Thursday, October 31, 2013

Advancing The Kingdom




Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the Word. (Acts 8:4)





God's first commission to man was to "multiply and replenish the earth". 

And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.  (Genesis 1:28) 


The emphasis was on people. The goal was to fill the earth with men and women created in the image of God with a personal relationship with God. But in Genesis 11:1-9 we find the emphasis was changed by man.

At Shinar the emphasis was on building a city and a great tower instead of populating the earth. Projects rather than people had become the focus of attention. The purposes were selfish: To make a great name and congregate a great number of people.

At the tower of Babel God came to view the work of the people. God had not appointed their task, so He had to come see what they were doing. This is the condition of many of our churches. We have ignored the commission to extend the Kingdom and we are building great towers of denomination and membership. We are building great buildings. What would God think if He came down to view what we are doing?

The people of Shinar said , "Let us build a city." There is a difference between a city built by man and a city whose builder and maker is God. These people were building by self-effort to accomplish their own selfish desires.

God took action. He came down and confounded their language:  

Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore the name of it is called Babel: because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth. (Genesis 11:7-9)

With everyone speaking different languages the project had to be halted.

We hear many conflicting voices in the Church today. When communication becomes confused, we should examine our tower. It may be that the projects we are working on are not of God. Sometimes, as in the case of Babel, extending the Kingdom of God involves tearing down instead of building up. But some people will not stop their own projects to extend the Kingdom because their work has become an idol.

Jesus commissioned the early Church to reproduce disciples throughout the earth, not build a great Church at Jerusalem. Yet we find the Church reproduced so rapidly that organization and administration systems were strained (Acts 6). They were creating a great mass of believers in Jerusalem instead of going out to the nations of the world as they had been commanded. Because of this, God allowed persecution to come and the believers were scattered:  

And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. (Acts 8:1)

Through this they returned to their original commission as ambassadors of the Kingdom:  

Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the Word. (Acts 8:4)

When "great churches" are gone, God's people live on. The Kingdom of God will not be extended throughout the world by the building of great buildings. It will not advance through projects. It will spread by ambassadors bearing witness to the Gospel of the Kingdom and disciples reproducing disciples.

The parables of the talents in Luke 19 and Matthew 25 reveals that the Kingdom will be spread by wise use of the spiritual gifts and abilities.

The parable of the leaven revealed that the Kingdom would have a small beginning, but as leaven in bread it would continue to steadily spread. 

Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.  
 (Matthew 13:33)


The parable of the net cast into the sea revealed that the Kingdom of God will draw men and women of all nations.

The Kingdom is also spread as men cast the seed of the Gospel into the hearts of men and women. Like seed in the natural world, the Gospel of the Kingdom grows, although the growth process is not fully understood by the one sowing the seed 

And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground;  And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how.  (Mark 4:26-27)

We are promised:  

Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom. (Luke 12:32)

There will come that great day when the Kingdom of God is permanently established and the Kingdom of Satan finally defeated:  

And I heard a loud voice saying in Heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the Kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. (Revelation 12:10)

Then cometh the end, when He shall have delivered up the Kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. (I Corinthians 15:24)

And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the Kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ: and He shall reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 11:15)

And He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His Kingdom there shall be no end. (Luke 1:33)

Until that great day you can claim this promise: 

And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (II Timothy 4:18)

And our final prayer for you is this, 

That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto His Kingdom and glory. (I Thessalonians 2:12)

(Biblical Studies)


(07/23/14)

(07/27/15)

Ambassadors of the Kingdom








And as ye go, preach, saying, The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. (Matthew 10:7-8)







Once you've accepted King Jesus as your Lord and Savior and become a resident of His Kingdom, you receive a special assignment. This assignment takes a lifetime to complete. You are commissioned as a representative of the Kingdom of God.

Jesus came to this earth with a special mission to establish the Kingdom of God:

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. (Mark 1:14-15)

From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.
(Matthew 4:17)

The commitment of Jesus to the Kingdom of God was evident throughout His entire ministry:

And He said unto them, I must preach the Kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent. (Luke 4:43)

After His death and resurrection, Jesus remained on earth for a short period of time and appeared to many people. His message had not changed. It focused on the Kingdom of God:  

To whom also He shewed Himself alive after His passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God. (Acts 1:3)

Jesus began His ministry by declaring the message of the Kingdom of God:

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

He ended His earthly ministry by speaking of things pertaining to the Kingdom 

To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God  (Acts 1:3) 

Between the start and conclusion of His ministry, His chief concern was the extension of God's Kingdom.

Even before His death, Jesus prepared His disciples to continue the extension of the Kingdom. First, the disciples were observers of how the message of the Kingdom was to be presented:

And it came to pass afterward, that He (Jesus) went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the Kingdom of God: and the twelve were with Him. (Luke 8:1)

Next, Jesus trained the disciples by participation. He sent them throughout Israel with directions to:  

...preach the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick. (Luke 9:2)

Finally, He commissioned them with the responsibility of extending the Gospel of the Kingdom to the nations of the world:  

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in Heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. (Matthew 28:18-20)

And He said unto them, Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. (Mark 16:15)
    
Before Jesus returned to Heaven, He said to His followers:  

And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me. (Luke 22:29)

The Kingdom God gave Jesus was passed on by Jesus to His followers and we are privileged to be part of this eternal empire. But God chooses for purpose, not just privilege. Jesus left His followers with a responsibility of extending the Kingdom of God throughout the world. They were to be ambassadors of the Kingdom.

An ambassador is a representative sent by one kingdom to represent and transact business in another. He is a messenger and authorized agent of the kingdom he represents. Paul said:  

We are ambassadors for Christ. (II Corinthians 5:20)

We are the ambassadors sent by the King to represent and transact the business of the Kingdom of God in the kingdoms of the world.

Our assignment as ambassadors of the Kingdom is a lifetime commitment. Once we have accepted this commission, we cannot look back:
  
And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God.   (Luke 9:62)

As ambassadors, we are to be witnesses for the Kingdom of God. A witness is someone who can testify and present evidence of something experienced first hand. He is one who personally sees, observes, experiences, and produces proof of what he has experienced. Jesus said to His disciples:  

And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning. (John 15:27)

The witness of the ambassadors of the Kingdom was to extend throughout the earth:  

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. (Acts 1:8)

The message of the witnesses was to be:  

...Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. (Luke 24:46-48)

As the disciples went out as witnesses, God also witnessed through them:  

God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to His own will. (Hebrews 2:4)

We are to be ambassadors of the Kingdom, giving witness to its message, with God confirming our witness by the demonstration of His power.

Why is this responsibility to extend the Kingdom so important?  Because Jesus said...  

And this Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. (Matthew 24:14)

The final establishment of the Kingdom of God will not come until the Gospel of the Kingdom is preached to all the world. Note that it is not just the Gospel. . . it is the Gospel of the Kingdom. In these verses Paul gives the elements of the Gospel:  

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. (I Corinthians 15:1-4)

The basic Gospel message is that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, He was buried, and He rose again according to the scriptures.

The Gospel must be preached, but it must include the message of the Kingdom. Men must be informed of its existence and taught how to enter and live as Kingdom residents.

Specific guidelines were given by Jesus on how the message of the Kingdom is to be shared. The message of the Kingdom must include the call to repentance from sin:  

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. (Mark 1:14-15)

From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. (Matthew 4:17)

The message of the Kingdom is to be spread through both teaching and preaching:   

And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom... (Matthew 9:35)

Jesus told His followers:  

...As ye go, preach, saying, The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. (Matthew 10:7)

The message of the Kingdom is not to be in words only. The demonstration of God's power is to accompany the verbal presentation of the Kingdom. This was evident in the example set by Jesus:  

And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. (Matthew 9:35)

And the people, when they knew it, followed Him: and He received them, and spake unto them of the Kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing. (Luke 9:11)

Jesus instructed His disciples to not only teach and preach the Kingdom, but in every city to...

...heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The Kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. (Luke 10:9)

And He sent them to preach the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick. (Luke 9:2)

The demonstration of power. . . miracles and healings. . . is the Kingdom of God in action. Paul said:

For the Kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.
(I Corinthians 4:20)

How engaged are you to be an ambassador for the Kingdom of God?



(Biblical Studies)

06/02/15
08/03/16

Church Relevancy




And Paul said , I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am , except these bonds.  Acts 26:29





In many cases, the modern Church has lost the emphasis of building and extending the Kingdom of God. We want to see our church grow in membership size but are we concerned with discipleship or son-ship of our members?  We build great churches, beautiful buildings, and large denominations. We emphasize the building of orphanages, schools, and hospitals.  While these things are good and a legitimate part of the ministry of the Church, they are not to be the central focus. Fund raising and construction are not our commission. The products of such can result in the building of personal kingdoms rather than the worldwide extension of the Kingdom of God.

Apostle Paul warned of this when he said...  

For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's.  (Philippians 2:21)

Each ministry project considered should be judged by this question: 

How will this help fulfill the commission to extend God's Kingdom? 

We preach and teach on many subjects. . . marriage, family, prophecy, etc.  These are good subjects and much needed in our world today. We train great orators to fill our Church pulpits. But each message should be judged by this question: 

How does this message communicate the principles of the Kingdom of God?

Ask yourself these questions...

    ¨     How long has it been since I heard a message on the Kingdom of God?
     ¨     How is my Church fulfilling the commission to extend God's Kingdom?
     ¨     How am I personally fulfilling my role as an ambassador of the Kingdom of God?

Jesus taught that we are to focus our prayers on the Kingdom. We are to pray:  

Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in Heaven.    (Matthew 6:10)

We are to seek the Kingdom as our highest priority in life:
  
But seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:33)

But rather seek ye the Kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Luke 12:31)

The Church [body of Christ] was raised up by God as an instrument through which the Kingdom is to be extended to the nations of the world. Many churches have lost the vision of this calling. They have emphasized building their membership and denomination instead of building the Kingdom.  God is looking for quality over quantity.

Competition between pastors, churches, and denominations has broken the unity of the Body of Christ. We have lost the vision of one united Kingdom of God of which each local Church is only a part. Instead of helping one another in the mission to extend the Kingdom, we compete for greater buildings, larger membership rolls, and increased finances to build our own kingdoms.


The Apostle Paul, a great ambassador of the Kingdom during the period of the early Church, said:  

And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. (I Corinthians 2:4-5)

The first Church fulfilled the commission of extending the Kingdom of God not only by teaching and preaching. It was not extended by educated theologians, parties, programs, fundraisers, church membership drives or building great buildings. The commission was accomplished by combining the message of the Kingdom with the demonstration of the power of the King.

The extension of the Kingdom became the central purpose of the early Church. Despite persecution, believers continued to fulfill their commission as ambassadors of the Kingdom:

...And at that time there was a great persecution against the Church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions...

Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word. (Acts 8:1,4)

Part of the follow-up plan for establishing churches was instruction regarding the Kingdom of God:  

...They returned again...confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the Kingdom of God. (Acts 14:21-22)

The Kingdom of God was the message to the laymen of the Church:  

But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the Kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. (Acts 8:12)

The Kingdom of God was the focus of great leaders of the Church:  

And he [Paul] went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the Kingdom of God. (Acts 19:8)

The Kingdom of God was the central focus of Apostle Paul's ministry. Towards the end of his ministry Paul told believers:

... And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the Kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. (Acts 20:25)

In the final Biblical record of Paul he is continuing the extension of the Kingdom even though captive in Rome:  

Preaching the Kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him. (Acts 28:31)

The plan of God is that the Church not only preach the Kingdom but that it should be a living example of the Kingdom. 

Are we meeting that challenge?

The Church needs to lose itself in a greater cause than its membership rolls. It needs to dedicate its efforts to more than building programs and membership drives. 

The Church needs to seek first the Kingdom of God which transcends denominational, cultural, and national boundaries.

If the Church will seek first the Kingdom, then all these others things will be added.



(Biblical Studies)

10/02/14

10/02/15
01/06/17

Die to Live Again







and they will mock Him, and scourge Him, and spit on Him, and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again."  Mark 10:34





Even as Jesus died on the cross for us so that our sins may be washed away and we may have our eternal home with Him, we are to die to the world and the things of the world.  When we are baptized in the name of Jesus, the bondage of sin is broken and we die to the world and emerge in new life in Jesus Christ; dead to the world yet alive in Jesus Christ!  Just as Jesus died in the world but emerged victorious through death to prepare our eternal home for us, so must we symbolically die to this world and emerge as agents for Jesus to help bring others to the realization of Jesus and what He accomplished for mankind.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we have new life here on earth!  We can live better lives as new creatures in Christ Jesus even as we await His return.

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.  2 Corinthians 5:17


Jesus explained to the multitude that they who embrace Him are to be the salt of the earth:


Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.  Matthew 5:13

Our seasoning should be so distinctive that it's very savor should attract others to taste of it.  This can't be possible if our seasoning is non-distinctive from the world.  When you look at the resurrection of Jesus; when He emerged on the other side of death, Mary Magdalene did not recognize Him.  And so, we too, as believers and followers of Jesus, should be distinguishable from our former self.


But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.  1 Peter 1:15-16


After His death by crucifixion, Jesus was buried but He did not remain in the tomb. The miraculous resurrection of Jesus is recorded in the books of Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, and John 20.


And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.  He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.  Matthew 28:5-6

And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.  Mark 16:6
Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.  And when he had so said , he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.  John 20:19-20

Through His resurrection from the dead, Jesus gained victory over physical death. Those who become part of the Kingdom of God not only experience physical death just like Jesus, but they will also experience resurrection from the dead as He did. Because our King is eternal, we are part of an eternal Kingdom and have eternal life.

After His resurrection from the dead, Jesus appeared to many people. You can read about His appearances in Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20-21, and Acts 1.

After Jesus appeared to many people over a period of forty days, He returned to Heaven. He will remain there until time for Him to return and establish the visible Kingdom of God in final form. The return of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ for His people to Heaven is recorded in Matthew 28:16-20, Mark 16:19-20, Luke 24:50-53, and Acts 1:1-11.

Just before He returned to Heaven, Jesus gave His followers an important commission to be ambassadors of the Kingdom throughout the world.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.  Matthew 28:19-20

The Bible reveals that Jesus will return to earth in great power and glory to set up the visible Kingdom in its final form. The set up of this glorious kingdom upon Jesus' return can be found in I Thessalonians 4:13-18. The account of the establishing of the Kingdom and the events preceding it is recorded in the book of Revelation. The Bible reveals that the Kingdom of Jesus will be eternal:  

And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. (Luke 1:33)

Every kingdom of earth and the kingdom of Satan will be defeated by the King of kings. In the end an announcement will be made:   

And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 11:15)


We have much to look forward to at the return of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Until then, we are told to come out from among the world:


Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate , saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,  (2 Corinthians 6:17)


Live a victorious life in Jesus after death to the world!  Die to this world so you can live this life to live again.


    
(Biblical Studies)

08/07/14 

01/31/15
03/21/16
04/18/17