THE KINGDOM IS WITHIN US
THE KINGDOM IS WITHIN US Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
The Lord Jesus informed us that the Kingdom of God is within us. Several of the parables, such as the parable of the sower, tell us the Kingdom grows within us. Jesus taught that we are to abide in Him and He in us, speaking of the inner realm of the Kingdom of God.
We know from the Scriptures that Christ is an Individual who will return and install with violence His rule in the earth. Yet His relationship to His Church, which is the kingdom destined to govern Gods creation, appears from the New Testament, to be much more of an inner experience than is commonly understood.
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THE KINGDOM IS WITHIN US
Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, "The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, Nor will people say, Here it is, or There it is, because the kingdom of God is within you." (Luke 17:20,21)
The Lord Jesus informed us that the Kingdom of God is within us. Several of the parables, such as the parable of the sower, tell us the Kingdom grows within us. Jesus taught that we are to abide in Him and He in us, speaking of the inner realm of the Kingdom of God.
We know from the Scriptures that Christ is an Individual who will return and install with violence His rule in the earth. Yet His relationship to His Church, which is the kingdom destined to govern Gods creation, appears from the New Testament to be much more of an inner experience than is commonly understood.
The Old Testament speaks of the peaceable kingdom in which the savage animal is conducted about by a little child, a world in which nothing harms or destroys. We know when Jesus returns, Paradise will return to earth, from which it originated.
We know that when the last trumpet sounds, those who died in Christ will return with Him and be raised from the dead. Then they, along with the living victorious saints, will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air.
We believe these facts to be objectively true because they are taught clearly in the Scriptures. They are not to be viewed as immaterial, by our following remarks that stress the inner domain of the Kingdom of God.
The mystery of the Gospel is "Christ in you, the hope of glory." It is a mystery to the present hour. We Christians think of the Kingdom of God as being outside us: Christ born in the manger; Christ teaching His parables; Christ dying on the cross for our sins; Christ being raised from the dead; Christ returning to the Father in Heaven; Christ working with us and confirming the Word with signs following.
The above are "with" relationships, not "inner" relationships.
We hope to go home to Heaven and be "with" Jesus, with the holy angels, with the saints of old, with our deceased relatives and friends. Isnt it so?
We hope to see Jesus and talk to Him as our best friend and Savior.
No doubt all of this will come to pass if we serve God in the earth.
But lets think, for a moment, about going to "see" Jesus.
Jesus answered: "Dont you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, Show us the Father"? (John 14:9)
Here is the crux of the matter. "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father."
What did Jesus mean? Obviously, no man can see God and live. Here is Jesus, a person probably of average height and weight, dressed in a white robe and sandals.
Do we mean to say that if we saw God Almighty He would be a person of average height and weight, dressed in a white robe and sandals?
Most likely not. Seeing God might be more like looking at the sun.
Then, what did the Lord mean by stating when we see Him we see the Father?
He meant that His words and actions were precisely the words and actions of the Father. His disciples could see what the Father was like in personality and behavior, from watching the way Jesus behaved and spoke.
Would you agree with this?
Then to "see" a person is not to observe his outward appearance.
Based on this fact, I would say that when we observe the outward appearance of Jesus when He returns will not be to "see" Jesus. Rather we see Jesus now as we follow on to know Him, as He comes and makes His home in us.
We want to go to Heaven so we can see Jesus. This is a worthy desire and no doubt will be our pleasure some day. But this is only to observe His outward form, such as was witnessed by the Apostle John. We can see right now what Jesus really is if we will cultivate His Presence in our personality.
The Gospels, while they mention "with" relationships, do not emphasize them. The emphasis definitely, to a much greater extent that currently is preached and taught, is on what is going to take place within our personality.
It indeed is worth giving serious attention to the emphasis on the inner Kingdom of God, for apart from it we do not strive for the relationship with Christ that He desires we have. We receive Christ, are filled with the Spirit, and then wait until the Lord returns so we can see Jesus. Because of our anticipating external happenings we do not hear Him knocking on the door of our heart.
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20)
In many instances Christ is outside the believers. We are so busy with our religion, with the "with" relationship! We know all about Christ, we think, but we do not know Christ Himself.
How then shall we know Him? The Apostle Paul was seeking to know Christ, to gain Christ. According to Paul, to come to know Christ in this greater degree is to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10,11)
It is obvious from the above that the Apostle was seeking the inner relationship with Christ, as distinguished from knowing Christ by going to Heaven and observing His outward form. More about this later.
We shall know Him as we go through the travail of death to the world, death to our sinful nature, and death to our self-will. We shall know Him as He enters us and dines with us. He dines on our worship and obedience. We dine on His body and blood.
If we shall live each day in His Presence, seeking His will in every decision great and small, we shall discover the Father and the Son are sitting on the throne of our personality. We are entering the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Tabernacles.
When our obedience has been established beyond all doubt, we will be permitted back onto the throne of our own personality. Now we are seated with the Father and the Son on the throne of our personality. The next step is to clothe the whole (including our resurrected mortal body) with a body of eternal resurrection life formed from what we have sown while living on the earth. We will be clothed in our own Christ-empowered righteous behavior.
Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) (Revelation 19:8)
In a way, we are like the Jews. They were waiting for a kingdom similar to that of David. Instead their Christ came as an offering for sin. Only the most prayerful of the Israelis recognized God when He came in the flesh.
So it is today. We are looking for external happenings to take place, such as the unscriptural "pre-tribulation rapture." But the Lord is here now, in the Spirit, seeking to set up His Kingdom within us.
If the teaching of the inner kingdom is scriptural and we receive it as such, then it will have a practical effect on our discipleship. We will begin to look to Jesus to see what He wants done in us right now.
We are not speaking of looking inside of us for an inner Christ, or "the god in us," or anything of the kind. This concept, which assumes there is a god in every person if we only look hard enough, can be grossly misleading. We are not teaching such an error. Rather, we are referring to the objective Christ who is at the right hand of God in Heaven. Yet we must remember that, according to Pauls writings, we are there in Him. So our personality is enlarged to include our body and soul on the earth and our new born-again nature at the right hand of God in Heaven. Thus when we begin to look to Jesus to see what He wants to do in us right now, we are looking to Christ who is with God in Heaven and in us at the same time.
When Christ walked on the earth He was filled with all the fullness of the Godhead in bodily form. Yet God never left His throne in Heaven even though He was enthroned in the heart of Christ.
When Christ prayed He lifted up His eyes to God in Heaven. Yet in Christ dwelled all the fullness of the Godhead. So Christ was conscious of His life on the earth and also of His life in God in Heaven.
Christ spoke often of returning to His Father (never of returning to Heaven!) So His life genuinely was here just as our life genuinely is here on the earth. But God was in Heaven and also in Christ, and Christ was and always is in God; therefore Christ was in Heaven, in this sense, even though God and He walked the earth in one human body.
This dual location (and yet it really is one domain!) is to be true of us, and we must press into it, for this is the Kingdom of God. We must fasten our thoughts on things above, for we are there in Christ in God; yet we genuinely are pursuing our discipleship in the earth.
The Apostle Paul was living no longer, it was Christ who was living in him. Yet we know Paul genuinely was living on the earth at the time, and it was actually Paul and not Christ; but in a very true sense it was Christ, for this is what Paul said.
To know God and Christ is eternal life. In Christ is Life, and His Life is the light of men. As we become one with the Life of Christ we see Him by His Light. This light, this knowledge, is eternal life.
Eternal life is not endless existence. All spirits, apparently, have endless existence. To have eternal life is to know God and Christ.
How can we receive the Life of Christ such that His Life become our life. (And this is the very essence of the Kingdom of God.) It is our personal cross that slays our sinful nature so we can live by His Life.
"I am crucified with Christ," Paul maintains, "and yet I live. But it no longer is I who am living but Christ who is living in me."
Paul said further: "When Christ who is our life shall appear, then we shall appear with Him." Everything depends on our living in and by the Life of Christ.
Just as Christ lives by the Father, so it is true that those who eat the flesh and Christ and drink His blood will live by Him.. Christ lives in the Fathers Life. So we are to live in Christs life in just the same manner. This is the Kingdom of God that is within us.
As we ponder the expanding of our personality to include our life on the earth and also our life in Heaven, we are brought into a fruitful experience with the Lord. So much of life on earth is painful and frustrating! But if we keep on asking the Lord to lift us up, lift us up, lift us up, we enlarge our consciousness of Christ and God and escape being angry and bitter at people and at the other tools God uses to press us into Christ.
We are becoming more aware of the inner Kingdom of God, in the present hour, because we are moving past the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Pentecost and are entering the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Tabernacles. The eternal plan of Christ, the mystery of Christ in us, is beginning to unfold.
Jesus stated, in the sixteenth chapter of the Gospel of John, that we would not see Him for a while, and then we would see Him again and our joy would be full, and God would answer our prayers as never before.
The Lord was not referring to His coming again in the clouds of glory (as surely shall happen some day!) but to a travail that would overtake us.
We are a happy Christian. Christ is with us. Then the darkness comes. Our experience changes. Things go awry; perhaps in our family; perhaps in our church; perhaps in our health. It may happen that we fall into sin while we are attempting to do Gods will. In any case, darkness falls on us and we do not understand it.
If we stay with God during this period of perplexity and pain we finally emerge on the other side. A Child has been born in us. We have been born again into the Kingdom of God. Now we find Christ is not only with us, but, more importantly, we are beginning to know God in a new way in our personality.
Now we know Christ dwells in the Father, and in us, and we dwell in Christ in the Father. The inner kingdom begins to develop.
Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. (John 14:19,20)
The Holy Spirit is in us. If, through the Spirit, we continue to keep the commandments of God found in the New Testament, and given to us personally, the Father will love us. Then the Father and the Son will come to us and make Their eternal home with us.
Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him." (John 14:23)
Notice that now it is both a "with" and a "within" relationship We are with God and Christ because they are within us. It is not a with on the outside but a with on the inside.
As we begin to be more conscious of the inner kingdom, Jesus teaches us about the Father. As a result, the thought of having both the Father and the Son make Their home with us takes on even more meaning.
Many of us have not known very much about the Father. We have been occupied with the Lord Jesus and with the Holy Spirit. This is as it should be. We always please the Father when we serve the Son and obey His Word.
Now, as we press into a fuller awareness of the development of the inner Kingdom in us, the Lord Jesus begins to teach us about the Father.
The truth is, Jesus is anxious to show us the Father. He is our great elder Brother whose supreme delight is to introduce His little brothers to their common FatherHis and theirs.
Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father. (John 16:25)
Would you like to be told plainly about Christs Father? I would.
When we first receive Christ we have the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, but not in the fullness we will have later if we follow on to know the Lord. As we move forward in our discipleship we become increasingly aware of the Son, the Holy Spirit, and, finally, the Father.
What a wonderful world of Gods Presence awaits us! We have known the Alpha of salvation. Now we are approaching the Omega.
The Kingdom of God truly is within us. The Kingdom of God, the tabernacle of God, will be with the saved nations of the earth. But the new Jerusalem is a living city that is located wherever the saint finds himself as he does the will of God. Christ Himself, the Lamb, is the Throne of the new Jerusalem. The Church, which is His Body, the Bride of the Lamb, is His fullness that fills all in all.
And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, Which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. (Ephesians 1:22,23)
And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, To be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillmentto bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. (Ephesians 1:9,10)
It is important to understand that everything of the Kingdom is of Christ and is Christ. It is the will of the Father that Christ fill all the creation. This He will do through His Body, the Church.
When the Bible states that Christ is our righteousness it means more than the fact that our sins have been forgiven, or even that we are identified with Christ.
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so in him we might become the righteousness of God. (II Corinthians 6:21)
We become the righteousness of God in Christ as Christ becomes our life. Everything depends on Christ becoming our life. When Christ becomes our life, then our thoughts, words, and actions proceed from Christ. Thus our righteousness is of God through Jesus Christ; not an ascribed righteousness but an actual righteousness of behavior. This is the Kingdom of God and it can be seen by other people.
The reason we must be born again in order to see or enter the Kingdom of God is that it is the Kingdom, Christ, that is born in us.
The Lord Jesus said there never has been a prophet greater than John the Baptist. Yet, Jesus maintained, he who is least in the Kingdom is greater than John.
The above seems like one of those scriptural statements that appear not to really mean anything practical. The truth is, every single verse of the Old Testament and New Testament is as filled with meaning as the Atlantic ocean is filled with water.
Let us take King David. He was a great prophet of Israel as well as a king. The Holy Spirit moved him to write many of the Psalms. David had set the Lord before Him at all times.
But he who is least in the Kingdom is greater than David. How can this be?
It is because the Kingdom is an inner realm. The Christian, the Holy Spirit, the Father, and the Son all dwell in this unique world of true spiritual reality. As the Christian perseveres in his discipleship he becomes aware he indeed has come to Mount Zion, that he already is at the right hand of the Father in Christ. He is sitting on the throne of God in Christ and living on the earth at the same time. This never was true of David while he was living on the earth.
The idea of the Kingdom being within us may be new to some. But it most definitely is the emphasis of the New Testament.
Think about the parable of the sower. The Word of God falls on four kinds of ground. The seed on the hardened ground is eaten by birds before it can germinate.
The seed growing on the rocky ground dies when the sun comes up because its roots do not go deep enough. The soil is too shallow.
The seed germinating and growing in the midst of weeds is choked out and dies without bearing fruit.
The seed that falls on an honest, good heart grows and brings forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixtyfold, and some a hundredfold.
What is it that is growing? It is Christ. It is the Kingdom of God that is within us.
If we have a heart lacking in understanding, Satan snatches the seed away before Christ can germinate.
If we have a heart filled with stony places, the Kingdom is not established, having no roots.
If we are concerned greatly about the things of the world the image of Christ is choked out.
What are we talking about? We are speaking of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is within us. In three of the circumstances the Kingdom of God was never established.
In the fourth circumstance, permanent fruit came forth. A measure of Christ, of the Kingdom of God, came into permanent existence. In some personalities there was thirtyfold growth. In other personalities there was sixtyfold growth. In still another type of personality there was a hundredfold growth.
The parable of the sower is referring to an inner work in the personality. It is possible to attain to a hundredfold development of the Kingdom, the Kingdom being the Presence of God and Christ in us.
But what does this have to do with being saved and going to Heaven. Isnt that what salvation is all about?
No, it is not. Salvation has to do first with our being spared during the Day of Judgment. If we are spared the issue becomes that of the development of the Kingdom of God in us. This is why understanding the inner kingdom is so terribly important. If our vision is to live eternally in the spirit realm, in a "with" relationship with personages external to us, we will not pray every day for Christ to come to maturity in us. We may enter some kind of ministry; or, as in the case of the great majority of believers, we will wait for death to provide our entrance into "salvation," meaning eternal residence in the spirit realm. This is what is preached today, but it is not scriptural.
If, however, we understand that salvation has to do with the entrance of Christ into our personality such that our being is expanded to include all that the Father is, all that Christ is, that they wish to walk in the garden that is within us, then we are going to cultivate our inner personality so the Presence of God increases in us.
Remember: we are not turning inward that we may discover "the god who lives in every person," as the misled religionist advises. We are turning toward the Christ who is in Heaven with His Father but who now is entering us and establishing His Kingdom within us.
Whether or not we reap the fullness of the Kingdom of God depends on our response to the grace God has sent to us. If we have been called to be a member of the Kingdom of God, and then attempt to settle for just being forgiven, we will be treated as a wicked, lazy, disobedient servant.
We must lay hold on that for which we have been laid hold upon, or else Christ will be displeased with us.
The Kingdom of God exists for the sake of God and Christ. They are creating this government so they can enjoy the nations of people they have made. If we do not cooperate in the program of inner transformation, then God and Christ are the losers. They have been denied a room, a chariot as it were, through which they could have found pleasure.
If all we are concerned about is escaping Hell and going to live forever in Heaven, then we do not understand what the Christian salvation is all about. We have not understood the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.
In the twelfth chapter of the Book of Revelation we see a woman in travail and a Son coming forth who is to be caught up to the throne of God in Heaven.
The woman is the Christian Church. The Son is Christ who is born through the travail of the ministries of the Church.
The travail and the birth take place in us throughout our discipleship. As we submit to the crucifixion of our sinful nature, Christ is formed in us. As Christ is formed in us He is caught up to God in Heaven. Now part of our personality is travailing on the earth and part of our personality is in Christ in God in Heaven.
It is not that Christ, when He has been brought forth in us, leaves our personality and is caught up to Heaven. It is true rather that our personality is expanded such that our personality is part on earth, part in Christ in God.
Satan strives continually to prevent our personality from being established in Christ in Heaven. This is because the part of our personality that is the Life of Christ is destined to drive Satan from the earth. The Christian churches with all of their struggling can never drive Satan from the earth. Only Jesus Christ can drive Satan from the earth. If Satan is to be driven from the earth, then we are going to have to cooperate with the Holy Spirit so our new born-again life is solidly, eternally entrenched at the right hand of God.
Jesus prayed for the Kingdom of God to be established in us:
"That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you."
Now think: in what way is the Father in Jesus and Jesus in the Father? Is it that They are perfectly and completely of one Mind, one Substance, one Virtue? It is not only true that Jesus is with God, it also is a fact that God is in Jesus and Jesus is in God. So there is a "with" relationship as well as an "in" relationship.
Please think long and hard about the above statement. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Now we discover the Word is more than just with God. The Word, Jesus, is in God, and God is in the Word.
First of all, Jesus prayed that those whom the Father has given Him be one, just as Christ and the Father are one. When the Church has been perfected, the members will be so knit together that it can be stated they are one as the Father and the Son are One. This is the Kingdom of God. It greatly transcends any idea we have of the common love that will exist in the Kingdom.
"May they also be in us so the world may believe you have sent me."
We are not only to be one with one another but are to be one in Christ in the Father, and They in us. This is the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom that is within us.
But what is the end purpose of this enlargement of Gods Person? It is that the world may believe God has sent Christ.
Almost every Christian organization in the world states repeatedly that its greatest purpose is to present Christ to the whole world. This is Gods purpose also. But we do not always use Gods means to attain Gods ends.
Our means of presenting Christ to the world as the Son of God is to send forth people who will announce the Gospel to every nation; and such is an important work of the Kingdom of God..
Gods means of presenting Christ to the world as the Son of God, while not ignoring the importance of missionary endeavor, emphasizes the perfecting of the oneness of the members of His Church in Christ in God.
Perhaps it is true that the missionary work of the two thousand years of the Christian Era, while its intention has been to bring Christ to the world, has actually succeeded in calling out from the world those who have been elected to the royal priesthood. Once the members of the royal priesthood have been made perfect in one another and in God, then the world will believe.
This is an important concept. It tells us we need to spend more of our energy and money on bringing the existing saints to the stature of the fullness of Christ. Perhaps it is true that by building up the sheep gate in this manner we ultimately will be more successful in building up the fish gate, that is, in bringing eternal life to the dead sea of mankind.
Maybe if we put more effort into sharpening the axe the wood would get cut in a shorter period of time.
"I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one."
There has been talk of bringing together into one organization some of the historic denominations. Such efforts may seem commendable but will end up in a greater Babylon.
The only way the saints can be one in Christ in God is through the giving of the glory of God. There is a valley of very dry bones. We can prophesy to the bones. But in order for the bones to form into the whole house of Israel the Spirit of God must blow on them. If we try to stick the bones together by our own reasoning we can be certain we will put the wrong bones together and create a Frankenstein monster.
Christ can never give us the glory that God has given Him until we are an integral part of Christ. God will never give His Glory to another person. We have to become part of God in order to receive the Glory of God. This is not just a clever statement, it is solid fact.
God keeps His Glory in the family, so to speak.
"I in them and you in me."
Here is the Kingdom of God. Christ is in us and the Father is in Christ. All of this takes place within our personality.
Does this relationship, this kingdom, change in any manner when we die physically? I dont think so. Why should it? Our body goes into the ground. Our soul passes into its appointed place in the spirit realm to await the Day of the Lord and the return of Jesus Christ to the earth with His saints. Why should any of this in any manner affect the inner kingdom we are experiencing?
If we have cooperated with the Holy Spirit until the Father and the Son have made Their eternal home in our personality, why should this be affected because our heart has ceased beating and our soul has left the earth?
We can see from this that our effort to get into Heaven not only is not presented in the New Testament as being our goal, it is not what we truly desire. Our desire is not just to be in the spirit realm where we hope to see Jesus from time to time. Our desire is to be with Jesus where He always is, that is, in the heart of God. While it will be enjoyable to renew old acquaintances when we die, and to be in a place where (we hope) there will be no pain or dread, our primary objective is to abide in Christ and He in us until His likeness comes forth in our personality.
We understand if we do not bear such fruit we will be removed from the Vine, from Christ. Therefore our goal is not to go to rest in Paradise but to bear the fruit God is looking for, and to bear it one hundredfold.
"May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me."
Complete oneness, not partial oneness but complete oneness in God as measured by Gods standard.
The world, beholding the Glory of Gods Person and Presence in the Church, will know beyond doubt that it is God who has sent Jesus Christ. He did not come in His own strength and wisdom, as is true of all other religious teachers.
Also, that God has loved the members of His Church just as He loves Christ Himself.
In the above we behold the Kingdom of God, the family of God, the fullness of Gods being, now enlarged through the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Kingdom of God is vastly more than a great city that we can see and visit. The Kingdom of God is the enlarging of our personality until we have been filled with all the fullness of God; until our life is the Life of Jesus Christ; until there is a new heaven and earth inside of us in which God and Christ are dwelling in untroubled rest.
It not only is true that the Father and the Son are in us, we also are in them. All of the universe dwells in the Father and the Son. In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Christ upholds the creation by the Word of His power. God has determined to sum up all things in Christ.
Therefore, when we are dwelling in the Father and the Son we are dwelling in all that is joyous, desirable, and creative in the universe. All things, except that which is dark, sinful, corrupting, and ugly, are dwelling in us in Christ in God, and we are dwelling in all that is righteous, holy, and obedient to God. How marvelous? This is the kingdom that is within us.
What is man that You are mindful of him. Is he not the image of God? Is he not the eternal dwelling place, the chariot, the resting place, the very throne of God?
Yes, he is. If he has turned many to righteousness he will be as a star that shines brightly for eternity.
It is Gods will that the garden of our heart increase in splendor until God Himself can walk there in the cool of the day, as it were.
The Kingdom of God is within us. How greatly can it expand in our personality? I do not know, but my guess is, based on the majesty of God, that it can expand to the extent we desire. Why not? Like father, like son, as the saying goes.
The Scripture states we can be filled with all the fullness of God. I, for one, choose to believe this promise and am looking for God to fulfill it in me.
How about you?
And to know this love that surpasses knowledgethat you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:19)
To know Christ is eternal life. To know Christ is an experience in the Spirit of God. It is not something that will take place after we die. Knowing Christ has nothing to do with whether we are alive on earth now, deceased and in the spirit realm, alive with Christ during the thousand-year Kingdom Age, or alive with Christ when the new Jerusalem descends through the new sky.
We come to know Christ in precisely the same manner that the Apostle Paul was coming to know Christ. Paul held knowing Christ as the supreme goal of his existence.
What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ. (Philippians 3:8)
"That I may gain Christ"! This is a surprising statement coming from a person who has spent many exceedingly fruitful years in the service of Christ.
Pauls comment makes no sense in terms of the Christian "four steps of salvation," unless we hold that Pauls effort to gain Christ is a nicety we can forego without seriously affecting our salvation.
Yet, this cannot be the case because a few verses later Paul decrees that "all of us who are mature should take such a view of things."
In light of the reality of the Kingdom of God being within us, we can understand Paul perfectly. Paul was pressing toward the development of the Kingdom within his personality. Paul was not waiting to go to a kingdom in Heaven, Paul was entering the Kingdom at the time of his writing.
Jesus Christ Himself is the Kingdom of God and in Him resides all that the Kingdom is or ever shall be. The Kingdom of God is within us only to the extent Jesus Christ is within us.
And be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christthe righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. (Philippians 3:9)
Pauls major struggle was against the bondages imposed by the Law of Moses. Paul had to fight this tradition in himself and in those who were hearing him, as we can tell from the books of Romans and Galatians.
But what does Paul mean by a righteousness that is through faith in Christ, a righteousness that comes from God and is by faith?
The righteousness of the Kingdom of God enters us and can be seen in our thinking, speech, and actions as we turn away from all of our own accomplishments and desires, whether religious or secular accomplishments and desires, and look to the Lord Jesus for every thought we think; every word we speak; and every action we take. A total reliance on Christ throughout every day and night results in an ever-increasing personal knowledge of Christ. It is the development of an inner day of the Lord in which all flesh is put down and the Lord alone is exalted.
When we have been crucified with Christ and Christ is living in us, then we are living in the Kingdom of God. Then we are the righteousness of God through Christ. Such a state of being is equivalent to the eternal moral law of God being written in our mind and heart. This is the new covenant brought to the full, and one day will shine throughout the creation as the light of the new Jerusalem.
The practical importance of holding such a goal before us is that we do not waste a single moment just waiting to die and go to Heaven; for dying and going to Heaven has nothing to do with the creation of the Kingdom of God within us. We enter the Kingdom right nowright this very moment! If we are not giving our complete attention to entering the Kingdom right now, then Satan, or the world, or our sinful nature, or our personal ambition, or Christian mythology about mansions in Heaven, is distracting us from the single most important issue of all.
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, (Philippians 3:10)
We can observe from the above that Paul is referring to the internal aspects of the Kingdom of God. Knowing Christ means living by the power of His resurrection. Knowing Christ means sharing in His sufferings. Knowing Christ means becoming like Him in His death and resurrection.
And so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:11)
My experience has been that there is a dearth of preaching concerning the above verse. From the verses that precede and follow Philippians 3:11 we might venture that attaining to the resurrection from the dead is something we ought to be experiencing in the present hour.
It is my point of view that we do not gain physical resurrection by our present struggling against sin; except that we prepare ourselves for the first resurrection, the resurrection of the royal priesthood, by living a blameless life in the present hour. It is certain we cannot wander about in the lusts of our sinful nature and except to be raised as a holy priest when the Lord returns.
Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6)
I have written much about the need to live as a victorious Christian if we expect to participate in the first resurrection, the resurrection of the body that will take place when the Lord returns from Heaven.
But I think Paul may be referring to more than preparation for the first resurrection, by stating he was seeking to attain to the resurrection from the dead. The Greek noun appears to emphasize that this is a resurrection from the dead, not of the dead.
We must remember that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself is the Resurrection. When we have Christ we have the resurrection. When we gain Christ we gain the resurrection. When the fullness of Christ enters us the fullness of the resurrection enters us.
We are not speaking of the making alive of the mortal body, which shall take place in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.
Rather we are referring to the resurrection of our spiritual nature.
Man has a physical nature and a spiritual nature. Each of the two natures must be resurrected. We cannot expect to experience the resurrection of our physical body until our spiritual nature has been resurrected.
When our spiritual nature has been filled with Christ, it can be said we have attained spiritually to the resurrection from the dead.
When our mortal body has been filled with Christ, it can be said we have attained physically to the resurrection from the dead.
It is obvious the spiritual nature must be resurrected prior to the resurrection of the physical nature. If God were to clothe a sinful, fallen nature with a body filled with Jesus Christ it would be a case of putting new wine in old bottles. The wine would run out and be wasted.
When discussing the resurrection of the physical body, Paul said "the last enemy to be destroyed is death."
This means every other enemy must be put down before God is willing to remove physical death from our body. Physical death came because man sinned. Physical death will not be removed until sin has been removed from man, not just the guilt of sin, but the very presence of sin.
The Lord Jesus will remove all sin from us at His appearing provided we have been faithful in cooperating with Him during the present hour. But whoever decides to live carelessly in the present moment, wasting his or her talents, indulging the sinful nature, will be treated as a lazy, wicked servant when the Lord returns. His talents will be taken from him and given to a believer who has been diligent. He then will be placed in the outer darkness.
We can see from the above that the development of the Kingdom of God within us is equivalent to the forming and dwelling of Christ within us and equivalent to attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
The danger of the future is threefold: finding our survival and security in the world system; yielding to the lusts and passions of our sinful nature; and being motivated by our desire for personal achievement rather than resting in Gods will for our life.
We are entering an age of electronic marvels and of discovery in numerous areas of research. The most sophisticated of communication devices in the present hour will appear as antiquated apparatuses ten years from now, if the present pace of research and development continues.
Added to these enticing things and situation will be the rise of the Antichrist spirit in man, the reliance on money instead of the Spirit of God, on education instead of the Spirit of revelation and the knowledge of the Lord.
Bringing together the people of the globe into one community by means of electronics, the emphasis on the rights and needs of mankind, and the insistence on the need for more and more money and more and more education, will all present formidable obstacles to the believer who seeks to live by the Life of Jesus.
It will be difficult for shallow Christians to see anything wrong with participating in the modern efforts and scientific marvels, especially when they result in "world peace," in assisting the needy, and in healing the sick. But we must remember the Lord told us they were marrying and giving in marriage, buying and selling, until the flood came and they were drowned. The point is, it is not only the sins of Sodom that bring Divine judgment, neglecting our great salvation also will result in our destruction.
The Lord Jesus stands at the door of our personality. He desires to enter us and dine with us. The enemy will come to maturity in people during the age of moral horrors we are approaching. The Lord does not intend to whisk us away from the conflict of the ages but to set a table before us in the presence of our enemies. That table is part of the Kingdom that is within us.
The great danger facing us, particularly but not only in America, is that of being diverted by the multiplicity of opportunities offered by our culture. All such opportunities, whether they be electronic, financial, educational, artistic, theatrical, or of any other nature, require time and attention if we are to participate in them. When we do participate in these opportunities we cannot hear Christ knocking. We are so busy doing things that are not obviously sinful that we cannot focus successfully on that which is eternal.
Christ knocks in vain. We are diligently taking advantage of present opportunities, hoping once we have gained what we desire we then will be ready to interact with Christ to the extent He appears to desire.
But believe me! That golden hour will never arrive! You will have wasted your life on that which is perishing. You will be judged as an unfaithful servant. If you finally are granted entrance to the new world of righteousness, it will be as a naked spirit, all of your accomplishments having been burned away since they were wood, hay, or straw. They were not wrought in Christ.
In this case you will be governed by the righteous, who then will shine as stars in the firmament. You will not be pleased to see the diligent servants rejoicing in the Presence of the Lamb, when you consider that you could have been one of them. Instead you permitted yourself to be tricked out of your inheritance.
Sometimes when we sell our inheritance, as was true of Esau, it is impossible to regain it. The die is cast, so to speak. We have made an eternal decision without realizing it. We have radically affected our destiny for eternity.
The wise reader will seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, trusting God to provide whatever is needed during his present sojourn through the valley of the shadow of death.