Kingdom

Dear Fellow-Disciple:

"The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since then the gospel of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it." (Luke 16:16)

Much Old Testament prophecy concerned the coming of a King and the establishment of a new kingdom. This was so accepted that mention of the kingdom in the New Testament was taken for granted, no explanation was required.

Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John 3:3)

When Jesus confronted Nicodemus with this statement, Nicodemus didn't question Jesus about the kingdom, he asked for clarification about being born again. The kingdom was already in the minds of the Jews. It came from the prophets.

John the Baptist was the culmination, the all-inclusive prophet. He was the terminal point of kingdom prophecy, the end of an age and the turning of direction to what was going to be from that time forward. All prophecies concerning the kingdom were about to be fulfilled.

"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 3:2)

John accompanied this mighty declaration with another outstanding note:

"Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29)

These statements appear in different parts of the Bible, but they are not two different things, they are one: "The kingdom is at hand, behold the Lamb of God!"

The prophets prophesied it, now it is preached as having arrived. What does that mean to us? It is the ground upon which our eternal destiny is settled. Unless we accept the present existence of the kingdom, our destiny will be contrary to the will of God. Is there something in our make-up that prohibits us from receiving this message, or can we embrace it?

What is the kingdom of heaven? We know it is present in Christ, and that we enter it through accepting His priesthood, but how is that appropriated?

"Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." (Matthew 6:10)

Jesus gives us the answer in such simple terms that we are inclined to overlook it. He says simply that the kingdom of God is established when we submit our will to His will. That is the perpetual condition in heaven, for all heaven is submitted to God. And it is our potential on earth.

"Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, Lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you." (Luke 17:21)

Entering the kingdom of God is an internal transaction. It takes place within our hearts, as we yield to God the only thing we have to give Him, our right to ourselves.

It is not something God imposes by force, it is something we must take by force. It is a battle royal. Everything within us opposes that kind of total, unconditional surrender. Layer by layer we have built within ourselves an organized system of protection that keeps us from being vulnerable to outside forces. It is impregnable, even to God. Only we, ourselves, can tear it down.

Tremendous prejudices have become part of our make-up, instilled in our early years and cultivated in our culture. There are hundreds of inner characteristics at work to detour or dilute the purity of the kingship of Christ within us.

At the same time, Satan has a network constantly bombarding us in the area of temptation. In addition, he uses whomever or whatever he can to deceive us.

The spiritual battle rages and, like Daniel, we are at the center (Daniel, Chapter 10). Victory rests in our willingness to abandon everything except our determination to enter the kingdom and stay there.

So we have to take the kingdom by violence, one step at a time. It is a continual struggle between flesh and spirit, because the flesh despises the cross. Unless we mean business, unless we are fully committed to establish His kingdom within us, we find ourselves constantly dragged outside, tending to our wounds and listening as the voices tell us it isn't worth the effort.

The only way to come into all the Lord has purposed for us is to be desperate people of violence. We must want the kingdom so intensely that we stand up and say, "By God's grace, absolutely nothing and no one, however good or bad, including my own self, will stand in my way! I am going on with God!"

When we take that position with the Lord, He meets us and strengthens us. God is to us what we are to Him. He means business if we mean business.

There is much for us to learn about the kingdom life, far more than we can imagine. Will we allow our lives to be boxed in, within the measure of what we understand intellectually, or the measure of what we receive from others? Our time on earth is so limited, why should we limit it more?

God's end for us is the measure of Christ. That is exciting! No movement, no organization, no church has come to the fullness of Christ yet. But that should be the objective of every disciple.

It is a personal matter. This means we throw convention aside. It makes no difference what those closest to us think. There is nothing more valuable than to receive the fullness of God's purpose in our lives.

That means we must be willing to do violence with everything that stands between us and the kingdom. If we are passive, everything will be lost. If we are lukewarm, He will spit us out of His mouth.

The kingdom is at hand. The rest is up to us.

Jesus is King!

P.S. What are you doing of eternal value?

Question for today: Have I really submitted my will to the will of God?