Old vs New Testament Series
Jesus came preaching the Kingdom of Heaven had come to men. What does that mean? How do we experience it? And why do so few people enter the fulness of it?
THE KINGDOM OF GOD
In this piece (Part 4 of our series on the differences between the Old and New Testaments), we are exploring the nature of the kingdom of heaven and the way we can have a living experience of it.In our next piece (the fifth and final part), we look at the practical application of the kingdom, and explore common questions on how Old Testament truths transfer to the New Testament - for example tithing, the sabbath day and more.
1 - THE CHRISTIAN WALK
We were all born into this world with its norms which govern us without our ever even realising it. Our thinking patterns are so imbedded, and so perfectly natural to our nature that we never question them. But when we read the Bible something peculiar happens. Take this passage for example:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also.” – Matthew 5:38-40
Words like these are so foreign to our thinking that they clash against our entire sense of intellectual reason. But most of us never admit that we feel uncomfortable with portions of the Bible. Instead, we ignore those bits and adopt a generally Christian approach to life, and it all goes fairly well until we are ‘slapped on the right cheek’ or ‘sued for our tunic,’ or worse. In the heat of the moment, offering a second cheek borders on the ridiculous. Instead we do what comes naturally to us – we fight, we insult, we make law-suits, we do whatever needs to be done to get out, or to get even. This is our human nature, a nature that cannot agree with words like:
“love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” – Matthew 5:44
We know these words are impossible to live by, so we make peace with the fact that we will do our reasonable best. But the world looks at the contrast between our words and our actions and they laugh. And if that really is all the Christian life amounts to, then they may have a point. Are we just like the rest of the world except that we have more rules to follow and try harder to be good people? Absolutely not! What we are born into, what we are given when God redeems us is so infinitely beyond that. Paul describes it as:
“the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and... the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe.” – Ephesians 1:18b-19a
We have been redeemed so that we could “taste the heavenly gift” and “the powers of the age to come” (Hebrews 6:4, 5). And if that is true, where are these in our experience? That is the question posed by this piece. 2 - THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN
In Part One of this series we discussed that when Jesus’ came to earth, God’s Kingdom came with Him:
“if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.” – Matthew 12:28
“Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” – Matthew 4:17
Heaven is the seat of God’s throne. It is the place where He dwells and the realm where His glory, His righteousness and His will permeates all things. Nothing is tainted, nothing is corrupted by evil or decay. It is a place where light infuses everything, life flows through everything, hope never fades, and love is the nature of all its creatures. All God upholds finds it's perfect expression there, without limit, without challenge and without end. This is the realm where the infinitude of God’s power is on full display. This is also the realm that God will welcome His children into at the end of all days.
“Thus says the LORD: ‘Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool.” – Isaiah 66:1a