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Sunday, June 23, 2013 am

THE CHURCH – GOD’S KINGDOM

 In discussing the Kingdom of God today as it relates to the church we often find confusion or misunderstanding.   There are some who make a distinction in the two saying that the church is God’s body of the saved NOW and the Kingdom is yet to come.  Forms of this produce the theory of premillenialism, which believes that Jesus will return to this earth to reign for 1000 years on the throne of David in a kingdom of peace.   There are many problems with this doctrine.   It is our conviction that the church and kingdom are actually one and the same.  In our lesson this morning let us take a few moments to discuss the church as God’s kingdom and make application.

 I.                    The Church and the Kingdom

a.        What is the church?  The term “church” is from the Greek word, ἐκκλησία (ekklesia), which actually means “a calling out”, as in an assembly.  IN the Bible, the term is used in reference to the body of the saved, “called out” of the world and into an assembly with Christ and others who are saved.   
The term is used in 2 different senses in scripture – a universal sense which is the body of all who are saved – it is not an organization, but a description of the saved who are in relationship with Christ (Eph. 1:22-23, Matt. 16:18).  The local sense is a description of a body of these believers who assemble together in a specific location to do work God has given us to accomplish collectively (i.e. worship Him, evangelism, teaching [edification] and limited benevolence).  When we use the word, “congregation” that is what we have in mind.  The “church” here in Bellflower would be an example of this.  The Bible makes reference to such in passages like Gal. 1:2, 1 Cor. 1:2, Acts 9:31, Matt. 18:17, etc.

b.       What is the kingdom?  The word “kingdom” is from the Greek word, βασιλεία (basileia), which has reference to a region ruled by a king.  When the New Testament (and Old Testament passages looking toward the Kingdom – i.e. Dan. 2:44) speaks of the Kingdom of God (or Heaven) it too has reference to the saved, much like the term “church” used in its universal sense above.   IN FACT, they are one and the same.  IF you are in the church, you are in the kingdom of God.

c.        How do we know they are the same?

                                                   i.      Matt. 16:18-19 – Jesus sues both terms interchangeably. “Build My church” & “Keys to the kingdom”

                                                  ii.      As to their beginning – both trace their beginning to Pentecost of Acts 2

1.       The kingdom – Matt. 4:17, Mark 9:1 – before.  After Pentecost, there are numerous passages that describe the kingdom as being in existence - 1 Cor. 15:24-25, Col. 1:13-14 – conveyed us into the kingdom, Heb. 12:28 – we “are receiving” a kingdom which cannot be shaken.  Also Col. 4:11, “and Jesus who is called Justus. These are my only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are of the circumcision; they have proved to be a comfort to me.
1 Thess. 2:12, “who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.”
In God’s plan from ancient times – Daniel 2:44, 7:13-14, Psa. 45:6, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is Your kingdom.” (cf. Heb. 1:8-9)

2.       The church – Before - Matt. 16:18
After Pentecost – Acts 2:47, 9:31, 14:23, Eph. 1:22
IN God’s plan from ancient times –while the term “church” is not found in the Old Testament, Eph. 3:10-11 speaks of the church being a manifestation of God’s wisdom, “according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Joel 2:28-32 – quoted by Peter in Acts 2:17-21 on Pentecost.  While the verse does not mention the church by name, it is almost universally agreed that Acts 2 is when the church began

                                                iii.      As to headship – Christ is ruler

1.       The Kingdom – Jesus is king – 1 Cor. 15:25, Acts 2:30, 36; Eph. 1:20, Heb. 1:8-9, etc.

2.       The church – Eph. 1:22-23, Col. 1:18

                                                iv.      As to their subjects – who is in – the saved

1.       The kingdom – Col. 1:13-14

2.       The church – Acts 2:47, Eph. 5:23 – Christ is “savior of the body”

                                                  v.      Conditions of entrance - Baptism

1.       The Kingdom – John 3:3,5, Acts 8:12

2.       The church – 1 Cor. 12:13, Acts 2:38, 47

                                                vi.      The Lord’s Supper

1.       The kingdom – Luke 22:18, 29-30 – to be “in MY Father’s kingdom”

2.       The church – 1 Cor. 10:16,17, 11:18-26

d.       Why not always use one term or another?  The reason is that different descriptions describe different roles of the same entity.  In actuality, there are several descriptions of the church – a vineyard, household (family), a body, and temple.  Just as a person might have different functions (i.e. a man can be a male, a father, a husband, citizen, employee, etc.), so the different words descriptions of the church describe different functions.  The term “kingdom” refers to the form of government of the church.  It describes our relationship to Christ as our king!

 

 II.                    The Kingdom of God (Heaven)

a.        It is a spiritual kingdom –

                                                   i.      One of the issues we deal with today in discussing the kingdom is that many believe Jesus is returning to earth to establish His kingdom on the throne of David in Jerusalem.  That is NOT taught in scripture.  Nowhere are we told Jesus will set foot on earth again – in fact, 1 Thess. 4:16-17 says that when Jesus returns we will be caught up in the air to be with him “forever”.

                                                  ii.      Also, it is emphasized in scripture that the kingdom is a spiritual kingdom.
Luke 17:20-21, Jesus said that the kingdom would not come with observation and “The kingdom of God is within you.”
Jn. 18:36, Jesus told Pilate, “MY kingdom is not of this world.”
Romans 14:17 says, “for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

b.       Elements of the kingdom of God  -

                                                   i.      it is said that for any kingdom, there has to be four elements present – a king, territory, law and subjects.  All of these are recorded in scripture as being present.

                                                  ii.      Christ is our king – Matt. 28:18, “All authority…”  
Isaiah 9:6–7, “For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”
Heb. 2:9 describes Jesus as being “crowned with glory and honor.”
Also 1 Tim. 6:15
He is NOW reigning – 1 Pet. 3:22 says that Jesus, “has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God.” 
1 Cor. 15:24-25 – He must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet.
Eph. 1:18-21 speaks of Jesus being seated at the right hand of God, “not only in this age, but also in the age to come.”

                                                iii.      His territory – defined in scripture as all the world, Matt. 28:18, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.”
Rev. 1:5 says “and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood.  NOTE: WE are also told in scripture that this world is the domain of Satan.  That is true PHYSICALLY, but spiritually – Christ is King EVERYWHERE.  And in time, the world will submit to Him.

                                                iv.      His subjects – the saved.  Those who are “born again” (John 3:3,5).  Again Col. 1:13-18 as a text ties the kingdom and church together.
Ephesians 2:19 says, “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,”

                                                  v.      His law – John 12:48 – the teachings of Jesus will be our judge; 2 Pet. 1:3 tells us that His divine power has given us “all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who has called us to gory and virtue.

 III.                Essentials in the Kingdom of God

a.        Having established that the kingdom is now and Christ is reigning as king, how do we apply this today?  Consider the following:

b.       We need to enter the kingdom and become citizens – we have already noted how to do that (John 3:3,5).  Simply stated, we enter the kingdom by obeying the gospel. 

c.        We are subject to our King – that means we must obey His law! Matt. 7:21-23 tells us it is not enough to say you believe, you must do. 
Matt. 28:18-20 speaks of obeying the gospel and learning to “observe all things commanded.”

d.       Our greatness determined by how we serve – Matt. 20:24-28, Jesus taught that we are to be servants to others.   Our greatness in the kingdom is determined by our humility while upon this earth (cf. Mark 10:14-15 – become as little children).
Matt. 25:31-46 describes the judgment.  Notice that in vs. 32 all nations are gathered to Him and the sheep and goats are separated.  Vs. 34 says, “Then the KING will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’  He proceeds to describe their service to others and how that is noticed.

e.       Understand our citizenship – we have established that the kingdom of God is spiritual.  While upon this earth, we are citizens of the kingdom, but you could say we are pilgrims and sojourners (1 Pet. 2:11, Heb. 11:13).  We want to spend eternity with our heavenly Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.  Phil. 3:12-14 describes Paul’s attitude in this – pressing toward the goal.
Colossians 3:1-2, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”

 

As citizens of the kingdom it is important that we understand what the kingdom is.  Because our Lord lives and reigns, we have hope.  Let us strive to enter that kingdom and to remain faithful and loyal citizens.  What about you?  Is Jesus your king?