, not if you stand firm in truth and refuse to compromise. All who are popular with the world are compromisers. But most don’t believe that either because they don’t believe the words of Jesus or the Apostles and their minds are not renewed to truth but they follow the ways and teachings of men, full of humanism and worldliness. In John 15:18-21 Jesus said, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me.” Luke 6:26 Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.”

When you are a part of His kingdom, when you will by nature, walk as a citizen of the kingdom, under the authority of the king of heaven, Jesus and desire to do His will. 1 John 2:15-17Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”

The will of God is something that so few talk about today. Most teach and believe that since we are “sons of God” we have rights and privileges and so they play the name it and claim it game and try to make God their servant and tell Him what they want Him to do for them and prayer for them is nothing but giving God their wish list. Yet, true payer, as Jesus told the disciples how to pray goes like this, “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9-10). Prayer begins with recognizing who He is and that He is the heavenly Father, then worshipping Him. Then after recognition and worship, we are to pray for His kingdom to come into our lives that we might do His will. You can’t do it unless you know it. The way that His will is done on earth is through those who are part of His kingdom who are submitting their lives to His lordship to do His will. And you will never know His will if you aren’t asking for Him to show you and teach you His will and His way. It is not natural for us to know or desire His will or way, but that which is fleshly. That is why God told us “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).

The first point of prayer as shown in Jesus example of how to pray is for us to admit that we are dependent upon Him and that we can do nothing without Him. We are confessing that we need Him and that we submit ourselves to Him, His kingdom and authority over us. To live life apart from Him, without considering Him and bringing Him into our needs, circumstances and situations is to be in rebellion and is saying to God, “I can do it on my own without you. I don’t need you. I can handle my own life.”

That is the first point of repentance and what you are repenting of, living life independently of God. It is surrendering our independence to Him and that we do nothing without bringing it up to Him and asking for guidance and direction and wisdom for our decisions. We ask Him to come into our lives, situations and circumstances, we ask for His involvement in our day to day lives, the small everyday things of life that most think are to trivial and petty to bother God with. We have not understood that He cares about every facet of our lives, enough to have numbered even the hairs of our head. So how can we say, “Well, God don’t care about this little thing, about my car problem, about my test, about my job situation. Yes, he does.

Many times it is not an issue of God not caring, but our not willing to allow Him into our situation by asking Him to be involved in those things we think are too petty to bother him with, whatever it may be. It is only when we come to the place of praying about the seemingly insignificant things of our life that we are fully showing Him that we are submitted to Him in every way and are willing to be dependent upon Him rather than trying to be self sufficient.

That is why our minds must be renewed to the Word of God, so that we will know and be able to do His will. Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” We must change the way we think because when we come to Christ we still are worldly minded and have been trained to think with a humanistic worldview and we need God’s viewpoint if we are going to live for Him and represent Him as His ambassadors in this world. Otherwise we are only “nominal” or name only Christians and we talk the talk but do not walk the walk and live the life we have been called to by Him as a separated people, a peculiar people, holy unto God. 1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:”

We have been called to change our way of thinking and living that the world can see Jesus in and through us and that is not being religious. Being religious doesn’t change the heart and mind and lifestyle, it only gives a religious cloak and covering for men to continue living in sin, deceiving themselves. It isn’t what you say and to a degree not just what you do, it is what you are on the inside; it is the attitude of your heart before the Lord Jesus Christ. Are you His servant in this world or just trying to use Him for fire insurance and what you think you can get out of Him. That is the condition of most in church today. They have never surrendered their lives to Him; they have only given mental assent to historical facts about Jesus and maybe said some so-called “sinners prayer” that is supposed to have saved them. Jesus didn’t say you must say a sinners’ prayer, but you must repent and be born again of the Spirit of God, which will cause you to seek the kingdom of God, which is to seek for His authority over your life. Then He said that everything else will be added to our lives, all would come into place, after we get the foundational issue correct, which is lordship, who is lord of your life.

John 13:13-14 “Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet…” Jesus claimed to be lord and master over His followers, His disciples. Is He? Have we believed His words? For if you do, you would likewise become His servant as He said He came to serve. Matthew 20:28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” John 5:30 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” John 6:38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” He served the Father. John 20:21 “…as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.” John 13:16-17 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.” Are you a doer of the word, or just a forgetful hearer?

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