Religion or The Kingdom of God?

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Yeshua (Jesus Christ) started His ministry with the words “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” Mathew 4:17. These are the same words that John the Baptist preached before Christ came into the picture, Mathew3:2. Repentance means turning away from self centered life separated from God to one under the reign of God.

This has nothing to do with one religious belief.  Many people who claim to be Christians are stuck in the religious mode. That is why they talk about their religion being Christian and add their denomination to fit in.  This however is not scriptural for there is no time that Christ preached Religion and neither did He instruct His disciples to preach religion but the kingdom of God. Every place that Christ went His message was on the kingdom of God.

Religion is a human invention to try and relieve the fear, pain, and suffering that characterize human life on earth but it can never meet a human’s greatest need; the salvation of their soul and the promise of eternal life. Dr Myles Munroe rightly states that God did not send us a religion “Instead, He sent us His Kingdom, eternal and unshakable. God’s Kingdom came to earth through the person of His Son Jesus Christ, who was its herald as well as its gateway. Christ did not come to Earth to start a religion or a religious organization or club”.

The Church preaches many things rather than the Kingdom of God. Few people understand what the kingdom of God is because the true gospel is not being preached. In fact sometimes the church has looked like a social club where people of like minds meet to exercise religious customs. By missing the message of the gospel the church wrongly places Christ in the same pedestal with religious movements of the world.

This, it is submitted, is one of the reasons why the gospel has been weakened because we preach religion as opposed to the kingdom of God which is open to everyone regardless of one’s religion. Yeshua came to the world and gave His life as a sacrifice to reconcile humans to God so that through Him they could experience the kingdom of God.

Adam and Eve were in the Kingdom of God on Earth, ruling from the Garden of Eden. When they rebelled against God and fell into sin, the Kingdom departed. Yeshua’s mission was to reintroduce this kingdom and He taught us to claim it in our prayers hence, “Our Father in Heaven, — your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” Mathew 6:10.

God’s kingdom is in heaven and His reign on earth is spiritual. Yeshua said that the true worshipper will worship the Father in truth and Spirit because “God is Spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” John 4:23-24. Unlike the kingdoms of this world, the kingdom of God is founded on eternal principles that will never fade or pass away.

This kingdom will be fully realized when Yeshua comes back to judge all people and remove all evil from the world, Revelations 11:15

                             Two Realms, the spiritual and the Physical

God the Father and Creator is in heaven, where He has always been. Heaven is the domain of the Father, a spiritual realm that is invisible, yet greater and more real than the visible, physical realm that was created from it. The human creature, created in God’s image and formed from the dust of the ground, is on the earth. Since God is Spirit this means that man was created first as a spirit with the ability to communicate with the spiritual realm.

Scripture provides that God breathed into the human who “became a living being” Genesis 2:7. The human person was endowed with self-awareness, personality and free will. God then placed the spirit man He had created into a physical shell, a body fashioned from the dust of the ground, in order for him to represent God on planet earth in the physical domain.

God gave then gave the human person dominion or administrative authority over the Earth and all its other creatures, Genesis 1:26-28. God’s purpose was for the human to rule the Earth in His name and under His authority. This meant that God’s thoughts and desires were to be manifested in the mind of the human so that God’s will could be done on Earth. There had to be a spiritual connection linking the two realms.

For this reason, God created man with the capacity to receive His Spirit. The Spirit of God was the vital link between man’s dominion on Earth and God’s dominion in heaven. He revealed the will of God to man and provided wisdom and guidance so that man could carry out God’s will on Earth.

In this original order of things, perfect harmony existed between God and man. There was unity between heaven and Earth. Everything operated as it was supposed to. However after Adam and Eve sinned, this harmony was destroyed.

                                    The keys to the Kingdom of God

As has been indicated above, Holy Spirit is the link between man’s dominion on Earth and God’s dominion in heaven. Therefore, the key to the human person being able to manifest the Kingdom of God here on Earth is through the Holy Spirit. One cannot know God’s will except through the Holy Spirit living within, and the Holy Spirit can only live in a holy vessel.

Other than reintroducing the Kingdom of God, Yeshua’s other mission was to restore righteousness and holiness to mankind, both of which we lost in the Garden of Eden. He restored to us right standing with the Father (righteousness) through His death for our sins. By so doing, He also restored our holiness.

Only through the shading of the blood of Yeshua was this possible for as Scriptures say, ” according to the Law almost all things are purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no remission” Hebrews 9:22. Only Yeshua was capable, through the shading of His blood, of cleansing our sin and removing the shame of our actions.

Yeshua, the Son of God, was Spirit, with no body or blood; Yeshua, the man, had both.  According to Dr Myles Munroe, “Jesus Christ was both 100 percent flesh-and-blood man and 100 percent divine Son of God. We cannot separate the two; to do so would be to deny the work that He did on the cross”.

This is the problem with any religion, particularly if it ignores or disputes the importance or reality of what happened at the cross. If we do not have Yeshua, that means our sins are still with us. Without the cleansing of our sins, we cannot become holy. Unless we become holy, we cannot become citizens of the Kingdom of God. This is why the church must preach the gospel of the kingdom of God as opposed to religion.

It is the Holy Spirit who fills us with spiritual powers, guides us, leads us into the knowledge of truth, and brings to our remembrance all the things that Yeshua taught. Yeshua promised His disciples that after He left he would send the Holy Spirit to be with them forever, John 14:15. This is what happened on the day of Pentecost as described in Acts 2:1-4.

Yeshua told Peter that he would give him the keys to the kingdom of heaven and “whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” Mathew 16: 19.  In other words the keys will be able to unlock the heavenly kingdom and resolve earthly issues. Yeshua made it clear that the keys to the kingdom were supposed to work for His followers like it worked for Him.

He said “whoever believes in me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in my name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the son” John 14:12-13. This is because the Holy Spirit would be with us and would connect us to the Spiritual realm where the power of God reigns. When the spiritual realm and the physical realm are in harmony then anything is possible.

                                Taking authority as children of the kingdom

We are royal children of the Kingdom of God, but have spent our entire lives living in the slave quarters since Adam was banished from the kingdom. We need the Holy Spirit who lives in us to help us change in thought and behaviour. The Holy Spirit is continuously teaching and reminding us who we are and how to think, speak, and act accordingly. Paul writes “—if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new” 2 Corinthinas 5: 17.

We receive our new spiritual birth from Yeshua, through the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Christ made it clear that “— unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” John 3:5. Our faith is based on a personal relationship with Yeshua, but He relates to us and us to Him through the Holy Spirit.One of the things that the Holy Spirit teaches us is how to stand in authority as true sons and daughters of God.

No matter what troubles or difficulties come into our circumstances, rather than being a slave to them we rise above them. Through the Holy Spirit we can live in power and victory, rather than in weakness and defeat. All it takes is training, and the Holy Spirit is our Teacher. Before entering the kingdom of God we were under the kingdom of Darkness with Satan in control.

Satan having usurped humans’ earthly authority by tricking them in the Garden of Eden has tormented them and distorted their thinking. The retraining of our mind is part of what it means to give ourselves as living sacrifices to God. We cannot live effectively for the Lord until we learn to think like Him. This is what Apostle Paul meant when he wrote;

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1-2).

Renewing our minds in this case connotes returning to the original mind that we had before the fall, “a mind that loves and honors God and that understands its rightful place as a voice – regent of the earthly domain under God’s sovereign Kingdom rule”.

                                    Manifestation of the Kingdom of God

Whenever Yeshua healed the sick, raised the dead, walked on water, calmed a storm with a word, or fed a multitude with a handful of fish and bread, He demonstrated the truth that God’s Kingdom had come to earth. Whenever He preached the Good News of the Kingdom, or taught His followers about life in that Kingdom, and whenever people responded to Him in faith, He demonstrated the power of the Kingdom to impact human life and the environment around them.

Each of us who turn to Christ become a “stone” in the magnificent spiritual “palace” of the Kingdom on Earth, called and equipped as kings and priests to represent that Kingdom before the rest of the world. Those hooked on religion, have generally separated the priestly and kingly ministries into separate offices and functions. This was however not God’s original design. When God created us, He intended for us to be His repetitive rulers – His ambassadors over the rest of the created order.

We were to be priests and kings in the Earth: as priests, representing God’s nature and character, and as kings, His Kingdom government. Through Christ we are, ” a “chosen people,” a “royal priesthood,” and a “holy nation” (1Peter1:9 -10). In other words, we have been restored to our priestly function of representing and reflecting God’s nature and character before the world.

We are also the “people of God,” not a nation of subjects, but of sons and daughters that If God is a King, then we who are His people, are also of the royal line. For “as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those whom believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” John1:12-13. Therefore, we have also been restored to our kingly function of representing the government of God on the Earth.

We are all into fulltime ministries in the service of God. Our mission as ambassadors of the Kingdom of God is to bring those who are enslaved in the kingdom of darkness to Christ, so that He can set them free to enter into their full citizenship in God’s Kingdom of light, 2 Corinthians 5:20. An ambassador is an official representative on behalf of one’s country to another.

We are Christ representative in the world from the kingdom of God sent with the message of reconciliation to the world.  Yeshua warned that “not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but He who does the will of my Father” Mathew 7:21. God is more interested with our walk not our talk. What you do reveal who you truly are.

In the end judgment will based on our acceptance of Christ and obedience to His commandments. Others think that “good” works can earn one salvation. Scripture is however very clear that the entrance to the kingdom of God is through Yeshua and its sustenance through the Holy Spirit.

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