The Kingdom of God Part 2
In our previous study we considered that special creation of God called man, and the part he has to play in the purposes of God. We discovered that God gave authority to that "Spirit" man, created in His likeness and image and told him to have dominion over all the works of His hands. However this authority was not given to the "earth" man of Genesis 2.
In this study we want to explore the subject of the "Kingdom of God," which is vitally connected with the dominion that God gave to that first man of the Spirit. Therefore we will endeavor to:
· define the Kingdom
· seek to locate it, and
· establish its function in the plan of God
What is the Kingdom?
Because most Christians think in material terms being limited to a consciousness that is expressed in the five senses, the term "Kingdom of God" is generally thought of as a literal kingdom, set up on the earth with Jesus Christ as the King, sitting on a literal throne ruling all the nations. However, this concept is far from the truth as scripture clearly reveals. After telling the Parable of the Sower and the Seed, Jesus said to the disciples, "Unto you is given to know the ‘mysteries’ of the Kingdom of God, but unto those who are without, all these things are expressed in parables, that seeing they may not perceive, and hearing they may not understand."
When the Pharisees demanded of Jesus when the Kingdom of God should come, they were admitting their ignorance, and so Jesus replied that "the Kingdom of God cometh not with observation." The same Pharisee concept is alive and well among many of God’s people today, who are still looking for a future literal kingdom to be established on the earth. But Jesus ruled out such a concept by saying the Kingdom is within you.
So anyone who considers the Kingdom of God to be something that will be established visibly on the earth in some future time, is missing the truth. Jesus spoke about "receiving the Kingdom of God," suggesting it is a realm into which we may enter, but only on the condition that we come, "as a little child." This also suggests that we need to have our mind renewed so that it does not function out of the knowledge systems of the world, for the Kingdom of God cannot be known or experienced by the natural man. I believe it also implies that living in the Kingdom does not allow us any personal rights, but even as a little child is subject to their parents, so we are totally subject to the King.
When Jesus began His ministry, He informed the people that the Kingdom of God was "at hand," and so He called upon them to repent, i.e. to have a change of mind and heart, and believe the gospel. The Greek word for Kingdom used here is "basileia" and denotes sovereignty and requires the presence of a sovereign of king. It is not possible to have a kingdom without a king. Many countries that once were kingdoms are now republics, because they have no king, and so the "public" rules. There really is no thought of any proscribed area that could be referred to as the kingdom, but the reference is essentially to the sovereignty of the king.
Scripture uses various expressions with regard to the kingdom. There is the term, "kingdom of heaven." This word "heaven" is generally plural and indicates from or out of the heavens. Then there is the term, "The Kingdom of God," which indicates the sovereignty or authority of God in the Kingdom. Some people try to make these two terms quite distinct and different. But the fact is that the term "kingdom of heaven" is used only in Matthew and occurs about thirty-two times. In the parallel passages in the other gospels, we find the expression "Kingdom of God" is used. Perhaps the reason for this difference is that the Lord spoke in Aramaic and not Greek, but each writer used the expression that suited the character and scope of his gospel. The same words are used in the text of the Kingdom in various gospels, so that it would seem there is no great difference in the terms.
Then there is the expression, "The Kingdom of the Father," which indicates a special relationship between the Sovereign and His subjects. In Matthew 16:28, we read "the son of Man coming in His Kingdom." Here we find the "Son" being linked to the "sons" of the Kingdom. This would suggest the King reigning with those who are also kings and priests. Finally, the Apostle Paul speaks of "The Kingdom of His dear Son," or the "Son of His love," and has reference to God’s beloved Son being made the head over all things to His church, which is His Body, the fullness of Him that "filleth all in all."
The problem is that people have confused the Kingdom with the church, but these two are not the same. The Kingdom has to do with that heavenly realm into which a special people are brought who recognize and function under the sovereignty of God, enjoying all the benefits of His provision. This Kingdom realm is to be experienced while we are on the earth, even though it is "heavenly" in its character. Jesus did not present it as some future condition, but as a present reality.
Where is the Kingdom?
Many Christians today only associate the Kingdom with Israel, hence they look for a future time when they are gathered into their own land and David’s greater Son sits upon the throne in Jerusalem, just as in the days of the Old Testament. Revelation 21 is quoted concerning the New Jerusalem, which says, "And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it, and the kings of the earth do bring their honor and glory into it .... and they shall bring the glory and honor of the nations into it." However, the New Jerusalem is not a literal city at all, but is in fact a people in whom and out of whom God reigns! John calls it the Bride, the Lamb’s wife.
Jesus made it very clear that the Kingdom is not detected by observation, because it is not something that is visible to the natural eye. He referred to it as a mystery or secret, and only now could the disciples get to know something of the details. However, it is obvious that the proclamation of the Kingdom would be received only by a few.
The key to understanding the whereabouts of the Kingdom is in the words of Jesus when He replied to the Pharisees’ question. He said, "The Kingdom of God cometh not by ‘hostile’ watching, neither shall they say, Lo here or Lo there, for behold the Kingdom of God is within you." The Pharisees were watching Jesus very closely looking for an occasion to condemn Him. But the very fact that Jesus Christ, the King, was in their midst was an indication that the Kingdom had already come.
Jesus went onto say to the disciples, "In the future you will look for and desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, such as you are now observing, but you will not see it. In your desperation for a return of those ‘days,’ you will hear people say come here or go there, but do not follow them." How many in this our day long to see a return to the time when Jesus healed the sick, raised the dead, and fed five thousand with five little loaves and two small fish? Then someone says, go to Toronto, for that is where it is all happening. Or go to this preacher, or that pastor, but Jesus said, don’t go.
You may ask, "why not?" The answer is, because to follow such direction can only lead you further away from the Kingdom of God! If the Kingdom is within, then we do not need to travel half-way around the world in order to see it functioning. Wherever the King is, there is the Kingdom. Jesus said that the manifestation of the Kingdom would be like the "lightning that lighteneth out of one part under heaven, and flashes unto the other under heaven, so shall the Son of Man be in His day," Luke 17:24. Light in scripture has reference to understanding and knowledge, and here we have brilliant flashes of light going from one person to anther. Such is the revelation that is coming to God’s people in this our day. I am sure many of you can testify to the "flashes" of truth that have come to you in your quiet times, or as you read some literature. These "flashes" all illuminate Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and bring into our understanding the reality of the Kingdom He represents.
It is interesting to note that Jesus said He would have to suffer many things and be rejected by that generation. The reason being that as in the days of Noah, the people heard the preaching about the flood, but having no understanding of such a catastrophe, chose to ignore it. So man today considers he is capable of looking after himself even in tough times, so what use is the "Kingdom of God?"
The generation that lived in Jesus’ day rejected the king crucifying Him instead, which placed them outside the Kingdom. So let me ask you again the question, "Where is the Kingdom?" The answer is ..... it is within you!
Israel and the Kingdom
It is most important that we see the Kingdom in relation to the nation of Israel. I want to preface these remarks with a quotation from the writings from the Apostle Paul, found in 1 Corinthians 10:6. In this verse Paul says that everything that happened to Israel is recorded as an example or type, and in a negative sense we should not follow their example in their lust for evil. However, it is important that we recognize the examples and types in Israel’s history.
In Exodus 19, Israel has come out of Egypt, having kept the Passover by the slaying of the lamb and the application of the blood to the lintel and side posts of the door of their houses. Now fifty days later, they stand at Mount Sinai, at the time of the Feast of Pentecost. God calls Moses up to meet with Him on top of the mount, which is the first of six times Moses goes up to meet with God. Here he was given words to say to the children of Israel, which were to remind them how they came to be there in the presence of God after four hundred years of slavery. God declares how He delivered them from the power of Egypt, and bore them on eagles’ wings to bring them to Himself. In Deuteronomy 32:11, the "eagle" is mentioned again. "As an eagle stirreth up her nest (in order to cause the young to leave the nest and fly), fluttering over her young, so He spread abroad His winds, (under the young like a safety net as they attempt to fly). He took him and bear him on His pinions. Jehovah alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him."
Israel needed to know that their being free to stand before the Lord at Mout Sinai, involved the often unseen miracle power of God, without which they would have been destroyed. In Exodus 19:4, the emphasis is on being brought "onto God." This represents the first step in the plan and purpose for His people. Now having brought them unto Himself, God reveals what is to be their future role.
On the basis of their obedience to the voice of God, and the keeping of the covenant, Israel was to be a "peculiar treasure" or a treasure acquired as a personal possession, "above all people, for all the earth is mine." Furthermore, "you will be unto me a kingdom of priests, a royal priesthood, and an holy nation." These are tremendous words, and set Israel apart from and above all other nations on the earth. Firstly, they were to be God’s own personal treasure, giving them a status with God not known before. But beyond that, they were to be a royal priesthood, for all the other nations of the world, functioning not only as priests but also kings dispensing God’s authority over the nations!
It is important to note in Deut. 7:6-8, that the Lord declares that His choice of Israel to enjoy such a high calling, was based simply on the fact that He loved them, and also because of His oath to Abraham, which He guaranteed unto a thousand generations. King David again becomes a type of the Lord as he provides his own personal treasure for the building of the house of God, 1 Chron. 29:1-8.
What God here presented to Israel, was indeed the embryo of the Kingdom expressed in physical terms, and represents His sovereignty expressed in this world. However, without going into a lot of detail, regarding Israel’s history, we know that she failed on both counts concerning the conditions God required. Even at Mount Sinai, Israel refused to hear the voice of God, telling Moses to listen to His voice, and relay the message to them, Exodus 20:19. But the crucial point in Israel’s relationship with God was reached when the people asked Samuel to appoint a king over the nation of Israel. Just consider for a moment what this means. God had chose the nation of Israel as His own personal treasure, having loved them, cared for them, destroyed their enemies, and carried them on His powerful wings to bring them unto Himself. He was a true king with a Father’s heart, but now they wanted a release from their obligations to Him, to be ruled by an appointed king, who would simply be a man. Can you understand that? (see 1 Samuel 10:19.)
This is what Samuel said, "Thus sayeth the Lord God of Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt, and delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all kingdoms, and of them that would oppress you, and ye have this day rejected your God, who Himself saved you out of all your adversities and your tribulations, and ye have said unto Him, Nay but set a king over us."
Now I want to remind you that all these things happened to Israel as examples to us. The parallel to the church in our day is most evident. So many of God’s people have been delivered by the power of God from the dominating system called the world or cosmos, and set free from passions and lusts that would have destroyed them, only to submit themselves to the bondage of men, instead of submitting to the King’s authority. These men may be pastors or preachers, but oftentimes are simply "Pharaohs" in disguise, demanding their quota of "bricks" in order for them to build their kingdoms!
Most Christians will do anything the pastor tells them to do, but never consider listening to the voice of God in order to obey Him. But remember the first condition God presented to Israel on Mount Sinai, was to obey His voice. God’s sovereignty functions through the Word of Logos, which contains not just the spoken word, but the thought and intent of the heart of God, which is so powerful that it was the means of bringing all creation into being in the beginning.
Israel rejected their King and so they disqualified themselves from the blessings and benefits of the Kingdom of God. Jesus said of them, "The stone (Christ or Messiah), which the builders (Israel) rejected, the same is become the capstone. This is the Lord’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes," Matt 21:43. "Therefore the Kingdom of God shall be taken from you and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof." So it is perfectly clear that natural Israel has no claim on the Kingdom of God, for it has been given to another nation.
The question is to which nation has God now given the Kingdom? Scripture itself does not leave us in any doubt. First of all let us be very clear that what we call the church today, is not the Kingdom of God. Jesus said, "Not everyone that sayeth unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, but he that doeth the will of My Father, which is in heaven," Matt. 7:21-23.
The Apostle Peter speaks of a people who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God, sanctified by the Spirit unto obedience, and who testify thus:
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." 1 Peter 1:2-5.
"To whom coming as unto a living stone disallowed of men, but chosen of God and precious. Ye also as living stones are built up a spiritual house, and holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable unto God by Christ Jesus ..... But ye are a chosen generation a royal priesthood, and holy nation, a peculiar people or treasure, that ye should shew forth the praise of Him who hath called you out of darkness unto His marvelous light. Which in times past were not a (recognized) people but are now the people of God, having now obtained mercy," vs. 9-10.
The Kingdom of God
We have now identified the Kingdom of God as being incorporated in a chosen generation and a royal priesthood. The choosing occurred before the foundation or disruption of the world, when we were chosen in Christ to be holy and without blame before Him in love, Ephesians 1:4. The word "royal" in the Greek, expresses sovereignty or kingship, which obviously indicates that this people must be the product of royal stock. How wonderful it is to know that, "if any man be in Christ he is a new creation."
Jesus declared the Kingdom of God was a mystery, known only by those to whom it is revealed. He also revealed that the Kingdom operation was by the Spirit or "pneuma of God," because He said, "If I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God is come unto you," Matt. 12:28. Only a Spirit can deal with spirits, for nothing else can touch that unseen realm, therefore the power of God’s Kingdom is supreme in every realm. Jesus came preaching the gospel or good news of the Kingdom to the people of His day. Is it not interesting that the Kingdom figures so little in the gospel presently preached in the church? That is except to say that one day in the far off future the Christians will reign with Christ in His Kingdom, but in reality it plays no part in our salvation today. This indicates the lack of knowledge there is today concerning the Kingdom of God.
Jesus came into the world as a Son of God, and as such declared that His Father is Spirit, and therefore unseen. He came, not primarily to die for the sins of the people, but to declare and establish God’s place in the midst of His creation, which had been lost in the minds of men, and generally ignored by society. Life is lived with hardly a thought for God by so many of the creatures He has made, and His activity is largely unknown because He is Spirit. So when Jesus came into the world He came to demonstrate God’s supremacy in all things, also to bring to light again His position as Creator over all mankind.
Perhaps it was God’s intention that Israel would be the nation that would demonstrate not only His authority over the affairs of men, but His ability to meet their needs both spiritual and physical, and that their subjection to Him would elevate them above all the nations of the earth, making them the envy of all. But as history records, Israel considered they would be far better off in every way by being governed by a king who was simply a man. This was despite Samuel telling them that any king other than God would take and take and take. You can read the facts in 1 Samuel 8. It is such a pity Christians today will not learn from the history of Israel even though it was recorded as examples or types that would be valuable for us.
Once God has been displaced as King in our lives we have graduated with honors from the school of ignorance and stupidity. That is quite evident in the life of Israel, so why should it be different for us today. But let us look for a moment at Christians, who claim to love God and claim to be His sons. What is the authority in their lives? Do they listen for the voice of God speaking into their spirits, giving infallible instructions out of a heart of love to His beloved child? No, either they ask some man for advice, be he a pastor or preacher, or act according to the traditional doctrines they have been taught. They have dethroned God just as Israel did when they said, "we do not want God as our king, give us a man." Now if God was holding out on us and refused to accept His responsibility as our Creator, and the source of our life, in providing direction and the supply of all our needs, then we could be excused for wanting to find another authority. But this is not so! Listen to what the psalmist says, "As a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him," Psalm 103:13.
The concept here is that of a father who dandles his child on his knee, because he delights in him! Jesus revealed that Father aspect of God during His ministry, bringing us into a closer relationship than Israel ever knew by teaching the disciples to pray, "Our Father." He indicated that His ministry was to restore the true image of God, which had been lost over the centuries. The image of God that was given to man in the beginning had been lost when Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden, as his eyes were opened to another realm that was purely physical, and in which God cannot be seen. Over the centuries the image of God grew weaker and weaker until the "light" has all but gone out in the heart of man.
The Kingdom of God is not to be considered simply as a "thing" but is actually the embodiment of God in such a way as to give Him
· His righful place, that is as God the subjector of all creation
· To declare His character, which is love
· To establish His relationship with man as a Father
· To declare His authority over everything
· To manifest His attributes, such as mercy and grace
· To become visible in a people as a testimony to the world
· To correct the distorted picture man has of God
In view of these things we understand why the teaching concerning the Kingdom of God was given in parables, for man had no spiritual understanding that would enable him to grasp the truth. Therefore the parables Jesus told all contained the truth concerning the Kingdom. It is interesting that the miracles He performed also were linked to the Kingdom. So now let us look at these parables in order to see the Kingdom revealed.
In Matthew 13, Jesus begins with what is really the key parable, for He said that if we do not understand this one we will not understand any of the others (see Mark 4:13).
The Parable of the Sower
I am taking it for granted that my readers are familiar with this parable, but if not please read Matthew 13 carefully, before continuing on. Jesus drew the attention of the multitude to this parable with the word behold, thus bringing their minds into focus on what He was about to say. He begins with the statement, "A sower went forth to sow!" Now the image drawn in the minds of men by this statement was simple and discreet. A farmer had gone out into his field ready to plant his crop, by sowing seed. There were no tractors or implements available in those days so the job was done by hand, broadcasting the seed over the soil.
Next we are told some details about what happened to the seed. Some fell by the path used to cross the field. This seed produced nothing because the "birds" ate it. Then some fell on stony ground, which had only a small amount of soil, so the seed germinated but failed to mature due to lack of soil, and could not withstand the heat of the sun. There was some seed that fell among thorns, which competed for the nutrients in the soil choking the seed before it could mature. The last mention of the fate of the seed concerns that which fell into good ground and produced a harvest that varied from one hundred-fold, down to thirty-fold.
Now that is a very simple story and even the children in Sunday School can repeat it for you, but what has this to do with the Kingdom of God? Beloved, this book we call the Bible is a spiritual book, and can only be understood by people who are spiritual. "For the natural man understands not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are spiritually discerned." Jesus told the disciples that many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things that they saw, but have not been able, and to hear what they heard but have not heard them. So beloved this must contain some very wonderful revelation that was hidden from the saints of the Old Testament.
Let us humbly seek for the Holy Spirit to be our teacher as we look into this parable. Jesus Christ is the sower who goes out to sow the seed, and we are told the field is the world. The first thing we must consider is that this "Sower" is the one who is called the Word or Logos, which was in the beginning with God, and was God, and who spoke into being all of creation including the sun, moon, stars, and the earth. But the "earth" did not just take the form of a planet in the solar system, it also took the form of man. God formed man of the dust of the earth. Not out of stone but dust, which would be a suitable seedbed for the divine seed to grow and flourish.
So the "sower" was quite familiar with the soil into which the seed was planted. He knew the "hard soil" people as well as those who cultivated thorns and thistles, so he was not some careless farmer. Nor is the Kingdom some small back paddock hidden away in the earth. Finally, this Kingdom is to swallow up every other kingdom, for "the earth is the Lord’s." He told the disciples, "Unto you is given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom, but not unto them," (that is the multitude).
This is not a parable about salvation as traditionally taught, but as I have mentioned before it concerns the Kingdom of God. Bear in mind that those who share in the Kingdom of God were chosen in Christ before the disruption of the world! I am very sure the Sower knew what He was doing, for every farmer sows his seed in anticipation of a crop, which will multiply the seed sown.
Now having understood that the Kingdom of God is to be established in the earth, that is the earth, which is man, we must examine what is being planted. The word seed used here in this parable is the Greek word spermal, the same word used for the seed of man. Our understanding is now lifted from a simple farming exercise involving seed, to the sowing of a sperma, which can produce intelligent life. In creation, God put the seed in everything to reproduce "after its own kind." Plant an orange seed and you will get an orange tree. Then we must ask what is the seed - sperma that is being sown in our earth?
God said to Abraham, "In thee and thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." Then He clarifies the statement by saying, "Not seeds as of many, but thy seed, which is Christ." So the "seed" that is sown is not the Bible, nor verses out of it, but Christ who was called in the Old Testament, Messiah. Both these terms mean, "anointing." What does the anointing mean? The anointing is that which brings the invisible God into the realm of visibility, so that He can be known. God said, "Let us make man in our image and after our likeness ..... so God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him, male and female created He them." This spiritual man who was created, has no corporeal body, but was the total expression of God Himself, and is the Logos or Word, who was in the beginning with God.
This "Word became flesh and dwelt among us," being born of Mary in Bethlehem. However, the sperm or seed, which produced His conception did not come from a man, but was supplied by the Holy Spirit or God. Mary did not understand the process by which she could conceive a child, so she asked the angel to explain it to her. He said, "the Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest (the Most High God), shall overshadow thee, therefore also that holy thing, which shall be born of thee shall be called a Son of God." The keyword here is overshadow, which means to throw a shadow upon or envelop in a shadow. The same word is used of the disciples at the transfiguration of Jesus, and is also connected to the cloud representing the presence of God to Israel. While Mary was enveloped in that cloud the conception took place, and she was impregnated by the Word (sperma) spoken to her. Mary received the Word and said, "Be it unto me according to Thy Word."
Let us ponder for a moment the situation with Sarah. Her womb was dead, having passed the age of conception. However the angel said that a certain time she would conceive and a child would be born. In both these cases we are looking at the sower sowing the seed, and apart from that which was taken by the birds, all the seed sown germinated regardless of the soil type. In some the conditions that prevailed in the soil prevented any harvest for the sower, in others the response was thirty, sixty and one hundred fold.
James states that, "Of His own will begat He us with the Word of truth that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures, (or literally of the Himself kind)." Peter confirms the thought that we are, "Born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible by the Word of God." So the Living Word which is the divine seed, is not the Bible as such, but Christ.
The purpose of the Sower sowing the seed in the earth, becomes the divine method of raising up a people who will represent the Kingdom of God. The natural seed of Abraham, being Israel, were incapable of being that people, because the divine seed promised by God was Christ. He is the Christ in us, which makes us a new creation. In no other way could we be God’s personal possession, or treasure, a holy nation of king-priests, except we be born of that sperm or Word, which comes from God.
Revelation 14:4, speaks of a people who were, "not defiled with women, for they are virgins ..... having been redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb." These have not been penetrated, nor impregnated with other sperm, because they are virgins. The result was there was no guile in them nor was the lie in their mouth, and they were without fault before God.
Looking back to the parable we find some seed fell on hard ground. This speaks of the hardness of man’s heart and results from a rebellious spirit, which refuses to submit. The birds that take the seed away represent the negative thoughts of our heart, which negate the truth in us. The germination and reproduction of the seed is proportionate to the preparation of the soil, which is represented by our heart.
Overall this parable indicates the basis upon which man is able to participate in the Kingdom of God. You will notice that there is no "judgment" as such, even upon those with a heart represented by the hard ground. As we discover what the Kingdom of God truly represents, we will see that we are going to suffer a great loss if we do not participate in the Kingdom. It also becomes apparent why Jesus spoke in parables, for the truths revealed could not be expressed to mankind in any other way. However, it also highlights the great need for the Holy Spirit to enlighten us as to the truth it contains or else all we will have is a simple story.
These parables fulfill the words of the prophet in Psalm 78, "I will open my mouth in parables, and I will utter things which have been kept secret from the disruption of the world." Jesus then told them another parable, which is connected to the first. This is also a parable concerning the Kingdom of Heaven, but this one involves a man (Greek = anthropos, representing an individual man) who sowed good seed in His field. Now we know the field is the world or earth, which represents you and I.
Here we find the sowing of the seed from the individual point of view. In the first parable it is the sower that sows the seed, for the seed is His, and He freely broadcasts it, even to touch areas which have little chance of supporting growth, at least from an earthly perspective. Now the man or "earth" becomes involved in actually seeing that the seed is planted in anticipation of a harvest. Thus we are to recognize our personal responsibility over the garden within, in the same way as Adam was told to dress and guard the Garden of Eden.
The next scene in this drama of life speaks of this man sleeping, and while he slept his enemy came and sowed other seed in the same field, which had just been sown with good seed. Jesus spoke about death and sleep. This "sleep" concerns a condition where we are not conscious of what is happening around us. The whole reality and function of the "Spirit realm" lies outside the scope of our natural understanding. Therefore the analogy of sleep is quite apt. Actually, man has been "asleep" a long time, for God put Adam to sleep in the Garden of Eden. Man is not aware of what took place even at that time while he slept, nor has he been conscious of reality since. Man did not wake from that sleep until Jesus Christ rose triumphant from the grave, leading captivity captive. It was then man was raised from his sleep to discover the enemy and his work.
Paul understood these things when he said, "we do not fight against flesh and blood (as our enemy) but against principalities and powers and the rulers of the darkness of this world" that have invaded man’s mind while he slept. In our "sleep" we could not distinguish between the sower and men with darkened minds who sowed seed in our hearts. The time came when the "wheat" grew and then the tares (false wheat), which can only be identified by the head or "fruit" which it produces. Now His servants approached the householder, or the actual master who owned the house (the term used seven times by the Lord of Himself in the parables). He was asked if it was not good seed that He planted in His field, because if it was, then where did the tares come from?
His reply was, "A man - an enemy hath done this." The emphasis here is that the sower’s enemy is a man. In this regard we are reminded that God told Israel not to take strange wives from the other nations. The reason was that mixture, particularly with regard to the seed, was an offense to God. History reminds us that much of Israel’s problems stemmed from the mixed multitude who came out of Egypt with them. Jesus identified the distinction between two opposing seed when talking to Nicodemus. He said flesh can only produce flesh! Likewise that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit. This is God’s law of generation.
There are only two types of seed, one representing the seed of the natural man, born of Adam’s race, which is earthly and called flesh, and the divine seed represented by the man who is born of God, which is heavenly. Both seed comes from the same source, which is God, but one is generated through Adam as an earthly seed, while the other is generated through Christ, which is divine. We have all come into this world born of a woman linking us through Adam to God. As the light of God lights up our understanding we see ourselves linked to God not through Adam, but through Christ. The dawning of this glorious reality is what we call being born of God, with no earthly generation affecting the purity of that heavenly sperm.
The fact remains, that even through Adam we are sons of God, for he was called a son of God, Luke 3:38. However the earthly contamination of the seed over so many generations has caused us to lose our true identity and established a false concept of ourselves as children of the earth, quite distinct from that which is heavenly or divine. It is into this soil or earth that the good seed of the Kingdom is sown. The preparation of the soil involves the ministry of the Spirit of God in our hearts, even as Jesus told us:
"Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is expedient for you that I go away, for if I go not away the Comforter will not come unto you, but if I depart I will send Him unto you. And when He is come He will reprove the world of sin (i.e. missing the mark), and of righteousness and judgment," John 16:7-9.
It is important for us to understand this ministry of the Holy Spirit within us because here we are looking at the preparation of the "soil" which is your heart and mine. The first is the conviction of sin bringing in a guilty verdict. The Greek word for sin is "harmatia," which literally means, "missing the mark." This word has been somewhat corrputed by identifying it with sins, which are the fruit, but not the root of missing the mark. This has resulted in an over emphasis on the wrongs we have done, with little concern for the real reason why we sin. Therefore the gospel that is generally preached concerns having our sins forgiven, we have no power to prevent sin from dominating our lives. The Holy Spirit wants to convict us not simply of doing wrong, but of "coming short of God’s glory," so that we might discover our problem involves our mistaken identity. The reality is, our Father is not a man but God!
Why have we come short of God’s glory when the origin of our life is God? Paul tells us that, "in God we live and move and have our being," Acts 17:28. Jesus tells us in the parable about an enemy who sows spurious seed even amongst the good. Who is the enemy?
The enemy is satan the "accuser of the brethren," commonly called the devil. Traditional theology says that he is a fallen angel who is now the enemy of God seeking to frustrate every move God makes. This thinking suggests his first victory was to seduce man in the Garden, thus ruining God’s plan and so forcing Him to change His mind. First of all we do not read anywhere in the scriptures where God created angels as a distinct race of "spiritual" beings.
The word "angelos" simply means "messenger," whether in the form of man or some spirit to suit the purpose of God. Tradition gives angels wings, as depicted in most religious pictures. But if this is true then God also must have "wings" to bear His people up bringing them unto Himself! (see Exodus 19:4). No, the wings simply signify that as a messenger of God they can move as the wind, just as Jesus said we would do also, in John 3:8.
As earthly creatures we can only envisage things in a material sense, so we have given a body and personality to a creature we call satan. But the truth is there is no such being! I am not saying he does not exist, but certainly not as some separate ourselves. First of all this one operates as the birds, which took away the good seed that could not find enough prepared soil in which to grow. These birds are representative of our thoughts, which express our mind and understanding. So when a sower of the seed of the kingdom tells you that you came from God and that God is your Father, your mind becomes active and thoughts begin to fly like birds. If the ground or soil has not been prepared then the truth is rejected by the mind, by your hostile and negative thoughts, which declare that it cannot be so, thus taking away the good seed (sperm) and it is lost to you, and it cannot germinate or reproduce. Such is the nature of our enemy!
Paul says it is the carnal mind or the mind that functions on a fleshly level, that produces death and is also hostile to, or an enemy of God. Paul states, that we became enemies of God in our minds, or because of our thinking, but not based upon reality, Col. 1:21. Do not look outside of yourself for any devil because Jesus said:
"It is not that which goes into a man (from the outside) that defiles a man, but that which comes out (from within). For out of the heart proceeds evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness and blasphemies." Matt 15:17-20. No one needs a devil outside of themselves, to help us sin, with all that is already within us!
The soil in the parable has a lot to do with the condition of the mind, which Paul says needs to be renewed by the Holy Spirit, until our thinking lines up with truth. The second ministry of the Holy Spirit that has to do with the preparation of our "soil" is concerning righteousness. This has to do with God’s standards and ours. We consider ourselves righteous based upon our concept of good and evil. Most Christians live by the rule that if it is good then I will do it, but it if is evil then I will not touch it. On this basis we establish our own righteousness, while ignoring God’s standard, which is Christ. Righteousness is not so much what you do, as what you are. Everyone who is in or generated from Adam, are infected by his rebellion in the Garden of Eden. So Paul says, "in Adam all die." God only has one standard of righteousness and that is not the law but Christ. He is God’s measuring stick, produced by the good seed or divine sperm. He represents the incorruptible seed. Until we accept God’s standard of righteousness the good seed will not find any good soil in which to germinate.
Lastly, we come to the question of judgment. In our distorted thinking we consider that judgment is some future event in the history of the world, which concerns those who have not asked Jesus into their hearts. Such thinking is far from the truth. Every thought word or deed that does not measure up to go God’s standard carries within it a judgment which is immutable. However judgment is not destructive but redemptive, "For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." The prophet said to Israel, "Thine own wickedness shall correct thee and thy backslidings shall reprove thee, know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, sayeth the Lord God of Hosts," Jeremiah 2:19.
Tradition has taught us that God’s judgment functions out of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, so that if we do good then God will bless us, and if we do evil He will punish us. This is the lie of the enemy and not the truth. God does not function out of the concept of good and evil at all, for to do so would bring death. God’s judgment is represented in the rod David spoke about in Psalm 23, which he said brought him comfort. The word judgment comes from the Greek word krisis. If we replace the letter "k" with a "c" we come close to understanding its meaning. A crisis is a point in our lives when we are forced to stop and assess our situation, and to make a decision as to the best course to take that point.
Judgment is actually a blessing from God, designed to correct that which is contrary to His character. Judgment is a redemptive act, and is in no sense destructive. Solomon said, "The law of the wise is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death. Good understanding giveth blessing, but the way of transgressors is hard," Prov. 13:14-15. The fact is that God is not responsible for the calamities in our lives as many have believed, but we ourselves must take the blame. Listen to the wisdom Paul brings to this matter, "Be not deceived, God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man soweth that is exactly what he will reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of his flesh reap corruption. But he that soweth to the spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting," Gal. 6:7-8.
This beloved, is the law of sowing and reaping. According to the nature of the seed whatever you sow, that is exactly what you will reap. So let us recognize that it is not just the sower who is impregnating our soil, but we also are planting our own seed which is not Christ. Therefore we ourselves must accept responsibility for the seeds of the flesh we plant and the harvest they produce. Take good care oh man what you sow for the weeds are more vigorous in growth than the tender plant. The judgment of the harvest may be bitter, but you planted it. Yet in the crisis, let the Holy Spirit do a little more ploughing of the soil that you may seek Christ to be formed in you.
It should now be obvious that without the ministry of the Holy Spirit the "soil" of our heart will not be suitably prepared for the planting of the good seed. Fortunately, the parable is not speaking of just a once only receiving of the good seed, which would mean that if we miss it then we would not have another opportunity. No, Jesus mentions His servants who are involved in this planting and farming process, who also bear the seed of God wherever they go.
These servants of the Lord in their concern for a harvest ask if they may go and gather up the tares. But the Lord said not to do so because, "while you gather up the tares, you may root up the wheat also with them." Beloved our task is not to straighten people out, but to sow the good seed, which is Christ. They were told to let both the "wheat and the tares grow together until the harvest and in the time of harvest. I will say to the angel (messenger) reapers, ‘gather together first the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.’" Why wait for the harvest? Because we will never identify the tares until we see the wheat, which is Christ coming into maturity within us.
We need to remember that our God is a consuming fire, and the mention of fire has nothing to do with the religious concept of a burning hell where people are supposed to be burned forever. Fire consumes, and in doing so the nature of that which is burnt returns to its original state. Darkness is not destroyed, for if the light is taken away then darkness returns. But when the light is turned on, it swallows up the darkness. Likewise the tares are "swallowed up" by the fire, and thus changed in form and character. But the wheat is gathered into the protection of "God’s barn," being available for Him to fulfill His divine purpose through us.
Again Another Parable
These parables are connected by the use of the word "another" and all relate to an unveiling of the Kingdom of Heaven. Here is something else that is like the Kingdom, "a grain of mustard seed" sown in a field. Remember all these details mentioned in these parables are revealing secrets of the Kingdom of heaven. Here the beginning of the Kingdom is represented as being barely visible, like the seed of the mustard tree. From such a small beginning, the mustard seed develops into a great tree, which becomes a haven for the birds. What does all this mean in terms of the Kingdom?
First of all the prophet Daniel tells us that the Kingdom of God will one day smash every other kingdom and fill the earth. So we know even if the Kingdom is difficult to see today, we are assured it is growing and one day will fill the earth. The birds here refer to our thoughts that will concentrate more and more on the Kingdom as we enter into its reality. Jesus said, "Seek first the Kingdom of God and all these (necessities of life) things will be added into you." But because the Kingdom seems so small to us, we tend to dismiss it from our thoughts as not being significant.
In another parable Jesus spoke to them concerning leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal until the whole was leavened. First, we notice that the leading figure is a woman. Also we note that we are not dealing with the seed in this parable, but the harvest, for the grain has now been ground fine making it ready for use.
The three measures of "meal" represent Jesus Christ who has been through the processings of God and has become the Bread of Life. The bread used in the Old Testament offerings was not to be leavened, for those sacrifices and offerings could not bring life to anyone. Even the manna eaten by Israel in the wilderness could not preserve their life. But now Jesus could say, "I am the Bread of Life, which cometh down from heaven." But that bread must be appropriated, or it has no value for us. The Kingdom of God itself cannot meet our need except we embrace it. This woman recognized the three measures of meal as Christ, but she needed to participate in Him personally. So she took what represented her life, the leaven, and allowed it to be absorbed into Christ until she became and integral part of the Kingdom, and the Kingdom became a part of her. In so doing she became a part of the bread, which can feed those who hunger for God. This now completes the cycle, for man has considered himself to be a separate entity to God, but now having been born of the divine seed, Christ and man are united as one, even as Christ and the Father are one. This parable represents the reality of the true church, which is His Body.
So beloved, with the help of the Holy Spirit these parables give us an understanding of what the Kingdom of Heaven represents today, and how it function. As we come into greater understanding, we will see that we are an integral part of God’s plan to fulfill His purpose and will on this earth. Remember, when God created and brought forth that first man in His image and likeness, he was given dominion over all the works of God’s hands, and told to multiply and replenish the earth. These two words, dominion and reproduction are the key to the purpose and function of the Kingdom.
Let us look briefly at what it means to be a part of this Kingdom. First of all the Kingdom represents the sovereignty of God. Just think what that means for a moment! If you live in the Kingdom now and the Kingdom is in you, then only one power can affect you life, and that is God. We will never get into our car and wonder if we are going to have an accident that is impossible. We will not get up in the morning and wonder if we are going to catch some disease like cancer. We will not make ourselves sick with worry about the future, not if we are a part of the Kingdom of God.
Of course many "Christians" have boasted of these things only to be disillusioned and confused. Why is this so? Because the only way to become a part of the Kingdom is to be born in it. This "birth" is not some religious experience determined by man, but occurs when we are impregnated with the incorruptible seed of God. The harvest from that seed is Christ and in that Kingdom we only recognize one power, and not two as we are taught. The activity of our mind is no longer absorbed with how we shall live, or what we shall wear, but with seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, for the King has promised to take care of all these things.
He says, "Take no thought for your life, what you shall eat or drink, nor yet for your body, what you shall wear. Is not the life more than what you eat and the body more than raiment. Behold the fowls of the air, for they sow not, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much better than them? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit to your stature? If God clothes the grass which is today and gone tomorrow, shall He not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith.
"Therefore take no thought, saying what shall we eat or what shall we drink or how shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the Gentiles seek, but your Heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things! So seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you." Why is it that we have so much trouble believing it?
Adam never raised a sweat in the Garden of Eden, for every need he had was taken care of. It was only when he was outside the Garden that he was told, "In the sweat of thy brow you shall eat bread." The work ethic has replaced the Kingdom of God in our thinking, considering it a divine principle, that the harder we work and the more money we make, the easier our life will be. Basically, we are saying, "God has given me strength so that I can take responsibility for myself to meet my own needs." Thus we are blinded to the reality of the Kingdom. Our modern society, including Christians, are so busy they employ others to raise the children, because mother and father are working. We have little time to devote to God, and in this process our bodies become overloaded with stress, which results in sickness and death.
One would think that the message of the Kingdom of God would be the most talked about and sought after subject, but to the natural mind the concept of the Kingdom is almost fantasy. Therefore we continue to plant our own seed (flesh) in an effort to meet our need.
If I am the product of an incorruptible seed, then worry will not be a part of my life. My Father accepts responsibility for every one of His children, for they are a peculiar (personal) treasure unto Him, and extremely valuable. Those who have embraced the Kingdom and become a part of it, have been given the position of kings and priests in relation to the whole world. The position originally presented to Israel, which they forfeited, is now given to this chosen generation and holy nation.
Paul tells us that, "In the name of Jesus every knee shall bow in worship." Why Jesus? Because He now represents that chosen generation in whom Christ (the anointing), and man are united as a new creation, which is man in the image and likeness of God. We believe that all men will bow the knee and worship the King, and the process to accomplish this lies in the function of the Kingdom.
We are kings, being the offspring of the King, having the authority of God, or as recorded in Genesis 1, "Having dominion over all the works of God’s hands." Our mind has been renewed so that the concept of a two party government in the universe, consisting of both good and evil has been deleted. Any kingdom divided against itself could never stand, therefore in God’s Kingdom there is only one power.
Evidences of the functioning of the Kingdom abound in the scriptures, if our eyes have been opened to see. God kept Israel in a desert for forty years. Think about it. Two and a half million people need a lot of food and water, but it was made available without any effort on their part, except to gather it. Water flowed out of a rock to satisfy their thirst. Their clothes did not wear out, nor did their shoes. They even ordered special food at one time, and God granted their request for meat. Manna sustained them all those years. A cloud covered them by day to prevent the sun from burning them up, and a fire kept them from freezing during the night, and all for a rebellious people who were idolaters!
David knew something of God’s Kingdom when he said, "The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want." If only Christians today could embrace such a life in which there is no want. Yet this is all incorporated in the Kingdom Jesus preached when He ministered on earth. I am not suggesting that the Kingdom of God will include a three-car garage and a double story mansion on a canal. God has promised to take care of our every need, but our wants are another matter.
The more advanced civilization becomes, the more the Kingdom appears to be fantasy. However, the rise in the disease and barbaric criminal acts, which drives fear into every person’s heart, together with the inequity of our social system, will eventually cause the heart of man to turn to God, who is their Father and is willing to accept responsibility for them. But so far, many are like Israel, and want an earthly king to rule over them. Therefore they are under the "world" which is the cosmos, a dominating system based on a two power authority of good and evil.
There is another point we need to discuss, and that is the law that governs this Kingdom, the royal law of love. Our carnal mind has become so indoctrinated by the Hebrew -law concept of God’s authority that we now have a distorted view of the very character of God. Man’s concept is that there are many things which God forbids us to touch, and so life under His authority is filled with "do’s and don’ts." Do you realize that this is the very attitude Adam had towards God that cause him to touch the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? This is a destructive knowledge that distorted the picture of God in Adam, and produces the same distortion in us, beginning with death.
The Kingdom of God is not ruled by any law based upon good and evil, or the prejudice of carnal Christians. The only law in God is love. We cannot blame God for our calamities, or consider we are being punished for doing wrong. For as we have already mentioned, we simply reap whatever we sow.
The "law god" is not the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! When Christ came into the world He revealed who the Father really was, and His message was the gospel of the Kingdom. There is nothing in this gospel about God making us sick to punish us, or to make us better Christians. Here is the message of the reality of our life as it came from God. The new creation is not born through an earthly man such as Adam, but is born through divine seed or sperm. Beloved, if we can believe this, our whole view of ourselves and of God will change, and we will touch reality. God is Love
Living in the Kingdom is simply living as a child of God with a Father who makes Himself totally responsible for our blessing, provision, and protection. It is seeing God as the I Am, in whom our every need is met. It is living as the apple of His eye, loving and being loved, without a worry or concern for anything except pleasing our Father and extending His Kingdom.
It will result in a deep concern in our hearts for those around us who are dying from the stress and strain of living in the world of good and evil, under the tyranny of the law of sin and death. The manifestation of the Kingdom in our lives will cause many to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, for what they have striven for without success, we have received from our Father by faith. Man is stubborn and feels that he is a failure if he cannot make it on his own. But when the prodigal son came to himself in the pig sty, it was the sense of his father’s house and the fulfilled desires even of the servants, who had plenty, while in contrast he was eating with the pigs, which turned him towards his father and home.
How long beloved will you seek to meet your own need living in a far country, when your real place is in the Kingdom prepared by the Father for you? The seed of the Kingdom is now being sown in every country, as people face despair over the circumstances of life. Crime and evil are the sowing of man not God. Evil was born in the heart of man when he believed the lie that man could become God by living on the basis of good and evil. The lie today is most evident in the rise of evil and the suppression of good. God is again proved to be right when He said, "the day you eat of the fruit of that tree you will die." In spite of this, the lie persists that this law was only for Adam, but now it is God’s will for us to live by the fruit of that tree! The proof of the lie is that death has now been made to look like our friend while God appears as our enemy!
This is the everlasting gospel that is to be preached in all the earth. Traditional theology has ignored it leaving the church with only an inferior gospel of salvation, based upon good and evil, which forgives sins, but has no power to keep us from sin or overcoming death. Look at the sparrows and see if they do not represent a lifestyle that would be the envy of every man today, if only he could understand the Father’s love.
Finally, remember ...........
"It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom."