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The Kingdom AgendaLiving all of life by ... What a way to live!
By TONY EVANS
Moody PublishersCopyright © 2006 Tony Evans
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Concept of a Kingdom Agenda
Everybody, it seems, has an agenda today. People have plans, programs, things they want to accomplish, and specific ways they want to accomplish them.
God has an agenda, too; something He wants to accomplish in His way. The Bible calls this agenda God's kingdom. I like to think of the kingdom of God as the alternative, because that word says there is another way, another idea on the floor. As God's people, we are not limited by the choices this world offers us. God has an alternative plan for us-His kingdom.
Throughout the Bible, the kingdom of God is His rule, His plan, His program. God's kingdom is all-embracing. It covers everything in the universe. In fact, we can define God's kingdom as His comprehensive rule over all creation. It is the rule of God (theocracy) and not the rule of man (homocracy) that is paramount.
Now if God's kingdom is comprehensive, so is His kingdom agenda. The kingdom agenda, then, may be defined as the visible demonstration of the comprehensive rule of God over every area of life.
That has some serious implications for us. The reason so many of us believers are struggling is that we want God to bless ourplans rather than our fulfilling His agenda. We want God to OK our plans rather than our fulfilling His plans. We want God to bring us glory rather than our bringing Him glory.
But it doesn't work that way. God has only one plan, one alternative, and it's His kingdom agenda. We need to find out what that is so we can make sure we're working on God's plan, not ours.
The Greek word the Bible uses for kingdom is basileia, which means basically a "rule" or "authority." Included in this definition is the idea of power. So when we talk about a kingdom, we're talking first about a king, a ruler, someone who calls the shots.
Now if there's a ruler, there also have to be "rulees," or kingdom subjects. And a kingdom also includes a realm; that is, a sphere over which the king rules. Finally, if you're going to have a ruler, rulees, and a realm, you also need kingdom regulations, guidelines that govern the relationship between the ruler and the subjects. These are necessary so the rulees will know whether they are doing what the ruler wants done.
God's kingdom includes all of these elements. He is the absolute Ruler of His domain, which encompasses all of creation. And His authority is total. Everything God rules, He runs-even when it doesn't look like He's running it. Even when life looks like it's out of control, God is running its "out-of-controlness."
God's kingdom also has its "rulees." Colossians 1:13 says that everybody who has trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior has been transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, your allegiance has been changed. You no longer follow Satan but Christ.
And just in case there's any doubt, let me say right now that there are no in-between kingdoms, no gray areas here. There are only two realms in creation: the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. We are subjects of one or the other.
God's Kingdom Agenda Is Not ...
The problem we have in the church today is that people misdefine God's kingdom. Some people secularize and politicize the kingdom, which means they think the solutions to our problems are going to fly into town on Air Force One.
These people believe that political involvement or social action will by themselves bring in the kingdom. Historically, this has been a liberal way of thinking.
But today, evangelicals have also entered the political arena. There's nothing wrong with that, but we need to remember that God's kingdom is not political. As I often say, God is neither Democrat nor Republican, and He doesn't ride the backs of donkeys or elephants.
At the other extreme are those Christians who overspiritualize the kingdom. In contrast to their politically active brothers and sisters, these are the folks who are so heavenly minded they're no earthly good. They live with their heads in the clouds, and the kingdom of God never moves beyond the esoteric stage with them. They're not able to put feet to the spiritual reality of the kingdom.
God's kingdom alternative is much bigger than the political and social realm; neither is it limited to the walls of the church. We need to clarify the kingdom as a foundation for everything we are going to talk about in this book.
This is crucial because when you were saved, the kingdom of God was set up in your heart so that it might reach to and direct the circumference of your life.
Having Jesus in your heart will get you to heaven. But having Jesus in your heart won't get heaven down into history. The Jesus in your heart must also be the Jesus who rules in the kingdom of which you are a part. So in this chapter I want us to see four basic truths about God's kingdom.
God's Kingdom Agenda Originates from His Realm
First of all, we need to see that God's kingdom originates from His realm, which is spiritual.
Now when I say that, I'm not denying what we said above, that the whole universe constitutes the realm of God's kingdom. What I'm talking about is the origin of God's kingdom. It is from above, not from the earth.
Of Another Realm
We can see this in John 18:28-40, where Jesus appears before the Roman governor Pilate. The Jews want Jesus put to death, but they don't have the authority to carry out capital punishment. Only Rome can do that, so the Jews have to bring Jesus to Pilate to get his approval.
The Jews know exactly what accusation it will take to get Jesus executed by Rome. If He claims to be a king, He will be committing treason against Caesar (see John 19:12). So the charge against Jesus is that He made Himself out to be a king.
Now, if you call yourself a king, that implies you have a kingdom somewhere. So the first question Pilate asked Jesus was, "Are You the King of the Jews?" (John 18:33).
Notice Jesus' answer in verse 36: "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting, that I might not be delivered up to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm."
Now don't misread that. Jesus was not saying His kingdom is not in this world. He was saying His kingdom is not of this world. His kingdom does not originate from earth but from heaven. It is not derived from history but from a wholly different realm. Jesus' servants weren't up in military arms about His arrest because He was not trying to overthrow the Romans militarily.
When you have a kingdom agenda, it affects what you do and how you do it. Jesus was explaining to Pilate, "If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would be out there with their swords cutting off more than ears. They would be going to war. If My kingdom were man-made, I would not be going to the cross without a fight."
If you want to carry out God's alternative agenda, you have to do so His way rather than everybody else's way. To have a kingdom agenda affects your methodology. It means that you do what you do in a way that God approves of. His kingdom is worked out and applied on earth but from a divine frame of reference.
Too many believers are trying to have a happy marriage the human way. Too many are trying to find a fulfilled life using human methods. But you can't adopt man's methods to accomplish God's goals. That's not adopting a kingdom agenda. Jesus told Pilate, in essence, "My method reflects My source."
A Body of Truth
In verse 37 Jesus said something else very significant: "Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice." A kingdom agenda assumes the existence of a body of truth. This puts us in conflict with our culture, because we live in a world where a commitment to truth no longer exists. People want convenience, not an absolute standard that says what is right and wrong, good and bad.
If you're going to be on God's agenda, you must believe in truth: an absolute, governing standard that is transcultural, transracial, and transsituational. For believers, of course, this standard is the Word of God.
Our problem is that we have too many opinions and not enough truth. Even among Christians, absolute truth isn't always the governing standard. We say, "Well, this is how I feel," "This is what I think," "This is what my mama taught me." There's nothing necessarily wrong with thoughts or feelings, but they are not the deciding factors in discovering truth.
In the place of absolute truth we have substituted relativism, pragmatism, existentialism, pantheism, and many other "isms" that will become "was-isms" when confronted with God's absolute truth.
Jesus was saying in John 18:37, "If you understand My kingdom, you would know the truth." The only lasting solutions to life are biblical solutions, because only biblical solutions are derived from a heavenly source and can address the cause-effect relationship.
Cause and Effect
Here's what I mean by cause and effect when it comes to the kingdom. Everything visible and physical is always controlled or derived from that which is invisible and spiritual. So if you want to fix the visible and physical problems, you've got to address the spiritual and invisible issues first.
Why? Because if you don't address the spiritual and invisible, then you will not have a divine reference point from which to solve the visible and physical mess. What you can see, hear, touch, taste, and smell must first be addressed from God's viewpoint before you can make any difference on the human level.
Satan wants to get us to skip the divine aspect because he knows we'll never solve our visible and physical problems until we address them from the divine realm. We need to understand that heaven rules earth. What happens up there determines what goes on down here. So if you're not in contact with heaven, don't be surprised if you're in a mess down here on earth.
One of the greatest kings in history, Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, learned this truth the hard way. Old Nebby had a dream that disturbed him, so he asked the prophet Daniel to interpret for him.
Daniel told the king he would lose his kingdom and be driven into insanity until he learned that "it is Heaven that rules" (Daniel 4:26). Then we are told that what Daniel prophesied came to pass (see v. 28).
The Right Perspective
God's kingdom is lived from the perspective of heaven, not earth. That's why Jesus said, "Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you" (Matthew 6:33). The pagans may run after the physical, visible stuff (see v. 32), but we are called to prioritize God's kingdom.
See, if we lose sight of the kingdom, God's realm gets lost and we start going after the physical things. When that happens, we're going to be skewed in our judgment.
Jesus said earlier in Matthew 6 that if you are not clear on the kingdom-the things of God-then you are spiritually blind (see vv. 22-23). And if you're spiritually blind, then your feet won't know which way to go. Spiritual blindness affects not only your eyes but all your life.
I will never forget one particular morning when I got soap in my eye in the shower. My eye started burning, so I began to rub it with my hand. The problem was, I had soap on my hands. So not only did I not get the soap out of my eye, I managed to get more soap in my eye-and soap in the other eye. Then I had two burning eyes!
I couldn't see, so I reached for the towel to fix this mess. But because I couldn't see, I hit my head on the soap dish sticking out of the wall. When I did that, I knocked the soap off the dish onto the shower floor. You can probably guess what happened next.
As I groped around for the towel in my blindness, I stepped on the bar of soap and went flying, hurting my back. There I was, flailing around in the shower with a headache and a backache and burning eyes, all because something blinded me.
Let me tell you, when you are spiritually blind you'll wind up with a headache and a backache and a "life ache," because the spiritual realm affects everything else in life. God's kingdom operates from the realm of heaven. The only way you will be able to see life with 20/20 vision is when you look at life from a kingdom perspective.
God's Kingdom Agenda Reflects His Sovereignty
Here's a second truth about God's kingdom I want us to consider. When you adopt God's kingdom agenda, you come under His sovereign rule. Sovereignty refers to God's supremacy over all of His creation-visible and invisible. His rules are universal, absolute, and comprehensive. God, therefore, is accountable to no one.
Sovereignty is a word many people don't like. But it's the only way God does business. In Psalm 103:19, David wrote, "The Lord has established His throne in the heavens; and His sovereignty rules over all." In other words, God is not operating by your permission.
Look at Psalm 115:3: "Our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases." Lots of people don't want to hear that. Too bad. David also said, "Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and Thy dominion endures throughout all generations" (Psalm 145:13).
Excerpted from The Kingdom Agenda by TONY EVANS Copyright ©2006 by Tony Evans. Excerpted by permission.
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