In the first installment, we discussed the maintenance of the gospel message. A Christian is someone who follows the teachings of Jesus Christ and promotes those teachings in word and deed. This means a Christian’s heart should be set on the teachings of Jesus Christ. The central message of Jesus’ teachings was “repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.” This message should fill a Christian’s heart and mind.
Notice what the disciples asked Jesus in Acts 1:6. “When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” Let’s identify some very important points evident in their question.
- This question was asked after 40 days of being taught more about God’s kingdom.
- The kingdom of God includes restoring the kingdom of Israel. This is indicated in several prophecies in the Old Testament.
- This appears to be the most pressing issue to the disciples after 40 days with the resurrected Jesus Christ.
- The question implies an eagerness to see the kingdom of God.
Sidenote: Some teach that the establishment of the modern nation of Israel is a fulfilment of prophecies pertaining to the restoration of Israel, but this is not biblically accurate. The restoration of Israel will occur when Jesus establishes the kingdom of God on earth. This is undeniable when you carefully study the prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. These prophecies discuss putting the northern and southern kingdom back together, the resurrection of king David, and a descendant of David who will rule the entire world. This cannot be referring to the 1948 establishment Israel. When Jesus returns Israel will be given ALL of the land God promised, not fragments.
Are you eager to see the establishment of God’s kingdom? If you truly believe the message Jesus preached during His ministry, then you would be eager to see His prophecies fulfilled in your lifetime. He foretold of a kingdom that would do away with wickedness and injustice. The more the world descends into darkness, the more we should be eager to see God’s kingdom do away with it all. Jesus even taught the disciples to pray about this matter.
Notice that reverence for God’s name is first and asking for His kingdom to come is second. This places this request as a high priority for Christians. The coming kingdom of God should not be an afterthought in your prayers. This is what Jesus commanded!! Praying for the establishment of God’s righteous kingdom should be a regular segment of our daily prayers.
Be sure to read the entire sample prayer. Jesus wraps up His example with, “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” (Matt. 6:13) The kingdom of God is so important that it is mentioned twice by Jesus. This verse is quoted all over the world during prayers, but how many truly recognize the importance of the kingdom of God?
Is your mind on the kingdom of God? Is it important enough to pray about daily? Is it the central theme of your prayers or are your troubles and concerns the central theme? Jesus taught us not be anxious about our material concerns. Instead He taught, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. ” (Matt 6:33) In these end times, Christians need to have there mind on the future beyond the Great Tribulation. We need to have our minds on the coming kingdom of God to avoid developing anxiety over our material needs.
The disciples could have asked Jesus anything, but instead they asked Him about the kingdom. They sought the establishment of the kingdom first. What you pray and ask about shows what you are most concerned with. It is not hard to imagine why the disciples would have had there minds on the kingdom of God. Read the parables of Jesus and recognize that the majority of them are talking about kingdom. Jesus even declared unto them, “Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables.” (Mark 4:11) Jesus taught them about the kingdom of God before and after His resurrection. That is how important the good news of the coming kingdom of God is. (The reason the kingdom of God is a mystery is because mankind finds it difficult to believe a supernatural Creator will fully intercede in the affairs of men while living among them.)
Sown Among the Thorns
Again, is the kingdom of God at the forefront of your concern like the apostles? If not, why not? Are you the seed that was sown among the thorns?
“And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, 19 and the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.” (Mark 4:18-19)
Read this parable in Matt 13:3-23; Mark 4:2-20; and Luke 8:4-15. Matthew’s account shows us that the seed is the “word of the kingdom.” The sower sows the word of the kingdom and those who hear it receive it in certain ways. Four analogies are made to describe how people receive the word of the kingdom. The unfortunate reality is some receive the word only to let the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the lust of other things choke out the word of the kingdom that was sown in them. The result is fruitlessness.
I beg you not to allow other things to take precedence over the kingdom of God. To do so is very dangerous.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” (John 15:1-2)
If the word of the kingdom has been sown in you, then you are required to be fruitful. You cannot be fruitful if you allow other things to become more important than the word of the kingdom. If you are not fruitful, the Father will cut you away from the true vine, Jesus Christ.
The good news of the coming kingdom of God is not sown in you to sit dormant and never grow. It is sown in you so that you may be fruitful unto God. Set the word of the kingdom in the forefront of your mind and in the core of your heart. Let your faith in that coming kingdom drive your words and deeds. Be fruitful before God!!
From Seed to Fruit to Seed
The analogy of the word of the kingdom being seed has tremendous implications that many ignore. Read the following verse:
“And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.” (Gen. 1:11)
God designed a fruit bearing plant to develop seed within itself. The implication of the analogy is that those who are fruitful, after receiving the word of the kingdom, can be used to sow more seed. This is different than the modern concept of evangelism. It requires you to grow and become fruitful before seed can be sown from your fruit. If a fruit bearing plant bears no fruit, then there can be no seed. An immature plant has not yet developed fruit that can be used to sow seed.
As we continue to explore the book of Acts, notice how everyone who was chosen of God to go forth and preach developed the fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:22) prior to sowing the word of the kingdom in others. They were fruitful, therefore, they had seed available to be sown. Sharing your faith starts with living a life consistent with that faith.
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16)
NO ONE WILL RESPECT YOUR FAITH IF YOU ARE NOT FRUITFUL IN IT!!! The world will see you as a hypocrite. Why would anyone else want a relationship with your Father if they perceive you as a hypocrite? Jesus said, “you will be hated of all nations for my name’s sake,” but some will see your fruitfulness in the faith and glorify God the Father. Then the word of the kingdom can be sown in them because you are fruitful.
Though life will get more difficult, remember the cares of this world will end at the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. Keep the good news of the kingdom at the center of your thinking and be fruitful!!!