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basic conclusions about the Kingdom of God without going crazy in the details


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Shanghai - a HUGE city, but not as big as the Heavenly City

basics to understanding the Kingdom of God

  1. There are a wide variety of opinions about what the Kingdom of God looks like. It can be confusing. Not all are bad. Many are helpful. Some of them are not.
  2. Regardless of what you think the Kingdom of  God looks like you should be willing to admit that ‘the KoG is in our midst.’ The King has indeed come (see Heb 1:3). He is on His throne presently and He is the process of restoring His Kingdom (see Heb 8:1 with 6:20-7:22, Melchizedek the kingly Priest). Accepting this is a good to then understand what the Kingdom looks like.
  3. The KoG is not the same thing as the Church Age (see Heb 12:24, a person should explain what they mean by the word ‘church’ as they read this context. Do they mean an age within time, an organized group of believers or the whole company of saints in all of time?). The Church Age is one manifestation of the KoG across all of time and eternity. The Church Age is not point for point the same thing as the KoG nor is the Church Age entirely separate from the KoG. In other words, the KoG is a larger divine enterprise in which the Church Age now serves a part.

Note: This counters the RCC view which sees herself as the KoG on earth. It also counters the ultra-Dispensational views which see the KoG as absent now because it was removed at Jesus’ Ascension.

  1. In order to learn what the Kingdom of God should look like look to the King and His Gospel (see Heb 12:2). There is a tendency for us to define the KoG according to what we like or want to happen. Yet, no one can define what the KoG looks like better than the King Himself and His Gospel. Look to King Jesus (see Mark 1:1, The start of the Gospel of Jesus Messiah).

Note: This counters the liberal Protestant views which see the KoG as basically doing good to others. This is good, but the KoG is not solely this.

  1. The KoG is not just about external improvements or a social order. Nor is it just about internal or spiritual improvements, ie. pietism, monkery or separatism. The KoG is both inside and outside (see Heb 12:28). This is why the Gospel of Jesus Christ is central to the KoG. The Gospel alone transforms the KoG and its people from the inside out. The Gospel alone keeps the externals of the KoG in balance so they do not slide in a religious form of idolatry. The Gospel alone keeps us moving forward to extend the boundaries of God’s Kingdom for His glory, His righteousness and the beauty of His grace.
  2. The Gospel is that which bring us into the large community which is the Kingdom of God. We are not restored by the Gospel for our own sake or for our own betterment or even just to have an isolated individual relationship with God. We are restored by the Gospel of Christ so we can learn to think, live and harmoniously relate to others in the Kingdom of God, God Himself included. The KoG is in its ultimate form will be centered around a huge, huge City in the New Heavens and New Earth (see Heb 13:14 with Rev 21-22).

Basically, the Gospel serves the large divine Kingdom enterprise in which God is restoring His people to Himself and us to each other, from the inside out (see Heb 13:20-21).

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Where is the Kingdom of God?



There are a large number of ideas about what theKingdom ofGod looks like or should look like. To look at this mountain of opinions can be overwhelming.

Probably a better first question to ask is not about the Kingdom’s nature, but to ask if the Kingdom is here or not? If it is not, then this will save us the trouble of having to study the opinions which say it is. If it is here, then this will save us the trouble of having to study the opinions which say it is not here.

Better still – if we can know where the Kingdom is, then this will go a long way to help us understand the nature of the Kingdom.

Like any other kingdom study the KoG as to its place, its priorities, its people, its plan and its Prince.

Try this with a finite kingdom. What earthly kingdoms comes to mind (like British, Saudi, Vatican, etc.)? How do they hold up to analysis under these 5 key points? How do these 5 things show their strengths and/or limitations?

Why look at these 5 things? Because…

–         Its place shows that it is real in time and space

–         Its priorities show the nature of its government – what it’s like to live in this kingdom ruled by Christ?

–         Its people shows who its subjects are

–         Its plan shows where it’s going across time

–         Its Prince shows the right of its ruler to reign

Ultimately the One who is in charge will define what the Kingdom is like. The Person of Christ and His message should be the things that define our understanding of the Kingdom. Good intentions as good as they might be are inadequate to define the Kingdom. If we rely on our good intentions or best hopes, then our view of the Kingdom will look like ourselves.

an axiom – – – Christ and the Gospel define the Kingdom.

Some say that the idea of the Kingdom of God is just a metaphor.

Is it just another word picture for my individual relationship with Jesus? My relationship with Jesus does indeed matter, but we cannot dismiss the Kingdom as just a metaphor, because Jesus is the King of the Kingdom. He is real and so is His Kingdom. Since He is the real King of His real Kingdom we need to learn not just what it means to be rightly related to the King, me to Him. We need to learn what it means to live within His large Kingdom.

Living in the Kingdom of God will teach us how to relate to one another and the world around us. The Church will cease one day, but the Kingdom lasts forever.

The Gospel of the Kingdom is not only about my communion with God. It is just as much about our community with each other and the restoration of God’s gracious sovereignty across all borders, people groups and nations.

So then, where is the Kingdom of God?

Is it here or is it in another time and place?

As we study the Gospel according to Mark we are seeing that the Kingdom of God pressed in much deeper into our world when Christ, the Messiah, the King, came in.

Can you name 2 or 3 ways that the Kingdom of God strongly re-entered History within the first few days and weeks of Jesus’ ministry (see Mark chapters 1-2)?


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what church / culture model do you prefer?


I’ve been thinking for some time how the church should relate to the culture around it (ha, you might’ve guessed that if you’ve read recent posts). Some churches take a defensive stance against culture. Some welcome the culture with open arms.

I “put on paper” these three models – over simplified to be sure – so as to work out possible conceptions of the church / culture relationship. Which do you prefer? or have you come to see this church / culture relationship in another way?

 

One thing I’m sure about is that those churches which see themselves as fighting against the culture have forgotten they are a culture.

 

What church / culture relationship is best for the advance of the Gospel?


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preparing for worship


One of my favorite Spurgeon sermons is “The Throne of Grace.”

Like many things Spurgeon says we find this homily useful on more than one level. In other words, when he speaks about a particular passage or even a short phrase of Scripture his insights are so penetrating, so well expressed that you suspect he is seeing much more than you saw.

This may be why Spurgeon cannot be easily set aside. A second glance is almost always necessary, but not within minutes of the first. I’ve found waiting days, weeks or even months later is better once you’ve given your heart time to digest the first reading.

On first reading I quickly concluded that Spurgeon’s remarks on “the throne of grace” are mainly about prayer. But I tried a second glance. Do like I did and read it again as if he was speaking just as much about worship as about prayer. Reading his sermon this way makes this short phrase – “throne of grace” – bloom all over again.

It may change the way your heart goes into corporate worship this Lord’s Day coming. Here are the opening sentences to this wonderful sermon on God’s  ‘throne of grace.”

* * * * * * *

“The throne of grace.”—Hebrews 4:16

HESE words are found embedded in that gracious verse, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need”; they are a gem in a golden setting.

True prayer is an approach of the soul by the Spirit of God to the throne of God.

It is not the utterance of words, it is not alone the feeling of desires, but it is the advance of the desires to God, the spiritual approach of our nature towards the Lord our God.

True prayer is not a mere mental exercise, nor a vocal performance, but it is deeper far than that—it is spiritual commerce with the Creator of heaven and earth. God is a Spirit unseen of mortal eye, and only to be perceived by the inner man; our spirit within us, begotten by the Holy Ghost at our regeneration, discerns the Great Spirit, communes with him, prefers to him its requests, and receives from him answers of peace.

It is a spiritual business from beginning to end; and its aim and object end not with man, but reach to God himself.


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who is the ‘weak’ brother? not


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the ‘weak brother’ is…

–         incoming freshman

–         singles in a church who want to push the envelope

–         families in a church who just don’t get conservatism

–         kids in church who tend to put everything in two categories, black and white (or right and wrong)

–         the guy or gal who may try _________ (insert some Matter of Conscience) when I clearly know it is wrong. I see him as ‘weak’ because he can’t resist saying “No!” to _________ (insert same as above), but I can. Therefore, he is weak.

–         A Christian who leaves an authenic conservative church or org to join another church or group which actually enjoys doing things ‘weak brothers’ do. You know the ole problem – “Birds of a feather…”

–         People in a church, org or group who may have their guard down and end up talking to, texting or friending one of the above. This would be a classic case of ‘the blind leading the blind” only we might call this ‘the weaker strengthening the weaker.”

not!

stay tuned: an answer that may surprise you


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have you read Trinity’s Covenant?


This is a wordle graphic of Trinity Bible Church of Greer’s membership covenant.  Notice the largest words are those that show up with greatest frequency in our Church Covenant – “Christ” – “Jesus” – “promise” – “one another” etc.

Our church covenant is longer than most, but that must have been by design because the document clearly presents itself in tone and content as an expression of commitment NOT to an organization, but to each other, member to other members, a group of believers to another believer and as followers of Jesus to “one another” (including Him).