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Teaching on What Christianity Is All About and Based on

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The Kingdom of God

Looking Through a Needle's Eye


Christianity Teaching


What the Kingdom of God is Not

So, what is the Kingdom of God? Well, before we dig for more truth about the Kingdom, let's establish what the Kingdom of God is not.

#1The Kingdom of God is not of
this world.

Jesus testified before Pilate, "My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence" (John 18:36). Jesus willingly laid down His life because He knew the reality of a heavenly Kingdom. His disciples, too, later suffered and died for the Gospel's sake, "not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection" (Hebrews 11:35). Their testimonies can help strengthen our faith — for, as Paul said, "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable" (I Corinthians 15:19). There is an eternal Kingdom awaiting those who love the Lord, a Kingdom which which cannot be shaken (see Hebrews 12:28-29).

Like a light which penetrates and overtakes darkness, God's heavenly Kingdom exposes evil and purges sin. This is why the world hates Jesus Christ, rejects His Kingdom, and despises His message. John 3:19 says, "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." To the world, the concept of a poor, devout Jewish "criminal" who allowed Himself to be brutally executed on a bloody cross is ridiculous, and the concept of a glorious resurrection three days later is absurd. But to those who are being saved, the message of the cross is the power and wisdom of God. "For the preaching of the cross is to them that
perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God"
(I Corinthians 1:18).

The devil and his minions know that the cross and empty grave of Christ is their defeat (Colossians 2:15) and that their time is short (Revelation 12:12). As long as the powers of darkness rule this present world, their violent hatred will continue to rage against Jesus and His followers. (See Acts 7:54-60 and 19:23-29 for some examples of demonic rage.) Some Christians will suffer and die for Christ's sake, and "all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" (II Timothy 3:12).

But Jesus comforted His disciples with these words: "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you" (John 15:18-19). We can testify, just as Jesus did, that our Kingdom is not of this world (see I Timothy 6:13).

#2The Kingdom of God is
not observed with natural
perception.

When the Jews demanded to know when the Kingdom of God would come, Jesus answered them, "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, 'Lo here!' or, 'lo there!' For, behold, the kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:20-21). The Jews expected their Messiah to come as a conquering ruler to obliterate Roman oppression (see Luke 19:11). They did not understand that the Kingdom of God had to work unseen in the hearts of people. Jesus said, "Therefore say I unto you, the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof" (Matthew 21:43). Since Jesus came to the Jews as a sacrificial Lamb, most of them rejected Him as their Messiah and the Gospel spread to the Gentiles.

There is a strong spiritual delusion over the hearts and minds of many people today, "that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (II Thessalonians 2:10-12). This is a sobering word, for those who harden their hearts (Acts 28:27) and sear their consciences by taking pleasure in sin will one day have no more chances to repent and turn toward the mercy of God.

How, then, does a person perceive the Kingdom of God? The Bible tells us: "That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling ..." (Ephesians 1:17-18). Indeed, the Kingdom of God is now comprehended only by faith through the spiritual sight of a person's heart (Jeremiah 31:33-34).

#3The Kingdom of God is not
prosperous by the world's
definition.

Sorry to say, those "Christian prosperity" teachers out there are preaching another gospel. God's Kingdom does not delight in worldly wealth because earthly riches are a stumblingblock to entering the Kingdom (see Proverbs 10:22; James 5:1-5). Paul said in I Timothy 6:9-10, "But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."

Without a doubt, a rich man will find it very hard to go through the strait gate with all his stuff. Does this mean that a rich man cannot enter the Kingdom of God? Certainly not, for with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:16-26). But since a rich man cannot serve both God and mammon (Matthew 6:24), he must be willing and ready to lay it all down for the sake of the Kingdom, and he must not trust in his riches (see Matthew 10:37-38; Mark 10:24; I Timothy 6:17). Consider the example of Jesus: "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich [in heavenly riches], yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich [in heavenly riches]" (II Corinthians 8:9).

Can God bless His people with earthly prosperity? Of course He can, and many times He does. But such blessings should always be held loosely. We must not set our hearts on material blessings (Proverbs 23:4-5). Like Paul, we should count "all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:8), for our greatest treasure is Christ.

The fact is, God's people have often been regarded throughout history as pilgrims and strangers in this world because they sought a heavenly country (Psalm 39:12; Hebrews 11:13). Moses, for instance, chose "rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward" (Hebrews 11:25-26). Ultimately, it is the poor who are rich in faith (James 2:5), and faith is "much more precious" than gold which perishes (I Peter 1:7).

#4The Kingdom of God is not
Christianity.

According to Acts 11:26, a Christian is a disciple of Jesus. But the word Christianity appears nowhere in Scripture; it is a term that is often used loosely (and sometimes shamefully) to encompass a wide diversity of beliefs about Jesus and the Bible.

It might come as a surprise to learn that neither Jesus nor the apostles ever tried to convert anyone to Christianity; they consistently lived for and preached only the Kingdom of God. Many people erroneously assume that Christianity is the Kingdom of God, but as you can see from the chart below, the two are actually at great odds with each other. The former is built on the traditions and religious beliefs of men; the latter is built on God's authority and divine power as revealed in His Word.


ChristianityKingdom of God
Salvation is offered through altar calls, heads bowed so no one sees, soft music to soothe the soul, and "repeat-after-me" prayers.Salvation is by the power of God which convicts the soul through preaching of the Word. People ask, "What must I do to be saved?" (Acts 16:30) and repent.
Evangelism is a quest to see how many people "get saved" by saying a sinner's prayer. Emphasis is on the number of "converts."Evangelism is preaching the good news and making disciples. Quantity is not as important as quality (Romans 11:14; I Cor. 9:22).
"Faith" just means believing; a Christian is supposedly anyone who believes in God.Biblical "faith" is an action manifested through obedience. A Christian is one who actively demonstrates his or her faith in Jesus by obeying His commands (that is, a disciple). Only born-again disciples are true Christians!
The church is a building with services to attend once or twice a week.The Church consists of disciples who are in fellowship with the Lord all week long (Psalm 55:17) and is made up of "lively stones" (I Pet. 2:5).
A person joins the church through water baptism and membership classes.A person joins the Body of Christ through faith and repentance, then identifies with Christ through water baptism.
Fellowship is based on friendship and is chosen according to likes, dislikes, and common interests.Fellowship is defined by unity in the Spirit through the common ground of salvation by the blood of Jesus.
Churches are made up of "attendees" who are either too busy or too intimidated to get directly involved in meeting others' needs.The early church experienced what "church" should be: they shared "all things common" and distributed their goods "to all men, as every man had need." They broke bread together from house to house. Whenever they met, they praised God in "singleness of heart"
(Acts 2:44-47).
Church leaders do not know individual members very well.Church elders know their flock personally and individually.
Biblical truths are customized to one's lifestyle as is convenient. Change is optional.Biblical truths are the very core of one's lifestyle. Change is necessary to line up with the Word.
Moral decisions are based on choosing good or evil (based on the world's perspective). Those who are morally good can supposedly earn eternal life.Moral decisions are based on choosing life or death (based on God's Word, see Deut. 30:19). Only those who are in Christ will inherit the gift of eternal life.
A person learns about God through an endless stream of books, tapes, and seminars.A person learns about God through personal study of His Word and by the teaching of the Holy Ghost.
Pastors preach motivational speeches, eloquent sermons, and every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:14).Pastors preach the oracles of God (I Cor. 2:1-5; I Peter 4:11).
Pastors preach recycled sermons, buying them off the Internet and incorporating ideas from the latest sermon trends (see II Tim. 4:4).Pastors seek to hear directly from the Lord and receive fresh manna for their flock. They preach directly from the Word whatever the Lord is speaking to His Church for that time.
Over 200 "Christian" denominations maintain a wide variety of beliefs about salvation.God's Word says that there is one way, one truth, one life, one narrow gate to His heaven (John 14:6; Jude 1:3).
Churches lure big crowds through entertaining programs, exciting media, big-name speakers (see I Cor. 2:1-4), and "cutting-edge" worship services.The light of Christ draws people. The pure Gospel is preached and worship is in the spirit of holiness, even if just two or three are gathered (Mt. 18:20).
Worship services are high energy (fleshy) and emotionally-driven (soulish).God is worshipped only in Spirit and in truth (John 4:24).
Worship is with the lips, but the heart is far from God (Isaiah 29:13).Worship is a daily lifestyle of pleasing God with a pure heart; songs of praise are merely the outflow of a heart in right standing before the Lord.
Beliefs are based on religious traditions and doctrines of men (see Matt. 15:9).Beliefs are based solely on the Scriptures as the final authority.
Confidence is placed in human ingenuity (man's ideas and methods) to "build the church."Confidence is placed solely on "Christ, and Him crucified" (I Cor. 2:2), and He will build His Church.
Loving God means having positive feelings toward Him.Love is not a feeling but an action ("For God so loved the world that He gave" John 3:16). To love God is to obey Him and give Him first place in our hearts
(I Jn. 3:16-18, 5:3).
The fear of the Lord is seldom discussed.The fear of God is critical, for we are
to fear nothing or anyone besides Him (Isa. 51:12; Matt. 10:28). Fearing God is realizing that He is holy, sovereign, and an all-consuming fire (Heb. 12:29).
Repentance is a one-time event; no need to repent after a person becomes a Christian.Repentance is a regular occurrence for the Christian. To repent means to change the mind,
and our minds must continually be changed through daily renewing in God's Word.
Pastors preach tithing and pressure members to fund the church's projects.Pastors preach New Testament giving (100% belongs to God) and members meet the needs of widows and orphans (James 1:27).
Many ministers (especially TV preachers) are greedy for monetary gain (or "filthy lucre," Titus 1:7). They get rich from people's donations. They manipulate listeners to give with their emotional speeches and even speak threats and curses to those who do not give. They make merchandise of Christianity (II Peter 2:3) and sell the Word for profit.True ministers of the Gospel do not make money off God's Word. They may receive donations to support their basic needs (Luke 10:7 says that a laborer is worthy of his hire), but they are not greedy for riches.
Churches teach blind submission to all authority (citing Romans 13 out of context).The Bible says that God is our authority. If human authority contradicts His divine commands, we must obey God first (Acts 5:29).
Churches teach a self-focused doctrine of covetousness: how to love yourself and improve your life (II Tim. 3:2); how to manipulate the "Prayer of Jabez" (I Chron. 4:10) for your own desires. The goal is to get from the Lord.The Bible teaches that godliness with contentment is great gain (I Timothy 6:6). We are to tear down pride in our hearts, turn from the lusts of the flesh, and follow Jesus' example of servanthood (Matt. 11:29; Phil. 2:5-9). The goal is to give to the Lord.
Churches teach the "purpose-driven" life.The Word of God teaches the "Spirit-led" life.
Church hierarchies resemble the governments of men: pastors, boards, and committees rule over the people (see Revelation 2:6,15).Church leadership is based on God's government: no hierarchy, pastoral elders serve and lead by example, bishops are overseers, deacons are servants, the laity are priests unto God.
People may buy into the ecumenism lie which states that the pope is the head of the Church and that the Catholic church is the "one true church." (This is deception from the spirit of antichrist!)True disciples know that Jesus Christ alone is the head of His Church (Eph. 5:23). Jesus has no mediator — He is the Mediator. His flock consists of those who hear and obey His voice anywhere in the world. Unity among brethren is by the Holy Spirit (not by compromising of doctrine), regardless of denominational or cultural divisions.
Pastors wear titles such as "Dr.", "Rev.", and "Father." They delight in external show of superiority by their robes, collars, and special seats. Jesus warned about such men in Matt. 23:1-12 and Luke 20:46.God sets in place humble shepherds to lead His flock: they are men of integrity who don't care for "people praise" or titles of men (I Peter 5:2).
Christian psychology and counseling is esteemed as beneficial for improving oneself.Jesus taught that we must deny ourselves, take up our cross (die to self), and follow Him (Mark 8:34-37). No amount of "self-help" advice will achieve that result.
Churches receive tax exempt status and in exchange must stay out of politics, never speak out against government issues (such as war), and never preach against homosexuality. Read more about these 501c3 churches.Churches do not compromise by trying to protect their tax exempt (non-profit) status. They pray for national leaders but preach the complete Word of God even if it is not "politically correct."
Christian merchandise is relentlessly marketed for profit (see II Peter 2:3). Often, people believe that they are more spiritual or holy if they have the latest Christian trinket."Christian things"
(crosses, t-shirts, jewelry, prayer beads, etc.) do not impress God. As always, He looks at a person's heart (I Sam. 16:7; Psalm 66:18; Jer. 17:10; I Peter 3:4).
Pagan practices such as tattoos (Lev. 19:28, Mark 5:5, I Cor. 6:19), rock concerts, and Halloween are "Christianized" and then allegedly approved by God as acceptable for His people.Just as God was angry when the children of Israel tried to worship Him with a golden calf (Exodus 32:4-6), so worldly abominations will never be acceptable for God's people or permitted in the worship of Him. These carnal (I Cor. 3:1) practices are often done in ignorance by young converts (Num. 15:28; I Peter 1:13-15) who lack proper Godly counsel (I Cor. 4:15) and should be repented of as the Holy Spirit brings conviction not condemnation. However, God is gracious to forgive (Acts 17:30; Rom. 3:24; Rom. 6:14-15.
Churches use numerous modern Bible "translations" which lead to confusion. These versions often water down the Word, contradict each other, and mis-
translate critical words and phrases. Most of these modern versions have been corrupted by greedy "scholars" who changed the words of God as they saw fit.
The inerrant Word
of God does not change. Truth is hidden in parables. Wisdom is found by searching the Scriptures daily and by studying precept upon precept and line upon line (Isaiah 28:10,13; Acts 17:11).
Church discipline is minimal with the premise of "not judging" anyone. Believers do not receive correction from their spiritual authorities.Church discipline is essential. Judgment begins in the house of God, and righteous judgment is according to God's Word (Prov. 27:17; Matt 7:5; John 7:24; I Tim. 5:20; Hebrews 12:6-7; I Pet. 4:17).
Predictions for the future: masses will be saved through great, sweeping revivals. Christianity will bring peace and unity to the earth.Biblical prophecies for the future: many will fall away from the faith to the doctrines of devils, only a small remnant will be saved, love will grow cold, wickedness and troubles will increase (Matthew 24:1-12; Luke 18:8; I Thess. 5:3; I Tim. 4:1).


Reality Check

The comparison chart mentioned above reveals that "Christianity" clashes with the Kingdom of God because its agendas and systems are often patterned after this world. God's standards of righteousness and holiness never change, but the standards of "Christianity" are regularly compromised and influenced by secular society.

Remember, "Christianity" doesn't save you, nor do its traditions lead to eternal life (see Matthew 23:13). Only Jesus Christ saves people. "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (I Peter 1:18-19). Whereas "Christianity" can be labled as a religion, the Kingdom of God is based upon a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Ironically, it is often the religious folk who end up rejecting God's Kingdom. Why is this so? Because God's Kingdom doesn't fit with their theologies and traditions. Jesus said to the religious men of His day (men who later nailed Him to a cross), "Verily I say unto you, that the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him" (Matthew 21:31-32). When you live the Word, know the Word, and preach the Word, don't be surprised if those who say they believe in God become offended at you.

How easy it is to allow our minds to be influenced and corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. Thankfully, the Lord corrects those He loves (see Proverbs 15:31-32), and those who love Him will receive His correction. Proverbs 1:23 says, "Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you." May those of us who have strayed from the truths of God's Word repent (change our traditional ways of thinking, humbling though it may be) in order that we may embrace the reality of God's Kingdom. "If any man have ears to hear, let him hear" (Mark 4:23).

Now that we understand what the Kingdom of God is not, let's discover what the Kingdom of God is.

[Continued]

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