If Jesus is Lord, why is there still so much rebellion? On that Pentecost morning Peter announced that Jesus is now seated at the Fathers right hand, and that the Father is bringing all of His enemies into submission to Him. Yet if we look around us we see a lot of spiritual warfare. The devil is still very active. The human race seems to be dividing and hardening in its attitudes. People are either for or against Him, with fewer and fewer undecided. There are places on earth where the number of people following Him is growing rapidly, but there are also places where an antichrist spirit appears to be taking hold. In our own culture there seems to be so much defiance of Gods moral standards, so much violence, so much dishonesty, so many false religions. And if Jesus is Lord, why does He allow all of this? Why doesnt He force people to submit? The answer is that He will some day, but not yet. Believe it or not, all of this has been prophesied and is part of His plan. Yes, God has commanded all the world to surrender to His Son, but He still allows people to disobey that command. People can still choose to submit or rebel, and as troubled as these times may seem, millions are confessing Him as Lord every year. Yet the Bible tells us that as time goes on persecution and deception will increase, and fewer and fewer will believe. A day will come, somewhere in the future, when the last person willingly bows his or her knee. At that point the harvest will be complete and the Lord will return to the earth, and every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father (Php 2:10, 11). But were not there yet. Even though we see this hardening taking place in our own country, many are still willing to repent and believe. So our assignment is to labor in this harvest field while it is still day.
We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work (Jn 9:4).
Lord and Christ (Ac 2:22-36)
Paul explains some of the mystery of the relationship between the Father and Son in his first letter to the Corinthians (1Co 15:24-28). He tells us that in this season in which we are now living, the Father has commanded all creation to submit to His Son, but bringing this submission to reality is a process. Its a battle. It doesnt happen instantly, at least not yet. Someday, the entire creation will submit to Jesus and when that day arrives He will, in turn, present a submitted universe back to His Father so that the Father may be all in all. In his Revelation, John lets us glimpse our final dwelling place in the new heaven and earth and there we see both the Father and Son sharing the throne (Rev 22:3).
Where is His kingdom?
After His resurrection Jesus said, All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations
teaching them to observe all that I commanded you. (Mt 28:18-20). All authority has been given to Him, but He refuses to be a dictator. Hes looking for people who love Him and want to serve Him, not slaves or robots. So He sends us into the world to look for those who are willing to submit to Him. His kingdom is wherever there are individuals who choose to be His servants. In the future the whole earth will submit, but not yet. Oh, Hes already the Lord whether people acknowledge that fact or not, but God has ordained a season when we can choose to submit, choose to walk in faith, choose to live righteously. Through His people He is extending His kingdom from one heart to the next. To carry out our assignment, He empowers us, gives us spiritual authority, and answers our prayers as we go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation (Mk 16:15).
What happens when His kingdom comes?
Mt 6:10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven
Mt 10:7, 8 And as you go, preach, saying The kingdom of heaven is at hand (has drawn near). Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers
Mt 10:1 Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.
Lk 11:20 But if I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you.
Lk 17:20, 21
the Kingdom of God is in your midst.
How His kingdom grows
To illustrate how His kingdom grows during this season, Jesus compared it to a tiny mustard seed or yeast. The main point He is trying to make is no matter what size the seed is, if theres life in it, it will grow and it will transform that which is around it.
Mt 13:31, 32 mustard seed
Mt 13:33 leaven in dough
Mk 4:26-29 And He was saying, The Kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows how, he himself does not know. The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head.
So, if the seed is alive, if its a true seed, it will grow, nothing can stop it, and the darkness will not be able to overcome it (Jn 1:5). Who or what is this seed? The seed is Gods people whom He casts into the garden of the world. And if we are full of life (the Holy Spirit), and if we speak His truth, and if we live our faith so the world can see the difference, His kingdom will grow, and press back the darkness, nothing can stop it because Jesus is Lord.
The main problem
The main problem in America today is that the seed isnt growing. Were not transforming the world around us, the mustard seed isnt becoming a tree, the yeast isnt leavening the dough, the world is transforming us. We have an unrevived church. A church that survives by presenting a message that appeals to the flesh. Theres hardly a county where the total Christian population is increasing. Were in retreat and decline.
The only answer
So whats the answer? The answer is to return to the DNA of the original church, this one were reading about now in the Book of Acts. We cant stop all this decay around us by voting, though we should certainly try to slow it by electing good people. Until the kingdom of God is growing again, were fighting a losing battle. Thats why were going back and looking so carefully at Scripture. What was the gospel our forefathers and mothers preached? How did they baptize people? How did they minister the baptism in the Holy Spirit? How did they live life together? Because they were a living seed having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day, those who were being saved. (Ac 2:47). Were on a quest to discover what we may have missed so well again see His kingdom grow and push back the darkness. We want to return to the dynamic we see at work in this small group of people gathered on Pentecost. They had no clever organization, no charming motivational speakers (they had Peter). What they had was Gods life inside them, the seeds were alive, so God only needed to take them in His hand and scatter them to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the most remote places on earth. And wherever they went His kingdom grew, like a mustard seed, like leaven in dough.
Lessons Ive learned
Here are some key lessons Ive learned so far:
1) The gospel must include repentance. Without repentance, no change takes place.
2) The gospel requires an active, living faith, not an old memory of a prayer once prayed. We must cling to His cross.
3) People need to be water baptized. It allows us to openly declare our surrender and faith. It seals the decision in our heart.
4) The Baptism in the Holy Spirit is vital to inner transformation. It awakens a passion for God and a desire to serve. I must be bold and clear in presenting this.
5) Believers must live out our faith in community. We are very weak and sad when we try to walk alone. We must find ways to love one another, and be with one another.
6) Healing and deliverance is essential to authentic Christianity. It was a major part of what Jesus taught His disciples.
7) I know there are more lessons to learn, but I also know He wants to teach us these things more than we want to know them. And He will, if we study His word and listen to His voice.
If we return to authentic Christianity, we have every right to expect the same power to attend us and the same explosive life to be released. Listen to the author of Hebrews:
Remember those who led you, who spoke the Word of God to you, and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Heb 13:7, 8).
1) Do you know someone who is a living seed, theyre full of the love of God, theyre passionate for Him, their faith is infectious? Tell us about that person. How does their life affect others?
2) What is a key lesson that God is teaching you lately? Is He challenging you to take a new step thats uncomfortable? Would you like to share that with us?