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Sermon – Understanding the Kingdom

sermon.jpg

Understanding the Kingdom

John 3:1-18

Right mouse click to save this Podcast as a MP3.

I wonder what you think the Kingdom of God is. In the Old Testament we learn of all kinds of different earthly kingdoms. Each one of these kingdoms were doomed to fail from the start, because of the promised commencement of a new and everlasting kingdom. Perhaps by having a brief overview of what Jesus in the Gospels said about the Kingdom will help us understand more about it before we focus on just a couple of aspects. From what Jesus said, we learn that:

  • The kingdom had small beginnings.
  • It advances slowly and unspectacularly.
  • It works in an unseen way, like yeast in dough.
  • It grows side by side with evil and error.
  • The members are drawn from every part, for it is a universal part.
  • When discovered, it is the source of true joy and fulfilment.
  • It requires sacrifice, submission and surrender.
  • It ends in an eternal separation of the good from the evil, of the true from the false.
  • It centres only on Jesus Christ (Luke 9:28-36).

So having seen these descriptions, mainly from Matthew 13, we can now go on to a main definition of the kingdom. We find this ultimate definition in Romans 14:17 ‘For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.’ This is the experience of salvation. Every believer, all those who trust in Jesus Christ, has entered it and been accepted by Jesus when He died on the cross. So, having described it and then defined it, the next question we ask is how do we enter the Kingdom of God. Well, after such a long introduction, we are going to look at this aspect of the God’s Kingdom based on our reading of John 3:1-18. So, if you haven’t done so already please do have your bibles open at that passage – John 3:1-18.

In the passage tonight, Jesus gives three different aspects of the one entrance into the kingdom. To enter the kingdom, a person simply has to follow Jesus. For some people in Jesus’ time, such as a lot of the Pharisees and other religious Jewish groups, this was much too simple. Then Jesus has an encounter with Nicodemus, who was a Pharisee.

Nicodemus was initially attracted to Jesus because of the miracles He did. Nicodemus wanted to know more about Jesus and His teachings. Nicodemus himself was the teacher of the Jews, and he had great respect for Jesus the Teacher from Galilee. Now, Nicodemus was a Pharisee, who by definition had to live by the strictest religious rules and regulations. Nicodemus was deeply sincere in his search for truth and God. Nicodemus went to see Jesus at night, not presumably because he was afraid to be seen talking to Jesus, but more likely because he wanted to have a quiet word with Jesus away from the crowds. He wanted to have an uninterrupted word with him, where Jesus could not be distracted. He was a man of high moral standard, had a deep religious hunger and yet blind to basic spiritual truths. Do you not think that Nicodemus is or was just like we are and were today? So Jesus proceeds to give Nicodemus three different pictures of salvation.

1. Birth (vs. 1-7).

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”

“How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”

Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’

The Lord Jesus began with a word that is familiar with everyone, as birth is a universal concept and experience. Now the word ‘again’ means ‘from above’. So the phrase born again, means to be born from above. Though all humans have experienced a natural birth on earth, if they expect to go to heaven then they must experience a supernatural spiritual birth from God above. So we meet once more the blindness of the religious leaders of Jesus’ time. Nicodemus may indeed have been a representative of the religious leaders. Nicodemus did not understand what Jesus was talking about. Jesus, we know, was speaking about a spiritual birth, but Nicodemus thought only about a physical birth. Looking at the church today, however, the situation does not appear any different.. So often “born again”, to a lot of people means a family’s church history, church membership, ceremonies and so on. Or, as my boss and family insist that it means: raving monster loonies.

However, because Jesus was patient, he further explained this new birth. To be ‘born of water’ is to be born physically” to enter a second time into his mother’s womb” but to be born again means to be born of the Spirit. Just as there are normally two parents involved in physical birth, there are two “parents” for spiritual birth: the Spirit of God (John 3:5) and the Word of God (James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23-25). The Spirit of God takes the Word of God, and when a person believes for the first time, the Word gives the life of God.

It should be noted here that Jesus is not saying that new birth comes from water baptism. In the New Testament, baptism is connected with death, not birth; and no amount of physical water makes a spiritual change in a person. Jesus’ emphasis here is on believing, because salvation comes through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). The evidence of salvation is the witness of the Spirit within (Romans. 8:9), and the Spirit entered our life when we first believed (Acts 10:43-48; Ephesians 1:13-14). Now, water baptism is a vital part of our Christian life and obedience to Jesus and witness for Him, but it is not necessary for salvation. The one way of salvation and entrance into the kingdom of God, is through faith in Jesus the Son of God, with the outward evidence involving baptism.

This birth, like all births, has at least four aspects to it: pain, nature, a life and a future.

a. Pain – Human birth involves pain, both for the parents and for the baby. So does spiritual birth. At Easter we are reminded this of the pain Jesus endured on the cross so that we might become members of the Kingdom of God. Believers in their Christian life should endure the pain of persecution, suffering, and prayer and witness as we seek to win new people to Christ.

b. Nature – Children inherit the nature of the parents, and so do the people in the Kingdom of God. We take on the divine nature (2 Peter 1 :4). As believers we should naturally have an appetite for the things of God (2 Peter 2:2-3). As believers we should have no desire to go away from the Kingdom of God (2 Peter 2:20-22). As believers we are to feed on the Word of God and grow in spiritual maturity (Hebrews 5: 11-14).

c. Life – Human birth, involves life and spiritual birth into God’s kingdom involves the life of God. John uses the word ‘life’ about 36 times in his gospel. The opposite of life is death, and anybody not in the Kingdom of God, do not and cannot have God’s eternal life in His kingdom.

d. Future – Human birth involves a future, and we are born again to a living hope, both in the present and the future (1 Peter 1:3). Police cannot arrest a newborn baby because it has no past, and the future is in front of that baby. When born again into the Kingdom of God, sins are forgiven and forgotten, and the future is bright with a living hope in the Kingdom of God.

Now at this, Nicodemus must surely have had a surprised look of incredulity on his face, because Jesus says ‘You should not be surprised at my saying, “You must be born again.'” Nicodemus was a Jew, a part of God’s covenant people. His life was an example to all, as a faithful Pharisee. He obviously could not comprehend the thought that a Jew had to be born again from heaven – nothing could be so simple! His natural thinking would immediately have thought maybe a dirty Gentile dog may need to be born again, but never a faithful Jew. No wonder he was surprised!

2. The wind (vs. 8-13).

The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.

“You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven-the Son of Man.

It is possible that the evening wind was blowing just then as Nicodemus and Jesus sat the housetop talking. The ‘wind’ in the Bible, signifies the Spirit. When Jesus used this symbol, Nicodemus should have remembered Ezekiel 37:1-14. The prophet Ezekiel saw a valley full of dead bones; but when he prophesied to the wind, the Spirit came and gave the bones’ life. Again, it was the combination of the Spirit of God and the Word of God that gave life. The nation of Israel was dead and hopeless, and in spite of the morality and religion of the people, they needed the life of the Spirit. The new birth from above is necessary to enter the Kingdom of God, but it is also a mystery. Everyone born of the Spirit is like the wind: it is impossible to explain or predict the ways of the wind or the Spirit of God.

Nicodemus came “by night’ and he was still in the dark! He simply could not understand the concept of new birth even after Jesus had explained it to him. Jesus insisted that Nicodemus’ Old Testament knowledge should have given him the light he required (John 3:10). Yet, he still could not see how to enter the Kingdom of God. What was his problem? Religious leaders would not submit to Jesus’ authority and witness (John 3: 11). The religious leaders continued to believe Moses, yet would not believe Jesus (John 5:35-47). “I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?”

3. The snake on the pole (vs. 14-18).

Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

This story from Numbers was certainly familiar to Nicodemus. It is a story of sin, for Israel rebelled against God and had to be punished. God sent fiery snakes that bit the people, so that many died. Yet it is also a story of grace, for Moses intercede for the people and God provided a remedy. He told Moses to make a brass snake and lift it up on a pole for all to see. Any sick and dying person could look to the brass snake on the pole and be immediately healed. So, it is also a story of faith, punishment, salvation and faith. The phrase lifted up means to be crucified (John 8:28; 12:13-24) and also be glorified and exalted. John points out that our Lord’s crucifixion was actually the means for Him to be glorified (John 12:23). However the cross was not the end of His glory, it was the way He achieved His glory (Acts 2:33).

Much as the snake on the pole had to be lifted up, so the Son of God, Jesus had to be lifted on the cross. This happened to save all people from sin and death. In the camp of Israel, the solution to the “snake problem” was not in killing the snakes, or taking medicine against the poison, or pretending the snakes were not there, or passing anti-snake laws or by climbing the pole. The answer was to look in faith at the lifted snake. Now, the whole world has been bitten by sin (Romans 6:23). God sent His son to die, not only for Israel, but also for the whole world. The Kingdom of God is not just for Israel, or England or even the United States of America. How does a person enter the Kingdom of God? By being born again from above, which means believing on Jesus and looking to Him in faith.

Each of us that are believers have therefore entered into the Kingdom of God and are spiritually living. The difference between living spiritually and being dead spiritually is faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus could well have come to this world as a Judge and destroyed every rebellious sinner; but He came in love. Jesus came into the world as our Saviour, to guide us into the Kingdom of God, and He died on the cross, Jesus became the “uplifted snake”. The brass snake in Moses’ day brought physical life to dying Jews; but Jesus gives eternal life to all who asks and trusts in Him. He brings the Kingdom of God for a whole world, Nicodemus eventually entered the Kingdom of God, when he spoke up for Jesus in John 7 and came into a “sunlight of confession” when he identified with Jesus at Calvary bringing the spice to prepare the body for burial (John 19:38-42). He realized that the uplifted Jesus on the cross, was the path into the world-wide Kingdom of God

Therefore lets go over tonight’s lessons from the meeting between Jesus and Nicodemus. The definition of the kingdom of God is exposed from Romans 14:17 which we also see as the experience of salvation. “For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” The path into the kingdom of God, was defined in the 3 distinct pictures Jesus told to Nicodemus. Firstly in the picture of new birth from above, secondly in the picture of the blowing wind or spirit and thirdly in the Old Testament picture of the snake on the pole.

As we finish, what are we to say. For those of us who are in the kingdom of God: are you growing in your faith and immersing more of yourself into the Kingdom of God. Is your story or testimony of what Jesus is doing in your life up to date, or are you living on past memories, last Easters’ prayers and past Sundays’ sermons. The testimony of how we are living in the Kingdom of God is vital for our witness in the Kingdom of God. Jesus commanded us to go and tell, so go and tell the wondrous news of an eternal kingdom – one which will never end! God has promised and He always fulfils His promises.

Now finally, what stops people from entering into the Kingdom of God? People want to continue to do things against God, and this keeps them from coming out of darkness into the light of the Kingdom of God. This is because the closer someone who loves darkness gets closer to light, the more their evil ways are exposed to the light of God. It is not any intellectual problems that keep people out of the Kingdom. It is a moral and spiritual problem. It would involve a change of lifestyle, of being ‘born again’ as it was.

What is your reason, for not being yet a believer and follower of Jesus Christ? If for some reason, you are not part of God’s kingdom yet, then your opportunity is here. You may not get another chance. You might just walk on out of here tonight, not having entered into the eternal Kingdom of God, and die. It really could be that shocking and happen. Take your opportunity now. Please do come and see one of the leaders about how you can enter the Kingdom of God this very night!

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Sermon – Understanding the Kingdom

sermon.jpg

Understanding the Kingdom

John 3:1-18

Right mouse click to save this Podcast as a MP3.

I wonder what you think the Kingdom of God is. In the Old Testament we learn of all kinds of different earthly kingdoms. Each one of these kingdoms were doomed to fail from the start, because of the promised commencement of a new and everlasting kingdom. Perhaps by having a brief overview of what Jesus in the Gospels said about the Kingdom will help us understand more about it before we focus on just a couple of aspects. From what Jesus said, we learn that:

  • The kingdom had small beginnings.
  • It advances slowly and unspectacularly.
  • It works in an unseen way, like yeast in dough.
  • It grows side by side with evil and error.
  • The members are drawn from every part, for it is a universal part.
  • When discovered, it is the source of true joy and fulfilment.
  • It requires sacrifice, submission and surrender.
  • It ends in an eternal separation of the good from the evil, of the true from the false.
  • It centres only on Jesus Christ (Luke 9:28-36).

So having seen these descriptions, mainly from Matthew 13, we can now go on to a main definition of the kingdom. We find this ultimate definition in Romans 14:17 ‘For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.’ This is the experience of salvation. Every believer, all those who trust in Jesus Christ, has entered it and been accepted by Jesus when He died on the cross. So, having described it and then defined it, the next question we ask is how do we enter the Kingdom of God. Well, after such a long introduction, we are going to look at this aspect of the God’s Kingdom based on our reading of John 3:1-18. So, if you haven’t done so already please do have your bibles open at that passage – John 3:1-18.

In the passage tonight, Jesus gives three different aspects of the one entrance into the kingdom. To enter the kingdom, a person simply has to follow Jesus. For some people in Jesus’ time, such as a lot of the Pharisees and other religious Jewish groups, this was much too simple. Then Jesus has an encounter with Nicodemus, who was a Pharisee.

Nicodemus was initially attracted to Jesus because of the miracles He did. Nicodemus wanted to know more about Jesus and His teachings. Nicodemus himself was the teacher of the Jews, and he had great respect for Jesus the Teacher from Galilee. Now, Nicodemus was a Pharisee, who by definition had to live by the strictest religious rules and regulations. Nicodemus was deeply sincere in his search for truth and God. Nicodemus went to see Jesus at night, not presumably because he was afraid to be seen talking to Jesus, but more likely because he wanted to have a quiet word with Jesus away from the crowds. He wanted to have an uninterrupted word with him, where Jesus could not be distracted. He was a man of high moral standard, had a deep religious hunger and yet blind to basic spiritual truths. Do you not think that Nicodemus is or was just like we are and were today? So Jesus proceeds to give Nicodemus three different pictures of salvation.

1. Birth (vs. 1-7).

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”

“How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”

Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’

The Lord Jesus began with a word that is familiar with everyone, as birth is a universal concept and experience. Now the word ‘again’ means ‘from above’. So the phrase born again, means to be born from above. Though all humans have experienced a natural birth on earth, if they expect to go to heaven then they must experience a supernatural spiritual birth from God above. So we meet once more the blindness of the religious leaders of Jesus’ time. Nicodemus may indeed have been a representative of the religious leaders. Nicodemus did not understand what Jesus was talking about. Jesus, we know, was speaking about a spiritual birth, but Nicodemus thought only about a physical birth. Looking at the church today, however, the situation does not appear any different.. So often “born again”, to a lot of people means a family’s church history, church membership, ceremonies and so on. Or, as my boss and family insist that it means: raving monster loonies.

However, because Jesus was patient, he further explained this new birth. To be ‘born of water’ is to be born physically” to enter a second time into his mother’s womb” but to be born again means to be born of the Spirit. Just as there are normally two parents involved in physical birth, there are two “parents” for spiritual birth: the Spirit of God (John 3:5) and the Word of God (James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23-25). The Spirit of God takes the Word of God, and when a person believes for the first time, the Word gives the life of God.

It should be noted here that Jesus is not saying that new birth comes from water baptism. In the New Testament, baptism is connected with death, not birth; and no amount of physical water makes a spiritual change in a person. Jesus’ emphasis here is on believing, because salvation comes through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). The evidence of salvation is the witness of the Spirit within (Romans. 8:9), and the Spirit entered our life when we first believed (Acts 10:43-48; Ephesians 1:13-14). Now, water baptism is a vital part of our Christian life and obedience to Jesus and witness for Him, but it is not necessary for salvation. The one way of salvation and entrance into the kingdom of God, is through faith in Jesus the Son of God, with the outward evidence involving baptism.

This birth, like all births, has at least four aspects to it: pain, nature, a life and a future.

a. Pain – Human birth involves pain, both for the parents and for the baby. So does spiritual birth. At Easter we are reminded this of the pain Jesus endured on the cross so that we might become members of the Kingdom of God. Believers in their Christian life should endure the pain of persecution, suffering, and prayer and witness as we seek to win new people to Christ.

b. Nature – Children inherit the nature of the parents, and so do the people in the Kingdom of God. We take on the divine nature (2 Peter 1 :4). As believers we should naturally have an appetite for the things of God (2 Peter 2:2-3). As believers we should have no desire to go away from the Kingdom of God (2 Peter 2:20-22). As believers we are to feed on the Word of God and grow in spiritual maturity (Hebrews 5: 11-14).

c. Life – Human birth, involves life and spiritual birth into God’s kingdom involves the life of God. John uses the word ‘life’ about 36 times in his gospel. The opposite of life is death, and anybody not in the Kingdom of God, do not and cannot have God’s eternal life in His kingdom.

d. Future – Human birth involves a future, and we are born again to a living hope, both in the present and the future (1 Peter 1:3). Police cannot arrest a newborn baby because it has no past, and the future is in front of that baby. When born again into the Kingdom of God, sins are forgiven and forgotten, and the future is bright with a living hope in the Kingdom of God.

Now at this, Nicodemus must surely have had a surprised look of incredulity on his face, because Jesus says ‘You should not be surprised at my saying, “You must be born again.'” Nicodemus was a Jew, a part of God’s covenant people. His life was an example to all, as a faithful Pharisee. He obviously could not comprehend the thought that a Jew had to be born again from heaven – nothing could be so simple! His natural thinking would immediately have thought maybe a dirty Gentile dog may need to be born again, but never a faithful Jew. No wonder he was surprised!

2. The wind (vs. 8-13).

The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.

“You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven-the Son of Man.

It is possible that the evening wind was blowing just then as Nicodemus and Jesus sat the housetop talking. The ‘wind’ in the Bible, signifies the Spirit. When Jesus used this symbol, Nicodemus should have remembered Ezekiel 37:1-14. The prophet Ezekiel saw a valley full of dead bones; but when he prophesied to the wind, the Spirit came and gave the bones’ life. Again, it was the combination of the Spirit of God and the Word of God that gave life. The nation of Israel was dead and hopeless, and in spite of the morality and religion of the people, they needed the life of the Spirit. The new birth from above is necessary to enter the Kingdom of God, but it is also a mystery. Everyone born of the Spirit is like the wind: it is impossible to explain or predict the ways of the wind or the Spirit of God.

Nicodemus came “by night’ and he was still in the dark! He simply could not understand the concept of new birth even after Jesus had explained it to him. Jesus insisted that Nicodemus’ Old Testament knowledge should have given him the light he required (John 3:10). Yet, he still could not see how to enter the Kingdom of God. What was his problem? Religious leaders would not submit to Jesus’ authority and witness (John 3: 11). The religious leaders continued to believe Moses, yet would not believe Jesus (John 5:35-47). “I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?”

3. The snake on the pole (vs. 14-18).

Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

This story from Numbers was certainly familiar to Nicodemus. It is a story of sin, for Israel rebelled against God and had to be punished. God sent fiery snakes that bit the people, so that many died. Yet it is also a story of grace, for Moses intercede for the people and God provided a remedy. He told Moses to make a brass snake and lift it up on a pole for all to see. Any sick and dying person could look to the brass snake on the pole and be immediately healed. So, it is also a story of faith, punishment, salvation and faith. The phrase lifted up means to be crucified (John 8:28; 12:13-24) and also be glorified and exalted. John points out that our Lord’s crucifixion was actually the means for Him to be glorified (John 12:23). However the cross was not the end of His glory, it was the way He achieved His glory (Acts 2:33).

Much as the snake on the pole had to be lifted up, so the Son of God, Jesus had to be lifted on the cross. This happened to save all people from sin and death. In the camp of Israel, the solution to the “snake problem” was not in killing the snakes, or taking medicine against the poison, or pretending the snakes were not there, or passing anti-snake laws or by climbing the pole. The answer was to look in faith at the lifted snake. Now, the whole world has been bitten by sin (Romans 6:23). God sent His son to die, not only for Israel, but also for the whole world. The Kingdom of God is not just for Israel, or England or even the United States of America. How does a person enter the Kingdom of God? By being born again from above, which means believing on Jesus and looking to Him in faith.

Each of us that are believers have therefore entered into the Kingdom of God and are spiritually living. The difference between living spiritually and being dead spiritually is faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus could well have come to this world as a Judge and destroyed every rebellious sinner; but He came in love. Jesus came into the world as our Saviour, to guide us into the Kingdom of God, and He died on the cross, Jesus became the “uplifted snake”. The brass snake in Moses’ day brought physical life to dying Jews; but Jesus gives eternal life to all who asks and trusts in Him. He brings the Kingdom of God for a whole world, Nicodemus eventually entered the Kingdom of God, when he spoke up for Jesus in John 7 and came into a “sunlight of confession” when he identified with Jesus at Calvary bringing the spice to prepare the body for burial (John 19:38-42). He realized that the uplifted Jesus on the cross, was the path into the world-wide Kingdom of God

Therefore lets go over tonight’s lessons from the meeting between Jesus and Nicodemus. The definition of the kingdom of God is exposed from Romans 14:17 which we also see as the experience of salvation. “For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” The path into the kingdom of God, was defined in the 3 distinct pictures Jesus told to Nicodemus. Firstly in the picture of new birth from above, secondly in the picture of the blowing wind or spirit and thirdly in the Old Testament picture of the snake on the pole.

As we finish, what are we to say. For those of us who are in the kingdom of God: are you growing in your faith and immersing more of yourself into the Kingdom of God. Is your story or testimony of what Jesus is doing in your life up to date, or are you living on past memories, last Easters’ prayers and past Sundays’ sermons. The testimony of how we are living in the Kingdom of God is vital for our witness in the Kingdom of God. Jesus commanded us to go and tell, so go and tell the wondrous news of an eternal kingdom – one which will never end! God has promised and He always fulfils His promises.

Now finally, what stops people from entering into the Kingdom of God? People want to continue to do things against God, and this keeps them from coming out of darkness into the light of the Kingdom of God. This is because the closer someone who loves darkness gets closer to light, the more their evil ways are exposed to the light of God. It is not any intellectual problems that keep people out of the Kingdom. It is a moral and spiritual problem. It would involve a change of lifestyle, of being ‘born again’ as it was.

What is your reason, for not being yet a believer and follower of Jesus Christ? If for some reason, you are not part of God’s kingdom yet, then your opportunity is here. You may not get another chance. You might just walk on out of here tonight, not having entered into the eternal Kingdom of God, and die. It really could be that shocking and happen. Take your opportunity now. Please do come and see one of the leaders about how you can enter the Kingdom of God this very night!

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WISE – Christ

Partake – Words In Scripture Explored – Christ

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The word Christ is the New Testament word for the Old Testament word, Messiah. So we look to the Old Testament first, in order to understand what the New Testament word Christ means! It certainly means more than just a swear word. It was not Jesus’ surname, although it was appended to His name in the New Testament, more as a way of expressing who He was!

So how is the word Messiah used in the Old Testament?

The word translated ‘Messiah’ is found only twice (Daniel 9:25-26). The New International Version translates the word ‘Messiah’ as the ‘Anointed One’. The Old Testament idea of Messiah has five principles attached to it: God’s chosen and anointed man; He will bring salvation for God’s people; He will judge God’s enemies; He is an appointed ruler over nations; He is an active representative of God. Surprisingly, these five principles can be applied to King Cyrus (Isaiah 45:1). Cyrus, is an example of a Messiah, the anointed one of God, even though he was not one of God’s people, the Israelites. This shows that the word Messiah can have a non-religious meaning behind it.

The Messiah, God’s Anointed One, is pictured in several ways in the Old Testament. There is the Suffering Servant (Isaiah 40-55); the Conquering Warrior (Isaiah 56-66); the Branch – particularly of David (Jeremiah 23:5; Zechariah 3:8); Son of Man (Daniel 7); and finally Anointed Prince (Daniel 9:25-27).

All of the Old Testament Covenants pointed towards this future coming of the Messiah, God’s Anointed One! Through all these Covenants we see a God who is willing to interact with His creation and bless it.

When first century Christians such as Paul, Peter and John checked all the events surrounding the life of Jesus, they searched their Scriptures, our Old Testament. It was as the Holy Spirit illuminated their minds, that they wrote down and passed on the whole gamut of Old Testament promise which was fulfilled in God’s Messiah and the world’s hope: Jesus Christ and Him alone. Jesus Christ is all five of those principles referred to in the Old Testament Messiah. Investigate the New Testament for yourself to find how, why and where!

For example 2 Samuel 7v12 predicts the birth of Solomon as David’s successor to the throne with his role being to establish David’s throne forever (2 Samuel 7v13). We see this link to Jesus Christ, though the genealogies to both Joseph: a legal right to David’s throne (Matthew 1v1-17) and to Mary: a blood right to David’s throne (Luke 3v23-38).

Or the Mosaic Covenant, or Law of Moses, was given that they could realize the helplessness of their own efforts, and their need of God’s help. Galatians 3v22-24 explains that the Law was only a protective fence, until through the promised Messiah, humanity “could be made right with God through faith.” All of history pointed to the coming of this Messiah, this Christ, if you will. This was all part of Paul’s reasoning from Scripture with the Jews he came in contact with. Of course for Paul, as for us, the Messiah is Jesus Christ. All of history, points to this Jesus Christ, coming back again. Coming back, not as a baby next time, but as a King in glory!

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12. Twelve Days to Christmas – Messiah’s Kingdom

12. Partake – Twelve Days to Christmas – Messiah’s Kingdom

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Please do read Zechariah 14:1 – 21

As we saw on Day 11 of this series, from Isaiah 61 to 63, God has commenced doing a good thing through the Servant Messiah. At His first coming as a baby, this Servant Messiah ushered in the Year of the Lord’s favour. We live in that period of time now, and it will continue until the Servant Messiah, Jesus Christ, comes again in glory and majesty. He will take those obedient followers to the City of God. For those who reject Him and the free offer of God’s grace, there is the Day of Vengeance. Now in Zechariah 14, we get a different perspective. We get a vision of the Kingdom of God at that tie in the future. So let us take a flight with Zechariah, into the future to see what this Messiah’s Kingdom is like, where Jerusalem where mentioned, is in fact the New Jerusalem, the City of God!.

God Will Be King!

God will be king and lead the battle (Zechariah 14:3)! The original hearers and readers of this letter would remember how in times past, God has done mighty things for them! Things such as the parting of the Red Sea in order to escape the rampaging Egyptians. Just as God caused the Red Sea to split in two, so says Zechariah, God will split a mountain in two, and leave a valley in the middle to escape their enemies! The Almighty and Living God is coming with His legions of angels and the saints! You can almost feel Zechariah getting caught up in the ecstatic vision!

That day, as described in Zechariah 14:6-7, will be unique and special. That day is only known to Yahweh! There will be a special and unusual light! Then in Zechariah 14:8, there will be living water permanently. The old Jerusalem had poor water supply, but the New Jerusalem will have a permanent supply of Living Water! This day sees the end of the “Year of the Lord’s Favour” and leads in the new heavens and new earth we discussed a couple of days ago.

Zechariah 14:9 “Yahweh will be King over all the earth. In that day Yahweh will be one, and his name one.” God will not just rule over Jerusalem, but will rule and reign over all the earth. There is a day approaching with all the world, whether they want to or not, will acknowledge the Messiah’s lordship, glory, beauty, majesty and authority to rule over them. There will be One Lord to rule over all. Remember the ancient Israelites used to quote the Shema “Hear O Israel; the Lord our God, the Lord is One. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5).

Enemies Defeated!

What of those who stand against God and against God’s people? They will be defeated and as God’s opponents, they will not be able to stand, and won’t be able to see or speak. Decay has overtaken them as plaque and panic confuse and debilitate them. So it is with the enemies of God and His people, they wont be able to travel and flee as their transportation will also have decayed. .

The New Age Has Come

In the Kingdom of the Messiah, under His rule, reign and authority, all will be holy. As a result there will be no more sin, death, destruction or decay. Everything will be devoted to the Lord God and His Kingdom. All has been transformed, for the glory and sake of the Servant Messiah.
How is Jesus this Messiah?

Jesus describes this day in Mark 13:24-27 “But in those days, after that oppression, the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light, the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers that are in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. Then he will send out his angels, and will gather together his chosen ones from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the sky.

Jesus is the light of the world and giver of Living water! Remember just a few days ago, we discussed this! In Zechariah 14:7, we see again that light of the world shining in the evening and the New Jerusalem flowing with Living Water!

Paul writing in Philippians 2:5-11 says “Have this in your mind, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, didn’t consider equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, yes, the death of the cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him, and gave to him the name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, those on earth, and those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

When Jesus ascended into the heavens in Acts 1:1-14, two angels appeared to the disciples saying “You men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who was received up from you into the sky will come back in the same way as you saw him going into the sky.

When in the final book of the Bible, Jesus says these words in Revelation 21:5-7 “Behold, I am making all things new.” …”Write, for these words of God are faithful and true.” …”It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give freely to him who is thirsty from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes, I will give him these things. I will be his God, and he will be my son.

May it be so, Lord Jesus, and help all of us who love you to overcome and be obedient to You! Through these twelve brief studies in Isaiah and Zechariah, we see the promises of God being fulfilled in the Messiah Servant, Messiah Shepherd, Messiah King, Messiah Prophet, Messiah Priest and Messiah Disciple. This is only fulfilled in and through that God-man, Jesus Christ whose birth we celebrate. But also remember that this Jesus, is no longer a baby in a manger, but will be coming back again one day to rule the world with justice and grace to the praise and glory of Almighty God.

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