God’s Kingdom

Rev. John Willoughby

GOD’S
KINGDOM

 (All scriptures in ‘New King James Version’,
unless otherwise stated.)

XIV. THE FUTURE
KINGDOM – REIGN OF KING
FOR ETERNITY.

1. THE COMING OF HIS UNIVERSAL
KINGDOM.

Eph 1:10. All that
enters this future, “dispensation of the fullness of times” will be in
Christ, all else will be burnt up as wood, hay and straw (I Cor 3:12-13).
In Rev 21:4-5 we read, “the former things have passed
away …. Behold I make all things new”.
This is the underlying theme of
all the Scriptures. From Genesis to Revelation the prophets predicted
it, the psalmists sang about it, Jesus proclaimed it and the apostles expounded
it. If we do not grasp the wonderful truths of His future eternal reign, then
we will never fully understand the ways of God in His dealings with men,
nations and His Church today.

2. THE BEGINNING OF HIS UNIVERSAL
KINGDOM.

At the end of the Millennium reign
of Christ, there will be a rebellion of man, encouraged by Satan and his
demonic forces. This rebellion will be quashed very quickly and Satan will be
cast into hell for eternity (Rev 20:9-10). After this, two events will take
place:

* Man will be judged. Rev 20:11-15.
The ‘Great White Throne Judgement’, is where all without Christ and all those
who have lived since Adam will be judged by Christ Himself (Jn 5:22), this
would include those who have lived during the Millennium. Only those who have
repented and who have received by faith the free gift of salvation will enter
His eternal Kingdom. Those whose names are, “not found written in the Book
of life”
will be “cast into the lake of fire” (v15), where they will
suffer eternal torment.

* There will be a new heavens and
earth. Isa 65:17. The earth, sun, moon and stars in the Milky Way Galaxy (about
200 billion), together with the other innumerable galaxies in the universe
(about 100 billion), which lost their original beauty and brilliance at the
fall, will all be restored to their original sinless glory and condition. The
earth will become the central point from which God rules His recreated
universe.

3. ASPECTS OF HIS UNIVERSAL
KINGDOM.

We can see from Scripture that it
will be:

a) A Kingdom ruled over by
God.
Rev 21:3. 22:3-5. Those who have
been faithful in following His Son will rule, “as joint heirs with Christ”
(Rom 8:17), with transformed bodies likened to, “His glorious body” (Phil
3:21). Only He knows fully what He has prepared for those who love Him (from
whatever dispensation) in the aeons of time ahead, not only on this newly
created earth, but also in the vastness of the stars and galaxies of His
universe.

b) A Kingdom centred on a
new earth
. Rev 21:1. The Greek word used for “new”
in this passage is ‘Kainos’, which means ‘something which has been restored to
its original new condition’. There will be no sea, thus the land area will
increase greatly. The water that was in the sea will possibly revert to being
above the earth, as it was before the flood, thus forming a greenhouse effect.

c) A Kingdom with a new city. Rev 21:2, 9-27. New Jerusalem, the
centre of God’s rule for the universe, will come to rest on earth. This city
will be brilliant in beauty, with streets of gold and entrances of pearls. It
will be so big (450 miles cube), that it will be able to accommodate all that
have ever lived since Adam, with much room to spare. God will be its light and
nothing evil will enter it. Jesus has prepared a mansion for each of His
redeemed in this wonderful place (Jn 14:2-3).

d) A righteous Kingdom. II Pet 3:13. Not only will there
be no demonic forces to tempt man or oppose God, but the sinful nature will
also be renewed into hearts of righteousness. No sin will be present, only that
which is godly (Rev 21:27) and all will be transparent (Rev 21:21). Paul wrote
in I Cor 13:12, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.
Now I know in part, but then I shall be known, just as I also am known”
.

e) A Kingdom of peace and
justice
. Rev 21:4. 22:2. Referring to Jesus
we read in Isa 9:7, “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 to
establish it with judgement and justice from that time forward even for ever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this”
. There will be no more
wars, disputes or injustice.

f) A Kingdom where the King
is worshipped forever
. Isa 66:22-23. Heaven’s praise will
fill the earth and indeed it will fill the universe. There will be continuous
worship and praise to the Father and His Son from not only the angelic hosts,
but also from the redeemed of the world (Rev 7:9-12).

g) An eternal Kingdom. Dan 7:13-14. The prophet Daniel
wrote of this time, “the God of heaven will set up a Kingdom which will
never be destroyed”
(2:44). God is a creative God and His plans for His
universe will be developed in the billions of years ahead. Never will this
wonderful Kingdom come to an end (Isa 66:22-23), neither will man die (Rev
21:4), but will live into eternity. As the aeons of time pass, so we will
marvel at the diversity and creativity of what He has prepared for us!

ALLELUIA. FOR THE LORD GOD OMNIPOTENT REIGNS” (Rev 19:6).

                           

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God’s Kingdom

Rev. John Willoughby

GOD’S GLORIOUS KINGDOM

(All scriptures in ‘New King James
Version’, unless otherwise stated.

XIII. THE FUTURE KINGDOM
– REIGN OF KING ON EARTH

1. A FUTURE TRIUMPHAL MILLENNIUM REIGN OF CHRIST ON EARTH

Rev 19:11-21. He will reign for a
thousand years (Rev 20:4). It will commence when Jesus returns in triumph at
the end of a time of Great Tribulation, when He will put down all rebellion and
defeat the Antichrist, the False Prophet and their followers at the Battle of
Armageddon. He will return, “with ten thousand of His saints” (Jude 14)
and “every eye will see Him and all the tribes will mourn because of Him”
(Rev 1:7). The following three time periods are important as regards the 1,000
year reign of Christ and His dealings with Satan:

* At the beginning of His reign –
Satan will be bound. Rev 20:1-3. The “bottomless pit” will be a place of
imprisonment for not only Satan, but for all fallen angels, demons and evil
spirits (Rev 9:1-2). Isaiah prophesied, “It shall come to pass in that day
that the Lord will punish on high the host of exalted ones and on earth the
kings of the earth. They will be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered
in the pit
(dungeon) and will be shut up in the prison; after many days
they will be punished”
(24:21-22).

* Towards the end of His reign –
Satan will be released. Rev 20:7-9. God will allow this rebellion, in order to
test the hearts of those who live on the earth and who have enjoyed perfect
government under His Son. They will be quickly defeated

* At the end of His reign – Satan
will be cast into hell. Rev 20:10. Only at the Great Judgement will man be cast
into hell (Rev 20:11-15).

2. ASPECTS OF THE MILLENNIUM REIGN OF CHRIST.

Gen 3:15. Adam and Eve were created
and appointed by God to rule the planet (Gen 1:26). They sadly failed to keep
His requirements and lost their delegated right to rule. However, before the
Lord banished them from Eden,
He gave a wonderful prophecy of a coming Redeemer who would break Satan’s
tyranny and regain rulership of the earth. Some aspects of His future reign
are:

a) It will be centred on Israel. Is 24:23. In Ps 2:6 we read, “Yet
I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion”
. Jesus will return:

* To Jerusalem. Acts 1:9-11. The prophet Zechariah
wrote, “in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east” (14:4).
Jesus will rule the world from here.

* To a re-established Israel.
Jer 23:3-8. “I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of
Israel and one king shall be king over them all; they shall no longer be two
nations, nor shall they ever be divided into two kingdoms again”
(Ez
37:22). God promised many times in Scripture that He would bring His people the
Jews (Israel)
back to their land and that He would prosper and bless them with all the area
of land promised, with the Messiah ruling over them.

* To a repentant remnant. Zech 12:10-14. In 13:6 we read, “And someone will say to him ‘what are these
wounds in your hands?’ Then he will answer, ‘those with which I was wounded in
the house of my friends’.”
This will be the start of a great repentance and
revival throughout the world.

b) It will be a Theocratic Kingdom. ‘Theocracy’ means, ‘Government by
God directly, through a delegated people.’ Two aspects of this will be:

* The absolute reign of the King.
Dan 7:13-14. Of this time we read in Isa 2:4, “He (Jesus) shall judge
between the nations and shall rebuke many people”
and in Ps 2:8-9, “Ask
of Me
(the Father) and I will give You (Jesus) the nations for
Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall
break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them in pieces like a potter’s
vessel”
. The Lord Jesus Christ will establish and continue His rule in His
way. Theocracy is different from democracy, in that in a theocracy God rules
absolutely and in a democracy men vote into power those they want to rule over
them. At that time every form of Government of men will be overthrown, whether
dictatorships or democracies. There will be no more political parties,
elections, referendums or revolutions.

* The righteous reign of the King.
Isa 9:6-7. In Zech 14:20 we read, “In that day ‘HOLINESS TO THE LORD’ shall
be engraved on the bells of the horses”
. God’s righteous government will be
imposed, His righteous Ruler will reign (Isa 11:3-5) and His righteous laws
will be administered (Isa 2:1-5).

c) It will be a literal,
physical Kingdom
. Zech 14:9. The present reign of
God is not geographical, but rather in the hearts of His followers throughout
the world. This will be extended when He returns, for Christ will rule over all
nations in Person, as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, from His throne in
Jerusalem (Isa 2:3). It will be:

* Indestructible. Dan 2:44. Looking
towards this time the writer to the Hebrews wrote, “since we are receiving a
kingdom which cannot be shaken”
(12:28). No person or angel will be able to
destroy it.

* Worshipful. Zech 14:16-19. In Isa
25:7-9 we read, “He will destroy on this mountain the surface of the
covering cast over all people and the veil that is spread over all nations.
…. And it will be said in that day ‘behold this is our God; we have waited
for Him and He will save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for Him, we will
be glad and rejoice in His salvation’”
. As a result of this Satanic
blindness being lifted, there will be a great spiritual revival throughout the
world. All will go to Jerusalem
to keep the feasts and to worship the King. Jesus will rule from Jerusalem, with David as
His vice regent (Ez 37:24-25). No other gods will be worshipped and all idols
will be destroyed (Isa 30:21).

d) It will be a Kingdom of
peace.
Satan and
his demons will be bound, which will have a great effect upon all who live at
that time, however, people will still be able to sin, for there will still
remain the sinful nature in man. Because of Christ’s theocratic reign, there
will be:

* No weapons of war, murder or
bloodshed. Isa 2:4. Looking to this time Micah prophesied, “They shall beat
their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks”
(4:3).

* Peace among nations. Isa
19:22-25. “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they
learn war any more. But everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig
tree and no one shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has
spoken”
(Micah 4:3-4).

* Harmony and peace between all
creation. Isa 11:6-9. In Isa 65:25 we read, “The wolf and the lamb shall
feed together. The lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the
serpent’s food. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, says
the Lord.”

e) It will be a Kingdom of
prosperity for all
.
The following will prevail:

* Abundant crops. Is 30:23-25. We
see in this Scripture:- Plentiful rains (v23), rivers and streams on every
mountain and hill (v25), plenty of seed to sow and grazing for cattle (v23) and
an abundance of cattle with plenty of fodder (v24). In Amos 9:13 we read, “Behold
the days are coming, says the Lord, when the ploughman shall overtake the
reaper and the treader of grapes him who sows seed; the mountains shall drip
with sweet wine and all the hills shall flow with it”
. The earth will be
transformed (no air pollution, effects from the ozone layer and harmful
insecticides), which will result in greatly increased food production. There
will be several harvests a year.

* Universal good health. Isa
35:4-6. Isaiah prophesied, “No more shall an infant from there live but a
few days, nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days; for the child shall
die one hundred years old”
(65:20). People will live very long and healthy
lives.

* A new economic system. Isa 65:21-23. Such things as weapons, drugs, alcohol and cigarettes will not be
manufactured and instead of money being spent on them, it will be spent on
food, housing and education. There will be no gambling or debts, neither will
there be unjust trade, where the rich can take advantage of the poor. Tithes
will be gladly given and there will be equality in the distribution of all
wealth. Jerusalem
will be the financial capital of the world.

f) It will be a Kingdom
where the saints will rule with Christ
. Dan 7:18, 22, 27.

* Now is a time of preparation. Rom 5:17. We are serving our apprenticeship, as we walk by faith in this earthly
pilgrimage, using our gifts, time and finances to His glory (Mt 25:14-30). One
of the reasons God is developing our character and has given authority and
power to the saints now, is to prepare us for that time, when we shall reign
with the Messiah Jesus in the Millennium and then into eternity (I Cor 6:2-3).

* Suffering with Christ prepares us
to reign with Him. Rom 8:16-17. Paul wrote to Timothy, “If we endure, we
shall reign with Him”
(II Tim 2:12). The reigning with Him is not a reward
for our suffering for Him. It is rather that as a result of our sufferings, we
become obedient and are changed into His likeness (Heb 5:8). The Kingdom of God is based on two principles – God’s
authority and our obedience. It was disobedience which caused Adam to forfeit
his right to rule. It was Christ’s obedience, which enabled Him to conquer
Satan and to regain the Kingdom. It will be our obedience and as its result,
the fruit of suffering for Him, which will qualify us to reign with Christ in
the coming Kingdom.

                              

God’s Kingdom

Rev. John Willoughby

GOD’S GLORIOUS KINGDOM.

(All scriptures in ‘New King James Version’, unless otherwise stated.)

XII. PREPARATION FOR THE COMING KING.

Mk 13:24-27. As one dispensation (the church age) slips into the next (the Millennium Age), so there is an overlapping or transitional period which (as part of this dispensation) is called, “the ends of the ages” (I Cor 10:11). Great changes lie ahead, as we come to and move through this transition period.

1. PREPARING FOR THE RETURN OF THE KING.

Phil 2:9-11. One day He will rule over all the nations. As we pray, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Mt 6:10), so our prayers are not only for now, but also for the future. At present His rulership is hidden, but on His return His reign and His Kingdom will become visible for all to see. Christ will then be King of Kings and Lord of Lords and all nations will submit to Him. The Second Coming of Christ is the greatest event ahead and will be the precise time when the rule of God will be on all the earth for all to see. There may be different interpretations, concerning the many Scriptures relating to this subject, but there are some major points on which we are all agreed:

a) Jesus will return first for His bride and secondly to rule. Rev 22:7. There will be two physical appearings. Firstly for His bride in the air, which is often referred to as the ‘rapture of the church’. Secondly (sometime after) to theMount of Olives, which is sometimes referred to as the ‘glorious appearing’. He will then reign from the city ofJerusalem for 1,000 years. The following are some of the differences:

Rapture. Glorious appearing.

* Christ comes at an unexpected time. Christ comes at an expected time.

(Mt 24:36, 42. Lk 21:34-36.) (Dan 9:24-27. 12:10-11. Rev 13:5.)

* He comes for His own. He comes with His own.

(Jn 14:3. I Thess 4:16-17.) (Jude 14. Rev 1:7.)

* He comes with a reward. He comes with vengeance.

(Rev 22:12. Isa 40:10.) (Jude 15. Rev 19:11-16.)

* He comes in the air. He comes to the earth.

(I Thess 4:17.) (Zech 14:3-5, 16. Acts 1:10-11.)

* He comes to claim His bride. He returns with His bride.

(Mt 25:1-13. Heb 9:28.) (Rev 19:6-14.)

* Only His own see Him. Every eye shall see Him.

(I Cor 15:51-52.) (Rev 1:7. Mt 24:30.)

b) Jesus will return first for an expectant and active people. Lk 19:12-26. For Christians, anticipating the return of the Lord keeps us spiritually alert. We need to be prepared and in a constant state of readiness, whether He returns before the Tribulation, in the middle or towards the end (Mt 25:1-13). How important it is to be actively involved in His work, “redeeming the time” (Col 4:5) and to use the gifts He has given us (Mt 25:14-30), especially the greatest of all – our salvation (the “mina” – Lk 19:12-26).

2. BEING PREPARED THROUGH TESTING.

Mt 24:9-14, 24-25. The Bible says, “We must through many tribulations enter theKingdomofGod” (Acts 14:22). This statement is consistent throughout Scripture. The word in Greek for ‘tribulation’ is ‘thlipsis’, which is most frequently translated as ‘testing’, ‘trial’ or ‘tribulation’. We should not imagine that we shall escape all the effects of the coming shaking of the world systems – including earthquakes, changing weather patterns, wars, political changes and economic upheavals. Also it is a time when Satan is extremely active for, “he knows his time is short” (NIV. Rev 12:12). His main attack will continue to centre on God’s true people. This will be a time of trial:

a) For God’s people. I Pt 4:16-19. Tribulation reveals how we really respond to Him by faith in difficult times. It tests our motives and purifies our hearts, refining us as pure gold, as we choose to seek Him more diligently:

* As individual Christians. I Cor 3:10-13. We will be effected by all going on around us, for we are living in the world, but our foundations are built on the solid rock of Christ. We shall continue to receive His grace and protection and He has promised that He will be with us right to the end (Mt 28:20). It will seem that everything in life is being shaken and tested – our faith and trust in God, our understanding of the church, our true commitment to Him, our belief system and even some of the doctrines we hold so dear. As we put Him first and make the right decisions – through testing our faith will be strengthened, we can come closer to God and be changed more into His likeness.

* As His Church. Rev 19:1-2. Jesus warns us in Mt 24:24, “For false christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to deceive, if possible even the elect”. As we draw near His return, so a false church will arise, which will grow stronger as time passes. It will be led towards the end by an international religious figure, which the Bible calls the false prophet (Rev 13:11-14, 19:20). This church (at least at the beginning) looks very similar to the real church, but is very different, being called the ‘harlot church’ in Scripture (Rev 17:5). The leaders and members of His church need great spiritual discernment and wisdom to know the difference between the true and the false.

b) For the world. Rom 8:19-22. The whole of creation is experiencing birth pains, prior to the birthing of theKingdom ofGod in glory. This humanistic world is heading for disintegration and destruction. The world wide problems of political unrest, wars, economic turmoil, international terrorism, plagues and starvation will never be solved by politics, religion or diplomacy – only by the intervention of God Himself (Haggai 2:6-7). The following will happen:

* A great shaking. Heb 12:25-29. God predicts that a time is coming, when He will shake the world so violently that every man made thing will be smashed. There will be wars, economic turmoil, natural disasters and the earth itself will be shaken with earthquakes, increasing in violence and quantity as we come nearer to His return (Mt 24:7). Earthly kings, dictators, rulers, governments and presidents will be brought to the ground (Isa 24:1-20). Law and order will disintegrate and anarchy will prevail. Men’s hearts will fail them for fear of what is coming upon the earth (Isa 2:19-21). The only thing which will remain after this time will be that which has been established by the Lord. From the smouldering ruins of humanism theKingdom ofGod will arise with great authority and glory.

* A great revival. Rev 7:9-14. God would like people to enter His Kingdom in the easy way, but the sinful human nature usually refuses this option and chooses instead to enter the hard way. In His love he may allow tribulation in our lives to mould us into the likeness of Christ, at such times we can either respond in rebellion or in repentance. Many people at the end of this age will eventually respond in repentance and will decide to enter His Kingdom the hard way – through tribulation.

* A great falling away. Mt 24:12-13. Paul writing of that day warns of a great “falling away” from the faith (II Thess 2:3). How we need to be disciplined in our Christian walk at such times of testing. In each of the letters to the seven churches in Revelation (Chs 2 and 3), the overcomers receive great blessings, no matter whether they were part of the persecutedchurchofSmyrna(2:8-11), or the lukewarm church at Laodecia (3:14-22).

3. PREPARATION THROUGH SPIRITUAL WARFARE.

Rev 12:7-11. What we see happening on earth (now and in the future) is only a reflection of what is happening in the heavenlies (Eph 6:12). The conflict is not between one tribe and another tribe, Islam versus Christianity, creation versus evolution or the rich versus the poor, it is rather between God and the devil, the angels of light and the angels of darkness. The last great conflict of the ages is now upon us, Satan is making his last bid to thwart the purposes of God and to control the world, but God is about to overthrow him and to establish His Government on earth. Even though the battle may be fierce, He is still in control and He has promised that, “he who endures to the end shall be saved” (Mt 24:13).

4. PREPARATION FOR REWARDS.

Mal 3:16. In Rev 22:12 we read, “Behold, I am coming quickly and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work”. Rewards for the faithful of the Kingdom are mentioned much in Scripture. Some are:

* Different mansions. Jn 14:2-3. Heaven will be so big (Rev 21:16). What a joy it will be one day to enter these wonderful dwellings, which He has prepared individually for each one of us.

* Different brightness of our new resurrection bodies. I Cor 15:41-44. Daniel prophesied, “Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars for ever and ever” (Dan 12:3).

* Different crowns. I Cor 9:25. There will be crowns:- “Of righteousness” – for those who long for Christ and His return (II Tim 4:8). “Of life” – for those who persevere in their faith through great testings (Rev 2:10. Jms 1:12). “Of glory” – for faithful pastors (I Pet 5:2-4). “Of rejoicing” – for those who lead many to the Lord (I Thess 2:19-20). However, Jesus did give us a warning, “Behold I come quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown” (Rev 3:11).

* Different responsibilities in the coming ages. Mt 25:21. How important it is that we use all our gifts for His glory, but especially the greatest of all – our salvation (Lk 19:12-19).

* Different treasures. Lk 12:33-35. The riches we accumulate here will be left behind, but what we invest in the Kingdom of God will be with us for eternity. Jesus said to the rich young ruler, “Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; and come follow Me” (Lk 18:22).

5. PREPARATION OF THE BRIDE.

Rev 19:7-9. In this passage we see that the bride has a responsibility to prepare herself and in Eph 5:25-26 we read that she is also being prepared. The upward call of God could happen at any time, thus His bride needs always to be ready and expectant.

In Heb 9:28 we read, “To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin for salvation.” There is a warning given by Jesus concerning the lukewarm, “I do not know you” (Mt 25:12). We read in the Song of Solomon, “Catch us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vine, for our vines have tender grapes” (2:15). Let not small things stop us doing that which is far more important – having a deep relationship with Jesus, which results in an eager expectancy in our hearts for His return. When we look back in millions of years time and eternity has only just started, we shall see that a heavenly vision is far more important than an earthly vision, for all that is not of Christ will be burnt up as wood hay and stubble, but that which is of Him will remain.

Let us make Him the priority of our life. “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come’! And let him who thirsts come. And whoever desires, let him take of the water of life freely” (Rev 22:17). In the Bible the last words of Jesus are, “Surely I am coming quickly”, and the last words of the bride are, “Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus!” (Rev 22:20).

                                 

God’s Kingdom

Rev. John Willoughby

GOD’S GLORIOUS KINGDOM.

(All scriptures in ‘New King James Version’, unless otherwise stated.)

X. PRINCIPLES AND WARNINGS FOR KINGDOM LIVING.

1. THE PRINCIPLES OF RIGHT MOTIVATION.

Religion is concerned with keeping observances and laws, but the King is interested in the inner motives of the heart. The Scribes and the Pharisees specialised in religious acts, for they did all the right things, but often with the imperfect motive of being seen by men. It is good to sometimes question the reasons we do things with questions such as – ‘why am I doing this’, ‘is my motive pure’, or ‘what will be the end result’? The Psalmist wrote, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting” (Ps 139:23-24). Three areas are mentioned for Kingdom motives:

a) Giving. Mt 6:1-4. For Christians financial giving can be a great blessing (Mal 3:8-12), but to those who hold back it can prove a serious curtailment to spiritual growth (Lk 18:22). The principle of giving regularly of 10% of our income came into being before the law (Gen 15:18-20) and is an act of faith in a big God. Jesus said, “Give and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use it will be measured back to you” (Lk 6:38). He also said that when we do give, it should be with the motive of blessing God and His purposes and should be done in privacy and with humility, for all we have is of Him.

b) Prayer. Mt 6:5-15. As with giving, prayer should be part of the Christian discipline, not only at special times, but also as part of our daily walk with the Lord. It forms part of the outworking of our relationship with Him and the more we do it, the more that relationship is strengthened. In v9-13 Jesus gives us not a religious set of words to be repeated, but rather a guide for our every day prayers. Our motives should firstly be to give glory to Him (v9-10), then to give our petitions and ending in proclaiming His power and glory in all situations (v11-13).

c) Fasting. Mt 6:16-18. It is good to note that Jesus said in v17, “when you fast”, repeating His words, “when you do charitable deeds” (6:2) and “when you pray” (6:5). Similar to giving and praying, our motives are not for self glory and the acclamation of men, but rather it is to be done, “in a secret place” to the glory of our “Father who sees in secret.” Fasting is not an option for a Christian, but should be part of Kingdom living and as with giving and prayer, it needs to be part of a disciplined lifestyle, with the result that there is often a battle with the flesh – but His grace is always sufficient. Fasting should not be done in a vacuum, but should be accompanied by other spiritual disciplines. Sometimes, especially when dealing with strongholds of the enemy, prayer together with fasting is the means of victory (Mt 17:14-21).

2. THE PRINCIPLES OF RESPONSIBLE STEWARDSHIP.

Mt 6:19-24. As citizens of the Kingdom we have given all our personal rights and all we have to the King, we therefore own nothing, but are simply stewards of what He has given back to us to use for His glory. Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (v21), this is a key to responsible stewardship. Paul referring to the “rich in this present age” wrote, “Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may may lay hold on eternal life” (I Tim 6:17-19). Our heart follows our giving, not the other way around. What we invest our finances in, reveals where our heart’s affections really are. As Jesus said, “you cannot serve both God and riches” (v24). God must always come first. If we invest in earthly things – moth, rust and thieves will destroy, but treasures invested in the eternal Kingdom will not only show our heart’s loyalties now, but will also produce eternal rewards.

3. THE PRINCIPLES OF RIGHT PRIORITIES.

Mt 6:25-34. Worry about the future can rob us of our peace and joy, but He wants us to by faith trust in Him for all things. The good can often be the enemy of the best. Jesus clearly defines our priorities, “seek first the Kingdom of God …. ” (v33). As we make Him and His Kingdom our priority with dedication and commitment, so we will find that our security rests in a loving and faithful Father, who wants our good and in His timing all the things we need will be given us.

4. THE PRINCIPLE OF TOLERANCE TOWARDS OUR BROTHER.

Mt 7:1-5. It is easier to criticize others than to recognise our own imperfections – seeing the speck in somebody else’s eye, yet not seeing the log in our own! We should not, however, be blind to other’s faults (v6), thus ignoring them, but rather to minister to them in love and compassion, seeking by prayer and counsel to help them to overcome those weaknesses, but being always aware of our own fallibility. How we treat others determines how we are treated. Paul wrote, “let us not judge one another any more, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way” (Rom 14:13).

5. THE PRINCIPLE OF DISCRIMINATE TEACHING.

Mt 7:6. Pearls are formed in the hidden depths of an oyster and are formed by friction and hardship. The deep things we learn of Kingdom life, that which are precious and valuable, need to be guarded and not given to those who will not receive them, but rather shared only with those who are hungry for the truths of the Kingdom. We read in Prov 9:8-9, “Do not reprove a scoffer, lest he hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser; teach a just man and he will increase in learning”. We are to share the message of the Kingdom with all, but the mysteries of the Kingdom are only for the committed.

6. THE PRINCIPLES OF CONSISTENT PRAYER.

Mt 7:7-12. The ‘asking’, ‘seeking’ and ‘knocking’ are all a continuous action in the original language, thus ‘keep on asking’ etc. We may see a progression in prayer in these verses:-

* “Ask and it shall be given you.” Making our requests known to God with thanksgiving and faith is the simplest form of prayer. As we continuously ask, so our heavenly Father will give, “good things to those who ask Him” (v11).

* “Seek and you shall find.” A deeper level of prayer is seeking after God – in order to know Him, to be changed into His likeness and to make Him known to others. He promises that, “You shall find Me, when you seek with all your heart” (Jer 29:13). This type of prayer demands more time, dedication, repentance and sacrifice, but it also results in greater rewards, both in answered prayers and in a deeper spiritual life.

* “Knock and the door shall be opened.” This is not an aggressive faith, which often insists on an immediate answer, but rather a persistence in prayer. As we discern what is the mind of the Holy Spirit and follow Him in gently knocking daily in prayer at His door, so our petitions will be answered in His timing and in His way (Lk 11:5-8). It can be discouraging when we do not see immediate answers to our prayers, however, Jesus encourages us to, ‘keep on knocking’.

7. THE PRINCIPLES OF TRAVELLING THE KINGDOM PATH.

Mt 7:13-14. Jesus said, “I am the Way the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (Jn 14:6) and “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me he will be saved” (Jn 10:9). Entry into His Kingdom is only through Christ, which puts us on the narrow path of daily faith in Him alone, as opposed to the broad way of the world, which would include all other paths of faith living, whether in false gods or the world system. Travelling the way of the Kingdom often leads to many difficulties and persecutions, as we stand for integrity and righteousness, but it “leads to life” (v14) and stretches into eternity.

8. THE WARNINGS OF FALSE:

a) Ministries. Mt 7:15-20. Those who have matured in their Christian walk by taking the, “solid food” of His Word and have put its truths into practice are also able to discern, “both good and evil” (Heb 5:14). John wrote, “Beloved do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (I Jn 4:1). How important it is to, “test all things” and “hold fast what is good” (I Thess 5:21), especially in the last days (Mt 24:11). All ministers of the Kingdom must be tested by the fruit of their lives and their ministry must be in agreement with God’s Word, when dealing with fundamental doctrine.

b) Disciples. Mt 7:21-23. It is false to proclaim Jesus as Lord with our lips, yet deny Him with our lifestyle. He said of those who would follow Him, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (Jn 14:15). James warned us, “be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (1:22). Only God can cause miracles and bring healing. He may in His grace use one of His servants to bless others, but the most important thing is that our hearts and lives are wholly His and we give Him glory at all times.

c) Foundations. Mt 7:24-27. We read in Eph 2:20-22, the “chief cornerstone” of the Christian faith is Christ Himself, “in whom the whole building , being fitted together grows into a holy temple in the Lord”. Wrong foundations can prove disastrous for any physical building, but how much more important it is for those who are, “being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (v27). Peter was given the revelation that Jesus is, “the Christ , the Son of the living God”. Jesus replied, “on this rock (truth) I will build My church” (Mt 16:16-18). How important it is that the foundation of our lives as Kingdom people is built on the solid foundation of the rock of Christ.

                               

God’s Kingdom

Rev. John Willoughby

GOD’S GLORIOUS KINGDOM.

(All scriptures in ‘New King James Version’, unless otherwise stated.)

XII. PREPARATION FOR THE COMING KING.

Mk 13:24-27. As one dispensation (the church age) slips into the next (the Millennium Age), so there is an overlapping or transitional period which (as part of this dispensation) is called, “the ends of the ages” (I Cor 10:11). Great changes lie ahead, as we come to and move through this transition period.

1. PREPARING FOR THE RETURN OF THE KING.

Phil 2:9-11. One day He will rule over all the nations. As we pray, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Mt 6:10), so our prayers are not only for now, but also for the future. At present His rulership is hidden, but on His return His reign and His Kingdom will become visible for all to see. Christ will then be King of Kings and Lord of Lords and all nations will submit to Him. The Second Coming of Christ is the greatest event ahead and will be the precise time when the rule of God will be on all the earth for all to see. There may be different interpretations, concerning the many Scriptures relating to this subject, but there are some major points on which we are all agreed:

a) Jesus will return first for His bride and secondly to rule. Rev 22:7. There will be two physical appearings. Firstly for His bride in the air, which is often referred to as the ‘rapture of the church’. Secondly (sometime after) to theMount of Olives, which is sometimes referred to as the ‘glorious appearing’. He will then reign from the city ofJerusalem for 1,000 years. The following are some of the differences:

Rapture. Glorious appearing.

* Christ comes at an unexpected time. Christ comes at an expected time.

(Mt 24:36, 42. Lk 21:34-36.) (Dan 9:24-27. 12:10-11. Rev 13:5.)

* He comes for His own. He comes with His own.

(Jn 14:3. I Thess 4:16-17.) (Jude 14. Rev 1:7.)

* He comes with a reward. He comes with vengeance.

(Rev 22:12. Isa 40:10.) (Jude 15. Rev 19:11-16.)

* He comes in the air. He comes to the earth.

(I Thess 4:17.) (Zech 14:3-5, 16. Acts 1:10-11.)

* He comes to claim His bride. He returns with His bride.

(Mt 25:1-13. Heb 9:28.) (Rev 19:6-14.)

* Only His own see Him. Every eye shall see Him.

(I Cor 15:51-52.) (Rev 1:7. Mt 24:30.)

b) Jesus will return first for an expectant and active people. Lk 19:12-26. For Christians, anticipating the return of the Lord keeps us spiritually alert. We need to be prepared and in a constant state of readiness, whether He returns before the Tribulation, in the middle or towards the end (Mt 25:1-13). How important it is to be actively involved in His work, “redeeming the time” (Col 4:5) and to use the gifts He has given us (Mt 25:14-30), especially the greatest of all – our salvation (the “mina” – Lk 19:12-26).

2. BEING PREPARED THROUGH TESTING.

Mt 24:9-14, 24-25. The Bible says, “We must through many tribulations enter theKingdomofGod” (Acts 14:22). This statement is consistent throughout Scripture. The word in Greek for ‘tribulation’ is ‘thlipsis’, which is most frequently translated as ‘testing’, ‘trial’ or ‘tribulation’. We should not imagine that we shall escape all the effects of the coming shaking of the world systems – including earthquakes, changing weather patterns, wars, political changes and economic upheavals. Also it is a time when Satan is extremely active for, “he knows his time is short” (NIV. Rev 12:12). His main attack will continue to centre on God’s true people. This will be a time of trial:

a) For God’s people. I Pt 4:16-19. Tribulation reveals how we really respond to Him by faith in difficult times. It tests our motives and purifies our hearts, refining us as pure gold, as we choose to seek Him more diligently:

* As individual Christians. I Cor 3:10-13. We will be effected by all going on around us, for we are living in the world, but our foundations are built on the solid rock of Christ. We shall continue to receive His grace and protection and He has promised that He will be with us right to the end (Mt 28:20). It will seem that everything in life is being shaken and tested – our faith and trust in God, our understanding of the church, our true commitment to Him, our belief system and even some of the doctrines we hold so dear. As we put Him first and make the right decisions – through testing our faith will be strengthened, we can come closer to God and be changed more into His likeness.

* As His Church. Rev 19:1-2. Jesus warns us in Mt 24:24, “For false christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to deceive, if possible even the elect”. As we draw near His return, so a false church will arise, which will grow stronger as time passes. It will be led towards the end by an international religious figure, which the Bible calls the false prophet (Rev 13:11-14, 19:20). This church (at least at the beginning) looks very similar to the real church, but is very different, being called the ‘harlot church’ in Scripture (Rev 17:5). The leaders and members of His church need great spiritual discernment and wisdom to know the difference between the true and the false.

b) For the world. Rom 8:19-22. The whole of creation is experiencing birth pains, prior to the birthing of theKingdom ofGod in glory. This humanistic world is heading for disintegration and destruction. The world wide problems of political unrest, wars, economic turmoil, international terrorism, plagues and starvation will never be solved by politics, religion or diplomacy – only by the intervention of God Himself (Haggai 2:6-7). The following will happen:

* A great shaking. Heb 12:25-29. God predicts that a time is coming, when He will shake the world so violently that every man made thing will be smashed. There will be wars, economic turmoil, natural disasters and the earth itself will be shaken with earthquakes, increasing in violence and quantity as we come nearer to His return (Mt 24:7). Earthly kings, dictators, rulers, governments and presidents will be brought to the ground (Isa 24:1-20). Law and order will disintegrate and anarchy will prevail. Men’s hearts will fail them for fear of what is coming upon the earth (Isa 2:19-21). The only thing which will remain after this time will be that which has been established by the Lord. From the smouldering ruins of humanism theKingdom ofGod will arise with great authority and glory.

* A great revival. Rev 7:9-14. God would like people to enter His Kingdom in the easy way, but the sinful human nature usually refuses this option and chooses instead to enter the hard way. In His love he may allow tribulation in our lives to mould us into the likeness of Christ, at such times we can either respond in rebellion or in repentance. Many people at the end of this age will eventually respond in repentance and will decide to enter His Kingdom the hard way – through tribulation.

* A great falling away. Mt 24:12-13. Paul writing of that day warns of a great “falling away” from the faith (II Thess 2:3). How we need to be disciplined in our Christian walk at such times of testing. In each of the letters to the seven churches in Revelation (Chs 2 and 3), the overcomers receive great blessings, no matter whether they were part of the persecutedchurchofSmyrna(2:8-11), or the lukewarm church at Laodecia (3:14-22).

3. PREPARATION THROUGH SPIRITUAL WARFARE.

Rev 12:7-11. What we see happening on earth (now and in the future) is only a reflection of what is happening in the heavenlies (Eph 6:12). The conflict is not between one tribe and another tribe, Islam versus Christianity, creation versus evolution or the rich versus the poor, it is rather between God and the devil, the angels of light and the angels of darkness. The last great conflict of the ages is now upon us, Satan is making his last bid to thwart the purposes of God and to control the world, but God is about to overthrow him and to establish His Government on earth. Even though the battle may be fierce, He is still in control and He has promised that, “he who endures to the end shall be saved” (Mt 24:13).

4. PREPARATION FOR REWARDS.

Mal 3:16. In Rev 22:12 we read, “Behold, I am coming quickly and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work”. Rewards for the faithful of the Kingdom are mentioned much in Scripture. Some are:

* Different mansions. Jn 14:2-3. Heaven will be so big (Rev 21:16). What a joy it will be one day to enter these wonderful dwellings, which He has prepared individually for each one of us.

* Different brightness of our new resurrection bodies. I Cor 15:41-44. Daniel prophesied, “Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars for ever and ever” (Dan 12:3).

* Different crowns. I Cor 9:25. There will be crowns:- “Of righteousness” – for those who long for Christ and His return (II Tim 4:8). “Of life” – for those who persevere in their faith through great testings (Rev 2:10. Jms 1:12). “Of glory” – for faithful pastors (I Pet 5:2-4). “Of rejoicing” – for those who lead many to the Lord (I Thess 2:19-20). However, Jesus did give us a warning, “Behold I come quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown” (Rev 3:11).

* Different responsibilities in the coming ages. Mt 25:21. How important it is that we use all our gifts for His glory, but especially the greatest of all – our salvation (Lk 19:12-19).

* Different treasures. Lk 12:33-35. The riches we accumulate here will be left behind, but what we invest in theKingdomofGodwill be with us for eternity. Jesus said to the rich young ruler, “Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; and come follow Me” (Lk 18:22).

5. PREPARATION OF THE BRIDE.

Rev 19:7-9. In this passage we see that the bride has a responsibility to prepare herself and in Eph 5:25-26 we read that she is also being prepared. The upward call of God could happen at any time, thus His bride needs always to be ready and expectant.

In Heb 9:28 we read, “To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin for salvation.” There is a warning given by Jesus concerning the lukewarm, “I do not know you” (Mt 25:12). We read in the Song of Solomon, “Catch us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vine, for our vines have tender grapes” (2:15). Let not small things stop us doing that which is far more important – having a deep relationship with Jesus, which results in an eager expectancy in our hearts for His return. When we look back in millions of years time and eternity has only just started, we shall see that a heavenly vision is far more important than an earthly vision, for all that is not of Christ will be burnt up as wood hay and stubble, but that which is of Him will remain.

Let us make Him the priority of our life. “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come’! And let him who thirsts come. And whoever desires, let him take of the water of life freely” (Rev 22:17). In the Bible the last words of Jesus are, “Surely I am coming quickly”, and the last words of the bride are, “Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus!” (Rev 22:20).

                             

God’s Kingdom

Rev. John Willoughby

GOD’S GLORIOUS KINGDOM.

(All scriptures in ‘New King James Version’, unless otherwise stated.)

XI. MYSTERIES OF THE KINGDOM.

Mt 13:10-17, 34-35. The Gospel of Matthew gives great emphasis on the Kingly role of Jesus Christ. Much of this teaching is given in parables – natural stories, which convey a spiritual truth. Jesus said to His disciples (concerning parables), “It has been given to you to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given” (v11). In English the word ‘mystery’ means, ‘something hidden’ or ‘difficult to understand’. However, biblically it means, ‘something which has been kept secret for a long time, but is now revealed’ (v35). These parables gave truth about the Kingdom, which had not been understood before that time. Only His disciples, those with eyes to see an ears to hear’ (v16), were given understanding. The religious people of His day were not given revelation, but rather were confused (v13). The same is true today, for those with humble hearts and with ‘ears to hear’, they will hear “what the Spirit is saying” (Rev 2:7). Those, however, who are not willing to spiritually see and hear will continue in their confusion. In Mt Ch 13, there are 7 such parables:-

1. THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER.

v3-9, 18-23. The sower is the Holy Spirit (speaking through His people), “the seed is the Word of God” (Lk 8:11) and the soil is the human heart (v19). The four types of soil speak of four different reactions to the seed sown:

* By the wayside (v4, 19). This seed cannot penetrate the hard and unprepared ground (perhaps a path), but lies on its surface (never taking root), therefore the birds come and devour it. It represents those whose hearts are hard (possibly having already rejected the message many times before) and who are not willing to receive or understand it, therefore Satan “snatches” it away.

* On stony ground (v5-6, 20-21). The seed falls onto rocky land, with many stones and with little soil, it therefore has little moisture and fertile soil in which the roots can take hold, thus the first shoots are quickly burned up by the sun. This represents someone who receives the Word, but with a shallow and superficial heart. He receives it emotionally, “with joy” (v20), but it is not able to penetrate. When troubles or persecution come, “because of the Word”, he turns from the Kingdom.

* On thorny ground (v7, 22). It falls on ground covered by weeds and thorns, which smother it before it can really take root. This speaks of the heart, which receives the Word, but is over occupied with the “cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches”. Soon such people fall away.

* The good ground (v8, 23). The seed falls on prepared soil and yields a crop. This is the good and prepared heart, which is open and receptive to the Word. Even then there is a variation of yield (30 fold, 60 fold and 100 fold), depending on the response of faith and obedience.

Of all the parables this one is the most important for Jesus said, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?” (Mk 4:13). In v9 we read, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear”. We see that the Word of the Kingdom comes upon us softly (as seed falling on the ground) and not as a hammer or a thunderbolt. The truths of the Kingdom are not forced upon anybody, for they can be resisted and refused. God does not want prisoners or conscripts, He rather wants volunteers.

2. THE PARABLE OF THE WHEAT AND THE TARES.  

v24-30 , 37-43. This gives us a warning of the presence of people (giving the impression that they are in the Kingdom), who follow different cults, which are often quite close in their teaching to Christianity or are religious in their outlook. They may look and act very like Christians, but are not. We are instructed not to disturb them, but to leave them in the hands of God, for He is their judge. Our ministry is simply to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth (Mt 24:14).

a) The Sowers and the field. One Sower is the Son of Man, another is Satan (v24-25, 37). The field is the whole world (v38).

b) Two different types of seed.

* The good seeds are the children of the Kingdom and the tares are the children of the devil (v25, 38).

* While growing in the field, both tares and wheat look exactly alike to the untrained eye and both grow up together (v30).

* The difference is that the wheat gives fruit (a crop of grain), while the tares give nothing (v26). Also the wheat has a root system that goes deep (vertically) down into the earth, while the roots of the tares grow horizontally near the earth’s surface. We can learn by this, that our roots need to go deep into God through being obedient to His Word and His Spirit.

* We are instructed not to pull out the tares now (v28-29), but to leave them to the time of harvest. The reason for this is that the tares are different from the wheat and may be difficult to recognise; also if we pull out the tares, their roots (being entwined with those of the wheat) will pull up the wheat plants at the same time, thus causing great damage.

c) Two different crops. There is a great difference between the tares and the wheat and this will only be fully seen at the final harvest.

* The harvesters are the angels and the harvest is the end of the age (v30, 39-41). Jesus said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted” (Mt 15:13).

* The “sons of the Kingdom” (wheat) are welcomed into heaven and the “sons of the wicked one” (tares) are cast into hell (v30, 38, 43).

We see today a great revival throughout the world preparing for the return of Christ. This move effects not only the children of God, but also the children of Satan, who are involved in cults and false religions. It would also include unbelievers and the religious churchgoers who have no relationship with Jesus, “having a form of godliness but denying its power” (II Tim 3:5). Both groups (tares and wheat) are growing up together and sometimes they look alike, but God knows the difference.

3. THE PARABLE OF THE MUSTARD SEED.

v31-32. It is implied by the previous parables that the sower is God, the seed is the Word of God and the field is the world.

* The mustard seed is amongst the tiniest of seeds. This seed of the Kingdom, “The Word” (Jn 1:1) was planted by God in Bethlehem nearly two thousand years ago, in the form of a tiny infant called Jesus. The movement that Christ started grew, but even when He ascended into heaven, there were only about 500 gathered to see the event. He left this earth having discipled only 12 apostles and 70 disciples and one of these betrayed Him.

* The tiniest of seeds started to grow into a mighty tree. Later a small group of 120 of His followers waited in an upper room and there received the promise of their Father in the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This group grew into a movement that effected the whole world. People of the First Century said of them, “they who have turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6).

* The mustard seed is the Gospel of today. As we are obedient and preach this simple message, so the Holy Spirit takes it and implants it into the hearts of men. There the tiny seeds of revelation are nurtured by the Holy Spirit and grow to transform people into strong Christians, who effect cities, governments and nations.

4. THE PARABLE OF THE LEAVEN.

v33. Leaven is added to wheat flower, to make the bread rise when baked and effects the whole loaf. In this parable “the Kingdom of God” is likened to leaven. This shows how that just as leaven effects the bread for good, so the Good News of the Kingdom effects the whole world for good, reaching every part.

5. THE PARABLE OF THE HIDDEN TREASURE.

v44. The man symbolizes a seeker after God, the treasure is theKingdomofGodand the field symbolizes the world. As the treasure was hidden until found, so the truth of the message is hidden, until revelation is given to seeking hearts by the Holy Spirit. As earthly treasure is valuable in this world, so the truth of theKingdomofGodis of immense value for eternity. It has such great and significant value for now and eternity, that nothing should prevent us from seeking for it, even to selling all our earthly belongings to find and hold it.

6. THE PARABLE OF THE PEARL OF GREAT PRICE.

v45-46. Again the merchant is a seeker after God and the beautiful pearl is the Kingdomof God. A pearl is formed in an oyster and is caused by a tiny grain of sand entering it, thus causing an irritation. In order to stop this irritation, a secretion covers the grain, which in time forms a pearl. All this happens in the darkness of a living oyster and it is caused by pain. Christ lived for just over 33 years, 30 of which were covered over. He then suffered pain and death for us, so that we might receive eternal life. It is worth putting all aside, in order to receive this wonderful gift, the “pearl of great price”.

7. THE PARABLE OF THE DRAGNET.

v47-50. This final parable in this series describes the final in gathering of all humanity throughout the whole world at the end of the age.

* The sea symbolizes the restless nations of the world and typifies humanity.

* The net is the Gospel sent into all the world. It is typical of a large net dragged through the water, catching all in its path. The net filled speaks of the great in gathering of humanity at the close of the age.

* The good fish (the “just”) are those who have surrendered to the rule of God through Christ. They are gathered into the vessels of the Lord, but the bad fish (the “wicked”) are cast away into judgement (the “furnace of fire”).

                                

God’s Kingdom

Rev. John Willoughby

GOD’S GLORIOUS KINGDOM.

(All scriptures in ‘New King James Version’, unless otherwise stated.)

X. PRINCIPLES AND WARNINGS FOR KINGDOM LIVING.

1. THE PRINCIPLES OF RIGHT MOTIVATION.

Religion is concerned with keeping observances and laws, but the King is interested in the inner motives of the heart. The Scribes and the Pharisees specialised in religious acts, for they did all the right things, but often with the imperfect motive of being seen by men. It is good to sometimes question the reasons we do things with questions such as – ‘why am I doing this’, ‘is my motive pure’, or ‘what will be the end result’? The Psalmist wrote, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting” (Ps 139:23-24). Three areas are mentioned for Kingdom motives:

a) Giving. Mt 6:1-4. For Christians financial giving can be a great blessing (Mal 3:8-12), but to those who hold back it can prove a serious curtailment to spiritual growth (Lk 18:22). The principle of giving regularly of 10% of our income came into being before the law (Gen 15:18-20) and is an act of faith in a big God. Jesus said, “Give and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use it will be measured back to you” (Lk 6:38). He also said that when we do give, it should be with the motive of blessing God and His purposes and should be done in privacy and with humility, for all we have is of Him.

b) Prayer. Mt 6:5-15. As with giving, prayer should be part of the Christian discipline, not only at special times, but also as part of our daily walk with the Lord. It forms part of the outworking of our relationship with Him and the more we do it, the more that relationship is strengthened. In v9-13 Jesus gives us not a religious set of words to be repeated, but rather a guide for our every day prayers. Our motives should firstly be to give glory to Him (v9-10), then to give our petitions and ending in proclaiming His power and glory in all situations (v11-13).

c) Fasting. Mt 6:16-18. It is good to note that Jesus said in v17, “when you fast”, repeating His words, “when you do charitable deeds” (6:2) and “when you pray” (6:5). Similar to giving and praying, our motives are not for self glory and the acclamation of men, but rather it is to be done, “in a secret place” to the glory of our “Father who sees in secret.” Fasting is not an option for a Christian, but should be part of Kingdom living and as with giving and prayer, it needs to be part of a disciplined lifestyle, with the result that there is often a battle with the flesh – but His grace is always sufficient. Fasting should not be done in a vacuum, but should be accompanied by other spiritual disciplines. Sometimes, especially when dealing with strongholds of the enemy, prayer together with fasting is the means of victory (Mt 17:14-21).

2. THE PRINCIPLES OF RESPONSIBLE STEWARDSHIP.

Mt 6:19-24. As citizens of the Kingdom we have given all our personal rights and all we have to the King, we therefore own nothing, but are simply stewards of what He has given back to us to use for His glory. Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (v21), this is a key to responsible stewardship. Paul referring to the “rich in this present age” wrote, “Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may may lay hold on eternal life” (I Tim 6:17-19). Our heart follows our giving, not the other way around. What we invest our finances in, reveals where our heart’s affections really are. As Jesus said, “you cannot serve both God and riches” (v24). God must always come first. If we invest in earthly things – moth, rust and thieves will destroy, but treasures invested in the eternal Kingdom will not only show our heart’s loyalties now, but will also produce eternal rewards.

3. THE PRINCIPLES OF RIGHT PRIORITIES.

Mt 6:25-34. Worry about the future can rob us of our peace and joy, but He wants us to by faith trust in Him for all things. The good can often be the enemy of the best. Jesus clearly defines our priorities, “seek first the Kingdom of God …. ” (v33). As we make Him and His Kingdom our priority with dedication and commitment, so we will find that our security rests in a loving and faithful Father, who wants our good and in His timing all the things we need will be given us.

4. THE PRINCIPLE OF TOLERANCE TOWARDS OUR BROTHER.

Mt 7:1-5. It is easier to criticize others than to recognise our own imperfections – seeing the speck in somebody else’s eye, yet not seeing the log in our own! We should not, however, be blind to other’s faults (v6), thus ignoring them, but rather to minister to them in love and compassion, seeking by prayer and counsel to help them to overcome those weaknesses, but being always aware of our own fallibility. How we treat others determines how we are treated. Paul wrote, “let us not judge one another any more, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way” (Rom 14:13).

5. THE PRINCIPLE OF DISCRIMINATE TEACHING.

Mt 7:6. Pearls are formed in the hidden depths of an oyster and are formed by friction and hardship. The deep things we learn of Kingdom life, that which are precious and valuable, need to be guarded and not given to those who will not receive them, but rather shared only with those who are hungry for the truths of the Kingdom. We read in Prov 9:8-9, “Do not reprove a scoffer, lest he hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser; teach a just man and he will increase in learning”. We are to share the message of the Kingdom with all, but the mysteries of the Kingdom are only for the committed.

6. THE PRINCIPLES OF CONSISTENT PRAYER.

Mt 7:7-12. The ‘asking’, ‘seeking’ and ‘knocking’ are all a continuous action in the original language, thus ‘keep on asking’ etc. We may see a progression in prayer in these verses:-

* “Ask and it shall be given you.” Making our requests known to God with thanksgiving and faith is the simplest form of prayer. As we continuously ask, so our heavenly Father will give, “good things to those who ask Him” (v11).

* “Seek and you shall find.” A deeper level of prayer is seeking after God – in order to know Him, to be changed into His likeness and to make Him known to others. He promises that, “You shall find Me, when you seek with all your heart” (Jer 29:13). This type of prayer demands more time, dedication, repentance and sacrifice, but it also results in greater rewards, both in answered prayers and in a deeper spiritual life.

* “Knock and the door shall be opened.” This is not an aggressive faith, which often insists on an immediate answer, but rather a persistence in prayer. As we discern what is the mind of the Holy Spirit and follow Him in gently knocking daily in prayer at His door, so our petitions will be answered in His timing and in His way (Lk 11:5-8). It can be discouraging when we do not see immediate answers to our prayers, however, Jesus encourages us to, ‘keep on knocking’.

7. THE PRINCIPLES OF TRAVELLING THE KINGDOM PATH.

Mt 7:13-14. Jesus said, “I am the Way the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (Jn 14:6) and “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me he will be saved” (Jn 10:9). Entry into His Kingdom is only through Christ, which puts us on the narrow path of daily faith in Him alone, as opposed to the broad way of the world, which would include all other paths of faith living, whether in false gods or the world system. Travelling the way of the Kingdom often leads to many difficulties and persecutions, as we stand for integrity and righteousness, but it “leads to life” (v14) and stretches into eternity.

8. THE WARNINGS OF FALSE:

a) Ministries. Mt 7:15-20. Those who have matured in their Christian walk by taking the, “solid food” of His Word and have put its truths into practice are also able to discern, “both good and evil” (Heb 5:14). John wrote, “Beloved do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (I Jn 4:1). How important it is to, “test all things” and “hold fast what is good” (I Thess 5:21), especially in the last days (Mt 24:11). All ministers of the Kingdom must be tested by the fruit of their lives and their ministry must be in agreement with God’s Word, when dealing with fundamental doctrine.

b) Disciples. Mt 7:21-23. It is false to proclaim Jesus as Lord with our lips, yet deny Him with our lifestyle. He said of those who would follow Him, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (Jn 14:15). James warned us, “be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (1:22). Only God can cause miracles and bring healing. He may in His grace use one of His servants to bless others, but the most important thing is that our hearts and lives are wholly His and we give Him glory at all times.

c) Foundations. Mt 7:24-27. We read in Eph 2:20-22, the “chief cornerstone” of the Christian faith is Christ Himself, “in whom the whole building , being fitted together grows into a holy temple in the Lord”. Wrong foundations can prove disastrous for any physical building, but how much more important it is for those who are, “being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (v27). Peter was given the revelation that Jesus is, “the Christ , the Son of the living God”. Jesus replied, “on this rock (truth) I will build My church” (Mt 16:16-18). How important it is that the foundation of our lives as Kingdom people is built on the solid foundation of the rock of Christ.

                                 

God’s Kingdom

Rev. John Willoughby

GOD’S GLORIOUS KINGDOM.

(All scriptures in ‘New King James Version’, unless otherwise stated.)

IX. SPIRITUAL LAWS FOR KINGDOM LIVING.

Mt 5:17-20. The Old Testament laws that applied directly to the nation of Israel, such as the sacrificial, ceremonial, social and civil laws are no longer binding (Heb 10:1-4). However, the laws of the New Covenant given by Christ give us a deeper understanding of the moral laws of God and apply to all people today. These moral laws of the Kingdom are not legally enforced with penalties and even death for those who break them – as was the law of Moses. They are rather principles for living, which the Word of God builds into every submissive heart by His Spirit. Paul wrote, “Walk in the Spirit and you shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh” (Gal 5:16). If we do not do this, we will suffer spiritually, resulting in a lack of peace, joy and blessing in our daily walk with the Lord. We therefore need to study the laws of the Kingdom, in order to understand how He would have us to live, be an example and teach others. Of such a person Jesus says, “he shall be called great in the Kingdom of God” (v19). King Jesus announces these spiritual laws in Matthew Chapter 5.

1. THE LAW AGAINST UNJUSTIFIED ANGER.

Mt 5:21-26. In Rev 21:8 we read, “murderers …. shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire”. Jesus pointed out that the cause of murder is often anger, which can result in violent revenge. However, there is anger which is justified, for the Bible mentions several times that God was angry particularly over sin. This type of anger is often called ‘righteous indignation’ and is the controlled expression of annoyance or displeasure (Jn 2:13-16). We read in Eph 4:26-27, “Be angry and do not sin, do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil”. The anger which the Kingdom law prohibits is that which is bitter and nasty, with a lack of self control – for this we need to repent. The apostle John wrote in I Jn 3:15, “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him”. Jesus encourages us to, “be reconciled to your brother” and to “agree with your adversary quickly”, lest evil come upon us (v24-25). This is only possible by His grace, forgiveness and true repentance.

2. THE LAW OF SEXUAL PURITY.

Mt 5:27-30. The law of Moses forbade the act of adultery (Ex 20:14). The law of the Kingdom is a higher law, which does not break the law of Moses, but rather supersedes it. Jesus is not advocating the literal amputation of the hand or the physical gouging out of the eye. Actually neither the hand nor the eye are the real problem, it is rather that which is behind the cause of the actions, which needs to be dealt with. Jesus said, “out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Mt 15:19). As Christians we must be careful what we see on television, the internet or magazines. Job could say, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl” (NIV. Job 31:1). Christian women (and men) are advised to dress modestly (I Tim 2:9). Paul warns, “Flee sexual immorality …. he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body …. do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. …. you are not your own. For you were bought at a price” (I Cor 6:18-20). In Rev 21:4 we read that the, “sexually immoral …. shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” Whatever is necessary to keep our hearts pure, we need to do with determination, for if we play with sin, it will destroy us.

3. THE LAW OF FIDELITY IN MARRIAGE.

Mt 5:31-32. Marriage is a deep commitment of love and faithfulness between a man and a woman, which must not be broken except for possibly sexual unfaithfulness. Under the law of Moses those caught in adultery were to be stoned to death (Dt 2:22), leaving the innocent party free to marry again. However, God says that, “He hates divorce” (Mal 2:16). Not only are the adults scarred for life as a result, but the children are often deeply effected. The break up of families through divorce can and does have a very detrimental effect upon the whole of society. The Bible makes it clear that sexual relationships outside of marriage between a man and a woman are wrong and will be judged (Col 3:5-6). In Heb 13:4 we read, “Marriage is honourable among all, and the bed undefiled, but fornicators and adulterers God will judge”.

4. THE LAW OF INTEGRITY IN WORDS AND ACTIONS.

Mt 5:33-37. The Kingdom citizen must:

a) Keep promises. Jesus said in v33, “you …. shall perform your oaths to the Lord”. In Num 30:2 we read, “if a man vows a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by some agreement, he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth”. How important that our ‘yes’ must be ‘yes and our ‘no’ must be ‘no’, firstly with God and also with our neighbour. We are called to be people of our word, being reliable and consistent, so that others will put their trust in what we say. This applies to such matters as being on time for appointments and keeping promises – even when it is inconvenient to do so.

b) Not swear. In v34 we read, “do not swear at all”. The third commandment reads, “You shall not take the Name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His Name in vain” (Ex 20:7). Paul who was, “formerly a blasphemer” (I Tim 1:13) could later write, “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how to answer each one” (Col 4:6). God’s Word is a blessing and an encouragement to us. How our words to Him need to bless Him with the praise of our lips (Ps 63:3). Paul wrote concerning our conversation with others, “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Col 4:6).

5. THE LAW OF NON-RETALIATION.

Mt 5:38-42. The spirit of retaliation is part of our fallen nature. Christ, however, encourages us to try not to justify ourselves, but allow God to do so. We read in I Pet 2:21-23, “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps …. who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return, when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.” Our role is to love our enemies, to do good to them and to allow God to deal with them in His own way. It is easy to respond to criticism or aggression in like manner, but the Kingdom citizen should never retaliate, but rather seek how he can bless his enemies. Only God’s grace is sufficient at such times. In Heb 4:16 we read, “Lets come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need”.

6. THE LAW OF PERFECT LOVE.

Mt 5:43-48. The fulfillment of the whole law of God is expressed in one word – ‘love’. Kingdom love is supernatural and goes far beyond any human love. It triumphs, when human love has expired. We can see this supernatural love in Jesus’ words, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (Jn 3:16). The word used here is ‘agapao’, which in its meaning has an element of sacrifice. As we die to our old nature and are changed into His likeness, we will love more, “for God is love” (I Jn 4:8). This supernatural and sacrificial love (‘agapao’) He has placed within our hearts, in order to love others as He loved us, despite sometimes not being appreciated or even liked in return.

                              

 

God’s Kingdon

Rev. John Willoughby

GOD’S GLORIOUS KINGDOM.

(All scriptures in ‘New King James Version’, unless otherwise stated.)

VIII. CHARACTER OF KINGDOM PEOPLE.

1. KINGDOM GREATNESS.

Mt 20:20-28. Serving others with no earthly rewards, but with the hope of eventual heavenly approval is so different to worldly greatness with its present earthly rewards of power, riches and acclaim. Concerning the former A.W. Tozer wrote, ‘There are two types of greatness recognised in the Scriptures – an absolute, uncreated greatness belonging to God alone and a relative and finite greatness achieved by or bestowed upon certain friends of God and sons of faith, who by obedience and self denial seek to become as much like God as possible’. There is nothing wrong with a desire to be great in theKingdomofGodprovided we:

  • Allow God to decide what is true greatness.
  • Seek His kind of greatness.
  • Are willing to pay the full price that true greatness demands.
  • Are content to wait for the final judgement of God to settle the whole matter of who is great.

2. KINGDOM RIGHTEOUSNESS.

Ps 11:7. We read in Rom 14:17, “for theKingdomofGodis not food and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit”. In His teaching, Jesus describes the righteousness required of those who are citizens of His Kingdom. Such righteousness is a right standing before God and must be built into the character, before it can be manifest in deeds.

a) Righteousness of religious people. Mt 5:20. The Scribes were religious theologians, who gave their full time to the study of the scrolls and the righteous acts of the law, whilst the Pharisees were their disciples and followed their teachings to the letter. Both groups specialized in keeping religious rules.

b) Righteousness of Kingdom people. Rom 5:17-19. Paul wrote, “that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness which is from the law, but that which is from faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith” (Phil 3:9). True righteousness of the Kingdom must exceed the keeping of laws and directions. The unregenerate human heart can never attain to the holy righteousness that God demands in His Law. The only way it is possible for the high standards of God to be fulfilled is not through our own strivings, but through receiving the gift of righteousness through the cleansing of the blood of His Son and the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit within us.

3. BLESSED OF THE KINGDOM.

Mt 5:13-16. The principles taught by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount mark those who submit themselves to the rule of the King and are the foundation of His teaching on Kingdom character. Unfortunately they are frequently ignored by Christians, but only when they are present and working in our lives are we, “the light of the world” and “the salt of the earth.” Let us study the Beatitudes in Matthew Chapter 5:

a) True humility – “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven” (v3). Jms 4:6, 10. It is good to note that it is the “poor in spirit”, not the ‘poor in a material sense’. Some poor people have a very proud spirit, while some wealthy people may have a humble spirit. True humility is the fruit of repentance and is simply being who we are (as God created us), with an absence of pride and self righteousness. It is the attribute of a person who has fully realized their own inadequacy and has put their whole trust and confidence in God.

b) Godly sorrow – “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted (v4). Ps 51:1-4. This is an inner attitude towards God of deep repentance and true sorrow for sin. Such people do not appear sorrowful (with sad faces), but rather they are full of the joy of the Lord. It is also a mourning and a praying for the poor and badly treated of the world. God wants a people who are not always thinking about themselves, but rather have a heart for those in need.

c) Meekness – “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth (v5). Mt 11:29. Meekness is not weakness, rather it is strength of character. Moses and Jesus are the two finest examples of this. It is an attitude of willing submissiveness towards God, an inner lamb like spirit, which is gentle, modest and unassuming and a tolerant, tender attitude towards others. He desires to change us into the likeness of His Son and in order to do this He allows us to go through trials and sufferings, so that through our obedience He is able to work His Life into us. He is not looking for brilliant people, with many natural talents, personality and drive, but rather for those who have placed their whole dependency and trust in Him. Such people have no self confidence, pride or independence, but have a true brokenness of spirit, which only comes from deep dealings of His Spirit.

d) Spiritual hunger for righteousness – “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled” (v6). Ps 42:1-3. It is:

  • A compelling desire for personal righteousness. This “hunger and thirst” after God and His righteousness is what David experienced. Physically the more one hungers, the more one wants to eat, the more one thirsts the more one wants to drink. Spiritually the greater our hunger and thirst after Him, the greater our capacity for Him. Hunger or thirst will drive a person to satisfy their need.
  • A compelling desire for His righteousness to fill His church. How He must be grieved when His people disregard His Word and go the way of the flesh and the world. Peter wrote to the church in his first Epistle, “you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (2:9).
  • A compelling desire for His righteousness to be manifest on earth. He desires justice for all people. Jesus taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Mt 6:10).
  • A wonderful promise to “be filled”. God is faithful to those who seek Him with all of their hearts. Jesus said, “seek first the kingdomof Godand His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you” (Mt 6:33).

e) Mercy – “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy(v7). Mt 18:21-35. Mercy is mentioned 267 times in the Bible, which indicates the importance God gives to it. It comes from a heart of compassion, expressing itself in kindness, understanding and sympathy and describes one of the wonderful attributes of the character of God. We could never be worthy of His favour, for it is only through His mercy that we receive anything. God redeemed us and loves us not because of anything we do or have, but because of His grace and mercy. Whatever a person sows that will he also reap, so as God is merciful to us, He wants us to be merciful to others.

f) Inner purity – “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (v8). Mt 5:27-28. For many people religion is a set of rules, which must be kept. For them appearances are important (they must be seen to be doing the right thing), but Jesus is more concerned with inner purity of the heart. His teachings go far deeper than the Old Covenant Law. He said, “the lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light” (Mt 6:22). The body full of light speaks of inner purity, innocence and integrity, this is only obtained by looking in repentance to Jesus with singleness of vision. The single eye will have clear vision and see God in His Holiness.

g) The peacemaker – “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God (v9). II Cor 5:18-19. God loves peace and is frequently called, “the God of peace” (Heb 13:20). ‘Peace’ in Hebrew is ‘shalom’. This word does not just mean ‘the end to war’, but also means ‘everything that is necessary for our contentment, good and well-being.’ True peacemakers are like their heavenly Father and bear His image. If we cannot achieve peace amongst Christians, we will never acquire it in the world. He reconciled us to Himself through His Son and he wants us to fulfil the ministry of reconciliation, both pointing people to God and to one another in love and peace.

h) The persecuted – “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you, when they revile and persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (v10-12). Jn 15:18-21. As we are, “poor in spirit”, “those who mourn”, “the meek”, “those who hunger and thirst for righteousness”, “merciful”, “pure in heart” and “peacemakers”, so as a result we shall “be persecuted for righteousness sake”. Jesus prayed to His Father for such, “the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world” (Jn 17:14). He gives us His grace to be long suffering and forgiving in persecution, as we follow the Lord in His righteousness. As He suffered, so we shall suffer. This suffering must be for righteous acts and not for unrighteous things we do. We can also rejoice, for one day we shall receive a reward. At that time our sufferings will seem as nothing, in comparison to all He has prepared for us.

                                    

 

God’s Kingdom

Rev. John Willoughby

GOD’S GLORIOUS KINGDOM.

(All scriptures in ‘New King James Version’, unless otherwise stated.)

VII. WARFARE OF THE KINGDOM.

1. A SPIRITUAL BATTLEFIELD.

Satan hates Jesus and all who would follow Him. There are three areas of this conflict for a Kingdom person – the flesh the world and the devil. Satan will try to use the temptations of the world, together with the temptations of the flesh to attack us and to draw us away from God and His purposes for our lives. This battle will increase in intensity, as we draw near to the return of Christ (Mt 24:12). Through Christ, however, our victory is certain over:

a) The flesh – through death and resurrection. Mt 16:24-25. We cannot improve the flesh, the only answer to its rebellion to the work of the Spirit is death. We proclaim this to the world publicly, when we are baptised in water (Rom 6:1-11), for by faith we see ourselves in Christ – as He died on the cross nearly two thousand years ago, so we died in Him. As we died, so we were also raised by faith in Him and walk in resurrection life, having victory over the flesh. As Paul could say, “I die daily” (I Cor 15:21), so also with us it is an ongoing walk of faith.

b) The world – through obedience and faith. I Jn 2:15-17. We see in v16 three areas of temptation, which Satan used against Adam and Eve and then against the Second Adam – “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life” (Gen 3:6. Mt 4:1-11). If they were tempted in these areas, so will we. In the same Epistle John could write, “We know that we are of God and that the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one”, but “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” and “whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith” (5:19, 4:4, 5:4).

c) The devil – through submission and resistance. Jms 4:7-10. Submission to God must come before resisting the devil (v7). Peter warns us, “Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (I Pet 5:8), but we know that the lion is tethered! In our warfare with Satan it is good to know:

  • The battleground is spiritual. Eph 6:12. His followers probably number into the hundreds of millions and consist of fallen angels, evil spirits and demons – it is good to remember, however, that only a third of the angels fell with Satan and that two thirds remain as holy angels with God (Rev 12:4). These evil powers are in distinct ranks of authority and are obedient to him. Each have their own areas of responsibility and are consigned over nations, religions, cities, evil trade and men. Behind all evil in the world, there is a master plan, but Jesus has won the victory over Satan and his followers through the cross (Col2:15). That victory He has delegated to His Kingdom people for He has, “raised us up together and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, …. far above all principality and power and might and dominion” (Eph 2:6, 1:21).
  • The character of our opponent. Rev 12:9. He is, “a murderer from the beginning” and “the father of lies” (Jn 8:44), “the god of this world” who blinds the minds of “those who are perishing” (II Cor 4:3-4), “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph 2:2), “the ruler of this world” (Jn 12:31), “the accuser of the brethren” (Rev 12:10), “the tempter” (Mt 4:3), “the wicked one” (Mt 13:38) and he can come to us as an “angel of light” (II Cor 11:13-15). All these give us a good understanding of the character of Satan and his tactics in trying to attack the followers of Christ in a variety of ways. Only by His Spirit, His grace and His authority can we overcome him, not through our own abilities.

2. SOME SPIRITUAL TACTICS.

It is good to recognise that we are in a battle at all times, whether mental, physical or spiritual and the more so if we desire to know, love and be obedient to God. In II Cor 10:4 we read, “though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds”. The following are important as weapons in our warfare:

a) The armour of God. Eph 6:11-17. Each part of the armour proclaims Christ’s victory for us and is defensive, apart from the “sword of the Spirit”, which is offensive. It is good on a daily basis to keep each part of the armour in good repair through meditation, prayer and the oil of the Holy Spirit.

b) Prayer. Eph 6:18-20. Prayer and intercession are powerful weapons to see captives released from Satan’s grip. In this passage Paul was asking for prayer not only for himself, but also for those who are following the King. We need to pray and intercede continually for others in the family of God – that we all may, “speak boldly” and that, “the mystery of the Gospel” is made known to the world.

c) Praise. Ps 149:5-9. As we worship and praise Him, so our spiritual eyes are lifted up to the greatness of God and not down to our circumstances. So often Satan will use our weaknesses and the problems of life to attack us, but we have victory over him and his evil schemes through praise. The psalmist proclaimed “Seven times a day I praise you” (119:164) and King David could write, “My heart is steadfast , O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and give praise. Awake my glory! Awake, lute and harp! I will awaken the dawn. I will praise You, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing to You among the nations” (Ps 57:7-9). Even though David had many problems, he continued to keep his eyes on God and as a result was an overcomer.

d) Proclamation. It is good to speak out:

  • His goodness. Mt 10:32-33. How we need to proclaim without fear, not only to the forces of darkness, but also to people the goodness of the Lord and what He has done in our lives. In Rom 10:9-10 we read, “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes to righteousness and with the mouth confession is made to salvation.”
  • His Word. Ps 119:160. Jesus said, “Your Word is truth” (Jn 17:17). The truth of His Word will be forever and nothing can withstand it. It is good to sometimes quote or read Scriptures out loud, when coming under spiritual attack, for it not only reminds Satan of his judgement, but also builds up our faith.

e) Walking in righteousness. Rev 12:11. Jesus could say, “the ruler of this world is coming and he has nothing in Me” (Jn14:30). Satan could not touch Him because He was sinless. In the same way, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I Jn 1:9). As we humble ourselves before God and receive His cleansing, so we “overcome him by the blood of the Lamb”.

f) Being light and salt. Mt 5:13-16. Without light the world grows dark spiritually and without salt it becomes rotten. Those opposed to the King would wish His followers not to shine and that they lose their saltiness. At the sound of the last trumpet the church will be taken out of this world (I Thess 4:16) and as a result it will become spiritually dark and rotten, but until that time we are given the grace to be salt and light.

g) Being active in attack. Jesus said, “from the days of John the Baptist until now the Kingdom of heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force” (Mt 11:12). It is good to enter the enemy’s domain to:

  • Evangelise. Lk 24:46-49. Satan’s desire is for people to continue to be captive in their present worldly lifestyle on the road to a lost eternity. Only as a result of a confrontation with the truth and the light of the Gospel will they repent, be set free from his bondage (Jn 8:36) and become children of the King. God’s desire is that, “all men may be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (I Tim 2:4) and He uses His people to accomplish this (Rom 10:15), by giving them power to be His witnesses (Acts 1:8).
  • Cast out demons. Mk 16:17-18. Satan controls the people of his kingdom through an army of demons and fallen angels. Demons tend to prefer to live in humans, in order to carry out their master’s purposes. Jesus simply cast them out, inflicting defeat after defeat (Acts 10:38) and in every confrontation with them, the superior power of the Kingdomof Godwas seen over the kingdomof Satan. As He gave authority to His apostles, “over all demons” (Lk 9:1), so we have been given authority, as part of the Great Commission, to cast out demons. This authority comes from our position in Christ (Eph 2:6), the power of the Holy Spirit within us (Acts 1:8) and in the power of His Name (Phil 2:9-10).

g) Moving in the Spirit. We read in Rom 8:14, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God”. To move in the Spirit as “sons of God”, we need to be born again of the Spirit and to walk in a close relationship with Him, so that we are able to hear His voice in our spirit (by intuition and conviction) and through His written Word. His Presence in us is manifest through:

  • The fruit. Gal 5:22-25. Paul wrote, “For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death to death and the other the aroma of life to life” (II Cor 2:15-16). The fruit of His dealings in our lives will result in a “fragrance” of life. This will effect all those we come into contact with, whether at work, our neighbours or family.
  • The gifts. I Cor 12:7-10. Being baptised in the Spirit not only releases Kingdom people to receive power to be witnesses (Acts 1:8), but also to move to a greater extent in the miraculous and to have a greater awareness of the spiritual activities of the evil one. The nine gifts are divided into gifts of ‘revelation’ (discernment of spirits, word of knowledge and word of wisdom), of ‘power’ (faith, miracles and healings) and of ‘utterance’ (tongues, interpretation of tongues and prophecy). Each one of the gifts are valuable, whether tongues for self edification (I Cor 14:4), discernment of spirits for discerning whether a person is being motivated by the Holy Spirit, their own spirit or evil spirits and also supernatural faith to move in the the gifts of healings, miracles or to cast out demons.

                                  

 

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