Friday, November 6, 2009

We are Receiving a Kingdom

Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:32)

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. (Hebrews 12:28)
Jesus came into the world preaching, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel” (Mark 1:15), and He said that it is the Father’s desire to give us the kingdom. The author of Hebrews says that we are receiving that kingdom.

Note the tense. It is not “we have received,” as if it has fully arrived and we have taken complete possession of it, nor is it, “we will receive,” as if it is all and only in the future. But it is “are receiving,” and that speaks of something that has already begun, is now in progress and will one day be complete.

It pleases God to give us His kingdom. That must have something to do with faith, since without faith it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6). We receive this kingdom by faith, that is, by believing what God has said and living by it. As we do, it will begin to manifest more and more in our lives and in the world. The author of Hebrews, in his context, shows us something of what this kingdom means:
You have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God (the heavenly Jerusalem), to myriads of angels in festive gathering, to the assembly of the firstborn whose names have been written in heaven, to God who is the judge of all, to the spirits of righteous people made perfect, to Jesus (mediator of a new covenant), and to the sprinkled blood, which says better things than the blood of Abel. (Hebrews 12:22-24 HCSB)
  • We have come to Mount Zion. This is where God has chosen to dwell and manifest His presence among His people.
  • We have come to the city of the living God. This is the city Abraham was seeking, the city “which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10). Now we have come to that city and Paul reminds us, “You are the temple of the living God” (2 Corinthians 6:16).
  • We have come to the heavenly Jerusalem. Heavenly Jerusalem speaks of a higher realm. In the Jewish mind, this represented the expectation of a future age. Now we have come to that city and the reality of heaven is already breaking into the world.
  • We have come to myriads of angels in festive gathering. The angels of God are now gathered together in a joyful convocation, a festival of praise because God has done what He promised, King Jesus has come into the world to redeem humanity and creation, and has ascended to the throne of God.
  • We have come to the assembly of the firstborn whose names are written in heaven. “Firstborn” shows that we have a Father, God, and that He has an inheritance for us, which is His kingdom. It is not just for us individually, but together as an assembly, a community of faith. Our names are written together on the citizen rolls of heaven. Paul says, “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God”: (Ephesians 2:19). “Our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).
  • We have come to God who is the judge of all. “Judge” speaks of God’s sovereign rule and authority over all. He is the one who sets all things right in the world and that is what His kingdom is about.
  • We have come to the spirits of righteous people made perfect. This speaks of our communion together, a connection stronger than death, even with those who have gone before us and no longer walk this planet. While we are still in the process of reckoning ourselves dead to sin but alive to God (Romans 6:11), they have been made thoroughly and completely perfect in Jesus the Messiah. “Perfected at last!” is the sense of the text.
  • We have come to Jesus, mediator of a new covenant. Jesus is the reason for how we have come to all these things. All the blessing of the kingdom is summed up in the new covenant, of which He is the mediator.
  • We have come to the sprinkled blood, which says better things than the blood of Abel. This is the heart of the covenant: the shedding of blood, demonstrating the surety of the promise. In the new covenant Jesus mediates for us with the Father, Jesus is the sacrifice — He gives us Himself. This covenant, and the blood by which in which it was cut, speaks incomparable things for us, more than any other blood ever could. The blood of Abel cried out for revenge, but the blood of Jesus speaks of the redemption and restoration of humanity and all creation.
Regardless of what is happening in the world, the kingdom of God, which we are now receiving, cannot be shaken. Rather, it is already breaking into this present age to shake the world, as God sets things right in and through those who believe Him and receive King Jesus by grace through faith.

It is the Father’s good pleasure to give us His kingdom, and those who receive the king receive the kingdom.