Discovering The Kingdom Of God
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Do we really know what the Kingdom of God is, or are we only speculating? Is it that personal hope that one day after our death we will enter into the Kingdom of God and have eternal life? Or is it something else that we as human beings cannot grasp with our limited mindset. Whatever the outcome, let us explore this magnificent topic to get the best possible answer. As Christians we must be able to have Biblical answers to theological questions.
1. Write an essay presenting a biblical view of the nature of the Kingdom of God and exploring the implications of your understanding of the kingdom for ministry today:
We must start off by asking ourselves the question: "What does the Kingdom of God" mean to us as Christians. To many this is maybe another irrelevant religious term used to describe the unrealistic visions of Christians. Some may even see the existence of the Kingdom of God altogether as part of the Church (Ladd 1981:2-3). One theologian by the name of Adolf von Harnack, when confronted over the issue, wrote the following: "The Kingdom of God comes by coming to the individual, by entering into his soul and laying hold of it." For Adolf von Harnack, the Kingdom of God meant that the Spirit of life was to come and fill people personally. This hope was a universal hope for the whole creation. People had to interact with one another and the whole of creation to receive this eternal life (Moltmann 1996:131). Even Albert Schweitzer (Ladd 1981:3) says "the Kingdom of God is supernatural and part of the future." Should we take the above mentioned as the only answers for the Kingdom of God or should we go to the Word of God and find what it has to say about the Kingdom of God. Yes, we should definitely find the Scriptural truths in the Word of God that explains the Kingdom of God to us.
First of all, the Kingdom of God is where God rules. In Jeremiah 31:33-34, LASB God writes the rights of His kingdom in our hearts and He wants us to obey Him in glory and honour (Ladd 1981:6). We see His kingdom exist in the spiritual realm which is not presently visible to our eyes, but we can persevere in faith that someday the Kingdom of God will come in all its fullness. Psalm 103:19, LASB "The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all" (Ladd 1981:6-7). The Kingdom of God is both in the present and in the future. We read that many times Jesus referred to the Kingdom of God in the future tense "Assuredly, I say to you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the Kingdom of God" (Mark 14:25, LASB). Other times He indicated that the Kingdom of God was already present. Then sometimes He preached that the Kingdom of God was nearby (you could almost touch the kingdom). So we can see that the Kingdom of God progress through us (by spreading the Gospel) on the earth here and now (Ladd 1981:8-9).
The Kingdom of God is unavailable to people that practice acts of sin. We read in the Bible the following: "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Corinthians 6:9-10, LASB). So if you are practicing some of the above and you die, you will not inherit the Kingdom of God, but if you are cleansed and forgiven by the blood of Jesus Christ, and sin no more and then die, the Kingdom of God is at hand. With the resurrection comes the Kingdom of God (Ladd 1981:11-13).
In the Old Testament we also find the Kingdom of God spoken of for the first time, although the term itself is not directly used. Israel did not really care about the term "Kingdom of God"; they only worried about themselves and their rebellious ways. This was very sad because God actually wanted to prepare Israel to find hope in the coming of the King. "For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulders. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6, LASB). This King was to deliver all people from their slavery to sin (Williams 1992:15-16). We see in the New Testament the establishment of the Kingdom of God. Jesus Christ was born to be the Ruler for us. When Jesus stood on trial for His life, before Pilate, "Pilate asked Him, 'Are You the King of the Jews?' He answered him and said, "It is as you say" (Luke 23:3, LASB). So we see that Jesus did tell him that He was a King, but Jesus also indicated to him that His Kingdom was not of this world. This scripture says it all, God was the Supreme Ruler and Jesus Christ was going to rule all nations of the earth (Williams 1992:17-18). Matthew records Jesus using the phrase "Kingdom of heaven" while Mark and Luke uses the phrase "Kingdom of God." When the two are measured against one another, they are almost identical (Ridderbos 1996:39).
In the above paragraphs I have tried to capture a biblical view of the nature of the Kingdom of God and know that with this discovery comes a profound responsibility for us as part of a ministry. So in closing I realised the following: Jesus tells us to seek first the Kingdom of God and God's righteousness, and if we do, everything will fall into place. God has got one desire for us and that is to please Him and follow Him. God must be glorified here on earth because by doing so has both current and eternal implications. Our time, talents, treasures, attitudes and actions must be to serve God. We must avail ourselves to help others come to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, so that they may be saved from their sins as well, so that they can start to seek the Kingdom of God now and in the future.
Morphew (1991:52) said the following: "There is every reason to be filled with hope - the confident expectation that we move from the victory Christ has 'already' obtained, to the victory of Christ still to be obtained." What a great priviledge to know that the Kingdom of God is coming and everything will change. To know that we have some insight into the Kingdom of God, but for now, change begins in us. Let us produce the Kingdom on earth through the will of God.
Barton B B, Beers R A and Galvin J C (eds) 1996. Life Application Study Bible. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.
Ladd G D 1981. The Gospel of the Kingdom. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
Moltmann J 1996. The Coming of God: Christian Eschatology. St Albans Place, London: SCM Press.
Morphew D J 1991. Breakthrough: Discovering the Kingdom. Cape Town: Struik Christian Books.
Ridderbos H N 1996. In DRW Wood (ed.), New Bible Dictionary, 647-650. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press.
Williams J R 1992. Renewal Theology, vol. 3. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
It is said that warfare is not only a physical reality, but it is also a spiritual reality. The enemy is around us and within us. Satan and his demonic forces are constantly prepared for an attack on God's children. The great weapon that Satan employs in his attacks is the sinful nature of every human being. The question we must then ask ourselves is the following: First of all, is Satan really the ruler of the earth and are we under his rule. Secondly, did Jesus Christ then lost authority over us. Thirdly, can we really believe "The Ransom Theory" as the ultimate truth? Let us investigate the outcome so as to understand the enemy's weaknesses and strengths without being afraid of him.
Write an essay disputing the claim that Satan has the right and title deed to the earth. Be sure to address each of the implications listed below:
The Ransom Theory of the Atonement cannot be dismissed as summarily as it usually is if indeed Satan had a right to the souls of men.
The Ransom Theory personally for me creates the picture of God and Satan sitting at a table playing a deck of cards. Satan has just won and now rules the world. In an attempt to save the world and its people, God tries to negotiate or bribe Satan to give Him back the world. So God with His back against the wall gives His Son, Jesus Christ as ransom. When Origen formulated the doctrine, he said the following: "It was Satan rather than God who demanded Christ's blood, thus initiating this aspect of the transaction. So the ransom was determined by, paid to, and accepted by Satan. This mitigates to some extent the charge that the ransom theory makes God somewhat of a dishonest dealer" (Erickson 1996:53-56).
Really, we cannot believe this, for God is an honest and truthful Ruler. In Genesis 3 when Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, Satan tried to tempt everyone away from God, but he couldn't do it. Although Adam and Eve were disobedient, God was still in control. I think the idea that made some to think the title deed of the earth was passed over to Satan was the fact that God gave us our own will and some people want to believe in Satan ruling the earth. Yes, Satan is powerful, but Jesus is more powerful. Jesus's resurrection shattered Satan's power and showed God's unconditional love for us. To overcome Satan we need faithful allegiance to God's Word and stay away from sin (Gross 1990:114-115). Jesus said: "Now is the judgment of this world, now the ruler of this world will be cast out" (John 12:31, LASB).
Postmillennialism too becomes far more attractive and reasonable when viewed in the light of inter-kingdom conflict: If the purpose of God is to win back territory from the 'enemy' then 'truimphalism' and 'kingdom now theology' is tenable.
To think that Jesus Christ will return after Christians (Not Jesus Christ Himself) have established the Kingdom on this earth sounds very attractive and promising. All of us wants to believe that this world will become better and better. We want to be heroes and save this world before Jesus Christ comes. However, this is not the Biblical view of the world in the end times. Triumphalism and 'kingdom now theology' are acceptable, but only for people that believe in Postmillenialism (Erickson 1996:160-161).
We as Christians must find balance between winning back the Kingdom of God and awaiting eternal life. We should spread the Gospel until Jesus Christ comes to save us. To think that there is nothing to fear or that we are 'Superman' is insane. Paul explains that there are difficult times for Christian service. "But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!" (2 Timothy 3:1-5, LASB).
Morphew (1991) says that "A triumphalist approach will produce unreal people who live in a spiritual bubble, or worse, arrogance and fanaticism that brings the name of Jesus into disrepute."
Similarly, 'spiritual warfare' concepts such as 'taking our cities for God', so much in vogue nowadays, would need to be aggressively practiced.
I disagree with this concept of running around chasing the enemy. Who do we serve, Jesus Christ or Satan? As being part of the military I have realized one thing, warfare in this instance should be defensive and not offensive. We have victory in our spiritual warfare by standing in prayer and not running around trying to rebuke Satan every time something goes wrong. It is by knowing the truth and submitting to God in obedience that the devil runs (Moriarty 1992:150-151).
2 Corinthians 10:4-6, LASB "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled."
When Jesus Christ arose and ascended, He revealed His victory over Satan, taking with Him those whom the devil had captured. The victory of Jesus Christ is the victory of all who are saved by faith in Him. Satan has no legitimate authority over Christians. The only influence he enjoys in our lives is when we yield to him (Moriarty 1992:153-154). It is true what Moriarty (1992:150) says "The Devil does not need to be "outshouted"; he needs to be "outtruthed"."
The implications for Church life also need to be considered: If the primary function of the church is to conduct a war then a hierarchical form of government would be appropriate and mega churches more effective than small family congregations.
First of all we must remember that the main purpose of the church is for the praise of God's glory and His wonderful grace. The church need not to change to really conduct war against Satan and remember that a church is not confined to four walls, the church of Jesus Christ is people. For me a small family congregation has got the same power as a mega church.
Many churches and especially the new charismatics believe that the church needs a special army of Christian believers to worship with force to wipe out the devil and his demons. The people sing songs to chase away the demons and the devils and forget what the main purpose of spiritual warfare is all about. People forget that Jesus Christ is now head of the church, the ultimate authority over the world and we are the body. If we work, serve or worship together in holiness, we are one body in unity. Satan will not be able to stand when we worship together against him (Moriarty 1992:149-151). "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12, LASB).
You have read all the above arguments that were made and must make a decision. Do you serve Jesus Christ or Satan? Just remember, Christians will always be in battle, being a soldier for Jesus Christ is not an option, it is a command. Do not get excited about Satan; rather get excited about God's Kingdom and eternal life.
Barton B B, Beers R A and Galvin J C (eds) 1996. Life Application Study Bible. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.
Erickson M J 1996. Christian Theology (2nd ed.). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
Erickson M J 1996. Contemporary Options in Eschatology. Grand Rapids: Baker Books.
Gross E N 1990. Miracles, Demons, and Spiritual Warfare. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
Moriarty M G 1992. The New Charismatics. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
Morphew D J 1991. Breakthrough: Discovering the Kingdom. Cape Town: Struik Christian Books.
Jesus handed down all His power and authority to us, but do we really appreciate this enormous opportunity to continue the legacy of Jesus Christ. Some people say that they do not experience the amazing works of God displayed in their lives. Did Jesus Christ loose His power and authority? Or is something wrong in us; we who proclaim that we belong to Jesus Christ. Let us find the answers and rekindle the flame of boldness, obedience, courage and power through Jesus Christ.
3.1. The task of extending the kingdom. I agree with both these statements for the following reasons:
Jesus did give authority and power to His disciples. "But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give" (Matthew 10:6-8, LASB). The disciples had tremendous results as they ministered with authority in Jesus' name. In Luke 4:18-20, LASB Jesus told Peter and Andrew to leave their fishing business and become "fishers of men", to help others find God. They had to practise Christ's teachings and share the gospel with others (Grudem 1994:83). Jesus also went and designated seventy messengers. These disciples were not fully qualified, but their willingness and their awareness of Jesus' power made them excellent candidates to reach all people. We read that when the seventy returned, they were delighted and full of victory. "Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name" (Luke 10:17, LASB) (Grudem 1994:92).
Yes I agree, we the men and women of this world needs to preach the gospel based on the fact that Jesus Christ died on the cross and through His resurrection. Yes, we can still make use of Satan through our selfishness and sin, but do we really what to hamper our relationship with God. If we do not preach the gospel, teach the principles of the kingdom of God, heal the sick and deliver the demonised, who will. John 14:12, LASB "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. Jesus Christ gave the bible to teach and direct, the Church to support and the Holy Spirit to annoint."
3.2. The role of deliverance in extending the kingdom.
Are demons described in the Scriptures as malignant entities with identity and personality? Give reasoning and references. Yes I would say that demons are distinct persons with indentities and personalities. Each has a name, though we only know the names of a few, for example the serpent (snake) in the Garden of Eden. Demons possess supernatural intelligence. They demonstrated insight into the identify of Jesus when He healed all the sick and demon-possessed. "Then He healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He did not allow the demons to speak, because they knew Him" (Mark 1:34, LASB). They definitely know their future. The two demon-possessed men when they saw Jesus thought He was only going to torment them at the end of the world. "And suddenly they cried out, saying, "What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?" (Matthew 8:29, LASB).
How did the Lord Jesus deal with demons - by counselling or medicating the victim, or by delivering him/her with a word of command? Give reasoning and references. Jesus made use of practical examples in His dealings with demons and there were always people to witness this events. "And He was preaching in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and casting out demons" (Mark 1:39, LASB). Jesus used His name to cast out demons. "And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues;" (Mark 16:17, LASB). Jesus cast demons not only out of people with evil spirits, but also out of people who were not affected by demons. Some of the people never even realised their sickness were caused by demons. "When the sun was setting, all those who had any that were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and He laid His hands on every one of them and healed them. And demons also came out of many, crying out and saying, "You are the Christ, the Son of God!" (Luke 4:40-41, LASB).
Is it the Lord's expectation that we should deal with demonic conditions in the same way as He did? Give reasons and references. Firstly, Jesus wants us to use the spiritual armour He gave us. "Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand" (Ephesians 6:13, LASB). Without the armour people will be vulnerable to Satan's attack. We must walk in honesty, righteousness, faith, love, hope, peace, readiness, speaking the Word of God and praying in the Spirit. We need all this to be successful against Satan and his demons. Jesus expects us to stand against Satan. We need wisdom and power from God to overcome them. We should walk in love, though this will definitely frustrate the demons. Jesus prayed for people and so should we. We should also know the truth, and the truth will make us free.
3.3. The role of prayer in extending the kingdom.
Below are three statements about the role prayer plays in extending the kingdom of God. Which one do you support and why?
I want to agree with the first two statements. The second statement more than the first. Prayer is the foundation of every Christian person (Wegerle 1997:3). We should by now realise the value of prayer otherwise we will never be moved to do things. Day and night we must pray. "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it" (Joshua 1:8, LASB). Prayer produces a strength (a spiritual strength) that can get things done. "Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force" (Matthew 11, 11-12, LASB) (Wegerle 1997:4).
To pray you do not have to prepare any special formulas. God knows our hearts, if our hearts are pure and good, we can tell God anything (Grudem 1994:61). Prayer definitely releases the power and authority of God. In Matthew 16:19, LASB Jesus made an enormously big statement. Jesus gave us the keys to His kingdom. With this keys we can open the heavenly treasure-house hear on earth. We have the authority to bind Satan and his demons and change the behaviour (sins) of people (Wegerle 1997:16-18). Prayer is not an acknowledgement of need. God knows what we want and we must keep on praying in faith (Grudem 1994:57).
3.4. The role of the Spirit in extending the kingdom.
Evaluate the contentions made in the quotation below and support your views with Scripture. We have entered into the time where great treasures of knowledge are revealed and teached to men and women by the Holy Spirit (Grudem 1994:112). We the annointed messengers should walk in the Spirit and deliver this knowledge. "I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law" (Galatians 5:16-18, LASB).
The Holy Spirit is Jesus Christ's representative in the church. Jesus took His seat in heaven and the Holy Spirit came down to begin the work of building up the body of Christ (Grudem 1994:113-114). "For by one Spirit we were all baptised into the body - whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free - and have all been made to drink into one Spirit" (1 Corinthians 12:13, LASB). We must get accustomed to proclaiming the Gospel "with the Holy Spirit" sent down to us with power. "And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe" (1 Thessalonians 1:6-7, LASB).
No pastor can preach the Word of God without consulting the Holy Spirit for annointing. The Holy Spirit can manifest Himself in a Church service and create an atmosphere of love. Usually then people submit their lives and wills to Jesus Christ (Grudem 1994:111-112). "Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit" (Romans 5:5, LASB).
3.5. The role of sign gifts in extending the kingdom.
Comment on the logic in the following quotations by John MacArthur. Contrast MacArthur's views with those of teachers from the Charismatic movement. Finally, indicate your views on the meaning of Hebrews 2:3-4.
The first quotation for me personally gives the idea that God is not truly present and that God did not leave us anything. It feels as if the line "Once the Word was complete, it was all over" really means that Jesus do not exist for us today and God will never be glorified. Then the Messiah is not authentic and true anymore (MacArthur 1992:127). I might agree with him on some issues for instance, we read in the Bible that Jesus and the disciples did wonderful miracles and healings. They raised the dead, healed cut-off ears and restored the crippled. The miracles of healing today is not so intense and frequent as in Jesus' time. I want to agree in what Edward Gross (1990:36-37) believes. "God does work miracles today. He says that God will never oppose His Word. He honors His Word even in greater ways than He honors His own name" (Psalm 138:2, LASB). Miracles and healings will keep on happening. Jesus' ministry has given to us His teachings. Although we did not see these miracles and signs, we base our believe on the people in the Bible that were eyewitnesses. This must be encouragement for us to go on and perservere because I do believe in a miracle working God.
In the second quotation I agree that miracles, wonders and sign gifts were given to the first generation apostles. "And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease" (Matthew 10:1, LASB). Let us face it, even during the apostolic age Christians could not do signs and miracles. Those qualities were unique to the apostels (MacArthur 1992:126). But, what I do believe is that God intervenes supernaturally in human beings today. God can heal people inspite of what medicine say. All things are possible with God. "But Jesus looked at them and said to them, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26, LASB).
Most of the time we are limiting our own power, but it is God's will to release the power in me and you. Let us not deprive ourselves the opportunity to be in the spirit, but be guided by the Holy Spirit. The Kingdom of God is extending everyday more and more because it is the mind of God. In the Kingdom of God are peace, love and perfect joy.
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