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Yield to the Challenge of the Kingdom

June, 2001

How do you live life? What do you eat? What do you follow? What do you avoid? What decisions did you make today? Every decision made reflects whatís in your heart and on your mind. Itís a matter of motivation, a matter of choice.

Jesus came with a message about Godís future promise of salvation for His people. He spoke of Godís activity and Godís realm, the kingdom of God. He stated that His task was to preach the gospel of the kingdom (Luke 4.43). The apostles were to proclaim the same message (Matthew 10.7, 24.14; Luke 9.2, 10.9). The time was at hand (Mark 1.15), near. By this Jesus meant the kingly action of God was about to take place or was already taking place.

G. E. Ladd states: "For Jesus, the kingdom of God [kingdom of God] was the dynamic rule of God which had invaded history in his own person and mission to bring men in the present age the blessings of the messianic age, and which would manifest itself yet again at the end of the age to bring this messianic salvation to its consummation."

The kingdom is a divine act. The action of God in Jesus means Satan is being attacked, his rule is being brought to an end, and his captives are being set free. The hour of judgment upon the wicked (Matthew 3.10, Luke 3.9) is also the hour of deliverance for believers (Matthew 12.28, Luke 11.20). Godís activity encompasses a grace and compassion (Matthew 20.1-16) enabling people to repent, own His kingship, place themselves under His rule, acknowledge His realm, and receive the blessings of the kingdom of God. Jesus brought the kingdom of God to people by His teaching and by His mighty deeds, His words and works. The kingdom could not fully come except by Jesusí death and resurrection.

Entrance into the kingdom of God is possible as a result of spiritual rebirth (John 3.3, 5). Believers enter the spiritual realm of the kingdom of God by yielding to the following challenges of the kingdom:

      1. Respond personally to Jesus as Messiah and Son of Man (Mt. 7.21; 13.52; Luke 12.32; 22.29; 23.42) come into the world from God, and exercising Godís power in bringing salvation and judgment to mankind. Repent and believe (Mark 1.15).
      2. Receive the kingdom and its blessings (Luke 12.32). Become humble and receptive like little children (Mt.18.3f). Receive the kingdom of God as the gift of God given by Godís grace (Eph. 2.8, 9).
      3. Respond to Godís grace by accepting His rule and by accepting those believers likewise bound together with you by common allegiance to God and His Son. (1 John 3.14-23)
      4. Be willing to trust Jesus, committing your life to Him.
      5. Submit to the commandments of Jesus (Matthew 5.19, 20; 13.43).
      6. Seek the kingdom of God foremost (Matthew 6.33; Luke 12.31).
      7. Determine to overcome temptation (Mark 9.4) and extend forgiveness to others as God has forgiven you (Matthew 18).
      8. Be ready to endure persecution and sacrifice (Matthew 5.10; 19.12; Luke 9.60, 62).

To the church Jesus entrusted the keys of the kingdom (Matthew 16.18f). The above characterize the people of God who have entered the kingdom of God by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, a faith working by love. The challenge of the kingdom of God involves glorifying God by enjoying Him as Father (Matthew 6.9f; 18.3; Luke 11.2; 12.32; 22.29), forever.

The kingdom of God will be inherited by those who turn aside from sin (1 Cor. 6.9f; Gal. 5.21; Eph. 5.5; 2 Thess. 1.5). The kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost (Rom. 14.17). The kingdom of God challenges men and women to an inward condition of the heart resulting from repentance, metanoia, and believing the gospel. (Mark 1.15) One is made clean by the words which Jesus speaks, and so the process of cleansing cannot be separated from the Person of Jesus Christ (John 13.10; 15.3).

We are not talking about an outward rule of ceremonial cleanness. We speak of an inward purity, coming not by ethical achievement, but by receiving forgiveness and grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Believers are cleansed by the Blood of Christ, washed in the water of the word, obtaining a good conscience before God through the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 3.21; Tit. 3.4-7; Heb. 10; 1 Jn 1.7, 9). Messiahís perfect sacrifice of Himself effects forgiveness of sins, the assurance of faith, the cleansing of the heart from an evil conscience. (Heb. 9.13f; 10.12-22)

We must remember that we have been cleansed from old sins and be diligent to make our call and election sure, for so an entrance will be supplied us abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1.9-11)

The follower of Christ will be cleansed for the bearing of fruit, just as a vine is pruned. We are not passive in the process, but actively yield to it, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2 Corinthians 7.1). Purity witnesses to Godís grace (2 Cor. 6.6). Purity is both a gift and a demand, a grace and a challenge.

Those who would yield to the challenge of the kingdom of God follow after God, following Jesus Christ, cleaving and clinging to Him, dwelling in Him, clinging to His testimonies, determining to set no wicked thing before the eyes. Paul spoke of "the love unfeigned: abhorring the evil; cleaving to the good." (Rom. 12.9)

It is a matter of the heart. Those who trod under foot the Son of God, counting the blood of the covenant an unholy thing, do despite to the Spirit of grace (Heb. 10.29). "He that walks in his uprightness fears the LORD, but he who is perverse in his ways despises Him." (Pr 14.2) To despise is to look down upon, scorn, hold in contempt. Those who despise God disobey, mock, scoff, reproach God and His people, blaspheme, grow indignant in their anger towards God and Godís people, rebel, cast Godís laws behind their backs, slay the prophets, reject God, and dishonor God by despising His words and misusing His prophets. Such despise the riches of Godís goodness and forbearance and longsuffering. (Rom. 2.4) Thus, "Whoso despises the word shall be destroyed, but he who fears the commandment will be rewarded." (Pr 13.13) "He that keeps the commandment keeps his soul, but he who despises His ways will die." (Pr 19.16)

Defilement of the spirit manifests in the flesh. Defilement of the flesh deals with nourishment, propagation, and protection of life. Its source is self-gratification. Defilement of the spirit comes from self-seeking and manifests in idolatry, seeking after other lovers, serving self and neglecting or despising others.

So we are called to examine the condition of the heart, what it desires and what it despises, what it casts off and what it clings to, what it scorns and what it savors.

No man can serve two masters, Jesus said, for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. (Mt 6.24)

Jesus Christ now reigns as king over a kingdom that cannot be shaken. Under the rule of God, believers already form a kingdom (Rev 1.6, 9) and will share in the future reign of Christ (Rev 5.10; 20.4, 6; 22.5). The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever! (Rev 11.15)

If you have begun with Christ Jesus, seek God with faith for grace to pursue, hold fast, endure, persevere, and embrace the kingdom of God. And what will God supply? The Holy Spirit. (Gal 3.5) As we embrace all that God is and offers us in Jesus, the Holy Spirit comes to enable and preserve. John Piper says, "The Spirit loves to exalt Christ; and nothing exalts Christ like being trusted and treasured above all other future fortunes."

We are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, and we need grace by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12.28) We have obtained a precious faith by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ, whose divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue. We have great and precious promises through which we may be partakers of the divine nature and escape the corruption that is in the world through lust. (2 Peter 1.1-4)

June 15th Rev. Jim Craig, Wanda Barlow, and I leave for Eastern Europe on a spiritual warfare mission of major import. In preparing for this mission, the Lord has led us to go and open the iron gate, to proclaim liberty to the captives, to exalt God as El Elyon, the Most High God, and to declare to the nations Psalm 110. This is an area of historical idolatry, sorcery, and hatred (murder). Those who practice the works of the flesh will not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal 5.19-21). What has been despised and what has been embraced has come before the Lord, who judges between what is living and what is dead. Nevertheless, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal 5.22, 23). So we who are Christís seek the grace of God to have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires, to live in the Spirit and walk in the Spirit, bearing one anotherís burdens, and so fulfilling the law of Christ.

Calling the nations to resurrection,

Mary Craig

Then the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms
Under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people,
The saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an
Everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him.
(Daniel 7.27)

We give you thanks, O Lord God Almighty. The One who is
And who was and who is to come, because You have taken Your
Great power and reigned. The nations were angry, and Your
Wrath has come, and the time of the dead, that they should be
Judged, and that You should reward Your servants the
Prophets and the saints, and those who fear Your name,
Small and great, and should destroy those who destroy the earth.
(Revelation 11.17, 18)

Then the temple of God was opened in heavenÖ
(Revelation 11.19)

© 2001 Mary Craig Ministries, Inc.

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