Entering the kingdom of God

The outline of the sermon of Joop Bakker, held on february 15th 2015.

Introduction:

 

Last Sunday Emmanuel preached about the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is not:

– a special ‘Christian’ area or part of the world,

– a physical realm, building etc.

but it is defined as the rule and reign of the King Jesus.

 

Everywhere Jesus exercises authority the Kingdom of God is there.

In every situation where God’s will is done the K of G is made visible.

 

Quote Emmanuel: When Jesus sends us out to proclaim the Kingdom, we’re not proclaiming a realm, e.g. the Church. 

No, we’re are proclaiming the reign, the Kingship of Jesus. And yes we can point to the church and say: “This is what the world will look like when Jesus is in charge”

So, by the Church the Kingdom of God is shown to mankind and by the Church the Kingdom of God is proclaimed.

 

God has given Jesus ‘all authority in heaven and on earth’ as a result of His sacrificial death for the world.

Though He (Jesus) was in the form of God, He did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

(Philippians 2:5-11).

 

  • So, when Jesus is the King of the Kingdom, we as children of God are ‘citizens’ of the Kingdom (comp. ‘our citizenship is in heaven’ Phil. 3:20),
  • but also heirs of the Kingdom: children inherit from their parents and God is our Father. Everything that is from God is also ours, now to a measure of our faith, in the future unlimited.

 

It is important to realise your citizenship of the Kingdom of God: this is who we are, our identity!

How do we become citizens of the K of G?

 

By becoming a church member?

By performing good works?

By living a Christian life?

 

Though all these things are very good in itself, they won’t grant us access to the Kingdom of God. According to the Bible there is only one way through which we can enter in the Kingdom: by the sacrificial offering of the King Himself, Jesus.

 

Today, we will look at the depth of this requirement to help us understand what the Cross of Jesus really means.

 

‘See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.’ 1 John 3:1

 

The whole concept of the sacrificial death of Jesus has to do with the love of God. The offering of Jesus, God’s only beloved Son (John 3:16) is the way in which God trustworthy shows His love to us.

 

Since darkness and light don’t go together we were separated from God as Adam’s descendants since the Fall.

Humanly spoken there was no way that we could ever be reconciled with God again. Since we are effected by sin nothing that we do or don’t do will ever be sufficient for reconciliation with God: light and darkness don’t go together, however friendly this darkness looks like.

Our genes are sinful ( the Bible calls this: born in sin) and can therefore never be re-united with God.

 

So, God had to come up with a whole new solution, and He Himself had to come up with this, since nothing could be expected from the human race anymore.

 

This solution had to involve several elements:

 

Justification: declared righteousness. It must be a righteous, a just solution. God couldn’t simply wipe away our sins, since he had ‘promised’ death over our disobedience, and He is trustworthy in what He has spoken. There needed to be a real costly sacrifice to atone for our sins and relieve the separation between God and man.

 

Love: god’s nature is love and everything He does is initiated by His love. God loves Himself (we can hardly understand this because we only know our own selfish love).

Out of love He created a world and us. And when he’d done that He loved the world as much as Himself. That’s the deeper meaning of John 3:16. 

 

So when mankind left Him, God was deeply hurt, not in a human, emotional way. Because now He had to expel his beloved creatures from His Presence and placed His beloved earth under a curse.

This fact motivated God from the spot (Gen. 3:15) to come up with a lasting solution. 

This solution was to create from the old human race a new human race (re-creation). Because of His love for His creation, He could not simply destroy His old creation and start all over again (the Flood and His covenant makes this clear: the Flood was very near to a total destruction).

So, He had to renew His creation once and for all (‘behold, I make all things new’) and this solution needed to provide an eternal lasting restored relationship between God and man

(that’s why John 3:16 speaks about eternal life; which is both a quality of Life – godly life – as a duration of this life – never ending).

 

Since He could not simply begin anew with a new human race, He had to find this re-creation in Himself: someone like Him and someone like the man He created: Jesus, the new man. fully God and fully man.

 

Someone who never had sinned, had to sort it out where the old ‘new man’ (Adam) had failed. That’s why Jesus’ ministry started with the temptation in the wilderness, but unlike Adam Jesus did not fail, He resisted. And that qualified Him as the Saviour of the world, as the new Adam, who had to multiply a whole new human race for God: the children of God:

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12’.

 

In this solution:

– God provided justification (as though we had never sinned) and

– He expressed His love for His creation.

 

 

To understand this we study the story of Abraham sacrificing his son Isaac.

 

Read: Gen. 22:1-14.

 

Elements:

 

  • This shows the father’s love for his son. Isaac was the son of the promise and in that sense his only son.
  • It was not just his son, Isaac also was Abraham’s inheritance of the promise God made to him.
  • Yet he was willing to sacrifice him out of love. In Abraham’s case out of love for God; in God’s case out of love for His creation.
  • The son (Isaac) submitted to his father’s will; likewise Jesus submitted to the Father’s will: ‘not as I will, but as You will’ – Matth. 26:39.

 

This story also has prophetic elements:

 

  • Abraham was willing to kill his own son (own handed). Isaiah says: ‘the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all’ and ‘it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief’ (Isaiah 53:6,10).
    This was a prophetic foretaste of what would happen. God Himself arranged the sacrificial death of Jesus, it was not an accident.
  • Another prophetic element: ‘God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering’ (Gen. 22:7).
    God was just testing Abraham, He was not really asking his son of him. But in Jesus God went to the far utmost: he did not intervene, He let (made) it happen. That’s why Jesus’ exclamation: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:47).
    God did help out Abraham, since his sacrifice was not necessary, but He didn’t help out His own Son, since His sacrificial death was necessary: “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me”.
    But it was not possible, otherwise the whole human race would have been forever separated from their Creator.
  • The father suffers as much as the son. Comp. Abraham loved his son utterly, so he grieved. And so did God.
    “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:16.

 

God’s love for us is not some kind of an emotional love or feeling, but a deliberate, steadfast love, which made Him decide to sacrifice Himself in Jesus for His creation.

This was not a spontaneous decision, made in a moment of love, but a deliberate and planned historical action, fuelled by His unending love for us.

He actually built the whole history of mankind around this heavenly action. So the emphasis of the Biblical narrative is not on my salvation, but on God’s eternal plan to restore the whole of creation to the status He originally had in mind for it.

 

As a result of this plan we’ll no longer be in the line of Adam, the first man on earth, but in the line of Jesus, the second Adam, God’s firstborn Son. We’re God’s offspring (Acts 17:29) and therefore citizens of the Kingdom of God.

 

Our citizenship is not derived from how we live, how we perform, how good or bad we are, but from the fact that we become children of God when we believe that Christ died in our place, offered himself as a sacrifice for us, so that we become a new creation, made in the image of God, intended to live with Him forever.

 

Conclusion:

 

Read: Hebr. 9:11-15:

11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.

For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.

 

We are co-heirs with Christ and become beloved children of God through the sacrificial death of Jesus.