Kingdom has come and is coming…

What great changes we are seeing in practice and thought patterns, I firmly believe that we live in an age that the people of God are experiencing a new reformation at every level.    A massive transformation is happening around us, Dispensational practice and theology is in images-6the last shakes for survival as the ‘Gospel of the Kingdom’ is growing and affecting the thinking of the church, the people of God.   Its onward advance is transforming our responsibility for creation rather than upholding a hoped escapism, it brings an accountability for transformation in our societies rather than doing away with a fallen world, it is the Kingdom of God at hand!

We are born to a very challenging yet exciting moment of advance as Father God makes known God’s purpose and will.   Today we are much more given to the language and practice of ‘mission,’ ‘transformation,’ bringing the rule of God to earth to see the coming of the Kingdom of God.    Jesus said the kingdom ‘…has come….and is coming…’, for some this means that over the years we have had to deal with the immediacy of the kingdom ‘…has come…’ being careful not to get lost into triumphalism with ‘Kingdom now’, only now having to deal with the onward transformation of ‘…the Kingdom is coming and will come…’, this is where our labour comes in, the travail until Jesus receives the ‘travail of his soul’ Isa 53:11

Church historians tell us that following every move of God approximately 30 to 35 years on, those affected in the move turn to transformation initiatives prior to another move of God.   Historically an example of this can be seen following the move of God in the UK with John and Charles Wesley in their education, health, etc, initiatives.   The UK experienced a move of God some 30/35 years ago commonly name the ‘house church movement’, this was a move, as it changed the structure of the church and theology.   Note it also was not isolated to the UK.   Similar move happened with a groups of men and women in South America, South Africa, USA and I am told Australia, they may have been under different names but there was a move of God afoot.

However, I can only comment on the UK, I believe what we are seeing in the UK now is not a recycling of history but the impact of a Kingdom Gospel.   Time will only tell, if it is history recycling we are on the verge of another move, but I seeing it as the coming of the Kingdom along with our growing grasp of understanding relating to the Kingdom of God.   I write this as an introduction to a book review that I believe all should take time to read to ensure our Kingdom is foundationally correct in all the changes we are seeing.   Please note this book was written many years ago and does not contain all the advances made over the last 40 years however a good place to commence a journey from. It is imperative we establish continually our foundation as we advance and fresh revelation breaks in on us, it is necessary to be able to contain revelation.

I will introduce chapters for you, this blog will only deal with the initial chapters so you can think on them, then we will return in the next blog to further chapters continuing our thinking.

‘The Gospel of the Kingdom‘       George Eldon LaddUnknown

Chapter 1 – What is the Kingdom of God? – There are diverse interpretations of the Kingdom of God. This is the result of the many varying different interpretations that are found within the Bible. The Kingdom of God is seen as a present spiritual reality, (Rom 14:17) the Kingdom is also an inheritance which God will bestow upon His people. (Mat 25:34)  The Kingdom of God therefore holds two tensions closely; it is a present spiritual reality but at the same time the Kingdom has a future realm as well. The Kingdom of God is God’s rule, reign and sovereignty now. Gods rule is also an everlasting rule and reign. In order for one to enter the future realm of the Kingdom of God, one must submit himself in perfect trust to God’s rule here and now. The Kingdom of God is God’s rule, reign and sovereignty now. It is an everlasting rule and reign.

Chapter 2 – The Kingdom is Tomorrow – George Eldon Ladd explains how the Kingdom of God can be held in two different spheres as a present spiritual reality & a future hope by explaining that there are two different ages; this age and the age to come.

This age is dominated by wickedness, evil & rebellion against the will of God, whilst the age to come is the age of the Kingdom whereby God’s rule and reign will be at the centre. Ladd explains that the drive of ambition for wealth & success are all involved with the cares of this age. He suggests that the spirit of this age is hostile to the Gospel of Jesus. In Ephesians it talks about Satan being the prince of the air, this age is defined by Satan having the power of the air.

The age to come will witness the fullness of God’s Kingdom, the perfection of God’s reign. Ladd explains that we will never experience the full blessings of Gods Kingdom in this age as he argues that death will not be destroyed until the final judgment at the end of the rule of Christ talked about in Revelation.

Chapter 3 – Kingdom of God is TodayHeb 6:5, ‘who have tasted the goodness of the Word of God and the power of the age to come,’ displays that which belongs to the future has become a present reality.  By the power of the age to come may be delivered from the from this present evil age. Within this chapter Ladd goes onto explain that the Kingdom of God has invaded this age.

In the last chapter it was suggested that death will not completely be destroyed until the end of the millennial rule of Christ.  Although this is true it is important to note that through Jesus’ resurrection the triumph over death has begun and Satan has already been defeated. (Heb 2:14) Jesus life on earth broke the power of Satan. Satan is a defeated enemy and because of this we may be delivered from the power of this evil age into the Kingdom of God.  Therefore we can bring God’s rule and Kingdom, age to come into the present evil age.

Chapter 4 – The Mystery of the Kingdom – The Mystery of the Kingdom is that it has come amongst men, but yet men can reject it. God’s Kingdom is working among men, but it will not compel them to bow before it, they must receive it through a willing heart and a submissive will.  The Kingdom of God does not force itself upon men; it is not like a stone grinding an image to powder but the Kingdom requires a submissive heart & will.

The Kingdom of God has come to work among men, destroying human rule & abolishing all that stand against the Father will from the earth.  The Kingdom offers men blessings of God’s rule, delivering men from the power of Satan. However the Kingdom will not work with an ‘irresistible power,’ but will work within the hearts of men that have submitted to God’s rule & reign.

 

Change of leading – Things are changing

 

We cannot read the narrative of the life of Jesus without seeing change going on often hidden in a number of different actions, words and motives in action.   It comes down to comments  that Jesus made such as “…you say this but I say…”, outlining a change of life style, order and action in that very moment when people encountered this Jesus.   It makes me wonder how many of us bring about change in the people we meet, in their concepts, practices and lifestyles?   I say this totally believing that  this is our gospel of the Kingdom and what the gospel calls us to become and to be, those who announce change and enable change at every hand in humanity.    That my preaching is not about the performance or the rhetoric but more about it being a stage in the listener’s life of enabling transformation or simply enabling different thinking patterns.

Jesus had this knack of, “…you say this but I say…” constantly, for some it was liberating for others it produced a reaction, with some getting angry to the demands, awakening people to they lives lived by a religious scale, it’s a precious lesson for us to know asking ourselves “..at what level of a religious scale do I live at or with”?  I hear some saying as a reaction “…Listen I am not religious, I am a Christian, it’s about relationships…”  really, but where are you on your religious scale, my question still stands.   We all have some religion that we are being liberated from, when we look at our lives in the cool of day I am sure we would agree that there is religion there.   The joy is we have a way of liberation of freedom on offer as we listen to the “you say this but I  say this” directions.   It is things changing in us then around us!

When Jesus arrived, the book of Hebrews summed it up, there was a change of priesthood happening, with laws and practices moving from shadows and pictures into reality in the life of Christ.   The message becomes “…better…” as the Hebrews write declare many times, better covenant, better priesthood, better…  So when God came to earth when mankind embraced the divine and Jesus arrived in Nazareth religious vessels broke, patterns of old ways had to change, rules came undone and a new kind of life broke in and the “…Kingdom of God came amongst men…” 

For instance if you were a  Rabbi you were not supposed to talk to Samaritans, heal on the Sabbath, challenge the Religious, hang out with fishermen, get your feet washed by ladies of unknown origin, go to dinner with tax collectors , travel with women and the list continues on and on – Things Changed, things are changing!

Jesus did all that and more, it did not bother him to challenge the status quo or what others thought, in our day, I believe a of restoration and as a restorer that we are here to restore society it still means I don’t need to fit in and I do need to be a catalyst of change to a Jesus way.   I should not simply fit in as  a matter of fact I should bring about change and be the incarnation of God in my daily life in my society,  showing grace and bringing the demand for Justice and righteousness in what ever way the situation and circumstance demands.

Our cultures are changing at breakneck speed, it is hard to keep up, the church, that is, you and I, are to be the cause of change and not just reactors to the changes.    This is restoration, causing cultural change, causing the Kingdom of God to come to our worlds with in worlds is it not?

Here are some of the things in dealing with the people of God and in dealing with what we call ministry that are changing; but first I want to list some of the older patters that need to change and are being transformed for us by a new priesthood.

Be loyal to your denominations – do what they say it is for the best – yet in our world where the relationship word is strong and has a growing influence and vocabulary use and relationships and covenant is becoming more demanding making sure that relationship/covenant does not to reinvent control or incorrect demanding loyalty but to be like God in our relationship and keep faithful

Be slow to change so people don’t get uncomfortable, its been focus on who you have and done reach out

Do all you can to keep money people in the congregations – bills need paying

Make doctrinal correctness your top priority – quickly correct, judge and separate deviants.

Love people who fit in your church vision and are like you.  tolerate others the best you can

Lots of programs so everyone has something to do all the time, more is better, keep them looking in on the programs.

Your style of preaching/teaching is to tell people what to do as you know better.  Talking down to people.

Do everything decently and in order – be predictable 

I would say that all these above are under the scrutiny of change in some way or another, they are all on a journey of being  discovers and restored correctly or done away with in a new culture though a reformation that is happening all around us.    Each one of the above could and should be discussed in their own right to see the change look at its implication but this is not my aim today. 

Now lets turn a page and look at some new ways that may be in your street right now.

Care, Care, Care really care for people.  people know if you don’t.   Society around cannot deal with real, authentic loving relationships when centered on Christ.   Be a careful we still get caught in judging quicker than loving.

Enhance Life.   Do something in your community to enhance life being socially minded, it gives people something to take to others and helps to give a point of conversation.

Teach accurately – help people to hear God for themselves in a world with so many voices and opportunities in hearing the word.   Making teaching simple by the teaching through relevant topics.

Speak bluntly DONT OFFEND PEOPLE FOR NO REASON.   sometimes we must say things to help people in the complexity of life, most will appreciate your courage of conviction as long as you don’t judge.   here is an old one don’t use the teaching and preaching to vent frustration what you don’t like, BE CHRIST TO PEOPLE reach, accept and love while changing.

Involve in mission all people

Media – use it but not over kill.   People want people not celluloid, authenticity means life touching life not film, video, media saying it all, there is nothing fleshed out, there is no message.   Use it to enhance life and not instead of life, easier said than done some times for techies.

Change quickly when it’s not working, no method is in stone, find better ways all the time, bring people to change and be sure of change – ITS THE GOSPEL!   help people’s emotion to be able to change.

Authentic – BE IT people see and recognize emptiness a long way off, or some one full of words and no authenticity, be honest about your failures but don’t use them or live from  or on them, don’t use them for emotional currency it will not build, just be authentically in love with God and his people and be authentic yourself..

Practical what you say or teach either works or it does not, if it does not you will lose friends and eventually all but if your practical works you will gain friends.

Be a little crazy shake up, adventure, take a step, break through Peoples tipping point, give people a reason to be out there and of course give opportunity while you model adventure.

In all these see if you can adopt and try changing,  let the something changing be you?

 

Leadership – discovering again its SERVANT nature.

There are so many Leadership styles along with books urging us to discover style would be the best to lead making your mark amongst people and society.    We some times get confused how we who are followers of Christ should reflect the Christ in our work.    Jesus said in John 1:18 (NASB) “…came to explain the Father.” he has invited us to continue what he started, explaining the Father.    I have repeatedly stated and asked the challenging question of my self “do I  explain the Father” as I live my life, do we explain him.

My interaction with people, my work ethic, my conduct, character, the way I live life, are people gaining an explanation?     You and I have to admit we will through word and deed explain something of to others, I wonder what.     I wonder how I conduct myself in a supermarket line, the way I drive the car, my conduct towards those older, younger, or of any difference to me, what do I explain?   Do people walking away from me depart with an explanation of God or is it something else?

We have been called through our own temperament, they way we are cut our character and life not be like the leadership style in our own way but one that explains what God if like.   Leadership is clearly to be rediscover, is in urgent need to be seen as a SERVANT style, one that pours out for others, one that is more interested in establishing an inheritance for the next generation that building for our selves, that serves the society around giving away to build and establish through a servant leadership.   Let us rediscover in world govern by business, getting more and more, amassing wealth, gaining control a servant leadership that flows from being a son of God rather than endorsing an orphan spirit of protection of me and mine, working to make secure my provision rather than trusting the Father and being a Servant Leader.    the people of God would be different in itself if we could driver our delve storm celebrities to servant ministries and taking that model to our world.    Sometime we are so caught on making a mark we have forgotten the desired Christ like style to do so and fall to become “Christian X-factor” leaders rather than poured out Servant Leaders, Christ will triumph and we will become the Servant Bride- a Challenge to be different but explaining God!

‘Leadership is an opportunity to serve. It is not a trumpet call to self-importance.’

J. Donald Walters

‘You don’t have to hold a position in order to be a leader.’

Anthony J D’Angelo

‘Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility.’

St. Augustine

‘Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.’

Winston Churchill

‘But among you it should be quite different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must become your slave.’

Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for the many who are held hostage.”( Matt 20:27, 28)

Jesus the Christ

Good read to consider further – Leadership, Greatness & Servanthood Phillip Greenslade

21st Century Apostolic

As we advance in the 21st Century and following some of the gains in understanding over the last decades on the Apostolic ministry and its function there are certainly joys of advance along with concerns in our day.   In our travels we find places where no one would receive the apostolic or are reluctant to call any one apostolic, may be a little thinking of ‘it all ended with the 12’.   Alongside this we find a huge growth of the apostolic that seems like every time some one sneezes an apostle is appointed and the apostolic positioned to he higher than others taking control, taking a hierarchical title for position.    Both have the same effect and produce the wrong function and aims and the calling discredited.   Yet for the church the apostolic, just as the other Ascensions Gifts (Ephesians 4:11) are required for the body of Christ to come to maturity, which must be our greatest burden to see the maturity of God creation, ‘Christ filling all in all’, humanity and creation restored to the Fathers first thought and ultimate intention.   It is in the light of these extremes my journey of writing is to discover what is necessary today so I offer these thoughts as we attempt to practice them.   This is the first part of my thought I trust you will enjoy a look forward to the second part.

The apostle is one part of the complement of gifts given by the ascended Christ to our world. These ministries (Ephesians 4:11) are the gifts of the ascended Christ himself. For he “… Gave of himself…” Gifts to mankind, so that Christ will be fully produced in his ecclesia, church.

Without the full complement of gifts (Ascension gifts) maturity and the fulfillment of God’s call will elude his cosmos, creation.

Apostles are those that have the grace and the ability to break through barriers cross boundaries and have a primary concern with the maturing of God’s people.   Apostle Paul said of himself that he laboured “… until Christ is formed in you…” he would only seek to find Christ amongst them. These are clues to the new Testament Church, and the apostles, which are outlined within the pages of the book and begin to paint a picture for us of the church and apostles.

Apostles are an active agent to bring the whole rule and order of the father to Earth; they are advance agents of the kingdom of God.   Adam was planted in the garden of God to extend the order of the father into all creation so too apostles are planted in the garden of God’s creation to extend his rule. They establish the kingdom, proclaim the kingdom and advance the kingdom

The apostolic grace brings with it and imparts an atmosphere of,  “I can do in this”, it leaves an empowerment, it stimulates within the people of God an ability to cross over, and breakthrough.  Wherever there are boundaries they cross, wherever there are walls they leap over they change environments, there is within every apostle an inherent desire to remove restrictions.

They carry the grace, wisdom and skill in the building of Gods abode, his ecclesia the church. For the apostolic is a “… Wise master builder who has laid a foundation …” (1 Cor. 3:10) They are able to bring God’s ultimate goal and heart to the people of God, in the place of their appointing, and in the times they find themselves in. They are not consultants or advisers, but builders of the house of God

Apostles were clearly necessary in the early days of the church, as recorded in the New Testament, to bring heaven to earth and seek to remove the separation of the secular and the spiritual. They are as necessary today, as then, to bring the church to maturity and release creation from its futility, (Romans 8) as they work in harness with the Holy Spirit to bring about the freedom of the sons of God.

Ephesians 2:20 outlines that the apostles along with the profits they are part of the continuity of God in the establishment of the people of God and the maturing of creation, this foundation of apostles and prophets-which is Christ.   The apostles then have the same effect as Christ, that the Christ is ongoing “radical”, if you follow the etymology of the word radical meaning, foundation, forming a base. Christ was radical as he dealt with our foundation and the foundation of creation, the apostle and prophet equally are radical, in terms of the church the dealing as they deal with foundational matters.

Apostles will be amongst us until the body of Christ reaches its maturity, corporate maturity and the unity of the faith (Ephesians 4:12,13). They will diligently labour until we live in the light of the work of Jesus in the cross, until we are one; the apostle declares aloud that we are one.

Paul an apostle says that apostles occupy a principal place amongst the equipping/Ascension ministries, that is they are to “first apostles” (Ephesians 4:7-11; 1 Cor. 12:28) however earlier in the book of Corinthians he outlines apostles are “…last…” (1 Cor. 4:9), So what did Paul mean? Although Paul lived in a world and was formed by Greek thought, he spoke and wrote from a different vantage point; clearly he had a Trinitarian view of God, and understood the relationship within the Divine family to be one of ‘perichoresis’. That is the constant moving relationship amongst the Father, Son and Spirit, a moving, spinning dance, with each party pouring out themselves to the next, being more interested in the other than themselves, bringing pleasure to one another and filling and enabling each others aims. Each one speaking of the other, each one lifting the other, it is not with a hierarchical thinking and mindset that Paul speaks more about functional necessity, as  in every foundation, that the apostle is first functionality. Yet “lastly” he speaks is to indicate the nature of all apostles as the extension of Christ as the servant of the people of God. Apostolic therefore in position is functionally first but positional last, being the servant of all as Christ.

We see that with true apostolic ministries there is not found any sense of superiority they however known their own going continuity and necessity. Apostles should take on the attitude of the chief apostle, Christ himself who became a servant of all “he came to serve not to be served”. Apostles do not take to themselves position or demand honour, but serve pouring themselves out for God’s purpose.

Apostles have an interest and burden for the design of the house of God, and creation, and bring their craft as wise master builders to bear on the building of the house. Paul used the term wise master builder, but fully understood that there were many other apostolic gifting’s and characteristics involved. As you read the scriptures you realize there are a number of other Apostles also named in the New Testament, who did not belong to the 12, we have James, Barnabas and Paul himself even Andronicus and Junias were held in high regard amongst apostles (Romans 12).  In some church traditions even Mary Magdalene sent to the apostles by Jesus himself is recognized as one sent that the gathered saint did not receive her words, so we are told.

It could be said that the Father is apostolic in nature that he sent himself, sending himself in creation and then sending the Son to explain Him (John 1:18) and from there sending the holy spirit, finally sending the people of God to be the apostolic nature of God. There will come a time when the church becomes apostolic in characteristic and realizes its “sent-ness” into creation.