Repent, For the Kingdom of Heaven is Near – Lesson Fifteen

Repent, For the Kingdom of Heaven is Near


The kingdom of God is not just talk; it is not just another powerful sermon, it is God’s power in Christians.  Our faith in the reality of His kingdom endows us with the substance of the kingdom.  The substance of God’s spiritual kingdom impacts our “world view.”  I Cor. 2:4, 5; 4:20.  Jesus brought the kingdom to mankind by preaching (Luke 4:43).  By the sacrifice of Himself on the cross, He enabled God to prepare a new spiritual realm in time (II Cor. 5:16-19).  It is in this sphere God’s will is being done on earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:10).  God’s kingdom will be found only where His will is being done in the people Jesus has called out of Satan’s kingdom (Luke 17:20, 21).  All spiritual blessing are available for Christians so the Holy Spirit can do His work of developing children for God’s eternal family (Eph. 1:3-14).  The sphere in which God, the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit do God’s will in mature people  is identified as “in Christ.”  I Cor. 15:22.  This realm is where Jesus is developing God’s family on earth (Eph. 2:19-22).  The presence of the “in Christ” realm is what is different for the “children of promise” after Jesus returned to heaven (John 18:36; Rom. 9:8).  This is what Jesus Christ did for the “man-dimension” of the kingdom of God.  He did it for the glory of His Father and the living beings God created who are believers (John 12:23, 24; 14:12-14; I Cor. 2:6-10; Rev. 19:6-8).  We have a view of the the first believers enjoying life in the “in Christ” realm in Acts 2:42-47.  The forgoing is a summary of the key topics presented in the previous lesson.  The aim of this lesson is to elaborate on these topics.


Let us think again about what Jesus meant when He said, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”  Matt. 4:17.  The kingdom of heaven comes near to Christians by our obedience to our faith in what Theophilus and other first century Christians were taught.  They were taught the kingdom of God because the kingdom is all Jesus taught (Luke 4:43; Acts 1:3-8; 28:31).  Each lesson He taught relates to an aspect of sons of God being fitted into the kingdom of God.   It is not possible to be born of the water and the Spirit unless a person hears the same message Jesus and the apostles taught; that is, the kingdom of God (John 3:5; Acts 8:12; 20:25).  In the final process of being born again Christians were transferred to the kingdom of Jesus Christ (Rom. 6:8-11; Col. 1:13; Eph. 5:5).  We are now citizens of the kingdom (Phil. 2:14-16; 3:20, 21).  We, as Christians, continue to accept the new covenant in our spiritual growth; consequently, the kingdom of God and Christ comes into us as we grow up into our salvation (Luke 17:20,21; Eph. 5:5; Phil. 2:13; I Pet. 2:2).

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, always did the will of God and He still does.  Where we find the Lord Jesus Christ ruling Christians we will find the kingdom of God.  We cannot think of the kingdom of Christ outside the sphere of God’s rule.  We cannot think of the church outside the kingdom of His dear Son (Col. 1:13, 14).  We must identify as sons of God in the heavenly kingdom in order to properly read and fully understand what Jesus taught in the four Gospels for us today.  Finally, after Jesus appears in the sky to turn God’s kingdom back to God; and after our Judgment Day, Christians hope to inherit this very same kingdom and the life therein (Matt: 19:29; 25:34; Jas. 1:12; 2:5; Rom. 2:6, 10; Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 26-29; 3:5, 12, 21).  The “son of God” identification is so important for a Christian’s life on earth God sent the Holy Spirit who “testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”  Rom. 8:16.

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!  And that is what we are!  The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him.  Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known.  But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.  Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as He is pure.   1 John 3:1-3

Again, we need to understand what Jesus meant when He said, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”  Matt. 4:17.  What He did not mean was the kingdom of heaven was about to come into existence for the first time.  We cannot separate God from His kingdom; therefore, since God is eternal and spiritual, His kingdom is an eternal spiritual kingdom.  Jesus was sent to preach God’s kingdom to a people who had not produced the fruit of His heavenly kingdom (Luke 4:43).  God struggled with Israel to maintain His kingdom in the life of some individual Israelites.  Although His will was manifested in “the remnant” it did not happen in the nation of Israel (Rom. 9:27; 11:5).  The kingdom was at hand for the Jews because the Christ came to reveal the spiritual nature of the heavenly kingdom.  He preached a spiritual kingdom the Jews could not see because of their physical paradigm of the kingdom.  He would not restore the glory Israel had enjoyed in relation to other nations during the reign of David and Solomon.  The temple in Jerusalem had to go (Mark 13:1-4).  God allowed the Roman army to remove the physical temple.  It would have been a great problem for peace on earth (Luke 21:20-24).  Physical Israel is still weeping at a wall they believe was a part of the temple compound and the Middle East has been in turmoil since they gained control of this partial of real estate.

Christian’s faith begins to develop in the beginning processes of our being born again.  Our faith in our identity as sons of God grows to produce the righteousness of God Jesus revealed in the four Gospels (Rom. 1:16, 17).  People behave on the level of our identity.  Liars lie, thieves steal; children of God do neither.  The third learning stage of Christians happens when we begin to show in our behavior our faith in what Jesus taught (Matt. 7:24).  For instance, as Jesus stated, it is in this behavioral stage Christians become what we “understood and felt” about Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5:3 – 7:23.  In fact, we will never be merciful until we have practiced being merciful.  His teachings begin to come off the written word in the Bible into our hearts and minds as we become obedient to our faith in the new covenant (Rom. 1:5; II Cor. 3:18; Heb. 8:10).  The word of God defines who we are – sons and daughters of God (II Cor. 6:18).  Our obedience to our faith in God’s word develops a new creation of our selves – our personality and character (Matt. 15:15-20; Rom. 6:19; II Cor. 5:16-19; Eph. 4:20-24).

Identification is one way the Holy Spirit works with Christians outside the word.  See Rom. 8:12-16; Eph. 1:13.  The Holy Spirit’s presence with faithful believers also assures us of a new body after we leave our physically bodies (Rom. 8:10, 11).  The Holy Spirit’s fellowship with us is also the guarantee of our inheritance of life in God’s glorious kingdom (Rom. 8:17; Eph 1:14).  He assists Christians in our communication with our Father in heaven (Rom. 8:26, 27).  Identification, hope of our resurrection in our new body, our inheritance and clear communication with God is how the Holy Spirit helps Christians by His fellowship.  He is also leading us with the word of God; we understand; however, the Holy Spirit can lead us in what we hear, understand and place our faith (Rom. 8:5-8; Jas. 1:2-4, 22-25; 2:16, 17).

Now let us turn our attention to the relationship between the church and the kingdom of Jesus Christ.  But first let us consider the relationship between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of His Son.  Understanding the relationship between God’s and Christ’s kingdom should clarify the relationship of the church and Jesus’ rule as Christians’ king, high priest, Lord and head of the church as it functions as His body on earth.  Most confusion has been removed for Bible students who listen to Jesus say over and over; “For I have come down from heaven not to do My will but to do the will of Him who sent Me.”  John 6:38.  He taught His disciples to pray to God, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  Matt. 6:10.  We must hear and seriously consider what Jesus has said about His role in God’s story.  Jesus made His final appeal to those who were still confused about “who He is” and what He is about:  “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know I am the One I claim to be, and I do nothing on My own but speak just what the Father has taught Me.”  John 8:28.

Jesus never “grasped” for anything for His own sake during His time on earth or during His reign in heaven.  See Heb. 1:5-13.  Please note verse eleven in Phil. 2:6-11 as Paul appealed to the Philippians to have the same attitude as Jesus; “And every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  The way Jesus glorifies His Father is with the children He has and will develop for Him.  This is what Paul continued to talk about in Philippians 2:15 – “children of God.”  We need to understand two very clear teachings in God’s word: One, God created mankind to be His children in His heavenly kingdom (Rom. 8:18-30; Rev. 21:7): Two, Jesus was appointed king and priest to “bring many sons to glory.” Heb. 2:10; John 10:14-16.

Jesus preached the Kingdom of God.  He has been given a kingdom within the sphere of the kingdom of God.  It is the same kingdom He will turn back to God.  We will want to be in it.  Jesus has never grasped or sought for anything other than – “God’s will be done.”  Christians’ spiritual growth is to develop the mind of Christ (I Cor. 2:16).  We learn to think about God’s will as Jesus does.  The sacrifice of Jesus’ physical life on the cross justified God to make available for mankind a “heavenly realm” in which God’s sons and daughters can grow up into our salvation (Eph. 2:6; II Cor. 6:18; Gal. 4:19; 5:16).

Christians accept the reality of the “in Christ” dwelling place for us.  We live on the mercy seat by the empowerment of the doctrine of “justification by faith.”  See Rom. 3:21-26; 4:25; 5:1.  This mercy seat functioned in the “Most Holy Place” in the temple (Heb. 9:1-5).  Because Jesus became Christians’ “sacrifice of atonement” the “Most Holy Place” is now in heaven in the presence of God (Heb. 10:19-22).  All of the above is included in God’s new covenant Christians’ accepted in our repentance before our baptism.  See Matt. 26:18; Heb. 10:16, 17.  We live in fellowship with God (I John 1:5-7).  “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of all compassion and comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”  II Cor. 1:3, 4.

Now let us think about the relationship between the kingdom of Jesus Christ and the church.  Confusion may develop for those who fail to understand the people who were “called out” of Satan’s kingdom by the preaching of the kingdom of God have already been transferred to the kingdom of God’s Son (Col. 1:13, 14).  The kingdom of God was preached, not the church, nor the kingdom of Christ (Acts 20:25).  Jesus preached, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”  Matt. 4:17.  He also told His disciples, “I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power.”  Mark 9:1.  Did Jesus tell the truth?  Yes He did!  Jesus Christ was given a kingdom within the sphere of God’s kingdom to develop children for His Father.  The simple truth is, Jesus Christ did not work on His own.  He worked for His Father’s desires for creating mankind.  This should be the fact that clarifies the relationship between the kingdom of God and the reason Jesus was given, “All authority in heaven and on earth” to do for the Father, what He was sent to do.

Mature people spend time in Satan’s kingdom during their maturing stage in “the present evil age.” Gal. 1:4.  The devil rules the world realm through people in high places in religious organizations; atheists in educational institutions; the marriage of big business with political forces and the news media with entertainment. See II Cor. 10:2-6; 11:13-15.  The devil rules mature people in the world realm through their personal sins.  See John 8:34; Rom. 5:21; Rev. 12:12, 13.  Christians should not think of the church, a congregation of people consisting of “justified sinners,” to be the same as Jesus kingdom (Rom. 5:18).  Indeed, our citizenship is in the kingdom of Jesus; however, there is much more to Jesus’ kingdom than the citizens.

When Bible teachers drop the reality of the kingdom of Christ and God, we may attempt to make the people who were called out something other than citizens of the kingdom: But what?  The church, yes, but the church is the “called out.”  We are people.  People, who pin their beliefs on one point here and one point there without considering all the material in the Gospels, will have a difficult time understanding God’s major moves in this story.  Christians are Bible students.  We are disciples of Jesus Christ.  The Bible is one book even though God used many writers.  It is God’s story and we need to listen to His full story.  It starts in eternity before time and the plot will have its fulfillment in eternity after time and earth are no more (Rom. 8:28-30; 11:33-36; 13:11-14; 15:13).

Christians must decide to stop measuring life in Christ’s kingdom by the “wisdom of men.”  (I Cor. 1:17, 19, 21; 2:5; 3:18-23; 4:6).   The strength and beauty of physical things is the measurement often used by parents to encourage their children to achieve a physical identity in their physical world; however; men with tall strong athletic bodies are not the measurements by which Jesus identified a son of God.  He said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”  Matt. 5:9.  Young women with fully developed bodies are not the biblical description of women of faith, “like Sarah.”  See I Pet. 3:3-6.  We must maintain an appropriate study program to build our faith in order to push open our “door of faith” into God’s spiritual kingdom.  We need to measure life by the spiritual measurements presented by the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:16, 22-26).

Each person on earth has a place in heaven with God because our spirits came from God (Eccl 12:7).  He desires to be the Father of all human being’s spirits – our “selves.”  Heb. 12:9.  God’s program is to have children in His kingdom, a choice on our part is necessary.  The spirit of each person has the potential to be a child of God because our spirit is in the likeness of God (Jas. 3:9).   There is an open place in God’s heart for all the spirits of human beings to return to Him as His children; however, we need to prove our stewardship over the physical things He has put in our charge during our time on earth (Luke 16:11, 12).  We need to use our bodies as “instruments of righteousness.”  Rom. 6:13.  The topic on Judgment Day for Christians will be about our stewardship.  See my book entitled, Parables of Jesus, Part IV, “God’s Judgment of Each Person in the World and in His Kingdom.”

For several centuries, volumes of people who have identified as Christians have been mentally locked up in the “box of churches” developed by the “wisdom of men.”    People in this box can only think about the church they can see; but not the spiritual kingdom into which Christians have been born anew.  Consequently, these religious people have joined the ranks of the Jews; the people Jesus said would not receive the “knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven” His disciples would be given (Matt. 13:11).  The word “church” has no meaning unless we have a view of the two reigning forces, or kingdoms, presented in the commission Jesus gave Paul.  See Acts 26:18.  Because most preachers and teachers do not have an active “point in time” view of these two kingdoms they make the church, something that does not exist in the word of God.  They make it a “stand alone” entity; outside or beside; or the same as, the kingdom of God’s Son.  The kingdom cannot be thought of in terms of religious organizations developed by the wisdom of men.  The “wisdom of men problem” is what the Apostle Paul was seeking to solve in the first four chapters of I Corinthians.  We understand all divisions in Christian religious groups are caused by either one or both groups seeking to over ride the wisdom of God with the wisdom of men.

Religious people who are in the “box of the wisdom of men” generally see the church as an entity outside the kingdom.  Several of these religious groups are waiting for Jesus to do what He has already finished.  He would not at all be happy to live on earth again (Luke 9:41; John 19:30).   Jesus preached the kingdom of God.  Jesus taught the apostles to preach the kingdom of God (Acts 19:8).  Christians have been transferred to the kingdom of Christ (Col. 1:13).  Jesus is serving God and Christians as the church’s “Prince and Savior.” Acts 5:31.  The kingdom of God has already come to those who could observe it by their faith in the teachings of Jesus and the apostles (Matt. 6:10).  These teachings fulfill God’s purpose for creating mankind (Rom. 8:29).  The scriptures do not tell anything about Jesus coming back to reign on earth.  They do speak of Jesus appearing in the air (I Thess. 4:15-18).  But why should He return to reign on earth?  The portion of God’s kingdom Jesus will turn back to God will be the church after our Judgment (Matt. 13:36-43; John 17:20-24).  What more would Jesus do if He returned to reign on earth?  Of course, some people want to believe Satan’s doctrine about a “second chance.”  There is nothing in the Bible suggesting Jesus will come back to give the Jews or others a second chance.  God and certain portions of His kingdom, the part we do not know about, was never under Jesus’ rule (I Cor. 15:27; Deut. 29:29).  However, after Jesus returns the portion of God’s kingdom He was given to rule, a rule to bring “many sons to glory,” time will cease (I Cor. 7:29, 30; Heb. 2:10).

Presently, Jesus is Christians’ king (Acts 2:32-36).  In this manner, He is serving God as the head of the same people who have been transferred to His kingdom.  In Him is life and His life enlightens Christians about our life (John 7:16, 17; 8:12; 10:14; 11:25; 12:25, 26; 14:6, 7).  We do not know how to function as human beings without the teachings of Jesus (Rom. 1:18-32).  Has not mankind proven this in every generation?  To think for us about how and why we have been created is why we need Jesus as our head.  Therefore, Jesus is the head, the One who thinks, instructs and leads people who were called out of Satan’s kingdom.  Jesus Christ is the king, Lord, high priest, prince, savior; yes, and the head of the “called out people,” the church (Eph. 1:22, 23).  The church is not the program.  The church is not the kingdom of God and Christ.  The church is a group of people who have presently been transferred to Jesus’ rule.  We are a universal “called out” people; however, each congregation of these people is the church:  It is as Jesus said, “For where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them.”  Matt. 18:20. The universal church functions as individual congregations.  As Paul said to the saints in Rome, “All the churches of Christ send you greetings.” Rom. 16:16.  The church is the church whether it is assembled for a specific purpose or disassembled (I Cor. 14:26).  The members of all these churches have been transferred to the kingdom of Jesus Christ (Acts 8:4; 20:7).  There is one kingdom of Jesus and God (John 17:20, 21; Col. 3:1-4).

Jesus is our “Prince and Savior.” Acts 5:31. A transfer from the kingdom of darkness to light happened to Christians in order to function in His body.  We have access to the wisdom of God because we accept Jesus as our head.  We have the mind of Christ (I Cor. 2:16).  His program is to develop children of God out of people who, otherwise, are lost for their purpose of being born into the world.  So what more would Jesus do for mankind if He came back to reign on earth?  Yes, we know “all Israel will be saved:” “If they do not resist in unbelief.”  Rom. 11:24, 26.  We also know the identification of the “Israel of God” after Jesus returned to heaven.  The “church of God” in Galatians 1:13 is the same people as the “Israel of God” in 6:16.  Peter identified the people Jesus has “called out” of Satan’ kingdom as “God’s elect” in I Pet. 1:1.  See Rom. 9:6-8; 11:5-7.  God’s promise to Abraham did not change – “all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”  Gen. 12:3.   The Apostle Paul told the church in Ephesus the mystery about God’s separation of the Jew and Gentile had been revealed to him (Eph. 3:2-6).   Please read the first three chapters of his letter to the Ephesians and Romans Chapters Nine through Eleven to have a clear understanding of how God is fulfilling His promise to Abraham.  See Genesis 12:3; Lesson Six.

Under the umbrella of the kingdom of God Jesus touched many issues for the benefit of both physical Israel and the church.  These other topics can easily be understood if they are prefaced in our minds by the kingdom of Jesus and God (Eph. 5:5).  Since the way God created people did not change, we understand the Israelites and Christians have the same capacities and endowments.  Jesus taught the Israelites verbally and Christians via the Gospels.  The capacities of our mind, heart, conscience and body did not change in the way they contribute to our individual “selves.”  Our endowment of “knowing good and evil,” we received because Adam and Eve broke God’s covenant, was not removed in God’s design of humanity.  Our memory and conscience still function like a street light at an intersection.  Christians receive a green light, or go ahead, when we do what we believe is good.  All people have two very long lists of what we believe is good and what we believe is evil stored in our memory banks.  We also have the capacity to know our selves (II Cor. 13:5).  “Knowing with one’s self” is the meaning of the word conscience.  When we choose what we believe is evil we violate our conscience.  See Lesson Three.  Guilt still robs mature people of our innate need for glory.

 “In Christ” faithful Christians can overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:21).  We need the help of all three Persons of Deity “to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.”  Rom. 16:19.   Christians need grace and help every hour of every day: One, we need the grace of Christ’s sacrifice and His function as our high priest.  Two, Jesus, our king, provides protection and guidance day and night (Matt. 28:18; Eph. 1:18-21).  Three, Christians must be actively engaged in the “free of charge” sanctification program of the Holy Spirit (II Thess. 2:14).  Four, we need the good and perfect gifts that come daily from our Father (II Cor. 1:3, 4; Jas. 1:16, 17).  Five, the fellowship of the church serves our need for the satisfaction of our innate social needs – along with Deity (I Cor. 12:21-26; Eph. 4:14-16).  Jesus asked, “Who is My mother, and who are My brothers?’  Pointing to the disciples, He said, ‘Here are My mother and My brothers.  For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.’”  Matt. 12:48-50.  See II Cor. 6:14-16.

Christians’ present relationship with our Father will be explored in the next lesson.

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