The Kingdom of God
One such experience
One night I was reading from the book of Acts, in chapter 5, and I read where Gamaliel spoke about two men, one called Theudas and the other Judas of Galilee. (Acts 5:36-37) These men were false prophets and I had never heard of them before, so I decided to do a quick search to see what was mentioned of them. I went to the internet and started a search for all ancient false prophets and was alarmed to astonishment to find out who it was that several sites in a row claimed the first false prophet to be! To my amazement, the first false prophet was said to be Jesus! Was I ever surprised at that claim!
These sites also provide documentation for their conclusions so I read their reasons for making such a claim. Here was the reason Jesus was dubbed with the title ‘False Prophet’: “Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” (Matt 16:28) So this was his false prophecy! I read also where others were given a chance to defend a position if they felt the conclusion was wrong. The defence for Jesus by Christians was pathetic. Here is what they said in essence: “Jesus is not a false prophet because there are some Jews that are still alive and roaming the earth. They are called wandering Jews, and they will not die until Jesus comes back.” I could not accept that answer so I was left with a challenge: “What did Jesus mean?”
Putting the pieces together
I looked at the three accounts of the event where Jesus spoke those words. Matthew, Mark, and Luke recorded it. Let’s put them together and see what he said.
“Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” (Matt 16:28)
“And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.” (Mark 9:1)
“But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:27)
The main issue in these statements was the arrival of the Kingdom of God. It is not strange when you begin to examine these things. The pieces begin to fall in place. Look at this sequence:
When John the Baptist began his ministry he had a certain message. What was it?
“In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, and saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt 3:1-2)
Then Jesus after he was baptised by John started preaching as well. What was Jesus’ message?
“From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt 4:17) See also Mk 1:14-15.
Then Jesus’ disciples were sent out to preach. What did they preach?
“And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt 10:7)
(A point of clarity here. Matthew called it “The Kingdom of heaven” while the others refer to it as, “The Kingdom of God”. It is the same thing.)
Notice the pattern that is established, they were ALL preaching one message – a message about the Kingdom.
They had electrified Jerusalem and the surrounding areas with this message. People were excited and expectant because this Kingdom – whatever it was – was near, at arms length, within reach!
The Preacher Challenged!
One day after this preaching, with excitement filling all Judea, Jesus was met by some Pharisees. They demanded an answer from him about this Kingdom: exactly when it should come? Here is the story:“And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20-21)
What was his answer? Notice carefully what Jesus said because it is important to understand it as we deal with his prophecy. If I should paraphrase what we just read it would be something like this:“When the kingdom comes, it will not be something you can see, you won’t be able to show a tangible physical domain or point to a certain place, because the kingdom will come on the inside.” So the coming of this kingdom that Jesus prophesied was going to be an internal event, something happening inside people.
What is a Kingdom?
Now I would like to stop for a moment and think about the word “kingdom”. The Jews thought it meant a visible, physical setting up of a king on earth, but Jesus clearly meant something different. So what does the word really mean? The word “kingdom” is what we call a compound word. It is two words joined together. The word simply means “King’s Domain”, which is an area or territory owned or controlled by a King. The Kingdom of God are the people in whom Jesus lives and their bodies are the temples of his Holy Spirit. (1Cor 6:19) There can be no kingdom without a King! If the King does not live in his domain (our bodies) then we are not a part of his kingdom. (Rom 8:9) So how could this be done?
In John, the fourteenth chapter, Jesus spoke about the coming of another comforter. This comforter, he said, could not come unless he first went away. Further, he said that when he went away he would send this comforter. (Jn 16:7) He also said something else that is worth noticing here: “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)” (Jn 7:37-39)
In his last prayer recorded in John 17, Jesus prayed that his father should glorify him with the father’s own self, the glory Jesus had before the world existed. (Jn 17:5) What does the glorifying of Jesus have to do with the coming of the Comforter? Jesus made it clear that the coming of the comforter was him, Jesus, coming back. (Jn 14:18) So the disciples understood that it would be Jesus coming back in a glorified state so that he could dwell on the inside of them. “At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.” (Jn 14:20) When Jesus could come inside a person, the Son of Man would have arrived and be ruling in his Kingdom.
Before he died, Jesus told the disciples to stay at Jerusalem until they received power. (Luke 24:49) Now here is an interesting insight into a conversation Jesus had with his disciples after he was raised from the dead, “When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6) Obviously, they knew that the Kingdom had not yet come even at this point. His answer was, “it is God’s business.” But, he added something else in connection with the question: “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
Here again is the promise of power. Remember Jesus’ “false prophecy”? Take a look at it again in Mark: “And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.” (Mark 9:1) So we are getting closer!
The Kingdom of Heaven Arrives
Pentecost was a feast of the Jews that came fifty days after the Passover. The promise Jesus made to his disciples was that some would see him coming in his kingdom before they died, (Matt 16:28) and also it would be a kingdom with power. (Mk 1:9) Did they see this kingdom come? Sure they did – at Pentecost! It was at this Jewish feast that the promise of the comforter and kingdom met it’s fulfilment. The disciples received power because Jesus came into his kingdom in his people. They knew it was He who came back according to his promise (Luke 24:49) and filled each of the one hundred and twenty believers waiting in the upper room. (Acts 1:15) It was the Spirit of Jesus (The Holy Spirit) which was now in the disciples and brought them into the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. Now the truth of being born again, by the Last Adam, was truly possible. And this Kingdom spread like wildfire! Even on the very first day of Jesus ruling his new kingdom, three thousand new people were born into it! (Acts 2:41) This was the fulfilment of Jesus’ prophecy. It was not a false prophecy after all! All who heard Jesus say those words, except for Judas, were alive and saw it happen.
Every person who receives the same Spirit they received is a part of the Kingdom of heaven. (Rom 8:9) This Kingdom is a spiritual kingdom and produces the righteousness of Jesus in one’s life. The life of Jesus is the life of New Testament Christianity. This life is the victorious life over sin, sickness and even death. This life is a superior life, but it was short-lived in the church and eventually was lost because of Unbelief. The disciples experienced it and turned the world upside down, but as soon as the disciples started dying, the Spirit and power of the Kingdom started to fade away until it was lost from the people’s sight. No one believed anymore.
Even to this very day the term, ‘The Kingdom of God’, is misunderstood to mean the coming of Jesus in the clouds, causing people to miss what is already here. It is true that there will be a physical kingdom set up in the end when, according to Daniel, the God of heaven will set up a Kingdom that will never be destroyed. (Dan 2:44) But what Jesus already set up is his spiritual kingdom, and he is reigning on the earth in it today even as you read. This kingdom exists in the people of God, in any person in whom His Spirit lives. Do you believe it?
What is THE message for today?
I am sure there are already many different possible answers to this question coming to mind. People belonging to different groups and denominations hold various opinions as to what the message for today should be. There are over 33,000 different denominations in Christianity alone. Are there then 33,000 different messages in Christianity in need of being preached? According to the Bible, what is THE message that must be preached today? “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” (Matt 24:14) (Emphasis mine) Please read the verse again at least twice because it is possible to miss the point. The Gospel is specific. It is peculiar to the Kingdom. Have you heard any sermons recently on the Kingdom? It is clearly what Jesus says must be preached today. In fact, when this fully happens, he says the end will come.
In Acts chapter 8 Phillip went down to Samaria to preach. What did he preach? “But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.” (Acts 8:12) What was preached then is different from what is preached today. No wonder why the results are so different!
Paul’s letters make up more than half of the New Testament. What was Paul’s message? Let’s look at his last few years. “And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.” (Acts 28:30-31) Even while under house arrest Paul’s message was the same, “The Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ.”
The world is sick of Christian rhetoric. They have heard sermons of theories for too long with no demonstration or power. It was different when Jesus or the apostles preached. They preached the gospel of the Kingdom. “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.” (Matt 4:23) “And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.” (Matt 10:35) The preaching of the Kingdom was with a demonstration of a reality existing in the preacher. By seeing that demonstration people were drawn to the message of the preacher and were able to find salvation and healing through him.
Here is a verse talking about Christians, the sons of God. “For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God…. Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” (Rom 8:19 & 21) The sons of God are yet to be revealed. If this revelation took place today there would be such a revival of true Christianity that the world has never witnessed! This is what the Bible teaches. The world is in darkness. It makes no sense to get all worked up about crime and violence or even racism. The world needs the light of the sons of God to give a living demonstration of reality here as a witness of something greater than what they are seeing today. Are you a child of God? Is your life demonstrating the power of God? The world is waiting to see this with a longing desire!
(Source: by Howard Williams, from Restoration Ministry)