Friday, December 9, 2016

The Security of Jesus' Kingdom

I have spent a long time considering why professing Christians have so little experience of the promises of God regarding our new life in Christ. Just for fun, let’s imagine how my mentors might answer the question. I will try to put them in order of how God presented them to me, and see what picture forms.

·         Larry Crabb: because they will be more committed to self-protection than knowing and doing the will of God
·         Neil Anderson: because they have not come to Jesus to break their chains of bondage
·         Henry Blackaby: because they are not listening to God and joining him in his work
·         John Piper: because they don’t desire God in their innermost beings
·         Jim Cymbala: because they won’t humble themselves and pray in complete dependence on God for everything they need
·         Jim Wilder (Life Model): because they prefer living in their sarks to living in the new heart Jesus gave them
·         Sam Storms: because they are denying the ministry of the Holy Spirit and missing out on significant ways he gifts his church to build each other up in Jesus Christ
·         Paul: because they don’t want to deny their sarks and experience the Holy Spirit filling their inner beings so Jesus can dwell in their hearts by faith

Well, that was insightful!

Now, in my meditation on God’s word, here is what God ministered to me:

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.[1]

1.  Our lives are now about “the kingdom of God”. If we don’t get that, that God “has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins,”[2] we will act as if we are autonomous creatures looking for only what matters to us. If we are true children of God by faith in Jesus Christ, we have already been delivered out of the domain of darkness, and have already been transferred into Jesus’ kingdom. Everything now is about how to live as brothers to the King of kings and Lord of lords.

2.  Life in the kingdom of Jesus is “in the Holy Spirit”. Again, if we don’t get that, that everything we have in Christ is in the Spirit, not in the law, we will keep trying to be good Christians instead of hungering and thirsting after the Holy Spirit. Life in the Spirit is absolutely foundational to our walk with God, our life in the kingdom, and how we are doing. Paul’s prayer that God would grant us to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in our inner beings is absolutely necessary.[3]

3. It is in the Holy Spirit, in the kingdom of Jesus, that we find our righteousness. This gives us our rest, the rest for our souls Jesus promised,[4] since the righteousness is in the kingdom, and we are in the kingdom, so our righteousness is secured. It is imputed in justification, worked into us in sanctification, and perfected in glorification. It is all a work of God so relax, seek the Spirit. He will get the job done.

4. It is in the Holy Spirit, in the kingdom of Jesus, that we find the peace we are longing for. Good works do not give peace because we are never good enough. In the kingdom, in the Spirit, we rest, because we are at peace with God even while we are not yet like Jesus.[5] It doesn’t matter how much we are not yet like Jesus because the Spirit of God in the kingdom of Christ will complete our peace in Christ.[6]

5. It is in the Holy Spirit, in the kingdom of Jesus, that we find the joy we are seeking. We can rejoice in the Lord always[7] because we are in an eternal kingdom in the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. It is in this kingdom, in this Spirit, that we experience the words of Jesus that fill us with his joy, and bring our own joy to the full.[8]

6. We know that our righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit are absolutely secure because we have received, “a kingdom that cannot be shaken”.[9] It cannot be shaken because it is Jesus’ kingdom, filled with the Holy Spirit, not because we are good kids making it good, or bad kids ruining how good it is. It CANNOT be shaken because it is God’s kingdom. Simple as that.

7. Because this unshakable kingdom of Jesus Christ is filled with righteousness,  peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit, we are told, “So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.”[10] This means that, instead of letting our sarks (flesh) tell us how hopeless this is (as if it was our kingdom, and depending on us to be righteous, peace-filled, and joyful), we set our minds on the Spirit and “pursue” the things that would “make” for peace in our lives and church, and would accomplish the most “mutual upbuilding”.

    In other words, because we are in Jesus’ kingdom of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, we are to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”[11] God, in Jesus’ kingdom, in the Holy Spirit, is working in us both to will and to work for our righteousness and peace and joy, so we are to work these things out with fear and trembling, pursuing what makes for peace in the church, and what would have the greatest effect in building up the whole body of Christ.

    Note: because so many professing Christians try to hide the true condition of their souls from their assembly of believers, I must keep reminding us that presenting ourselves to God as broken people who need everything Jesus’ kingdom is about is upbuilding to everyone. Holding back because we aren’t good enough has never built anyone up at all.

    Sadly, I have many scenarios pop into my mind of people tearing down the church by denying what is going on within them, pretending to be doing better than they really are, and then attacking anyone who lovingly seeks the reality of Christ in their inner beings.

    Thankfully, I also have testimonies of when people confessed how they were really doing, often far more broken than they had ever admitted, and discovered the church banded together to present their mutual brokenness to God for their mutual upbuilding in Christ.  

APPLICATION: the reason we can take whatever steps are required to deal with unrighteousness in our lives, or our lack of peace, or our emptiness of joy, is because the kingdom of God is of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, and God’s kingdom cannot be shaken. We have been delivered out of the domain of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of God’s beloved Son, and in Jesus Christ we have all the righteousness and peace and joy we could ever desire in the personal presence and activity of the Holy Spirit.

© 2016 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Romans 14:17
[2] Colossians 1:13-14
[3] See Ephesians 3:14-21 for how Paul prayed for our experience of the Holy Spirit in our inner beings.
[4] Matthew 11:28-30
[5] Romans 5:1
[6] Philippians 1:6. It is God’s work; he will complete it.
[7] Philippians 4:4
[8] John 15:11
[9] Hebrews 12:28
[10] Romans 14:19
[11] Philippians 2:12-13

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