1-Life in the Kingdom of God - "In the Beginning"
1. It's these words in Genesis 1:26 that explain the reason for man's search for power and meaning.
Dominion is the purpose for man's creation and meaning. Mamlakah is the Hebrew word that can also be translated as kingdom, sovereign rule or royal power. In other words, man was created to have rulership over this earth and this explains why all of us seek to control and rule over our environment and circumstances.
2. It was always God's desire from the beginning that man would exercise his dominion in partnership with Himself.
God created man "adamah" or "man of the soil". But his mental capacities were to be from another source. "Breath of life" spoken of in Genesis 2:7 is special to this passage and speaks of the spiritual and principal element in man that was breathed into him by the Creator. Man was thus created to walk in partnership with God by having God's own spirit dwelling inside of man's body.
In our computer age this is easily illustrated by the fact that every "computer body" is meant to operate in tandem with an installed operating system. And so everyone of us was meant to live by the power of God inside of us.
3. While God offered us His Spirit to indwell us, He did not force this on us. Man is the only one, of all the created things, who was given free will. Free will always allows us a choice and God set up our "test" in the form of two trees.
4. What was the test or the choice that God gave man regarding these two trees?
So there was one tree -- only one --- that they were not to eat from. The reason why is implicit in the name of this tree -- "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil". God made us to walk with the same knowledge that He had because His Spirit would be indwelling our own. But if man chose to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil then he was making a choice to walk by his own knowledge of right and wrong apart from God.
Evil was already in the universe because Satan and some angels had chosen to rise up and be like God instead of serving him. But as of yet evil had not touched man. We might say man was in a neutral state. He had the free will capacity to choose a way other than God's way but as yet he hadn't made any choice.
5. The choice Adam and Eve made is now history but its ripple effect continues down to our own time. Here is how it played out:
Notice the words that the tree was "desirable for making one wise" in Genesis 3:6. Adam and Eve already had the wisdom of the Creator Himself indwelling them but Satan had deceived them into thinking that fruit from the one tree they weren't to eat from would give them a knowledge and wisdom that was better than what God could give. Man's failure of God's free will test was actually a decision to live independent of God and to live by our own knowledge of right and wrong.
This is the way man has been living ever since -- independent from God. And while it's true we may believe in God, for most of us we live as though he doesn't exist. Instead of enjoying God's partnership in life, He is relegated to a room called Saturday or Sunday. We live primarily doing our own thing.
Man's failure to obey God resulted in the loss of four things:
First we lost our right-standing with God. This caused us to lose our relationship with Him. No relationship meant we had lost our rights as children of God. This finally led to our loss of rulership over the earth.
So when man fell from grace we lost our dominion over the earth, we lost our kingdom -- not a religion. Religion is the search to get back the Kingdom that we lost and in and of itself religion can never satisfy. So this study will focus on the Kingdom that we lost and know little about. For while all men and women have followed in the independent footsteps of Adam and Eve, it's also true that God has made a way for any (indeed all) of us to get back on track with Him. The "good news of the gospel" is that God wants to restore us to the way he created us to be. Our heart was created so that God could dwell IN us and show forth his life and love from our life. Man was made to be a vessel to receive, hold and overflow with the blessedness of God. We were made so that God could live his life on earth as He was also living it in Heaven.
6. The message that you and I are hearing today called "the gospel" and the message we may be sharing with others has veered off course a long way from when Jesus spoke these first words in His ministry. "Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand."
My own quest to understand the Kingdom of God came first with an awareness that Jesus was constantly trying to explain it through stories and parables. He wasn't focused on how we can be born again as modern Christians are focused on. Even the term "born again" is used only one time when Jesus spoke to Nicodemus, the Pharisee.
7. Once I started noticing this term Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven, I started to realize that this was Christ's one and only message. He was the prophesied Messiah that had come to return the Kingdom of God back to man. And so the early believers talked about Jesus wherever they went.
Acts 5:41-42 / Acts 8:4 / Acts 9:20,22
8. And they did so because they realized that it was through Jesus that man could be restored to fulfill their role as sovereign over this earth. Soon after Saul of Tarsus was converted, scripture tells us that he went to the synagogue and preached boldly for three months and what did he argue persuasively about?
Furthermore it says that Paul taught nothing except what the prophets and Moses said would happen -- Acts 26:22-23. So this tells us that the Kingdom message is woven throughout scripture and once we know that, it begins to pop out from the Bible in every book.
9. As we begin this study on the Kingdom of God let's be like the Bereans who had an open mind and searched the scriptures daily to see whether Paul and Silas had been speaking the truth.
10. And if the Kingdom of God is really that which we have lost, shouldn't we extend every effort to get it back?