Tag Archives: Kingdom Theology

My Book Manuscript Was Accepted By VIP!!!

VIPGood news folks – my manuscript was accepted by Vineyard International Publishing (VIP)!!! 😀

And more importantly, they said that they loved my writing style: “It reads easily and communicates well.” Much happiness!

I still have a way to go before the book is officially published… right now I’m awaiting feedback from some reviewers. Once I’ve heard back from them, I will need to tweak the content before sending it off to VIP to be edited (say, in September-ish). This is a new chapter that I’m very much looking forward to, and it’s very exciting to think that my very own writing is actually going to turn into printing a hardcover book and having it published! Of course, I’m a little nervous at what should happen within the editing stage, but there’s not too much to worry about considering it’s been accepted. There is no exact time-scale on much of it yet, but it’s getting there!

I am also going to launch a Kickstarter campaign in a few weeks to raise the funds needed to cover the publication cost. Being a small publishing company, VIP works with new authors to help them publish books but they don’t provide them with any monetary advances like some of the big publishers. As such, I am going to need to raise around $1,500 to cover the editing, cover design and book layout costs.

So yeah… there’s still a lot of work left to do over the next several months. But, hey, the ball is moving and it looks like I just might have a book published in 2016. =D

“How (Not) to Speak of God” by Peter Rollins

rollins book 2Peter Rollins is a postmodern pastor, theologian and philosopher born and raised in Northern Ireland. In 2006, he published his first book, “How (Not) to Speak of God,” as an attempt to bring the mystical approach of viewing God into the wider Christian community of the Western Church. The core of this endeavor can be found in the following statement articulating the tension between mystical humanism and religious fundamentalism:

“That which we cannot speak of is the one thing about whom and to whom we must never stop speaking” (page xiv).

Drawing heavily on postmodern philosophy and the tradition of medieval mystical thought (especially that of Meister Eckhart), the book itself was directed to those engaged or interested in the “the emerging conversation” (page xvi). Accordingly, Rollins spends the first part of the book providing a theological framework for this view of God before shifting into a more practical outworking of the material. While Rollins’ application of his theoretical framework is interesting, this review is going to focus solely on the theological first part of the book.

In the first chapter, Rollins introduces two very important concepts. The first is that each of us unconsciously projects our view of the world on to the Scriptures, affecting the way in which we see and understand God. Once we know this, then we are able to understand the second major concept, that of mystery and concealment. It is this later concept that serves to drive the book forward as Rollins explores how God can both be concealed and revealed at the same time: “revelation embraces concealment at one and the same time as it embraces manifestation and that our various interpretations of revelation will always be provisional, fragile, and fragmentary” (page 18).

Chapter two builds upon this foundation by “exploring how such thinking critiques the idea of theology as that which speaks of God in favor of the idea of theology is the place where God speaks” (page xv). The core of this exploration is the concept that while we must continue to speak of God, we must also recognize that our words will always fails at truly defining or describing God. This “a/theology”, as Rollins calls it, is an “uncollapsible tension between affirming our religious ideas while also placing them into question” (page 28).

The next chapter continues to developed the a/theology concept with a focus on virtual of doubt. Rather than trying to know everything completely, a/theology focuses on the Holy Saturday experience between the shock of the cross and the glory of Resurrection Sunday. Namely that the decision to follow Jesus on Holy Saturday, when the future is unknown, is the true decision while the same decision on Resurrection Sunday, when the future is certain, is a false decision. This embracement of doubt causes one to realize that “God is not revealed via our words but rather via the life of the transformed individual” (page 44).

Peter Rollins in 2015
Peter Rollins in 2015

The theme of doubt and mystery continues to build in chapter four with Rollins exploring how the “rediscovery of mystery, doubt, complexity and ambiguity in faith helps us come to a more appropriate understand of religious desire” (page xv). For Rollins, it is the “seeking” after God that is important rather than the “finding” Him as other traditions have done (page 53). This core thought behind this can be understood in the following statement:

“A true seeking after God results from an experience of God which one falls in love with for no reason other than finding God irresistibly lovable. In this way the lovers of God are the ones who are the most passionately in search of God” (page 53).

All of this mystery, doubt and complexity on whether one can fully talk about or understand God leads to question how we can understand which reading of the Bible is “good and which reading is not” (page 64). Rollins tackles this question in the fifth and final chapter of part one during which he “draws out the centrality of love in Christian thinking” (page xv). Rather than having an infinite number of ways in which one could interpret the Scriptures, love provides the boundaries that keep the interpretations in check. This prejudice of love is draw from Rollins view that it was the “central interpretive tool that Jesus employed when interpreting the scriptures” (page 65).

In reflecting on part one of Rollins book, I found myself really enjoying and agreeing with chapters one through four. The mystical concepts of the unknowable yet knowable God is something I have embraced over the years, primarily through the reading of the Eastern Orthodox branch of Christianity. In this tradition, they have something called apophatic theology which attempts to describe God by what He is not just like cataphatic theology seeks to describe Him by what He is. The back-and-forth nature of the Eastern Orthodox’s apophatic and cataphatic approaches to theology creates a sense of mystery which fits beautifully with Rollins a/theology viewpoint.

My main disagreement with Rollins is over the centrality of love in chapter five. Rather than seeing love as the central interpretive tool used by Jesus, I see Jesus embarking on the mission of God as seen through the lens of Kingdom Theology. God is the Creator King who created humanity in His image as a signpost to all of creation declaring His rule and reign. After breathing life into humanity, the Creator King beckons them to join Him in His mission to establish His kingdom throughout the earth. Jesus, in entering into a specific culture at a certain time and geographical location, joined His Father on this mission while destroying the works of the evil one and challenging the different contemporary interpretations of the kingdom. We, as followers of Jesus, are to embrace the mystery of the inaugurated eschatological kingdom established by Jesus and allow that mystery to guide us in how we view God and the Scriptures.

The First Draft is Done!!!

writeabookGood news everyone – I have finished the first draft of my book on Kingdom Theology! 😀

Ten years of research, hours of reading, tons of books, and years of applying Kingdom concept to real life all  boiled down into 81,244 words making up 13 chapters plus an epilogue. It has been quite the journey from the first glimmer of a thought of writing the book four years ago to finding the time to actually write it.  But it is done! Well, the hard part is done…I still have some tweaks and rewrites to do before it goes to print – but the first draft is complete!!

As far as the topic, the book seeks to answer two questions:

  • What is Kingdom Theology?
  • How does it affect my life?

All too often, we in the Vineyard will take about Kingdom Theology and how central it is to our theology and practice. Yet, very little has ever been written about Kingdom Theology and how it changes our worldview. It is true that there have been some books that mention Kingdom Theology or use it as a starting point; however those have typically been books about healing and/or signs and wonders and not about Kingdom Theology per say.

The only two books that I know that have been written about Kingdom Theology itself from a Vineyard viewpoint has been Derek Morphew’s book “Breakthrough: Discovering the Kingdom” and Robby McAlpine’s “The Genesis Cafe: Convesations on the Kingdom.” From outside the Vineyard, there have been a few other books – but even those are rare and sometimes carry with them viewpoints that I don’t think go with an Enacted Inaugurated Eschatology worldview.

It was this lack of resources that first led me to start thinking about writing a book about Kingdom Theology. Rather than focusing on a particular aspect of the theological viewpoint, I wanted to see if I could capture the full breath of the worldview and its practical application in one book. I also wanted to make sure that the material was presented in a manner that the average person sitting in a Vineyard church could understand (and yes, the Vineyard is my target audience). Time will tell whether or not I have accomplished this lofty goal or not…  😕

For those interested, below is an outline of the book as it stands today (who knows what will happen before it goes to print). If you are interested in helping with the review process, please let me know as I am sharing the content with a few select people. I figure the more feedback I receiving during the beginning stages, the better the final book will be. 😀

 Table of Contents: 

  • Introduction
  • Chapter One: Our Perspective
    • What’s your “theology”?
  • Section One: What is Kingdom Theology?
    • Chapter Two: Jesus of Nazareth
      • The Message of Jesus of Nazareth
      • Understanding the Kingdom of God
      • The Mystery of the Kingdom
    • Chapter Three: The Story
      • In The Beginning…
      • Knowing Good and Evil
      • “Being” King
      • The Calling Out Of A People
    • Chapter Four: The Story – Part Two
      • The Disgraced Shepard
      • The Results of The Plagues
      • Crossing the Red Sea
      • The Song of Moses
      • Called for a Purpose
      • Holy Nation
    • Chapter Five: The Day of the Lord
      • A Human King In Israel
      • The Exile Dilemma
      • A Few Odd Items
      • Wrapping Things Up
    • Chapter Six: The Time Between
      • The Maccabean Revolt
      • Wiping Out Judaism
      • The Rise of the Roman Empire
      • Under Rome’s Thumb
      • 1st Century Jewish Factions
    • Chapter Seven: Jesus and the Counterfeit Kingdoms
      • Caesar versus Jesus
      • Untwisting the Kingdom
        • Twist Number One: Defining Who Are The People of God
        • Twist Number Two: Ushering In the Kingdom
        • Twist Number Three: The Coming Of The Kingdom
      • Why Should We Trust Jesus?
    • Chapter Eight: A New Way of Living
      • The Kingdom Message of the Lord/Disciples’ Prayer
      • Eternal Life
      • St. Paul and the New Testament Writers
      • The Language of Paul
  • Section Two: Applying Kingdom Theology to Our Lives
    • Chapter Nine: Reducing the Kingdom of God
      • Reduction One: The Kingdom of God Becomes The Church
      • Reduction Two: Humans Can Create The Kingdom of God on Earth
      • Reduction Three: The Spiritualization of the Kingdom
      • Reduction Four: The Kingdom Is Already Here
    • Chapter Ten: Embracing the Tension
      • Embracing the Suffering
      • Embracing the Victory
      • Salvation
      • Normal Christian Living
    • Chapter Eleven: Symbol Metamorphosis
      • Circumcision
      • The Temple of God
      • Kosher Meals
      • The Promise Land
    • Chapter Twelve:  Experiencing the Kingdom
      • Experiencing the Kingdom Through Work
      • Experiencing the Kingdom Through Rest
      • Experiencing the Kingdom Through Environmental Stewardship
      • Experiencing the Kingdom Through Spiritual Rebirth
    • Chapter Thirteen:  Walking in the Kingdom
      • Tools of the Trade
      • Understanding the Different Types of Packages
      • How do we deliver the packages?
      • Go And Do It
    • Chapter Fourteen:  Missional Living
      • Being Missional
      • Realms of Influence
      • Local Gathering of Jesus Followers (i.e. the local church)
  • Epilogue
  • Appendics
    • Appendix A: Enacted Inaugurated Eschatology
    • Appendix B: Kingdom Theology Resources
    • Appendix C: Biblical Covenants

The Kingdom Message of the Lord/Disciples’ Prayer – Part 3

The-Lords-PrayerWe are continuing our section by section look at the “Lord/Disciples’ Prayer” through the lens of Kingdom Theology. If you are just now joining us, you can find the intro and first section here and the second section here.

Our father in heaven,
May your name be honored,
May your kingdom come,
May your will be done
As in heaven, so on earth.
Give us today the bread we need now;
And forgive us the things we own,
As we too have forgiven what was owned to us.
Don’t bring us into the great trial,
But rescue us from evil.
-Matthew 6:9-13, The Kingdom New Testament

Now on to the last section of the prayer:

“And forgive us the things we own, As we too have forgiven what was owned to us”

The context of this prayer makes it clear that the phrase “things we own” is a veiled reference to sin. Right after this prayer, St. Matthew writes a little blurb about the forgiveness of sin in our lives. St. Luke goes further and includes the term sin in his version of the prayer, “forgive us our sins.” Knowing that Jesus was talking about sin and not owning people money or other such items is very important in understanding this prayer.

Under the Temple system, if you messed up and did something cruel or mean towards a follow human, you were supposed to do two things. First you go to the Temple and offer a sin sacrifice so that God the Father would forgive you and cleanses you from your sin. The priest would then tell you what would need to be done to make things right with your neighbor, i.e. replace the item stolen, asking for forgiveness, etc.

In Jesus’ end-time declaration that the Kingdom of God had come, he shifts things up a bit. Now instead of having to go to the Temple to get forgiveness for our sins, we could be forgiven by Jesus anywhere at any time! Furthermore, our forgiveness from the Father was tied to our actions of forgiving those who sinned or hurt us! This was a radical, redefinition of forgiveness and sin that removed the Temple and the priests from the equation – something that was prophesied to happen on the Day of the Lord came.

“Don’t bring us into the great trial, But rescue us from evil”

Judgment was one of the key components of the coming of God’s Kingdom. The majority of folks at the time tended to think of this judgment as coming against the pagan Romans, as we looked at previously. Jesus, in keeping with the tradition of the prophets of old, is telling his followers that they are to pray for safety and salvation as they walk through this hoped for, but dreaded day. As prophet Joel said,

“Woe to you who long for the Day of the Lord! Why do you long for the day of the Lord? That day will be darkness, not light. It will be as though a man fled from a lion, only to meet a bear, as though he entered his house and rested his hand on the wall, only to have a snake bite him. Will not the Day of the Lord be darkness not light – pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness?” – Amos 5:18-20

Think about the ten plagues in Egypt or the flood that swept over the earth during the days of Noah. In the middle of both events the people of God were protected from the evil one and the judgment God unleashed upon him. Jesus, in keeping with his end-time declaration on the Day of the Lord, is telling his disciples to pray that they will be like Noah and his family or the Israelites in Egypt – diligently obeying the Creator King despite the persecution and pain that came from the people around them.

By now I hope you can see the amazing Kingdom message within this prayer. It may take a little bit of reading and re-thinking to unbury the end-time Day of the Lord message from underneath the layers of cultural baggage. But when you do, you will see why followers of Jesus have kept this prayer close to their hearts throughout history. It is an end-time petition for strength and encouragement to keep on declaring the message of the Kingdom as commanded by Jesus, the King of Kings.

The Kingdom Message of the Lord/Disciples’ Prayer – Part 2

lords_prayer_tissot448x480We are continuing our section by section look at the “Lord/Disciples’ Prayer” through the lens of Kingdom Theology. If you are just now joining us, you can find the intro and first section here.

Our father in heaven,
May your name be honored,
May your kingdom come,
May your will be done
As in heaven, so on earth.
Give us today the bread we need now;
And forgive us the things we own,
As we too have forgiven what was owned to us.
Don’t bring us into the great trial,
But rescue us from evil.
-Matthew 6:9-13, The Kingdom New Testament

Now on to the next two sections in the prayer:

“May your kingdom come, May your will be done, As in heaven, so on earth.”

This is probably the most obvious end-time portion of the prayer as Jesus is telling his disciples to actively ask for the rule and reign of God to come down from heaven and invade earth. It is well to note that the rule and reign of God includes all areas of life – not just one’s spiritual life or well being. As such in praying this prayer, we are inviting God to enter into every area of our lives. This is not a prayer that we should be saying flippantly! This is an end-time, world changing; hold the boat, the world is going to collapse prayer that should give us chills every time we say it!

“Give us today the bread we need now”

While the previous line was the most obvious, this line is most likely the most cryptic in the prayer. Most modern English translations, like the Kingdom New Testament quoted above, translate the Koine Greek words to reflex a material request for bread. For example, the New International Version says “give us today our daily bread” while the English Standard Version says “give us this day our daily bread.” Sadly, while technically correct, these translations fail to convey the message that Jesus was trying to get across.

breadTo help with understanding this line, let us imagine ourselves in 1st century Palestine. Each year we would join our families in celebrating the deliverance of our people out of Egypt by the hand of God. This Passover celebration would include a feast and the breaking of bread that reminded us of the manna God gave to our forefathers in the desert. And while we ate this bread, we would remember that one day in the future God would deliver us once again from our enemies and we would sit at his banqueting table and feast on the bread of the new age. This coming wedding defined our future as 1st century Jews just as much as the Passover and the exodus out of Egypt defined our past.

Using these glasses and knowing the central message of Jesus was that the Day of the Lord had come, let us re-read this line of the prayer: “Give us, O’ Lord, today the bread of tomorrow.” Let us partake of the bread of the wedding feast just like our ancestors eat the bread of heaven in the desert. Let us celebrate and eat today, the feast that is to come in the new age when the Kingdom of God comes among us.

Do you see the radical shift in this line?

It is not about making sure we have physical food to eat, thou God does care about that. Instead it is an end-time petition for the wedding feast of the Lamb that fits perfectly within the overarching end-time message of the Lord/Disciples’ Prayer as well as within the greater context of the message of Jesus the King.

More to come…

The Kingdom Message of the Lord/Disciples’ Prayer

shutterstock_87575320 ConvertedSt. Luke tells us that the disciples of Jesus came to him one day and asked him to teach them how to pray. They had seen the intimate relationship Jesus had with God the Father and they wanted to learn how to pray like he did. The resulting prayer is normally called the “Lord’s Prayer” as he is the one who choose the words of the prayer; however, I tend to think of it as the “Disciples’ Prayer” as it was given to them to pray.

Now most of us don’t think about the “Lord/Disciples’ Prayer” as something to help us through the in-between times of the Kingdom. For most of us, it is just a nice poetic prayer that we hang on our walls or just recite in a flippant manner when someone asks us to pray.  A look through history tells a different story as this prayer was the marker for those who truly gave their lives to follow Jesus. Even when everything else changed – cultures, tradition, Christian sub-group, etc. – the followers of Jesus have always kept this prayer close to their hearts, even when they really didn’t understand why they held on to it. When seen through the lens of Kingdom Theology, everything changes and the prayer takes on a whole new meaning.

Our father in heaven,
May your name be honored,
May your kingdom come,
May your will be done
As in heaven, so on earth.
Give us today the bread we need now;
And forgive us the things we own,
As we too have forgiven what was owned to us.
Don’t bring us into the great trial,
But rescue us from evil.
-Matthew 6:9-13, The Kingdom New Testament

In English there are ten simple and easy to memorize lines; yet each one is packed full of theological and practical implications for our lives. Accordingly, we are going to take a look at each of these lines section by section and see if we can’t better understand this prayer that the King left his followers.

“Our father in heaven”

It may sound obvious, but before you can pray you need to know who you are praying too. From the dawn of history, people of all religions have prayed to their gods and/or to their ancestors. In defining who we are to pray to, Jesus tells us that we are to pray to our Kingly Father who dwells in heaven.

A lot has been made about the term “father” that Jesus used in this pray; however, I don’t think it was as shocking as some folks think to a 1st century Jew. They were used to God being their Father – abet, they used it in more of a corporate sense than an individual one (i.e. God was the Father of the nation of Israel). No, I think the more shocking items were to come – this line just set the stage to remind the followers of Jesus who they were talking too.

“May your name be honored”

One’s name and reputation meant everything to a 1st century Jew, as it still does to a large portion of the world today. To have one’s name honored meant that everyone knew who you were and what you had accomplished. Throughout the Old Testament you can see verses warning the Israelites against dishonoring the name or reputation of the Creator God. Furthermore, there are verses talking about how the world may know that the God is the Lord of the universe. These verses usually follow a mighty act of God, like the ten plagues, crossing the Red Sea or destroying Jericho. The concept is that God had acted, and, therefore, we are to honor his name.

So what mighty act did God do that caused Jesus to tell his disciples to honor God for? It wasn’t the cross as Jesus was still alive. The mighty act that Jesus was honoring the Father for was the coming of his Kingdom into the world!

It is no accident that both St. Matthew and St. Luke place the Lord/Disciples’ Prayer in the context of an end time declaration. For St. Matthew, the prayer was placed in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus lays out the framework for life in the newly ushered Kingdom. St. Luke places the prayer at the beginning of a selection that ends with Jesus telling his followers to ask for the Holy Spirit, an event that was supposed to happen when the Day of the Lord came.

It is also interesting that St. Luke follows up this end-time declaration with Jesus casting out a demon and telling the onlookers that the “Kingdom of God has come” and that he has bound the strong man (i.e. Satan). May the Name of God be forever honored!!

More to come…

What is the Kingdom? Booklet Excerpts #3

The following text is an excerpt from the recently released “What is the Kingdom?” booklet published by the Vineyard USA.

rich nathan“One of the most challenging questions confronting Christian faith is simply this: If Jesus really was who he said he was, if he really was the long-awaited Jewish Messiah, then why is the world still in such bad shape? Why do so many people still die of hunger and cancer? Why are there still so many wars and suicide bombings? Why is there still so much slaughter taking place in Syria, in Iraq and in Afghanistan? Why is rape used as a common tactic of war across the African continent?

Let me make this really simple. If Jesus is Lord and he has all power and we have the Holy Spirit, and we have this powerful message called the Gospel, then why aren’t we more successful than we are? Why are so many marriages, even among church-going, supposedly Bible-believing Christians, in such bad shape? And why do some Christian marriages end in divorce? Why do so many kids raised in Christian families end up barely connected to church? Why are so many church-goers living double lives, hopelessly
addicted, unhappy, unfulfilled?

The bottom line is if Jesus is really true and is really risen, why is the truth not more obvious? Why don’t more people believe what Christians  believe? Why is the world not in better shape if the Messiah really did come? Haven’t you wondered about this?

Have these questions crossed your mind? For the last hundred or so years New Testament scholars have been unanimous in saying that the basic message of Jesus concerned
the kingdom of God. Jesus came preaching that through his person and his ministry the kingdom of God had broken into the world. So we read lots of texts like this one:

‘After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’”’ (Mark 1:14–15).

So what is the kingdom of God? What did Jesus mean when he said, “The kingdom of God has come near?” Is he saying Christianity has come near in my person? Is the  kingdom of God the Christian religion? No. Is the kingdom of God the church? Is Jesus saying the church has come near? Not at all. Is the kingdom of God heaven? Not really.

What are we Christians praying when we pray in the Lord’s Prayer, ‘Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven?’ Very simply, the kingdom of God is what things would be like if Jesus ran everything and if his will was done everywhere. The kingdom of God is what things would be like if Jesus was in charge. When we pray “your
kingdom come,” we are saying that we want this situation to be like what it would be like, if you, Lord, were in charge, if your will was done. We say the kingdom has come when the Lord totally has his way, when he is running the show.

what is the kingdom 2There is a secret that God has kept for all eternity, but has now disclosed. Everyone who listens to Jesus hears the secret that God’s kingdom is going to come in two stages. In the first stage the kingdom is going to be hidden. It is not going to be obvious. You have to look for it and search for it. In the second stage God’s kingdom will be evident and open. It is going to be overwhelming, like a boulder from heaven. In the first stage God’s will doesn’t displace every other will. In the first stage of the kingdom coming into the world, God’s will is done, but so is the will of sinful human beings, so is the will of Satan.

In the second stage of the coming of the kingdom, when Christ returns, there will be only one will done on earth, the will of God. Right now, during this era, God’s will doesn’t always win the day. God’s will can be resisted. God’s will can be ignored.

The mystery of the kingdom is that the kingdom of God is here, but it hasn’t replaced every other kingdom. The will of God is being done, but so is the will of sinful men and women, and so is the will of Satan. In this age, we’re running on parallel tracks. When Christ returns creation is going to run on a monorail. Our world is going to run on
the will of God.”

– Rich Nathan

What is the Kingdom? Booklet Excerpts #2

The following text is an excerpt from the recently released “What is the Kingdom?” booklet published by the Vineyard USA.

derek-morphew“By kingdom theology I refer to an approach to the primary message and mission of Jesus as enacted, inaugurated eschatology. This in turn forms part of the rediscovery of Jesus in the last century and this century that places him in the context of Second Temple Judaism. It can truly be said that since the discovery and translation of the literature of that period, Jesus research has been able to place Jesus in his historical context in a manner that was not possible in previous centuries. This rediscovery of Jesus is of major significance, since the way we see Jesus affects everything: the way we see God, salvation, mission, the Christian life, and the church.

The world into which Jesus came preaching the kingdom had expectations that had grown through the centuries. These expectations were based on the coming of the kingdom in the Exodus event, the conquest of the Promised Land and the Davidic Monarchy. They were further shaped by the loss of the kingdom in the exile and the prophetic promises of Isaiah and Daniel in particular.

A day would come when God would again intervene for Israel, in a final, overwhelming moment, which would terminate history as we know it and begin life at a totally new level in the Messianic age, or the age to come. The Day of Judgment would be the event that would terminate this age (the end) and usher in the coming age. From the prophetic language regarding this ‘end,’ we derive the word ‘eschatology’ (the Greek eschatos means ‘last’). The prophets spoke of the Day of the Lord, the last days, or that day.

what is the kingdom 2Jesus came announcing that such a day had dawned with his arrival. Yet the way he announced and taught about the kingdom had a sense of mystery. He spoke of it as being near, present, delayed, and future. The only way we can bring all of this together is to understand that something mysterious, unexpected (especially to the prophets of Israel) and miraculous occurred in Jesus and the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost.  The power of the future age broke through, from the future, into the present, setting up an altogether new dimension. Before this age has finally ended, the future age has already begun. The result is an ‘already’ and ‘not yet’ dimension, where the coming of the kingdom in Jesus and Pentecost is ‘already,’ but in the final sense, the coming of the kingdom is ‘not yet.’

The mysterious breakthrough of the kingdom was particularly manifest in the ministry of Jesus, as he announced it, taught about it and demonstrated it, in the cross, resurrection and ascension, and the outpouring of Pentecost. All these are demonstrations of the future breaking into the present. Between the coming of the kingdom in Jesus (‘already’) and the final coming of the kingdom in Jesus (‘not yet’ – at his Second Coming) is the time we now live in as Christians and the church in the world. Around us is a world that lives in one dimension, in this present age, while we experience Jesus and the life in the Spirit in a new dimension, the life of the coming age, or eternal life lived now.

From this definition of the nature of the kingdom, we have developed a set of initial implications:

  1. The end has come in Jesus, therefore Jesus is God.
  2. The last days begin with Jesus and Pentecost, and continue until the very end, so the whole period, from the first to the Second Coming, is the last days.
  3. Every revival is a fresh in-breaking of the kingdom.
  4. Every part or aspect of the kingdom is available every time it breaks through.
  5. The veil torn when Jesus died shows that the separation of the present age and age to come has  been torn, or opened up.
  6. Therefore the powers and presence of the future age are continually available. We live in a dimension where it is always near, present, delayed and future.
  7. Church history bears witness to the increasing inbreaking of the kingdom as we approach the end of the end.
  8. This is the framework for understanding world missions.
  9. This is the framework for understanding the Christian life, in the ‘already’ and ‘not yet,’ making us ‘already … not yet’ people.
  10. This is the framework for understanding healing, why it occurs, yet does not always occur.
  11. This is the framework for understanding the church in the world.”

-Derek Morphew

What is the Kingdom? Booklet Excerpts #1

The following text is an excerpt from the recently released “What is the Kingdom?” booklet published by the Vineyard USA.
Sweet sunset 2
What Is A Kingdom?

To understand what Jesus meant by the phrase, “the kingdom of God,” we must first understand what a kingdom is. When we in the Western world hear the word, we may think of kings and queens ruling in empires like England. A regent over a kingdom is someone who has authority in that kingdom.That kingdom is a place where they actively rule and reign.

So, what did it mean when Jesus said that God has a kingdom, and that it has come near?

What Is The Kingdom Of God?

The kingdom of God, as Jesus spoke about it, was not limited to a physical city, country, or land mass – even to the borders of ancient Israel. Rather, the kingdom of God was the dynamic reign of God over heaven and earth; all things visible and invisible. For the ancient Jews, the idea of the “kingdom of God” was an accepted theological reality. Taught by prophets like Isaiah, the people of Israel believed that God is the one true King and Creator of the world. As King, he rules the cosmos (Ps. 24:8-10), and will one day express that rule fully on earth through his selected regent – an anointed one (Is. 61:1).

On that day, God’s people, Israel, will be delivered from their oppressors and brought home from their long exile. The world will be set to rights, brought under God’s shalom (peace) again as it had been in the beginning. God’s anointed, appointed King will rule the people of the world with justice, mercy, and love. This was the day for which they hoped, prayed, and persevered.

Jesus Inaugurates The Kingdom
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Jesus, a simple carpenter’s son and a Jew, is born in 1st century Palestine. One day, as a young man, he steps forward in a synagogue to read the Old Testament. He chooses a revered text that speaks of the anointed King to come. It is from the revered prophet Isaiah, chapter 61.

Here is the account:

“He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’” (Luke 4:17-20).

Jesus was declaring himself to be the anointed King for whom they had been waiting! He would proclaim, in word and deed, that God’s kingdom was truly among them. He would demonstrate that kingdom in signs, wonders, and the transformation of every life he touched. Then, by death on a cross, he would offer himself as a sacrificial lamb, the “suffering servant,” for the sins of humanity (Is. 53). By his resurrection from the dead (Luke 24:1-6), God would verify that Jesus was indeed the true King of the world. Jesus was inaugurating the rule and reign of God on the earth, and God’s purposes for the world from creation would begin to be realized.

What is the Kingdom?

what is the kingdomThis week the Vineyard USA released a series of booklets about the distinctives of our movement. While all five of these booklets are great, I really want to focus on one of them as its topic is dear to my heart:

“What is the Kingdom?”

In answering this question (which I think is THE question), the booklet looks at the following subtopics:

  • The Kingdom Jesus Preached
  • The Now of the Kingdom
  • The Not Yet of the Kingdom
  • How do we become Kingdom people?

The folks who wrote articles for this Kingdom Theology booklet are among the whose who of the Vineyard: Rich Nathan, Derek Morphew, Mark & Karen Fields, John & Eleanor Mumford, and Bill Jackson.

Yeah..the national office did a great job in getting this published. Sadly, they copyrighted it so I can’t reproduce it in its entirety on this blog…but I can (and will) post a few of the articles here over the next few days. You can also read a sample copy of the booklet online or, if you want, you can simply purchase a few to keep on hand. 🙂