God’s kingdom is not new

Since the Bible was written during a span of perhaps 1500 years by about 40 authors utilizing different languages while living under the influence of various dominating cultures, it certainly holds a unique status. Even more amazing is that in spite of their lack of collaboration, those who penned the Old and New Testaments present many unified messages. One of these is that God is King. God’s kingdom is not something new.

For Americans, kingship is an unfamiliar reality. We have experienced presidents and congresses, but not kings.

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Kingdom now

Jesus lived at a unique juncture in history. It was a time when God related to his chosen people based upon the old covenant, yet Jesus was about to inaugurate a new covenant relationship from God available to all people.

For centuries God’s rule and kingship had been announced over his chosen people, Israel. Yet Jesus was born king of the Jews. He would die as king of the Jews. With his upcoming resurrection he would ascend to sit on God’s right hand, crowned as Messiah and Lord possessing all authority in heaven and on earth.

Living within this juncture of service and inauguration, Jesus proclaimed that the kingdom, the future hope of the Old Testament prophets, was at hand. He taught how people would respond to this coming kingdom, as well as what kingdom ethics, economics, values, attitudes, and behaviors look like.

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Christians are the spiritual Israel of God

Some people are surprised that the Old Testament is so much larger in size than the New. In my Portuguese Bible it takes up 764 pages out of a total of 994. That’s 76% of the whole Bible. Several explanations as to why may be adequate, but here is one thought, how the Lord was building up to, and preparing for, the time when Christ would come and fulfill his eternal plan.

In both Testaments, God created a people for himself. In the Old Testament, it was Israel, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Each of Jacob’s sons became a tribe in Israel. In the New Testament, God’s people is the church, and they are variously described as the body of Christ, the family of faith, the temple of the Holy Spirit. No more is there a physical connection to define God’s holy ones. We are born into God’s family because we respond to his message and obey his commandments, John 3.3, 5. Continue reading “Christians are the spiritual Israel of God”

The People of God Principle (1)

Whether atheist, Muslim, Jew, Catholic, Protestant, or some other stripe within Christendom, the people of God principle pierces to the very core. Claims and denials clash, sometimes amicably, sometimes not.

In the wake of affirmations regarding who does or does not belong to God, human history lies tattered and scarred. New York City witnessed towers of steel replaced with columns of smoke. Activists ardently scrape any legitimizing remnant of belonging to God from our culture. Fires have flared and blood pressures peaked.

Our worldviews are significantly shaped by our perspectives on whether people belong to God and if so, who they are. Here are some common voices past and present proposing how God’s people can be identified. Continue reading “The People of God Principle (1)”