A good friend of mine, a Pastor named J.W. Brinkley, recently posed this question to his audience of which I was a part: “When Jesus sent His disciples out (at one time numbering 70) to preach the ‘Good News of the Kingdom of God’, what exactly was the “good news” message they were to preach?” This is one of those questions which makes you pause and also makes you feel a bit dumb, as on one level it points to an obvious discrepancy and at the same time you realize that you have no good idea about the answer!
His question points to this: if Jesus had not yet died for our sins, then what “Gospel” was it that they were preaching?
The answer is important.
Jesus talked about this all the time. It makes up much of the red letters in your red letter Bible. He was constantly preaching about “The Kingdom of God”. He made many metaphors to the Kingdom of God. A trip through the Gospel of Matthew reveals much:
“The Kingdom of God is INCLUSIVE (Matthew 9:10-12) - Jesus drew circles around people, not lines of separation.
“The Kingdom of God is NEAR AND ACCESSIBLE (Matthew 10:7) – as Moses preached in Deuteronomy 30, it is not far away and inaccessible, it is as close as our own hearts.
“The Kingdom of God is EASY AND LIGHT (Matthew 11:30) – His ways are much easier than our sinful ways, if we surrender and trust and obey Him.
“The Kingdom of God is BRINGS GOOD FRUIT (Matthew 12:33-37) – only the ways of God bring good vs. rotten fruit in our lives.
“The Kingdom of God is LORDSHIP OF HIS WORD (Matthew 13:3-13) – we must live His Word, not just hear it, if we are to be a seed that multiplies in fertile soil.
“The Kingdom of God is JUSTICE (Matthew 13:24-30) – The Parable of the Weeds.
“The Kingdom of God is GROWTH AND ABUNDANCE (Matthew 13:31-32) – The Parable of the Mustard Seed.
“The Kingdom of God is EXPANSIVE AND PERVASIVE (Matthew 16: 19) – The Parable of the Yeast.
“The Kingdom of God is PRECIOUS AND OF GREAT WORTH (Matthew 13:44) – The Parable of Hidden Treasure.
“The Kingdom of God is NEW REVELATION AND TREASURES (Matthew 13:52) – The Parable of the House Owner.
“The Kingdom of God is POWER AND AUTHORITY (Matthew 16:19) – Peter’s confession of Christ as Messiah.
“The Kingdom of God is NEAR AND PRESENT (Matthew 16:28) – we have the opportunity to possess it in this life, not just in Heaven.
“The Kingdom of God is DEPENDENCE, TRUST AND INNOCENCE(Matthew 18-3-6) – like little children, we are to abide in Christ with innocent trust and pure hearts.
“The Kingdom of God is FORGIVING AND FULL OF GRACE (Matthew 18:21) – The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant.
“The Kingdom of God is FAITHFUL AND TOTALLY COMMITTED(Matthew 19:11-12) – God never abandons or leaves us, and neither are we to turns our backs and leave our spouse, family or other struggling sinners.
“The Kingdom of God is NOT ADDICTED TO COMFORT AND IDOLATRY(Matthew 19:16-24) – The Story of the Rich, Young Ruler.
“The Kingdom of God is ACCORDING TO AN ECONOMY OF GRACE(Matthew 20:1-16) – The Parable Of The Workers Paid Equally.
“The Kingdom of God is A SERVANT’S HEART (Matthew 20:20-28) – Jesus teaching on who is greatest in the Kingdom.
“The Kingdom of God is REPENTANCE AND RIGHTEOUSNESS (Matthew 21:28-32) – The Parable Of The Two Sons.
“The Kingdom of God is JUDGMENT (Matthew 21:33-45) – The Parable Of The Wicked Tenants.
“The Kingdom of God is AVAILABLE TO ALL SINNERS (Matthew 21: 1-14) – The Parable Of The Wedding Feast.
These characteristics describe what The Kingdom of God, as Jesus spoke of so often, is like. But what is it?
“It” is the centerpiece of His preaching.
The answer is simple. “The Kingdom of God” is nothing more or less than thereign and rule of God in the hearts of men.
Here is a good exercise: everywhere that “The Kingdom of God” is mentioned, replace it with the phrase “the reign and rule of God in your heart” and see how that changes the meaning and impact of it. For instance, using The Parable of the Mustard Seed in Matthew 13, let it read “the reign and rule of God in your heart is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so the birds of the air come and perch in its branches”.
When you let the Lord reign and rule in your heart, He will take the smallest offering of faith and turn it into something very big, very beautiful, and very fruitful and abundant. Now do that with every mention that Jesus makes to “the Kingdom of God” in His teachings and the power and potential of this truth in your life becomes apparent!
As a Biblical Counselor of many years, one of the things I love the most about God’s Word is how simple it is. It really is simple.
Living it, of course, is another story as THAT requires a change of heart. The Bible testifies that heart change is very, very difficult and slow for all of us because of our sinful nature. As Jesus reminded the Church at Laodicea, “you do not realize that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked” (Revelation 3:17). This is the true condition of our hearts and why heart change is so troublesome for us.
But understanding the truth of God’s Word is not complicated.
That simplicity is powerfully found here: only one of two people can rule and reign in your heart. The choices are: 1) God or 2) you. If the answer in your life is #1, then you will enjoy a good and abundant life. If the answer for you is # 2, then you will constantly struggle with cycles of strife and destruction and you will miss the abundant life available through Christ here on planet earth. It’s that simple.
#2 (“you”) is PRIDE. It is replacing the rule of God in your heart with your rule.
This is the height of foolishness, if you take a moment and think about it. YOU (me), who have NO POWER and authority, willingly and of free will fire Godand kick Him off the throne of our lives! This would be the same God who created us, designed life and all creation, and who holds ALL POWER in the universe.
Is this a good move? Me thinks not! But, it is, in fact, what we are prone to.
Ask yourself these central, probing questions: “What would it look like if Christ REALLY ruled and reigned in my heart?” What if He ruled not just in parts of my heart, but in ALL of it?
I think we would find that our lives would be transformed into a state of much greater abundance.
We would trust the Lord to really love our spouses and children unconditionally (Eph. 5:25).
We would live in true, sexual purity and take all wayward, fantasy-oriented thoughts “captive unto Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5).
We would truly “love our enemies” (Luke 6:27-36 )
We would not be easily offended (1 Cor. 13:5 )
The list goes on and on.
Does this demand that we be “perfect”?? No!
It does, however, demand that we be “wholehearted” in our walk and devotion to the Lord.
We must remember that our God is a God of abundance (John 10:10). He created us for abundant life and He desires that intensely for us.
The only thing that is keeping us from that abundance is ourselves: that we will not surrender and give Him full rule and reign in our hearts.
Will we enter into “The Kingdom of God” and let Him rule??
That will always remain as our choice…
The Kingdom of God - His Reign and Rule In The Hearts Of Men
Lifeline Christian Counseling Center