Sunday, August 15, 2010

Tribulation (5) - to the Kingdom

Many Christians believe that the Kingdom of God will be established when Jesus returns with violent power to destroy all those who oppose it. This view is a distortion of the gospel. Jesus was adamant that his kingdom will not be established by force and coercion.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Rom 12:21).
Evil will not be overcome by greater evil. It must be overcome by good.

The Kingdom of God will be established by the Holy Spirit working through the church. When the church follows Jesus example and takes up the cross, the power of the Holy Spirit is released. When Christians willingly suffer in the face of evil, the principalities and powers are defeated.

One reason that the Kingdom of God has taken so long to be established is that Christians often take the wrong response to evil. We try to overcome evil with military force and political power. This sometimes achieves a temporary victory, but unfortunately it cramps up the Holy Spirit and in the long term the Kingdom of God is hindered. The Holy Spirit cannot operate at his full potential in a church that grasps at political and secular power.

The Kingdom of God will be established when his church is willing to follow Jesus all the way and take up the cross in the face of evil. Suffering and tribulation will bring in the Kingdom of God. John understood that suffering and endurance and the kingdom go together.
Your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus (Rev 1:9).
Paul suffered a great deal, but he understood that suffering would advance the Kingdom.
All this is evidence that God's judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering (2 Thes 1:5).
Join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God (2 Tim 1:7-9).
We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us (Rom 5:3-4).
Peter understood that suffering defeats the power of the enemy.
Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast (1 Peter5:8-10).
Their suffering will lead to Gods victory.

John explained that Jesus overcame evil by dying on the cross. The Holy Spirit will bring in the kingdom through a church achieves victory that follows Jesus example.
They overcame him
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
as to shrink from death.
Therefore rejoice, you heavens
and you who dwell in them! (Rev 12:11-12).
This seems like a paradox, but the people of the Lamb experience victory, when they are willing to die for their faith, and do not shrink from death. The fullness of the Holy Spirit dwells in such a church.

There is a “great tribulation” (Rev 7:14). This is not a great tribulation because it is the worst suffering and persecution ever. It is the great tribulation, because this suffering in the face of persecution leads to the collapse of evil empires and the emergence of the Kingdom of God. Any suffering and tribulation that advances the kingdom of God is a great tribulation, because it has a great result.

1 comment:

Cammie Novara said...

"Jesus was adamant that his kingdom will not be established by force and coercion." I agree fully. There's a really fascinating debate that I thought would be of interest on evolution vs. intelligent design going on at