15. Kingdom of God
God is, by His very nature and Person, Abundance. Thus in generating increase and life and joy, God is just being Himself. That is why the increase of His Kingdom shall never end. And God is, by His very nature and Person, Victory. Thus, in defeating His enemies, God is just being Himself. That is why God presents the victory of Life over death, of the Lamb over the Beast, of Love over hatred, of Light over darkness, of Mercy over cruelty, as the moment of the birthing of His kingdom into the universe.
15. Kingdom of God
I want to give a specific overview of the critical elements of the Kingdom of God as it is now being birthed upon the earth in our experience. Before I do that, however, I find it necessary to give an account of my revelation.
First, I would like to point out that if you were to comb through everything I have written over the last several years and jot down every Scripture reference I use, you would see a vast panorama of Scripture drawn from almost every book in the Bible and covering most of the themes and teachings of Scripture. I freely admit that I have used fewer things from the Old Testament than I could have. The revelation of Jesus Christ is most certainly written all through the history of the children of Israel and through the symbolism woven into their worship of God. My purpose has been to establish fully in my own understanding the gospel that comes to us through Paul and John.
The point I am making is that I draw from all of Scripture, from all that God says, much more than do most teachers or preachers of the word. More than that, even if I do not mention them, all the stories of all the men and women of the Bible from Job to David to Daniel to Jesus to John press upon my understanding as I write, along with all the symbols and metaphors God uses from the tabernacle in the wilderness to the journey of Israel to the life of David to the gospels of Jesus to the vision of John.
Everything I teach and every present revelation the Lord Jesus opens to me in our walk together comes, however, out of the definition of one Hebrew word:
the center part – tzlm, which is tselem, when the vowels that Hebrew does not use are inserted. The first time tselem is found in the Old Testament, the translators use the English word “image”; most of the time it is used, however, the translators call it, “idol.”
I know almost nothing about Hebrew, but some 20-25 years ago, I did a word study on the wordtselem with whatever resources I had at the time and determined through that study that tselemmeans “a visible representation of an invisible spirit.”
EVERYTHING that I teach and EVERY PART of the revelation that grows inside of me is rooted in and comes out of a continual contemplation of that definition of that word. In other words, if I have the definition wrong, or if God does not give much importance to it, then all my revelation must be empty. Of course, I bring that definition into the New Testament and there I do find it written all through the revelation of Jesus Christ as if that definition is correct and as if God places everything upon the meaning of that one word –
Let us make man in Our IMAGE!
That is, let us make man to be the visible representation to all creation of our invisible Person and Godhead.
You see, I also apply two other definitions to every word God speaks, starting with this word, “image.” I define every word God speaks as personal – Jesus – revealed personally in me. And I define every word God speaks as being without limitation unless God Himself has placed some limitation upon that word in that passage. Now, if I am wrong, if God is a far-away and impersonal God who speaks things far-away from me (how could I so love the Bible if that were true), and if God is a limited God, whose words, when spoken, must be defined and limited and made humanly “reasonable,” then all that I teach must be wrong.
And so, it is by that statement of God in Genesis chapter 1 that I have determined that Romans 8:28-30 is the most important verse in the Bible. “From the beginning, God determined to conform me to the image of His dear Son.” Out from that same word “image” and its definition, I have determined then, the eight most important verses of the Bible as I have shared.
And so over the last several years, I have thought continually about the word “image” and what it MUST mean. Out of the contemplation of that meaning comes everything I teach. Obviously, I add to my understanding of the word “image” all the many critical things God says in the Covenant He signed with Christ my life upon the cross.
Now, Peter, in 1 Peter Chapter 1 makes an incredible, mind-blowing claim. It’s good that Peter makes this claim and not Paul or John. That, I think, allows us to give this claim the weight it demands.
Peter claims that there is coming into the experience of the church of Jesus Christ upon this earth two things that WERE NOT experienced or known by any of the writers of the New Testament. That means that neither John nor Paul nor Peter nor James nor Luke nor Matthew could tell us one thing about the reality or the experience of these two things as they come upon us now at the end of this age.
We are on our own – save the Jesus who lives in our hearts who knows the full reality of these two things.
The first thing Peter says must come into our experience right now is a SALVATION that has never been known or seen upon the earth. The second thing Peter says must come into our experience right now is a GRACE that has never been known or seen in the life of any Christian before. Actually, that Grace comes as the forerunner of that Salvation.
This Grace and this Salvation have begun to come upon our lives. It is Salvation in fullness and it is Grace without measure. “I will give unto My two witnesses, and they shall prophecy.”
As we see, more and more, the full meaning and revelation of the eight most important verses of the Bible revealed in our lives, the necessity that what those verses, and the other many verses that say almost the same thing as those eight, mean – MUST BE blowing us away.
If I am in fact filled with all the fullness of God – I am His dwelling place far more than heaven ever could be – if, in fact, God flows out of ME as rivers of living water, if in fact my very life in its entirety is a casting down of all things that oppose God or that seek to cause hurt to others, then the meaning of those three things MUST grow forever, and especially, the meaning of those things MUST BE EXPLODING in my sight right now.
Driving back from school yesterday evening, it dawned on me that I am driving through heaven. That all of the activities of earth are actually taking place in heaven, surrounded entirely by the denizens and structures of heaven. This kind of seeing is exploding within us right now and comes entirely out of that little five-letter word, “image,” and its mind-blowing definition.
More than that, every single moment of our lives IS an eternal God showing up to creation, both to heaven and to earth. I am convinced that “eternality” is not a heavenly quality, but only a God quality. How could eternality be part of the fabric of heaven if heaven is passing away? The angel Gabriel told Daniel that it took him three weeks to bust through the powers of darkness before he could reach Daniel. Three weeks is a period of time.
Time is the eternal NOW of God showing up in heaven and on earth. It is only the serpent that seeks to degrade both God and man by causing us to imagine that “time” is low and evil and temporary. The writers of the New Testament never once thought “eternal,” they thought only of future ages of time.
Here is what I am saying. I take the entirety of the Bible, a book I know by the revelation of the Spirit, by much reading and study, and by having sat under endless hours of anointed teaching coming out of the throne room of God, I take all of it and cause it to pass through this one word – IMAGE. And I see all of it finding its fulfillment inside of me – Faith – Christ made personal in me. More than that, I see it as it must mean without limitation or boundary of any kind.
Then, as all that I know of all that God speaks, as it comes out on the other side of that word, “image,” so I SEE and so I teach. And more than that, I see the reality of this Grace and this Salvation never before experienced upon this earth shining through that word “image” to show us the difference between the in-part knowledge of the writers of the New Testament versus those fullness things they said that are absolute. I’m not talking about any form of re-write of the New Testament; I’m talking about the revelation of Jesus Christ. Everything found in this never-before-seen Salvation and this never-before-known Grace is written fully all through the fabric of the entire Bible for those who have eyes to see and hearts to contain the mighty revelation of God Himself.
Now, let’s define the Kingdom of God, not in its future unfolding, but in its present birthing.
First, I would like to share a small exchange with someone I don’t know on Facebook. The question that was raised goes right to the heart of the kingdom of God being birthed upon the earth.
J: Flesh cannot be holy; there is no good thing in the flesh.
My reply: Paul said that we are flesh of His flesh - I am the flesh of Christ, God says I am. Paul said that the Holy Spirit fills every member and particle of my physical body. Jesus is the Word made flesh and again - alive in us. My flesh is holy, it belongs utterly to God and He fills my physical body and every part of my being with Himself. John says the spirit that claims that Christ is not come in flesh opposes Christ. The blood of Jesus is absolute and has made me altogether clean.
J: If flesh is holy, why does it return to the grave?
My reply: J, If you are one who is “on their face” before God in this present hour with a wide-open Bible and a wide-open heart filled with an unquenchable desire to know the living God, then we have much in common.
I have pondered your question for several days now. Indeed, it is the central question of the entire universe and goes right to the heart of the great contest God Himself has arrayed against the Word that He speaks. I don’t know if it could be said more clearly.
God makes some big claims, doesn’t He? First, He claims that the Holy Spirit saturates every cell and organ of our body with Himself. More than that, He claims that this same Holy Spirit is right now imparting the very resurrection life of Jesus to our physical bodies. More than that, He claims that Jesus abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. And to top it all off, He even claims that He has given us the very same victory over physical death won by Jesus as our own possession.
Yet we look at our bodies and see only tiredness and stumbling and dying and death.
Do you see how God has backed Himself into a corner? Obviously, He has done this deliberately; He has a thing for showing His stuff in the middle of utterly impossible contradictions!
Then we hear Him say, “Present to me your bodies as a living and a holy sacrifice, that I might prove My will in your bodies.”
How else could we respond except to say, “Oh Father, I know that what You say is true. You fill me with Your glory, Your Holy Spirit saturates every particle of my physical body with the undying life of Jesus, my flesh is holy and acceptable to you. God, my body is your eternal dwelling place; in spite of its tiredness, its stumbling, its sickness, its death, it belongs to You – prove that what You say is true in my body.
“Father, I see only You. Do it, God, right here, right now, in my body, in this age, on this earth – in me. I belong to You, let it be to me according to every word that You speak.”
Indeed, J, what else could we possibly answer to such a God who has seized us in His reckless determination to prove Himself mighty and true?
Now, let’s understand this reality. Paul places the victory of God in our physical body – life swallowing up all the death remaining in it without its passing through the grave – as the central core and focus of his gospel. Read Romans 3 through 12; see how much the entirety of the gospel is woven around this victory in our physical body. More than that, Paul says that a critical part of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives is as both a GROAN and a GUARANTEE before God for this very transformation of our physical flesh into LIFE.
Where is that Spirit ministry of groaning throughout the church of Jesus Christ?
It was banished utterly long centuries ago and replaced with a “maybe, maybe, someday.” Hardly any ministry anywhere will teach the central focus of the gospel – victory over death. They all run from it, terrified of being found “silly.” Some “deeper truth” circles have even eliminated the possibility of victory over death entirely, claiming that Christ is not physical at all. But we know that the separation of Christ and all of His victory from our physical flesh is anti-Christ.
Victory over physical death IS the birthing of the Kingdom. Anyone who thinks to teach on the “kingdom of God,” without placing at the core of that Kingdom our immanent victory over physical death – not dying – has neither seen nor known that Kingdom.
“By man, death, by man, also, the resurrection of the dead.”
But there are two other victories that MUST COME first.
We can say three absolute things about the Kingdom. First, the Kingdom of God is God just being Himself through us (filled with all the fullness of God), second, the Kingdom of God is the Abundance of God Himself flowing out from us to bring life and healing and glorious liberty to all creation (rivers of living water), and third, the Kingdom of God is absolute and visible VICTORY over all that opposes the Word God speaks (casting down the accuser).
God is, by His very nature and Person, Abundance. Thus in generating increase and life and joy, God is just being Himself, God is, at this pin-point, showing Himself as He really is.
That is why the increase of His Kingdom shall never end.
And God is, by His very nature and Person, Victory. Thus, in defeating His enemies, God is just being Himself, God is, at this pin-point, showing Himself as He really is.
That is why God presents the victory of Life over death, of the Lamb over the Beast, of Love over hatred, of Light over darkness, of Mercy over cruelty, as the moment of the birthing of His kingdom into the universe.
Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. Revelation 12:10
The coming of the Kingdom begins with the casting down of the accuser. That casting down is the present exercise God has every one of us engaged in right now. As I see myself, all of myself, utterly inside the Lord Jesus Christ, as I see Jesus – and the Father Himself – inside of me, inside of every particle and element of my person, as I see every circumstance, every difficulty, every stumbling, every weakness, every joy, every triumph, everything I experience and go through as God reconciling the world to Himself, the accuser is cast down.
This is how we overcome – boasting with all exuberance in the victory of Christ inside of us, even though it is not visible outwardly. This is the “obedience of faith,” the obedience of Christ living as us.
Then we come to the next victory-over that God has placed before us.
For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled. 2 Corinthians 10:4-6
For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 1 John 5:4-5
And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God. They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb . . .” Revelation 15:2-3
Before God in us defeats death in our bodies, God will defeat the world/beast through us.
As I have clarified before, the world/beast is NOT individual people, no matter how involved they may be in its reality and in its cruelty. All individual people, each one as an individual person is beloved of the Lord and included in the atonement. The time of their knowing that inclusion is by the election of God.
Yet in the present time almost all individual people on this planet including almost all Christians allow the world spirit, called the dragon or Satan, that original serpent in the garden, to connect them together with one another. All human interaction takes place INSIDE a spirit. The Kingdom of God is that interaction together that takes places between Christ as me and Christ as you through the Holy Spirit. The world is that interaction that takes place between individuals on this planet through the spirit of the “air,” the spirit of disobedience.
ALL of the structures of human interaction in this world, all governments, all institutions, all church organizations, all businesses, all “neighborhoods,” ALL, are breathed upon by the spirit of disobedience and all interaction that takes place inside those structures moves through that spirit.
Now, what about a Christian involved in a human organization? Let’s take for instance myself, in my role as an instructor in a community college. I walk in a “bubble” of the Holy Spirit. While I “teach,” in what appears to be a human endeavor, I am fully confident that the river of life is flowing out from me even though my students or any other teachers with whom I interact may not realize it. Yet at the same time, I see the darkness of the spirit that rules that institution. I am not part of that spirit nor the purposes or drives of that institution. I am also confident that great evil is taking place in the same building I teach in. I am confident that lives are being turned to darkness, that truth is being snuffed out all around me in the hearts of these young people by ungodly men and women.
I also know that many of my fellow believers in Jesus Christ imagine that the world is “good” and that by giving their hearts wholly to the institution of the college, they are doing “good” in the world. I cannot join them in their naiveté because all I can see between myself and the entirety of the college is the cross. I am crucified to the world and the world is crucified to me. I function in my role, but I am in no way of the college or what it is or does.
A Christian’s ignorance of the evil being done by an institution or by a nation does not mean that the Christian is not assisting in bringing destruction into the lives of innocent people by the actions of that institution or nation. At the same time, God has placed us in this world as a light in the darkness. It is a fine line of separation by which we walk, certainly not something to be treated as meaningless. And so we do what God gives us to do to provide for our families, believing that God has placed us as a light in the darkness, as a spring of living water to all around, BUT we do not give our hearts to that world, always knowing that we are separated from it by the cross of Jesus Christ.
We also know that God has given us the commission to defeat every element of that world/beast spirit by which all the institutions of man in the earth and all interactions between almost all people including almost all Christians connect together.
We have no conception of the lifelessness that will come to all human endeavors on this earth when the serpent and all of his demons are cast off of it. It will astonish us even to see the lifelessness that comes to many “Christian” institutions.
We will also be utterly astonished as we witness the vehemence by which our brethren count us as “the enemy” when we shatter that world/beast spirit and all the institutions and nations of men that operate by it.
I can see here the tremendous vacuum that must then be filled with the Kingdom of God. I just don’t see that happening in an instant. From a historical point of view it will take time; that is the singing of the song of the Lamb. We “sing” the Kingdom all through the lives of peoples and nations upon this earth. But before the singing of the song of the Lamb, we sing first the song of Moses. There is no more terrible song sung in all the universe than the song of Moses, yet it must be sung as the final act of judgment by which the love of God is made free to draw all men into Christ.
The Kingdom comes with the casting down of the accuser. It proceeds through the shattering of the nations and the driving off of every spirit of darkness from this planet and from all the experience of man. And that Kingdom comes into full triumph by the defeat and annihilation of death from our physical bodies.
Salvation simply means to be rescued from something. Not one person, including all who are dead in Christ, are saved until we are rescued in fullness from the original final death that came upon Adam as the condemnation of sin – the death of the physical body. Yes, we have been fully saved from the death that came upon Adam’s spirit – when God created a new spirit inside of us. We are being saved from the death of separation that has sat upon our minds as we cast down the accuser who tempts us to see ourselves in any way separate from Christ. But we are fully saved, that is, the full and final Salvation described by Peter comes only when the final death that still sits upon our physical bodies is forever broken. And that Salvation awaits all who are with the Lord in heaven just as much as it awaits us on this earth.
The death of the physical body is 100% evil and utterly opposed to God. To tolerate its continuance in any way comes from not knowing the passion that fills the breast of the One who is our life. He is the One who has abolished that death and brought life and immortality, that means the physical body never dying, to light through the gospel.
I shall live and not die. I shall see God IN my flesh upon this earth with my physical eyes. I shall see God, and I shall live.
This is the Kingdom in its birthing.
And so to develop our understanding of that Kingdom in its birthing, I want to explore three things a bit more. (All of my writing has been about casting down the accuser, so we can jump over that reality here.) First, I want to explore the meaning of Abundance and Increase as the nature of the God who fills us full to overflowing. Second, I must explore the meaning of “the world” and its defeat and overthrow. Finally, I want to discover, how, exactly, do we cast off death, the final enemy to be defeated.
For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 1 Cor. 15:53-54
So if I, a corruptible man, MUST put on incorruption, and if I, a mortal man, MUST put on immortality, then I want to know how, exactly, I do that.
This is not a performance word; this is glory beyond our conception.
The purpose of God for us is as big as God and as full of glory as Himself. How could we even look at such a thing? Yet that largeness is fully counterbalanced by the other side of God - that He reveals Himself as He is through weakness - Christ AS US.
On the one hand, God created us as His image - that's the thing that seems too much for us, but on the other hand, He created us as His likeness - and that is the puzzle, that we are more like God than we can comprehend. Not outwardly, but inwardly. One of the most extraordinary verses in the Bible is God saying of David: "There is a man after My own heart." That statement is more than just in the center of the Bible; it is also at the center of God.
In closing this letter I want to look back at this journey God took me on inserted into this series on the Kingdom of God. This journey began with the email sent to me by a brother that brought me such pain, mostly because it re-stirred up years of hopelessness and confusion and loss. And so from the article, “Christ Versus Superman I” through “The Foolishness of God,” God took me through a grappling with two very different and opposing definitions of God. On the one hand God says that Jesus is the definition, the express image, of Himself. On the other hand, Augustine says that his teaching and the Nicene Creed are the definition of God.
All of Christianity breathes and thinks and lives by Augustine.
We must break utterly with Augustine and the Nicene Council in order to breathe and think and live by the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, I am fully aware that the Bible is filled with descriptions of God that place Him as “High,” “Mighty,” “Above,” and “Over all.” Yet when we look at the human definitions of those things inside the world/beast order of the kingdoms of men, we see only the very opposite of the Lord Jesus Christ – UNLESS Jesus in human form was only an aberration as Augustine said, and God is the psychopath that most Christians cast Him to be.
But what if “high and mighty” to God are the opposite of what man means when he says, “High and mighty” inside the hierarchy of humans pushing other humans around? If that were true, then so many things God says suddenly make perfect sense. “The GREATEST in the Kingdom of God is the servant of all.”
Jesus turned away from every human and angelic attempt to make Him “king” in the human sense. Yet, when He, the King of heaven, demonstrated His high Kingliness by serving His disciples as the lowest of servants, in washing their feet, tell me, was that an aberration? Was that a one-time act coming out of some “mysterious” purpose of God that was for that one moment only, but that cannot be showing us the eternal nature of our Father?
Does God serve as the lowest of the low? Is that what “high and mighty” really mean?
If that is true, it is easy to see why Lucifer rebelled, and why he inserted his definition of himself as THE definition of God into the church of Jesus Christ.
And so, as I said in the article, “Rambling Back,” knowing now that God IS the becoming and ascending One has changed everything for me.
God is always coming up from beneath of me, embracing into Himself ALL that is me, and carrying ME inside Himself, stumbling and falling with me along my way, He arises into life and ascends on high, and I in Him.
That is God.
When I look inside myself, God is.
Even when I “feel” far away from Him, depressed and cast down, all that I know is that God is.
I know Him. And in knowing Him, I know that He is meek and lowly of heart. And I know that all I could ever be is just like Him.
And thus the Kingdom of God MUST flow out of me, not as an individual, but as a member of a simple-hearted and quiet people, a people who know their God, a people who are doing and will do exploits.