Salvation now and Kingdom later, or…

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,”

‭‭Colossians‬ ‭1:13‬ ‭ESV‬‬

When I talk with Christians about the Kingdom as something here and now – as we live our lives on this earth. Many respond with the spine saying Salvation is now but Kingdom is later. Why is it so?

I grow up with the teaching that the Kingdom was something to come later, the so called millennial was the Kingdom season. A millennial Kingdom on earth with Jesus as King.

Millennial four views

There are four main views regards how Christian understands the millenial teaching in the bible that we need to shortly review to understand why Christians react so differently to the teaching Kingdom here and now.

Premillennialism sayes that the Millennium is the period between the return of Christ and the final day of judgement. Dispensationalism is a later version of this view, but teaches about rapture before a 7 year of Tribulation followed by the Millennium. Dispensationalism is also named Darbyism, due to its inventer of this teaching John Nelson Darby. The debate within this teaching is whether the rapture comes before, mid or after the tribulations.

Please note that the word Rapture you will not find in your bible and Jesus never taught about it, neither Paul or any other.

On the other side we find Postmillennialism that claims the return of Christ and final judgement to be happening at the same time, being same event. This after the millennial. I.e Jesus returns after the millennial.

Then finally the most accepted view today if you look at the whole body of Christ is something called Amillennialism. This view interprets the teaching about a millennial as something that has taken place spiritually, from the day of resurrection.

If we look at Jesus teaching about the Kingdom, without filtered through our Millenial lens views, it is difficult to not understand his teaching of the Kingdom as something that came with Christ and to be understood in our time on earth.

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,”

As we look into our text in this post we see that salvation is out of the domain, or Kingdom of darkness, and into the Kingdom of God. This means we cannot separate out the Kingdom to be something later and salvation something today. We can simply not to be honest teach salvation as something separately only covering our sins and Kingdom only to be the Millennial as many within the Pentacostal streams teaches. It is either black or white, minus or plus, there are no vacum in that sense in the spiritual world. You cannot leave the Kingdom of darkness and then wait until the millennial until you will enter the Kingdom of God.

The next thing is that it is a now-statement!

It happens when we repent and change direction for our life, we change master from ourselves to Jesus as King. We simply enter the Kingdom now.

and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”” – Mark‬ ‭1:15‬ ‭ESV‬‬

As you read your bible, without the millennial filter you will find verse after verse confirms Kingdom is now and it is advancing.

Image bearers

Gen 1:26-28

We are “humans designed to function like angeled mirrors” NT Wright

Purpose in life with God is not about living sin-free before God even though that is important, but to worship God and reflect him by living like Jesus example, doing his task, work towards a new earth and a new heaven.

Being saved is just the door. Making disciples that extend the Kingdom is the task.

Humans are to act on Gods behalf on this earth, but that only works through true worshippers, those will be humble enough to be entrusted with his stewardship.

Human vocation is to be image bearers – to reflect God.

The first sin is idiolotry wich is opposite to worship God, you then worship someone or something else.

That’s why we pray, Lord let YOUR will be done, let YOUR Kingdom come, not mine.

Only in his perfect will fulfills our purpose in life. To reflect God on earth, to ambassador and rule his Kingdom here on earth.

That is to be Christlike.

Are we living in end times?

If you have been a Christian for some years, I am pretty sure you have heard preachers stating “we are now living in end times”!

Also I have heard, preached and shared this belief system for most of my life until the last few years since I decided to study really what the bible says and not primarily what I have been taught. What I will show you might shock you first, but make sense if you reflect what the scriptures really states in its context.

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.” – 2 Timothy‬ ‭3:1-9‬ ‭ESV‬‬

This being one of the most used scriptures, often wrongly applied to our time. When Paul is talking about “they”, “these men”, “those”, leading astray women in a certain context only those reading the letter then, knew exactly whom they where at their time, not ours.

There are mainly three views when it comes to understand what NT writers mean when they say Last Time, Last days or Last hour.

1. Dispensationslistic view – those living in the last generation before Jesus second coming are living in the end times.

2. All generations view – saying that from the days of Jesus and until now we are living in the last days. The disciples lived in the last days, the Dark mid age lived in the last age and we are now 2000 years later living in last age=end times. Last days seems very long?

3. Partly preterists and full preterists view is that it is related to thoose living in the shift between the old covenant and the new covenant. And that the new covenant was introduced by Christ and the old covenant ended AD 70 when the temple was destroyed.

If we believe the Kingdom has already come with Christ and is growing on earth we cannot logically also say we live in the end times including everything that would comes with it.

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.” – Hebrews‬ ‭1:1-2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Here we see clearly “Last days” started with the Jesus. Already now dispensationalism will start to have problems as they state “Last Days” will be 4-7 years before Jesus second coming.

but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you” – ‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭1:19-20‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Here we see that Christ, the lamb was manifested in the last time=last days, their time.

The writer of Hebrew puts it like this: ”for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” – Hebrews‬ ‭9:26‬ ‭ESV‬‬

But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams;” – Acts‬ ‭2:14-17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

When Peter is reciting the prophecy of Joel explaining what happened at the day of Pentecost he interprets it as the last days.

John even pushes it to the last hour, talking about a specific situation in specific churches.

Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.” – 1 John‬ ‭2:18-19‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The most important verse about the last days in the bible is in Matthew 24:34. When Jesus has described all terrible things that will happen, he very clearly states it will happen within 40 years, a generation.

Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” – Matthew‬ ‭24:34‬ ‭ESV‬‬

That is also what happened AD70.

For the first Christians it was clear they lived the in the last days. They were living in end of the old covenant entering into the new age that came with the new covenant and was finalized with the destruction of the temple AD70 with its sacrifices. The first Christians knew they had the tribulation ahead of them, that is also what happened to them from year 66AD by Nero.

This means, we are not living in the last days but in the new age of a new covenant through Jesus Christ. We are now living in the times of the advancing Kingdom according to Daniel 2.

I am sorry if I am disturbing your world view, but may I challenge you to study what the bible is really saying, not what you have been taught. It might change your future view from a very dark pessimistic one to one more optimistic one were the Kingdom God is growing, bit by bit and the Devil will lose ground bit by bit.

God let your Kingdom come.

Come follow me

This week I read an article with the headline stating: “What would Jesus say to a transgender person?”

Many responded with suggestions that Jesus would have said everything from “God just loves you the way you are” to the other ditch, “Repent or die…”.

Well what would Jesus say then?

If we look in the gospels we will find that Jesus was the friend of sinners, but the judge over the scribes that was hypocrites according to Jesus. Jesus response to sinners was: “Can I come home and eat with you” and “Come and follow me“.

I also read yet another article this week that asked the question: “Do you remember the top three sermons that changed your life?” or “Do you remember the top three persons that changed your life?”

The article enlightened what you already now started to reflect over, yes the persons that helped me with my first steps as a believer I very much remember but the sermons I do not really remember that well. Actually many of us even do not remember last Sunday sermon.

What does this tells us?

Could it be that a Church that focus to much on meetings might be missing the point?

Sermons might not really make disciples, even though it is important with teaching and preaching!

Luke puts it this way: ”In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach,”.

First do, then teach!

If this is the Jesus way to do things? Why then are we focusing so much to set up right light, sound, seats, praise, worship – meetings that should make an impact, when we instead should make disciples in our daily life, train and teach them as we walk.

The disciples that changed the world, did not come from church meetings but from where Jesus met them in their job situation, on the streets or under a tree.

My point is, discipleship comes out of your life if someone is following you. To have someone following you means you need to find people to invest in. That means it must be more than two hours every Sunday.

My other reflection based on “Come and follow me is”…

When Jesus saw the sin in you and me, he did not say: “Make sure you are sin free Andreas, come then and follow me”. No he just says: “Come and follow me”.

Jesus do not first come with pointers but instead says: “Come, walk with me, follow me, learn from me and I will change your life”.

We have been so molded in religion and church life with what is right and wrong, that we think discipleship is to tell the world what is right and wrong.

Yes we should be the salt & light of the world but mainly to those that follows us, those that learn from us, those that wants to grow with God – those that call themselves followers of Christ.

Meetings have not changed this world but discipleship will.

Telling the world right and wrong have not improved the world but discipleship will.

So what do we say to a sinful world – Come follow me!

It all starts from there. If Jesus used that model, why then not us?

But be prepared, this will need yours and my life to be changed. From showing up on Sunday meetings to spend time during the entire week with people.

Therefor, go out today and invite people to start to follow you. You might be surprised, the calling you thought was within the church walls might very well be in your daily life.

Actually I believe the seasons for many meetings and big conferences have come to an end. I believe the season to make disciples has come.

Come follow me – regards Jesus

Leave this world a better place

Recently murdered LA Hip-Hop star Nipsey Hussle replied on a question about all money he earned, The selfless servant:

“We look at life like it’s about what you can get from life. I read something, and I was like, that’s not what it is, you’ll always be unfulfilled if you look at life like that. It’s about knowing you’re going to leave one day.… And you know when you leave, the only way you’re going to be fulfilled is if you know you gave everything you had. You emptied yourself here, you left it all here, because it’s temporary and you’ve got a moment.”

So many of us live a life of collecting, what we can become in this world, what we can achieve, not for others but for ourselves. Yes even amongst us, but then it is more to be acknowledged on a platform, or a growing church. We are more self centered than we admit. E.g. if you look at a group photo whom do you search for first? Yes, yourself, if your are looking good or not. This has its roots from the beginning when man wanted to become like God. Have the same knowledge and insight. Even though God did man into his image.

Sometimes this with Kingdom Culture and discipleship can be a bit unclear, so I just wanted to give some flesh to what it really means practically.

Kingdom culture

In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.” Acts‬ ‭1:1-3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

All Jesus did and taught breaths Kingdom Culture. Even after suffering the cross and resurrection he talks for forthy days about his suffering you could imagine? No he talks about…yes, correct, the Kingdom!

Only from this we can learn a lot. His focus was not on himself and what he just had gone through, it was the greater good, the mission, the reason for his sufferings that was his purpose.

The Kingdom was his focus. His legacy was by far more important than his long sufferings. Now that is Kingdom Culture. To give yourself away. (Not talking about nihilism).

Luke says: all Jesus did and taught.

Therefor everything Jesus did, pointed towards how Kingdom Culture looks like.

Paul puts it very well in his letter to the Philippians, 2:1-11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, 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.”

Emptied himself is an spiritual exercise.

‭‭Jesus did it by becoming a servant, thinking like a servant, acting like a servant, identified himself like a servant. Not less in value, but to serve others. That is Kingdom Culture.

Making your bed

In a viral youtube clip an officer talks to his cadets, meaning of life. One major thing is to make the bed in the morning. If nothing else is successful during the day, at least your bed is a success. Something good you have accomplished.

I think there is a golden Kingdom rule here, starting your morning making your bed.

You start the morning leaving something better. Then next thing you do the same, leave the kitchen table little better, put the chairs right, clean the table. Then if you go by car, clean out garbage from the car. Going to school, leave the classroom a bit more tidy compare to when you came.

If you start doing this as a pattern of life, you suddenly will leave this world a better place, just like Jesus did, and just like the Kingdom is all about.

In the bussiness, we are working with something called 5S. Basically to have a clean and tidy working place. Everytime we have used a conference room, we remind ourselves about 5S and put everything back in place according to detailed descriptions. We leave the conference room a better place.

In everything you do, whomever you meet. Leave it or them a better place. Clean up, share love, send a prayer, carry a burden an extra mile, serve those around you, then you extend the Kingdom. That is what Jesus did on the cross, so we could multiply doing the same to those around us. It is far more important what you do to others, than just live a holy life yourself. Not saying we should sanctify ourself, but focus has to be outwards more than inwards.

If you are safe with whom you are in Christ, that you belong to a Kingdom, then you can deny yourself pick up your cross and start to follow your King Jesus example.

By doing this, you practically are doing what Jesus states in Matthew‬ ‭20:1-16‬ ‭ESV‬‬:

””For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ So the last will be first, and the first last.””

Focus is on the vineyard. Not our reward or ourself! That is Kingdom Culture.

If you are uncertain of your destiny, start by following these practical insights and you will find the purpose in life.

Lets make this world a better place! Shall we?

The gospel of salvation vs the gospel of the Kingdom

Jesus died for our sins, not so that we could sort out abstract ideas, but so that we, having been put right, could become part of God´s plan to put this whole world right.”The day Revolution began, NT Wright

I would dear stick out to say that we have over the years developed a salvation culture in our churches but not a Kingdom culture. This has generated a bunch of individuals instead of a family in the Kingdom with a common goal, focus has been on meetings and sin management instead of discipleship.

A salvation culture

I have been thinking a lot why we have such a weak christianity in Europe, with many churchgoers but few disciples. Many meetings but very little progress and influence in society.

The disciples we have tends to, over and over again, even though they boldly sing “Lord I give you my life…my everything ” struggle to give just their whole life to Lord Jesus Christ. Still struggle with whom they are, what they should do, seeking positions and titles more than towels and serving the King and his Kingdom. Few wants to serve in the hidden, but many on the platform.

I believe, we struggle with what we are fed with in everyday life from media and western culture. Like, “To fulfill your destiny you must promote yourself”.

Also in the church our focus away from sacramentalism, infant baptism and unclarity of a salvation to instead focus to measures people on the basis of whether they had a personal salvation experience or not, or if filled with the spirit or not, have also brought us here. I do not by that say we should go back to sacramentalism, but sometime when we react to something we also miss some depths. And, both evangelicals and orthodox streams struggle with discipleship. Focus on sacraments or personal salvation experience makes no real difference if you look at the fruits.

Also the way we in charismatic streams focus on personal prophetic words, personal break through and personal healing, how each and one of us can be led by the Spirit, often on a very individual basis. All this good and important, but this have also created an unhealthy individualism and independence in the church.

How many times have I not met members of the churches I have pastored, saying: “God has told me to do this and that…” not even considering evaluating together with me as their pastor or other members in the church if this really is God or just a new idea. E.g Everything from, God has told me to leave my responsibilities in the church to leave the spouse for a new love….God said, really…?

Then over the years we have tried to either emphasize more on grace (antinomianism), and then more on judgement with no real difference in the end result though.

What are we doing wrong?

I believe we have been to salvation oriented and not enough Kingdom oriented which for me is something broader.

From focus on one decision when receiving forgiveness four our sins, to live a life as a a disciple, being a servant to King Jesus and his mission that includes the whole creation and not just saving people from hell.

The gospel of the Kingdom

Problem is that due to our emphasis on salvation gospel, the full story, from beginning in Eden has somewhat been neglected.

What gospel did Jesus preach? Was that the same as Pauls gospel?

Why? Yes, many say the teaching before the cross refers to the old covenant, and the salvation gospel comes with Paul.

The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it.”Luke‬ ‭16:16‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel* I preached** to you, which you received***, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,… – 1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:1-3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

”…But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:20-26‬ ‭ESV‬‬

*the word “gospel” (euangelion in greek) means good news.

**the word “I preached to you” could be translated like this: “which word I gospeled to you.” So you could translate it “the gospel (read Jesus message) I gospeled”

***the word “you received” (15: 1). (parelabete in Greek) refers to the authorized tradition of the apostles that they had mastered (or had mastered them) and which Paul himself “received” (15: 3, parelabon, same Greek verb). Paul “passed on” that same gospel tradition to the Corinthians so they would have the authentic gospel. Basically, Paul says, the gospel he received he has given to the Corinth’s.

The gospel Paul gospeled

that Christ died, was buried, was raised, and appeared. Then the end when he gives the Kingdom, that now have defeated the darkness, back to God.

Yes – Paul preached the same gospel as Jesus.

Gospel of the Kingdom

But as mentioned earlier, the gospel is not something hanging lose, it connects the dots, it completes the whole story. The gospel is the resolution and fulfillment of Israel’s Story and promises, going back to the beginning.

Jesus walking on earth connects the story and vision to put man not only right with God but also put man back on track with Gods relation and mission on earth.

The gospel, is more than just the life of Jesus around his birth, death and resurrection. All Jesus taught and lived out is ever so important as the salvation message.

And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.” Matthew‬ ‭4:23‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The good news of the Kingdom is more than just being in church. Therefor discipleship should be something that included Gods full creation and mission. The sooner we see this the better.

The result of a salvation only gospel has not only made us to become independent individuals, it has limited our visions, targets and goals to only relate to church life. “So the best disciples are those becoming full time paid pastors.” It could not be more wrong!

Kingdom disciples should live for the main goal to restore this earth with its people back to Eden. Not mainly to become a pastor but to become a true disciple of Jesus, putting this world back on track.

True Kingdom disciples should not focus on how to follow but whom to follow!

When New Testament talks about sin and sanctification, it does not mean to focus to much on every sin we commit, but instead to follow Jesus and not go back to our old sinful life.

Salvation gospel tends to put focus on my sins and my salvation, whereas the gospel of the Kingdom says, yes that is important, but not the meaning of life.

In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew‬ ‭3:1-2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Mike Jagger syndrom

In business leadership discussions these days there is a new expression emerging on the radar, “the Mike Jagger syndrome”.

Before I describe the definition, I was thinking this is so true that it can also be applied on the church and Kingdom business.

So what is it then? Basically all attention, light, focus on one man and not the band, (team).

First of all there is a danger when a person gaining all attention in a band, team, company or church. He/she tends to be less empathic and more self centered due to increased levels of testosterone and decreased levels of oxytocin.

Secondly it is never a one man show that builds a team, band, company or church, it is always a group of people. Jesus came to define this when he said the Kingdom Culture is like…the first shall be the last…the greatest among you shall be your servant…

”For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.” – Luke‬ ‭22:27‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Some months back I listened to an interview with a famous young excellent preaching, Rock-star pastor, that have set up a “campus church model”, claiming that if he was not preaching, with video link to the other campus each Sunday, but instead locals preached in each campus, church attendees and offering went down, reason he got the advice from other celebrity pastors to preach each Sunday to all campus to build a strong church.

You could say I am mocking, yes maybe over the Rock star definition, but the rest in this story is true, sad, and it is as far away from Kingdom Culture as east is from the west. Still, as this church concept is hot and growing at the moment it tends to be the model for sucess.

First of all, bible does not say we are to build the church but instead extend the Kingdom. God is building his church.

Secondly, if we mirror this campus church modell in the light of Jesus model we do not see any similarities, instead the opposite.

Thirdly, as when a young generation do not understand Kingdom secrets, they believe the way to serve God is to do that in a context of pulpit led congregations on a big stage. Kingdom way is not pulpit led but people led, to be amongst, to disciple by example and personal relations in the whole life and not just church life.

I have through the years seen so many preachers, pastors develop the Mike Jagger syndrom, believing they are the hope for the nation. They start to develop ugly behavior of arrogance, that they are special and needs special treatment.

It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Matthew‬ ‭20:26-28‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.'” – Matthew‬ ‭21:5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Read Matthew 23 and you will be surprised how tough Jesus is on the scribes and pharisees. That time Church leaders. It can be applied on many of us today also.

I have seen great men fall when they could no longer handle the burden of all responsibility on one man. One tele evangelist that fell during the 80-ies said the ministry became a monster that needed to be fed every day. Another famous pastor converted to the Catholic faith as he could no longer bear the burden of the Church on his shoulders.

This is why we emphasize team building, people led churches instead of pulpit, discipleship instead of church attendees, relations instead of projects.

Better with 12 disciples than one Mike Jagger. Better with 12 disciples than the big crowds.

Fair Trade Coffee or speaking in tounges?

When growing up I belonged to an evangelical stream that had a spiritual focus, I got saved thanks to them, but most of its focus was on social justice.

I remember I was told not to buy petrol from Shell that had a lot of its refinery in South Africa, and due to the apartheid system we should not support them. I was told what coffee that should be bought, Fair Trade, nothing else and of course not to buy fruit from Israel due to their oppression of the Palestines.

Then in the mid 80-ties we as a family got touched by a spiritual renewal, and the spiritual realm opened up in a total new way. It was such a blessing and we studied the bible, got filled with the spirit, prayed in tongues, prophesied and had visions. We saw healings, deliverance, other spiritual manifestation and learned to understand how the gifts of the Spirit together with the anointing worked. The focus then was mostly on the spiritual and not on social justice.

But as the years went buy I started to understand that for God, there are not such a thing as separation between, it comes as a package. Therefore the authors of the Gospels emphasized “Jesus in the flesh”, see Gnosticism.

In the beginning God put man in Eden to both rule, develop and take care of the creation. But it was not a mandate separated from being together with God, have fellowship with God, – it walked together.

When Jesus was coming to earth as both God and human, his message was back to basic. Relation with the Father and extending his Kingdom on earth, that was what Jesus talked by far most about. Then the Atonement- His salvation on the cross, was not mainly for our souls to be saved but to put everything back on track with us and with the creation.

Mankind had lost his mandate both to rule, develop and care for the creation, but also to fellowship with God as in a family relation. Everything had become religious. Jesus emphasized both God as the father and not a religious God like the Gods mankind then prayed to and the Kingdom mandate to rule, develop and manage the whole creation.

His message was, we are a royal family with a royal mission to extend his Kingdom on earth.

The back to basic message is ever so important today as back then. Kingdom activity needs to go hand in hand with a relation with the Father. You cannot choose being “spiritual” and not take care of this creation and the people on it. You cannot on the other hand work only with social justice and not serve Jesus as King in your life.

Kingdom of God is amongst you only when Jesus is King in your life, when you and I live for Christ and in Christ. This is our values, our fuel to save the world.

Therefor work for Fair Trade Coffee should walk hand in hand with the manifestation of the gifts of the Spirit. That is Kingdom in its core.

How you understand “Olivet Discourse” determines your Kingdom view

In my previous posts about Antichrist, I and II, I argued how I understand the scriptures in its context to not talk about a future Antichrist figure being a political leader, that is the common belief in the Futuristic view, see my post about the different views of eschatology.

In this post, I will try to outline a different view, but not new, how to understand Matthew 24, Luke 21, Mark 13 (Olivet Discourse) especially in relation to how I understand Daniel 9, as Matthew 24 is referring back to Daniel 9.

Again, these scriptures are not easily understood reason why we all should hold a humble attitude to each others interpretations, for there are several.

For me this is something I have been working with for a couple of years now, so these posts are like a closing for me, putting words to my own understanding and belief.

The preteristic view refers to Matthew 24 as something already taken place in AD70 – Jerusalem´s destruction. The futuristic view on the other hand mostly means it to be about the future. Partial Preteristic view means it is both and, and that is also one of the most common understanding amongst scholars today, even though not all agree from what verse. E.g in most of the Swedish Bible translations, you would find in the notes, that it refers to AD70.

The keys to understand Matthew 24 is to:

I. put it into the context of chapter 21-23, what/who is Jesus adressing?

II. define what the disciples were asking, according to there understanding back then;

III. understand the meaning of the greek words used? some words have different meaning, but are translated the same in English bibles.

First of all in Matthew 21 to 23 you will see if you read them quickly through that Jesus is starting by cleaning the temple, cursing the fig three and then rebuking the pharisees with several woes, leading to the wrap up in Matthew 23. 

33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? 34 Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, 35 so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. …38 See, your house is left to you desolate.

Jesus was proclaiming judgement to come over the Pharisees, their generation and their house (meaning the temple as he was standing there when proclaiming these words), using the righteous blood of Abel to Zechariah, meaning first book to last book in their bible, back then.

John Chrysostom: “So now a punishment is appointed, one that brings exeeding dread and implies the overthrow of the entire city.”
(The Gospel of Matthew, Homily 74.3)

1 Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”  – Matthew 24

Eusebius: “All this occured in this manner in the second year of Vespasian (AD70), according to the predictions of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” (Ecclesiastical History, III:7)

John Wesley: “This was most punctually fullfilled: for after the temple was burned, Titus the Roman general, ordered the very foundations of it to be dug up; after which the ground on which it stood was ploughed by Turnus Rufus…this generation of men now living shall not pass till all these things be done – The expression implies that a great part of the generation would be passed away, but not the whole. Just so it was; for the city and temple were destroyed thirthy-nine or forty years after.” (The works of John Wesley, 1985)

Keeping this in mind, when Jesus and the disciples sit down and look at the temple they are asking 3 questions:

  1. Tell us, when will these things happen? – Asking, when will the temple be destroyed as you Jesus is talking about? Jesus is describing the future with a scary exactness what happened in verse 4-28.
  2. What will be the sign of your coming? A question asked from their horizon, not for us 2000 years later.
  3. What about the end of the age (world) when will you Jesus come back in glory and execute the final judgment.

Charles Spurgeon: “The disciples enquired first about the time of the destruction of the temple…” (The Gospel of the Kingdom, 1974, p212)

As it would be too much go through verse by verse, let me just take a few famous verses below.

But did this happen? Many claiming to be Christ, wars of and rumors of war, famines, earthquakes, birth pangs, persecution, apostasy and false prophets, warnings of destructions, a great tribulation, false Christs appear? Yes, it all happened then and if you read more about the destruction of Jerusalem you will learn that more than 1 miljon Jews was murdered.

Charles Spurgeon: “The destruction of Jerusalem was more terrible than anything that the world has ever witnessed, either before or since. Even Titus seemed to see in his cruel work the hand of an avenging God. Truly, the blood of the martyrs slain in Jerusalem was amply avenged when the whole city became a veritable Aceldama, or field of blood.” (Spurgeon’s Popular Exposition of Matthew, 1979, p211)

Abomination of desolationSo when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand),” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭24:15‬ So is this then the Antichrist? According to the epistles of John, we saw that it was a person coming from the church; not believing Jesus to be the son of God, come as a human. So what was this then? Well if we read Daniel 9 we see that the context is about Jesus the prince. Daniel is using this phrase “abomination of desolation” three times, but in Daniel 11 all scholars agree it to be the Greek ruler by the name of Antiochus Epiphanies that lived in 167 B.C. and that set up an altar to Zeus over the altar of burnt offerings in the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. He also sacrificed a pig on the altar in the Temple in Jerusalem. This event is known as the abomination of desolation. But what did Jesus then mean using same phrase, 200 years later? If we read Luke 21:20But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near.” What armies? The Roman armies that executed the destruction of Jerusalem.

John Chrysostom: “For this it seems to me that the abomination of desolation means the army by which the holy city of Jerusalem was made desolate.”

Augustine: “Luke, to show that the same abomination spoken of by Daniel will take place when Jerusalem is captured, recalls these words of the Lord in the same context: When you shall see Jerusalem compassed about with an army, then you know that the desolation thereof is at hand (xxi. 20). 23″

It is interesting to note that Jesus then gives practical advice to his followers how to survive: ”Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it.” It does not say those that live in Europe but Judea, clearly talking to them as this is a geographical description it can hardly be interpreted symbolic.

Within a generation34 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” 

Is this figuratively speaking or literally? Futurists claim this is all to happen +2000 years later, somewhere in the future, and many attempts have been made to connect it with “one generation” (40 years in the bible) to certain events happened to the Nation of Israel, reason why many believed Jesus to come back 1988, (a generation after the nations of Israel was born 1948) but when that did not come true, they changed their interpretation to be “Race” instead of generation, meaning the Jew as a race.

But I would argue in good company with many Church Fathers in the history, that Jesus predictions or prophecy really happend within a generation, AD 30 plus a generation (40 years) = AD70.

Origen of Alexandria “I challenge anyone to prove my statement untrue if I say that they entire Jewish nation was destroyed less than one whole generation later on account of these sufferings which they inflicted on Jesus.” (Origen Against Celcius, IV:XXII)

The Lesson of the Fig Tree – 32 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near.” This verse has been used by futurists to explain that when the nation of Israel was born, all things predicted by Jesus would soon happen within a generation, see above. But, Israel is never used figuratively as a Fig Three in the bible, instead always as an Olive three.

Preaching the gospel of the Kingdom to the whole world 14 “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” When growing up, I was trained this verse meant that we need to preach the gospel to all nations and tribes and then the end will come. But when studying other views of the end-time, I came to understand this verse in a different light.First of all, it has to be read in the context of the other verses when Jesus is predicting what will happen AD70. Secondly, difficult verses has to be read in the light of other passages in the bible, e.g. Roman 1:“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.” , Roman 10:18 But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for “Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.” Roman 16:25 – 26 “… according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ… has been made known to all the nations.” 

Another important remark is that different greek words for the “world” are used in these scriptures. Kosmos=whole physical world and Oikoumene=civilized world. Oikoumene is used in Matthew 24, meaning for the disciples their known world and not some unknown tribe in Africa, that we have been taught,

I am sorry, but we should preach the gospel not to get Jesus back, but to change the world by extending his Kingdom, that is the Kingdom understanding.

For the Jews the destruction of Jerusalem and their temple was such a catastroph, their identity, hope and heritage were all gone.

The writer of Hebrew put it like this: “When he said, “a new covenant”, He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.” Hebrew 8:13

Back now to the questions of the disciples:
2. What will be the sign of your coming?

The meaning of the question for them vs us might be of very different ones, as the disciples were asking when Jesus would be presented to the world as the awaited Messiah, the King in Israel. Note that the disciples back then did not even understand that Jesus was about to leave them, so they did not ask of when Jesus might return. Futurists claim this verse is about Jesus return and full preterists means Jesus coming to judge Israel physically with the judge that came AD70. Partial preterists believe different, they believe it had to do with Jesus go public as Messiah into the world, according to what Jesus just told them in chapter 16 of Matthew.

28 “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

Mark 9:1 “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.” 

Jesus connects the disciples with his coming in power. For me it is after the resurection when all is fullfilled, and he now has handed the Kingdom over to us.

I do believe in a second coming of Jesus, (Acts 2:10) so do not missread me. However I do not believe in any rapture as I have written about in another post. Maybe I will write in the future a more detailed post about these verses , but I leave this for now.

Then the last remaining question of the disciples:
3. What about the end of the age (world)?

36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.”

If you do not believe anything of what I have argued above, you should at least be troubled now? In verse 35, Jesus says all these things described will happen within a generation, (which they also did, as described), how come he now suddenly do not know?

The only reasonable understanding is that Jesus now is answering the disciples question nr 3 that is about the future. Until verse 35 it referred to the desctruction of Israel, AD 70. But from verse 36, Jesus is talking about his return, the final judgement, and that will come as a suprise, like a Thief in the night etc.

If you look at Mark 13 and Luke 21, you will see that this the third question is not asked by the disciples, only in Matthew 24. And it is also only in Matthew 25 Jesus is talking about his final coming, his return, which you do not find neither in Luke or Mark.

For me, this understanding in combination with the prophecies about the Kingdom that will fill the entire world from Daniel, Isaiah, Zecharaia, (see my other posts about the advancing Kingdom), has helped me look at the future in an optimistic victorious way.

My focus is not about a globalist agenda led by an Antichrist figure that will rule the earth during 3,5 years, and then 3,5 years of terror. My view is about a King extending his Kingdom through us until he comes back!

And believe me, he will come back and be met by a strong, beautiful spotless bride.

Maranatha!

Stanley Jones – Ambassador of the Kingdom of God

My father Simon Tofters turned 27 on February 14, 1935. By his brother Petrus, he got the book STANLEY JONES – “Who he is and what he wants”, written by the Dane H. Saermark.

Petrus had been a missionary in Congo, but illness broke him down. He had to return home to Sweden and never became healthy. Simon was a printer and bookbinder, and very involved in the Christian work in the mission church in Östervåla, Sweden.

Simon made a fine band of the book with gold print on its back and read about Stanley Jones. For Simon, all his life was in the Kingdom of God service in the congregation, business, society and family. In particular, he was engaged in music.

Unlike my uncle Petrus, who was briefly on the mission field, Stanley Jones stayed 66 years as a missionary in India. And his field of activity extended to all continents through 29 books, many revival campaigns, counseling, and political leader talks (US, India, China, Japan).

As Paul preached the Kingdom of God and taught with great boldness the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 28:31), Stanley Jones did.

By Stanley Jones, Simon learned that God’s kingdom is the rebuilding of all human life. And that was what Simon did in practice. In his father’s print shop, Simon as a 10-year-old had begun working with his brother Petrus. Simon continued in the same company for 75 years, then finally in his children’s printing business. The vision of God’s kingdom here and now makes us work, being faithful and enduring.

What the whole world needs

During the 1930s, communism grew, Stanley Jones studied it and wrote the book Christ’s Alternative to Communism. Stanley Jones became critical of both communism, fascism/nazism and capitalism. And to President Roosevelt’s attempt to bring America out of the great material crisis of the early 1930s with the aid of a plan society and plan-management.

Father Simon read in his book that Stanley Jones wrote: “I am convinced that what the whole world needs, and through all the various trials, is the kingdom of God on earth . . . With this as the basis, the ultimate social order should and must be built. I am convinced that communism will make us rediscover Christian faith, it will force us to create an alternative to purely material communism. What ultimately saves us all from a material and spiritual downfall is the Kingdom of God on earth.”

Stanley Jones traveled a lot and visited Sweden several times. The first time in 1934 he was welcomed to the university town of Lund by the professor and the dean Yngve Brilioth. Brilioth presented Jones as a prophet and an evangelist. “We have the pleasure of greeting one of the men of the present, who, in front of others, deserves the name of the evangelist, or perhaps more correctly, who is endowed with the high mission of an evangelist. Stanley Jones has opened more gospel doors as few others in our time. The only solution to the world’s common problems is the gospel, unshaven, in full, radical – it is our Lord and Savior Himself.” Yngve Brilioth then became Archbishop of the Church of Sweden in 1950 – 1958.

Open gospel doors

20 years after his first book on Stanley Jones, my father Simon bought the book “E. STANLEY JONES – A Modern Ambassador of the Kingdom of God” – by Karl Jäder (published in 1954).

During those 20 years, Stanley Jones had deepened and widened his Kingdom work. The book is a fascinating description of his life, but Stanley Jones had another 20 years in the service of the kingdom of God.

Stanley Jones also tells of the deep crises with broken health he went through, which led to a higher life plan. Strangely, Stanley Jones on many occasions spoke to Hindus and Muhammadans in conversation and collaboration, which also led to conversion to Christian faith. He had in India a close friendship and cooperation with Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore and Jawaharlal Nehru. Swedish mission expert Professor Bengt Sundkler wrote: “Dr. Jones has, as Archbishop Brilioth a few years ago pointed out, as no other ability to open doors for the gospel.”

Stanley Jones was very clear in his life and work. One of his last books was “The Unshakeable Kingdom and the Unchanging Person” (1972).

The reason Stanley Jones was a missionary he could sum up in a single word: CHRIST!I am determined not to know anything except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. My position became firm when I made Christ both the starting point and the goal of my ministry.” For Stanley Jones, the Person Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God were the same. He was Christ centered in his proclamation and engaged by the message of the kingdom of God.

Stanley Jones attended the International Mission Conference in Tambaram-Madras in 1938, where he pointed out that the conference claimed the Church idea too strong, while the Kingdom thought was pushed into the background. Instead, Stanley Jones emphasized that they should have taken God’s kingdom as priority to conference work.

It was Jesus’ starting point and goal. The kingdom of God is God’s absolute order, which meets people’s needs. Jesus used the phrase hundreds of times, while only twice using the phrase congregation or church. To him, the kingdom of God was the concept, which in itself gathered everything, something absolute, which could be set up as the goal. The Church is only a means of achieving this goal. Admittedly, the best means but only one means. For God also uses other means to promote his kingdom.

The churches have limited tasks. But the kingdom of God extends its demands to life – personal life, edification, economic, social, international – everything comes under its control. The kingdom of God is both present and coming . . . We both work for it and await its coming.”

However, the Church was important to Stanley Jones. One of his last books was “The Reconstruction of the Church – On what Pattern?” He wanted the Church to renew itself and proposed a nine-point program based on the Church in Antioch (Acts 13: 1-3). Important is Peter’s confession: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” This confession (not the person Peter) is the rock, foundation on which Jesus builds his church. “And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Stanley Jones was grateful that the church was not built on the man Peter, each time he falters we should falter with him.

An ambassador of the Kingdom of God

In the book about Stanley Jones, which my father bought and read, Stanley Jones told about a coincidence with a French diplomat, who haughty presented himself: “I am a diplomat“. Stanley Jones was able to tell afterwards: I was the ambassador of God, and I got my dignity and rank of the one I represented. The Frenchman received his dignity from the country he represented. Mine was a universal kingdom, his fell apart. The kingdom of God remains forever.” This was Stanley Jones’ life duty and ministry. “We are therefore ambassadors for Christ” (2 Cor. 5:20).

As a missionary, Stanley Jones learned that even people’s external conditions should be improved, not just the interior. Individual Christianity is intimately connected to social Christianity, radically aimed at the transformation of society as a whole. And the kingdom of God is both now and then. The Kingdom extends beyond time, and yet it seems in time. Our task is to help prepare the kingdom of God now, and to give all our strength for this purpose.

Stanley Jones’ Kingdom Thought had its strong foundation in the Gospels and especially the Sermon on the Mount.

In the Sermon on the Mount, he does not see the basic drawing of the ethics of the coming kingdom, but rather principles of the solution of the complexity of time, and shows us out of the chaos of time and into the sphere and order of the kingdom of God.”

1932 Stanley Jones wrote the book “Christ of the Mount”. Before printing he used the manuscript in an Ashram in Sat Tal at Himalaya. During 20 days the participants could discuss the writings. Stanley Jones shows in his book that Christ´s message on the mount is Kingdom living. “We are created to the life affirmative and freedom-loving message of the mount.” “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” 

Jesus principle program for the new kingdom he served for is in Luke 4: 18-21:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the message of joy to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and sight to the blind, to give the oppressed freedom and preach a year of grace of the Lord.”

Holistic

It was not a “social gospel” Stanley Jones promoted, but “the Gospel of the Kingdom”. A social gospel deals only with social issues, while the gospel of the kingdom of God depicts Jesus Christ, sin and grace, salvation, and life transformation – individually and socially – a new order for the individual, for society, for interpersonal community. Jesus came to the earth and proclaimed that the kingdom of God had come. He showed that we should discover the fullness of life when we organize our lives around the Kingdom. Stanley Jones points out that during the centuries, we have lost the Kingdom, as a clearly defined and functioning system of order and influence in our daily lives. We have reduced the Kingdom to placing it in narrow frames, a sanctuary now, a current security, a future hope. Everything but Jesus preached: God’s total response to man’s total needs now! It is high time to regain the message of God’s Kingdom. 

All this Stanley Jones develops in the book “The Unshakeable Kingdom and the Unchanging Person” (1972). “Stanley Jones shows us how to claim our spiritual heritage and the abundant life promised by embracing the Kingdom and Person of Jesus. He suggests how our experience with God and His Kingdom should be taught and shared in the life of the individual, in the life of the church and in the nations of the world.” (Amazon).

Kiell Tofters

This obsession about Antichrist – II

 This is post II in a miniserie about the belief system of a coming Antichrist, where I try to argue for a different view than the Futuristic view, common in the western world Pentecost/Charismatic streams. My intention is to change focus from a negative to an optimistic future with an advancing Kingdom of God in focus.

In my last post I did try to outline the epistles of John and 2 Thessalonians 2, famous Antichrist verses with an alternative exegesis.

In this post I will try to outline some famous verses in Daniel 9 that also is a common chapter used by Dispensationalists claimed to in connection with Matthew 24 describe the so called Antichrist. I am doing this with a very humble attitude as it contains several difficult portions of scripture.

Without lose ourselves in the history behind the book of Daniel, lets just say it is divided in three parts.

1. Chapter one, written in Hebrew, story about Daniel and his friends in Babylon.

2. Chapter 2-7, written in Aramaic due to its message to gentiles – The Times of the Gentiles.

3. Chapter 8-12 in Hebrew again – Israel in Relation to the Gentiles.

Daniels book is like, Ezekiel, Zechariah and Revelation classed as apocalyptic litterateur, due to its many dreams and visions.

In chapter 9 we find Daniel praying for his people, the Jews, that still was in Babylon and their holy city Jerusalem destroyed.

You can imagine a broken people. But still Daniel knew they gonna be set free after 70 years of bondage, due to the many prophecies and especially the prophecy by Jeremiah of the desolation of Jerusalem (Jer 25, Esra 1).

In this context when Daniel is praying for his people and confessing their sins – Daniel 9:2-19, Michael the angel shows up with a message of hope and insight about the future to Daniel (Daniel 9:20-23).

24 Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place.

Instead of the 70 years that Daniel was waiting for, Michael starts to talk about 70 weeks. (year weeks=490 years), and with that finish transgressions, put an end to sin, atone for iniquity. Who is he talking about? Jesus of course.

 25 Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time.

From the word of restoring Jerusalem. That was 457 B.C, the king of Persia decreed to the Jews they were free to return to Jerusalem and the Temple (Ezra 7:12-26). If we add, 7 plus 62 weeks, (483 years), we come to A.D 27, that most probably is the time when Jesus enters his public ministry being baptized. “Coming of an anointed one, a prince… “

Prince you can only be in a Kingdom! Isn’t that fantastic? Again the heavenly message is about a Kingdom.

This exact prediction, has been questioned by schoolars, that argue for Daniel being a history book instead of a prophetic book, but I believe it was really prophetic insight from the Angel to Daniel.

To this understanding about the 69 weeks both Preterists and Futurists agree. It is the last week – week 70, that the insight and understanding goes in different directions.

 What is the futuristic view then?

The futurists believe that this last week of favour has not yet been given to the Jews, and that it is a +2000 year paus of Gods clock until it will happen in the future. We now live in a parenthesis defined as “Church-age”. During this time the Jews will rebuild their Temple and reinstate their religious sacrificial system. In the middle of these 7 years, Antichrist* will first make a covenant with the Jews and then after 3,5 years stop their sacrifical system, reason unclear, but according to how they understand the following passage. This understanding is linked to Matthew 24 where the author refers back to these verses when talking about the end of the world in their view, (where instead most would agree it is both about the destruction about Jerusalem and the future).  *They believe that the pronoun “He” in verse 27 refers to Antichrist. 

  26 And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed. 27 And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.”

Before I would argue for the Partly Preteristic view, I would like to ask four questions that contradicts with New Testament teaching.

  1. Why should God allow Jews to reinstate their religious sacrifical system that Jesus once and for all paid the price for, and that he time again and again spoke will come to an end. Matt 22-24
  2. Why should God allow the Jews to rebuild the Temple, when NT clearly states we are the New temple. John 2:19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” referring us to be the new temple.
  3. Why should we add a paus of +2000 years when nothing in the message from Michael points to that, instead he is very precise in his prediction. Why suddenly insert this uncertain time period of +2000 year?

Partial-Preteristic view

In this view there is no adding of a parenthesis or a certain Antichrist, instead week 70 simply follows week 69 in a flow.

This understanding is not a new idea but shared by the historical church: 

“For let us not suppose that the computation of Daniel’s weeks was interfered with…or that they were not complete, but had to be completed afterward in the end of all things, for Luke most plainly testified that the prophecy of Daniel was accomplished at the time when Jerusalem was overthrown.” Augustine (Epistle of Augustine, 199:31)

“Now the whole period of our Saviour’s teaching and working of miracles is said to have been three and a half years, wich is half a week. John the evangelist, in his Gospels makes this clear to the attentive.” Eusebius (The proof of the Gospel, 1920, VIII:I).

a. an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing refers to Jesus having nothing, becoming poor for us to become rich 2 Cor 8:9 see also Phil 2.

b. the coming people of the Princeshall destroy the city and the sanctuary refers to how Jerusalem A.D 70 was destroyed, see Matthew 24 outlined.

c. he shall make a strong covenant with many..refers to Jesus establishing a new covenant in that time period 

d. and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering…refers to Jesus death and resurrection on the cross, putting an end to the religious sacrifical system. At the end of his 3,5 years in public ministry he took the bread and said, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood” (1 Cor 11:24-25)

e. the remaining 3,5 years are believed to be closed when Stephen proclaims Jesus as the risen one now at the right side of God (Acts 7:59-60). from this point the favour ends for the Jews*, they starts to reject this message, Paul gets his vision from Jesus to go to the gentiles and Peter clearly gets the instruction to “Kill and eat…” from now on everything is clean, no more sacramental rules. the favour is no more only for the Jews but for everyone. From now all people are invited into the Kingdom by the Gospel. (Acts 10: 28, 34-35). *with this I do not say I favour the Replacement theology, I still believe in…first the Jew then the gentile…

If we now quickly wrap up what we have learned so far about Antichrist. From the epistles of John are referring to a person from the Church back then that did not believe Jesus to be the son of God coming in the flesh.

Then the Lawless man in 2 Thessalonians, most probably referring to a special person in that time as it states.

And now trying to read the text of Daniel 9 in a flow, contextual of whom Michael is referring to as Jesus putting an end to the offering has convinced me that my previous view – the futuristic – no longer for me is logical, reason why I have changed my view to the Partly-Preteristic also in connection of how I understands Matthew 24, Luke 21 and the book of Revelation, but that in i coming post. 

I understand this might be new thoughts for you, but for me it has come as a release resulting in a more optimistic view of an Advancing Kingdom right here and right now  and forever according to Isa 9, and not something in the future.

For to us a child is born,

to us a son is given;

and the government shall be upon his shoulder,

and his name shall be called

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and of peace

there will be no end,

on the throne of David and over his kingdom,

to establish it and to uphold it

with justice and with righteousness

from this time forth and forevermore.

This obsession about Antichrist – I

Why is it so that this guy, the so called Antichrist often occupy Christians?

Over the years this subject over whom he might be, could easily fill an ocean with movies, books, articles, teachings, sermons and speculations. This was now again the case when UN had its latest conference, and speculations that Antichrist is pulling the threads in the background to establish his global government came up amongst Christians, questioned by Stefan Swärd in his blog, rightfully so, after he wrote an article about it in Världen idag. But also same week a friend asked me about a new Indian prophet that claims God has told him who Antichrist is, 4 years back!

Martin Luther meant it was the pope that lived during his lifetime, and then people have appointed him out to be Muhammed, Napoleon, Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin and even Obama.

I asked in a FB thread, whom it might be, and not a single one could agree on the same person, why I asked them to make up their mind and decide now who it was 🙂

It is not wrong to search the scripture, trying to understand what might happen in the future based on a sincere longing for Gods Kingdom to be established, but all these speculations is taking the focus from our mission to share the gospel of the Kingdom with all people, and is a result, as I have posted earlier, of an eschatology that is born out of the Futuristic view of the book of Revelation, that can lead to an escapism away from our mission, to fill this earth with His Glory.

Again, the way to approach difficult texts in the bible, is to ask the questions: what did it mean “there and then” and to “whom did the text adress”? – Basically what is the exegetic understanding?

Did you know that Antichrist as a definition is only mentioned in 4 verses in the epistles of John. He is not mentioned, in the old testament, nor by Jesus and not in the book of Revelation. However, Futuristic interpretations claim that Antichrist is the man of lawlessness in 2 Thessalonians 2:3“Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction…”and the beast in Revelation 13“And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads…” and the one that stops the offerings in Daniel 9:27“And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.” And finally referred to in Matthew 24:15 “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place let the reader understand”. 

Let´s try to exegete each text, if we can come to another understanding or not?

Let´s start with the letters of John.

1 John 2 – 18 “Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. 20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. 21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.”

1 John 4:1 – “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already”.

2 John 17 “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.”

  1. It is the last hour – back then, not now!
  2. Many antichrists have come – Plurals.
  3. Went out from us – members of that church.
  4. He who denies the Father and Son as God.
  5. Every spirit that denies Jesus coming in the flesh – Gnosticism.
  6. Now is in the world already – back then.
  7. Such a one – Meaning everyone holding that position.

Just based on these verses, we understand that it is one or more persons, coming out from the church there and then, believing in a different gospel, Jesus not being God and not coming in the flesh. But at the same time it is also a spirit.

This is the reason why John in his gospel starts with “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” As you can see, it relates not at all to any beast or the man of Lawlessness.

Lets then look at 2 Thessalonians 2 –

3Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.”

Important when we read this scripture is to understand as per “When” this man of lawlessness should enter the scene.

  1. what is restraining him now – not our time, but their time;
  2. already at work – their time;
  3. he who now restrains him – again, then in their time.

Paul also told the Thessalonians “you know what restrains him…” meaning, this was not some odd person far away in the future, but someone that they have talked about, happening around them in their time. Note that Paul died about year 68 AD, so it had to be someone close to that time period.

So who was this man of lawlessness then?

Both John Chrysostom and Augustine believed it was Nero the emperor. Others claimed he was John Lewi a Zealot leader who was trying to overthrow the Roman government. Another interesting explanation claims it is the carnal man within us all. I would not be suprised if it was Nero, but I do not really know. My point though is that it most probably was someone living back then, that the Thessalonians knew who it was, and that it is neither Antichrist or the beast that John is talking about in his writings.

I understand that this view does not fit with today’s need of a conspiracy amongst Christians in the west to have a common enemy, but my sincere longing is that we need to have a correct exegesis as our today understanding will determine how we see the Advancing Kingdom as something now that we work for or something to come that we wait for.

I will further try to outline Daniel 9 and Revelation 13 in next part of this post. Until then Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere!

Four different views of end times

When trying to understand eschatology, (biblical teaching of the end times) we need to be aware of the four main views.

First of all understanding it is not only one view will hopefully help us be a bit more humble addressing this subject.

As Christians we all have some kind of relation to eschatology as it is a crucial building brick to the Gospel of the Kingdom.

Some of us afraid even approach the subject, some of us confused not knowing what to believe and then other of us totally confident in what we believe.

Many of us in Pentecostal/charismatic Nordic and American streams have been taught a special form of futuristic view called Dispensationalism, see further explained below.

I myself was growing up with that particular view watching movies like “A thief in the night” and reading books like “Left behind”. It is not unfair to claim that this view has brought a lot of fear into young believers of being just left behind, me included. 15-20 years back when studying theology my mind opened up that there where more big views than the one I was taught. That helped me to position myself in a much more open approach of eschatology. For many years I have not even touched the subject as it tends to be very emotional. But as our view of eschatology will determine how we live our lives on earth I have decided to be much more clear sharing with where I have come to believe and understand this subject.

Let’s look at these four views, to make a brief overview of the landscape of eschatology. (It is much more to this subject, but trying to simplify this as much as possible in this post though).

Before that let me just note that the book of Revelation needs to be read as an apocalyptic literature. E.g. watching a Star War movie or the Lord of the rings and then try to explain what it means. The Book of Revelation is filled with expressions, numbers, codes, symbols that was common in these days, so people of that time knew what the writer meant. But let´s leave it there.

To this four views you can also add Premillennialism, Amillennialism, Postmillennialism that is either or part of below views in mixed ways. E.g some Partial preterists believe in a future millennium and some do not. More in a later post. Read more about it in this post: http://advancingkingdom.org/2019/11/15/salvation-now-and-kingdom-later-or/

The Four views

a. Idealistic View (spiritual view) – uses the allegorical method to interpret the Book of Revelation. The allegorical approach to Revelation was introduced by ancient church father Origen (AD 185-254) and made prominent by Augustine (AD 354-420). According to this view, the events of Revelation are not tied to specific historical events. The imagery of the book symbolically presents the ongoing struggle throughout the ages of God against Satan and good against evil. In this struggle, the saints are persecuted and martyred by the forces of evil but will one day receive their vindication. In the end, God is victorious, and His sovereignty is displayed throughout ages. Robert Mounce summarizes the idealistic view stating, “Revelation is a theological poem presenting the ageless struggle between the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness. It is a philosophy of history wherein Christian forces are continuously meeting and conquering the demonic forces of evil.”

b. Preteristic View – Preter, which means “past,” is derived from the Latin. There are two major views among preterists: full preterism and partial preterism. Both views believe that the prophecies of the Olivet discourse of Matthew 24 (Little Apocalypse) and Revelation were fulfilled in the first century with the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 and/or the fall of the Roman Empire. Chapters 1-3 (Book of Revelation) describe the conditions in the seven churches of Asia Minor prior to the Jewish war (AD 66-70). The remaining chapters of Revelation and Jesus’ Olivet Discourse describe the fall of Jerusalem to the Romans. Full preterists believe that all the prophecies found in Revelation were fulfilled in AD 70* and that we are now living in the eternal state, or the new heavens and the new earth. Partial preterists believe that most of the prophecies of Revelation were fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem and/or Roman Empire, but that chapters 20-22 point to future events such as a future resurrection of believers and return of Christ to the earth. Partial preterists view full preterism as heretical since it denies the second coming of Christ and teaches an unorthodox view of the resurrection. The preterist view, particularly the partial preterist view, is a prominent position held by such notable scholars as R. C. Sproul, Hank Hanegraaff, Kenneth Gentry etc. For preterists it is crucial that the book of Revelation is written before AD70. Partial preterism has been growing in popularity lately thanks to the teaching of Victorious Eschatology, by Harold R. Eberle and Martin Trench but also by Bethel Church and other in the same streams.

c. Historical View – teaches that Revelation is a symbolic representation that presents the course of history from the apostle’s life through the end of the age. The symbols in the apocalypse correspond to events in the history of Western Europe, including various popes, the Protestant Reformation, the French Revolution, and rulers such as Charlemagne. Most interpreters place the events of their day in the later chapters of Revelation. Many adherents of this position view chapters 1-3 as seven periods in church history. The breaking of the seals in chapters 4-7 symbolizes the fall of the Roman Empire. The Trumpet judgments in chapters 8-10 represent the invasions of the Roman Empire by the Vandals, Huns, Saracens, and Turks. Among Protestant historicists of the Reformation, the antichrist in Revelation was believed to be the papacy. Chapters 11-13 in Revelation represent the true church in its struggle against Roman Catholicism. The bowl judgments of Revelation 14-16 represent God’s judgment on the Catholic Church, culminating in the future overthrow of Catholicism depicted in chapters 17-19. Prominent scholars who held this view include John Wycliffe, John Knox, William Tyndale, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli, John Wesley, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, Charles Finney, C. H. Spurgeon, and Matthew Henry. This view rose to popularity during the Protestant Reformation because of its identification of the pope and the papacy with the beasts of Revelation 13. However, since the beginning of the twentieth century, it has declined in popularity and influence.

d. Futuristic View – teaches that the events of the Olivet Discourse and Revelation chapters 4-22 will occur in the future. Futurists divide the book of Revelation into three sections as indicated in 1:19: “what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.” Chapter 1 describes the past (“what you have seen”), chapters 2-3 describe the present (“what is now”), and the rest of the book describes future events (“what will take place later”). Futurists apply a literal approach to interpreting Revelation. Chapters 4-19 refer to a period known as the seven-year tribulation (Dan. 9:27). During this time, God’s judgments are actually poured out upon mankind as they are revealed in the seals, trumpets, and bowls. Chapter 13 describes a literal future world empire headed by a political and religious leader represented by the two beasts. Chapter 17 pictures a harlot who represents the church in apostasy. Chapter 19 refers to Christ’s second coming and the battle of Armageddon followed by a literal thousand-year rule of Christ upon the earth in chapter 20. Chapters 21-22 are events that follow the millennium: the creation of a new heaven and a new earth and the arrival of the heavenly city upon the earth.

Futurists contend that the literal interpretation of Revelation finds its roots in the ancient church fathers. Elements of this teaching, such as a future millennial kingdom, are found in the writings of Clement of Rome (AD 96), Justin Martyr (AD 100-165), Irenaeus (AD 115-202), Tertullian (AD 150-225) and others. Futurists hold that the church fathers taught a literal interpretation of Revelation until Origen (AD 185-254) introduced allegorical interpretation. This then became the popular form of interpretation when taught by Augustine (AD 354-430). Literal interpretation of Revelation remained throughout the history of the church and rose again to prominence in the modern era.

Dispensationalism (special futuristic view) developed as a system from the teachings of John Nelson Darby(1800–82), who strongly influenced the Plymouth Brethren of the 1830s in Ireland and England. The original concept came when Darby considered the implications of Isaiah 32 for Israel. He saw that prophecy required a future fulfillment and realization of Israel’s kingdom. The New Testament church was seen as a separate program not related to that kingdom. Thus arose a prophetic earthly kingdom program for Israel and a separate “Mystery” heavenly program for the church. In order to not conflate the two programs, the prophetic program had to be put on hold to allow for the church to come into existence. Then it is necessary for the church to be raptured away before prophecy can resume its earthly program for Israel.

From this, we have got the teaching that what happens physically in Israel happens spiritual with the Church and vice verse.

In this teaching we have learned that we are now in a “Paranthesis” or Time-Out sessions when the Church has its Grace period. Then we will be raptured and the church allowing the prophetic clock for Israel to start up again. Then the Jewish remnant becomes manifest through the Great Tribulation that will bring them to Christ.

A personal reflection is that many today are afraid that Antichrist will raise up and a global kingdom will control all people reason, why the vote for more Populistic Nationalists partyn to protect against the Globalism that is the so called Antichrist agenda. I am not one of those though.

Despite the various views, there are some common threads upon which Christians agree.

Agreed views – All views believe that God is sovereign and in charge of all that occurs in history and its ultimate conclusion. Except for full preterism and some forms of idealism, all believe in the physical second coming of Christ. All views believe in the resurrection from the dead. All believe there will be a future judgment. All believe in an eternal state in which believers will be with God, and unbelievers will be separated from Him. All agree upon the importance of the study of prophecy and its edification for the body of Christ.

My personal view

As mentioned earlier I have personally moved away from a futuristic pessimistic view to an optimistic view of an Advancing Kingdom on earth until Jesus comes back to a spotless bride of Christ when all knees will bow (not because they have to but most of them willingly). I see myself as a historical or partial preterist, but more of that in a coming post.

That is how I understand the future. You may not agree, but I have now landed in this view and it has given me great boldness and optimism of a Kingdom without end filling the whole earth with its glory. It is here and it is growing! See my previous posts.

Yes, we might always end up in difficult times during the road that could be times of tribulation, but I do not await a certain time of tribulation, I await a Kingdom that will shake the world back to Christ.

Restoration vs. rapture

https://youtu.be/PNaf8WjAB44

Alright, this blogg might shake you a little bit but put your seat belts on and enjoy the ride. If you do not agree, no problem as long as you dig further into what might be right and ask yourself, could Andreas be right here?

During the years, I have seen a form of escapism growing strong in the body of Christ that I believe is a fruit of the Fly away (Rapture) theology, dispensationalism and the common attitude that the world does not really matter and its going to be really bad, but we are going to fly away anyway.

I believe this to be in contrast with the Restoration plan of Gods creation God has given us through Jesus Christ – Let thy Kingdom come, on earth as in heaven, through us.

This Rapture teaching can in some ways be defined as a form of Gnosticism, being one of the big heresies during the first century Church.

If you study the epistles,  you will find the writers fighting against this heresy, over and over again, putting strong emphasizes in writing like; “Jesus coming in the flesh”. 

“For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.” – 2 John 7 

It is interesting to note that Antichrist described here, is not a potential future evil political leader, instead someone in their time that promoted gnosticism. More about that in a coming post.

When you study the bible it is a must to do your exegesis correct . Poor exegesis will lead to wrong Hermeneutics.

Unfortunately this is very common among Christians that wants to be loyal to the bible and read it literal, as they have heard from the pulpit, is a good thing to do.

Another thing that is important when you study your bible is to put higher trust/value in what is the common theme or summary in several books in the bible together, instead of a theology based on a few verses. Psalm 119:160 – The sum of your word is truth…”

E.g. from the theme in NT we see that In Christ, circumcision, or any other physical actions, counts for nothing anymore. So when you hear theology built on your salvation lost if you get a mark on your hand or forehead, it should raise some red flags.

“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.” Gal 5:6

What is the Rapture theology?

Basically a teaching being very popular in the Western World, saying Jesus is going to come on the clouds, not touching earth, to suck up all Christian meanwhile God will judge Israel and the world under 7 terrible years. This teaching has it roots from 1850 and the Plymouth Brothers and then a man called Darby. The teaching differs as per when the rapture are going to take place, but they all agree on that all Christians are going to be saved from this terrible season of 7 years.

A fruit of Rapture Theology is that we are going to fly away from this mess, so we do not really have to care. That is what I mean with escapism. 

As I understands it, it narrows down to what exegesis you are using:

Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air…” 1 Tess 4:17

In Acts 17:1-9 – Luke is describing the situation in Thessaloniki with the Ceasar Cult that Paul and Silas was facing together with the first believers. One exegetic model to understand the background to why Paul is using this wordings, coming in the air, or in the clouds (parousia)  to describe Jesus return, see (Christ and Caesar: The Gospel and the Roman Empire in the Writings of Paul and Luke, Seyoon Kim) is that when Ceasar had built his temple, he was to come and inspect it.

When the emperor arrived, they blew a trumpet and the entire city came out to welcome him and show him what they had managed to built and also rebuild due to common earthquakes.

Paul is using this as a picture of Jesus return, everyone will come out and welcome him and the many followers of Christ will then show him what they have built. This to comfort the new believers under persecution in a city built on the Caesar Cult.

Secondly, if we look at what Paul is writing about Jesus return some years later, in 1 Corinth 15, “51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.”

You do not find any rapture in these verses, when Paul is describing the return of Jesus. Did he forget it or had he changed his mind? No, the most natural answer is what I just described about Caesar coming in the clouds.

We know one thing for sure and that is that Jesus will come back, but not to rapture some first away on the clouds, instead Jesus is coming back as promised in Acts 1:11 Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”  

Then the other scripture used to promote the rapture is: “After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” Revelation 4:1

This is believed to be a metaphor of the church being sucked up, as the Church is not mentioned anymore after chapter 4, it is interpreted to mean, church has been taken away.

This can as I understands it simply not be the case, as this is describing something that happened to John in his vision. I think it is very vague to interpret anything else out from this verse.

There are a few more verses that is being used to confirm the Rapture, but I leave them for now as these two are the major ones. 

Restoration – back to Eden

If you see through the history you will find out that Christians in all times have worked to improve the world, based on the understanding from the bible to restore the creation, to be salt and light to this world. 

In Genesis 1:27-28 – We saw that God was giving mankind the mission to take care of the earth, rule over it, multiply to be a great family of God on earth. 

Then the fall came and with that followed the curse.

When man-kind fell, he lost his Kingdom, not his religion.

Immediately God is announcing his plan of restoration. 

Gen 2:15  “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

Paul put it like this in Rom 8:20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.

When Jesus is coming into the scene, he is not focusing on his death and resurrection as could be expected. I do not say it is not of importance, but instead the first years, he is constantly talking about the Kingdom.

His focus was to restore man-kind back to its original mission, as in Eden, to walk in royalty again, being Kings and Priests again, on this earth, (see my previous posts).

As we then understands the miracle of the death and resurrection, it is not primarily to pay the price for our sins, but to regain the authority back from Satan, (Christus Victor) and give it to us to again restore the earth back to Eden, the original plan. See Matthew 16:19.

NT Wright puts it like this: “Jesus died for our sins, not so that we could sort out abstract ideas, but so that we, having been put right, could become part of God´s plan to put this whole world right.”The day Revolution began, NT Wright

When Israel was to return back from the exil, Isaiah was using a picture to describe what they should come back to. 

Isaiah 55:1-2 – “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food”.

The word Isaiah used for “delight” was the Hebrew word Eden. Its a reference to restoration. So when Isaiah in verse 12-13 is outlining the future vision, not only for the Jews but also for us he puts it like: 

12  “For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. 13  Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall make a name for the Lord, an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”

Do you see the references to Eden and the fall?

In Genesis 3 :17-18 – “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you…”

I am also thinking of Pauls word in Romans 14:17 – “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” 

Later in Isaiah, chapter 65:17-23 – 17  “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. 18  But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness. 19  I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress. 20  No more shall there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not fill out his days, for the young man shall die a hundred years old, and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed. 21  They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. 22  They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoyHebrew shall wear out” id=”fb3-3″ href=”https://www.esv.org/Isaiah+65/#f3-“>3 the work of their hands. 23  They shall not labor in vain or bear children for calamity, for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the Lord, and their descendants with them.

This is not only a word to the exils, but also a future vision to us, what God is thinking with universe, in the new heavens and new earth, people will live and work, but no longer in vain.

This is back to Eden, this is what the bible is talking about from the first book to the last book of the bible

Revelation 1:5b-6 “…To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen”

Revelation 5:10  “…and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”

From the beginning, creation was not evil, it was God given, and the original plan putting man-kind in Eden giving us mandate to guard it, rule and multiply was to be co-partners or co-creators together with God.

For many of us the Church is just about “sin-management”, when it should be about full “Restoration management” – Reestablish the Kingdom of God on earth and in all people to prepare for the King to come back – not to fly away in glory.

In Christ we are to restore the whole creation, with everything in it and on it, until one day Jesus is coming back and every knee shall bend.

We are not to be raptured and leave the earth to its own future, we are the “guardians of the planet” why should we then leave it – it does not make sense.

Heavenly colonies on earth

When we discuss Gods Kingdom on earth, it somewhat get a bit blurry when we try to understand in what way the Kingdom will be materialized.

In the world today, we are used with several ruling or governmental system such as, dictatorship, communism, socialism, capitalism, islamism (sharia), feudalism and finally democracy. Neither of these system are what God had in mind when creating the world and mankind.

The Kingdom concept is not invented on earth, it is a heavenly concept.

If you are like me, I would think democracy to be the best system. But actually, that is not really a solid system. One major problem with democracy is that “majority rules”, and when majority moves away from the ethics and righteousness of God, for example in a liberal and secular direction as today in the west, it will become a challenge to stick to Christian ethics and belief system. Utilitarianism is typical a result of such idea systems.

I do not say we then should escape from society, instead we should be there and fight for our freedom, and work for the majority to move in Godlike direction.

However democracy is not God´s final solution to restore this world back to what God intended it to be, instead it is Kingdom in its best and divine form, compared to nothing yet seen in the world.

If we return back to the original plan, we see that God intended to colonize earth from heaven, to extend his influence on earth through us.

All Kingdoms need to possess land. And colonies need land to be owned.

The earth is the Lord ‘s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.” Psalms‬ ‭24:1-2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

And he has asked us to steward the Earth.

The heavens are the Lord ‘s heavens, but the earth he has given to the children of man.” Psalms‬ ‭115:16‬ ‭ESV‬‬

If you look up in a dictionary what a colony means, it says:

“A group of people who leave their native country to form in a new land a settlement subject to, or connected with, the parent nation.

After Adam, Jesus was the first heavenly colonizer that came to show mankind how God intended it to be and what his purpose was. We are then his followers subjected to the same purpose extending his Kingdom on earth.

For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it empty, he formed it to be inhabited!): “I am the Lord, and there is no other.” Isaiah‬ ‭45:18‬ ‭ESV‬‬

If we understand God´s purpose with earth and us, we will understand what he is doing in our time.

For me it is important to clarify that our purpose is not to go home to heaven, but instead to multiply and rule earth as God intended from the very beginning. Yes heaven is our home and where we come from, but not our destiny.

As stated in the dictionary, we are a foreign people from a native country sent to form a new land.

The concept of colonization is the most important component of a Kingdom that we must understand or else it will be impossible to fully grasp the essence of the message of the Bible, the prophets, and the focus and priority of Jesus Christ.” – Myles Munroe

So how do we do it practically then?

We work together with God to bring his Kingdom Culture down to earth.

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans‬ ‭14:17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Paul states clearly, it has nothing to do with religious rules to be full filled, More of a divine and heavenly culture.

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew‬ ‭6:10‬ ‭ESV‬‬

As Jesus is our example and he by his life showed us how God´s will was done on earth, we understand the Kingdom of God will not come by force, instead with love. Agape love that gives without expecting anything in return.

Agape love is best described by one man that dies for all mankind on a cross.

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans‬ ‭5:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

When we teach that we are a royal family that should walk in dominion, it can only be exercised the same way as Jesus did, through love.

We know how we are, why we are here and our future, therefore we can give our lives, without fear, sacrifice our egos and instead invest in the Kingdom like Jesus did – by investing in people – bible call it discipleship!

This will influence the world with His Kingdom Culture. One by one. This will change this world into the restored plan God has for earth – one by one!

The Song about the Kingdom

The year was 1970, 48 years ago, and I got Eli Stanley Jones autobiography written 1968. Stanley Jones was born 1884 in Maryland, USA, and called to missionary service in India 1907.  

He was called “the world´s greatest missionary evangelist” by TIME magazine in 1938. E. Stanley Jones had a great impact on the millions of people throughout the world who heard him speak or read his many books including presidents, politicians, scientists, students, businessmen, ministers.

Amazon presents him: “Jones spent 70 years traveling throughout the world. His approach to evangelism presented Christ as the universal Son of Man without the trappings of Western culture.”

I like to read and many nights I read this book about the Kingdom very thoroughly and used my pencil to mark. The Swedish book title is “Sången om Riket” (The Song about the Kingdom), the English title is “A Song of Ascents”. I was captured by the message about the Kingdom. Still after 48 years it is burning inside me. E. Stanley Jones theology and teaching was:

• The Kingdom of God is the ultimate order and God´s answer to man´s total need.

• The Kingdom of God is to be taken seriously as a present reality.

• Jesus believed in life and in its redemption.

• The Kingdom of God is the collective redemption of all mankind.

E. Stanley Jones went to Soviet during the 1930-ies to study how an atheistic communistic kingdom functioned and could be successful. During this long journey he recognized that pagan or worldly or political ideologies as communism, nationalism, fascism, capitalism, etc. could not stand. They will not create peace, life, freedom or success in the long run. Just one Kingdom is unshakeable because of its unshakeable King! “We are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken” (Hebr. 12:28).

Jesus is Lord, and if we have any doubt, we can simply recall the resurrection on the third day. Put out the candles, the sun is up. Jesus is alive now and Jesus is Lord”. Since then E. Stanley Jones made known the Kingdom of God.

In 1963 E. Stanley Jones received the Gandhi Peace Award. Jones had been a close friend of Mahatma Gandhi and wrote a biography on his life. This book inspired Martin Luther King to “non-violence” in the Civil Rights Movement. This was Kingdom life.

E. Stanley Jones is also the founder of the Christian Ashram movement. “Christian Ashrams seek to help all people deepen their experience of the dynamic reality of God in daily living. The word “ashram” – meaning “retreat” – is a word that comes from Sanskrit.” (United Christian Ashrams).

In the summer 1971 I participated in an Ashram in Sjövik, Dalecarlia, Sweden. E. Stanley Jones was there and he was teaching sitting in a wheel chair. Jones was 87 years of age but had strength and power to teach about the Kingdom. He was mentally and spiritually alive. I asked him to write a greeting in my bible, and he did. “Jesus is Lord! E. Stanley Jones.”

From Sweden E. Stanley Jones went to USA, then Israel and finally India, where he died in January 1973. The legacy after E. Stanley Jones is great.

Amazon presents E. Stanley Jones´ book “The Unshakable Kingdom and the Unchanging Person” in this way:

• Jesus swept onto the scene declaring that the Kingdom of God had arrived! He proclaimed that we would experience life at its fullest only when we organize our lives around the Kingdom.

• E. Stanley Jones suggests that life in any other way is a muddled, maddening, and impossible way to live.

• Throughout the centuries we have lost the Kingdom as a clearly defined and workable system for order and influence in our daily lives. We have reduced the Kingdom by putting it into narrower molds, a refuge now, a present security, a future hope, anything but the Kingdom as Jesus preached it – God’s total answer to man’s total need now.”

• Dr. Jones shows us how to claim our spiritual heritage and the abundant life promised us by embracing the Kingdom and Person of Jesus. He suggests how our experience with God and His Kingdom should be taught and shared in the life of the individual, in the life of the church and in the nations of the world.

I am grateful I met this ambassador of God´s Kingdom! 

I am inspired by E. Stanley Jones to work even when you are old, “while it is day: the night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4).

God´s Kingdom is at hand! When we have put our hand to the plow, we are not fit for the kingdom of God, if we are looking back or quit (Luke 9:62).

Jesus has promised we will do greater works on earth, because He has gone to His Father (Joh. 14:12).

This is life at its fullest when we organize our lives around the Kingdom.

Kiell Tofters

Guest post by Samuel Lundgren – Jesus proclaimed a new government

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand” – Mark 1:15

Jesus proclaimed that a change of government has taken place on earth through his arrival. God gave Adam and Eve the mission to be God’s government representatives on earth.

He said, “let them have dominion.”Gen 1:26

Then Adam lost his government position when lost his relationship with God. But God promised to take it back through the woman’s seed. So, when Jesus comes, he come with a message to reinstate the kingdom of God and again give it to man. God is doing that by taking back the power of government on earth through Jesus Christ.

Luke 11:20 But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

Jesus establishing a government on earth

Jesus didn’t only proclaim Gods kingdom he also made a new government assembly possible. Jesus carried the sins of humanity by dying in our place. He then arise on the third day and then ascend to heaven. He sits down at the right side of the Father. These are the events that lead to the new government formation.

Jesus reigns from heaven on earth through his church

We see in a wonderful prophecy how Jesus sits down on the throne of power in Heaven.

As I looked, “thrones were set in place,
and the Ancient of Days took his seat.
His clothing was as white as snow;
the hair of his head was white like wool.
His throne was flaming with fire,
and its wheels were all ablaze.
A river of fire was flowing,
coming out from before him.
Thousands upon thousands attended him;
ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.
The court was seated, and the books were opened”

“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.Dan 7: 9-10, 13-14.

Jesus also says before ascends to heaven:

“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth”Matt 28:18.

Jesus, the world’s most powerful governor.

Jesus rules from heaven on earth through his church.

  • We sit together with him at his throne of power – Eph 2: 6
  • We are His body on earth – Eph 1:22-23.
  • He says: I will build My churchMatt 16:18

The word church, ecclesia, is a Greek word that described the governing and legislature in a city according to certain sources. The church in a place is the governing and legislative community in that place. We are government representative of the world’s most powerful government.

Our influence is not in proportion to our size but to our position

We know that even small parties in a government have great influence, because they are in government.

“Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom”Luk 12:32

Be of good courage you have a big influence because you are government representative and you are in the world’s most powerful government

Taking Heaven to Earth – The government declaration

 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven Matt 6:10

Heaven is the place where we can see the effects of the government in which you are sitting. Paradise, the garden of Eden is also a place where we could see the results of God’s government. And most people long for coming to these places. That what is happening in heaven will happen on earth.

That is our government mission.

There is no better mission for us as a people.

Take heaven to the whole earth – The governmental vision
We are in the world’s most ambitious government. God thinks big. One of his favourite word is all. He loves us all, he wants to save us all.

The kingdom of God shall fill the whole earth

“Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were all broken to pieces and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth”Dan 2:35.

Jesus describes the kingdom of Heaven as a mustard seed which begins small but grows big. Or like a leaven that is a small part of the dough but permeates the whole dough (Matthew 13: 31ff).

So we not only have a fantastic mission it is also a great mission,

How should we act as government representatives?

1. We shall use our governmental power in the spiritual world

God has put us in a position of governmental power.

God has “raised us up together and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” – Eph 2:6

And we know that this position is far above all other powers in the spiritual world. We can see in the Bible that the spiritual world has a great impact on the physical world.

we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”Eph 6:12.

There is a new governmental power in place. The former power is now in opposition and not in government. It has no government rights to it and will never have it in the future. This is an important truth.

We now have the governmental power.

2. We will get God´s will through even if it is an opposition

In a parliament the government will get its will through. If the government suggest raising the tax and the opposition want to cut it. It will be as the government suggest. If the government suggest cutting the tax and the opposition want to raise it. It will be as the government want.

If we are in government and know the will of God and want it to happen on earth, what will happen? The will of God will happen on earth. Jesus taught us to pray:

” Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” – Matt 6:10.

We should pray this with confidence, because we have governmental position and power. We can push through the will of God despite the opposition. Don´t let the opposition into government position.

3. We shall be servant minded in the physical world

Our task in the physical world is different. We are here to serve people and offer them the kingdom of heaven. We have the same mind as Christ Jesus. Phil 2:4-6 – We are servant just as Jesus was. He said to his disciples after he had washed their feet “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Joh 13:14-15

We serve people by taking heaven to earth

We carry the kingdom inside of us “the kingdom of God is within you.”Luk 17:21 and we should spread it where ever we go.

  • We serve by spreading an atmosphere of heaven – Rom 14:17
  • We change the atmosphere to the better and attractive atmosphere.
  • We are spreading the powers of heaven. – 1 Cor 4:20 It´s healing power, delivering power.
  • We are spreading the powers of heaven and it´s attractive powers.
  • We are spreading the message of heaven. (Luk 8:1) It´s are privilege to invite everyone into this wonderful kingdom. This is good news it´s an attractive message, no matter how you are what you have done you can come into this kingdom because of what Jesus has done for you.

We shall receive growing gifts in the church world
We exercise our government power in the spiritual world. We use our servant possibilities in the physical world. We also have possibilities to grow in our abilities to govern. We need to and can grow more and be better in govern.

We need each other and other’s gifts. God gave gifts “He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” Eph 4:12.

We can and should develop to see God´s kingdom spread to more people and areas.

//Samuel Lundgren

Touch base mentality

This post is to reflect over the meeting culture and lack of mission based, Kingdom based and discipleship based church we have become.

Today many of so called successful church concepts are built around our Sunday meetings. With the latest technology, powerful worship, cozy facilities and appealing sermons in a seeker sensitive way we call it Super Sundays.

But if I take this down one level, for us that do not have all this new thinking and technology in place are also birds of the same feather as we count success in how many attendees we have in our meetings. That for me are fruits of Christendom, but not discipleship or Kingdom thinking.

Let me clarify if you get confused. I am not against church or meetings as this is biblical. But I question the meeting culture we have been stuck into the last generations.

And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,” – Acts‬ ‭2:46‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I believe we need to come back to the roots again of what it really means to follow Jesus.

I think our Sundays could really be Super Sundays if we come together to share with our family in church how our week has been. What victories and battles we have faced during the week when extending the Kingdom, training disciples, sharing Christ. Out there in the field. Then fancy meetings would not be the center of our presentations during Sundays but testimonials.

Let me be clear, we do not change the nations having meetings, we change the nations making difference out there.

– That is being Kingdom minded!

If the plan does not work, change the plan but not the goal.

Church, we need to change our mindset back to Jesus´ mindset. Having only meetings have not worked. We need to move out of our comfort zone. That is the reason we in our region have started “Feet on street”.

Paul put it like this:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, 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.” – Philippians‬ ‭2:5-8‬ ‬‬

When we say we would love to be like Christ it should challenge us Jesus left his comfort zone coming to earth.

When our Sundays will be full of testimonies then I promise you our churches will be full again, with new disciples that follow you to the church family. But we need to start in the right end.

Today many of us devote one day to Christ, Sundays. But instead the whole week should be devoted to Christ, not just Sundays.

Touch Base Mentality

I think we need to again establish what I would call Touch Base mentality.

We touch base on Sundays, but for the rest of the week we do our rounds, catches, pitches, runs and jumps for the Kingdom, and when then Sunday comes, we touch base and church cheers – well done!

What is the Advancing Kingdom?

Maybe you have heard the term Advancing Kingdom, that also is the name of this blog, and wonder what it is all this fuss about?

Well, I will try to outline what I mean with Advancing Kingdom in this post.

First we need to dive through some questions like, What Kingdom are we talking of ? Advancing, how? From when?

In Genesis God gives man a mandate to rule the world and care for it. When Jesus is coming to earth as a man, he starts to share the good news about the Kingdom over and over again. Actually more than 100 times in the gospels. That is his second most important message together with the message about the Father. Reason why the Romans put a sign on his cross saying, “King of the Jews”.

Jesus did not come with a new message instead he goes back to the roots of the mission for man kind, talking about Gods family and its Kingdom to rule earth.

Isaiah puts it like this when prophesying about Jesus, 700 years BC.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.” Isaiah‬ ‭9:6-7‬ ‭ESV‬‬

  • A child will be born.
  • He will be responsible for a government.
  • Of the increase of this government there will be no end.
  • And his Kingdom to uphold it and establish it.
  • From this time and forever.
  • When Jesus comes as a child it all starts.
  • So Isaiah sees Jesus come to earth to establish his Kingdom, with no end, and increasing or advancing forevermore.
  • 100 years later, at year 603BC, Nebuchadnezzar has a dream about the future that Daniel interprets.

You saw, O king, and behold, a great image. This image, mighty and of exceeding brightness, stood before you, and its appearance was frightening. The head of this image was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its middle and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.” Daniel‬ ‭2:31-35‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Another kingdom inferior to you shall arise after you, and yet a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth. And there shall be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron, because iron breaks to pieces and shatters all things. And like iron that crushes, it shall break and crush all these. And as you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, it shall be a divided kingdom, but some of the firmness of iron shall be in it, just as you saw iron mixed with the soft clay. And as the toes of the feet were partly iron and partly clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly brittle. As you saw the iron mixed with soft clay, so they will mix with one another in marriage, but they will not hold together, just as iron does not mix with clay. And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever, just as you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold. A great God has made known to the king what shall be after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation sure.” Daniel‬ ‭2:39-45‬ ‭ESV‬‬

  • Even though there are some disagreement about these four empires, the traditional interpretation of the dream identifies the empires as the Babylonian (the head), Medo-Persian (arms and shoulders), Greek (thighs and legs), and Roman (the feet) empires.
  • But the fifth empire Daniel sees is a Kingdom, that will never be destroyed. A stone that will become a huge mountain. This stone, not cut with human hands is Jesus.
  • NT is then full of references back to this story of Jesus as a stone.

So both Isaiah and Daniel in these scriptures are talking about a Kingdom that will come and grow, increase and advance until it covers the whole earth.

So when did Jesus become King then?

After the cross when he ascended to heaven he sat down together with his Father being the King.

The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.” Psalms‬ ‭103:19‬ ‭ESV‬‬

This Kingdom of God, is not like human empires as our weapons are not of this world. It is a different Kingdom, that is established within us and among us when we receive and acknowledge Jesus as King in and over our lives.

Wherever Jesus is glorified as King is where his Kingdom is established. So the Kingdom is not limited to the Church, but everywhere we establish Jesus as King, with help of the Church, his body doing this.

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.” Colossians‬ ‭1:13‬ ‭ESV‬‬

This Kingdom´s King took its authority and keys back defeating Satan on the cross (Cristus Victor). From that moment the Kingdom started to advance on earth as a process at the same time darkness is still on the earth until we as his people have filled the whole earth with his glory. Then Jesus will come back to earth and final judgement will come and a new heaven and new earth will be established and we will live in this Kingdom on earth forever.

Therefore Jesus is talking about the Kingdom as a mustard seed or the leaven. His message was, it might start small, but it will be the biggest three and the dough will be processing until fully leavened.

He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.” Matthew‬ ‭13:31-33‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Habakkuk saw this and prophesied

“For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” ‭‭Habakkuk‬ ‭2:14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Isaiah again, it will start with a small child in a stable in the middle of nowhere and become a Kingdom of peace with no end.

This is the Advancing Kingdom!

This should make us positive about the future!

This should clarify our purpose to be Salt & Light in this world, to make it a better place by establishing Jesus as King, everywhere we go, we live or we work.

When is the Kingdom?

Depending on what denomination or church movement/stream you belong to, you might have heard various teaching of when the Kingdom of God is at hand.

Within evangelical streams, it has been a common understanding that Kingdom is something that will come when Jesus comes back and establish his Kingdom.

That started to change from the 80-ies by John Wimber and the Vineyard movement, by the teaching Kingdom is here but not yet.

But I think this should link directly how we understand Jesus word to Peter in Matthew 16:18-29

”And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven*, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

*Matthew was writing to Jews reason why he do not say Gods name but instead use Kingdom of Heaven but all scholars agree it to be Kingdom of God used in the other gospels.

Is this authority and keys to heaven for now or in the future?

Many in the pentecost/charismatic movements have heard and been taught Jesus to come back for his Kingdom, first after times of tribulations in end of times. That is not always the case in other movements or denominations.

Well, how should we today understand “When” is the Kingdom?

First time Kingdom is used by Jesus is in Mark 1:14-15 – “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Is at hand is used 14 times in NT and always to indicate something immediately happening.

e.g Like a compere presenting a new artist: here he is, be ready.

If we look in Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 and the “parable of the weeds” it will help us to understand how Jesus saw the Kingdom coming and when.

Kingdom of God was a known concept for the Jews, they all lived with the question when would the kingdom come. Reason why Jesus asked, who say people I am?

Pharisees thought if the people became clean enough with the help of religious rules, then the Kingdom would come.

Zealots thought if they could with violence defeat the Romans then the King would come walking the streets to Jerusalem.

He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”‘ Matthew‬ ‭13:24-30‬ ‭ESV‬‬

And then Jesus explains the parable to the disciples.

He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew‬ ‭13:37-42‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Jesus had to sit down and explain the Kingdom. Yes it will come, but in a different way. It will be a process. The old and the new will live together. Good and evil, blessing and curse, healing and sickness, joy and suffering. Wheat and weeds at the same time.

When Jesus claims he is “Son of man” he was referring back to Dan 7:13-14

I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.”

  • Jesus is sowing seed.
  • Those that repent are the good seeds of the Kingdom.
  • Weeds are the evil ones, the ones walking in the flesh, walking in rebellion.
  • The enemy is the devil.
  • The Harvest is the end of age.
  • The angels will gather out of what? Yes from the Kingdom that is already there, not to come.

Jesus does not say destroy the harvest, just grow the wheat, and be aware of the weeds are growing at the same time.

But If the Kingdom is here, why do we see all these bad stuff happening?

Jesus simply stated the enemy did this. Not part of the Kingdom, sin did this.

The Weeds in this parable, was a special weed that got black when it was ready but green as everything else when growing. Very common at that time in Israel.

So Jesus said you need to wait to see the difference as when fully grown. Then you will see the difference.

So Jesus is saying, Kingdom is here now, but it is a process, and it will take time, and only when fully grown the day of judgement comes.

Gods new creation is today, now, the day of salvation is today, now. Gods Kingdom is today, now and it is advancing.

Lauren Daigle on Ellen

https://churchleaders.com/news/336801-lauren-daigle-on-ellen-doesnt-want-to-miss-the-heart-of-god-by-rejecting-secular-stage.html

Because Ellen Degeneres is openly gay, some Christians are critical of Daigle’s decision to sing on the show. “You’re very talented, but you’re being blinded by fame,” one writes online. Another says, “How is she letting her light shine…if she didn’t even declare Jesus Christ and the gospel at all she just came on there to sing.”

This is for me a typical mindset of old wrong Church mentality. Let’s keep as far away from the world and it’s sins, then maybe we can survive in this life and come to heaven. Or even more, do not participate with sinners as you then indirectly approve their life.

Kingdom minded, like Jesus, entered to the sinners. Actually he spent more time with them than in the temple. Fair to say, he also spent time in the temple. It is the mindset I disprove.

Why are we so afraid becoming contaminated of the world that we hide in our own sub-culture called church.

Kingdom minded people know they are both priests and kings, they can operate in any part of the world with no fear, but instead with dominion to be contagious with Spirit filled life.

Religion is focused on, separate your self from the world, but Kingdom is, impact the world, make it better, be true Salt & Light into this world, let your light shine!

That can not be done within the walls of the Church, but instead why not at Ellen Degeneres show, especially as she is open with her gay lifestyle.

Seek first the Kingdom…

When I finished my first bible class in church as a 13 year old boy, I was given a bible with a greeting on the first page from my bible teacher, quoting Jesus famous words from his sermon on the mount, “seek first the Kingdom…” Matthew 6:33.

At this point in life I did not understand what that meant, and 20 years later I still did not fully understand what it meant. How come? Well it has not been taught in Church so often.

It was only 5 years back I became aware of that Jesus is talking a lot about Kingdom, and I do not really grasp what he is saying. So I decided to seek to understand the Kingdom, put it my first priority.

An common understanding of this verse is that we should seek Jesus first in our life, but that is not what Jesus is saying.

It is interesting to note that in the sermon on the mount, Jesus is referring to the Kingdom 7 times, mixing with how to practically live life on earth to reflect Heaven. No other word in his sermon is as important as the Kingdom, except how to stay blessed as a result living for the Kingdom. And then as a summary of his sermon, he wraps it all up with, “seek first…” – he says: Gods nr 1 priority is the Kingdom, and it should be also our nr 1 prio.

  • Seek, means to search for, dig into, pursue, study, understand, explore, find out.
  • First, means to put the Kingdom nr 1 in our lives. Put the highest value on the Kingdom. Set it as our highest goal and focus in life.
  • Kingdom here, is the Greek word basileia that is equivalent to the Hebrew word mamlakah, used in Genesis 1:26, as dominion. Both words means, dominion, sovereign rule, Kingdom, reign, or royal power. In this sermon, Jesus is referring to Gods Kingdom, Gods government, Gods rulership, Gods dominion over earth. Heavens influence, Gods administration on earth.
  • Righteousness, means not to live a good holy religious life, but is actually referring to a juristic, legal term, to be in alignment with the authority, to be right positioned, to follow the laws of the Kingdom.
  • Jesus do not say, search a religion first, but the Kingdom and it’s laws, principles. If you do that, then you do not need to worry.
  • Reading Matthew 5:6 then comes into a new light. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied”
  • The concept of Kingdom was not something man kind came up with, instead it was introduced by God in the absolute first days for man living on earth.
  • For God is not a God of disorder but of peace...” 1 Corinthians‬ ‭14:33‬ ‭NIV‬‬

    The absence of God is disorder. ”And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” Genesis‬ ‭1:2‬ ‭KJV‬‬

    Before God started to structure earth, it was no order, it was without form and void.

    But before God even started to bring structure and order he sent His Spirit, to move upon the disorder, to prepare it for structure. This is exactly how God is working when bringing order and structure into our lives. He first moves with the Spirit, then he starts with structure using words of command.

    Religion is always doing the opposite, first try to bring structure and then the Spirit might come.

    And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.” Ezekiel‬ ‭11:19-20‬ ‭ESV‬‬

    Many years back, I had some meetings in Africa. I remember one meeting in particular. I had closed my talk and invited to the altarcall, people came forward to receive salvation. But what shocked me was the fact that even before I had led them in sinners prayer, the Spirit came over them and they started to talk in tongues, laughing, crying. I learned something that day. When God wants to bring structure, he starts with his Spirit.

    Why is God sending his Spirit over all flesh, even before they have recieved Christ? Yes, to bring us into alignment with the Kingdom righteousness.

  • The message of the Bible is God extending his Heavenly Kingdom on earth through his royal family.
  • The reason we have had so many kingdoms rise and fall on the earth through out the history, is that deep into our innermost beings it is natural to rule. The problem is, we are trying to build our own kingdom, without the Spirit and not Gods Kingdom as Jesus puts it in Matthew 6:33.
  • To bring this world back to Eden, we need the Spirit, and we need to put His Kingdom first in our lives, understanding, we are his co-workers bringing structure into this sin-fallen world, everywhere we go.
  • Is working in church more spiritual?

    We all long to find our destiny and to live a purposeful life. No one of us wants to live without meaning, live for nothing. We would like to contribute to this world in some way or the other.

    “The most sad thing in the world, is not that people die, but they live a life without a purpose.” – Myles Munroe

    Our media channel’s are filled with how to Becoming Your Most Fulfilled Self, How to find your purpose, How to become your best self etc.

    This is not strange, this is something God has put into man-kind, but it has to start with Christ, not me!

    Ecclesiastes 3:11 – “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.”

    When I was studying economy as a young man, we read about a behavioral scientist and psychologist named Abraham Maslow. You might have heard of him? He is very famous for his “Hierarchy of needs“:

    1. Water
    2. Food
    3. Clothes
    4. Housing
    5. Protection
    6. Security
    7. Preservation
    8. Self-Actualization
    9. Significance

    Maslow listed these motivational needs in order of priority.

    Based on these, you will find that if you do not have the first ones, you simply do not care of the other ones.

    e.g. In western world many of us are depressed as we have all these in place in life and maybe only wrestle with the last one of the list, Significance. But in other parts of the world, they would not bother about Significance or purpose in life, as they are simply fighting just to survive the day.

    For us growing up in church, we have heard numerous sermons how important it is to live for Christ, and our hearts desire is really to do that. But what does it really mean? Can our calling in life only be fulfilled in Church or elsewhere? Is there such a thing as a secular life and a spiritual life? or fulltime for God?

    I think one reason why churches are overloaded with activities in Church, that usually are for those within, is that we act as it is only in Church context we really can serve God, or as missionaries in other countries.

    Why is it so? Are we all to live our lives in church in order to fulfill our destiny?

    Very often, I have been talking with young people trying to find their purpose in life, and the only references they have from what has been taught in Church is that to full-fill Gods plan for you, you need to do it in Church. Fulltime for church, to be a pastor, evangelist, worship leader, deacon, youth leader, usher etc. Because then you really serve God. In the secular arena (never mentioned in scripture), we only work to earn money, so we then can serve God with our money and then in Church.

    Maybe only 5% of us can work fulltime in Church, but what about the 95% of us? Yes, we should all build church, all serve in Church. But not as fulltime in Church.

    What is Paul saying about this?

    1 Cor 7:20 – Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called.

    1 Cor 7:24 – So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God.

    2 Thess 3:7 – For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. 11 For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. 12 Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.

    1 Thess 4:10b – But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, 11 and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, 12 so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.

    Paul was not afraid to work, and never did he mentioned it to be less spiritual or even secular. Pauls idea is that us working in ordinary working place will make more impact for the Kingdom than all of us leave our current vocation to be hired by a Church.

    You will be suprised to see in the bible that God is using far more “ordinary” people in a working vocation than a “Spiritual” vocation such as the Levites, Priests and Prophets, to impact the world with his Kingdom.

    The difference between Kingdom mindset and Church mindset is that in the Kingdom you will serve God everywhere, if you understand your Kingdom purpose. To restore the world back to Christ.

    “If you’re a city planner, there is a New Jerusalem. If you’re a lawyer there will be a time of perfect righteousness and justice”…. The way we view the not yet will inevitably impact the way we respond in the here and now.

    —Tim Keller

    What is the Kingdom? Part 1

    When I ask Christians what the Kingdom of God is, many don’t have a clue, or vaguely understands its concept. This means we have not taught about it enough.

    I have in my previous posts, tried to clarify what the Kingdom is not, as there are many misconceptions of what it really is, and that also helps to understands what it is.

    If you read the gospels you will find Jesus over and over use the phrase; “With the Kingdom it is like…”

    Why did he do that?

    If you should try to explain a new invention to a friend that they have not yet experienced, but what you have experienced, you might find it difficult to explain it, so then you will use allegories, pictures to explain it.

    Imagine you should describe Facebook for someone 100 years back, how should you do? Yes you should say; “with Facebook it is like…” Got it?

    If we look up the word Kingdom in the Oxford dictionary it outlines it as:
    ‘A country, state, or territory ruled by a king or queen.’

    Very simplified we can say the Kingdom of God is where Jesus is King.

    Paul puts it like this: ”For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 14:17 ESV

    From this verse we understand two things:
    a) it is not about religious rules and regulations, what is allowed or not
    b) we understand it is something different than an ordinary Kingdom, it is something that produces Peace, Joy and Righteousness.

    When Jesus walked on the earth, he came in a time when every Jew were waiting for a King, a Messiah, not only due to the Roman oppression but foremost because of the many prophecies in the Old Testament, especially from Isa 9:6-7.

    ”For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.” Isaiah 9:6-7 ESV

    And then from the book of Daniel that is very prophetic, (actually the most future prophetic book in the bible), and note that God is giving the dreams to a pagan leader in a foreign country, to promote Daniel in his role.

    ”As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.” Daniel 2:34-35 ESV

    So when the Jews and pharisees expected Messiah to come and rule in the new Kingdom, they expected it to come by power to finally defeat the Roman dogs.

    In this context Jesus says: ”Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” Luke 17:20-21 ESV

    Many bible translations translate this -“Within you” but a better translation that ESV is using is: – “amongst you” or “in your midst” so it is not only an inner sanction or feeling, it is something that can be present and tangible amongst people.

    Jesus says to the pharisees what you are expecting will not happen, it will come in different clothes, and it is now already here.

    ”And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!” Mark 11:8-10 ESV

    We see that the people were expecting Davids Kingdom to return, reason why they greated Jesus, Hosanna, Hosanna…

    But Jesus, very provokative, was using a colt instead of a horse that a King was expected to ride in on.

    The Kingdom was coming, and the King as well, but in a different way.

    Religion vs. Kingdom

    Are you aware Jesus never came to introduce a new religion? I would dare to challenge you reflect that nor God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit are religious., as a matter of fact, they are not even Christian.

    Instead we know Jesus himself states “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” – Luke 4

    If we go back to Genesis we see that God was not religious. Why do I say so? Well, when he had created man, he said he was pleased! What? Pleased with man? Without any religious sacrifice, or why not, any priest, any choir, any pulpit, any songs etc. please note that all that came as a result of the curse.

    Jesus put it like this talking of God Father

    “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law),” Hebrews‬ ‭10:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

    All religions are similar to each other in the sense they are all trying to give answer to the questions of power and meaning. They all promise to explain life and death and to control  life and circumstances. They all also try to separate humans from each other, in form of OK and not OK, or sacral/ secular if you so want. Religion has proven to be not a unifier of man-kind but instead a divider.

    Again we need to go back to Genesis 1:26Then God said “Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on earth”.

    The hebrew word for dominion here translates “mamlakah” that can be translated Kingdom or royal power.

    So the first thing God is giving man, is not a religion but a Kingdom to rule over.

    If we read the bible without our historic Church preferences, we understand that the message of the bible is about a Kingdom and its King. And how this Kingdom through mankind are to rule earth from heaven.

    19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” – Matthew 16

    Often we have applied this to be only in the Church, but Jesus is talking about his Kingdom, that Church shall live and expand.

    Religion is what man does until he finds the Kingdom.

    Islam, Hinduism, Buddism and even Christianity is not the answer to a dying world, the gospel of the Kingdom is.

    Why the world still has not changed is, what I believe, that we have not fully understood the message of the Kingdom.

    Church vs. Kingdom

    As already discussed in previous posts; Jesus talks 117 times in the gospels about Kingdom and only twice about Church. Yes, he is the first to use that word and indirectly we can agree that a few times he points us in the direction talking of his body to be understood as church etc.

    Despite my headline, I do not mean to put these against each other but to bring some clarity what is what. Actually they walk together as two legs needing each other, but they have different meanings and content.

    One is the purpose and the other is the people that fulfills the purpose.

    Church is family, and to be Salt & Light in a dying world. Church mission is to fix this world, to be worldimprovers, or as Paul put it, living temples, bringing Gods Kingdom into this world. Everything the temple was for the Jews, we are to be to the world.

    See Church as a workshop, that fixes broken things, us included. But when fixed then it has done its part.

    The problem is that we over the years have become Church-minded when we actually should be Kingdom-minded.

    Church-minded tend to think that everything has to be under the roof or organisation of the Church. Meetings, activities, serving, praying, social-work etc. Often we say come to church. And we feel fulfilled if we are many at a certain meeting.

    Kingdom-minded thinks out of the “Church box”. That the Kingdom should influence every part of society. Politics, school, business, art, music, movie, sciense, hospital, yes even peacemaker in warsituations.

    Church-minded – see the gospel in terms of good news about the afterlife (it’s how you can be sure you’re going to heaven after you die).

    Kingdom-minded – see the gospel in terms of good news about Kingdom life (it’s about life in God and with God, both now and forever).

    Church-minded feel satisfied in activities in the church as they tend to believe only in the church you can fulfill your calling.

    Kingdom-minded understands the calling is not limited within the walls of the church but everywhere people are, the Kingdom needs to influence and Jesus to be King.

    Church-minded thinks, come to church.

    Kingdom-minded thinks, go into the world.

    It is interesting to note that already one generation after Jesus resurrection, emphasized the teaching on Church and Jesus more than Kingdom.

    NT Writes states: It is clear that Jesus as Kingdom Bringer has been screened out of the church’s dogmatic tradition. Again and again, from the 3rd or 4th century onwards, the church managed to talk about Jesus while forgetting the thing that the Gospels kept on saying, the He was inaugurating God’s Kingdom.” – Wheaton Theology Conference – 2010. 

    Have we missed something here? – I think we have.

    Christians have far to long challenged people with the question: If you were to die tonight, were would you go. Instead we should ask us all the question, if I wake up tomorrow what will you live for?

    Myles Munroe puts it like this: Religion prepares man to leave earth, Kingdom prepares man to dominate earth. Religion focus on heaven, Kingdom focus on earth.

    Now its time again build a future of people that love the church and live for changing the world by advancing the Kingdom.

    It all links back to…or where it all started

    When trying to understand the meaning of life, and what is it all about we have to go back to where it all started, the garden of Eden.

    In the book of Genesis 1 we read – 26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth”. 27  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth”.

    To understand an organisations task, vision or what drives them you need to find out their Mission statement.

    The “Economist” outline of their Missions Statement, reads: A mission statement is an organisation’s vision translated into written form. It makes concrete (for all to see and read) a leader’s view of the direction and purpose of an organisation.
    – Translated to written form
    – Makes concrete a leaders direction and purpose

    Steve Jobs original Mission Statement was: “To make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind.”

    Sums up pretty well what he and Apple achieved, right?

    Everywhere you are in the world today, everyone has some kind of relation to a smart phone and an Iphone in particular.

    The Vision and Missions Statement of Ingvar Kamprad, founder of IKEA is: Vår vision är ”att skapa en bättre vardag för de många människorna”. Translated to English: Our Vision is “to create a better living for the many people”.

    With these examples in mind lets go back to Gods Missions Statement with Human Kind in Gen 1:26-27, we understand it was not just fancy wording by God, but it was really the ethos of God, a concrete direction and purpose in written form for human kind.

    “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness”.
    – Our – says something of Team spirit and not Hierarchy
    – Likeness – look like God, act like God, behave like God. But with the big difference God being the creator and us the creation.
    “let them have dominion…over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth”
    – Giving the mandate and authority, not over each other but over every living creature not being a human being. 
    “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion… every living thing that moves on the earth.”
    – Giving humans their mission.

    Gods intention was for mankind to reflect God on earth as God is in heaven. – Bring Heaven to earth. Heard that before?

    9Father in heaven hallowed be your name. 10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. – Matthew 6

    So when Jesus Messiah finally appears on the streets on Jerusalem, his agenda is definitely not to come up with a new religion called Christianity. By the way, Christianity was a nickname from the pagans, just saying…he does not even preach Church but Kingdom.

    43 but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose. – Luke 4

    The Church has through the  history focused on the purpose of Christ to be the atonement, even though that is not wrong, Jesus himself relates his purpose to preach the Kingdom and not mainly atonement. (I will elaborate this more in a coming blogg.)

    The word Jesus is using for Kingdom is basileía, defined as kingdom, sovereignty, royal power…

    …does it not ring a bell, where did we read of such a mandate?

    Yes in Genesis 1:26.

    First book of the bible talks about it and last book talks about it.

    10  and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” Revelation 5

    To reign on earth!

    What to talk about

    Did you know that Jesus at only four occasion in the gospels talked about the Church, but 117 times talked about the Kingdom? Only once he talked about to be born again. However we as church has talked mostly about to be born again and less about Kingdom. Something to reflect over!

    There are two rule of thumb that is good to use when we study the bible.

    1.What the bible talks a lot about also we should talk a lot about, and what the bible do not talk so much about, we should not either talk so much about.

    2. The other one is to understand that the Bible is the word of God, written by man, throughout the history. Which means we need to reflect over the historic context, and what the writer tried to push on, but still accept it is Gods word.

    Does this mean we should not talk about the Church? Of course we should, based from the letters of Paul and the catholic letters we understand that the church and the body of Christ was and is very important. However using this thumb of rule, I think we have neglected or missed a lot understandning of the Kingdom, reason why we on this blogg will focus on digging into what we believe the Kingdom is, what its role in todays world is and where we are supposed to be in this equation.