The Kingdom of God was a central part of Jesus' message, a fact emphasised by over 100 references to the Kingdom in the Gospels. Being such an integral part of Jesus' teachings means that it is vital that we are able to grasp this concept; this is why, over the next nine weeks, we will be exploring God's Kingdom in a new teaching series at Emmanuel. Unlike recent expositional series we have been exploring on Psalms, Philemon, Joshua and Haggai, this series will be purely topical.
'Kingdom' in English normally implies a territory- this is not the case in the biblical use of the word. Looking at Bakers Dictionary of Biblical Theology the term "kingdom" is understood as dynamic in nature and refers primarily to the rule or reign of a king. It is seldom used in a static sense to refer to a territory. As a result, in the vast majority of instances it would be better to translate the expression "kingdom of God" as the "rule of God." That Jesus understood it this way is evident from such passages as Luke 19:12 ("A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king, " literally "to receive a kingdom"; Matthew 6:33 ("seek first his kingdom"); and Mark 10:15 ("receive the kingdom of God like a little child"). Based on this definition, we will be defining 'Kingdom' throughout this series simply as the rule and reign of God.
The most famous mention of the Kingdom comes as Jesus says the Lord's prayer in Matthew 6:10 when he prays "Your Kingdom come". He taught this method of praying to encourage us to pray that God's Kingdom will come. Contrast to this, in Luke 17:21 Jesus says, “Behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” Reading both of these biblical references may seem confusing as they suggest His Kingdom is not yet present and already present. “Pray for it. It’s coming. It’s not yet here. It’s not going to be immediate, and yet already, it’s present in your midst, upon you, at hand.” How is this possible? Looking at the Kingdom of God as God’s rule and reign we can see that many of the blessings of the Kingdom are here to be enjoyed now; but many of them are not yet here. Some of its power is accessible to us now but not all of it. This series will be focusing on the 'now' aspect of the Kingdom rather than the 'not yet'; building faith with the Kingdom's current blessing while not ignoring the realities and suffering of this life as it has not been fully realised yet.
During this new teaching series, we will aim to:
- unpack and help grow our understanding of God's Kingdom- the rule and reign of God.
- explore values that should be present in our lives if we are living under His rule.
- consider how we can pray for and seek God's Kingdom in the city of Oxford
Specific values we will be looking at will be:
- Love and Honour
The values we cover are by no means exhaustive but rather a selection of values that are aiming to be highly relevant to us at Emmanuel Church in our context and at this time. We look forward to exploring these values with you over the next nine Sundays.