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Monthly Archives: September 2012

The Kingdom of God – What Jesus taught about it

WHAT DID JESUS TEACH ABOUT THE KINGDOM OF GOD

The first thing to point out is that everything Jesus taught was about the kingdom of God.

Mark 1:14-15 “Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying,  “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

Mark 4:11 “And He said to them,  “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables.

Matthew 4:23 “And 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.

Luke 13:18,19 “Then He said,  “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it?  It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and put in his garden; and it grew and became a large tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches.”

There are a number of things from which among Jesus taught about the Kingdom. One important thing is that Jesus taught the Kingdom would not come in the visible form that the Jews expected. During Jesus’ time and even before, Israel was ruled by the Roman government. The Jews longed for a king to come and deliver them which involved regaining political power once again. The Jews were expecting a king to rule just like the kings of the Old Testament did. King David ruled over Israel for about 40 years and he was the king of Israel. This is what the Jews were looking for. But Jesus taught that the kingdom would not be what the Jews were expecting. Jesus taught that the kingdom would be of a spiritual community.
Look at Luke 17:20-21 “Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said,  “The kingdom of God does not come with observation;  nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”
John 3:3 “Jesus answered and said to him,  “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Based on these two passages, Jesus clearly taught that the kingdom of God does not come with observation or in other words the kingdom of God in not of a physical matter. Rather Jesus taught that the Kingdom of God is of a spiritual matter. Christ also taught that the kingdom of God was within the Pharisees. Now this does not mean that the Pharisees were saved, it just means that the kingdom of God was among them by way of Jesus’ ministry along with the disciples assistance.
Another important thing about the kingdom is that it was once associated with Israel nationally and was to be given over to another nation.
Matthew 21:43-44 “Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:     ‘The stone which the builders rejected   Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing, And it is marvelous in our eyes’ ?  “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it.
Jesus told the religious leaders (pharisees and chief priests) that the Kingdom of God would be taken away from them and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. The new nation is called “the church” or the body of Christ. The new spiritual kingdom now includes Jews and Gentile christians. This new nation is the church.
Peter calls this nation a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, and then uses the term “a holy nation”.

I Peter 2:5,9 “you also, as living stones are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people..
Another element that Jesus taught about the kingdom of God is that it is spiritual and one could only enter by spiritual birth.

John 3:3,5 “Jesus answered and said to him, Most assuredly I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
Jesus told Nicodemus (a pharisee) that to enter the kingdom or see the kingdom, you must be born again.
Another element that Jesus taught about the kingdom of God was that the kingdom was already present. Some teach that the kingdom of God will be established when Christ returns. But Jesus stated that the kingdom began during His lifetime.

Matthew 12:28 “But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.

Colossians 1:13 “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed  us  into the kingdom of the Son of His love. Paul taught in Colossians that Jesus delivered them from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son. It is Jesus who placed them in His kingdom.
On one hand Jesus taught that the kingdom of God was present during His lifetime. Yet on the other hand Jesus also taught that the kingdom had not been fully realized in terms of it being universal. We see this in Mark 9:1. Luke 9:27.

Mark 9:1 “And He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power.”

Luke 9:27 “But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the kingdom of God.”

Luke 21:31 “So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near.
It is clear that in one sense Jesus taught that the kingdom was in the midst of those livinng during Jesus earthly ministry. It is also clear that the Kingdom of God has not been fully realized and won’t be until Jesus returns. Daniel the prophet stated that God would set up the kingdom and that it shall never be destroyed.

Daniel 2:44 “And in the days of these kings, the God of Heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shal stand forever”.

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2012 in The Kingdom of God

 

Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ

THE EVIDENCE ON THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST
One of the most important elements of Christianity is the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Think about it, if Christ did not really rise from the dead, what we have faith in today is useless. The Apostle Paul teaches in I Corinthians 15:14-17 that if Christ did not rise, the apostles preaching was empty or useless which therefore made anyone’s faith empty. Paul goes on to say in verse 17, if Christ did not rise, the our faith is futile and we would all still be in our sins.
I Corinthians 15:14-17
14 – And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 15- Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up – if in fact the dead do not rise.16 – For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen;17- And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins!
Based on these verses taught by Paul in I Corinthians 15, Christianity either stands firm because of the factual evidence for Christ’s resurrection, or crashes into pieces if there is no truth to the Resurrection.
We know as christians, that no other has ever died and rose the way that Christ did. Of course we read of certain individuals in the bible such as Lazarus, and others. But compared to Christ, Lazarus eventually died and so did the others. Jesus Christ has not died a second time. Hence, the unique resurrction of Jesus was genuinly unique from any other by the simple fact that Jesus never died again, while all others went on to die.

Christianity stands or falls on the truthfulness of the Resurrection of Christ. Without an historically valid physical resurrection of Christ there is no basis in truth to Christianity. Far from being a doctrine of those ‘fundamentalists’, belief in the literal, physical, resurrection of Christ to immortality is actually what destinguishes a personPaul also mentions in Romans 6:9 “knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him”. When the bible speaks of “death” or “to be dead” means that a person’s spirit is separated from their body. Over in James 2:26 “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also”. James teaches that to be spiritually dead is for a person to be spiritually separated from God because of their sin. In the same verse James goes on to explain that faith without works is a similar picture. Once again, the bible seems to teach that a person’s spirit does not cease to exist even after physical death. In contrast, a human spirit will always exist whether that person is in communion with God or in rebellion to God. We can make the same case for Jesus that when He died, He did not resurrect spiritually because the spirit will always exist. This combats the Jehovah’s Witnesses teaching that Jesus resurrected only spiritually and not physically. This teaching by the Jehvoah’s Witnesses would mean that Christ’s spirit ceased to exist and then miraculously came back to life.
Thus, when Christ rose physically, His battered crucified body was supernaturally restored barring the apparant scars from the nails and the piercing to His side by the spear that was thrusted into Him by a Roman Soldier. The horrific experience that Jesus went through just prior to His crucifixion marred His appearance. We notice this over in Luke 24:13-16 regarding the two witnesses who did not recognize Jesus after His resurrection. In this same chapter of Luke 24, the disciples eyes were opened to His resurrected body.
After the resurrection, the appearances of Jesus was not exactly the same as His pre-resurrected body was. Thus, Christ’s body was glorified when he returned to the Father. In the same manner by which Christ received a new glorified body, we too as believers in Christ will translate to glorified bodies as Paul describes in I Corinthians 15. In I Corinthians 15:20-23 “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one is his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s as His coming. The factual evidence in the scriptures prove that Christ Jesus did physically resurrect from the dead. In scripture, we are told of many who witnessed and saw Jesus after the crucifixion. The apostles saw Jesus with his nail scarred hands and so did 500 other disciples of Christ. Mary, the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene were also among others who saw Jesus.
We have four gospel writers who all recorded that they saw Jesus or that they compiled information from other sources that Jesus did rise again. We know as Christians, that Matthew and John were part of the 12 disciples. These two men followed Jesus for three and a half years. These two men knew Jesus very well and they saw Him in His new resurrected body. We have no reason to disbelieve the accounts of these two writers. After all, the only people that were physically present after the crucifixion that saw Jesus were the apostles including Matthew and John. We have no reason to disbelieve that George Washington lived and was a former president of the United States and who played a major role in the formation of our country. Now none of use were personally there to witness this, but we have so reason to disbelieve that George Washington was a real man who lived and who was president of the United States. We trust the research that is given to us by other experts who present the innformational facts that this is true. It is the same case for the resurrection of Jesus. We have several hundered people who would account for the fact that they witnessed Jesus alive after the crucifixion took place. Once again, we have no reason to doubt several hundred people who were witnesses of this. Mark was not part of the 12 disciples, but he certainly lived and saw Jesus during his life. Mark became a companion of the Apostle Paul which most certainly meant that Mark compiled his account or gospel from sources very clost to Jesus. The same for Luke.
Common objections to the resurrection of Christ begin with a denial that He was actually killed. One theory that objects to Christ’s death is that He did not actually die, but rather passed out and the Romans mistakenly accounted Jesus to be dead. These skeptics believe that Christ was taken down from the cross and laid in the tomb by which Jesus recovered and was not actually dead.
The problem with this theory is that lack of knowledge of first centry Roman style executions. The Romans were considered experts at their own style of execution. Crucifixion was a very common way for violaters of law to be executed or killed. It was well known by victims of the Roman style of execution to be whipped, scourged, beaten prior to actually being crucified. The Romans would leave the victim crucified for days. There is no way any Roman soldier would commit such oversight and think that the victim was dead when in fact he was not. Many other skeptics think that the Romans arrested and eventually killed the wrong person when thinking it was Jesus all along. They assert that after the wrong Jesus was buried, the real Jesus re-entered the scene giving the impression that He rose again.
The problem with this theory is that the Jewish authorities and leaders would not have made this mistake in dealing with Jesus. Throughout the new testament gospels, we read numerous times where the pharisees and chief priests sought to kill Jesus. These Jewish leaders knew exactly who they were dealing with. In fact, the kept a close eye on Jesus almost throughout His whole ministry. It was the Jewish leaders, and Cheif priests that interrogated Jesus, and not the Romans. Other skeptics believe that the people that Christ appeared to were hallucinating. This is impossible to assume that several hundred people were hallucinating. As Christians we have several reasons to believe why the resurrection was factual. One reason is that the body of Christ is still missing. If Christ did not rise, then the Jewish or Roman government would have produced Christ’s body. Well, they could not do that. In addition, Jesus repeated Himself to the disciples that He will rise again in three days. Another reason is I Corinthians 15 in the opening of the chapter teaches that Jesus was seen by Peter, the twelve disciples, and 500 brethren, then by Jesus’ brother James, and all the apostles and lastly the Apostle Paul saw Him on his road to Damascus. (I Corinthians 15:5-8).
Another reason is that the apostles and close followers of Jesus were brutally killed for their faith. What purpose would it serve for these followers to be brutally killed knowing that Christ did not rise from the dead? Why would the apostles lie about the fact that they saw Jesus after the crucifixion knowing that they would suffer violent deaths. We see this in Acts 12, James the brother of John was killed by Herod the king. Meanwhile Peter was kept in prison for his faith. Nobody would go through these things if they knew Christ did not rise from the dead.
Another reason is Paul’s conversion as a result of actually seeing Jesus on the road to Damascus. Paul, formerly Saul persecuted the Church and even the disciples thinking that this was what he was supposed to do. When he met Jesus on the road to Damascus, he was converted and became a true follower of Jesus. According to Church tradition, Paul was beheaded for his faith in Christ.
In closing, without the resurrection of Christ we would be doomed. In addition, without Christ’s resurrection, He would be found a liar because of the many times He told his disciples that He would rise again. Thank the Lord that Jesus did rise again, and that his death and resurrection results in a community of believers called “the church” to experience the same process when we receive our new incorruptible bodies.

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2012 in The Resurrection

 

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