CIT Initiative: The Kingdom of God

These notes are for those attending CIT Initiative for the Winshape College Program at Berry College. However, you may find these notes helpful for your own study of the Kingdom of God.

Grace to you and peace!

– Mitch

CIT Initiative

Winshape College Program

Berry College

September 2, 2016

Notes available at www.mitchjolly.com

 

The Kingdom of God

Why do we talk about the kingdom of God?

 

We talk about the kingdom because that is what Jesus preached!

 

Jesus preached the good news of the kingdom. And this is important because the kingdom is wider ranging than an individual’s rescue from the domain of darkness and transfer to the kingdom of the Son.

 

The kingdom broadens the scope of salvation to the person’s life purpose and the created order’s restoration.

 

Starting Point:

What is God’s Mandate: The Reconciliation of All Things

He has mandated us with the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:17-21).

 

Therefore the mission of the church is our participation in the mission of the Triune God to disciple the nations in this ministry of reconciliation as an expression of his love, power and creativity.

 

What Was God’s Original Purpose in Creation? (Genesis 1: 26-28)

 

His plan was to subdue and fill the whole earth through a family of spiritual children he would call His very own (Genesis 1:26-27).

 

God’s rule was over all and was to be manifested in mankind’s ambassadorial rule/dominion over all of created order.

 

Sin interrupted God’s plan, but Immediately God’s rescue plan went into effect (Genesis 3:15).

 

What Are The Effects of Sin? (Genesis 3:16-24)

 

Relationship with God was broken. (v. 24)

 

Relationship with others was broken. (v. 16)

 

Relationship with our environment was broken. (vv. 17-18)

 

What is God’s Mission…To Reconcile All Things Lost (2 Corinthians 5:17-19)

 

We are called to the ministry of reconciliation.

 

To reconcile the world/“Kosmos” means to repair the harmony of creation in order and government, world affairs, human family, and the aggregate of things earthly.

 

We seek to restore things that were lost (Luke 19:10) because Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost.

 

Jesus mission statement was that he came to seek and to save that which was lost…mankind, relationships between mankind and created order.

 

So, we preach the really good news of Jesus’ kingdom!

 

The Gospel of The Kingdom Is What We proclaim!

 

We don’t talk much about the gospel of the kingdom in spite of the fact that this is all the gospels talk about!

 

When we talk about the gospel we usually think in terms of individual salvation. That is not what the gospels do.

 

Jesus came proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom.

 

What Are Some Working Definitions of The Kingdom?

“The kingdom is the renewal of the whole world through entrance of supernatural forces. As things are brought back under Christ’s rule and authority, they are restored to health, beauty and freedom.” – Tim Keller

 

God’s kingdom is his universal rule, his sovereignty over all the earth…The kingdom is his reign more than his realm. – George Eldon Ladd

 

“The kingdom of God is the reign of God. It is Jesus’ Christ, the Lord over all things in action. Wherever the will of God is being done, that’s where the kingdom is being manifested. In a very real sense Jesus is the kingdom in person.” – Bob Roberts

 

Sampling of Scripture Passages Regarding The Kingdom

 

Mark 1:14-15

“Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, ‘the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the gospel.”

 

The equating of the gospel and the kingdom in this passage is huge because it rounds out the gospel message to is fullness in that the gospel is not only about saving people from the wrath of God but it is about all things being brought back into the rule and headship of Jesus Christ, including men and women and children.

 

So, when we tell the good news we need to make sure we don’t make it merely about that person’s salvation.

 

We need to set their salvation in the glorious framework of all of Father’s restorative work.

 

Matthew 4:23

“And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.”

 

Matthew 6:33

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (food, drink, clothing, necessities and some amenities {all good and perfect gifts come down from the Father of lights with whom there is not shadow due to change – James 1:17})

 

If we want to see the supernatural works we read about in the bible we can’t live by the values of the fallen world system that is opposed to the kingdom of God.

 

Matthew 6:10

“…Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

 

Jesus taught us pray for the coming of the kingdom before we prayed for our supply. Why? Because only in our supply of necessities can we do the Father’s will and thus bring his kingdom and thus hallow his name.

 

Matthew 24:14

“And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

 

What is the scope of the kingdom’s proclamation? All nations.

 

If every church picked one people where the good news has not been proclaimed and engaged them until the church was effectively planted then we’d be far closer to the return of the King.

 

Matthew 9:32-38

“As they were going away, behold, a demon- oppressed man who was mute was brought to him. And when the demon had been cast out, the mute man spoke. And the crowds marveled, saying, “Never was anything like this seen in Israel.” But the Pharisees said, “He casts out demons by the prince of demons.”

And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

 

Notice the conflict between the kingdom of darkness in it’s oppressing image bearers (the mute man) and domains of society (Pharisees as a ruling political party) and the good news of the kingdom saving, healing and releasing from the curse.

 

Notice the abundant work and few laborers.

 

Notice the command of the Lord for us ask him to send laborers.

 

Matthew 13:44

“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”

 

The kingdom is more valuable than anything else.

 

Matthew 13:31-32

“He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

 

The kingdom is unassuming and full of power. It’s meek.

 

The kingdom is fruitful. The kingdom maximizes potential. The kingdom takes it’s two talents and multiplies them to four.

 

Matthew 13:33

“He told them another parable. ‘The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.’”

 

The kingdom is supernatural. The kingdom is kind of magical (please don’t judge me for saying that).

 

The kingdom works when we are not aware that the kingdom is working. The rule of the kingdom is like the gradual dawning of spring after 100 years of winter in Narnia. It’s steady and thorough.

 

So, we persevere and wait patiently.

 

Ephesians 1:7-10

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.”

 

The gospel is the good news of Jesus’ kingdom come and the breaking of the curse of the fall and overthrow of Satan’s little and temporary kingdom to be finally overthrown when Jesus returns.

 

The good news of the kingdom is more than salvation from sin. It is that, but salvation from sin is just the entry into the larger work of the kingdom!

 

The culture of rescue from hell as the goal of the gospel has not only short sighted the work of the church, but it has pillaged discipleship for the church.

 

The good news of the kingdom makes salvation possible for all who will believe and gives those who believe a mission to subvert the work of Satan through making disciples and engaging the domains of society in all nations and establishing the church as the outpost[1] and community of the kingdom by the Spirit’s power as we wait for Jesus to return, complete the kingdom’s establishment and completely bring Satan’s work to an end.

 

What Are Some Implications Of The kingdom?

If the kingdom of Jesus Christ has come, and if we are wheat and sheep not weeds and goats, and if we have all wisdom and insight to know the plan of God to unite all things in Christ then there are some implications for us as the community of the kingdom.

 

  1. We must be Missional

We have to be about Jesus’ mission not our mission.

 

Everything we do must have the mission in mind.

 

We must be about correcting the fall and bringing all things back under the rule of Jesus Christ through discipling the nations and teaching them to observe everything Jesus has taught us.

 

We must be about taking the rule of Christ out and seeking to establish the rule of Christ in every way.

 

Missional is go and establish as well as invite to come and see.

 

Missional Living redeems all vocations as Holy (domains of society).

 

Missional Living Attempts to “seek the kingdom” in everything and follow Jesus’s Leading.

 

Missional living seeks to make disciples that follow, hear and obey Jesus.

 

Missional is long-term adoption not short-term fostering.

 

Some disciplines to practice missional living:

  1. Seek the rule of Jesus in how you manage money. One can’t proclaim the kingdom when you are a terrible manager of God’s resources.

 

  1. Seek the rule of Jesus in your stewardship of these college years. How are you preparing for being locally/globally (glocally) relevant?

 

  1. Seek the rule of Jesus in your relationships.

 

  1. Seek the rule of Jesus in covenant fellowship with the church.

 

  1. Seek the rule of Jesus in your bible reading.

 

  1. Seek the rule of Jesus in your praying.

 

  1. Seek the rule of Jesus in your outreach/evangelism (Hudson Taylor’s spiritual secret!). Be completely the Lord’s instrument every moment.

 

  1. We must be present

Jesus was present. We must be ambassadors of Christ who are present.

 

There is a spiritual dynamic about image bearers being in the same place together.

 

We can’t repair, heal and preach from a distance.

 

Illustration: Back of a cab in Pakistan.

 

  1. We must make disciples of the kingdom (I know this is repetitive)

That means that we fix what is broken AND we invite the broken into the kingdom through repentance and faith.

 

This means you fix what is broken and seek to be a minister of the ministry of reconciliation as you are an ambassador of God himself.

 

2 Corinthians 5:20-21

“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

 

  1. We must think domains of society not church programs.

Domains of society are the core structures that human society is constructed on (example: medical, agricultural, arts, education etc.).

 

Programs can isolate the solutions into a product to consume rather than a people to scatter to bring healing.

 

Think in terms of everyone as an ambassador of the kingdom, engaging their domains of society for the purpose of bringing it under the rule of Jesus and making disciples in that domain of society.

 

Thinking “domains of society” requires 4 shifts:

4.1 From needs to assets. We ask what we have to give in service to the church rather than what we can get from the church.

 

4.2 From programs to domain engagement. This is all about releasing Christians to use their God given skill set to repair what’s broken and make disciples inside their vocational domain.

 

I’m convinced this is the future of missions because its economically sustainable, it’s full of integrity in that we don’t have to create “platforms” for being somewhere when that’s not why we are really there and it puts the great commission back into the hands of the whole church not a few “special forces” Christians and organizations.

 

4.3 From working for the city to working with the city.

We become a partner with rather than a provider of resources.

 

This allows us to not only be an integral part of fixing the problems but also a way to tangibly bring the salt and light of the kingdom into the domain of government.

 

Illustration: Restoration Rome.

 

4.4 From managing projects to mobilizing people.

This shift takes advantage of the fact that in Christ, all of his people are priests to God and gifted for engaging the world.

 

This can have organizational impacts as well such as less need for dedicated staff to run ministry and more need for apostolic sending of members to obey Jesus.

 

  1. We must be abiding

The kingdom does not advance by man’s schemes. The kingdom happens as a supernatural move of the Spirit in spiritually thriving people. The job of the church and its people is not to manufacture movements but to join them.

 

We have to have eyes that see and ears that hear and be ready to obey.

 

John 15…what I the key to bearing lasting fruit? Hard work? Strategic engagement? Efficiency? Abiding!!!

 

  1. We must be contextual

The kingdom always invades a context and brings it under the rule of Christ and takes the Constitution of the Kingdom, the bible, and makes it the rule of that context in redeeming it for Christ.

 

This is why the bible never prescribes a model for church or “assist the church” ministry.

 

This is why a church should never prescribe a model for itself or its ministries. The community of the kingdom fits in and transforms from the inside out.

 

We must make sure we don’t fall into the trap of thinking our preference is THE model.

 

The model is the kingdom (try living out the Sermon on the Mount).

 

This requires experimentation, failure, and trial and error. According to Alan Hirsh 65%-75% of American culture is completely un-engaged and in need of the church morphing into their context. Do we have that in us?

 

  1. We must be glocal

Acts 1:8

The kingdom is not isolated to the local church. The local church is a manifestation of the kingdom and the kingdom is global. The kingdom mobilizes the local church and takes it global to expand the kingdom.

 

  1. We must grow to be able to incorporate cross-cultural and sub-cultural image bearers

The kingdom is always growing and taking in more formerly held enemy territory. The community of the kingdom must be flexible enough to incorporate that kind of growth.

 

Example: What is it going to look like when the church is truly reaching the unreached? What is the church going to look like when it’s incorporating those who are cross-cultural in our own town?

 

Post-modernity is segmented by sub-cultures not a culture as a whole (example: gamers, skaters, jocks, dark, etc.). Therefore, the church has to reach those subcultures somehow.

 

These sub-cultures are separated from the life of God. We have to represent the kingdom to them as ambassadors.

 

Make no mistake, the kingdom is THE culture and transforms sub-cultures and cross-cultures into the culture of the kingdom, but we have to be people who welcome that messy process.

 

  1. The church is more important than you’ve been taught it is.

Don’t neglect the church. The church is the kingdom manifest in the world. She is the community of the kingodm

 

Ephesians 5:22-33 tells us Jesus gave us marriage to show us the importance of his bride, the church.

 

Jesus didn’t die for Berry College or Winshape. Jesus died to redeem all those the Father has given him from all nations and bring them under his rule in his kingdom manifest on this earth toward the reestablishment of Eden regained.

 

We are alive in one of the most exciting times of church history.

 

How are YOU going to live out the advance of the gospel of the kingdom?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] The implications of the church being an outpost are huge. It means that the church is launching missions to those not in the purpose of the outpost. The purpose of the outpost is to establish the rule of Jesus. This affects not only our message but our strategy. The outpost must take the form of what it is trying to reach into or risk become irrelevant to it’s target.

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