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- According to the Bible, the history of human life on earth does have a meaning, and just as it had a beginning, it is moving toward a goal — to establish a visible kingdom of God.
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- The crucial event in the movement of time to bring about this kingdom was the crucifixion of Jesus Christ as the Son of God.
- As prophesied in the Old Testament, Isaiah 40:3; Malachi 3:1, the advent of Christ’s ministry was announced by John the Baptist, who proclaimed from the wilderness, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand, Matthew 3:2. (Citations KJV unless indicated).
- And Jesus began his ministry by preaching with an emphasis on the kingdom of God. Mark 1:14,15: Now
after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel, cf. Matthew 4:17; Luke 4:43.
- The nature of the kingdom of God stands out as the main theme of the parables of Christ, note Matthew, chp. 13, and Mark 4:26–29; and as will be demonstrated (II. C., D., III. A., pages 46,47), the miraculous power of his ministry, as well as why he endured the cross, were based on revealing God’s plan to save humanity by ushering in a new age.
- For centuries, the Old Testament prophets wrote of the kingdom of God.
- In the 8th century B.C., the prophet Isaiah referred to the universal reign and government of an anointed king descending from the throne of David. Verses 9:6,7: For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
- 1,000 years before the birth of Christ, God declared to David through the prophet Nathan, that the seed of his throne would endure forever, II Samuel 7:11–16; I Chronicles 17:11–14.
- This prophecy of an everlasting kingdom is known as the Davidic Covenant, Psalm 89:3,4,19–37.
- However, the covenant was interrupted when David’s descendants and the people of Israel strayed from following God, and the nation was subjected to conquest, Psalm 89:38–50.
- Israel was formed as a nation in the 15th century B.C., to be the expression of the kingdom of God on earth.
- Exodus 19:3–6, (When the Hebrews had been led out of Egypt and were gathered at the base of Mt. Sinai): And Moses went up unto God, and the Lord called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles wings, and brought you unto myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation….
- Scholars have demonstrated that the literary form of God’s covenant with Israel of the books of Exodus and Deuteronomy follows the structure of the ancient international treaty between an overlord and subject people.
- See George E. Mendenhall, “Covenant Forms in Israelite Tradition.” The Biblical Archaeologist XVII (September, 1954): 49–76.
- The format may be summarized as follows: Preamble — author and titles, Exodus 20:2a; Historical Prologue — outline of overlord’s prior relationship with and benevolence toward the subject people, Exodus 20:2b; Stipulations — demand for allegiance and specifics for normal relations, Exodus 20:3–17; Text Provisions — for proper storage and public readings, Exodus 25:16; Deuteronomy 10:1–5; 31:10-13; Joshua 24:2–13; Curses and Blessings — invoked for breaking or keeping the covenant, Deuteronomy 28:1–14,15–68.
- Actually, the Hebrew people were created for the purpose of becoming a kingdom for God, according to a promise made to their forefather Abraham centuries earlier. Genesis 12:1-3,7: Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed…And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him, cf. Romans 4:8–16.
- The kingdom of God will be a political reality, uniting all nations under a single world government.
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- The Bible proclaims that God is already king over all creation. His throne is established in heaven, and his reign is active.
- I Chronicles 29:11: Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all.
- Psalm 103:19: The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all, cf. Exodus 15:18; Psalms 96:10; 99:1; 145;1,2; I Timothy 1:17.
- However, some Bible passages refer to a future phase of God’s kingdom on earth.
- Isaiah 2:2–4: 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. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
- Zechariah 2:11: And many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day, and shall be my people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto thee, cf. Psalm 145:10–13.
- Presently, God has not established this worldly kingdom as a visible, political entity, because for now Satan is a prince over the earth.
- In the wilderness, Satan tempted Christ by offering all the kingdoms of the world, for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it, Luke 4:5,6; cf. Matthew 4:8,9.
- Adam and his descendants were to rule over the earth, under the reign of God, Genesis 1:26; 2:16,17. However, Satan acquired dominion by devising a scheme to have Adam become disobedient to God, which caused the downfall of all humankind, verse 3:6.
- Satan exercises power over the world from a highly organized spiritual realm. Ephesians 6:12: For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places, cf. Matthew 12:27,28; Luke 11:20.
- Christ came to the world in order to bring into existence a new humanity, that we may rule with God again.
- Romans 5:18,19: Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous, cf. I Corinthians 15:21–24.
- A legal declaration goes forth from heaven, that the likeness of Adam is destroyed in all those who accept the covenant of Christ’s crucifixion.
- Romans 6:6: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed…, cf. Matthew 26:26–28; Luke 20:19,20; John 3:13–21.
- Romans 8:4,14: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit…For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God, cf. verse 29.
- When Christ returns, he will set up a visible, political kingdom, and those who have faith in his blood shall reign with him.
- Luke 22:28–30: Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel, cf. Matthew 19:27–30.
- Luke 21:25–27: And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory, cf. Daniel 7;13,14.
- Revelation 20:1,2,4: And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years…And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them….
- Even though the political reality of a government by God has not arrived yet, the kingdom of God already does exist on earth.
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- The new legal status of believers affects their lives immediately and confers on their behalf power and authority in spiritual matters.
- 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.
- Luke 11:20: But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you. [See, What is Spiritual Warfare?].
- Luke 10:17–19: And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
- With the crucifixion of Christ, Satan has been defeated. John 12:31,32: Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.
- Christ delayed ushering in the kingdom of God immediately, creating the age of the church, that Gentiles could become fellow citizens with Israel in ruling with God.
- Acts 1:6–9: When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
- Ephesians 3:3–6: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery…Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ, Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men…That the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body and partakers of his promise in Christ….
- However, while Christ is away, believers experience a closeness to God through the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 1:13,14:…Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession-to the praise of his glory. (NIV)
- During the church age, the kingdom of God coexists as a spiritual reality with Satan’s kingdom, while the saints come together to form a holy temple, Ephesians 2:21,22. This age may be illustrated best by the parables of the weeds, Matthew 13:24–30, and the mustard seed, Matthew 13:31,32.
- The promise that God is establishing a kingdom through a covenant people and the Messiah forms the unifying concept of all Scripture.
- The kingdom of God is represented as moving through the course of time in phases.
- First, there was the creation of the nation Israel, and now we are in the church age.
- The domain where the will of God is performed defines the kingdom on earth for now. Christ taught us to pray in the Lord’s Prayer — Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done…, Matthew 6:10, cf. Philippians 1:21; 3:7,8.
- The 1,000 year reign of Christ over the world shall come, and thereafter, a new heaven and earth shall be created, Revelation 20:6; 21:1.
- To review all that Scripture teaches on the kingdom requires extensive study.
- Many principles of kingdom living may be found throughout the Bible. Some examples are —
- Entrance is made into the kingdom by believing on Christ as the Son of God, John 20:31; Romans 10:9.
- Believers receive the kingdom from God, not according to their own efforts, but just as children come into an inheritance from their father, Mark 10:14,15.
- Being a part of the kingdom requires a total commitment, Matthew 10:34, 19:21; Luke 16:17.
- Citizens in the kingdom radically confront any sin in their lives, Mark 9:43; Luke 13:24.
- Kingdom living involves a sense of righteousness superior even to religious leaders, Matthew 5:19,20.
- [Note: in practical terms, Christians are often eager to understand the nature of the kingdom due to the promise of Matthew 6:25–34, that all the necessities of life shall be given to those who seek first the kingdom. For the present, we find the kingdom individually by accomplishing God’s will for our lives, as we empty ourselves of who we are, to become what we should be, Matthew 16:25;
This outline constitutes a chapter from Only The Essentials: Clear and Simple Outlines on Complex Theology. Copyright 2001 by Montgomery Paul Webb. All rights reserved. However, permission is granted solely to private individuals to make ten copies of any disc containing this book, to include whatever other publications are available therein from the Church of the Love of Christ, for distribution to friends and acquaintances, on the conditions — 1. that the entirety of the contents of the disc is copied;— 2. and that absolutely no change, addition, or omission is made.
From printed material, photocopies only of any chapter can be made privately by individuals for distribution to friends and acquaintances, on the conditions — 1. that the entirety of the chapter is copied and distributed, including the pages of the chapter rendering the name The Church of the Love of Christ, the author’s name, and the copyright notice; — 2. and that absolutely no change, addition, or omission is made.
Chapter outlines include — What Is the Bible? | Can God Be Known? | Who Is Jesus Christ? | Who Is the Holy Spirit? | What Is the Trinity? | What Is the Kingdom Of God? | What Is Faith? | What Is Holiness? and What Is the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus? | What Is the Church? | New Testament Giving and Prosperity. | What Is Spiritual Warfare? | Can Anyone Understand Predestination?
Additional chapters include — A Second Call to Reform and the Philosophy of the Church of the Love of Christ. | The Constitution of the Church of the Love of Christ.
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