Painted with a broad brush
– Last year when we went to the Netherlands a well-meaning couple emailed me a half dozen times asking if I was “Kingdom Now.” I did my best to explain that we don’t emphasize covering or crave authority over people or pastors. I went on to give a thorough history of the “Kingdom Now” movement in the US that was 25 years old to distance myself from its imbalances in authority and doctrine. All for not, of course. I was still “kingdom Now” in their eyes and they worked fairly hard to discourage people from coming to our meetings. It didn’t particularly bother me and I imagined that If I had roots in the World War 2 experience in part of Europe I might by a little sensitive about authority issues as well.
Now or Later?
– Since then, I’ve been rereading old newsletter topics and writing new ones. Guess what? I keep running into a yearning to see the Kingdom of God “now.” Ditto regarding all the above imbalances. Here’s your choices; 1) you can put the Kingdom of God after the second coming, or 2) you can believe its available now. I’ve chosen the later in this sense. I believe after we’re saved our primary function isn’t to revisit the cross every Sunday while we wait for the rapture. We’re here to possess our land and fill the earth with the Glory of God. The Kingdom of God is not filling the earth at the moment, but it’s our job to cooperate with God’s plan to bring it down from Heaven to Earth, at least in part, before Jesus returns. I can see the theory of how people fall into setting up a religious hierarchy (theocracy) and make going to church the moral equivalent of attending a terrorist training camp. However, I don’t see God’s people doing that these days. What is evident is a great liberation for saints that choose to receive their inheritance now and exercise faith in action to make it happen. Their ministries in the marketplace are fruitful spiritually and prosperous financially. Those waiting for the rapture are preoccupied with seeing the devil in every headline and miss Kingdom entirely… just like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. They will be in heaven I’m sure; they will just miss some of the fun of building the Kingdom on earth.
“Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. Matt 21:43 NIV
– What really pushed me over the edge recently was rereading the Gospel of Luke and marking what Jesus said or did regarding the Kingdom. Here’s what I found:
Jesus spoke of the Kingdom in the present tense all the time and He instructed His disciples to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom.
and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end. Luke 1:33 NIV
“I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” Luke 4:43 NIV
Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Luke 6:20 NIV
After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. Luke 8:1 NIV
Then, just as now, not everybody quite “gets it.”
He said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, “‘though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.’ Luke 8:10 NIV
Experiencing the power of the Kingdom is connected to healing and miraculous. Calming the stormy sea is a great example of Jesus operating in the power of His Kingdom – already present.
and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. Luke 9:2 NIV
He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing. Luke 9:11 NIV
Jesus told people they would see and experience the Kingdom before death.
I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:27 NIV
Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:60 NIV
Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62 NIV
Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.’ Luke 10:9 9 NIV
Jesus taught us to pray for the Kingdom to come… now. He wasn’t advocating people pray for 3000 years before the rapture comes. The power of God for healing and deliverance is evidence that the Kingdom is operating now at least in many camps. God is pleased to “give his people the Kingdom.”
He said to them, “When you pray, say: “‘Father, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come. Luke 11:2 NIV
But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you. Luke 11:20 NIV
But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. 32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Luke 12:31-33 NIV
Once people find out that the Kingdom is available to inherit now there really is a “jailbreak” liberation to get involved. It’s fun and fulfilling and exactly the plan of God. The Kingdom starts within you – you have to believe its available now to see it in operation.
“The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. Luke 16:16 NIV
Luke 17:20-21 Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, 21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.” NIV
What’s the most important criteria to actually enter the Kingdom now? You simply have to exercise a little childlike faith and believe it’s possible for God to want you to heal the sick, cast out demons, prosper financially, change the world… etc.
“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Luke 18:16-17 NIV
We don’t finish receiving the Kingdom in it’s fullest sense until Jesus return. The concept of the Jewish belief at the time was that Jesus would return immediately and set up His own Kingdom to rule and reign.
While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once. Luke 19:11 NIV
And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, 30 so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Luke 22:29-30 NIV
– If you believe the Kingdom is later you’ll wait for it. If you believe it’s available, at least in part now, you’ll contend for it. Does this little slant on theology make a difference. Yes, in practice, it makes all the difference. Those in marketplace ministry have embraced it and are running with it. Building the Kingdom is the foundation for an entrepreneurial heart.
Note: Next week we’ll look at the Gospel of the Kingdom and where it leads. I’ve skipped the Olivet discourse for the moment. Harold is writing a book on that topic right now. If you want to read ahead take a look at chapter 13 (and all of part) in an old book by Philip Mauro that you can read on the net. It’s the best explanation I’ve read until Harold is done. We’re not giving a blanket endorsement to everything by Mauro, but the part I’ve referenced is interesting.
– (0/6/06 regarding Making a Plan for Your Heritage) Dear John, Many thanks for your very interesting new newsletter. I thought you might be interested in the new newsletter of Transforming Business, of which I’m director. Feel free to forward it to your colleagues and contacts in the Releasing Kings network, as I think its contents will be of interest to them as there are clear synergies in our vision and aims. In His service, Peter Heslam, University of Cambridge (UK)
see www.transformingbusiness.net/page19.html (Great site with a great vision – recent developments around the world regarding business and marketplace ministry)
Life is an adventure. People are a blessing. God is amazing. We’re winning.