Bible Basics (5th edition): A study manual revealing the joy and peace of true Christianity

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Doctrine In Practice 11: What The Kingdom Of God Means For Us Today

It has been pointed out that " Your Kingdom come!" was violently in conflict with the Roman view that the lives of a subject people like Israel belonged to Caesar's kingdom. " 'Your kingdom come!' is therefore a word of defiance; to pray it is a subversive activity. This is also how the authorities understand the ministry of Jesus: it is subversive and not to be tolerated" (1). And so with us, the seeking of the future Kingdom is a radical denial of the spirit of our age, which seeks its Kingdom now; it demands a separation from the world around us. The well known description of the Kingdom in Is. 2:1-4 is in the context of appealing to Israel to change their ways. Because they would then walk in the ways of the Lord, therefore " O house of Israel [therefore] Come [now] and walk in the ways of the Lord" (2:5). The hope of Israel ought to motivate Israel to live the Kingdom life here and now. If we will eternally walk in God's ways then, we ought to now too. " We labour and strive because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Saviour of all men" (1 Tim. 4:10 RV).

Whilst the promise of immortal life is far from all that the Hope of the Kingdom is about, it is nonetheless wonderfully true that we are promised eternal, deathless life. The world in which we live has no such hope, nor even concept of a human being who now lives one day enjoying eternal life in a bodily form. Therefore they have come to value youth above all else. Sport and fitness have become national obsessions. Magazine covers present faces without wrinkles and gorgeous bodies. Old age is devalued; the elderly are disrespectfully ushered off into old folks homes, isolated from the general populace. Skin creams, cosmetic surgery, cures for baldness etc. are all the order of the day. Dieting and body building have become the equivalent of pagan rites. And thus the external rather than the internal features of personality have become emphasized. Compassion, self-sacrifice, humility etc. are all of little account. For the Christian, separation from the world of such superficiality is mandatory. Because there is no concept of judgment to come, no sense of the eternity we might miss, there is no moral constraint; enjoying ourselves in the here and now becomes the prevailing religion. And so it is tragic to see sisters worried sick about their weight increase, brethren spending hours each day on body building…caught up in the spirit of the age, in seeking to be conformed to the image of this passing world. The hope of life eternal in the Kingdom means that the attitude of this world to life should not be ours. May we die peaceful, slightly over-weight grandparents, joyfully anticipating the eternity to come!

Making Sense Of The World Now

There is a sense in all of us that the natural world around us somehow reflects something of the eternal, something of God; and yet we are not led by nature itself to the ultimate truth of God and the Gospel. This is why we have the Bible. Only an understanding of the Kingdom of God coming on earth can enable us to put all these hints and leads into some sort of framework and context, as from our position of separation from the world we observe it around us. C.S. Lewis observed: " All the beauty and joy we meet on earth represent only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited" (2). Yet that good news, that far country, is for us the Kingdom of God on earth. We perceive that the whole of creation is groaning, not for nothing, but towards the coming of the day of the Kingdom.

Jeremiah lived the Kingdom life now, separate from the world, when on the eve of Judah’s destruction, he bought a field and carefully had it witnessed- because Jeremiah knew that “Like as I have brought all this great evil upon this people, so will I bring upon them all the good that I have promised them. And fields shall be bought in this land, whereof you say, It is desolate, without man or beast; it is given into the hand of the Chaldeans. Men shall buy fields for money, and subscribe the deeds, and seal them, and call witnesses, in the land of Benjamin” (Jer. 32:42-44). And so as he saw his world falling apart, he could make sense of things because he sought to live in his day how, one day, in the restored Kingdom, he knew he would live.

Watching For The Return

If we believe we really will be there, then we will look more earnestly for the day to come. We can never be truly enthusiastic about the Lord's return if we are unsure about our ultimate acceptance at His hand. Because we are sure that " When Christ…shall be manifested, then shall you also with him be manifested in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication…" etc. (Col. 3:4,5). We don't control ourselves because we think this will make us good enough to be accepted, but rather because we believe that we have already been accepted. By grace alone. That salvation is by grace enables us to look forward with eagerness rather than uncertainty to the second coming, and our lives are thereby changed. " The grace of God…teaches us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts…looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our saviour Jesus Christ" (Tit. 2:11-13). In other words- separation from the world.


And finally, the knowledge of the Kingdom should humble us. The wonderful good news of the coming Kingdom was explained to Belshazzar, but he had to be told that " you…have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this" (Dan. 5:22). Knowing all this as we do…who are we to be there, to have a part in it, to even have been told about it…? It ought to humble us.

And it humbles us in another way too. We all to some extent struggle with God. There is so much we simply don't understand. But if we firmly believe in the ultimate coming of the Kingdom, we have a perspective upon all the cancers, the deaths, the broken relationships...all the collected groanings of our savage planet will surely be taken away in the coming of the Kingdom. Without this ultimate perspective, the apparent injustices of present life and even God's dealings with us would leave us lost, angry and with no real basis for an ongoing relationship with the Father.


(1) Philip Yancey, The Jesus I Never Knew (Harper Collins, 1998).

(2) C.S. Lewis, The Weight Of Glory (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975), p.5.

Bible Basics: Contents

Part 1: "The things concerning the Kingdom of God" Study 1: God 1.1  The Existence Of God || 1.2  The Personality Of God || Belief In Practice 1: Knowing God || 1.3  God's Name And Character || Belief In Practice 2: Grace (John Parkes) || Belief In Practice 3: The All Seeing God || Belief In Practice 4: God Is Omnipotent || Belief In Practice 5: Responding To The One God || 1.4     The Angels || Belief In Practice 6: God As Creator || Digression 1: God Manifestation || Digression 2:  Why The Trinity Was Accepted || Study 1: Questions Study 2: The Spirit Of God 2.1  Definition || 2.2  Inspiration || 2.3  Gifts Of The Holy Spirit || 2.4  The Withdrawal Of The Gifts || 2.5  The Bible The Only Authority || Digression 3: Is The Holy Spirit A Person? || Digression 4: The Principle Of Personification || Belief In Practice 7: The Implications Of Inspiration || Study 2: Questions Study 3: The Promises Of God 3.1  Introduction || 3.2  The Promise In Eden || 3.3  The Promise To Noah || 3.4  The Promise To Abraham || 3.5  The Promise To David || Belief In Practice 8: Covenant Relationship With God || Study 3: Questions Study 4: God And Death 4.1  The Nature Of Man || 4.2  The Soul || 4.3  The Spirit || 4.4  Death Is Unconsciousness || 4.5  The Resurrection || 4.6  The Judgment || Belief In Practice 9: Judgment Now || 4.7  The Place Of Reward: Heaven Or Earth?|| 4.8  Responsibility To God || 4.9  Hell || Digression 5: Purgatory || Digression 6: Ghosts And Reincarnation || Digression 7: The 'Rapture' || Belief In Practice 10: The Motivational Power Of Understanding Death || Study 4: Questions Study 5: The Kingdom Of God 5.1  Defining The Kingdom || 5.2  The Kingdom Is Not Now Established || 5.3  The Kingdom Of God In The Past || 5.4  The Kingdom Of God In The Future || 5.5  The Millennium || Digression 8: The Kingdom Of God Now (Graham Bacon) || Belief In Practice 11: What The Kingdom Of God Means Today || Study 5: QuestionsStudy 6: God And Evil 6.1  God And Evil || 6.2  The Devil And Satan || 6.3  Demons || Digression 9: The Implications And Origin Of The Belief In A Personal Satan || Digression 10: Witchcraft || Digression 11: What Happened In Eden? || Digression 12: Lucifer || Belief In Practice 12: Battle For The Mind || Study 6: Questions

Part 2: "The things concerning...the name of Jesus Christ" (Acts 8:12) Study 7: The Origin Of Jesus. 7.1  Old Testament Prophecies Of Jesus || 7.2  The Virgin Birth || 7.3  Christ's Place In God's Plan || 7.4  "In the beginning was the word" || Digression 13: Jesus The Son Of God (Michael Gates) || Digression 14: Did Jesus Create The Earth? || Belief In Practice 13: Jesus Didn’t Pre-exist: And So What? || Study 7: Questions Study 8: The Nature Of Jesus 8.1  Introduction || 8.2  Differences Between God And Jesus || 8.3  The Nature Of Jesus || 8.4  The Humanity Of Jesus || 8.5  The Relationship Of God With Jesus || Belief In Practice 14: The Real Christ || Digression 15: How The Real Christ Was Lost || Digression 16: The Divine Side Of Jesus || Study 8: Questions Study 9: The Work Of Jesus 9.1  The Victory Of Jesus || 9.2  The Blood Of Jesus || 9.3  Jesus As Our Representative || 9.4  Jesus And The Law Of Moses || 9.5  The Sabbath || Digression 17 The Crucifix || Digression 18: Was Jesus Born On Dec. 25th? || Belief In Practice 15: The Meaning Of Christ’s Resurrection For Us || Belief In Practice 16: Christ Died For Me- So What Should I Do? || Belief In Practice 17: The Real Cross || Belief In Practice 18: The Inspiration Of The Cross || Study 9: Questions || Study 10: Baptism Into Jesus 10.1  The Vital Importance Of Baptism || 10.2  How Should We Be Baptized? || 10.3  The Meaning Of Baptism || 10.4  Baptism And Salvation || Digression 19: Re-baptism || Digression 20 The Thief On The Cross || Belief In Practice 19: The Certainty Of Salvation || Study 10: Questions Study 11: Life In Christ 11.1  Introduction || 11.2  Holiness || 11.2.1  The Use Of Force || 11.2.2  Politics || 11.2.3  Worldly Pleasures || 11.3  Practical Christian Life || 11.3.1  Bible Study || 11.3.2  Prayer || 11.3.3  Preaching || 11.3.4  Ecclesial Life || 11.3.5  The Breaking Of Bread || 11.4  Marriage || 11.5  Fellowship || Study 11: Questions ||