ENTERING THE KINGDOM OF GOD
BY: SCOTT CARPENTER
FEBRUARY 25, 2004
There is in popular teachings a belief in something called the “Kingdom of God”. Some say that this is heaven. Others say it is a literal kingdom here on this earth. Every since the apostles died men have debated over and over again what the Kingdom of God truly means – yet few have found the answer. Books have been written, seminars have taken place and songs have been written about the Kingdom, but what do we know after all of that is said and done? Can the Kingdom be found in a ministry? Can the Kingdom be found in tithes and offerings? Can the Kingdom be found in healing revivals?
During a conversation Jesus once gave a bold response to a statement from one of his own apostles. “Show us the Father and we will be satisfied” was the statement. Jesus replied and said, “Have I been so long with you and you have not known me? If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.”
This response has created many divisions throughout the history of the church. Many people interpret this literally, as if Jesus was saying if you have literally saw him, then you have literally seen the Father. Others take this to another level and say that this means there is no trinity, but is either truly grasping the meaning that Jesus intended?
For over a thousand years the Jewish faithful had heard of a future time when the “Kingdom” of God would rule over the earth. All the prophets had spoken of it. David wrote the psalms as he looked forward to that future time. By the time Jesus entered the scene the people expected a ruler to be sent from God who would by force take over the world and set up Jerusalem as the eternal capital city. This was the type of Kingdom that everyone expected. Almost every person from the time they were children throughout adulthood expected this day to come. The prophets had written that Elijah would first come to the earth again to “Turn the hearts of the fathers back to the Children and the children back to their fathers before that great and terrible day of the Lord.” By Jesus’ day this had been woven into tradition and each year at Passover in homes all throughout Israel an extra setting was placed upon the table in case Elijah returned. (This tradition is still followed to this day). It was in this setting that a woman named Elizabeth became with child. As she was visited by her cousin Mary she learned that her cousin was also expecting, and once Elizabeth heard the news her baby literally jumped for joy in her womb.
John was to grow up and become a wild man by local standards. He ate locusts and wild honey and lived primarily in the desert. He began to administer a unique message that was unheard of in his day. “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand”. The religious leaders took note and began to question him. “Are you the messiah?” “Are you that Prophet?” “Tell us who you are!” John simply replied, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness. Prepare the way of the Lord and make his path straight.” Then John spoke of one who was soon to come, someone who John considered so honored that he could not consider himself even worthy enough to carry his shoes.
Jesus was later asked by his apostles “Why do the teachers say that Elijah must come first?” He explained to them at that moment, speaking of John that Elijah had already came and was rejected.
After a brief time in the wilderness Jesus began to speak and say “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand”. He immediately went into the villages and towns and began to preach and heal those who were sick and show compassion to those around him and as he did so he told them that the Kingdom of God had now came to them. The religious leaders quickly came to Jesus and demanded to know when the Kingdom was coming, and it is here that Jesus gave a most profound answer. “The Kingdom of God does not come by you looking for it. Nor should you say, look, the kingdom is over there, or it is over here. Instead, understand that the Kingdom of God is within you.”
It is with these words that we may grasp the truth. According to Jesus the Kingdom of God will not come to us by our looking for it to appear. Neither will we find the Kingdom in a specific church or group. The Kingdom, the Kingdom of God, is inside of us. When Jesus reached out to the afflicted with absolute love and compassion, when he befriended the lepers and the sick, when he stood up for the woman caught in the act of adultery, when he did these things he was exhibiting the very character of God to them. This is what he meant by saying “If you have saw me you have seen the Father”. It was because Jesus was doing what He knew to be the will and nature of our Fathers character, and when the apostles saw Jesus do those things, they were seeing the Father’s character in action through Jesus. This is the Kingdom of God.
This same Kingdom is here with us today. It lives inside of us, waiting to be shown by example to others, and as we exhibit the Kingdom then we ourselves grow out of that experience. When we feed the hungry, when we clothe the naked, when we give compassion to those around us then we exhibit the Kingdom of our Father that is working within us. We literally bring the Kingdom to those around us by our words and actions and no one who comes into contact with Fathers kingdom will go unchanged. In time that seed will sprout and life will arise, a life abundant and overflowing with the fruits of Fathers Spirit.
Someone will probably say that I missed it, that the Kingdom is a future place in heaven. I certainly do not dispute that there is a heavenly city. Nor will I dispute that God will literally rule on this earth. But the word is very clear. The Kingdom Jesus spoke of that he eventually laid down his life in support of is inside of all of us.
Our greatest example, our elder brother Chris Jesus has laid before us a path that He himself took the first steps on. He took the first steps into the Kingdom. Shall we follow Him?
Many blessings to you,
ENTERING THE KINGDOM OF GOD [Scott Carpenter] 1