In an earlier podcast I shared an experience I had forty years ago from which I have never recovered. Like so many others, I had caught a small glimpse of what God has in mind for all of humanity. Remembering the garden in Eden that Adam and Eve once enjoyed, it seems to us like paradise. And there seems to be a sense in the heart of all people that there is such a place, or at least a desire that paradise would be real.
Where does this desire come from? If many modern theories about our origin are true, there is no basis for such a hope. How could a one-celled life form, or even an ape pass down a memory of a blissful existence? How could an accident of nature conjure up in its imagination a world such as the one described in nearly every ancient culture? A wise man, whose words are preserved for us in the Bible, noted that God Himself has placed eternity in our hearts! (Eccl. 3:11 NIV)
While some are satisfied to simply picture heaven in their minds, Jesus set forth that His mission was to proclaim the coming of heaven to earth! He also challenged anyone who had ears to hear, that they should ready themselves for it. Only those who repent of their sins and trust in Him to deliver them can be truly “born from above,” and gain an entrance into this Kingdom. It is truly an experience, but one that literally transports us from one realm of existence, the kingdom of darkness, into the Kingdom of God’s dear Son. (John 3:3-5, Cols. 1:13).
In this Kingdom there is a different set of values and even a different way of seeing things. Instead of self-preservation, there is self-sacrifice. Instead of coercion there is serving others. There is both an immediate transformation and a progressive one. Now the Kingdom of God is within us, changing our hearts and attitudes as we intentionally confess Jesus as Lord of all things. Not only does He give the desire, but also the power to live a life of goodness, holiness and joy as citizens of heaven! (Phil. 2:13, 3:20).
Jesus told his dear friend Martha that anyone who lived and believed in Him would never die. Those who have gone before us in physical death are alive and with Him now, but they too, will be a part of heaven on earth. He will bring them back at the climax of the ages! (1 Thess. 4:13-14).
This Kingdom that we can experience now is on the move. Like yeast in flour, it permeates society, one heart at a time. (Matthew 13:33). The exciting thing as that we get to participate in the increase of His Kingdom. As we follow the example of Christ, going about doing good, showing kindness to others, telling them about His gracious love for us, the Good News of the Kingdom becomes contagious. It has been spreading for two thousand years now. It began with only twelve disciples, and has grown to untold billions since then!
Within a few days after Christ’s resurrection and ascension, a community of believers became the first expression of His Kingdom on the earth. It was the mighty Holy Spirit that descended like a hurricane upon them that empowered them to live together and to love one another so.
Christ is bringing the work that He began back then unto a climax in our day. He is calling for a fresh new wineskin to contain and preserve the New Wine of the Spirit that will duplicate the glory of that first assembly in Jerusalem. This new wineskin is actually a simple, humble, flexible community of people who love God more than their own pride and power. It is to be led by those who love serving more than being served.
The central focus is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, Who was truly the Servant of all. It is all about Him! While there will always be great diversity in our worship, He is bringing us into a greater unity than we have ever known. This is all for our good and His glory, in order that all the world will truly know that He is Lord! (Phil 2:10-11).
For in Christ we have a glorious past, a marvelous present, but also a future that is beyond words!