In the Kingdom of God and the Church Series 2001
How Does God’s Kingdom Find
By Ed Corley
Repent ye: for the Kingdom of Heaven is
SOME PEOPLE MAKE A DISTINCTION between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven. I don’t. The passages recorded in Matthew generally make reference to the Kingdom of Heaven. Similar passages in the other Gospels make reference to the Kingdom of God. Only Matthew ever calls it the Kingdom of Heaven. However, if there were to be a distinction, the Kingdom of God might emphasize the One to Whom it belongs, while the Kingdom of Heaven could emphasize the region from whence it comes.
The Apostles sometimes made reference to the Kingdom of Christ. He is the One through Whom God’s Kingdom came into the earth. Generally, we will make reference to it as the "Kingdom of God, " or sometimes "God’s Kingdom," sometimes "Christ’s Kingdom," and sometimes just "the Kingdom." And, sometimes we will make reference to it as the Government of Christ. This is because of what Isaiah said—and the Government shall be upon His shoulder (Isa 9:6). Always we spell these words with capital letters.
When Prophets made reference to this same Kingdom, they called it Zion. To them, this was the Government of God in the earth.
I say all this so you may know from the beginning that we speak of but one Kingdom, and this, with a firm conviction that one day the kingdoms of this world will become the Kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever (Rev 11:15).
It is a wise man who will find all he can about this King and His Kingdom now, for one day His will be the only Government left on earth. Whatever other governments may do in this turbulent closing-out age, and whatever instability may come in our land, His Government is stable and firm. Those who know the Rule of Christ now, and in their lives personally, can remain stable through all the fury of Satan’s end-time attacks upon this Kingdom that he hates—and that he fears.
HIS KINGDOM WHOSE SOURCE IS IN THE HEAVENS will find its beginning with us in our minds. This may seem strange, but it is where the Lord Jesus directed His first statement with regard to the Kingdom. It is important that we always give attention to "the Principle of First Reference." In the New Testament, the exact first reference to the Kingdom came from John the Baptist when he was announcing the presence upon the scene of the Lord Jesus. He said, Repent ye: for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand (Mt 3:2). For him, the presence of Jesus meant the presence of God’s Kingdom. This demanded a repentance.
When Jesus began His public ministry, His first Word was the same as John’s. He began by saying, Repent: for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand (4:17). While the Words of both were the same, there was a difference in their perspective. For John, the repentance he demanded and the Kingdom he presented was wrapped in Someone Who had come, greater than himself. For the Lord Jesus, the repentance He demanded and the Kingdom He presented was wrapped in Himself. Because He was at hand, the Kingdom was at hand.
And there is this we should note. For us who have preached the Kingdom ever since the Lord Jesus brought it into the earth, it can be found only in Him Whose presence remains with us. Strangely and wonderfully—and pathetically for those who don’t know Him personally—the Kingdom has little meaning unless it is found in Him.
For some who may ask, we find from the Greek NT the words of both John and Jesus were the same in the original. Their declaration was so important we should look at their words carefully.
Their word repent is from the Greek metanoéo which basically means "to change one’s mind." It means to adopt another view, to change one’s resolve and purpose. It will result in a change in our opinions, our inclinations, and particularly, in our way of thinking. Thus, we have said the first approach the Lord Jesus makes toward us with regard to the Kingdom is toward our minds. This embraces also what we call the heart, for it is here that understanding and belief both send their roots.
The word from which is at hand comes is a Perfect form of the Greek Verb eggízo. It means "to approach or draw near." Thus, they said, "The Kingdom from the heavens has drawn near us in the earth." No longer confined to a distant and strange realm, what was known before only in the Covenant made with David, and seen only through the eyes of Prophets, could be realized now in the most humble and distant reaches of the earth—in the minds and hearts of people, through the Lord Jesus.
SOME OF OUR MOST USEFUL INSTRUCTION with regard to the Kingdom comes from what the Lord said in Matthew 13. At least, this is where my instruction from the Bible began with regard to it. In this one chapter He has given seven little stories about what the Kingdom of Heaven is like. These comparisons are called parables. This in itself is an interesting word. It is from the Greek parabóle which means "the throwing of one thing along the side of another." It is a parallel case cited as an illustration. It is a short story in which that which is fictitious is employed to represent that which is real. The Lord Jesus used it as one of His favorite means of teaching.
We can only begin to consider these parables in this article. Two of them have to do with planting seeds and will draw our attention first. The seed and the field of each planting is significantly different. In the first parable, the seed is the Word of the Kingdom and the field is the soil of the human heart. In the other the seeds are the children of the Kingdom and the field is the world.
The procedure of planting is different for each. In the first, each seed must be carefully planted and cared for lest it perish. In the other, the seeds are scattered to the wind but survive to grow wherever they land.
Let’s look at the beginning of the first parable. It caught my attention for in it the Lord Jesus came close to describing a field on the farm where I grew up. Just the other day, I found a picture of my old Daddy standing with a bucket in his hand just at the edge of this field where it came up close to our house. It was summer and the corn was growing there. Apparently, it had been a pretty good year. Seeing the picture brought back to my mind what went on there. I can see that field now. Back then, I had no idea the Lord was teaching me about His Kingdom.
Let’s listen to Jesus. This is The Parable of the Soils. Note there are four types of soil that may receive the seed.
5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth:
and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:
7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: (At the bottom of our field there was a small creek where honeysuckle and blackberries grew. The soil there was rich, but any corn that fell there would soon be choked out by the briars and the vines.)
8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. (Thankfully, most of our field provided good soil, even if weeds had a tendency to grow there as well as the corn. I remember my dad saying in a good year we could get a hundred bushels to the acre. This wasn’t always the case, however.)
9 Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
THE PARABLE’ S EXPLANATION COMES IN MT 13:19-25. To me, this is one of the most important and significant passages in the Bible. I go to it time and again, just to hear what Jesus said. As I grow, my understanding grows. The Holy Spirit is always ready to meet me here. I only pray He will meet you and the desire will be birthed in you to become soil that bears an hundredfold. Let’s listen.
20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is
he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;
22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. (How sad that some of the richest soil of the field may be infested with the weeds mentioned here: the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches. Mark mentions yet another, the lusts of other things entering in—Mk 4:19.) Any of these will choke the growth of the Kingdom, even in the life of a committed believer.)
23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. (It was some years before it dawned in my heart that I should ask the Lord to let me become one of the hundredfold. For some this may become painful, for the stalk that grows tall and produces good ears may be stripped bare when the corn is broken from its hold to be thrown in the basket and taken to the crib to lose its identity with all other ears. There it awaits its purpose and must overcome yet other foes that would seek to eat away at the heart of each grain. But, oh what joy awaits in the consummation of the age for the fruit that remains!)
THE FIRST THING OF NOTE in this parable of the soils is that the seed to be planted is the Word of the Kingdom. Here Word is from the Greek lógos. Now, I must be tender and gentle, yet plain. There are two significant words in the Greek New Testament often translated word. One is lógos, occurring in the New Testament well over three hundred times. The other is rhéma, occurring seventy times.
The more I know of the word lógos the more dear it becomes to me. It is almost untranslatable and carries with it a spiritual mystique that reaches back to the heart of God. Part of its meaning is concrete speech, a word spoken, audible and precise. But, it carries more meaning than this. One might say it means the word uttered, plus all the idea and power behind that utterance.
I can’t fully comprehend all that might be meant by the Lógos of God. John used it to speak of the pre-incarnate Christ, that is, the Lord Jesus before He came in the flesh. He said, In the beginning was the Word (the Lógos), and the Word (the Lógos) was with God, and the Word (the Lógos) was God (Jn 1:1). He went on to say, And the Word (the Lógos) was made flesh, and dwelt among us (Jn 1:14). The ultra-beginning of the Lord Jesus was a Lógos Word in the heart of God.
While we can’t comprehend the fullness of what is in the heart of God, or of His Word, we can, at least, begin to see that the Kingdom will come to us as a Word from His heart. It was this the Lord Jesus compared with a seed.
The most clear concept of all this was released in me one day while teaching some African Pastors along the line of Mt 13. They were poor and the circumstance of our meeting was humble, yet the visitation of the Holy Spirit upon our gathering sanctified it to the point that it stands out as one of the most special times I’ve ever known in the presence of the Lord with others.
With those men gathered, I recalled how my dad would send me to the crib to select corn for planting. They could understand this, for "maize" was the staple of their diet and the main crop of their field. I was instructed to select only ears of corn where no weevil had eaten the heart of the grains. To my uninstructed eye there might have appeared no difference, but I was shown how to look at each ear and see if tiny holes appeared in the grains. If so, it meant something had eaten the germ of life from it and it would produce nothing when planted.
We saw it! That’s what the lógos is. It is a word with a germ of life in it. The Word of the Kingdom has in it the germ of Kingdom life. Like corn, when planted in good soil it will grow. In this way the Kingdom takes hold in us.
LET ME SAY A LITTLE MORE about the secret revealed in Mt 13:19 that will hinder the wicked one in his determination to take the Word of the Kingdom from us. It is in this, if anyone will hear the Word and understand it. At first I thought this is not fair, for how can one understand if one cannot understand. It was here a little insight from the original Greek helped me. Understand is from the Greek suníemi. Basically and simply, it means to put something together with something else. I remember my first lesson in "understanding." Although I had received the Lord Jesus as my savior and had been born again, it had never occurred to me that He bore my sickness as well as my sin in His atoning death. Shortly after seeing this revealed in the Word of God, I became ill. It came to me that the Lord had already taken this sickness upon Himself upon the Cross. I put two things together. That was my "understanding." Like in one hand I held the disease, in the other His Word. When I put them together, His Word prevailed because it held within it the germ of healing Life that had come from God. From that time the enemy has never been able to pluck from me the Word that says ye were healed. I had found that both Isaiah and Peter knew this—Is 53:5 and I Pt 2:24. I believe it is a Word of the Kingdom.
IN THIS BRIEF SPACE let me state four principles about the Kingdom we learn from the first parable in Matthew 13.
Now go to the Prayer Starter for this issue:
Then see how the foundation for the Kingdom was laid out long ago
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