Series: Maintaining this hope
Message – Kingdom living in light of Jesus’ return
Kingdom living in light of Jesus’ return
As we were finishing up Paul’s second letter to the church in Thessalonica we read how Paul was setting the record straight regarding the Day or Season of the Lord, when He would advance His purposes in the earth towards the final establishment of His kingdom.
As such we discovered that a proper understanding of the events in the Day of the Lord, especially His return for the church, is deeply rooted in the establishment and advancement of the Kingdom of God.
It is established in the hearts of His people and from that place of heart devotion springs a servant’s heart which expresses itself in acts of proper stewardship to our Lord…the king of the kingdom.
Our stewardships include:
- Obedience to the Gospel which has been revealed to us
- Submission to the Lord of the Kingdom in all things
- Guarding our hearts by active devotion towards God, being careful to maintain good works and a distinct separation from the influences and affiliations with the world.
- Shining as lights in the world by our living testimony, our acts of love and service for others and by proclaiming the gospel to the lost.
All of these things show up in one way or another in the teaching of Jesus regarding the Gospel of the Kingdom.
The following are little excerpts from Jesus’ teachings which tell us about the Gospel of the kingdom.
This first one is important because it sets the pace for our understanding.
As I’ve told you in times past, there are many in the church today who misunderstand the message Jesus taught because they confuse the fact that Jesus was living under the law and was sent to fulfill all that was spoken of Him in the law with the message He taught. However, Luke does not allow for that misunderstanding.
Luke 16:16, “The law and the prophets were in force until John; since then, the good news of the kingdom of God has been proclaimed, and everyone is urged to enter it.”
So regardless of the covenant Jesus lived under, He PREACHED the Gospel of the Kingdom – which was the “Good News” the angel’s proclaimed at His birth. Even their words carried the awareness of a universal kingdom in that this Good News would bring great Joy to all people.
So in the ministry of John and in the teachings and ministry of Jesus, the kingdom was always represented as reality which was going to be realized soon. The New Testament writers spoke from the position that is had come at the resurrection of Jesus from the dead!
- Matt. 3:1&2, “In those days John the Baptist came into the wilderness of Judea proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near!”
- Matt. 4:12-17, “(12) Now when Jesus heard that John had been imprisoned, he went into Galilee. (13) While in Galilee, he moved from Nazareth to make his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali, (14) so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah would be fulfilled: (15) “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way by the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles – (16) the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, and on those who sit in the region and shadow of death a light has dawned.” (17) From that time Jesus began to preach this message: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near!”
- Matt. 4:23, “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.”
- Matt. 5:3,10 In the Beatitudes “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them….(10)Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.”
- Matt. 5:19, “So anyone who breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever obeys them and teaches others to do so will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
- Matt. 5:20, “For I tell you, unless your righteousness goes beyond that of the experts in the law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven!”
- Matt. 6:10, The Lord’s Prayer “may Your kingdom come, may Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
- Matt. 6:33, Provision “But above all pursue His kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
- Matt. 7:21, Those who can participate in the Kingdom “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven – only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.”
This past week I saw a post on FB which said, “Heaven has a wall, Hell has open borders” …which is a good segway into the next verse found in…
- Matt. 8:11&12, “I tell you, many will come from the east and west to share the banquet with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, but the sons of the kingdom will be thrown out into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
- Matt. 11:11&12, “I tell you the truth, among those born of women, no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is! From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and forceful people lay hold of it.”
Why since the days of John? Because that is when the law stopped being in force and the gospel of the Kingdom was commanded to be preached.
- Matt. 12:28, “(28) …if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has already overtaken you.”
- Matt. 13:11 & 19, “(11) He replied, “You have been given the opportunity to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but they have not. (19) When anyone hears the word about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches what was sown in his heart; this is the seed sown along the path.”
- Matt. 16:19, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you release on earth will have been released in heaven.”
- Matt. 16:28, “I tell you the truth, there are some standing here who will not experience death before they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”
- Matt. 19:23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven! Again I say, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter into the kingdom of God.”
- Matt. 21:28-32, “(28) What do you think? A man had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ (29) The boy answered, ‘I will not.’ But later he had a change of heart and went. (30) The father went to the other son and said the same thing. This boy answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but did not go. (31) Which of the two did his father’s will?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, tax collectors and prostitutes will go ahead of you into the kingdom of God! (32) For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him. But the tax collectors and prostitutes did believe. Although you saw this, you did not later change your minds and believe him.”
- In His parables in Matt. 13 & 18….
Matt. 13:24-20; 36-43, Parable of the sower and the seed “(24) He presented them with another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a person who sowed good seed in his field. (25) But while everyone was sleeping, an enemy came and sowed darnel among the wheat and went away. (26) When the plants sprouted and produced grain, then the darnel also appeared. (27) So the slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Then where did the darnel come from?’ (28) He said, ‘An enemy has done this!’ So the slaves replied, ‘Do you want us to go and gather it?’ (29) But he said, ‘No, since in gathering the darnel you may uproot the wheat along with it. (30) Let both grow together until the harvest. At harvest time I will tell the reapers, “First collect the darnel and tie it in bundles to be burned, but then gather the wheat into my barn.”’” …(36) Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him saying, “Explain to us the parable of the darnel in the field.” (37) He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. (38) The field is the world and the good seed are the people of the kingdom. The poisonous weeds are the people of the evil one, (39) and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. (40) As the poisonous weeds are collected and burned with fire, so it will be at the end of the age. (41) The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather from His kingdom everything that causes sin as well as all lawbreakers. (42) They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (43) Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. The one who has ears had better listen!”
- Matt. 13:44-46, The kingdom is valuable “(44) The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure, hidden in a field, that a person found and hid. Then because of joy he went and sold all that he had and bought that field. (45) “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. (46) When he found a pearl of great value, he went out and sold everything he had and bought it.”
- Matt. 18:1-6, The Kingdom is for those who forsake pride and embrace humility “(1) At that time the disciples came to Jesus saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” (2) He called a child, had him stand among them, (3) and said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn around and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven! (4) Whoever then humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (5) And whoever welcomes a child like this in my name welcomes me. (6) “But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a huge millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the open sea.”
- Matt. 18:21-35, Then Peter came to him and said, “Lord, how many times must I forgive my brother who sins against me? As many as seven times?” …and Jesus told a parable of a man who owed near to a billion dollars who the Master forgave in His mercy, but that servant would not forgive a brother 100 days wages. So God laid the burden of his debt back upon him.
- Mat 21:33-43, “Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a fence around it, dug a pit for its winepress, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenant farmers and went on a journey. (34) When the harvest time was near, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his portion of the crop. (35) But the tenants seized his slaves, beat one, killed another, and stoned another. (36) Again he sent other slaves, more than the first, and they treated them the same way. (37) Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ (38) But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and get his inheritance!’ (39) So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. (40) Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” (41) They said to him, “He will utterly destroy those evil men! Then he will lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him his portion at the harvest.” (42) Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures: ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone . This is from the Lord, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? (43) For this reason I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.”
- Matt. 22:1-14, In the parable of the wedding banquet. He invited those it was for and they did not come, they were indifferent and walked away. Then he sent for anyone who would come – good and bad and the banquet hall was filled – but only with those who dressed appropriately (righteousness by faith) Jesus ended His parable with the statement “(14) For many are called, but few are chosen.”
- Matt. 25:1, Be and stay ready “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.”
- Matt. 25:31-34, “When the Son of Man comes in His glory and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. (32) All the nations will be assembled before Him, and He will separate people one from another like a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. (33) He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on His left. (34) Then the king will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
This judgment is the one we heard Keith Green sing about at the beginning of praise this morning. I will be the first to admit that I do not know when this specific judgment will take place or if it is simply a metaphorical judgment representing what will happen at the end of the age. The Bible says we will be judged at the judgment seat of Christ, that those who follow the Lord during the tribulation will be raised and judged as worthy to rule with the rest of God’s children during the millennial age and the rest of the dead will not rise until the end of the millennial reign and those will appear at the great white throne judgment…so it looks like this may be metaphorical in presentation but actual in results. In any case, this passage if read in context with all Jesus had taught that day seems to paint a picture and I agree with Guzik’s assessment of it so I will read from him.
Inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me: The charge against these lost ones does not concern any flagrant violation of a moral code, but their indifferent attitude toward Jesus (and His people). Their indifference seals their doom. Throughout this chapter, the point has been emphasized: the price of indifference is too high to pay. [the parable of the 10 virgins came just before this one]
- We cannot afford to be indifferent towards Jesus and His return.
- We can’t afford to be indifferent towards the Holy Spirit who makes us ready for the return of Jesus.
- We can’t afford to be indifferent towards the resources that God gives us.
- We can’t afford to be indifferent towards the needy people all around us.
- We can’t afford to be indifferent towards lost humanity that will stand in judgment.
Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: Jesus clearly points out that hell was prepared for the devil and his angels. Men only go there because they have willingly cast their lot with the devil and his angels.
- Matt. 24:14, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole inhabited earth as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.”
These excepts from Jesus’ teachers were just those found in Matthew, but their overwhelming message and lessons are clear.
- In order to enter the Kingdom one has to change their way of thinking and doing – repent
- Be humble and not filled with pride
- Those who will endure persecution for King and Kingdom without sinning
- They proclaim and live the Gospel in righteousness by faith
- They desire and look forward to God’s kingdom and rule
- They pursue righteousness of heart
- They want in victory over the enemy by God’s power
- They rely upon God and place little value in earthly things, power or riches
- They greatly value the rule and reign of God
- They are careful to maintain good works
- Through great anticipation of His return they maintain communion with the Holy Spirit and are always ready for His return.
Now today we are going to read through the book of Philippians, taking particular notice of these same thoughts as they show up in Paul’s encouragement to the believers there.
I know we recently went through this book but this time we are looking at it through two very specific lenses. We are looking at everything Paul says to this church through the lens of the Kingdom of God and our being prepared for Christ’s return for us at the rapture.