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Archive for November, 2014

Living in Hope

November 25th, 2014
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So far we’ve looked at how Jesus is central to the kingdom of God and how the kingdom is now present where the Spirit is working, but more fully to come.We live between two ages.

Last time we saw the extremes of triumphalism where people feel they are building the Kingdom, or even building something for God – a sort of heroic Christianity. And the other extreme, quietism, which says since we can’t eradicate evil and we are too weak,we just sit and wait in our communities, making sure we are not contaminated by the world.

There is a backwards and forwards between these polarities in all groups to one degree or another. Some are more idealistic – others see themselves as more realistic.

The realist will sometimes say: What’s the big deal about helping a few people in a world in which billions are suffering? Of course that is not how we feel about our life or the life of our children.

So how do we live in this present evil world?

Hope is at the heart of the answer to this question.

Note Paul’s words of encouragement in the book of Romans:

Romans 8:18-24

18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

The invisible reality of hope.

22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?

It is real but now not seen.This hope is not wishful thinking. Notice “the will be liberated”.

1 John 3:1-3:

1 See what great 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. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

 Again it is not now seen but it is still true and one day everyone will see what we are. And that is like Jesus. Everything we will be is now true in him. The reality is in him.

3 All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

 The hope is in him. Not ourselves or our church’s programs.

The message regarding the kingdom is essentially one of hope—hope for ourselves and for all of God’s creation. The pain, suffering and horrors that we experience in this present evil age are, thankfully, coming to an end. Evil has no future in the kingdom of God.

Jesus Christ himself is not only the first word but also the last word. Therefore, we need not worry about where things will ultimately end up. We know. We can count on it. God will put everything right, and all those willing to humbly receive it will know it and experience it one day. It is, as we say, “a done deal.”

The new age is coming with Jesus Christ as its resurrected Creator, Lord and Savior. God’s original purposes will be completed. The glory of God will fill the whole earth with his light, life, love and utter goodness.

And we will be vindicated—proven right and not fools—for having counted on and lived by that hope.

Colossians 3:1-4

1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

 What then will the end, the return of Christ, accomplish? Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior now. He is reigning. But that kingdom is now hidden. The full effects of his reign are not exhibited in the present evil age.

When Christ returns, the reality of the kingdom will have its full effect. Christ’s second coming or appearance (his parousia) will be a revelation, manifestation, uncovering (an apocalypsis) of the truth and reality of who he is and what he has accomplished.

The glory of it all will shine forth everywhere so that it will have its full effect. The time for partial witness will be completed. The kingdom of God will no longer be hidden at all. There will be no more need for witness, for we will all stand before the reality itself. That’s what Christ’s return will accomplish.

We are not tasked with overcoming the gap between the present world and the ideal of God’s world.

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Message for the Day

The kingdom and the two ages

November 17th, 2014
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Last time we looked at how Jesus is central to the kingdom of God. He is the supreme King of kings and Lord of lords.

It should look, sound, act, smell and carry itself in a way that points us to and reminds us of him so that we get the idea that this kingdom is his—it belongs to him and has his fingerprints all over it.

Biblical revelation tells two things that are hard to put together: that the kingdom is present but also that it is future. It comes together in who Jesus is.

The Son of God became flesh by the virgin Mary about 2000 years ago and shared in our humanity and lived here on earth for 33 years. Uniting our human nature with himself from conception, he went through our death to resurrection. Then after some days of appearances, he ascended bodily, that is, remained united to our humanity, to return to the presence of the Father and full fellowship with him.

He still shares our human nature but it is now glorified through the resurrection.

This means he is not present in the way he was before his ascension. He is, in a way, absent from earth. He has sent the Spirit as another comforter to be with us, but he in his own person is unavailable to us as he was. But he has promised us that he will return.

Jesus taught, his rule and reign had not yet come in its fullness. There was more to come. And that time will coincide with Christ’s return (often called his “second coming”).

So faith in the kingdom includes hope for the coming of the fullness of the kingdom as well. The kingdom was already present in Jesus and continues to be present by his Spirit. But its completion is not yet.

This is often summarized by saying the kingdom of God is already, but not yet.

The biblical understanding clearly distinguishes between two times, two ages, two periods: the “present evil age” and what is called “the age to come.”

Ephesians 1:19(b)-21

 19(b)That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.

 We currently live in the “present age.” We live in hope of “the age to come,” but we do not yet live in that age.

 But notice the reality is that Christ is now above all rule and authority, power and dominion and every name that is invoked. In Paul’s day that included the Roman Emperor.

 We are still however, in the biblical perspective, in the present evil age.So we live between the times.But Jesus is ruling now and in the future.

 Galatians 1:3-4

3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,

 This present age is actually evil. And yet while we live in it, we do not have to be evil. We are not trapped in God’s condemnation of its evil.

 We are set free to live the new way of the God’s future.

 Luke 18:29-30

29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God 30 will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.”

 The words translated “eternal life” mean also having the life of the age to come. Eternal life is “eternal,” but it is more than being much longer!

The contrast is between this present age which is still infected by evil, sin and death—and life in the age to come, where all traces of evil will be destroyed.

In the age to come, there will be established a new heaven and earth and a new relationship between them. That will be a whole different kind and quality of life—God’s kind of life.

The kingdom of God then is ultimately about the age to come, with the kind of life that is eternal, and this involves Christ’s return.

Before he returns we live in the “present evil age” and wait in hope for the age to come. We continue to live under sinful conditions, where nothing is ideal—where everything is less than perfect even though Christ is risen and ascended.

The surprising thing, however, is that even though we continue to live in the present evil age, by the grace of God we can experience in part the kingdom of God now.

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Message for the Day

Jesus is the character of the kingdom of God

November 10th, 2014
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Colossians 1:1 -2:7 

 I think we can read that Paul is making sure that everything centres on who Jesus is.

This is really important for us to grasp as we will be talking about the kingdom of God in the beginning on a series based on Gary Deddo’s recent articles.

Colossians 1:13-20

13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

The kingdom is of the Son.

15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,

20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

The kingdom reign of Jesus Christ is universal and unrivalled. So Jesus proclaims that all authority has been given him in heaven and on earth —that is, throughout all creation. All things were created through him and for him. So nothing exists that he is not involved either in starting creation, in sustaining that creation and leading that creation to its purpose in him.

We see and understand and live in and through him.

As I said I would like to start a series on the kingdom of God based on articles by Gary Deddo.

Over the years too often an artificial split has been made between Jesus Christ and the Good News of the kingdom of God.

 Jesus is called the messenger and the good news of the kingdom of God is called the message. This did lead to the idea belief that the false Christians only preach about the messenger and not his message. This leads with further logic that people speak too much about Jesus and do not understand how the kingdom is the focus of the Bible.

 This meant you could hear a message about government, God’s rule all based on OT examples without mentioning Jesus.

 In this message I want to show the centrality of Jesus in understanding the Kingdom of God.

In fact I will say without the revelation of Jesus into this world, there would be no true knowledge of the kingdom of God.

The proof of this latter statement is evident in the behaviour of those who were the interpreters of the OT and what their expectations were about the Messiah. Their ideas of the kingdom came from the kingdoms of this world. The kingdom of God was just more powerful.

They lived the life of a kingdom in which might is right, of fear and control, of aggression to enemies. It applauded strong leadership expressed in the aggressive personality that dominates.

Unless Jesus is in the centre of our understanding of the kingdom we will project our society or world’s ideas on to it.

The kingdom of God is identified with the person and mission of Jesus Christ.

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Message for the Day