THE KINGDOM OF GOD
At the outset Pastor Sansom reminded us that we cannot take anything material with us from this Earth at the end of our lives. Therefore when we die, what matters most is our relationship with Jesus Christ. And that relationship is worth more than all the silver and gold one can accumulate. To be prepared, we need to be like Paul who runs the race (Hebrews 12:1-2) and is ready. We must preach The Gospel of The Kingdom (Matt. 4:23) and then the end of time will come. What ushers in the end of the age is not the Rapture - important though that may be - but rather the proclamation of The Gospel: "And this Gospel of The Kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." (Matt. 24:14).
The Pastor then asked: "What does 'The Kingdom of God' mean? More than most of us realize."
First, we will understand The Kingdom when we understand The Gospel. For The Gospel is "The Good Word of The Kingdom." And Jesus, Himself "The Word" came to share the message of The Kingdom (which is powerful enough to heal the sick and raise the dead). So we too, having understood the message, and as emissaries of The Kingdom, are mandated to preach the word of God to THIS GENERATION (ie., to our times) ~ We must alert all the Earth to the coming of God's Kingdom on Earth.
But what does The Kingdom of God entail?
Then Pastor next examined the importance of the Parables of The Sower (Matt. 13:3-8 & 18-23) and of The Wheat & The Tares (Matt. 13:24-30 & 36-43) to our understanding of how we receive, and enter, God's Kingdom; and how that Kingdom is structured. The explanation of these parables is critical to our understanding: The "Seed" is the Word Of The Kingdom. The person who receives the seed on good ground is one who hears, understands the Word, and bears fruit many times multiplied. Meantime, The Tares (the forces of evil) are allowed to grow in The Kingdom so that the Good Seed might not be inadvertently uprooted. But the Tares are finally gathered up first at the harvest, and then burnt.
When we evaluate the Parable of The Sower it is clear that receiving The Word is a personal responsibility. Moreover everyone is responsible for HOW they hear that Word. Three listeners miss the point, only the fourth "Gets It:" Those who seek will find; you are responsible for the condition of your heart. If you reject the Word, you reap the consequence which is "Unfruitfulness". That means that God's plan for you will not be attained.
On the other hand, the power of The Word of The Kingdom is what can ignite you to achieve God's plans for you in your worldly sphere of activity. Pastor made the point that we need God's People - not just behind the pulpit and in the pews - But in the world.
If you are alive, (in the game) then God has important work for you!
What are the basic characteristics of The Word that brings righteousness and glorifies the Lord? Well, first, the most important question is: Who's in charge in your life? Jesus came to give us an answer to that. In an unredeemed state, man is a slave to sin. The alternative is to model Jesus' behavior. As a MAN, Jesus Himself submitted to God's rule. Yet he exercised great personal power and liberty; AND his sacrifice freed us from the bondage of sin. So we too must submit to God's rule first, so as to achieve subordinate dominion and liberty in the secular sphere.
The Gospel is the Good News of The Kingdom of God. If we believe it and follow it's requirements, we enter the Kingdom of God. At that point we come under the authority of God and can ourselves exercise more dominion on Earth, recovering Earthly power from Satan and defeating secular evil. Thus we must take The Word outside the four walls of the church and into the world. We have God's work to do. Our challenge is to climb one or other of the Seven Mountains of our culture - or "infiltrate" the seven spheres - of life (Business, Family, Government, The Media, Arts & Entertainment, Education & Religion), reclaim them from Satan and bring them under God's dominion through our God-given, subordinate powers.
The two kingdoms - of good & evil - have been in conflict from the earliest times, seeking dominion over the world. We are called to defeat the forces of evil. But we cannot retaliate and exercise God's dominion unless we are the Good Seed, the sons & daughters of The Kingdom. Temporarily we must co-exist with the tares who/which will ultimately be gathered and burnt at the final harvest. Evil men abound and challenge God's kingdom (here Pastor mentioned his personal family challenge of the legal attack on his brother Congressman Ray Sansom) but they are not really getting away with anything. And they will not exert dominion in the end so long as we do our part.
The age is coming to a close, wickedness is increasing. The Church must do more. It is God's Agent and must take dominion over The Kingdom. And you must be active in the World too. Do not focus on "The Great Escape" of The Rapture (valid though The Rapture may be). In the end the operative paradigm is that the Tares are gathered up and burnt, leaving The Wheat (you) behind.
The harvest is coming and you have only two choices - to be "Tares" and burnt, or "Wheat" and saved. And remember, it's not how you start the race, it's how you FINISH it: Those who endure to the end are saved. They and you are not saved through Good Works ~ though you are obligated to undertake God's work on Earth. But rather you must allow God's grace to sustain you throughout the race; take you all the way to the end as you engage the Forces Of Darkness, exert dominion over evil, and finally establish God's Kingdom.
So ask yourself: "Which Kingdom am I a child of? ... And also: am I really in the fight or just on the sidelines?"
And finally you will know which kingdom you truly inhabit, according to the Fruit you bear.
Note: This was also the week-end of the aftermath of the Chilean Earthquake which was many times more powerful than the Haitian event; yet as I write this only a few more than 700 people appear to have been killed in Chile compared to almost a quarter million in Haiti! The entire difference seems to have been due to the lack of safe building codes in Haiti. Do any biblical parallels come to mind here?
God Bless you all (AND Shalom!),
Thanks for visiting ... my site is under construction, but feel free to roam around. I appreciate your comments. /Bill
Pd. Pol. Adv., paid for and approved by Dr. Bill Escoffery,
Candidate for U.S. Senate from Florida.
Copyright © 2010 by William Escoffery III. All