First the Kingdom part 24, The increase of the Kingdom
In my early years I remember hearing that eventually the numbers of believing Christians would be reduced world wide. Very few people would be saved like in the days of Noah when only 8 people survived. That upset me. I hated to hear it, hoping that it was not true. Back then I only heard the passages of scripture that seemed to support this dire expectation.
You can imagine the excitement I felt when I began to learn of other passages of scripture which helped to explain the plan of God more clearly! While I admit of my bias against the old negative outlook I have confidence in the positive one for several reasons. First of all, it presents Jesus Christ as the wonderful, powerful and victorious Savior who I have come to know! He is so very real to me and has been so for over 40 years! It is inconceivable to me that he could ever possibly fail in His purpose. His Word has penetrated my heart, my mind, my life so thoroughly and completely to the point that it is more real than what I can see, hear and touch with my senses!
Over the past 40 years I have found countless others who have also been so touched by our Lord Jesus, Who is Lord of us all! We are not like those who have a shared illusion. Not at all! We have a shared reality that is not only subjective and personal to us alone, but can be backed up by hard evidence as well! In spite of the many trials and failures, the Lord Jesus is still building His church, and the gates of hell have NOT prevailed against it!
Every passage that appears to be showing otherwise must be weighed and considered along with many more that glorify God, revealing His wisdom, power and love for His creation.
A well-known passage from the prophet Isaiah that is often shown on Christmas cards tells us of Christ’s incredible victory:
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of Jehovah of hosts will perform this.”
Here we do not have a picture of a diminishing reign, but one of unending advancement! The entire bible presents the reign of Christ as more than territorial. It is about the power of His character, His virtue, His justice and love at work in the hearts of people. His goal has never been to destroy humanity. He has gone to great lengths to restore us to sweet fellowship and communion with Him that existed in the beginning.
2 Peter 3:9:
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count slackness; but is longsuffering to you-ward, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
The message of Jesus was the Good News of the Kingdom of God. He called everyone who heard Him to repent of their sins and to believe in His Good News. When He was eventually crucified it did not at all appear to be good news. However his resurrection, His ascension to the throne in heaven and His outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon believers on the Day of Pentecost proved that the time for the reign of the heavens had finally come to mankind!
His power was not to steal, kill and to destroy but to give life. He was lifted up on the cross that He might draw all mankind unto Him! The fact is that everyone was enslaved, even the Romans who had long oppressed the people of God in Israel. Even the religious leaders who hoped to control them were in fact victims of Adam’s fallen nature. Christ died and rose again so that even they could be free!
His strategy was simple. He would gather unto Himself the humble and teachable. He would then empower them to spread the Good News through their words and actions. They became a city on a hill that could not be hid! Violent and evil men tried to suppress them as they do to this day. Yet, for 2,000 years the Kingdom of God has continued to increase in the earth. It does not depend upon the political or the economical power of this world. Too often Christians forget this fact. Our power is our faith in Christ and the Holy Spirit Who lives within us!
Every time a sinner hears and believes the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and is changed by the Holy Spirit from within, the Kingdom of God advances. Every inch of spiritual growth is Kingdom growth. Every time believers gather in love for christ and one another, there will be an increase in the reign of Christ. Each time one discovers and operates in his or her spiritual gift to build up the Body of Christ, Christ will be seen and His will can be revealed.
This is not so much about visible church attendance but about our individually and collectively demonstrating the good, acceptable and perfect will of God! God’s kingdom comes to us, and His will is done in us as in heaven when we trust in His wisdom and love! The increase of His government and peace will never end!
In some quarters my words are considered heresy. Some believe that such optimism is naive and only belongs to liberal humanists or New Age adherents that deny the sinful nature of mankind. To them I would answer that the sin of mankind is no match for the grace, wisdom and love of Christ, and only their unbelief is standing in the way of their part in the greatest turning to God that the world has ever seen!
If any of these words ring true to you, I would encourage you to embrace this optimism that can only come from the Creator and Lord of all. If you have questions about bible prophesy, there are greater scholars than myself who can guide you through the difficult passages and can reconcile the different views for you. But most of all I hope you will join with those of us who proclaim that Jesus is Lord NOW, and who desire to live as citizens of heaven today, working to advance His reign by sharing His life day by day!