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The Kingdom

CHAPTER 16

The kingdom is an experience, not merely a place.

Thought: The kingdom of God is now and within, not later and without.

Word: Luke 17:20-21: "...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."

Conclusion: Being good and getting to go to heaven is a lie.

There are many who from their earliest days have been taught that if they are good, God will let them go to heaven. Basically, the Christian concept of heaven is not unlike the pagan concept. In Egypt there existed the teaching of that better world that they could go to if they were good. One way they insured this was to post a writing listing all the good deeds of the one passing. Not only that, they would list the evil deeds not committed. It seemed that the gods needed to be informed. Christians have adopted many pagan concepts and that may be the reason Christians still have not realized the fulfillment of their hopes. When you are working for the wrong thing, the wrong thing is all that you will get.

Jesus' teaching regarding the kingdom was and is opposed to our basic nature. His teaching held the thought of transformation, conversion, change and repentance. Jesus taught that the kingdom was an experience, not just a place. When the Christian fully realizes the experience, the place will make itself known, and the Christian will experience the coming of the Messiah. If the kingdom has not been realized in the Christian there will never be anything else to see. Jesus taught that our righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees to enter in. That is, our experience must exceed the experience of religion only. Religion is not enough. Occasionally we may get a flight of feeling which leads us to believe we have had the experience. We may attend a program that leaves us uplifted. These all being good things are not the experience. Sometimes we claim allegiance to a church and imagine our loyalty to it is the experience. Loyalty to a church is not the experience any more than loyalty to a labor union would be the experience. It is a fact in history that people have murdered being loyal to the church. Jesus was crucified by "loyal" people. It means nothing.

Let us look for a moment at what Jesus said the kingdom was. Matt. 13:44: "...the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field." And verse 45, "Again the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it." In this scripture we see an experience which envelops the whole experience of the man. Here is a man who gives all for that great thing. Here is also a man who prizes the kingdom as the greatest thing he can possess. Subsequently, in this chapter of Matthew we see that no evil can enter into this experience.

Jesus is the truth about the kingdom. Jesus' experience of life was the kingdom experience. Many Christians have said, "You must have Jesus in your heart," without having any idea of what that meant. Some have the idea it is that "good feeling inside." Having Jesus in the heart is to have the life and experience of Jesus in the heart. It is to have the righteousness of Jesus in the heart. It is to have the love for God in the heart that would take us to the cross if that were required of us. It is where our life is on the line for what is true. It is where we would choose death than commit a single wrong act. It is the total trust in the Word of God instead of men's ideas and pontifications. Having Jesus in the heart is having God in the heart and God will not commit one willful sin.

In previous chapters we have discovered the teachings of Jesus. Most of what we are waiting to get to heaven for, He taught was already available to the believer; i.e. there is always enough, all power, and perfect safety if one believes. The kingdom is the experience of God's promise simply being true instead of hoping it is true or it's true when I get to heaven. Having the experience of God written on the heart is the kingdom that Christ came to share. It is a truth that we can never really love man until we can trust God in that way. Man will always be a threat to our survival until we know that man can be no threat to our survival. When man is no threat to our survival, then we can love him and discover ways to serve, even if it costs us something because knowing the Word is true gives us the knowledge that serving cannot cost us anything.

Unless the mind of God becomes the mind of man, every effort to purify himself will be useless. Jesus came to show us the kingdom in humanity. Christ's overcoming and obedience is that of a true human being. When we give His human nature power that is not possible for man to have in this life, we destroy the completeness of His humanity. This is what salvation from sin means. This is what transformation and conversion means. This is what repentance means. If a man expresses he is a Christian, yet, cannot believe Christ's word is true (all of it), he deceives himself.

The Bible is not silent concerning the ultimate victory of this kingdom in humanity. In Isaiah 2:2 we find, "And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem." So, we have the vision that in the last days, many will come to God's people (Zion) and learn the ways of God and His laws. They will walk in His paths just as Jesus did. People will cease doing religion and begin taking an interest in "life." There are those who say the law has been done away with and they are those who are trying to influence many to stay away from the mountain of the Lord's house. These will be those who simply will not get the experience.

In Daniel 2 we have another prophetic observation of this time. In this chapter, King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream in which there was a great image with a head of fine gold, breast and arms of silver, belly and thighs of brass and legs of iron. His feet were part iron and part clay. As described, each part of the great image represented a great earthly kingdom which would have power for a time then pass on to another kingdom the authority to rule the earth. In the last days of this earth's history represented by the image's feet which were part of iron and part of clay, some great event would take place. Here we have represented nations some weak and some strong and in the days of these kings or nations something never before experienced would take place. Dan. 2:34,35: "Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth." To this we can add the 44th verse. "And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever."

In the first prophetic vision we have people coming to the mountain of the Lord's house learning of His ways and laws. In this vision of the last days we have a stone that became a great mountain and filled the whole earth. The God of heaven is setting up His kingdom in this prophecy. The kingdom that Jesus spoke of is here mentioned. This is the kingdom of the truth of God in you. This is not the "getting to go to heaven someday" kingdom. This is the kingdom set up in the hearts of men on earth. This is the kingdom which is "nigh." This kingdom is described here as grinding in pieces all the previous kingdoms. The kingdoms of this earth have been the kingdoms of lies. They have set up earthly thrones as a way of making life work. As the kingdoms of the image get weaker and weaker and finally consist of many nations weak and strong, God is now bringing to the front His kingdom of power which will grind to powder the lies of the kingdoms that have gone before. These lies consist of weakness, failure, not enough and disease. God is now raising up those who will follow His law and believe His word and their power will fill the whole earth and grind to pieces the lie.

There is another place we can read of this power. The eighteenth chapter of Revelation gives us the picture of this great movement of power. "And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils....And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues." In the last days there is here pictured a message of power filling the whole earth and filling the earth with light calling people out of the lie of Babylon.

Let's put these thoughts all together in a kind of paraphrase: "In the last days, out of the mountain of the Lord's house will go a message of God's ways and laws. This message experienced is God's kingdom which shall break in pieces the message the world gives and it will go with great power and fill the whole earth calling people out of the world's lie." When men accept the message of the world, the natural result will be to experience the plagues the world experiences climaxing with those seven last ones. When men accept the message the Lord gives in His word and accepts His power, the natural result is blessing and peace. This is what we might call cause and effect completed.

God's prophetic gift has opened up how it will all end. The lie will be perfected in liars and the truth will be perfected in those that love the truth. Jesus came to introduce us to His kingdom of power in His life. Those who believe it will take His life and make it their life, breaking down the lies of many generations before. The kingdom experienced, walks in the ways of God, true to His law. The result will be health, peace, success, always enough, all power, nothing impossible and a host of other kingdom of heaven thoughts. This is the truth about God's people. They no longer believe the lie. This is the kingdom of God.

Kingdom - Bible Study

1. Jesus taught the nature of the kingdom He came to set up.

Luke 17:20-21: "...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."

2. The enemy has brought in elements to make it appear that the kingdom is not functioning.

Matt. 13:24-30: "...The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, did you not sow good seed in the field? Where did the tares come from? He said unto them, An enemy has done this. The servants said unto him, Will you then have us go and gather them up? But he said no, lest while you gather up the tares, you root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn."

3. The kingdom of heaven becomes the whole thing for us.

Matt. 13:31,32: "...The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof."

4. The kingdom of heaven is something we give everything for.

Matt. 13:45: "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it."

5. The kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Matt. 4:17: "From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

6. The kingdom of heaven is not religion, but experience.

Matt. 5:20: "For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven."

7. The kingdom can only be entered by those in divine will.

Matt. 7:21-23: "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name casteth out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."

Kingdom - E.G. White

The question is: Did Christ live His life on this earth, perfect and powerful as it was, as a man or as a God?

"Christ's overcoming and obedience is that of a true human being. In our conclusions, we may make many mistakes because of our erroneous views of the human nature of our Lord. When we give to His human nature a power that is not possible for man to have in his conflicts with Satan, we destroy the completeness of His humanity. His imputed grace and power He gives to all who receive Him by faith.

"The obedience of Christ to His Father was the same obedience that is required of man. Man cannot overcome Satan's temptations without divine power to combine with his instrumentality. So with Jesus Christ; He could lay hold of divine power. He came not to our world to give the obedience of a lesser God to a greater, but as a man to obey God's Holy Law, and in this way He is our example. The Lord Jesus came into our world, not to reveal what a God could do, but what a man could do, through faith in God's power to help him in every emergency. Man is, through faith, to be a partaker in divine nature, and to overcome every temptation wherewith he is beset.

"The Lord now demands that every son and daughter of Adam, through faith in Jesus Christ, serve Him in human nature which we now have. The Lord Jesus has bridged the gulf that sin has made. He has connected earth with heaven, and finite man with the infinite God. Jesus, the world's Redeemer, could only keep the commandments of God in the same way that humanity can keep them." OHC 48.

"'And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.' Does this text mean that the human agent can remove one stain of sin from his soul? No. Then what does it mean to purify himself? It means to look upon the Lord's great moral standard of righteousness, the Holy law of God, and see that he is a sinner in the light of that law. 'Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him there is not sin.'

"It is through faith in Jesus Christ that truth is accepted in the heart, and the human agent is purified and cleansed....He has an abiding principle to the soul, that enables him to overcome temptation. 'Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not.' God has power to keep the soul that is in Christ who is under temptation....

"A mere profession of godliness is worthless. It is he that abideth in Christ that is a Christian....Unless the mind of God becomes the mind of man, every effort to purify himself will be useless; for it is impossible to elevate man except through a knowledge of God. The outward gloss may be put on, and men may be as were the Pharisees whom Jesus describes as "whited sepulchres" full of corruption and dead men's bones. But all of the deformity of the soul is open to Him that judgeth righteously, and unless the truth is planted in the heart, it cannot control the life. Cleansing the outside of the cup will never make the vessel pure within. A nominal acceptance of the truth is good as far as it goes, and the ability to give a reason for our faith is a good accomplishment, but if the truth does not go deeper than this, the soul will never be saved. The heart must be purified from all moral defilements." Letter 13, 1893.

"There are only two parties upon this earth—those who stand under the blood-stained banner of Jesus Christ and those who stand under the black banner of rebellion. In the twelfth chapter of Revelation is represented the great conflict between the obedient and the disobedient." MS 16, 1900.

Self-Knowledge Resumé

  1. Do I possess the kingdom?
  2. Can I define what that kingdom is?
  3. Do I view things as Jesus viewed them or do I see things more like the newscast?
  4. Do I ever feel I cannot have something because I don't have the money?
  5. Do I ever feel that terrible things happening on the earth will come upon me?
  6. Do I ever feel hesitant to go ahead and believe what God said about the kingdom?
  7. When everything is against me and I see all manner of giants in my path, do I decide I cannot have those things I desire?
  8. Am I content to just trust God to do whatever He wants and, while He is doing what He wants, I will remain at home safe and sound?
  9. Do I see that I am willing to do what the Lord asks of me, but when that seems truly inconvenient, I find myself unwilling to do it?
  10. Do I find myself unwilling to put all my energies into the work of God, but when I have a crisis at home or at work, it seems much easier to put all my energies into that?
  11. Do I see myself as one desiring the kingdom, but am unwilling to risk my earthly security and reputation for it?
  12. Have I desired the kingdom but find that it does not really work for me?

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