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IEA Devo 2021 kingdom • Becoming a Disciple-Maker

God’s Kingdom – The Disciple-Making Lifestyle

“…and this gospel of the kingdom shall be proclaimed to every nation…” (Matthew 24:19)


Part One

The Lord explained that His spiritual Kingdom indwells all those who have truly placed their faith in Him (see Luke 17:21). In that understanding, He taught us to pray, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10) With His model prayer in mind, quietly give some thought to church history. Before the Lord’s death and resurrection, no new covenant had yet been established (see Matthew 26:28). Therefore, during His brief lifetime, the first covenant was still in effect and His indwelling Kingdom was still on the way!
This is why the message which Jesus proclaimed was not what we normally hear in services on Sunday. He primarily preached on “the gospel of the Kingdom.”  This was also the subject which He discussed with Nicodemus. He told him that His Kingdom could neither be seen or experienced apart from a personal spiritual rebirth (see John 3:3) Visualize the “Great multitudes that followed Jesus… as He went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the good news of the Kingdom.” (Matthew 4:25a, 23a) Notice that Matthew was led by the Holy Spirit to mention Jesus’ kingdom focus in His preaching.


Part Two

When the Lord said, “Let not your heart be troubled for in My house are many rooms…” (See John 14:1-3) He was teaching us about His spiritual Kingdom. He did this in earthly terms to help us imagine something far more wonderful than He knew we could understand. In that awareness, Paul was guided to write, “Eyes have not seen and ears have not heard, neither has entered the heart of men what God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9) He was speaking about every Christian disciple’s future home.
When the Bible teaches about there being three heavens, the first heaven is simply the blue sky above us. The second is the vastness of the starry night-time sky. However, the third and most important heaven is God’s celestial and indwelling spiritual Kingdom – that cannot be seen or experienced without the faith to believe what our Creator has openly and repeatedly declared.


Part Three

As a contemporary example, we may repeatedly attempt to describe the chocolate flavor of our favorite ice cream to a friend, but only their willingness to taste it will ensure that – our personal knowledge is actually experienced. God’s Kingdom is exactly like that. The Bible says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good…” (Psalm 34:8) For someone to think that a widely liked flavor of ice cream either isn’t good or doesn’t exist simply means that they have not yet tasted it. Its well-known goodness must be experienced to be personally enjoyed!

The word gospel means “good news” and that explains the spiritual nature of the joyful celebration of both Christmas and Easter. The Lord’s virgin birth and bodily resurrection require the exact same faith to be experientially explained. God’s Kingdom is open to all because His grace is inclusive! The Bible says, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:17)


Part Four

To experientially enjoy both physical and spiritual reality requires the willingness to act. Realized or unrealized, every action in life requires faith. We discover truth as the result of trusting in God’s facts rather than in our ever-changing feelings. Stop to quietly consider what you just read. The facts about God’s Kingdom are available to every age group that hears or reads His inspired Word.
Nicodemus had already perceived that Jesus’ amazing knowledge was credible. He therefore said, “…we know that you are a teacher sent by God; for no one can do these works unless God is with Him.” (John 3:2) The conversation that followed provided what Nicodemus was personally seeking to understand. Jesus clearly explained, “…the wind blows where it wishes and you hear its sound…so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8) Notice the capital “S.”  The Lord was teaching Nicodemus about the nature of the Holy Spirit.  Simply stated from the text, God’s Spirit is unseen and sovereignly acts as He chooses!


Part Five

The Lord complemented Nicodemus by calling him the teacher of Israel. Then He asked, “If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” (John 3:12) Pause to consider an earthly situation like an expectant mother’s physical condition.  At birth, her small sack of water bursts as the child is being born. Using that illustration, Jesus declared, “Truly I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.” (John 3:5)
The issue at this point was not seeing God’s Kingdom far off in the distance, but truly wanting to know how to enter it! This was the actual question which was apparently on Nicodemus’ mind. As always, the Messiah knew what those coming to Him were actually seeking.
Today, prayerfully contemplate an obvious fact. Jesus taught that we were designed to simultaneously live and function in two complementary dimensions. Our physical life requires God’s spiritual life in order for us to be complete! Thoughtfully consider that this has always been true from mankind’s beginning.


Part Six

Historically, everything written about the future until our own day has already taken place. Events have occurred in detail just as God’s prophets predicted. For that reason, the world’s unfolding observable experience vividly demonstrates the accuracy of spiritual – truth. While temporary physical matter must ultimately “… pass away, God’s Word (which is spiritual) will endure forever.” (Matthew 24:35) These two related worlds, which are distinctly different, were specially designed to – coexist!
The meaning of God’s physical and spiritual dimensions can only be understood in terms of what the Lord explained to Nicodemus. “That which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of spirit is spirit.” (John 3:6) Next, think about this vital part of their discussion – Jesus said, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” (John 3:17) God’s gracious plan for all of us has forever been centered on bringing us to His kingdom.


Part Seven
Through His incarnation, God briefly joined us in this physical dimension (see John 1:10-12). He did this so we would better understand Him. We beheld His holy-sinless nature, all-encompassing authority, and great love for sinners (see John 3:16). Being lifted up on the cross, as symbolized with Moses in the wilderness (see John 3:14&15) He bore our sins as promised. This is when the physical and spiritual dimensions of God’s love coincided to – produce man’s salvation!
“…God is love.” (1 John 4:8)
Carefully note that no one has ever become lost by not believing what God did. By not believing, sinners simply remain lost in their already earned spiritual condition (see Romans 6:23). This sad reality is the result of forfeiting God’s graciously given means of forgiveness. Let this new understanding or much treasured old understanding awaken your mind and heart. Jesus reminded us that, “…the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.” (John 4:23) God’s Kingdom is therefore available to all and the choice to go there is ours. Jesus alone is the narrow gate for all to enter (see Matthew 7:13-14).

Part Eight

Physically, on the cross Jesus cried out “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46) Spiritually, however, as God’s Son, He also prayed, “Father, into Your hands I commit My Spirit.” (Luke 23:46) This was the fulfillment of His unforgettable explanation, “…My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself… This command I have received from My Father.” (John 10:17-18)
Our Lord’s life, death, and victorious resurrection became the narrow way into His kingdom! Jesus said, “Come to Me…and I will give you rest…” “My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) No one is excluded from His kingdom who choose to accept Him as their Savior and Lord.

By Billie Hanks Jr.

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