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“Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it . . .” Matthew 16:18-19 NKJV
Jesus spoke of “Kingdom” and the “Church” together as related terms, but they are not synonymous; there is a difference. The Kingdom is the Basileia (Greek) and the Church is the Ecclesia (Greek). The Kingdom is the realm, the rule, reign and dominion of God in the universe and the earth, and the Church is a group of called out believers (called out of sin and darkness). The Church that Jesus builds is a prevailing—overcoming Church, and an instrument of the Kingdom of God.
Jesus taught believers to pray for the advancement and the cause of God in the earth, not only here and now, but also in His coming earthly Kingdom that He shall establish in righteousness (2 Peter 3:13). Thus, the Church is an expression of the Kingdom of God (Matt. 6:10), presently expressed on earth through the agency of the Church (Universal). The Church is not an end, nor is the Church the “be-all end-all; it’s an instrument, a tool, a vehicle to transport us into a present reality of the Kingdom of God (Col. 1:13; 2:15). Over the ages, the instrument has changed but God’s purpose never changes, i.e., that believers be sons in the Kingdom (E.g., Israel (Ex. 19:4-6) and the Church—spiritual Israel (Luke 17:21).
Why is God’s Church an overcoming Church? The King of the Kingdom (Jesus) has overcome the world (Col. 2:15); therefore through Him, all sons of the Kingdom are also overcomers (John 16:33) because of: (1) Light (Col. 1:12-13; 1 Thess. 5:5); (2) because of Life-style (John 10:10). “Life in John 10:10 is Zoe (Greek), life as God has it; and to have it “abundantly” isn’t referencing money, wealth or possession but rather living a life that is full of joy and true happiness (Rom. 14:17); and, (3) because of power as a witness (See Acts 1:4-8 and Matt. 24:14). Thank God that in the Kingdom of God, believers are sons of the Overcoming Church!
So the scribe said to Him, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He. And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” But after that no one dared question Him. Mark 12:32-34. NKJV
One of the saddest words—regardless of which language spoken in — is “almost”, because “almost” means that you are near but not exactly there; or very near but not quite or exactly complete. Some people are not far from the Kingdom of God, yet not close enough to enter into it; but they are “almost” there.
Like the Scribe in the about text, he was almost there because he had an appreciation of Truth, but lack the necessary repentance and faith necessary to enter the Kingdom (Mark 1:14, 15). This Scribe, undoubtedly, was a teacher of the Law; he was knowledgeable, intelligent and wise; he knew the Law but hadn’t entered the Kingdom. He knew about the Law not but the Law-Giver. It is one thing to know about the Church or the Bible, but it’s another to know the Head of the Church and the Author of the Bible. Thus, yo9u don’t want to be just almost there.
Which is first in importance to you? Is it religion or loving God and loving one another? Religion hindered this Scribe from entering into the Kingdom of God (Matt. 5:20). In the Kingdom, a relationship with God and loving others most characterize one’s kingdom experience. The Scribes divided the Law into 613 precepts—248 do’s and 365 don’ts regulating Sabbath observances, circumcision, sacrifices, and the fashion of their religious robes (The Pilgrim Study Bible). These ceremonial and legalistic things were regarded as the greatest in importance to them; thus, some were only almost there.
Outward ceremonies and observances are useless if your heart is not right with God. But even when your heart is right, religion can keep you not far from the Kingdom of God, and not close enough to enter into it. Religious people are almost there if they try to keep all the rules in order to go to heaven when they die. They don’t realize that you enter the Kingdom of heaven by birth, not by death (John 3: 3, 5).
And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end. Luke 1:31-33 NKJV
My father used to say that, “all good things must come to an end.” If this saying is true, there has to be one exception: the Kingdom of God. In 2 Samuel 7:16, God promised King David that his kingdom would last forever. This promise was fulfilled in the coming of Jesus Christ, a direct descendant of David, whose reign will continue throughout eternity. And, of His Kingdom, there will be no end—yes—the Kingdom of God will never end!
What is the Kingdom (basileia, Greek word) of God? Scripture throughout bears witness that the God’s Kingdom is the extension of His reign, rule, and dominion in the earth and the universe; it is the King’s domain. It is not religion or religious tradition, but righteous, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost (Rom. 14:17); and, it is not in word only (concept, doctrine, or words or a phrase) but in power (1 Cor. 4:20). This power is the dunamis, i.e., the miraculous supernatural ability and power of God which will never end.
Jesus preached that, “the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). To invoke the power of God\’s endless Kingdom is to, change your way of thinking and believing that you can, by faith, live in the realm of the miraculous in every area of your life. Wherever Jesus Christ is Lord and King; where there is divine government and a spiritual economy ruled by God, that’s where the Kingdom of God is. This endless Kingdom is always a present reality—not for another time or another people; it is here and now (Luke 17:20, 21; John 3:3, 5).
The endless Kingdom of God proceeds from heaven (John 18:36; Matt. 6:10),and has been in existence for as long as the King has been in existence—even from everlasting to everlasting (Psalm 90:2). And, of His kingdom there will be no end!
In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 and saying, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand! . . Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel. Matthew 3:1, 2; Mark 1:14, 15 NKJV
“Timing is everything” is an expression used to say that if something is meant to happen it will at the right time and for the right purpose. Both John the Baptist and Jesus preached in their respective ministries that the kingdom of God is at hand—a present reality—not for another time or for another people. In the kingdom, God is an on-time God, and timing is everything.
Time is defined as a moment, minute, hour, day, month, year or years, as indicated by a clock or calendar. Over time, there is a tendency is ask oneself how long before something comes to pass or the blessing is manifested? When will it happen for me?
Consider the promise that God made to Abraham that a covenant son would be born unto him and his wife Sarah. For twenty-five years Abraham believed God’s promise, but timing was everything. In Genesis chapter 18, the Lord and two angels visited Abraham in the plains of Mamre, and the Lord reiterated the promise by saying, “I will certainly return to you according to the time of life, and behold, Sarah your wife shall have a son.” Abraham and Sarah were old, well advanced in age; and Sarah had passed the age of childbearing. Therefore Sarah laughed within herself . . . and the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I surely bear a child, since I am old? Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son” (Gen. 18:10-14). For Abraham and Sarah, timing was everything; nine months later, the promised son (Isaac) was born.
If it’s meant to happen it will, according to God’s purpose and will, His desire and pleasure; whether it’s an open door, an opportunity, a job or business, marriage or pregnancy, or ministry, etc. Everything that happens in life is based on timing, e.g., sunrises, sunsets, day and night, and seasons. Timing is everything!
In the text above, Jesus’ public ministry began only when John’s ministry ended. Jesus, the Lamb of God (John 1:29; Rev. 13:8), in time, He had to first be water baptized, filled with the Holy Ghost, and be led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the Devil. Jesus’ ministry increased and John’s decreased (John 1:26, 27, 30). Life has a time-table for all things, but in the kingdom of God, God has a prophetic time-table based on eternity not chronology. Jesus operated on God’s prophetic time-table. Timing was everything!
Both the earthly time-table and prophetic time-table have timelines that includes endings and new beginnings and an exploration period in between for a moment, hour, day, month, or years. But when John’s ministry ended, Jesus’ public ministry offered the world a new beginning, and in between that which ended and the new beginning, Jesus prepared Himself. In the kingdom of God, at the appointed time, God will perfect that which concerns you according to His purpose and will, at the appointed time because timing is everything!
Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1:14, 15 NKJV
“At hand” is an idiom, and in some uses, a prepositional phrase that means near in time and position. When Jesus kicked off His public ministry, preaching that the kingdom of God is at hand, announcing the beginning of God’s reign on earth and the forgiveness of sin. His message was the gospel (“good news”) of the kingdom because it offered freedom, justice, and hope to the poor; deliverance to the bound and oppressed; and, healing to the sick and diseased. The unequivocal message of Jesus’ ministry was that the kingdom of God is at here and now.
The time had been fulfilled because Jesus was operating on a prophetic time-table, i.e., it was His appointed time to begin His ministry because John the Baptist was decreasing and He was increasing (John 3:30). When time is fulfilled, everything in life (good, bad, or indifferent) happens at a preordained appointed time (Acts 1:6, 7; Gal. 4:4). But the good news is: when the King is on the scene, there is change in the air, if you repent and believe in the gospel. True repentance, (i.e., change of mind, to think differently, and afterthought), precedes real faith towards God (Heb. 6:1).
“At hand” is a kingdom that has already come, i.e., the kingdom of God. According to Jesus’ preaching, you’re not going to the kingdom, but the kingdom has come to you (Luke 17:21). After “Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people” (Matt. 4:23), large crowds begin to follow Him; then He, from a mountain (Matt.5:1), begin to teach the multitude to pray: “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10).
“At hand is a kingdom that can be seen (by faith) and entered into (John 3:5, 5, 12). If you’ve repented and believe in the gospel message, then by faith, see that God’s kingdom is already “at hand”—and as it is in heaven, enjoy the same here on earth. The kingdom of God is at hand!
Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old. 19 Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert. 20 The beast of the field will honor Me, The jackals and the ostriches, Because I give waters in the wilderness And rivers in the desert, To give drink to My people, My chosen. 21 This people I have formed for Myself; They shall declare My praise. Isaiah 43:18-21 NKJV
When the year 2018 ends, the New Year (2019) begins. Every new beginning is preceded by an ending, and you can’t receive the new reality of a new beginning, in all of its fullness, if you’re still holding on to the old. So, do yourself a favor and say “goodbye to 2018”—don’t look back. Look forward to a new beginning and expect God’s very best!
Many are, perhaps, thinking that they need to make a New Year resolution because they want something to change in their life and circumstances. There is nothing magical about making a new year’s resolution, only to be broken or soon forgotten. Forget about making a resolution and instead make a decision—a quality decision to take God at his Word and believe that the past is pasted but now faith is and without “now” faith”, it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:1, 6). The past is your mortality; the present is your reality; and, the future is your destiny. Every New Year moves you closer to the fulfillment of your God-ordained destiny.
So, as outlined in the text above, where God speaks through the Prophet Isaiah to admonish His people not to live by looking in the “rearview mirror” nor limiting their life to an old way of thinking and believing. God wants to do a new thing in your life, so say goodbye to 2018.
In the New Year, God wants to give you such an abundant miraculous supply of water (blessings) notwithstanding the “dry desert” conditions you may have faced in 2018. Poetically and by analogy, God’s supply will be so abundant in this new season (2019), even the wild beasts, the jackals and the ostriches shall be impacted by the blessings, and they shall break forth into thanksgiving and praise to God for the beyond-measure outpouring of blessings that shall benefit the people of God passing through the wilderness and deserts of 2018. So, go ahead and say goodbye to 2018!
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 NKJV
An inheritance is property received from an ancestor, i.e., something of value passed on and received by another. As a Testator, when Jesus died on the Cross, He left those who believe an inheritance—the kingdom of God. Anything or anyone that unlawfully circumvents or uproots your right to receive and enjoy your inheritance is an inheritance cheater. The apostle Paul taught the Corinthians (Text) and the Galatians (Galatians 5:19-21) that people who are living—characteristically—an unrighteous life will not inherit the kingdom of God because they have been cheated. Sin, Satan, and false religious indoctrination will cheat you out of your inheritance.
It is important to rightly divide the Word of God in light of Paul’s teaching. Please notice that in the text above that Paul used the conjunction “neither” to single out two groups of people. “Neither” means “not the one and not the other of the two” (Webster). So, he is referring to two groups that characteristically practice sin—the unrighteous and some believers in the church who continuously practice the sinful vices enumerated in the text above.
So, what does it mean that they will not inherit the kingdom of God? Does it mean they will not go to heaven? “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matt 7:1). But rather consider Mark 1:15; Luke 17:21; John 3:3, 5, 12. In each of these passages of Scripture, Jesus says that the kingdom of God is at hand; the kingdom is within you; and, the kingdom can be seen and entered into here on earth (John 3:12). Thus, to inherit the kingdom of God is to receive the blessings of God’s Spirit, His righteousness, and the fruit of the Spirit (Rom. 14:17). Paul confirmed this truth when he wrote to the Galatians, “Now the works of the flesh are evident . . . they which do [practice] such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is . . .” (Gal. 5:19, 21-23). The fruit of the Spirit was directly connected to inheriting the kingdom of God.
The unrighteous who have never accepted Christ and any believer who is practicing sin—living continuously a un-Christ-like life are the ones being cheated out of their inheritance. They are cheated in not being able to enter and enjoy this kingdom of righteous, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost (Rom. 14:17). So, for those cheated out of their inheritance, the question is not whether Christians who practice sin are lost, but rather, are people who practice sin even a Christian? (1 John 3:5-8). Stay woke. Watch and pray. Don’t get cheated!
But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:18-21 NKJV
The strength of sin is the law (1 Cor. 15:56), but if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law (Gal. 5:18), and the sinful passions of the old nature, that are aroused by the law, will not work in you to bear the fruit of death (Rom. 7:5). The old sinful nature produces vices that lead to spiritual death, and the fruit of the Spirit produces virtues that lead to a vital inheritance in Christ.
An inheritance is something of value passed on and received by another. So, what is your inheritance in Christ Jesus? Jesus said, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world” (Matt. 25:34). Your inheritance is salvation and eternal life—not only most valuable but priceless!
The Apostle Paul told believers in both Galatia and Corinth “that those [the unrighteous] who practice such things [vices] will not inherit the kingdom of God” (See text and 1 Cor. 6. 9-11). The point is simple: receiving an inheritance is based on legal right. If you act contrary to what is right in the sight of God, you cannot inherit His kingdom because the inheritance is by right. Only a child of God has a right to the family inheritance (Rom. 8:17).
It isn’t the vices that disqualify you from the inheritance; it is the “Vice Grip”—when the sinful old nature has such a strong hold on you that you continue in the works of the flesh. So, disqualification occurs when you practice a vice (1 John 3:7-8). You’ll always get good at what you practice. It’s not a single failure, but the practice that characterizes you as unrighteous. It is one thing to make a mistake and another to practice it (Matt. 26:41; Ps. 37:23).
How can you protect your inheritance? It’s simple: “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16). Always practice godly virtues, i.e., the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23) and not the vices of the old sinful nature.
For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! 16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Galatians 5:14-18 NKJV
There’s a legal principle in American jurisprudence that says, “No man is above the law.” This is not truth in the government of God. Believers are expected to live above the law of sin and death (Rom. 8:1-2).
There are two competing forces inside of the believer: the Holy Spirit and the old sinful nature. These two forces are adversaries, contrary and opposite to the other. The Holy Spirit yields fruit, i.e., attributes, character, and the nature of God; and, the old sinful nature yields works of the flesh, evil desires, and ungodly deeds. The old sinful nature wants to keep you under the power of the law, “. . . and the strength of sin is the law” (1 Cor. 15:56). To live above the law; you must be led by the Spirit (text).
Both Jesus and Apostle Paul taught that love should be the motivating factor in your dealings with God, yourself and others (Matt. 22:37-40; Gal.5:14). If love isn’t your motivating factor, then you will “bite and devour one another” and destroy the other (text). Without love, you become critical and judgmental of others (Matt. 7:1; Rom. 14:4); you look for another’s faults and shortcomings; and, talk about them behind their backs (See 1 Cor. 13:4-7). It is the power of the law that ignites and manifests these impulses and “motions” of the flesh which cause our members to sin (Rom. 7:5).
“For all of the law is fulfilled in one word”—love! (Gal. 5:14). The fruit of the Spirit is love . . .” (Gal. 5:22). So what does it mean to live above the law? To live above the law is to be led by the Spirit (text)—with a desire to hear God’s Word and a readiness to obey (Jas. 1:22), and being led with a sensitivity to discern between your feelings and Spirit’s actual leading. If the Word of God is in your heart and mind, it will be behind your actions, and the power of God will lift you above your selfish desires.
You are no longer obligated to be under the power of the law. Your new husband is Jesus Christ. Since you died with Christ on the Cross, your “first husband”, i.e., the law, has no power over you. You are no longer married to Moses. Moses is dead! You are now married to the Lord Jesus whose Spirit lifts you above the law and the flesh (Rom. 7:4-6). Selah!
The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, And he who wins souls is wise. Proverbs 11:30 NKJV
Christians often emphasize the importance of winning souls, and at the same time, deemphasize the importance of showing that their soul has been won—evidencing the fruits of righteousness.
The book of Proverbs is a book of wisdom. The wisdom of Proverbs teaches that the fruit of the righteous precedes the fruit of soul-winning. The Apostle Paul referred to the fruit of the Spirit also as the fruit of righteousness (Phil. 1:11). Effective soul-winning begins with the fruit of righteous first being a tree of life.
For example, many kindergarten and grade school teachers incorporate “show and tell” in their curriculums to help their students develop and demonstrate listening and speaking skills for effective communication to help guide a classmate in understanding some important idea, people, places, and things. Winning souls to Christ is like “show and tell.” You show before you tell!
“The fruit of righteous is a tree of life” (Text). A “tree of life” evidences health and life with its green leaves and blooming fruit (Ps. 1:3; Isa. 61:3). You can always know a tree by the fruit it bears (Matt. 7:20). So, it is true spiritually; you are known by your fruit and your fruit is clearly seen by all who observe your tree (life). Spiritually, a tree of life attracts—not repel—people to its fruit and its shade (unconditional acceptance) by consistently exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit because they are the attributes, the character, and nature of Christ (John 15:5; Matt. 4:19). But this fruit in your life must first show before you tell others about Jesus Christ.
.Again, the fruit of righteousness is the fruit of the Spirit, as outlined in Galatians 5:22, 23; and, the fruit of the Spirit can be summed up in one word: love. This is the new commandment that Jesus gave to believers (John 13:34, 35). When it comes to winning souls, where’s the love? Show God’s love to the lost before you tell them about the salvation plan that God offers, because the fruit of the Spirit is love. Remember the “purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and from sincere faith” (1 Tim. 1:5). Show it before you tell it!