In the previous segment in Kingdom 44, I did a very brief run through from Kingdom 1-43. Just to connect things together in a logical sequence. But I left out many key points. In this segment and the next two segments, I will do an overview of the key points. In Kingdom 44, I said it will take 2 segments, but I found that if its just 2 segments, I would have to leave out some really important things. So it’s going to be three segments, not two. It will basically be the same framework but with more content added to it, plus one or two things I missed out earlier.
From Kingdom 1-10, I talked about how the good news that Jesus and His disciples preached was not salvation to go to heaven, but His Kingdom coming to earth. “Let Your Kingdom come, let Your will be done on earth as it is done in heaven”, tells us that God wants His Kingdom not only in heaven but also on earth. The earth and everything in it belongs to God. The good news is that from the first time Jesus came, God is in the process of restoring everything to what it was meant to be in the beginning.
Man started off in the garden of Eden under God’s rule. He was entrusted with dominion over the earth, but that dominion was lost to the devil when he listened to the devil instead of listening to God. Satan’s lie to Adam was that he could be like God. He could have his own wisdom and be independent of God and rule himself. Satan’s deception worked. As a result, man became independent of God and became his own god. Everyone does what is right in his own eyes. Everyone is king of his own kingdom. And Satan became the prince or ruler of this world.
But here’s the good news. The good news is that God’s Kingdom has come to invade this world. Jesus came to defeat the devil so that we can be restored to being under God’s rule. The apostle Paul said that we have been rescued from the kingdom of darkness to be in God’s kingdom. So yes Jesus did come to save us, but not to save us to take us to heaven. He came to save us from Satan’s kingdom to restore us to be in His kingdom. Restoration, not escape.
If we are in God’s Kingdom which begins for us when we are born again, when we die we will be with the Lord. But the good news that Jesus preached was not heaven. The good news He preached is the Kingdom. God’s Kingdom will of course not be fully established on earth until Jesus returns, but Jesus made it very clear that the process of His Kingdom coming began when He first came because He had come as the King, and we can be a part of His Kingdom now.
If God wants His Kingdom on earth, then we need to do 3 things : 1) We need to wake up to the Kingdom 2) We need to surrender our kingdoms to God 3) We need to work with God for His Kingdom to advance on earth.
Waking up to the Kingdom involves a paradigm shift : from a “salvation from this world” worldview, to a “God’s Kingdom on earth” worldview. I talked about this from Kingdom 7-10. We need to re-orientate our entire understanding and focus. Since God wants His Kingdom on earth, then instead of trying to get more people to heaven, we need to focus on what God wants on earth. Not just church, and definitely not church as we know it, but Kingdom.
For that re-orientation to happen, Jesus told us that we must become like little children again. Back to zero. We need to have all our understanding, all our ideas about money, business, work, success, happiness, and everything else in life that we gained from this world, that were formed apart from God, we need to have all our ideas overhauled. We need to give God a clean slate. Only then can God begin to reveal the knowledge of the secrets of His Kingdom to us without it being mixed with our ideas.
But many Christians have distorted ideas of life and of the Kingdom. So from Kingdom 12–14, I addressed some frequently asked questions about the Kingdom : Didn’t Jesus say the Kingdom of God is within us? Isn’t “Let Your Kingdom come” actually about a future event when Jesus returns? And didn’t Jesus say His kingdom is not of this world? I explained how each of them were wrong ideas as a result of interpreting scripture out of context. And they are all based on a faulty worldview that ignores what Jesus plainly told us – that He had come to drive Satan out and establish His Kingdom on earth. Paul told us Jesus came to reconcile everything in heaven and on earth so that He would be Lord over all. Paul also said that He is in the process, already in the process, of bringing everything under His Lordship after He has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. In his dream Daniel saw God’s Kingdom as a rock that smashed and crushed all other kingdoms and it grew into a huge mountain that filled the whole earth.
So how is Jesus going to drive Satan out? How is He going to reconcile everything under His Lordship? In other words, how is His Kingdom going to come? Answer : We have to surrender our kingdoms to Jesus and let Him be King, and Jesus has called us to work with Him to disciple nations with the truth, and culture, and values of God’s kingdom. If Jesus has been given all authority in heaven and on earth, and therefore we are to go and disciple nations, then discipling nations cannot be just about the discipling of individuals of their private lives, right? And spirituality cannot be just an invisible private thing inside a person, right? All of art, science, business, education, government, family, everything .. everything is to be brought under the Lordship of Christ.
We also need to do what Israel failed to do – to live out the truth, and culture, and values of the Kingdom so that the world can see what it means to be a community of people under God’s Kingdom. Jesus said the Kingdom had been taken away from them and given to others who will bear fruit.
But what happens when Christians and churches are trapped in a “salvation from this world” worldview and a church-centric worldview and they think that God has no concern or plans for this world? Then they will see everything in a dualism – where things like church, Bible study, and prayer are considered spiritual but everything else is considered not spiritual. What happens when spirituality is understood only as an invisible private thing inside a person? The consequences are of course devastating and heart-breaking. From Kingdom 15–19, I shared with you the terrible statistics of poverty in the world and the pathetic response of Christians and churches. I also shared several stories and examples of that.
How did we get it so wrong? How did we miss the Kingdom when Jesus called the good news the good news of the Kingdom but we thought it was only about salvation to go to heaven? How did we become so focused on making sure we are saved and getting to heaven with no concern for poverty and injustice and everything else that is wrong in the world? I dealt with that from Kingdom 20–23.
I think it all began when man became his own god. That not only separated us from God, it made us self-centered. We are so self-centered that we filter everything, including the gospel, and salvation, and spirituality, through our self-centered worldview spectacles. When we do that even spirituality becomes an introverted self-centered focus.
The reason why we have Jn.3:16 is so that we can get back to Gen.1:26. Jesus came to restore us to God’s original purpose why He created us – to be like Him, and to be one with Him, so that we can love as He loves. To love is to be centred on others, not on ourselves. For that to happen we must of course return to God and yield and surrender ourselves .. our self-centred selves to Him. That is really what Jn.3:16 is about, which corresponds with the Lk.10 dialogue between Jesus and the legal expert, and Matt.25 on the sheep and goats, and what John told us – this is how we know we have passed from death to life – when we love.
But most Christians have missed that completely. Instead of seeing the true meaning of Jn.3:16, we are so focused on heaven and making sure we don’t miss the boat, that just like the priest and Levite who passed by on the other side, we completely turn a blind eye to needs around us. True spirituality is not an invisible private self-focused thing inside a person, or inside the 4 walls of the church. True spirituality is love.
I’ll continue in Kingdom 46.
These are transcripts of audio messages so they are better heard than read. If you would like to listen to them, the audio clips can be found here : https://goo.gl/KN4JYL . It’s a folder on googledrive, so you’ll need to sign in with your google account username and password (or sign up for a google account) to be able to access it.