Before we discuss the Millennial Kingdom, I would like to review the Present Kingdom. I have a dear friend who continues to challenge me to offer a definition of the Gospel of the Kingdom. I went back to the authority on this topic George Eldon Ladd. He uses a chapter in his book to argue that many have tried to define the Gospel of the Kingdom but have been unsuccessful. It is a vast and heavenly topic revealed to us by God. Here is my attempt to define the Gospel of the Kingdom in two forms:
- The Gospel of the Kingdom is the good news about God’s masterplan to bring His justice and righteousness to creation. It started with Jesus’ ministry, death and resurrection and is going to come to the whole world through Jesus Christ as Judge at the second coming. At that time God will bring heaven and earth together so He can dwell with His people. In the Present Kingdom He is preparing His people under the leadership and sovereignty of Jesus to dwell with Him in His glory forever. On the day God brings heaven and earth together we will celebrate this transformation into the future kingdoms with a wedding feast when the Bridegroom, Jesus accepts His bride (the saints).
- I offered the following structure of the Gospel of the Kingdom:
The Kingdom must have a King and the King has these characteristics:
- He is the Son of Man (His first coming, a divine mystery; Reference 2).
- He has sovereignty over all as King of kings.
- He is a Bridegroom that removes all obstacles to love.
- He is a Judge and Messiah Who will establish a righteous kingdom on earth.
The Realm (territory or dominion) of the Kingdom is present and future:
- The Present Kingdom is in the heart of people who love Jesus.
- The Millennial Kingdom is on the earth, Jerusalem will be the centre of this kingdom.
- The Eternal Kingdom where the new Heaven comes to the new earth.
There are Blessing and Responsibilities for the people living in the Kingdom.
I apologise that the posts have been a bit erratic but God is revealing more to me as I study this glorious topic. I’m offering this summary as an attempt to pull things together.
The gospel of the kingdom is a glorious, exciting story of hope, found in the fulfillment and consummation of our relationship with God. It is a story that enables us to live in the present and face the future without fear. It’s the story of a leader (Jesus Christ) who is the only person we can trust as our society turns away from God and becomes darker until the fulfillment of unrighteousness (Daniel 8:23). In fact, the last days will be a test of our trust in Jesus’ leadership and grace (love and power) to sustain us in this darkness.
The gospel of the kingdom is a story of contrasts. As the darkness rises, the light of God rises against it. While there will be a great falling away from God there will be the greatest harvest in the history of the world. While the darkness will appear to have power and prosperity, God will have the ultimate victory! Additionally, God has given us the prophetic Word which is a light in the darkness (2 Peter 1:19). He is telling us the future in the Bible, what will happen and how to prepare.
What have we learned about the Present Kingdom so far?
The King, Bridegroom and Judge
- King: We have learned that Jesus as the Son of Man (the God-Man) has been exalted to the right hand of the Father and has ‘all authority’. The primary role of the church in the Present Kingdom, under the sovereignty of Jesus is to be a kingdom of priests with two assignments; 1). Prayer and worship and 2). a life devoted to God. Post 29 April, 2022
- Judge: Furthermore, we have published a post on Jesus as Judge (The God Who Judges; June 9, 2020; see also Ecclesiastes 7:14).
- Bridegroom: We have investigated the heart of the Bridegroom, Jesus in a number of posts:
- The Glory of God series Post October 24, 2021
- The Way of the Heart Post March 28, 2022
- Listening and Hearing God Post April 14, 2022
- Complete Salvation Post March 6, 2022
- The Righteous shall Live by Faith series Post July 25, 2021
- The Fear of the Lord series Post June 6, 2021
- Christianity – a Journey into Intimacy with Jesus Post April 23, 2020
All these posts examine the endless expressions of Jesus heart as the Bridegroom who desires to captivate and transform our hearts into the divine love of God.
I believe God gave me the phrase ‘the way of the heart’ to describe the realm; the territory or domain the Present Kingdom occupies. Jesus gave us two elements of the way of the heart: love and obedience (John 14:15). In my journey of faith, the church has taught much on obedience but little or nothing on love. I’m offering this post as my current understanding for discussion and correction. We get to the truth together.
I believe there is much more to the way of the heart than I offered in the original post (post March 28, 2022 and post 14 April, 2022). I believe when God is talking about the way of the heart He is talking about divine love in our hearts. There appears to be many elements to divine love but let me start with an attempt to describe divine love. It is much more than emotional human love that is expressed in marriage, family and friendships (this love requires a personal relationship). It is not moral love (a heart moved by injustice that leads to an action or actions in response to the injustice). This love is not necessarily relational and is also impartial (treating all rivals and disputants equally). Divine love is the burning pure and holy love the Father has for the Son and the Son has for the Father. I do not know what this love is really like and I believe we can experience the love of Christ emotionally in this Present Kingdom, at least in part. An example from my own life is in a time of grieving over a trauma in my life our pastor prayed the peace of God over me and the grief left immediately and the peace of God which is beyond our understanding came into my heart. This happened many years ago but I can still picture the room, in detail, where this happened because the event was so stunning. Furthermore, when I consider the sacrifice of Jesus in His ministry and on the cross, I get some idea of the greatness of divine love.
The question on my heart is can we experience this divine love in its fullness in the Present Kingdom? Let me start with the end in mind. When we are rapture into our glorious and immortal bodies, we will be one with Jesus as He is one with the Father. I believe in this condition we will enjoy divine love in its fullness but will have eternity to learn the majesty and many facets of this divine love. I believe that emotional human love and moral love are shadows or reflections of God’s divine love but incomplete compared to divine love. The flesh still wars against the Spirit in this Present Kingdom (Galatians 5:17). So, can we find evidence in scripture that we can experience divine love in this Present Kingdom?
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34
We need to discuss some elements of this passage. First ‘a new commandment’. I do not believe Jesus is replacing the first or second commandments that He describes in Matthew 22:37-40. In fact, if you read this passage carefully you will see that Jesus is introducing the second commandment in a new dimension or deeper understanding (divine love because the Greek word is agapao). There is a new dimension because Jesus first taught to love our neighbour as ourselves (with respect and value), however, He is commanding the deeper divine love paradigm in the above passage.
Second, Jesus is apparently describing this divine love as ‘now’ love for the Present Kingdom. The disciples are to love each other with divine love and it is not future.
Third, I believe this divine love is a supernatural gift. It is not conjured up by our efforts. The law of the new covenant is written on our hearts by God Himself (Jeremiah 31:33-34; 1 Thessalonians 3:12).
Fourth, why did Jesus present this command to the disciple? What was His purpose? I believe, Jesus was preparing the disciples for the glory of God that would be poured out at Pentecost and the subsequent mission that would change the world because the disciples through the divine love poured out by God, would invite and attract many into the Kingdom of God. Additionally, this message would go around the world for at least 2000 years. Wow what a mission! It was all dependent on divine love in the Body of Christ. Note: the Spirit was poured out on the disciples at Pentecost to allow them to accomplish God’s mission and in this pouring out I believe divine love was poured into their hearts (Luke 6:37-38). This divine love was so obvious in the lives of the disciples that many came into the Kingdom when they saw this majestic love in humans.
Now for my final point. I believe this example above is a prelude to the second coming of Jesus when His Spirit will be poured out in an unprecedented way (Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2:17-21 and Revelation 5:6). The fullness of God’s Spirit will be poured out on all believing flesh. Note, the fullness of God’s Spirit will be poured out globally in an unprecedented event in history. I believe divine love will be poured out at this time. Why? Part of God’s justice masterplan is a great harvest and I do not believe God wants to bring this new harvest into a lukewarm church. Just as the disciples demonstrated divine love to attract a harvest into the kingdom after Pentecost, so will the church in the last days. Now that is miraculous supply in a stunning way. While most of the end-time narrative spends time on the troubling details I believe the glory of this story has been neglected. The church is going to stand in glory, power and love as never before. I believe that is God’s plan for the way of the heart in this Present Kingdom.
Sometimes when I read these passages I see ‘impossible’ but Jesus teaches these topics as ‘inevitable’. I want to trust His leadership and accept the inevitable. I must prepare for this release of glory!
The Blessings and Responsibilities
I have tried to tackle three areas under this topic:
- Complete Salvation (blessing) Post March 6, 2022
- Listening and Hearing God (blessing and responsibility) Post April 4, 2022
- A kingdom of priests acting under Jesus’ sovereignty (blessing and responsibility) Post 29 April 2022
There is much more to say on this topic, I believe and I intend to address Kingdom Values later but this is where God told me to start. One thing I know, I must be prepared for this outpouring of His glory because I have been taught that when God’s glory is poured out there is great blessing for those who are prepared and great judgment if you are not prepared (see Reference below). If this does not happen in my generation, I want to have enough wisdom to prepare the next generation. It is the responsibility of my generation to make them ready. If we don’t understand we cannot teach and if we do not teach, they will not be prepared.
“For the priest’s lips should guard and keep pure the knowledge [of My law], and the people should seek (inquire for and require) instruction at his mouth; for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.” Malachi 2:7 (AMP Bible)
Written by John and Shirley Ray, edited by Joel Ratcliffe
Picture by Pixabay
“Fear of the Lord” John Bevere
“Son of Man – Gospel of Daniel 7” Samuel Whitefield