I’ve just returned home from a funeral of a friend with whom I served in the Army National Guard.
The funeral blended Roman Catholic tradition with that of Native American Lakota Sioux tradition. It was a beautiful and meaningful funeral, a great way of honoring my friend’s life. At the funeral, I was reminded once again about how often many Bible-based funerals mention the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven. That Kingdom is a major theme of the entire Bible. In last month’s issue of The Traveler I introduced the subject of the Kingdom of God . . . and it’s King: Jesus. This issue will also be about that Kingdom and King Jesus.
Do you recall I introduced last month’s issue of The Traveler by writing that we can be in two places at once. Here’s how. Common sense tells us that if we are alive—having been born here on planet earth—we can only be in one place at one time. And most of us are citizens of only one nation. But we have another “sense”—the inner faith-sense given to us by God—that informs us we are also citizens of another “place.” What place might that be? It’s the Kingdom of Heaven or the Kingdom God. If we have been born again spiritually and are believers in Jesus, the Bible teaches our “citizenship is in Heaven.” In Jesus, we have dual citizenship.
Now we’re going to get into what some of you might consider sort of hyper-spiritual fantasy, or even science fiction. In various places, the Bible clearly teaches that Jesus is “seated” in heaven at the right hand of Father God. We know that’s not literal because God is an unbodied spiritual Being and cannot be confined to one place; He is allwhere and allwhen. He cannot literally be “seated” anywhere in any one place. When the infinite God communicates with us finite humans by means of the Bible, He is compelled to put some enigmatic spiritual matters into human languages and concepts we can understand to some extent. Jesus being seated at God’s right hand is one of those concepts which is spiritually enigmatic or “mysterious.” It is not mysterious in the sense of a detective mystery, merely something difficult to understand except by our faith-sense.
But . . . keep in mind because something is spiritual does not mean it isn’t real! Actually, spiritual realities are more real than this material, tangible world we live in. So . . . Jesus is seated at God’s right hand. Here’s the seemingly science fiction part: “In” or “through” our relationship with Jesus, we, too, are seated with Him in heaven. The Bible teaches that as an eternal fact. However, it’s not a fact we can clearly understand with our five senses and with our human thought processes—only with our “faith-sense.”
That’s why we are bi-locational. We are here on earth . . . and we are simultaneously seated with Jesus in heaven. I don’t understand that, but the Bible teaches it and I believe it to be true—with my inner faith-sense, not with my five senses. How about you: are there some things you believe but don’t necessarily understand?
There is a heaven. There is a Kingdom of God. They are very real. If we die before Jesus returns to establish his long-awaited Kingdom on earth, we will literally go there to be with Him until we come back to earth with Him when He returns to earth. Meanwhile, because we are citizens of heaven, we are God’s ambassadors here on earth to tell people Good News (the Gospel) about Jesus and his coming Kingdom. Ambassadors represent their home nation to the other nation where they are sent. We are spiritual beings sent here to represent the Kingdom of Heaven and it’s King, Jesus. How well are you representing Jesus and his Kingdom? Are you a good ambassador?
We are not human beings sent here to have a temporary spiritual experience. We are spirit beings sent here to have a temporary human experience as ambassadors and witnesses to all the good things God has done for humanity through Jesus.
From time to time throughout human history, God’s Kingdom has “touched down” on planet earth. God has offered his kingship and his Kingdom to humans many times. So far, each time He has offered his Kingship to humans as a whole, we have rejected Him because we are self-centered and self-absorbed and we don’t want anyone—especially God—telling us what to do with our lives. So many of us think that if we allowed God to be King of our lives, He would somehow mess up our own plans and purposes for our lives. You do see how foolish that kind of thinking is, don’t you—that God who created us would mess up our lives?
When has God’s Kingdom touched down on planet earth and humans have rejected Him? Long ago in a garden named Eden. Once during the time of Moses. Again during the time of Samuel in the Bible. When Jesus was here on earth the first time. Many other times, too. We humans have rejected God’s Kingship every time He has offered it to us. Of course, the one time He offered his Kingdom to us in person, we crucified Him, feeling that would get Him out of our lives once and for all. Surprise! Surprise! Three days after He was killed, God’s Spirit brought Jesus back to life, he later returned to Heaven, and He is now in the process of getting ready to return to permanently establish his Kingdom here on earth, headquartered in the New Jerusalem in the ancient land of Israel.
Signs, Wonders, and Miracles!
My thesis for one of my Masters degrees was about God’s Kingdom touching down on earth at various times in the past. Each time it has done so, it has always been accompanied by signs, wonders, and miracles . . . as evidence that his Kingdom was “near.” When God’s ambassadors and witnesses clearly proclaim King Jesus and his coming Kingdom, signs, wonders, and miracles follow their proclamation as evidence of the reality of that Kingdom. If no signs, wonders, and miracles are occurring in the lives of individual believers in Jesus and in Jesus’ churches, then they are not faithfully proclaiming the presence of the King and his Kingdom!
What are signs, wonders, and miracles? They are God-caused events beyond all bounds of logic and reason, defying comprehension, explanation, and experience—for the main purpose of drawing people to God through Jesus. Are you a believer in Jesus? Are you being a witness about God’s salvation and healing through Jesus? Is your church proclaiming the Good News about the coming Kingdom of God? If so, you should be regularly and consistently experiencing signs, wonders, and miracles in your own life, and in the life of your church! If not, check out who or what you and your church are really representing as ambassadors.
Are you proclaiming a mere religion or churchianity? Or are you being a witness to others in your day-to-day life about the reality of God in your life by the presence of his Spirit living in you? Are you sharing a religion or a relationship? Religious stuff really saddens and grieves God. Religious stuff renders his power-full Presence null and void. Religious stuff “turns off” people who are watching you to see if you have something real in your life. Religious stuff renders God’s Word—the Bible—powerless and ineffective.
Jesus stated to the religious leaders of his day: “your dead, manmade traditions make the Word of God null and void, ineffective, and powerless—resulting in theobabble, pointless philosophical and metaphysical confusion, and aimless wanderings of the mind.” God wants to have a vital, thriving, growing relationship with you, not for you to have mere “dead” religion. If we who claim to be believers in Jesus and followers of Him are not green and growing, then we are ripe and rotting! The evidence of a green and growing relationship with God through Jesus is that signs, wonders, and miracles occur regularly and consistently in your day-to-day life. The proof we are bi-locational—representing Heaven on earth—is that signs, wonders, and miracles occur regularly and consistently in our individual lives and in our churches.
What Is the Kingdom of God?
If you’re a discerning reader of The Traveler, you will have noticed in both last month’s issue and so far in this one I haven’t yet defined the Kingdom of God. It’s now time for me to do that. In the Old Testament portion of the Bible (before the time of Jesus), the word “kingdom” is translated into English from a number of Hebrew words. The Old Testament was written mostly in the Hebrew language. The Hebrew words are mostly abstract nouns carrying the ideas of God’s reign, sovereignty, dominion, the sphere of His rule, and royal power.
In the New Testament portion of the Bible about Jesus’ life and ministry and for about 35 years after his death, resurrection, and return to heaven, the word “kingdom” is translated from only one Greek word (Greek being the language in which most of the New Testament was written). The Greek word has the exact meaning of the Hebrew words . . . with some additional meanings: the King’s loving presence among humans, God’s rule of love, God’s active reign in the world, the realm of God’s salvation of all humankind.
Okay, what do the five paragraphs above really mean . . . “in a nutshell”? They mean God is King over all the earth. They mean God has established a relationship with us through Jesus. They mean God’s Kingdom is real both in Heaven and in our lives. God’s Kingdom is both a present reality and yet it will fully come to earth in the future. God’s Kingdom now prevails in Heaven and will someday prevail on earth when Jesus returns. God’s Kingdom is here, but it’s not fully here yet. It’s now. It’s future. It’s a real Kingdom with a real King of whom we are his subjects.
How Big Is God?
There’s an old gospel song that goes something like this: “God is ‘big’ enough to rule the mighty universe, yet small enough to live within our hearts.” Does the King of the universe—Jesus—live in you right now, today, in his unbodied form of the Holy Spirit? If not, why not? Why are you waiting to invite Him into your life as your Savior and King? Jesus is knocking loudly and clearly at the “door” of your inner life. All you need to do is open the door and invite Him into your life. When He comes in, He fuses and welds together with your human spirit and you two become one spirit for all the ages of time and in eternity.
What legitimate reason could you possibly have for not inviting Him to take up permanent residence in your life?! When He comes into your life, He then sits down on the “throne” of your life and begins to work out his all-good plans and purposes for you. He’ll then help you transform your life day by day until the very day you die and fully enter his Kingdom. The Bible states: “When you invite Jesus into your life, you become an entirely new creation. You will never be the same again. Your old life will go. You will begin an entirely new life!”
Biblical Reference for the Month:
“Now it’s time to change your mind! Turn to face God so He can wipe away your sins, pour out showers of blessing to refresh you, and send Jesus back to earth [to establish his Kingdom]. For the time being He must remain out of sight in heaven until everything is restored to order again just the way God, through the preaching of the ancient prophets, said it would be.” –Acts 3: 19-21, paraphrased
To think about this month
“I am one of God’s kings in ‘training for reigning’ and in ‘schooling for ruling’!”
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Revised and Updated March 2019