The Kingdom of God: Part 1
Apr 17, 2006
Jesus and the disciples preached a message called "the Gospel of the Kingdom." Matt. 9:35 says,
"And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the Kingdom..."
It is related to, but not the same message as, the gospel of personal salvation that is generally preached today. In preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, there was no appeal to join an organization which men might designate by various denominational names. It was an appeal to "repent," or to change one's belief system from one thing to another. Men were either building kingdoms of man or the Kingdom of God. The Gospel of the Kingdom presented the appeal to believe in (have faith in) God and to build and promote His Kingdom.
It is my personal desire, and a matter of faith to me, to build God's Kingdom. Hence, the name I chose for my personal ministry is God's Kingdom Ministries. It is not meant to promote man, especially not myself. I do not like talking about myself, preferring that readers spend their time learning about Jesus Christ and His Kingdom.
There are many "cult watchers" in the Church who are quick to label any new or small religious group a "cult." By this, they usually mean a minority religion, and when it finally gets a million members, they are promoted to "religion." All respectable Christian denominations today were once called "cults" by their doctrinal adversaries in competing denominations. This label was designed to evoke fear of cults, rather than faith in Jesus. I have seen many Christians who were so fearful of being drawn into a cult that they refused to study the Scriptures from any but their own Church leadership.
To me, a cult is defined primarily by fear and worship of man. To the degree that a Church (or any other religious organization) rules by fear, rather than teaching faith, it is a cult. Likewise, to the degree that a group promotes its own religious leader or its earthly organization as "the true Church," it is a cult. If an organization teaches that one must become a member of their earthly organization in order to enjoy a relationship with God, it is the worship of man disguised as the worship of God. It is a cult, regardless of its IRS status or how many members it has.
This is why God's Kingdom Ministries is not an organization that anyone can "join." We do have a mailing list by which people may obtain news and newsletters (FFI), but this in no way obligates anyone to conform to a set of rules or laws. In fact, there is no subscription price, because I impose no financial obligations upon anyone. Those who support this ministry do so voluntarily, purely because they want to see this particular MESSAGE made available to all who have an interest in the Kingdom of God.
God's Kingdom Ministries is NOT the Kingdom of God. This ministry is purely a tool to promote the Kingdom of God by teaching the Word, so that all may come to know Jesus Christ, the rightful Heir of all things. I believe that He is the King of Creation and will some day be acknowledged as such by all creation. Your place in that Kingdom will not be determined by me nor by your relationship with any man, whether he be called Pope, Apostle, Prophet, Priest, or Pastor. Your place in that Kingdom will be determined solely by your relationship with Jesus Christ, who alone determines your calling.
Those who are acclaimed by man as religious leaders are not necessarily the great ones of His Kingdom. There are certainly some leaders who are humble and who have a right heart in this matter. But the most visible of them are often the ones most concerned with promoting themselves. Human nature being what it is, they often conclude that the only way to promote God's Kingdom is to promote themselves, because the world has taught them that no one will listen to them unless they promote and advertise themselves.
Unfortunately, there is much truth in that belief. Men do tend to follow the glitz, glamour, and money that is evident from a proper public relations campaign. We are conditioned to this mindset by every political election. Personally, when I contemplated this in 1991 (when I returned to the ministry), I made up my mind that if this is what it took, I would not do it. I would go find some honest work in the world. I made a "deal" with God that if He would supply my basic needs and the needs of the ministry, I would promote Him and not myself. In fact, I went so far as to say that if I was ever late paying a bill, I would know that it was time to get out of the ministry and find regular work.
I was prepared to have a small ministry all my life, because I refused to do what it took to join the ranks of the large ministries. I knew that I would have to endure the charge of leading a "cult" from those who themselves act like cults. Yes, I teach from a different perspective from most others. That is because I am not accountable to those other leaders, but to Christ alone. Thus, I do not have to follow their particular interpretation of Scripture or promote their particular denomination.
I have many friends, of course, all as independent as I am, to whom--as members of the Body of Christ--I am accountable. I value their discernment and am anything but an island to myself. But our relationship is one of love and respect, rather than of denominational obligation. Each of us differs in our own way, but we all recognize that God speaks to all of us, and therefore, we should hear the Word through others. We all recognize Jesus Christ as our King, though we all have different callings.
"The Kingdom of God is within you," Jesus said in Luke 17:21. The word "within" is from the Greek word entos, which means "in, in the midst of, or among." Some say it means the Kingdom is within a person--that is, not external. Some say it means the kingdom is "among" you in the sense that Jesus, the King, was among the people. Dr. Bullinger tells in his notes in The Companion Bible that since Jesus was addressing His bitter enemies, the Kingdom was not in THEIR hearts; and thus, it means that Jesus Christ was among them, in their midst, though unrecognized.
I have no problem with either interpretation. Since the Kingdom of Israel had been destroyed and dispersed by the Assyrians in 721 B.C., the Kingdom had ceased to exist. Since that time, God has been working to re-establish His Kingdom in the earth as a visible entity. At present, He is calling people to be its citizens, because at present it has no territory and has not yet been re-organized as at the first at Mount Sinai.
A Kingdom has four things: King, Citizens, Laws, and Territory. At present, we have a King, but in Jesus' day His position was disputed and usurped by the religious leaders of His day. In our recent weblog concerning Judas, we showed that this had been prophesied by Absalom who usurped the throne of David. Yet, even as David returned to rule, and Absalom was killed, so also will it be at the second appearance of Christ.
At that time, not only will we have a King, but also Citizens--those who follow Him and recognize Him as King. These are the true Christian believers. As for the Laws of the Kingdom, these were already given through Moses, but even here there has been a problem of interpretation and application. Jesus came to show the true meaning of the law and to overthrow the false interpretations called "the traditions of men." Even having a perfect law (Psalm 19:7) is no guarantee that it will be interpreted and applied by the mind of its Author. Thus, the Kingdom needs the manifested sons of God to administer the law.
We will continue this later.
This is the first part of a series titled "The Kingdom of God." To view all parts, click the link below.