Image

Archive for Kingdom

The Big Picture

by Dick Hill

Image result for image jigsaw puzzle

The Bible is an inexhaustible source of amazing wisdom and insight. And there is always more to learn, always moreto understand. One will never plumb the depths of its truth this side of the coming kingdom of Jesus Christ. Paul said that at best in this life we will only have partial knowledge.

There will come a time, however, when partial knowledge will give way to full knowledge. Paul said that when he was a child, he spoke as a child and understood as a child. But when he became a man, he put away childish things. He then made this point: 

 

For at this present time we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now we know in part, but then we shall know just as I also am known. (1 Corinthians 13:12).

When believers, those who have the Spirit of God living inside, begin to study the truths of the Bible, it is as though they are looking through a dimly lit corridor. They just catch glimpses of God’s amazing truth here and there. But there is coming a time when God will draw back the curtain and allow us to really see. Our dim mirrors will then become bright and crystal clear.    

Full knowledge of many things will eventually prevail. I do not think, however, that we will ever come to a complete understanding of God. God is, after all, incomprehensible and unfathomable. However, some day we will finally see God in the face of the Lord Jesus Christ – the King of all Kings.

God has used many different Bible teachers throughout my life to add to my knowledge of His word. But without a doubt, my greatest teacher by far has been the third person of the Trinity, God the Holy Spirit. Notice how Jesus introduced Him to us. Speaking to His disciples He said:

I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore, I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you. (John 16:12-15) 

Christians profit from the writings of different people and have throughout the years of history. God placed in my heart to write books on Bible truths that some may consider difficult.  It has been my desire to make these difficult Bible doctrines understandable to those who have the desire to know them. It takes time and the desire on the part of the listener and clear teaching on the part of the instructor to make the truth understandable.

In the book, A Glimpse of the Christian, I sought to answer the question, “What does it mean to be a Christian?” What does the word Christian mean? It means “belonging to Christ” or “connected to Christ.” Some of the most exciting glimpses into God’s invisible domain are the ones that teach us exactly how we are connected to Him.

First and most importantly, Christians are Bible people. For most readers, this would appear glaringly obvious. “Well, of course,” you might respond. “What else would we be?”

Then again, you may not understand exactly what I mean by “Bible people.” Christians believe the Bible to be God’s inerrant, infallible Word. Christians are to be faithful to study the Bible, seeking to find the correct interpretation so we can do what it says and teach it accurately. But there is much more to the Bible than most people understand.

When I was young, I came into the possession of some old hand-me-down puzzles. These were definitely not children’s puzzles. Some of them had well over a hundred pieces and most of these pieces were very small. I simply had no clue where to begin. After the decision to try, I would begin by looking intently at the picture on the box. In fact, I would look at it over and over again trying to etch that picture in my mind. I found myself constantly gazing at the image, trying to visualize what this puzzle was to look like when completed.

The more familiar I became, the easier it was to zero-in on the location of various objects in the picture, like buildings or mountains or people. Then came the colors with their various shades. I studied all the pieces and their shapes – some had square corners, some rounded corners, etc. – all the while, keeping the picture on the box in mind.  Then piece by piece, ever so slowly, paying close attention to the colors and shapes, through much trial and error – I began to find where the pieces fit. I gradually began to make a little progress. Hours turned into days, and the picture began to take shape. As this happened, I was more motivated to go back and work on it. Though agonizingly slow, the picture on the box began to come into view in the puzzle. Finally, when the last few pieces were inserted, there it was! The puzzle became the picture on the box. When the last piece was laid in place, and the picture was complete, it was time to celebrate.

It is very much the same when attempting to understand the big picture behind the Bible. When we begin to put the pieces of truth together and catch a glimpse of God’s end game, His big picture, we are more motivated to study it. 

The apostle John was used by God to give us a glimpse of this big picture as well as some important truths to help us understand the way forward.  John was a prisoner, exiled on a deserted island for nothing more than believing and teaching that the testimony of the Bible is true.  John taught that the Bible’s main character is the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth (including Caesar at that time).  John boldly said that Jesus loves us and washed us from our sins in His own blood (Revelation 1:2, 5). John was charged as a criminal, found guilty, and later exiled to a desolate island called Patmos.  He had already realized that this world was not his final home. He was a pilgrim and a stranger here. He was just passing through (Hebrews 11:13). He knew also that he was completely in God’s hands and that God had placed him on that desolate island for His purpose.

Jesus Christ gave John a magnificent view of the big picture. John testified that he had seen a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. 

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also, there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God iswith men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and betheir God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. (Revelation 21:1).

I have tried to visualize in my mind exactly what that old grace champion must have seen, that is, what this new heaven and new earth will be like. The last two chapters of Revelation must have become for him his glimpse at the picture on the box of God’s final puzzle. This must have given him the added assurance that this world was not his home and his view of that new heaven and earth became for him the final piece of the puzzle. This, no doubt, was at least a part of his thinking when he wrote:

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that isin the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-18)

Born into God’s Kingdom

There can be no birth without seed. God has given us a can’t miss over the top object lesson of the only way to get into His kingdom.  How does one get into this world after God’s creation of Adam and Eve?  One must be born into it. One cannot get into this world any other way. God told Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply – and fill the earth (Genesis 1:28). And they did and are continuing to do. So how does one get into God’s coming kingdom? As incredible as this may sound, one must be born into it. One must experience a new birth, a heavenly birth.   

Consider the now familiar conversation between an extremely religious and highly educated Pharisee named Nicodemus and a carpenter from Nazareth named Jesus.  It is true that familiarity may cause us to read over and miss the important meaning of some parts of this meeting. The scene opens with Nicodemus (from now on I will refer to him as Nick), a religious ruler of the Jews coming to visit Jesus for an evening chat.

Nick most likely chose to meet with this stranger at night, because as a ruler among the Jews he may have been more than just a little uncomfortable with the idea of meeting publicly with Jesus. What would people say if the two were seen together. What would Nick’s family, friends, and fellow Pharisees think?

After all, Jesus was from Nazareth, which was in this elite Pharisee’s thinking, a backwoods shanty area. Nick on the other hand was from Jerusalem, the capitol city of Judaism. Jesus was poor, a carpenter, the son of a carpenter. Nick was a wealthy aristocrat. Jesus had no religious pedigree or formal religious training of any kind. Nick was a highly decorated member of the religious establishment. To say that there was a social barrier separating them would be an understatement. It was more like a chasm.  Meeting under the cover of darkness away from any possible appearance of befriending and, perish the thought, supporting this strange character, appeared to be a wise move on Nick’s part. 

Nick broke the ice by flattering Jesus. “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher come from God, for man cannot do the signs that you do unless God is with Him” (John 3:1-2).

He called Jesus a rabbi, a teacher. It was as though Nick was conferring on Jesus some complimentary status. By his use of the words “we know,” he implied that his fellow Pharisees also recognized that Jesus was from God. The reason? No one could perform the miracles that Jesus was doing without God’s help.  This reveals that the religious establishment knew that Christ’s miracles were not fake. This was a good way to start this meeting. 

Jesus no doubt stunned the Pharisee with the very first words out of His mouth. “Most assuredly I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot enter the kingdom of God”(John 3:3). To say it like many in the south, Jesus cut right to the chase. There was no recorded positive gesture on Jesus’ part to Nick’s compliment.  He did not thank Nick for his gracious words. This was not the time for politics. Jesus knew the value of this meeting – a meeting that would be reviewed and re-reviewed countless times down through history.

He knew that every word would be hashed over and over, again and again. Jesus told the very religious Pharisee that unless he experienced a new birth, he would not enter the kingdom of God. It appears at first that Jesus words were harsh and abrupt. His words were not abrupt if, in fact, Jesus knew that Nick had been thinking about God’s kingdom. How is this possible? John had just before written that Jesus had no need that anyone testify of man because He already knew what all were thinking(John 2: 24-25). Surely this included Nick. Jesus stepped right into Nick’s thoughts.

The Greek words for “born again,” are genesia anathen,or a birth that comes from above, or said another way, a heavenly birth. There may have been a sudden spike in Nick’s blood pressure. Not necessarily because of what Jesus said, but because of the fact that Jesus had read his mind.

Our Lord’s deep underlying point behind His born-again words is that a natural fleshly sinful person affected by the fall of Adam must be made a heavenly spiritual person in order to enter the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 2:14-15). 

One will never move from the realm of this human flesh and blood world into God’s spiritual unseen world without this birth. We are born into this world having a physical body.  Within our bodies God has placed an invisible soul and human spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23). The soul and spirit are the real “us” within our human frame. It is the part of us that no one can truly understand but us and God (1 Corinthians 2:11).

This human spirit is God’s image implanted within us. This invisible image remains locked in this earthly shell until we die.  One day we are destined to shed this earthly tent – this body – and be jettisoned from this earthly world to spend eternity in God’s kingdom or in hell – forever.  Our spiritual destination is determined by the truth unpacked by these powerful words of Jesus Christ. “Unless one is born again, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”  

Overwhelmingly implied is that one cannot earn his way to God’s kingdom by becoming a better person, or keeping God’s commands, or joining a particular religious group, or having a religious experience, or giving money to the poor, or saying prayers, or doing many wonderful works. I mention these things because being a Pharisee, keeping God’s law, was never far from Nick’s thinking. He probably loved God’s law and was depending upon that love to get him into God’s kingdom.  

Expanding further on what many have come to believe will get us into God’s kingdom are the teachings of Islam, or Buddha, or becoming a devout Hindu, or a Mormon, or a Jehovah’s Witness, or even following the example and teachings of Jesus Christ Himself.

Nor can a person get in by joining a Baptist church, a Presbyterian church, a Catholic church, a Lutheran church, an Episcopalian church, a Pentecostal church, or the Church of Christ, or any church.  One must be born of God. This is precisely what Jesus said. He never misspoke. He never said a word that He did not mean. Christians are people who become connected to Christ by a supernatural birth.

Jesus is telling this very religious person that all of his human achievements – no matter how great – will not get him into the kingdom of God. There is only one way to get in and that is through a new birth – whatever that means. 

Nick was obviously amazed by the fact that this strange man had read his thoughts, but while he was trying to mentally recover, he responded the only way he felt he could. “What, can I enter a second time into my mother’s womb and be born?” (John 3:4). He had no doubt heard the word’s born againloud and clear. He quickly retreated to the only birth that he knew anything about.

Our Lord, a master teacher, was not trying to confuse Nick (John 7:46). In fact, Jesus had mentioned a truth that should not have been foreign to Nick’s thinking. Jesus was challenging Nick to stop thinking earthly thoughts and to begin to think heavenly.  He said that unless one is born of water and the Spirit, one cannot see the kingdom of God. Jesus said, “Do not marvel (be amazed) that I said to you, ‘You must be born again. That which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of spirit is spirit.” This should not have been incredible to Nick. He needed to leave his earthly fleshly thoughts and concentrate on heavenly spiritual things. And so must we, if we are to be born of God.  

 

 

A Glimpse of the Coming King

by Dick Hill

I am a fan of The Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkien. My favorite of the three books is The Return of the King. I am always emotionally stirred by the words from the movie version of the book spoken by the white wizard, Gandolf, when he was finally placing the crown upon the head of Aragorn, the true king of Gondor. He said, “Now come the days of the king, and may they be blessed.”

There is coming a time when the King of this entire universe, the Lord Jesus Christ, will return to this earth and be crowned King over all of His created order. This small planet, so seemingly unimportant, will become the center of our God’s amazing plan for this universe. This universal reign will commence when Christ establishes a kingdom over a redeemed earth and reigns over it for a thousand years (Revelation 20:6–9). The Lord Jesus Christ will at that time turn this kingdom over to His Father, who will transform it into a new heaven and a new earth wherein will dwell righteousness forever.

The thousand-year segment of this everlasting kingdom will allow God to finally and forever demonstrate to the human race and the angelic realm that the only political system that will ever work for man is one in which God alone rules over the hearts of men. It will not be a democracy, nor a republic, nor socialism, nor communism. It will be the kingdom ruled over by our Lord Jesus Christ. Our Lord’s kingdom will place on display the immense value of the second member of the Holy Trinity. It will be a time for the Christ to have His day in the sun.

Just imagine a world dominated by what is right and fair. The new world will be ruled by a perfect government, bringing true peace on earth and good will toward men. All weapons of war will be remade into instruments for growing food. No nation will dare to be aggressive against other nations, and war will be no more. The curse from the Fall will be removed and the environment will be restored to the pre-fall beauty of the Garden of Eden. Wild animals will no longer eat each other in order to survive, and small children will have no fear of any of them. This will be a world ruled by a perfect and glorious ruler.

Imagine a time when there will be no fear of deadly natural disasters or uncontrollable diseases. Envision a time when every court will deliver perfect justice for every case, when truth will be established in every conflict, and when all who deceive will be exposed and swiftly judged. Picture a world where all children from every race and nationality will be fully educated by the King. Physical deformities and social, political, and religious oppression will be no more. All forms of slavery will be abolished.

Imagine a world where length of life will be restored, and the elderly will not grow feeble or lose their hearing or sight and will not fear Alzheimer’s disease or cancer but will grow old with clarity of mind and a sound body. Imagine a world where what is appropriate and right marks every aspect of life, including relationships between people, businesses, and governments. A world where there is absolute permanent peace, and that peace is enforced. A world filled with joy and good health, so much so that people live for hundreds of years.

The days will come when there will be such a world. These will be the days of the King.

The Lord’s prayer reveals the reality of a kingdom to come such as this. Jesus prayed to the Father, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.” That powerful statement is evidence that God’s heavenly kingdom will come to earth.

 

This is an excerpt from the new book, A Glimpse of the Coming King, which has just been sent to the publisher. The book should be available in June. Please sign up for our e-zine so we can let you know when it is available. 

Join the GOG mailing list.

Your info will never be sold or given to anyone.

Your Name:
E-mail:*