The way a king’s servants think

Our king – Jesus – has given us a law, and it is this:

“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
–  Matthew 7:12

The true servant of the King, therefore, asks himself throughout the day, “Am I treating others the way I want them to treat me?”

The one who is a servant of the King in name only, however, asks himself throughout the day, “Are others treating me the way the King wants them to treat me?”

The one servant can find joy; the other cannot.

Extending the kingdom of God

Make your life today an extension of the kingdom of God.

Make His rule go as far as you go.

Even if you find yourself in the midst of enemies of righteousness, be an outpost of the kingdom of God.  Stand firm in His peace.

A king is for obeying

Listen to this exchange between Jesus and Pontius Pilate:

Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king…”
–  John 18:37

If Jesus is king, shouldn’t we spend our days obeying Him?  And if we do, we can expect to be continually rescued.  This is what Paul said about Him in this regard:

…He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation,
–  Hebrews 5:9

The phrase “eternal salvation” = “continual rescue.”

Let us therefore spend our days obeying Him.  Toward that end, let us pray each day as He taught us [emphasis added]:

“Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
‘Give us this day our daily bread.
‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.]’
–  Matthew 6:9-13

The phrase “Your will be done” = “You are king and I will obey You rather than pursuing my own interests.”

The kingdom of God is Jesus being obeyed as king.

The Kingdom of God Is Near

Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”
–  Luke 17:19-20

Do not seek the kingdom of God as if it were a long way off.  It is as near as the word of God in your heart.  Act upon it…and your sense of His care will grow.

The Kingdom of God Is Not a Place You Go

The kingdom of God is not a place you go – it’s a reality you embrace.

The kingdom of God is a reality you embrace at all times and in all places – otherwise you don’t really think it’s reality.  Reality can’t be intermittently real; it’s either always real or it’s not real.

The Lord is either near or He is not.  Make up your mind.  He has made up His.

In all your ways acknowledge Him…
–  Proverbs 3:6

As you constantly acknowledge His presence in our midst, your heart will sing:

…the nearness of God is my good…
–  Psalm 73:28

This is the kingdom of God.  Walk in it, and resist every attempt of the world to draw your mind away from it.

The Kingdom of God Is Not There and Then

The kingdom of God is here and now.  It is not there and then.

Many of you have been taught that God’s kingdom is there (in heaven above) and then (after you die).  This kind of thinking pushes the kingdom away from you, postponing both its responsibilities and its benefits.  God deeply desires that we experience His kingdom here on earth in this life.

Hell is here and now, too.  It is the combined judgments of God against our sins.  Since “each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34), why should we worry about trouble that might come sometime in the future?

Hell is to be avoided here and now, and the kingdom of God is to be sought here and now.  Today.  The kingdom of God is relief from hell.

…the kingdom of God is…righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
–  Romans 14:17

Therefore, let us…

…seek first His kingdom and His righteousness…
–  Matthew 6:33

Remember:  it is the King of the Jews who will save us from our sins (Matthew 1:21).  He is not meant to be King of your life tomorrow.  He is meant to be your King today.

This is the day which the Lord has made;
Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
–  Psalm 118:24

Serve the Lord with gladness…
–  Psalm 100:2

Serve Him with joy that your soul might be untroubled all day long.

The Lord Reigns!

The Lord Jesus doesn’t just exist – He reigns!

The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice…
–  Psalm 97:1

Therefore, we do not merely acknowledge Him – we obey Him.

Yes, there are those who rebel against His reign, but we are not among them.  We are among those who will live this day for the Lord.

This is the day which the Lord has made;
Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
–  Psalm 118:24

Summon to mind all that you have learned about Jesus – and determine to apply that knowledge to the day before you.

This is the way of the kingdom of God.

Go to church…or dwell in the kingdom?

Church goer…or kingdom dweller – which will you be?

Going to church is, at most, an occasional activity.  Dwelling in the kingdom of God is a constant state of being.

If you only find the presence of God in church, then you’re only going to experience the presence of God occasionally.  But if you dwell in the kingdom of God, you can experience the presence of God always.

[Emphasis added in the following verses]

Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
–  Psalm 23:6

Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, “Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place.
–  Jeremiah 7:3

Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
–  Psalm 37:3

There is no grace to be found in avoiding church, but there is much grace to be found in seeking the kingdom:

…seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
–  Matthew 6:33

The kingdom of God is not shaken

The kingdoms of men rise and fall; the kingdom of the Lord reigns above them all.

The kingdoms of men are in turmoil, but the kingdom of God is abiding and prevailing in peace.

The kingdoms of men seem reliable until they don’t; the kingdom of heaven never fails.

Do not fret about earthly kings; keep your eyes on the King who cannot be seen, but who rules over all the kings who can be seen.

Stay focused on the kingdom which can never be shaken.

Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe;
–  Hebrews 12:28

Questions from Ashley About the One True Church

Someone named Ashley made this comment on the post How to Be in the One True Church.  I thought it contained some very good questions and so I wanted to answer them in this full post where I have a little more “elbow room.”  Here is her comment in full:

I understand that the true church is spiritual and not a building. My pastor teaches this he also teaches that not everyone that belongs to our church is in the true church and that Jesus is the Pastor of it, not him. However, he does teach that Jesus sends out others to be pastors that are after His (God/Jesus) own heart, as the bible says. The bible says how can we hear without a preacher? I believe a pastor is one who leads us to Jesus by preaching Jesus’ (THE Pastor) words. If you were to take everything you have on your website, and preach it to people on a particular day and at a set time, when convenient, what would you call it? Are you not pastoring, or leading, or sheparding, this certain group of people to Jesus, who is Pastor of all? My pastor teaches that he is no more qualified to know the Lord than any of us, but is simply chosen to be used for God’s glory. We have a building where we meet, and we call it church. What else would we call it? Before I joined this assembly of people, I was led by Jesus Himself to it, because I knew something was wrong with all the other churches I went to. So what am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to stop going to thus church where many of the truths you know is being preached, and just read your website? If I did, wouldn’t I be being led, or pastored, by you? What is the difference in my particular situation, keeping in mind that my earthly pastor acknowledges that he is not the mediator between me and Jesus, but just a messenger just like you? Would you not want to teach all you have to say here on this website to a group of people in a building where they can sit and ask questions and communicate and share testimonies in person?

Ashley, I want to thoroughly address every point you raised.  Let me start with your opening sentences.

I understand that the true church is spiritual and not a building. My pastor teaches this he also teaches that not everyone that belongs to our church is in the true church and that Jesus is the Pastor of it, not him.

So far, so good.

However, he does teach that Jesus sends out others to be pastors that are after His (God/Jesus) own heart, as the bible says. The bible says how can we hear without a preacher? I believe a pastor is one who leads us to Jesus by preaching Jesus’ (THE Pastor) words.

Jesus did send apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers until He would come in His kingdom.  The kingdom has come.  If you do not know about this, read the post Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again, and, if necessary, the accompanying book.  In the kingdom of God, we who serve Him are His children – sons and daughters.  This calling is greater than any other (Luke 7:28).  As children, we are to mature.  A sapling becomes a tree; it does not remain a sapling.  An infant becomes an adult; it does not remain an infant.  We are to mature and one aspect of maturing is to help those younger than ourselves (Hebrews 5:12).  For this reason your pastor and I – and, presumably, you as well – share truth with others less far along than we are.

In ancient times, literacy rates were far lower than what they are now.  Moreover, it was not possible to hold all the Scriptures in your hand – that many scrolls was unwieldly.  Therefore, people went to gatherings to hear the word of God.  Are we to ignore the fact that we can read – and therefore “hear” – the word of God anywhere?  Should that fact have no bearing on our habits?

It is true that we cannot know of Christ or His ways without a “preacher” – but that “preacher” comes in many forms in this the eternal age.  When you speak of Christ to your neighbor, you are “preaching.”  When you read your Bible, the prophets and apostles are “preaching” to you.  In this age, God does not call us to be preachers – He calls us to be sons and daughters.  And one aspect of being a son or daughter is to speak truth – that is, “preach” – about Him who calls us sons and daughters (1 Peter 2:9-10).

Therefore, your pastor under-appreciates what it means to be a child of God in the kingdom of God.  He is reverting to a system God has made obsolete.  The kingdom of God is “something greater” than all that has come before.  If it is not, then let us all become Jews and go back to slaughtering animals in the tabernacle of Moses.

Now I will answer your questions one by one.

If you were to take everything you have on your website, and preach it to people on a particular day and at a set time, when convenient, what would you call it?

The same thing I call it now – me sharing with others what I have read and come to understand in the Bible.

Are you not pastoring, or leading, or sheparding, this certain group of people to Jesus, who is Pastor of all?

No, I am proclaiming that there is One who pastors, leads, and shepherds.  His name is Jesus and He is Lord of all.

My pastor teaches that he is no more qualified to know the Lord than any of us, but is simply chosen to be used for God’s glory.

The calling he has is the same calling we all have – the calling to share with others what we know (Ephesians 4:15, 25).

We have a building where we meet, and we call it church. What else would we call it?

A building.

Before I joined this assembly of people, I was led by Jesus Himself to it, because I knew something was wrong with all the other churches I went to. So what am I supposed to do?

Keep being led by Jesus Himself.  If He led you there, it was for some purpose other than turning over His leadership role in your life to the pastor.  Perhaps Jesus led you to there to hear something or to meet someone or for someone there to hear you or for you to experience something.  I can’t tell you what His purpose was in leading you there, but I can tell you that it was not so that you could stop following Him and start following somone else.  I encourage you therefore to pursure the purpose or purposes for which He led you there, all the while continuing to be led by Jesus Himself.

Am I supposed to stop going to thus church where many of the truths you know is being preached, and just read your website? If I did, wouldn’t I be being led, or pastored, by you?

There is no more virtue in not going to a local church than there is in going to a local church.  Virtue is in hearing the word of God and doing it.

What is the difference in my particular situation, keeping in mind that my earthly pastor acknowledges that he is not the mediator between me and Jesus, but just a messenger just like you?

There is no difference.  He is a child of God, you are a child of God, and I am a child of God.  Your pastor and I are sharing what we have learned of Christ and, it is to be hoped, living lives that conform to the truths we proclaim.  In this regard, his contribution to your life is more valuable than mine because you have more visibility to his life.  But you have even more visibility to the the life of Christ because His thought life is revealed to us in the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 2:16).  Therefore, accept what contributions of truth come to you from your pastor or me or others – but keep drawing nearer to Christ Himself.

Would you not want to teach all you have to say here on this website to a group of people in a building where they can sit and ask questions and communicate and share testimonies in person?

Not necessarily.  For one thing, that approach would be a lot more expensive than this one.  I have certain costs associated with this blog and the accompanying podcast but they are far less than it would cost me to rent or buy a building.  Moreover, everything I teach here is “portable” and can easily be shared from one person to the next; this would not be the case if I relied on speaking in a building to a group of people.  I would value the “face to face” aspect of speaking and, for this reason, do a weekly video teaching.  It’s not as good as “face to face” but it’s better than no face at all.  The point of all this is there are trade-offs in comparing any one form of communication to another.  The essential dynamic is sharing the truth from one person to the next.  May the word of the Lord spread!

I could say much more, but time is short.  If I’ve not answered your questions sufficiently you can always ask others.  Thanks for the thought you gave your comments.