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This week has been TOUGH! And not just for Liverpool fans.... The headlines have been tragic, like the school shooting in the US and the GBV and corruption stories back home. Many in the community are dealing with loss, sickness and all kinds of challenges.
"Where is God?" "Is he in control?" "How can he let this happen?" "What have I done to deserve this?" These are common questions that surface. One of the ways the Bible answers these questions is through the theme of Kingdom.
A few weeks back, we began to dig into this theme. Here's a quick recap, using this image that we shared before.
The top half of the image presents a relativity common view of what many people think the Bible teaches. Heaven is somewhere out there, in the clouds, perhaps. And hell is somewhere else. If you pass the test after you die, you will go to heaven. And if you don't, then.... This idea of going to heaven (or hell) when you die is not the main focus of the Bible narrative. You won't find the phrase "go to heaven" in the Bible.
The bottom half of the image is a more accurate representation of the Biblical narrative.
Heaven in the Bible can refer to the sky, but also to God's space - his dimension, the place where he is. Heaven is a present and future reality, and from what we see in Revelation 21, this dimension coming here, to earth - which is our space (dimension).
Humans created in the image of God, and this is linked to ruling and reigning (Gen 1:26)
Heaven & Earth were made to be united and will be united again (Rev 21)
Sin is rebellion against God's Kingdom, a powerful force. (Gen 3, Rom 7:8) Sins are the actions/consequences that flow out of sin. We focus a lot on "sins" and therefore behavior management, but the core issue is sin. This caused a fracture between God's space, and our space. The cross deals with both sin and sins, and is central to the way that God is bringing these dimensions back together, under the reign of the true King - Jesus.
What you think Jesus talked about most tells you a lot about how you see him. Jesus primary message is Repent, for the Kingdom of God/Heaven is at hand (Matt 4:17)
Christ means Messiah, the Anointed King
Gospel (Gk euangelion) means the good news of a King
Kingdom (in the Bible) is not a geographical place but an encounter with the King; a yielding to His rule and reign
On the cross, Jesus deals with sin and sins, defeats death, takes God's wrath upon himself, inaugurates the Kingdom, and in his resurrection begins the new creation
We live in the Now and the not yet. In this age, the Kingdom has come, but is not complete. Hence the Kingdom is here, but not everywhere yet.
Christ will return again to complete the Kingdom (Heb 9:28) to judge the living and the dead; we will all stand before God one day to give an account
So, the goal is not to “go to heaven when you die”, but to repent, accept the invitation to be part of the Kingdom now, into eternity. (Rev 5:10)
In this age, the Church - called out ones, are God’s choice to carry the Gospel, the evidence of the Kingdom
To turn the world upside down then, is not to start a riot, but to set things right, according to the rule and reign of the good King. (Acts 17)
Your view of all of this is so key. If you see that the theme of the Bible narrative and the Kingdom is one of restoration, redemption and a new creation, that everything is moving toward a resolution, that brings hope. And as many have said, what you hope for shapes what you live for.
WHAT YOU HOPE FOR SHAPES WHAT YOU LIVE FOR