Tag Archives: What is the Kingdom? Booklet

What is the Kingdom? Booklet Excerpts #3

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

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

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

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

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

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
what is the kingdom 2

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. 🙂