I’ve been experiencing some drastic computer issues… will return to posting when I can get the problems fixed!
Month: March 2019
I’ve been experiencing some drastic computer issues… will return to posting when I can get the problems fixed!
The Keys of the Kingdom (cont.)
The keys of the Kingdom are the keys to God unleashing His power. They are a vital part of God’s provision for accomplishing His purposes. The really amazing news is that they are made available to each and every true disciple of Jesus. That deserves to be stated again: the keys of the Kingdom are made available to every true disciple of Jesus.
The very function of the “keys” is so that: “whatever you bind (lock/prohibit) on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose (unlock/allow) on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 18:18) Those who possess the “keys of the Kingdom” possess the divine authority of the King! This authority resides within true disciples to be used as God directs – so that they might use that authority to usher in the will and rule of the King “on this earth as it is in Heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)
The people of God are not just in name only. Christians are not just people who believe in God, or in The Christ, or in Christian ideology. The people of God are meant to carry (and visibly display) the character and the attributes of the Most High God. They are meant to walk in the grace and goodness of His love and power. They are meant to live life in the fullness of God’s grace and bring the fullness of that love and power into direct contact with other people.
They are meant to be divinely-directed and empowered to be living representations of God, displaying His glory and goodness. This is the very essence and substance of the ministry of Jesus. It is also the essence and substance of the ministry of all who are Jesus’ devoted disciples.
The Keys of the Kingdom (cont.)
The basic concept behind the “keys of the kingdom” is the authority and the ability to unlock and lock “doors” – to allow, or prohibit, under the authority of the rightful owner. This is also the fundamental understanding of “binding and loosing,” which Jesus directly ties to possessing the “keys of the Kingdom.”
Jesus also informs us that the “keys” are the direct connection between heaven and earth, bringing the authority and power of heaven to the earth through human representatives. In other words, the “keys of the Kingdom” are directly tied to the will and rule of God. Only true disciples of Jesus may hold these “keys,” and only those who have received special heart-revelation from heaven are qualified to possess the keys of the Kingdom of heaven.
In the New Covenant, God is always seeking to bring new sons and daughters into His household. His every intention is to grant them the “keys” to the King’s Home, and to all that it contains. But they must use those keys as the King Himself would use them – they must “lock and unlock” just as the Father would. The “keys of the kingdom” are directly representative of the authority and administration of The One True King.
When Jesus came to this earth, He came and demonstrated exactly what it meant to possess, and use, the “keys of the kingdom.” He came as the “Son of the Living God” but He was also known (and often referred to Himself) as the “Son of man.” He was personally connected to both the Father and to humanity. He came and showed us exactly what Christianity should and could be – and He invited other human beings to share in the wonder of this power and authority. He came as the Son of God, in direct connection with the Father, to show us how it would be done – and He came as the Son of man, in direct connection with humanity, to invite all human beings to join Him in the Great King’s Household and share in the rights and privileges of the King’s Kingdom.
As we tie together these thoughts about the keys of the Kingdom, with the fact that we were divinely designed and created in God’s image, we find a greater depth to our understanding. If Christians are to be the living, active representatives of The Most High God, then the power of that God should be evidenced in, through, and among His representatives.
The Keys of the Kingdom (cont.)
The understanding of the “keys of the kingdom” is centered in the concept of ownership and authority. For example, I possess the keys to my home because I am the rightful owner of my home. I have the authority to use my keys to enter my home as I please – and I can use my keys to lock my doors in order to prevent others from entering, at my discretion. My decision to lock or unlock the doors to my home is mine because I purchased this right when I bought my home. I am the owner – and the owner possesses the keys.
But I am not the only one to have a key to my home. My wife also possesses a key. She has a key because we share in the ownership of the home, and she shares in the position of authority in our household. We work together for the good of our family and she shares in the same discretion of locking or unlocking our home’s doors.
Some of my older children also have a key. They didn’t pay a penny toward the purchase of our home, but because they have a familial relationship with the rightful owners, they also share in the privilege of the “keys.” They share the discretion of locking and unlocking our home’s doors, but their privileges are meant to be an extension of the wishes and intent of their parents. They are only authorized to use the keys for purposes that would meet the approval of their parents. They aren’t permitted to unlock our doors for, say, a wild and rambunctious party with their friends. That activity would not be the will of their parents. They are only authorized and permitted to use the “keys” just as their parents would use them.
The basic concept behind the “keys of the kingdom” is the authority and the ability to unlock and lock “doors” – to allow, or prohibit, under the authority of the rightful owner. This is also the fundamental understanding of “binding and loosing,” which Jesus directly ties to possessing the “keys of the Kingdom.” Jesus also informs us that the “keys” are the direct connection between heaven and earth, bringing the authority and power of heaven to the earth through human representatives. In other words, the “keys of the Kingdom” are directly tied to the will and rule of God. Only true disciples of Jesus may hold these “keys,” and only those who have received special heart-revelation from heaven are qualified to possess the keys of the Kingdom of heaven.
In the New Covenant, God is always seeking to bring new sons and daughters into His household. His every intention is to grant them the “keys” to the King’s Home, and to all that it contains. But they must use those keys as the King Himself would use them – they must “lock and unlock” just as the Father would. The “keys of the kingdom” are directly representative of the authority and administration of The One True King…
The Keys of the Kingdom
We have clearly seen that Jesus intends to have His disciples accomplishing things just as He accomplished things on this earth – and “even greater things.” (John 14:12) In order for “greater things” to occur, the disciples of Jesus must understand, and utilize, the secrets behind the Master’s ways. They cannot merely imitate His actions, or mimic His words, and expect to see the same results. They must understand, and be moved by, the same principles that were at work within Jesus.
All disciples must discover Jesus’ true identity, which can only occur by divine revelation within a human heart. As recorded in Matthew 16, Peter is the first to experience this occurrence – and with this revelation, he took the first step toward being enabled to do what the Master had done.
Through the miracle of divine revelation, Peter was the first to begin this journey into experiencing the fullness of the true Christian life with all its promise, potential, and power.
Jesus’ conversation with Peter at Caesarea Philippi confirms this thought. As we discussed at length in Chapter Five, The Christ’s Church will be built upon the powerful foundation of divine revelation making its way into human hearts, producing a spiritual force of great magnitude and power.
Because Peter experienced the divine revelation into the true identity of his Savior, Jesus goes on to speak an amazing truth and promise to him: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:19)
A Role.. to Rule (cont.)
First, we have received “God’s abundant provision of grace.” We will take a much more in-depth look at God’s grace in a later chapter… but for now, we need to understand that grace is what flows from God’s Own attributes and abilities. Grace is God’s love and God’s power extended to us to bring us into His Kingdom. God’s grace is also what motivates and empowers us to fulfill His Kingdom purposes. God’s grace is what is working in us, and through us, to accomplish whatever the King desires.
The emphasis of grace is always upon God’s will and God’s working. Grace, in a very real sense, is the opposite of human effort and religious practice. Grace is God’s love poured out upon us. Grace is also God at work within us “to will and to act according to His good purpose.” (Philippians 2:13)
God’s people have received God’s abundant provision of this grace – God’s Own love and God’s Own ability at work in us, and through us, in overflowing measure. The proper understanding of this gift is its application in performing the King’s will – ushering in the rule of the King in every heart, and in each and every situation we may encounter. God’s grace enables us to “reign in life” through Our Lord Jesus.
Second, we have received “the gift of righteousness.” Just as God’s grace is undeserved, unmerited, and unlimited, so also is His righteousness. What makes us righteous, before our Creator-King, is not our efforts or performance – it is His efforts and performance. The work of righteousness, and making us righteous, was done completely by our Lord Jesus – and, Scripture declares, it is ours entirely as a gift.
Once again, we will discuss this gift in-depth in our next chapter, but for now, we just need to see that righteousness has already been given to those who have received Jesus, by faith – all because of what Jesus has done on our behalf. This truth is so beautifully detailed in the apostle’s inspired words: “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become (at the very moment of being in Him) the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
It is the righteousness of God, within us, that enables us to act righteously. It is also the righteousness of God that enables us to rule (exercise God’s authority) righteously. As always, the proper emphasis is upon God’s work and God’s enabling, for us to be, and to do, what He desires of us. God desires that we belong completely to Him as His people, fully representative of His Own heart and nature, and He desires that we reign in this life (as representatives of His rule) through Our Lord Jesus.
True Christianity is formed solely on the solid foundation of the work of Jesus, to impart God’s gifts of grace and righteousness to our hearts. All this is done so that we might be restored back to the Creator-King’s original design and purpose – to represent Him and to be the emissaries of His rule on this physical earth.
A role… to rule
Up to this point, we have seen that Jesus came to this earth to restore mankind to the Kingdom of God. This is God’s plan for Christianity in its most concise form. His desire is to bring human beings into His Kingdom, teach us the King’s ways, impart within us the King’s Heart, and to send us out into this world to proclaim the King’s Kingdom, and perform The King’s work – in living representation and exhibition of The King Himself. This is exactly the kind of life we see demonstrated for us in the life and ministry of Jesus, the true “son of David.”
The very essence of true Christianity is the imitation of Jesus, The Christ. Disciples are meant to be just like Jesus – trained, equipped, and authorized to stand in the King’s stead, and bring the King’s will to situations of need. The central players in ushering in the Kingdom of God on this earth are God’s New Covenant people, living and acting as Jesus did, authorized and empowered through Jesus Himself, to bring the good news of the gospel of the Kingdom to the ends of the earth.
Given this truth, as the functional basis for the Kingdom of God, we now turn our attention to our part in this great plan.
God’s provision, through His Son, enables all of us to fulfill God’s vision of bringing the fullness of His rule to this earth once again. The apostle Paul was inspired to speak of this provision:
The apostle affirms that the goal of all this restorative work was to enable human beings to “reign in life through… Jesus Christ.”
This word “reign” carries the connotations of kingly authority and dominion, and bears a striking resemblance to God’s original statement concerning mankind’s responsibility on this planet, “Let Us make man in Our image, in Our likeness, and let them rule over …all the earth…” (Genesis 1:26).
We see God’s purposes unfold through the work of Jesus, the second Adam. Human beings were created to be the “image” of God – and a critical part of this image was that human beings would rule over this creation as God Himself would rule. Of prime importance to God, is that humanity would fulfill their original purpose.
Human beings were always meant to reign over God’s creation, as God Himself would. A substantial part of God’s work in redemption is to restore this rightful rule. The apostle mentions that we have received two important aspects of provision from God to enable us to fulfill this divine assignment…
(continued next time…)
The Great Commission, to “go and make disciples of all nations,” (Matthew 28:19-20) is preceded and established on the basis of the all-encompassing truth in our previous point: Jesus has earned, and has received, a position of ultimate power.
The message of the Kingdom of God comes with the complete backing of the One Who came to install the way and the means of that message. This message, in its proper form, comes with a demonstration of the One Who empowers that message. Jesus did not come to merely proclaim the gospel of the Kingdom – He came to display the power and authority of the King of that Kingdom. The great things that He did bore witness to the greatness of the King of that Kingdom.
“You shall be My witnesses” (Acts 1:8) is confirmed by what we see from the disciples, in the Book of Acts. The disciples’ actions confirm that what was seen in and through Jesus, remains His intended mode of operation throughout the extent of His reign. He still desires to do “great things” – and He desires to do those things through the ones who are devoted to Him.
The “greater things” Jesus promised will occur because He departed from us, to be seated at the right hand of the Father – and because He has taken up the mantle of all authority on heaven and earth. This mantle is now meant to be displayed through His people, spreading out all over the world, proclaiming and demonstrating the power and authority of this King’s Kingdom, as He directs.
The Kingdom of God is not just life-changing words – it is also life-changing works, initiated and empowered by The Christ, through those who are captivated by His love and mercy. This forms the very foundation of The Church – a force that the “gates of Hades cannot prevail against.” (see Matthew 16:18!) Jesus departed from us, to bring the fullness of God’s power and authority to us, and through us – that He might be multiplied, exponentially, to every corner of the globe.
Only through Jesus, now seated in the position of ultimate authority and power, are His people authorized and empowered to spread out all over the earth and fulfill the Great Commission. Only through Jesus can God’s people experience what Jesus foretold: “Anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”
Why Jesus Left (cont.)
Three) Jesus left to open the opportunity to “greater things.” This observation flows out from our previous point. In connecting us to the One seated in authority and power in the heavenly realms, we have all received the benefit of participating in what that power and authority brings. In short, God’s people are enabled to do what Jesus did while He ministered among us in His time on this earth.
This truth is confirmed in our Savior’s Own words spoken to His first disciples:
The magnitude of these words cannot be overemphasized. Jesus is speaking of the endless and eternal possibilities available for “anyone” devoted to Him and to His cause. In the Book of Acts, we see the beginnings of the fulfillment of these words as the disciples (and those who become disciples through their ministry) powerfully impacted their world. They begin acting and speaking just as their Master, and imbued with His power and authority, they proclaimed and demonstrated the gospel of the Kingdom. This is the heritage and purpose of true disciples of Jesus – not just to the first disciples, but to every devoted disciple in every generation of The Christ’s Church.
But what are we to make of these “greater things?” How could any of us ever do any greater things than were done by Our Master?
It all comes down to a proper understanding of this term “greater.” In the original language, this term can mean two different things. It can mean greater in magnitude (as a mountain is greater than a hill) or it can mean greater in quantity (six apples is greater than two apples).
Did Jesus mean to focus upon the magnitude of the works to be done through His people? Or did He mean to focus upon the extent and the effect of a great number of people impacting the world with His authority and power?
We have no evidence that the disciples did anything greater in magnitude than Jesus did. We have a great deal of evidence that Jesus’ disciples (and those who became disciples through their ministry) did plenty of the same things that Jesus did while He walked among us. The Book of Acts records how the disciples of The Christ spread out across the globe bringing both the message and the demonstration of the Kingdom of God.
The Church was always intended to be a multiplication of Jesus going “to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) Jesus was one Man, confined to a small area of ministry (and by His Own admission, devoted to one particular group of people; see Matthew 15:24).
But The Church is many men and women, without boundaries, without restrictions, unleashed and empowered to reach a multitude of different peoples and to accomplish all of God’s purposes in every generation and every nation.
Why Jesus left (cont.)
Jesus departed from this earth to eternally establish this position of power and authority in the heavenly realms. He also departed to enable the opportunity for humanity to connect with Him in this position at the right Hand of the Father. This connection is eternal, unchanging, and real – and it is essential for our participation in God’s plan of ushering in the King’s Kingdom on this earth.
As God’s people, we must see ourselves in this connection to the One seated at the right Hand of the Father. That is why the apostle informs us of our rightful position in our Savior.
The work of Jesus, on our behalf, so connects us with Jesus that we are literally, spiritually united with Him – and with His authority and power. Because our Lord is imbued with all authority and power (Matthew 28:18!), we who are “in Him” are connected to what He possesses. He is our Head, ordering and maneuvering His Body, here on earth, from His heavenly seat of authority and power. What He desires to do, He possesses the authority and power to do – and it is His desire to do His mighty work through His people.
This is exactly as it was always intended to be. What Adam and Eve were designed and commissioned to do, has been restored through the work of The Christ. Mankind was always intended to rule this earth under submission to the rule of God – and in that submission, to bring the rule of God to this earth.
Sin confiscated and ravaged that opportunity and destiny. The Savior came and restored mankind’s divine purpose – then He departed from us to fully engage in bringing that purpose to every generation of His people. Jesus came to gather His people to Himself, and He left to bring the fullness of His authority and power to all those whom He had gathered.
Scripture declares that all this is for our good. This is our part in being Kingdom dwellers. Our passion, is to own the same passion possessed by our Savior when He walked among us: to proclaim, promote, and procure the Kingdom of God. What Jesus did, in His time of ministry among us, is meant to be duplicated in His devoted disciples in every generation of His Church.