The first message to be preached in the New Testament was the gospel of the Kingdom and John the Baptist was the preacher. His message was “…Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:2). When Jesus began to preach in Matthew 4:17, it was the same message: “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”.
What was John’s commission? He was to prepare the way before the LORD Jesus (Matthew 11:10, Isaiah 40:3). Remember that John was born six months ahead of Jesus (Luke 1:36) for this one reason: to prepare the way before the LORD, to make straight His path. Therefore, whatever you saw John doing was clearing the way for what is to come in the ministry of Jesus.
The Kingdom separates you from the world
John didn’t join any of the sect; that is to show you how corrupt the religious system was in those days. You only need to read Matthew 23 to get a glimpse of how Jesus saw the religious establishment of His day. Anyway, I am raising this to point to the fact that the message John was born to preach could not be preached as a pharisee, sadducee or scribe. The best he would have been was what Paul was when he was Saul – a miserable bigot. Even Paul had to be violently converted out of that religious system to be able to experience Jesus, to enter the Kingdom and to preach the gospel of the Kingdom.
What has the Kingdom come to do?
Let’s go to the LORD’s prayer. “…Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth….” (Luke 11:2). When the Kingdom of God/Heaven comes, it puts the will of God into action, in confrontation with the will of man and the devil. The Kingdom of God is the Light coming in to push back darkness. The picture this creates is that of violent opposition. That’s why when the Kingdom of God is established within you (Luke 10:17), you experience both instantaneous and progressive victory over sin, satan, self, sicknesses and generational curses/issues.
Power is released as the Kingdom of God begins to take root in you. You are already in victory when you enter into the Kingdom. However, it is your growth in knowledge and the application of this knowledge that will bring practical victory over the powers of darkness. Therefore, the Kingdom of God is the life and the body of people where God’s will is done exactly as it is being done in Heaven. The implication of this is that we will experience a life that prospers as if there was no sin or there was no satan.
Why does the kingdom of Heaven suffer violence?
Why is the Kingdom under opposition? Why does it attract persecution? Why do the world system feel threatened by the true Church? Here are some reasons:
It reverses the works of the devil.
It supersedes every other allegiance.
It makes its citizens overcomers.
It challenge the effects of sin, the weakness of self and the power of satan.
You must have noticed that the world system doesn’t hide their hatred for Jesus Christ. Every other belief system is easily assimilated into the society except the true Church. While Christians are being banned from public prayer, moslems, buddhists, hindus etc are given the freedom to practice. The reason for this is simple: Every other belief system (including false or compromised Christianity) does not undo or destroy the works of the devil. So, they can live together. But when the Kingdom of God comes in, it will attract instant hatred and disapproval.
When you look at Matthew 11:12 again, it means that there is a great contention against the Kingdom of God, against the true church of Jesus Christ. Any group of people or system who call themselves a church that does not experience this contention of the adversary is compromised. So, you can imagine that the pharisees, sadducees and other sects that were known as God’s people were not in the Kingdom even though they were religious leaders (Remember the story Nicodemus, a pharisee in John 3). So, what will be the hope of their followers?
Part of the violence that the Kingdom of Heaven suffers is the infiltration of the church by satanists (those who are not planning to go to Heaven) and the adulteration of the truth by churches to soothe the world. Hence, unsaved people do not fear to mingle with us because we have lost the power that was in the early church (Acts 5:11, 13). A church that is in bed with the world cannot have victory over the works of the devil (sin, sicknesses etc). Therefore, because the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, we have to be violent in return.
The violent take it by force
Who are the violent? They are those who press in, into the kingdom. They are willing to suffer loss of all things that they may gain Christ (Philippians 3:8). The truth is, no one can truly be in the Kingdom and be in the world at the same time (Matthew 6:24). There can be no middle ground. The daily life of a Christian is a life of constant warfare against the pressure of the world system against Christ and His body (the true church) Psalm 2:1-2.
In what way are we to be violent?
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” Hebrews 12:1 KJV
The Kingdom of God is the combination of the church on earth and the church in Heaven (Ephesians 3:15). So, we must have the sense that we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses. These are men and women who have gone ahead of us and have overcome in the flesh. These are your classmates in the spirit. It was their violence that made them to overcome. Rahab went against her own natural inclination to “betray” her own people to gain a space among God’s people (Hebrews 11:31), which is a picture of separation from the world. Noah’s obedience to God in building the ark was described by the Holy Spirit as condemning the world (Hebrews 11:7). Is that not violence?
How are we to be violent?
Lay aside every weight (compromises, carnality and worldliness)
Lay aside that sin that is very frequent in your life (When Goliath falls, the foot soldiers will fall with him).
Run the race set before you with patience (because you are running against the currents of the times).
This violence is captured in two things:
Rejecting the temptation and pressure to concede any aspect of the Christian life to the world’s ideas/suggestions. Romans 12:2, Colossians 3:1-3
Choosing God’s purpose for your life over your own purpose. Proverbs 14:12, 16:25, John 5:30, 2 Timothy 1:9
These two things will put you in trouble with people and the culture you live in. The radical difference of your life will intimidate many but in the long run, it will draw others into the Kingdom.
Let us pray!
My LORD, I thank you for opening my eyes to your Truth. Please help me to follow you no matter what it takes. Let the devil lose ground in my life completely and let him suffer loss because of my life. AMEN.
Picture Credit: Bible research