The Kingdom of God is basically the rule of God. It is God's reign, the divine sovereignty in action. God's reign however is manifested in several realms, and the gospels speak of entering into the Kingdom of God both today and tomorrow. God's reign manifests itself both in the future and in the present and thereby creates both a future realm and a present realm in which man may experience the blessings of His reign. INTRODUCTION by Oswald J. Smith to the book, THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM, Scriptural Studies in the Kingdom of God by George Eldon Ladd (C) 1952
"We are surrounded by Christians who do not necessarily concern themselves with the Lord's teachings on the reality of the Kingdom of God here and now." THE SECRET KINGDOM by Pat Robertson and Bob Slosser (C) 1982
It was God's idea to share His invisible Kingdom with His offspring, which He called mankind, and to give them His nature and characteristics.
REDISCOVERING THE KINGDOM By Dr. Myles Munroe (C) 2004
Friends, it has been more than 50 years since Oswald J. Smith wrote the introduction to George Eldon Ladd's book of the Gospel of the Kingdom. Some 30 years later Pat Robertson, the Founder and past President of Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) 700 Club wrote his book, The Secret Kingdom. It was more than 20 years later that Dr. Myles Munroe wrote the first book in a series of books on the Kingdom of God. Other books on the Kingdom of God by Dr. Myles Munroe are Kingdom Principles, Applying Kingdom Principles, God's Big Idea and The Most Important Person on Planet Earth (The Governor).
What these men have in common, and I suppose many other authors who give the same attention to such a subject, is that they have come to embrace the realities of the "right now presence of the Kingdom of God".
Pat Robertson states that "Most of us have focused on the good news of salvation and the work of the Holy Spirit in the believers lives." If you really think about it friends, we've focused on our need for healing, deliverance, prosperity, whatever we believe we need from God in light of the fact that we are born again. The old saints can be heard saying, "He's a soon coming King."
The volume of our teaching even beginning as far back as children's and adult Sunday School clasess and today's mid-week and Sunday services, and the denomination's conferences, conventions, convocations, seminars and other such meetings have been about the faithfulness of God to do what He said He would in His Word, and the zenith of what God said according to our theologians is that Jesus is going to return one day, coming back for a church without spot or wrinkle.
We were encouraged to make sure we were going to "be ready" when Jesus comes. That we had to be like the wise virgins who made sure their lamps were full.
We were taught the stories in the Bible about the faithfulness of Jesus. How in a time of trouble He will calm the storms in your life and if you should find yourself in a situation or circumstance that you can't handle, just call on Jesus. We were taught about how God led Moses and the children of Israel through the wilderness and accross the sea. The preachers, those entrusted with studying the Word of God so that they could show themselves approved, a workmen that need not be ashamed, capable of rightly dividing the Word of truth, taught us to be strong and of good courage and to have faith like Joshua. These men and women of God exhorted us to have faith as the grain of mustard seed, just believe, and to live righteously, live holy, because no man knows the time or the hour in which Jesus is going to return.
One Bishop in ordaining an Elder to the work of the ministry remarked to the young man, "Learn the stories son. Give them the stories and you can't go wrong."
Brothers, sisters you can know the stories and preach the stories and encourage people to have faith and hope in God, yet still not know God's will the way God wants His will to be known.
I remember being taught about Daniel in the lions den like it was yesterday. I can still see the coloring book picture of Daniel and these lions that were around him. The point of the lesson was that Daniel's faith in God and His obedience to God was cause God to stop the mouths of the lions. I remember being taught about Meshach, Shadrach and Nebednego who when thrown into the firey furnace, did not get burned and Nebuchadnezzar said that there appeared a 4th man, even the appearance as of the Son of God.
When hearing these stories we are encouraged to know that God is faithful, and He is. We are to develop courage and faith to believe God for whatever we are going through. Through these stories we are supposed to be able to say praise the Lord and amen to the promises of God.
Beyond the stories of God's faithfulness to His creation there are so many other subjects in the Word of God to which we eventually directed our attention.
Y ou joined a church somewhere and begin to learn how to pray, the importance of praise and worship, the value of conscecration, fasting, holy living and the value of allowing the Word of God to direct our day to day lives.
We were encouraged to work on our character in the belief that if we learned enough and obeyed enought that eventually the fruit of the spirit would show up in our lives. Many years later for some of us, we became aware of the fact that we are also gifted. It brought some of us to the conclusion that we are to have both the character and the gifts of the Spirit.
Some groups in their theological expression have focused on grace, or faith, prosperity, healing or water baptism, and Holy Spirit baptism. To any one or more of these teachings, over time they formed for us our theology, what we were going to believe and why, based on what our particular denomination promoted as the doctrine of our faith. So folks believe this and some folks believe that, and almost regardless to denomination all came to believe that Jesus lived, died, resurrected, was the supreme satisfaction for the sins of mankind. Yet, there is a number of things to which these diverse and sometimes divergent groups do not believe.
The denominations that have arisen are numerous and the emphasis to which they have determined what doctrine will mark their identity is diverse from group to group.
To all of these aspects of Christianity as varied as they are, we have committed our lives and pledged our fidelity, based on whichever group we drew our doctrine from and were willing to accept their teachings.
Now in the last 25 or so years there are those who lay claiim to "present truth" teaching. They have embraced the revelation of the restoration of apostles and prophets. There is an emphasis among this group on the "order of the house", with a view to the authority of apostles and prophets in the house of God. There is an emphasis on titles, spiritual protocol and fatherhood. The concept is that unless you have a spiritual father you cannot be approved of God and effective in ministry. This group always wants to know, "whose your covrering", just like other groups want to know what seminary you attended and where did you get your degree from"? Unless you have been seminary trained they will not let you in their pulpit and these particular groups pride themselves on that fact.
So we have learned what we have come to believe, in large part from those who were considered to have studied to know the scriptures, what they mean and how they are to be applied to our lives. So throughout our Christian life and experience there has been a variety of aspects of this new life in Christ that we have sought to embrace, in part, based on the teachings of the leadership to which we have found ourselves submitted.
In our search for pleasing God we have gone from hope to hope, from faith to faith and from glory to glory, but for many of us we have not yet embraced the central message of Jesus which in actuality is literally the foundation to every aspect of the new life we now have in Christ. The Kingdom of God represents the central message of Jesus and the answer to every question and need of man.
As it were, we put the cart before the horse, thinking the cart and the horse are one in the same, and consequently, we've missed the real purpose for the church.
This tragic dilemma in Christian understanding is nothing new. From as far back as the 2nd century, most definitely by the 4th century there has been a continuing deminishing of the original purpose of the Church and a de-emphasis concerning the central message of Jesus, that the Kingdom is present now and we are called to live in light of our kingdom citizenship, authority and dominion, with power.
In meetings of the early church fathers, Justyn Martyr, Augustine, Polycarp, Ignatius and others, there were many debtates. These men sought to battle heretic doctrines of men dealing with subjects like the resurrection, salvation and the person of Jesus, whether he was God, god-man, the begotten of God and many other such subjects they dealt with.
Augustine addressed the subject of the Kingdom of God. His view was that it was present now, yet also eternal to come. But the volume of these men's discourse and debates, their deliberations were concering the matter of Jesus divinity. Was He all God, God in man,...just what was the spiritual and mortal make-up of Jesus.
Centuries later, even after Martin Luther, did the ideas of Albert Schweitzer and his belief that the Kingdom could not be present now, become the dominant thought of the scholars of the day. Like Darwin in the theory of evolution, Schweitzer represented its equivalent to the church and man's desire to udnerstand God and His origin.
In the case of Darwin, I am told then what he eventually renounced his own theory, but too late, the damage was already done. A whole society of people the the instutions that educated them now believed that man came from monkeys and each generation even today, continue to hold that belief.
Bible colleges, universitites, seminaries began to teach what Schweitzer believed in the same way that other schools taught what Darwin believed concerning creation. In essence as it pertains to the church and the Kingdom of God, we have been conducting our lives based on dead men's ideas and not on the reality of a "living" Jesus and what He has and is saying on the subject of "The Kingdom of God."
When what you believe is controlled by dead men's ideas, then you are not in control of what you believe. Your "programming" and perception drive your reality. If your concepts are wrong then your conclusions will be wrong no matter how spiritual your are about the concepts you have come to embrace. It is time to ask ourselves, "What did Jesus say concerning the Kingdom of God and why we don't readily know the answers"? Its also time for us to ask the question, why aren't we teaching, preaching and demonstrating the same gospel that Jesus did?