The Kingdom of God

“Ron – what is God’s Kingdom?” The easy answer is: “Where God rules!” Fair enough, but you might want to know where that is and more about the Kingdom itself. Let’s start with a bit of information about what is the Kingdom of God.

Indeed, the Kingdom of God is where God the Father rules. His Kingdom is where the Bible calls the 3rd heaven.

I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago–whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows–such a man was caught up to the third heaven. … was caught up into Paradise … —2 Corinthians 12:2-4.

The first heaven is the space above where birds fly; the second is the cosmos where the constellations hang.

… both humans and beasts, creeping thing and birds of heaven (Genesis 6:7, ESV).

And take heed, lest you lift up your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven … (Deuteronomy 4:19, NASB).

The Father rules the third heavenly domain with the Son – the one we English-speaking folks call Jesus, the Christ.

When Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God —Hebrews 10:12.

 You might ask, “Doesn’t Jesus reign here on earth – in our hearts?”

Sort of … First, Jesus made clear that He and the Father are ‘preparing a place’ for the faithful. When ready, He will gather them. So, the Kingdom of Heaven isn’t physically here. But, you could say that the Kingdom of Heaven is ‘already within reach although it’s not here yet.’

Second, the Spirit of God given by the Father connects the faithful to His Kingdom and helps them persevere while they wait for Father and Son’s physical reign.

Third, heaven and earth will become one (in a sense) when evil, the world, and death are destroyed, and God makes all things new, returning creation to the perfection it enjoyed at the very beginning of human time. When that happens, the Kingdom of Heaven will be on the new earth and Father and Son will reign and dwell among creation.

To tie everything together, the Kingdom of God (the Kingdom of Heaven) is physically in the ‘third heaven’ but will be on the new earth in the coming age when the Father makes all things new and dwells with His creation. That Kingdom is now within reach for those who acknowledge Him as the King of their lives, entirely devoting all they are and have to Him (see Matthew 22:37). The Spirit He gives in return becomes the connection to the Kingdom until the new age comes.

Blessings and peace, Ron Braley

The Way it Is (Discipleship, Part III)

Over the last several weeks, I’ve written that a disciple of Jesus Christ is to be a copycat who makes more copycats and offered three essential tips for effective discipleship:

Tip #1: Be a Sold-out Copycat (of good stuff)!

Tip #2: Follow Jesus’ Model to Make More Copycats!

Tip #3: GO!

Together, we’ve also explored how the earliest Church discipled using Jesus’ approach. Now, let’s talk about how you can be and make disciples today.

First, it’s essential that we continuously develop ourselves spiritually through Bible study, prayer, accountability, and discipleship. After all, we can’t live, model, or share what we don’t know!

Second, we must be incarnational. What I mean is that we must be integral in our communities, whether at work, play, or anything else. That way, we can develop trust-building relationships that will allow dialogue about what we believe and why.

Third, we must be contextual. “Say what??” Exactly! We must be and communicate in the same ways as others so that they’ll understand what we’re showing and telling. Think about it: Jesus spoke in farming terms and figures of speech when He taught the good news of God’s Kingdom to farmers. And he used fishing sayings when talking to fishermen. He used examples to make His points more apparent and applicable.

Without being incarnational, there’s little chance of building the kind of relationships that will allow ongoing, deep and personal discipleship. Without being contextual – meeting and communicating with people where they are instead of expecting them to come, our modeling and evangelism will likely fall on blind eyes and deaf ears. “But Ron – how can I be incarnational and contextual?” Great question!

One way to build relationships incarnationally is to be involved in the lives of others by following a BELLS principle: Bless, Eat, Listen, Learn, and Sent. Make friends, not numbers. Bless multiple people each day. Eat with others (it’s a great way to show care and deepen relationships!). Listen to the Spirit of God as He directs your discipleship steps. Learn about God and His ways, so that you’ll have something to model and tell those people with whom you’re building relationships. And make sure you GO (sent)!!

To be contextual in your modeling and telling, understand the dress, traditions, figures of speech, customs, and desires of those you hope to witness to and disciple. Show interest. Use terminology familiar to them, not Christianese. Finally, consider an ongoing Life Transformation Group of 2-3 people of the same sex for weekly prayer, accountability, and Bible study.