One of the great spiritual fathers that helped a group of churches I was joined to back in
the 90s was Dow Robinson. He was an amazing man with a father’s heart who had a PH.D. in Linguistics and began his ministry as a Wycliffe Bible Translators. He had fascinating stories that occurred among the Aztec people of eastern Mexico as he was working to translate the New Testament into their language in the 1950’s, ’60’s, and ’70’s. God moved and did miraculous things during his time there. He was totally unprepared for it as he had come from a Presbyterian background and had little experience moving in the supernatural power of God. All of that changed as he participated in a move of God causing him to become Charismatic.
He told a very impactive story about attempting to translate the word and phrase “Kingdom of God.” Translators look for words and phrases in the native language that best expresses the word or phrase in the Bible. The word “Kingdom” or “Kingdom of God” means God’s active ruler-ship. His Kingdom isn’t just a thing, it is an active thing, His current active ruler-ship.
When he and the natives helping him found something in the language that expressed “Kingdom of God” it was a eureka moment. Light bulbs began to go off. Things began to shift radically. Like Jesus said to Peter, “flesh and blood didn’t reveal this to you…you are not far from My Kingdom.”
With the idea of the “Kingdom of God” in their language the parables and Jesus commands about the Kingdom began to change their lives and environments. The meager huts where they lived began to change. They began to keep them cleaner and take care of repairs. The plots of ground where they raised crops began to fare better than those belonging to non-Christians. They began to take seriously the Kingdom stewardship parables knowing they would give an account of what they were given to care for (Mt 13, 25). There was also the supernatural element of God answering Kingdom prayers over their crops, lives, and families. Their relationships became better as God began to govern them with His Kingdom.
Jesus isn’t looking for people to casually believe in Him, join an organization, or attend a meeting. He is looking for people who receive Him as the loving Lord of their life. He wants imitators not admirers, followers not consumers, fellow family members not casual meeting attenders. He seeks people who receive His rule in every area of their lives.
Little Emphasis of the Kingdom Today
Unfortunately there is little emphasis of the Kingdom of God among His people today. Either they don’t understand it or don’t emphasize it. In contrast to this Jesus, the early church, and the New Testament emphasized the Kingdom as a priority. Consider the facts.
- John the baptist’s first message was about the Kingdom. (Mt 3:2)
- Jesus’ first message, and His continued messages were about the Kingdom. (Mark 1:15 15, Mat 4:17,23 9:35, Mat 24:14, Luk 16:16).
- He talked about how to enter it. (Jn 3, Mt 5:20; 7:21)
- His parables illustrated truths of the Kingdom and how it worked. (Matthew 13, 25 etc.)
- His mighty works proved the Kingdom was here. Matthew 12:28 28 But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
- Jesus wanted the Kingdom to be our first priority (Mt 6:33), and the first thing we pray about (Mt 6:10).
- The book of Acts begins with Jesus spending 40 days after His resurrection “speaking of the things concerning the Kingdom of God.” (Acts 1:3)
- The book of Acts ends with Paul in prison preaching the Kingdom for 2 years (Acts 28:30-31).
- Our salvation is tied to the the Kingdom of God in spite of contemporary ideas that one can be saved but not under the loving rulership (Kingdom) of God. Colossians 1:13 For He… transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.
When we understand that His Kingdom is His active rule in our lives “right now” it should radically alter our perspective on Christianity. Instead of considering if someone is a “Christian” or “Saved,” how about considering whether or not there is any real evidence (fruit) that Jesus is actively ruling in their life. In every area of our lives such as relationships, finances, our workplace, the marketplace, our marriages, and homes is Jesus ruling? In our everyday living when facing challenges, our own desires, or responding to people around us, are we following Jesus’ rulership? Jesus is our Savior (a word used 37 times in the Bible), but He is also to be our Lord (a word used over 7000 times). His rulership and Kingdom is the emphasis of the Bible.
“The truth is this: Pride must die in you or nothing of heaven can live in you.” Andrew Murray
When there is little fruit of His Kingdom in our lives sometimes it is because we miss the first most important step of His Kingdom coming. It is like trying to wear a button down shirt but you missalign the first button. You can go ahead and button the shirt, but it won’t fit right.
What is the first button? What is the first step of His Kingdom coming into any area of our lives? It was the first thing Jesus taught about His Kingdom when He said, “blessed are the poor in spirit because they will receive the Kingdom of God” Mt 5:3. Poverty of spirit is the first step, and the continual first step of His Kingdom coming into any area of our lives. I will address more about poverty of spirit next time.
Enter the text or HTML code here