The Good News - Home
By David A. DePra
We are being invaded. Did you realize that? Right now. It is, in fact, an invasion that has been going on for the last two thousand years.
When we think about the plan of God, most of us tend to think in terms of us going to heaven when we die. But aside from the Truth of our eternal destiny, a closer look at scripture hints at something wider in breadth. Rather than limit Godís purpose merely to us going to be with God, the Bible talks much more about God coming down to be with US. Indeed, the Bible talks about INVASION Ė the "invasion" of the kingdom of God upon this earth.
This invasion shouldnít be a surprise to anyone. Before it began, God announced it would begin Ė He announced it continually over the course of four thousand years. He sent messenger after messenger. He had it all written down. Then He finally sent the KING Himself. Since then, for two thousand years, God has been telling us that the invasion is taking place.
This invasion is that of the kingdom of God. The actual invasion started two thousand years ago when there was one born who was to be King of kings. Jesus Christ was God Incarnate, Lord, and Savior. But He was also a King.
Until the appearing of our Lord Jesus ChristÖ..the King of kings, and Lord of lords.
(1 Tim. 6:15)
Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews?Ö..Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth hears my voice. (John 18:33-37)
Jesus is Lord and Savior. But He is also King of kings. His kingdom is one which has no limits, and is one which cannot be defeated. And the invasion of that kingdom, in anticipation of the Second Coming of Jesus, is well under way.
The Kingdom of God
And, behold, thou shall conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shall call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. (Luke 1:31-33)
God started his kingdom with one man, Abraham. And then with the nation Israel, prospering under David. Here, we see God announcing that His own Son would be the final King. His "throne" was to encompass the entire world. As the angel said, "of His kingdom there shall be NO END."
Again we read about a KINGDOM Ė the kingdom of God. But what is the "kingdom of God?" And what does this "kingdom of God" mean for each one of us?
The kingdom of God was the theme of much of Jesusí teaching. But those who heard Him interpreted the term along traditional lines, rather than upon Biblical lines. They thought the kingdom was to be physical, with the Messiah reigning over Israel. Many Christians continue in a similar error today. Many think that the "kingdom of God" is the church. Others think that the kingdom is what will be set up in the "millennium." And then there are those who think that the kingdom is heaven itself. But the "kingdom of God," while it does include all of the above, is NOT limited to any of those things. Once we limit the kingdom to any one of those things, we lose itís meaning.
The kingdom of God is the REIGN and RULE of God. Period. Thus, you will not find the kingdom of God on a map. It is not a place. It is Godís rule over any place Ė or person.
The kingdom of God is the rule of God itself. It is Godís sovereignty and possession. Those things which "come under" Godís rule can therefore be said to BE IN His kingdom. That is why Jesus continually spoke of entering the kingdom. You cannot enter the kingdom until the rule of God enters into YOU.
We must understand this principle. In order to enter into the kingdom of God, the kingdom of God must enter into YOU. Or, to put it another way, to be IN the kingdom of God, you must belong to God. You must have His reign and rule governing YOU, in your heart and life. Then, you are in His kingdom.
Once we understand this, many passages of scripture begin to make sense. For instance, Jesus said:
And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God comes not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. (Luke 17:20-21)
But then, on another occasion, Jesus said:
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (John 3:5)
One the one hand, we are told the kingdom is potentially WITHIN US. On the other, we are told we must ENTER the kingdom. But there is no confusion or contradiction here, any more than there is when Paul says we must be "in Christ," and that Christ is "in us." Once we grasp the fact that the kingdom of God is the rule of God, and not a "place" into which we enter, we see that the two phrases are saying the same thing. I "enter into" the rule of God by allowing the rule of God to "enter into" ME.
When you and I become converted to Christ, by definition what we are doing is forsaking self-rule, and surrendering ourselves to God. We are ENTERING into, and coming under, the rule of God. We become new creations Ė those who have come under the rule of God through the death and resurrection of Christ, and are therefore now IN the kingdom of God.
We need to understand that self-rule IS sin. That is what sin is at itís root. But self-rule is not only sin against God, it is also self-destructive. Sin KILLS. Self-rule KILLS.
Man was not made capable of ruling himself. That isnít the KIND of creature he is. He was made for God Ė to benefit from Godís grace. The fact that, to us, self-rule is normal, doesnít change the fact. The fact that self-rule seems normal, and Godís rule over us seems abnormal, is nothing more than an indication of how far the fall of man was. We have lost our knowledge of God. What is normal to God is abnormal to us. And visa versa.
Jesus came to bring man back to not only the right relationship with God, but also to restore IN MAN the right nature Ė one capable of having that relationship. This is accomplished through the new birth.
What this all boils down to is this: You can only enter into the kingdom of God by being born again. But this means there must first come death to our old life Ė the life of self-rule. Then, by being born again, we are under Godís rule. We enter into His kingdom or rule through this transformation.
Now right away we see the absolute necessity of the Cross. If sin, by definition, is self-rule, then obviously, this is THE sin I must forsake and repent of when I come to the Cross. Of course. Forsaking self-rule and surrendering to Christ is what faith IS! I give my life to Christ and want to belong to HIM. I do this by fully relinquishing my right to myself. It is because I do this at the Cross, that it is possible for me to be raised a new creation.
But notice: If that surrender of self-rule IS repentance, and is an essential to conversion, then by definition, the new creation in Christ has already forsaken self-rule. By definition, the new creation already has it settled: He belongs to God. Making that surrender is HOW HE GOT born again! He came to the Cross and died in Christ. That is how he got born again.
Here we see precisely what Jesus told Nicodemus. He said, "You must be born of water and of Spirit to enter the kingdom." In other words, you must be baptized into the death of Christ and then resurrected in Him by the Spirit of God. THEN you are entered into the kingdom. Why? Because you have become a new creation through death and resurrection in Christ.
The only people able to enter the kingdom of God are new creations in Christ Jesus. Why? Because they have come under the rule of God by surrendering self-rule at the Cross. Again, you enter the kingdom, if the kingdom enters you!
The Kingdom is At Hand
This invasion of the kingdom of God was the message of John the Baptist. And when Jesus began to preach and teach, it was also at the center of His message:
Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel. (Mark 1:14-15)
Can we see what Jesus is saying? He is saying that the kingdom of God is upon us. Thus, we are faced with a choice. We must repent and believe the good news.
How many of us have realized that the kingdom of God, right now, is invading this planet? That this invasion starts with US, and will continue on through the purposes and plan of God? It is precisely because the kingdom of God is invading this planet that God beckons all of us to repent. We are out of time.
A Limitless Kingdom
Godís kingdom is Godís rule. Thus, to enter the kingdom, I must come under Godís rule. I must surrender myself to Him and be born again. But as we quoted, God has already begun the invasion of His rule upon this earth. He is saying to us: "Repent, for the kingdom, or rule of God, is at hand."
When did God begin His invasion? He began to announce it, almost from the beginning, when Adam sinned. He continued it all through the Old Testament era. John the Baptist was the final voice who was called to "prepare the way of the Lord." He was the last OT prophet. The fullness of Godís kingdom, however, could not invade this realm until Jesus came. He had to die and be raised. It was then that the kingdom of God really was not only "at hand," but actually HERE.
Godís invasion of this realm, with His reign and rule, started quite small. It started in a stable, over 2000 years ago. Indeed, it is more than symbolic that there was "no room for them in the inn," when Mary and Joseph entered Bethlehem. This world didnít have a place for Jesus Christ. No room. But God found a place. Jesus was born in relative obscurity.
Of course, God did let some people know that the Messiah, the King of His kingdom, was being born. We read earlier what the angel told Mary, Jesusí mother. He also told Joseph, and a few others. But as small as was that beginning, there is another aspect of the kingdom which we must now address: The fact that it is limitless.
And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. (Luke 1:31-33)
One vital point to see here is the phrase "of his kingdom there shall be no end." Often, we limit this to a TIME frame, and say that this means the kingdom of God will go on and on forever. But there is more to this than simply that interpretation. The kingdom is, in fact, TIMELESS. And what is being said here is really that the rule of God is LIMITLESS. That is what is meant by the phrase, "of his kingdom there shall be no end." What is meant is that the rule of God with without limits, and cannot be contained in time, space, or by anything which exists.
Of course. Nothing can stop the reign and rule of God. Nothing can stop His invasion. Now, this does not mean that people MUST choose to come under Godís reign. But it does mean that Godís kingdom is invading. Our choice is whether we will come under it, or finally decide to spend eternity resisting it Ė in the torment of belonging to ourselves.
It is amazing, and quite like God, to begin the invasion of an eternal kingdom Ė a kingdom without limits Ė in such a small way. Through one woman. In a stable. THAT is the kingdom that would eventually grow without limits.
This limitless aspect of the kingdom is carried continually throughout the Old Testament with regard to the promised Messiah and Savior:
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. (Isaiah 9:6-7)
I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. (Dan. 7:13-14)
There is nothing which can stop the advance of the kingdom of God Ė although the gates of hell will try. Jesus said, "Upon this Rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it." Notice that the "gates of hell" are what are "occupying" territory which the Truth about Jesus will conquer. The "gates of hell" will fall. The kingdom of God Ė with the liberating Truth about Jesus Christ Ė has already won the victory. It is a simple matter of taking possession of that which is already won.
Many people act as if surrendering to God is nothing more than a resignation to a power greater than ourselves. We act as if God is imposing His will on us, and thus, we had better surrender, lest we suffer the consequences. The Truth is, Godís invasion upon this earth, and upon our lives, is not an imposition. It is deliverance.
Those of us who think that the rule of God is an imposition upon them are betraying the fact that they are comfortable with the kingdom in which they now live. If we could only see it, we would see that we are living in the kingdom of sin and darkness. Jesus came, and is now coming, to set us free from this kingdom of darkness.
Jesus, on what might be called the first day of His ministry, walked into the synagogue in Nazareth and applied a prophecy of the Messiah, from Isaiah, to Himself:
And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. (Luke 4:16-19)
Here we see deliverance. Jesus is not coming to impose His will upon you. He is coming to save you from YOUR will. Of course, part of what God does when He draws someone to Christ is show them they NEED to be delivered. Some wonít be. Some will continue to want to belong to themselves and have their own way Ė despite the fact that it is precisely this which destroys each one of us.
Here we see that all will not be saved. Nope. Make no question, God is going to invade EVERYTHING. But there will be those whom God will approach, but who will continually "retreat" from Him. Hell is the only place left for them. It is the last place of retreat. Hell is a condition of continual refusal to surrender to Godís rule.
Notice: Hell is completely under Godís control. It isnít a place where you escape God. Rather, it is where you are UNDER Godís rule, but donít have Godís rule IN YOU.
There are people, right now, who may not be in a literal hell, but they already have hell in them. Right now, they are living in retreat from God. That is their condition. And just as you must have the kingdom of God in you, to enter into the kingdom, so if you have hell in you, you will enter into hell. You can count on it. It is as sure as God in heaven.
The fact is, right now you have either surrendered to the rule of God, or you are retreating away from His ongoing invasion. You have either surrendered and come under His rule Ė entered into His advancing kingdom Ė or you are trying to escape it.
He Will Reign
In case you hadnít noticed, despite the fact that Jesus was born to be a King, He did not take the position as a King during His first visitation. Rather, He came THEN as a Lamb Ė the Lamb of God who was to take away the sin of the world. It was upon the foundation of this sacrifice that the kingdom of God would be built.
A primary tension between Jesus, his disciples, and the crowds of that day, was that He came to be a Lamb first, and a King later, but they wanted a King right away. Thus, we see instances such as the one in John 6:
When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone. (John 6:15)
Jesus had to first die, in order that all those who would receive Him, could be set free from the kingdom of darkness, and be born anew into the Kingdom of God. In other words, Jesus made possible the kingdom within us Ė by defeating those forces of Satan, sin, and darkness Ė which had previously occupied and governed us. He accomplished that goal through His death and resurrection. He was not about to allow any temptation or suggestion of the enemy to divert Him from that goal.
Once Jesus accomplished Godís goal, He then ascended. But wait. What about the kingdom? Well, for the last two thousand years Jesus has been putting His kingdom together. Did you know that? The "advance force" of the kingdom, through the power of the Holy Spirit, has been invading this planet. How? By setting up the kingdom of God in the hearts and lives of PEOPLE. By birthing people into the kingdom. As mentioned earlier, what God does is always REAL. The kingdom within comes first. Then comes the kingdom without. I have to come under the rule of God within, or I cannot enter the kingdom.
But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. (Heb 10:12-18)
Here we see Jesus "at the right hand of God" Ė from where all of "his enemies will be made his footstool." First, by bringing INTO the kingdom all who will allow God to "write" His laws upon their hearts and minds. Then, by eventually returning to this earth and literally setting up His kingdom.
This was always the order and the message. Jesus spoke of it time and time again. Note especially the introduction of one of the most profound parables on the subject:
And as they heard these things, he added and spoke a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear. He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. (Luke 19:11-12)
Note what Jesus said here. He said He would go "into a far country TO RECEIVE for Himself a kingdom, and to return." In other words, Jesus didnít leave the kingdom behind. He didnít even go TO the kingdom. He went TO RECEIVE a kingdom. For the last two thousand years Jesus is calling people out of this world, and into His kingdom. THAT is the kingdom within. Once that is finished, then the kingdom will be fully "received." Then He will return.
Everything which belongs to the kingdom of God was paid for, and won, through the finished work of Jesus Christ. All of it. And right now, Jesus is sitting at the right hand of God, and He is taking possession of His kingdom. There is an invasion going on. The question for us is whether we will be born again so that we can enter that kingdom. He invites us to do so. He says, "Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand." This is not bad news. It is good news Ė THE good news of the gospel. *
The Good News - Home