The Kingdom Is An Experience

Listen to the message

Series: The Kingdom of God

Sun am 11 September 2011 – Kobus Swart

Acts 18:23-28; Acts 19:1-10; Luke 4:43; Rev. 2:1-7; John 1:1, 14; Gen. 1:26;
Acts 1:9-11; Rom. 8:19; Luke 17:20

Apollos, an apostle in the time of Paul, was teaching; he was an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures; but his revelation was incomplete. He was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus, being acquainted only with the baptism of John, and he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, (Apollos) they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accuratelyLater, he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ (Acts 18:23-28).

Then Paul arrived in Ephesus, and asked those who had been instructed by John, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said to him, “No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit”. That was because Apollos only taught the baptism of John. And he (Paul) said, “Into what then were you baptized?” And they said, “Into John’s baptism.” And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” And when they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying. And there were in all about twelve menThen Paul continued…reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God..reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus. And this took place for two years, so that all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks (Acts 19:1-10).

Paul found it necessary and important to sit with twelve men for two years – reasoning, teaching and interacting with them on the Kingdom of God.  Jesus reminds us that He was sent for this purpose – to preach the Kingdom of God (Luke 4:43). He was a ‘sent one’ by the Father; apostolic in His ministry. This is the primary function in this apostolic season – sent ones (messengers), proclaiming the gospel of the Kingdom. Anything else will be incomplete, as it was the case with Apollos.

The letter in Revelation 2:1-7, was addressed to the same church in Ephesus. “I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot endure evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary. ‘But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. ‘Remember therefore from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you, and will remove your lampstand out of its place–unless you repent. (Rev. 2:1-7).

What does ‘You have left your first love’ refer to? For two years, Paul taught and trained about the Kingdom of God – the Lordship of Jesus Christ; the rule of God (Acts 19).These people became so much in love with the gospel of the Kingdom and with the Lord of the Kingdom and their deeds affected the whole nation of Asia. This is directly related to the Kingdom of God. God says, unless you go back and repent and do the deeds you did at first, I will come and remove your lampstand out of its place. God will shut down – remove churches, if necessary – who have lost their first love. In this season God is challenging churches to be those “lampstands” whose light affects their surrounding cultures, and who live the prayer, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven!

The prayer, the desire to see Word become flesh again, is linked to the gospel of the Kingdom, I cannot separate the two. The Kingdom must become real in our lives or else we have lost our first love. Unless the Word in our midst becomes flesh, it will serve no purpose and will remain without life.

The presence of God has always been linked to a revelation coming from the Word. The presence of Christ is the Word made flesh.  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt (He tabernacled) among us (John 1:1, 14).

Unless you experience the Person in the Word, all you’re collecting is head knowledge. You can only say you have it when you’ve experienced it, when the presence of God accompanied the revelation from His Word. Even accurate Biblical patterns must never become a substitute for a relationship with the living Christ.

In the Garden of Eden before the fall, Adam was not a normal person like you and I are now. Adam was of heaven and of earth.  Adam, who was made of clay, carried in his lungs the breath of God. Adam and Eve were covered by the glory of God; they lived heaven on earth – this is the Kingdom of God. What Adam and Eve had is only a fraction of what a Kingdom people will eventually walk in. God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, in Our likeness” (Gen 1:26).  Adam and Eve were heaven and earth combined in one expression.

After Jesus was resurrected, He taught about the Kingdom of God for forty days. Then the disciples watched as Jesus, in His resurrection body, was taken into a cloud and ascended into heaven. Two men in white appeared and said, “This Jesus, you will see Him return in the same way you’ve seen Him ascend” (Acts 1:9-11). This Jesus was different from the Jesus before Calvary. Something happened in Jesus when He was raised from the dead. For example, He was able to eat fish and then walk through a wall. He was physical, and yet not physical; He was spirit and yet He was not Spirit. He was both of heaven and earth, but not limited by either realm! All of creation is in travail waiting for something like this to happen – the manifestation of the Son (this resurrected Jesus – in the sons. Heaven and earth will come together – this is the Kingdom of God on earth, expressed in a people. Jesus is the firstborn; there will be others (Rom 8:29).

This message of the Kingdom is more than theory, principles, or concepts – it’s an experience. The Kingdom of God does not come by observation (Luke 17:20). The Kingdom of God is within you. The Kingdom of God, coming from heaven, to earth, will culminate in a people who are true Kingdom citizens.