Satan Evicted: The Kingdom of God

The Kingdom of God


The Kingdom is Beyond Human Logic SIDE BAR: Free Will vs. Predestination
The Kingdom is Not Physical but Spiritual SIDE BAR: The Triune Nature of Man
The Kingdom is Not Heaven SIDE BAR: Do Our Souls Go to Heaven at Death?
The Kingdom Was Not Delayed Because of Rejection SIDE BAR: This Generation Shall Not Pass…
The Kingdom Existed Prior to Christ’s Crucifixion SIDE BAR: Exploring Allegories
How Do We Access the Kingdom of God? SIDE BAR: Is Simple Belief Sufficient for Salvation?
The Kingdom of God: The Battle Continues  

Reading the literature generated by the various eschatological systems1 can be a bit confusing because many utilize the phrase “kingdom of God” rather loosely – they do not provide solid boundaries as to what constitutes the “kingdom of God.” Some amillennialism contend that the kingdom of God arrived during Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry specifically at Christ’s crucifixion. They believe that Jesus is currently ruling the kingdom from King David’s throne in heaven. Some premillennialists contend that the kingdom of God was delayed because the Jewish authorities rejected Jesus as the Messiah. They believe that the kingdom will not arrive until Christ’s Second Advent. Other viewpoints made the issue even more confusing.

Before beginning this study, I had assumed that the kingdom of God had come at Christ’s crucifixion but would not be fully realized until the millennial reign. However, shortly after taking a closer examination I realized that assumption was inexact and greater precision was necessary. Therefore, one of my first tasks was to determine the meaning for the following verse:

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

Matthew 4:17: From that time Jesus began to preach , and to say , Repent : for the kingdom of heaven is at hand .

Mark 1:15: And saying, “The time is fulfilled , and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.”

I approached the problem like a jigsaw puzzle. I searched through the scriptures and isolated those pieces that shared similar characteristics. In this case, I performed a word search for “kingdom of God” and “kingdom of heaven,” read the context of each passage, cut & pasted each passage into a text document, provided a label to indicate the primary characteristic, and then organized the passages according to the assigned labels. The following reflects my discoveries:

The Kingdom is Beyond Human Logic

The kingdom of God is God’s kingdom, not ours… his rules, not ours… his purpose, not ours… his logic, not ours… Although we humans were created in God’s image, our minds are those of infants – we simply cannot comprehend the vastness of the creation, the expanse of God’s glory, or the complexity of His justice. Our best scientific minds search the cosmos in a vain attempt for a key to understanding the universe, but they fail miserably.

Matthew 5:3: Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Luke 7:28: For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.

Matthew 20:1, 16: For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder…So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

Matthew 18:1-4: At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Albert Einstein was perhaps the greatest mind of the last century. He found Sir Isaac Newton’s scientific theories deficit and postulated new theories such as special and general relativity. Yet, even those theories were insufficient to explain the mechanics of the cosmos and the new theories such as dark matter and dark energy were required. Neither dark matter nor dark energy can be seen or measured but scientists believe in them because they have no other explanations for our universe. Their failing is not specifically in their scientific theories but generally in their reliance on the limited human mind to comprehend the vastness of God’s creation.

We, as humans, make a similar error if we apply purely human logic to the biblical text. Many scholars analyze biblical passages not as the “Word of God” but as the words of men who were inspired by God. Certainly a God who created the universe, formed man, and resurrected the dead could fashion a text that was a living, breathing creation – one that changed, not in substance and form, but in application as circumstances and humanity changed. The Bible is not a history book or an instruction manual but an instrument used by the Holy Spirit to bring salvation to the sinner and enlightenment to those born of the spirit and with ears that will hear.

One of the best examples of the failing of human logic can be found in the debate of free will and predestination.

One of my biggest struggles is to overcome preconceived ideas, beliefs, and notions. We have a natural affinity to think of our thoughts as correct and resist any notion that our ideas are wrong. Once we develop a line of thought, we want to find verification that that line is true. Within this study, I’ve found it difficult to accept that still, quiet voice telling me to open my mind… to realize that a belief needs adjusting and refining.

We cannot “prove” that something is “true” or “false” concerning the kingdom of God because His kingdom defies human logic. We can only gain a glimpse, a childish impression, that slowly grows and matures as we learn to trust in the Holy Spirit.

Proverbs 3:5: Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

The Kingdom is Not Physical but Spiritual

Many believers look for Jesus Christ’s physical return to earth – often called the Blessed Hope (Titus 2:13). Unfortunately, only a lucky generation will escape the grip of death to meet the Lord in the air. The rest of us will live out our lives in quiet, but unfulfilled, anticipation.

Romans 14:17: “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”

John 3:5-8: …”Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” Marvel not that I said unto thee, “Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”

Luke 17:20-21: And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”

If we desire a mature and meaningful relationship with God we must look inward – entos: within, inside, the inside.4 On earth there are constant battles being waged… not just battles between good and evil, but battles between our worldly desires and our spiritual needs. Far too often we depend on our own capabilities to pull us through the difficult times. Yes, we pray but we don’t really expect divine intervention. If God does answer prayers, we believe, it is only indirectly. Yes, we believe in miracles, but they are simply that, miracles… not everyday occurrences.

We, as humans, make an error if we place our trust in the physical world. Once we accept Christ as our savior, we become born of the spirit, but that infant spirit requires nurturing, feeding, and experience. If we trust only in the physical world we never learn to rely on the spiritual world – we remain infants who are reliant on others for our daily needs. It is good to read the works of others and to listen to our pastor’s sermons, but we also need to do some of the heavy lifting for ourselves – we need to study to show ourselves approved.

The Kingdom is Not Heaven

When the thief being crucified next to Christ asked to be remember when Jesus arrived in his kingdom, Jesus did not respond, “Verily I say unto thee, ‘Today shalt thou be with me in my kingdom.’” No, he responded, “Verily I say unto thee, ‘Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.’” Why? The kingdom of God is a spiritual state of being (condition of existence) and heaven is a tangible, physical location. The thief entered the kingdom of God the exact moment he realized he was in need of and Jesus could provide spiritual redemption – while he was yet alive. He entered heaven after he experienced physical death.

Luke 23:40-43: But the other answering rebuked him, saying, “Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?” “And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.” And he said unto Jesus, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” And Jesus said unto him, “Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.”

The apostle Paul referred to “paradise” as the third heaven:

2 Corinthians 12:2: I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.

Some scholars believe that the first heaven is our sky (the atmosphere), the second heaven the space within our universe (the moon, sun, planets, and stars), and God’s abode beyond out universe – the third heaven.

The apostle John envisioned heaven differently with entry through an open door:

Revelation 4:1: After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, “Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.”

So whether physically or metaphorically, heaven is a location where a soul can physically go, perhaps on a separate plane than our universe, but nevertheless, a location in existence.

Scripture metaphorically illustrates that “heaven” is within the physical realm:

Genesis 28:12-13: And he [Jacob] dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. And, behold, the LORD stood above it…

2 Kings 2:11: …there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

John 1:51: And he saith unto him, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.”

God created three physical abodes – places where a person can exist: heaven, earth, and sea:

Acts 4:24: …Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is…

Revelation 5:13: And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying…

Psalms 146:5-6: Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God: Which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is: which keepeth truth for ever…

NOTE: The phrase “under the earth” and “in the sea” indicate the abode of the dead.

Heaven is a location; the kingdom of heaven is a state of being – the two are not synonymous… they are not the same.

The Kingdom Was Not Delayed Because of Rejection

To be consistent with Old Testament prophecy, Jesus offered Israel the Kingdom. This was not fulfilled by the spiritual Kingdom that Jesus actually established through the Church. So, clearly the literal Kingdom was not established. Rather it was postponed and God inserted an Age… If Israel had accepted Jesus as their King, He would have been able to establish the Kingdom that very year (A.D.33). However, because they rejected Him, the Kingdom was postponed for 2000 years.10

This theory has some elements of truth. First, the ministry of John the Baptist was in preparation of the arrival of the kingdom of God, and Jesus assumed that role once John was imprisoned:

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

Mark 1:14-15: Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.”

Second, it is also true that the Gospel was first offered exclusively to the Jews:

Matthew 10:5: These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, “Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into [any] city of the Samaritans enter ye not.”

Third, it is also true that the Jewish authorities rejected the messianic role of Jesus:

Luke 10:33: [Saying], “Behold , we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles.”

Mark 15:1-3: … the chief priests with the elders and the experts in the law and the whole Sanhedrin tied Jesus up, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. So Pilate asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” He replied, “You say so.” Then the chief priests began to accuse him repeatedly.

The rejection by Jewish authorities was not unexpected. Jesus taught that the Gospel would be rejected by the Jewish authorities, and the Gospel subsequently given to the Gentiles. The kingdom of God was not delayed, but its residency was extended to the Gentiles:

Matthew 8:10-11: [speaking of the Roman Centurion] When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Luke 13:26-30: Then shall ye begin to say, “We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets.” But he shall say, “I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.” There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.”

Matthew 21:42-43: Jesus saith unto them, “Did ye never read in the scriptures, ‘The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?’” Therefore I say unto you, “The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.”

Unfortunately, what this theory fails to comprehend is that the kingdom of God was a spiritual realm not a physical, earthly kingdom. Like the Pharisees and the Sadducees, supporters of this theory mistake the spiritual for the physical. The kingdom has come, just not in the way many expected.

The Kingdom Existed Prior to Christ’s Crucifixion

Some realized eschatologists assert that the kingdom of God arrived following the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ; however, that theory is somewhat misleading.

Mark 1:14-15: Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Matthew 4:17: From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Luke 10:9: And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, “The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.”

For some reason, biblical scholars often translate the term “at hand” or “nigh” as being “near in time.” However, I believe this is an error. I assert that the term more accurately reflects “near in place.”

1448 eggízō (from 1451 /eggýs, "near") – properly, has drawn close (come near). 1448 (eggízō) occurs 14 times in the Greek perfect tense (indicative mood) in the NT which expresses "extreme closeness, immediate imminence – even a presence ('It is here') because the moment of this coming happened (i.e. at the beginning of Jesus' ministry)" (J. Schlosser).13

Notice that in the following verse, the term “not far” seems to indicate distance – not “makran” at a distance, far away, remote:14

Mark 12:33-34: “And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, “Thou art not far from the kingdom of God…”

In this discourse with the Pharisees, Christ indicated that the kingdom of God has already arrived:

Matthew 12:28: “But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.”

Luke 11:20: “But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you.”

In his lament of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, Christ indicated that they were already obstructing the path into the kingdom of God:

Matthew 23:13: But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for you neither go in yourselves, neither allow you them that are entering to go in.

Luke 11:52: Woe unto you, lawyers! for you have taken away the key of knowledge: you entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in you hindered.

Interestingly, the twelve disciples apparently understood the message of the kingdom of God without understanding the need for Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection:

Mark 4:11: And he said unto them, “Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are outside, all these things are done in parables.”

Matthew 16:21-22: From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.”

Luke 18:31-34: Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be handed over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.” The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about.

It is also interesting to understand that the disciples were to preach the Gospel of the kingdom of God without revealing that Jesus was the Christ:

Matthew 16:16, 20: And Simon Peter answered and said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God…” Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.

Luke 9:20-21: He said unto them, “But whom say ye that I am?” Peter answering said, The Christ of God. And he straitly charged them, and commanded them to tell no man that thing.

Mark 8:29-30: And he saith unto them, “But whom say ye that I am?” And Peter answereth and saith unto him, “Thou art the Christ”. And he charged them that they should tell no man of him.

All too frequently, scholars focus their attention on Jesus as the Christ instead of his message. Although Christ’s death and resurrection are essential to our salvation, that message was not what Jesus preached during his earthly ministry.

If it’s been awhile since you’ve read Matthew, Chapter 5, 6, and 7, read them… do it in one sitting. If those chapters don’t describe your life, perhaps you need to rethink your spiritual walk.

Romans 14:17: For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink;  but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

Luke 9: 27: But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God.

How Do We Access the Kingdom of God?

What then is the kingdom of God? Thus far, we have identified that:

  1. The kingdom is beyond human logic.
     
  2. The kingdom is not physical but spiritual.
     
  3. The kingdom is not heaven.
     
  4. The kingdom was not delayed because of rejection.
     
  5. The kingdom arrived before Christ’s crucifixion.

But we have yet to identify the nature of the kingdom of God.

kingdom: basileia: kingship, sovereignty, authority, rule, especially of God, both in the world, and in the hearts of men; hence: kingdom, in the concrete sense.17

All of creation, all the universe, all outside the universe, all that is is under the authority and rule of God:

Revelation 22:13: I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

Nothing occurs that occurs without the expressed or implied will of God:

Isaiah 46:10-11: Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish. I will call a swift bird of prey from the east— a leader from a distant land to come and do my bidding. I have said what I would do, and I will do it. (NLT)

The kingdom of God has always existed and humans have always had access to it. Enoch and Elijah were taken away without experiencing physical death. Moses, who died at the age of 120, was in heaven during Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the Old Testament prophets had access to the kingdom of God:

Matthew 17:2-3: And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.

Luke 13:28: There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out.

Thus, the “kingdom of God” is not a literal expression because all things are already within the sovereignty of God. Rather the “kingdom” of God is a metaphor – it is a literary device that using something familiar to help explain something that is unfamiliar. Unfortunately, as a figurative language device it is subject to misinterpretation and misapplication.

As discussed in the previous section, access to the kingdom of God existed prior to Christ’s crucifixion and the Gospel did not include Christ’s redemptive work on the cross – the disciples preached the Gospel (Luke 9:1-6) prior to the realization that Jesus was the Messiah (Luke 9:18-20) and prior to the revelation of Jesus’ sufferings (Luke 9:22-26). This is an important distinction.

Biblical scholars frequently portray that access to the kingdom of God is dependent upon the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ. This is a serious theological error. It results in multiple mixed metaphors – a combination of two or more metaphors that together produce a ridiculous effect.18 Some amillennialists assert that the kingdom is found in the Church and that Christ is ruling on King David’s throne in heaven. Some premillennialists assert that the kingdom was delayed because the Jews rejected Jesus as the Messiah and that the kingdom will not arrive until Christ’s Second Advent.

The “Church” may be a form of a kingdom but it is not the “kingdom.” The “Millennial Reign” may be a form of a kingdom but is not the “kingdom.” Jesus Christ’s sacrificial work during his earthly ministry was essential in bridging the gap between mankind and God, but it was not the “key” to the kingdom.

Covenant theology, while possessing a fairly accurate portrait of the kingdom of God, is bewildered by the thought of unredeemed human beings living on earth during the earthly, millennial reign of Christ. They assert that God's main purpose in history is Christ and secondarily the Church. The Church is the culmination of God's saying purpose for the ages. Most hold to a form of unconditional election and irresistible grace.19 Redemption, according to the Five Points of Calvinism, is not based on an individual’s faith nor does the individual have a choice in the matter.

Premillennialism also frequently misses the mark in understanding the character and nature of the kingdom of God. Many see the attributes described within the kingdom of God parables as attributes that will be prevalent during the Millennium, not necessarily present during the current age. They tend to simplify individual salvation frequently rendering it a momentary act of contrition rather than a permanent change in heart.

Please note, at no point do I wish to diminish the power or necessity of Christ’s redemptive work during his earthly ministry. It is through this work that Jesus Christ has disproven Satan’s accusations against mankind, it is through this work that the breach between God and mankind has been bridged, it is through this work that my sins are forgiven, and it is through this work that the earth will be redeemed from its wickedness. However, it is important for us to understand that the Gospel was preached prior to and apart from Christ’s sacrificial work. We need to understand the human role in accessing the kingdom of God.

Metaphors are useful figurative language devices as the characteristics of the concrete help us to understand the characteristics of the abstract. In this case, a “kingdom” possesses at least three attributes that help us understand the “kingdom of God.”

from Webster’s 1828 Dictionary: 1. The territory or country subject to a king… 2. The inhabitants or population subject to a king… 4. A region; a tract; the place where any thing prevails and holds sway…20

  1. A kingdom has a ruling king or monarch.
     
  2. A kingdom has subjects or inhabitants.
     
  3. A kingdom has a territory, country, or region.

The Monarch of the Kingdom: Within the current age, the ruling monarch is under dispute. While Jesus Christ completed all the work necessary to redeem the earth, he has yet to take physical possession.21 Thus, technically, Satan remains the “god” of this world and retains full authority.

Luke 4:5-6: The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours.” (NIV)

The Subjects of the Kingdom: Within the current age, the subjects of the kingdom include both Jew and Gentile with no distinction between the two:

Romans 10:11-13: As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (NIV)

The dispute, however, is not over which humans are potential subjects of the kingdom but rather the condition of the human heart:

Matthew 18:3: And said, “Truly, I say to you, If you do not have a change of heart and become like little children, you will not go into the kingdom of heaven.” (BBE)

The Territory of the Kingdom: Within the current age and as previously discussed, the kingdom is not a physical realm but rather a spiritual one:

Luke 17:20-12: Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.” (NIV)

Within the current age, there are two potential kingdoms – the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan, and the inhabitants of each kingdom is determined by the condition of the individual human heart. By default, an individual is a subject within Satan’s kingdom; however, the good news of the Gospel is that an individual can switch his allegiance (loyalty, commitment, and adherence) and become a subject of the kingdom of God.

One’s allegiance is determined not by a single act, not through a religious act, not through works, not through doctrine, and not through heritage, but by the condition of the human heart:

Matthew 6:21 & Luke 12:34: For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (NIV)

Luke 6:4-5: The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. (NIV)

Jesus Christ’s sacrificial work and right to assume the throne of King David are essential, but they remain fruitless unless the individual properly conditions their heart to receive the message of the Gospel:

Mark 13:19-23: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” (NIV)

The focus of this parable is not on the sower or the seed, but on the condition of the soil – the condition of the human heart. What then is a properly conditioned heart? That, my friend, is the message of the Gospel, the parables, the teachings of Jesus Christ during his earthly ministry… We can briefly summarize these teachings:

  1. That we must repent: We must decide that this world holds little of real value; we must recognize that the ways of this world are wicked, fruitless, and brings little lasting joy.
     
  2. That we must be humble: We must understand that we possess little of real value; we must recognize that our wisdom is foolishness, our strengths are weakness, and our achievements are insignificant.
     
  3. That we must be righteous: Not holiness, but righteousness – justness, integrity, morality. We must have a strong yearning to do what is morally correct; not for want of reward or fear of punishment but because it is fitting.
     

Micah 6:8: No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. (NIV)

We are incapable of altering our hearts in a meaningful way… The Old Testament is filled with examples of the insufficiencies of human will; however, once we nurture a yearning, then the Lord will take the remaining steps necessary to transfer our citizenship from the kingdom of Satan to the kingdom of God:

Mark 10:26-27: The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” (NIV)

Colossians 1:13: For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son. (NIV)

The Kingdom of God: The Battle Continues

Matthew 13:37-40: He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.

While the mortgage for mankind and planet earth has been paid in full, the Father has not yet permitted the Son to take possession. The individual may wonder why God delays the process, but the longer he delays, the greater the harvest of souls:

Luke 13: 18-19: Then said he, “Unto what is the kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I resemble it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it.”

Luke 13:20-21: And again he said, “Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God? It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.”

Throughout the current age, scholars have attempted to calculate the timing of Christ’s return… but that’s simple not in the cards for mortal men to know:

Matthew 24:36: But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

Acts 1:6-7: When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” And he said unto them, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.”

When all of the souls destined for salvation are saved, then will the end of this age will come:

2 Peter 3:8-9: But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

Revelation 6:10-11: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.

But until that time, the battle between good and evil continues. Many amillennialists believe that Satan was bound at Christ’s death and resurrection; however, the scripture teaches that Satan is unshackled and prowling among us today:

1 Peter 5:8: Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.

2 Corinthians 4:3-4: But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

Revelation 12:17: And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Probably the most effective of Satan’s tool is false doctrine and false teachers:

Ephesians 6:11-12: Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

2 Corinthians 11:13-15: For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will correspond to their actions.

The battle continues on a global scale, but each will be held accountable for the gifts given to us individually. What is the best weapon to use in our personal battle? The scriptures of the Bible:

2 Corinthians 5:10: For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

2 Timothy 2:15: Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.


1“Christian term that means the study of the end of history from a religious perspective.” from “Christian belief systems: Competing theories of eschatology, end times, and millennialism,” Religious Tolerance.org. Nov. 10, 2009. <http://www.religioustolerance.org/millenni.htm> Nov. 21, 2011.

2"predestination," Yahoo Education: Houghton Mifflin, 2009. <http://education.yahoo.com/reference/dictionary/entry/predestination> Oct. 12, 2011.

3"free will," Yahoo Education: Houghton Mifflin, 2009. <http://education.yahoo.com/reference/dictionary/entry/free%20will> Oct. 12, 2011.

4“entos,” Strong’s Concordance: Biblos.com, 2011. <http://concordances.org/greek/1787.htm> Oct. 13, 2011.

5“sóma,” Strong’s Concordance: Biblos.com, 2011. <http://concordances.org/greek/5590.htm> Oct. 13, 2011.

6“psuché,” Strong’s Concordance: Biblos.com, 2011. <http://concordances.org/greek/5590.htm> Oct. 13, 2011.

7“pneuma,” Strong’s Concordance: Biblos.com, 2011. <http://concordances.org/greek/4151.htm> Oct. 13, 2011.

8Genesis 3:6.

9John Wesley, Sermons on Several Occasions, Volume 1, London: Thomas Tegg, 1829, pg. 509.

10“Key 7: The Kingdom Rejected and Postponed,” Oxford Bible Church, ND. <http://www.oxfordbiblechurch.co.uk/pages/books/end-time-prophecy/etp-index/kingdom-rejected.php> Oct. 31, 2011.

11“eklektos,” Strong’s Concordance: Biblos.com, 2011. < http://concordances.org/greek/1588.htm> Oct. 30, 2011.

12See Topic Analysis: Dual Purpose Literary Devices.

13“eggízō,” HELPS Word Studies, Helps Ministries, Inc., div.org/greek/1448.htm> Oct. 31, 2011.

14“makran,” Strong’s Concordance: Biblos.com, 2011. <http://concordances.org/greek/3756.htm> Oct. 30, 2011.

15LouisGinzberg, “Abomination of Desolation,” JewishEncyclopedia.com, <http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com> Sep. 27, 2011.

16Several of Clarence Larkin’s books and charts are available in digital form on the Internet at http://www.preservedwords.com/.

17“basileia,” Strong’s Concordance: Biblos.com, 2011. <http://concordances.org/greek/932.htm> Oct. 15, 2011.

18“mixed metaphor,” Vocabulary.com, 2011 <http://www.vocabulary.com/definition/mixed_metaphor> Nov. 21, 2011.

19“Dispensationalism - A Reformed Evaluation,” First Presbyterian Church of Jackson Mississippi, ND <http://www.fpcjackson.org/resources/apologetics/covenant%20theology%20 &%20justification/ligons_covtheology/09.htm> Nov. 21, 2011.

20“kingdom,” Webster's 1828 Dictionary, ND <http://1828.mshaffer.com/d/word/kingdom> Nov. 21, 2011.

21See Satan Evicted: The Foundation within this study.

22in fact by physical possession but not by right according to law.

23by right according to law but not demonstrated in fact by physical possession


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