10- LIFE IN GOD'S KINGDOM -
By Colleen Donahue
There is no one more misunderstood than Jesus. Even Christians have not fully understood all that Jesus represents. To the Muslim Jesus is simply another prophet. He is a good man and teacher but he failed to bring about the finished work of redemption to mankind.
The Hindu also sees Jesus as a good man and teacher. They see him as another deity to add to their list of gods. He's a god like other gods who provide them with a service in their quest for spiritual security.
To the atheist, agnostic and humanist, Jesus is just a mere man, a historical figure. It's only because men have been misguided that He has been turned into a god that men worship. They deny his claim to be God and they deny any of the miracles he performed.
Scientists, secularists, and the media see Jesus as fair game for investigation and criticism. They ignore his divine claims, question his validity, and even his existence.
Christians have misunderstood Jesus to be the founder of a religion. They have transformed his teachings into methods, customs and rituals. They have often reduced his message to be an escape plan from Hell.
In this study we'll learn why God sent his Son to earth and what it is that he was to accomplish.
EVERY ONE HAS AN ASSIGNMENT
- Everyone of us was born for a reason. No one is here by accident and each of us is critical to God's overall plan. But when Adam and Eve sinned, the kingdom they were to rule over was usurped by Satan. Man has ever since become helpless subjects in the kingdom of darkness. None of us can return to the original plan God had for us without God's help. Since God knew in advance this would happen, he had a plan in place ready to restore us.
- God wanted to restore to us our full status as sons and daughters and to restore our kingdom to us. He did this by coming down to earth in the form of His Son. Jesus is God's reach to man. He was the messenger that God's Kingdom was coming back to earth and also the door into that kingdom. (John 10:9 ). Read this remarkable piece of how Jesus described himself in his hometown of Nazareth.
CHRIST'S MISSION HAD THREE GOALS: Goal #1
To Reintroduce the Kingdom
The prefix "RE" is used over and over in the Bible to describe God's program for mankind. Here are some of the ways that it is used: redeem, revive, restore, repent, reconcile, resurrection, return, recompense, renew and reward.
- "Re" implies that at one time the Kingdom of God was here on earth. How was it lost?
Jeremiah 14:20 / Lamentations 5:7
- Wherever a king is located, his kingdom is there with him. The king dwelled within Adam and Eve's spirit in the form of the Holy Spirit. When they sinned, Adam and Eve became "unholy vessels", no longer fit to house the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit departed from man's spirit and therefore man's link with God was severed. When the Holy Spirit departed from man what happened? Man was still on the earth. He still had a spirit but it was now empty and dead without God’s Spirit. He still had a commission to rule and dominate the earth. But the earth was now dominating him and everything became reversed from the original order.
- Against his will man became a slave to his passions and lusts. These base instincts now controlled him. He was a literal slave to his fallen nature.
- Man became subject to the very things he was supposed to rule over.
Genesis 3:17-19 / Genesis 4:11-12
- Saddest of all was when the Holy Spirit left man he came under the control of another spirit -- Satan.
2 Timothy 2:25-26 / 2 Peter 2:19b
- To any and all who love God, living without the Holy Spirit should be unthinkable. King David expressed this desire to get back on track with God.
Why is living without the Holy Spirit unthinkable? I would suggest two reasons:
A. Reason #1:
The Holy Spirit is described by the Greek word "parakletos" which means counselor, advocate and "one called alongside". He is the one who makes it possible for us to know and do the Father's will because he is like our personal, indwelling coach.
1 Corinthians 2:10-13
If we don't have the Holy Spirit in our lives what will be true?
1 Corinthians 2:14
- Reason #2:
Once we know God's will then we need the Holy Spirit to help us administer his will here on earth.
- Remember that while man tends to want religion, God wants relationship. When Jesus came to earth he was filled with the Holy Spirit.
This was the first time since the Holy Spirit left man that He was back on the earth and indwelling in the man Jesus. While Jesus was on earth there was no evidence or record that the Holy Spirit was active anywhere else but in Jesus. Jesus came to RECONNECT us with the Father and his kingdom. This could only be possible if we could have the Holy Spirit indwelling us like Adam and Eve had at first.
Therefore, Christ's primary purpose was to make way for the coming kingdom by reintroducing men to the Holy Spirit who is our connecting link with God. This is the essence of the gospel -- that we receive the Holy Spirit into our own spirit so that we are back in relationship with God and now have an indwelling power to fulfill our role in advancing the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth. Wherever a king is located his kingdom is there. With the Spirit of God indwelling us, the King is present with his kingdom. And that is why Jesus said, "The kingdom of God is within you."
CHRIST'S MISSION HAD THREE GOALS: Goal #2
Jesus came to restore righteousness and holiness to mankind so that the Holy Spirit could once again indwell man.
We were designed to be righteous and holy so we could function properly on earth. Righteousness is actually a legal term that means rightly positioned. Therefore a righteous person is in right standing with the authorities -- with God. To be holy is to be pure, without spot or blemish, and set aside exclusively for God.
- How does Jesus make us righteous and holy again?
Hebrews 9:22, 26b / 1 John 1:7
Only blood can cover sin. When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, the first thing God did was to cover their nakedness with animal skins. This meant the innocent animal had to be slain.
For any person to be made righteous and holy again, a relationship with Jesus is crucial. By shedding his blood on the cross He was the final sacrifice for sin.
While Christ's shed blood was poured out for all (so that we could be forgiven), it's effects are not automatic. God requires that we make a confession before Him (and then others) -- a recognition that we understand his sacrifice and want it's effects for our own life.
While Christ's blood procures pardon for what we have done -- the Cross procures deliverance from what we are." Watchman Nee
Unless God deals with that old carnal nature we inherited, we can't do anything but sin. God himself put us into Christ when he hung on the Cross and our co-death with Christ frees us from being a slave to sin and makes it possible to have real life. It's a mystery for sure but it's a fact that we accept.
Unless we accept the work Christ has done in cleansing us and taking us into himself to die and be raised, we are still lost and are aliens from the Kingdom of God. Our trying to get right by good works won't do.
2 Corinthians 5:21
- The Holy Spirit cannot live in an unclean heart. In earlier studies we learned that every man and woman born, is born with a nature that just naturally wants to sin. Our words and deeds come from a heart that is unclean.
Mark 7: 20-23
It's only when we are clean and holy again by the blood of Jesus that we can be a fit home for the Holy Spirit.
- The Holy Spirit is our link with the Kingdom of God. He could not come until Jesus had completed his work on the cross, risen from the dead and applied his blood to the cleansing of man's sin.
In this act Jesus returned to the disciples (and to mankind) what Adam and Eve had lost. He released the Holy Spirit to them as a continual indwelling presence. Later, at Pentecost, they would receive the power of the Holy Spirit.
- While Jesus could be only one place at a time on earth, the Holy Spirit can abide in all who will receive him. One of his first jobs in our life will be to teach us how to think and act like the royalty that we are. We have been slaves in the kingdom of darkness so long that we just automatically think and act like slaves.
We need to be retrained in the behavior and mind-set of the Kingdom. The Holy Spirit will become our private tutor to teach us how to stand in our authority as sons and daughters of God no matter what troubles or difficulties we face.
John 14:16-17, 26 / John 16: 1-7, 13-15
CHRIST'S MISSION HAD THREE GOALS: Goal #3
Jesus came to retrain mankind for kingdom leadership AND return to them rulership of the earth.
When Satan rebelled against God he was kicked out of Heaven and fell to earth. He became a nobody pretending to be somebody. He taught men to think like nobodies. Therefore most of us have mental damage from feeding on a lifetime of negativity and impossible thinking. We have been slaves for so long that even after we have come to Christ we don't know how to handle our new freedom.
- How will God start our transformation process?
Romans 12:1-2 (Notice especially vs 2 which tells us how we will be transformed).
Renewing our mind means returning to the original mind that man had before the fall. It was a mind that loved and honored God. It was a mind that understood our rightful place as rulers on earth under God's sovereign rulership.
- When Jesus came to earth he showed us what God the Father was like.
John 5:19-21 / John 8:19 / John 10:30 / John 14:5-10
- He also modeled what we should be like as sons of God. So, if we want to know what we should be like as children of our Father -- we must look at Jesus. His life shows us example after example of what we should be. Here are a few:
Matthew 20:25-28 / 23:11-12 / Mark 9:33-35 / John 13:12-15
- It sounds simple doesn't it? Just try these in your own strength and you'll be flat on your face before long. The Holy Spirit in us will remind us of what Jesus taught, help us to understand it and most important give us the power to carry it out.
Reread John 14:26 / Acts 1:8
- After Jesus began his public ministry, he became a living example of how the power of God's Kingdom was to impact human life and environment.
- Everyone of us who turn to Jesus Christ becomes a "living stone" in the spiritual palace of the Kingdom of God on earth.
1 Peter 2:4-5
Through Jesus we are called to be part of a royal priesthood and a holy nation.
1 Peter 2:9a
This means that we are called to be kings (royal) and priests in representing the Kingdom of God before the rest of the world. As priests, we represent God's nature and character. As kings, we represent God's kingdom government.
- We are also a "people of God" and not a nation of subjects.
1 Peter 2:9b-10
We are sons and daughters that are part of a royal family -- restored to represent the government of God on earth.
John 1:12 / Philippians 2:15 / 1 John 3:1
The Holy Spirit bears witness to our status as God's royal children.
- We have a mission as ambassadors for the Kingdom of God. We are to bring those enslaved in darkness to Jesus (the door) so that He can set them free to enter into their full citizenship.
1 Peter 2:9b / 3:15
Once you are in the Kingdom of Light, Jesus wants you to be always reaching back to those you know that are still in the kingdom of darkness. You don't need to know everything first, you just need to tell your story and what Jesus did for you.
Jesus demonstrated by his life what it means to be a human being with the Holy Spirit indwelling him. He is a picture of how all of us are meant to be -- rightly related to God and his kingdom. When He came to earth it was all part of an eternal plan. He was born to die. His death at Calvary was not a mistake but part of a plan to redeem a fallen and rebellious mankind. Jesus chose the cross (John 10:17-18) and by the shedding of his blood he broke the "spirit of rebellion" in mankind.
The substitution of his death for our own allows each of us a reprieve to get back in right-standing with God, receive the Holy Spirit and get back on track to fulfill the purpose we were created for. Jesus' ultimate reason for coming to earth was to reconcile humanity to God the Father. To do this he had to break Satan's grip on us so that we could be freed from the spirit of rebellion that keeps us from God. Then, by the shedding of his blood, he was able to cleanse our minds and hearts to be pure vessels again for the Holy Spirit to take up residence.
Returning the Holy Spirit to humanity is actually the primary reason for Jesus' coming. The Holy Spirit is the source of our power for kingdom living and in partnership with Him we are able to set about fulfilling the purpose for our lives.
In our next study we'll look more closely at the Holy Spirit and his vital role in our lives.