My Kingdom is Not of This World? #1

Sunday, September 23, 2012

“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” (John 18:36 KJV).

What did Jesus mean when He spoke today’s Scripture?

Within Christendom, there is a strange doctrine that, because Jesus Christ’s kingdom has never been established literally, visibly, and physically on earth, it must have been a “spiritual kingdom,” an invisible kingdom “in the hearts of men.” Today’s Scripture is often twisted to promote this warped theology. Such nonsense is the result of a failure to “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), a negligence to understand and believe the Bible dispensationally.

“JESUS… shall reign over the house of Jacob [Israel] for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:33). Did this ever happen? No. Jesus Christ came to earth and left 2,000 years ago as Israel’s rejected King: He never did rule Israel, for Israel declared in John 19:15: “We have no king but Caesar!” So, how can Luke 1:33 say Jesus Christ will rule Israel “for ever?”

Dispensational Bible study relieves us of confusion and consternation. Luke 1:33 is to be taken literally, but it is to be believed dispensationally. Israel’s prophetic (kingdom) program, the program to which Luke 1:33 belongs, is currently suspended. God is not restoring the earth’s governments today. Instead, He is forming the Church the Body of Christ, a heavenly people whom He will use to restore the heavenly governments in the ages to come (see Colossians 1:16-20).

While our Dispensation of Grace is operating, Israel’s kingdom program is delayed. Once our dispensation ends (at the rapture), then God will resume Israel’s program and Christ will return at His Second Coming to fulfill Luke 1:33 (establishing His literal, physical, visible earthly kingdom).

Returning to today’s Scripture, what then did Jesus mean there? His kingdom is a literal, physical, visible kingdom, so how is it “not of this world?” We will study the Scriptures for the answer.

The Patient Waiting for Christ

Saturday, September 22, 2012

“And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ” (2 Thessalonians 3:5 KJV).

Saints, we must patiently wait for the Lord to come and take us home!

In today’s Scripture, the Apostle Paul reminds the Thessalonian believers—and us—that the Lord will “direct” (guide) our hearts, our innermost beings, “into the love of God” and “into the patient waiting for Christ.” These two doctrines are crucial to the Christian life.

“The love of God [Christ]” “constraineth” (motivates, empowers) us so that our lives are pleasing to God (2 Corinthians 5:14,15). But our Christian lives are not only meant to be experienced here on earth: in eternity future, Christ’s life in us will be lived in the heavenly places!

“The patient waiting for Christ” means we are to be patiently waiting for the day when Jesus Christ will rapture us, the Church that is His Body. (Sadly, absurd modern “bibles,” including NKJV, pervert “patient waiting for Christ” to read “the patience [or perseverance] of Christ,” thus cleverly denying the rapture!)

As our King James Bible declares, we are not simply exercising Christ’s patience; we are patiently waiting for Christ to come get us (there is a major difference). While we who have trusted in Jesus Christ alone as Saviour often earnestly pray for Him to hurriedly return to rescue us from this nasty, miserable world, that is not patience. 🙂 The actual purpose of the rapture—“our gathering together unto [Christ]” (2 Thessalonians 2:1)—is to remove us from earth so God can inaugurate us into our governmental positions in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6,7; Colossians 1:16,17).

We patiently wait for our Lord Jesus Christ. He is still extending His grace and mercy to mankind. As long as there are still (lost) people willing to trust Him, our Dispensation of Grace will continue to operate. It will be terminated when no one else wants to trust Christ alone as their personal Saviour. Be patient, saints! 🙂

“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).

A Perpetual Marriage

Friday, September 21, 2012

“And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD” (Hosea 2:19,20 KJV).

The nation Israel is engaged to the LORD, but the wedding is postponed….

In the context of today’s Scripture, the LORD is sending the prophet Hosea, who preached circa 785–725 B.C., to warn Israel of His impending judgment. “For [Israel] hath committed great whoredom, in departing from the LORD” (Hosea 1:2). Pagan idol worship abounds in Israel, and it has for centuries. Spiritually, Israel is “playing the harlot” (Hosea 2:5): she was the LORD’s wife, but now she is an adulterous wife by worshipping other gods.

God’s wrath came on apostate Israel! Eventually, the Assyrians captured and deported Israel’s ten northern tribes (722 B.C.), and the Babylonians captured and deported Israel’s two southern tribes (606–586 B.C.). From the time of these deportations to our present-day, the Jews are scattered worldwide, still waiting for their Messiah to come the first time and rescue them (sadly, they are blinded, unaware that their Messiah, Jesus, came 2,000 years ago).

But today’s Scripture is a gleam of hope for Israel: after God would judge her, He would restore her to Himself (Christ’s Second Coming to establish Israel’s kingdom). After our Dispensation of Grace ends (rapture), God will return to dealing with Israel, and she will be saved (Romans 11:25-29; cf. Hosea 2:23). Peter writes to future Israel: “which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God…” (1 Peter 2:10). Had God not interrupted Israel’s program with our dispensation, Israel would already be married to the LORD!

Israel was unfaithful to God, but never has God been unfaithful to Israel. At Christ’s Second Coming, He will fulfill His promise (today’s Scripture) to Israel. Via the New Covenant (Hebrews 8:8-13), Israel will be rejoined to the LORD, forgiven of all her sins. She will be married to the LORD forever, living with Him in her Promised Land forever (Isaiah chapters 61 and 62). Wow!

Tell Them Who He Is!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

“And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this?” (Matthew 21:10 KJV).

Who is this which was aforementioned, and why is it such a shame that the inhabitants of Jerusalem asked, “Who is this?”

“And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway [immediately] ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me. And if any man say aught unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them, and straightway he will send them” (verses 1-3).

“All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet [Zechariah 9:9], saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass” (verses 4,5).

Verses 6-9: “And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, and brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon. And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.”

Jerusalem’s residents then ask, “Who is this?” Not only are they ignorant of Zechariah 9:9, the prophecy Jesus Christ is fulfilling, but they also willingly ignore the multitudes proclaiming who Jesus Christ is, recorded in Mark 11:10—“blessed be the kingdom of our father David”—and Luke 19:38—“Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord.”

Jesus Christ was Israel’s long-promised King, but unbelief kept most of them from seeing it (twice). Even today, unfortunately, most church members echo about Jesus Christ, “Who is this?” May we continue to study and believe the King James Bible rightly divided, so we can tell them who He is! 🙂

Inexpensive Yet Priceless

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

“I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil” (Psalm 119:162 KJV).

For little to no cost, we can obtain the priceless Word of God.

Recently, I was browsing through a store, and I found King James Bibles (Old and New Testaments) for only US$1! In fact, I have seen them sold for a fraction of even that meager price! I could not help but tell myself, “Millions of dollars are wasted each year on worthless books. Imagine how many of these King James Bibles that revenue could buy!” (King James Bibles are even distributed for free.)

There are many books in the world, but only one is truly priceless, of immeasurable value. God’s Word, the Holy Bible, is the Creator’s mind on the printed page: “we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16). Why is the Bible priceless? “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8,9).

The Holy Bible is truly priceless because it alone contains the precious words of God. All other books are written by men, whose minds are finite and whose hearts are flawed (with sin). Contrariwise, the prophet Isaiah reminded Israel that our Creator, the Lord Jesus Christ, thinks on an entirely different plane than we do—a plane that exceeds ours! Just as we struggle to comprehend the height of “the heavens” (outer space) above earth, we attempt to fathom the methods and manners (“ways”) of God and the “thoughts” of God.

In today’s Scripture, the psalmist confessed that he “rejoiced at [God’s] word, as one that findeth great spoil [treasure].” The psalmist understood, as we (hopefully) do, that God’s Word is to be rejoiced over, that it should be delighted in, and the object of our joy. When we consider Who inspired and wrote it, and how He preserved it through time so we could study it today in this devotional, we join the psalmist in declaring, “I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil.” 🙂

Content With “Herbs”

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

“Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith” (Proverbs 15:17 KJV).

Suppose that you have been invited to two dinners: a “vegetarian buffet” and a “carnivore’s delight.” Today’s Scripture suggests you attend the one with the less backbiting!

Imagine a scanty meal—“a dinner of herbs”—eaten by people who love one another. Although the food is less than appealing, the diners love each other, making the atmosphere hospitable. Now, visualize an extravagant feast—“a stalled [fattened] ox”—attended by people who hate one another. They fuss and fight, verbally slaughtering each other. These carnivores sound as though they not only want to eat the ox, but each other as well!

Though the meal of herbs is less than superb, at least those eating it love one another, thus sharing what little they have with one another. The greedy meat-eaters hate one another, so despite the abundance of food, they refuse to share, and persist in animosity. Eat not with the meat eaters, for they may (figuratively) eat you!

Read the verse preceding today’s Scripture: “Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith” (Proverbs 15:16). A millionaire can afford an abundance of fine foods (the “stalled ox”), but if his or her life is plagued by hatred, what good is that material wealth? How can he or she be happy? One who can only afford herbs for dinner may not have much, but the love he enjoys outlasts any material wealth, and he rejoices in that fact.

Most Christians are not (and most have never been) millionaires and billionaires: the “Hollywood Christian” leaders are something else entirely. Their houses are meager and modest, not luxurious castles and condominiums. Most do not drive exotic vehicles or enjoy international vacations. Their meals do not consist of fine, imported foods. Most do not wear expensive designer clothing. While they lack many of the possessions that the world deems “necessary,” they have the Lord, and He has them! 🙂

Better is few possessions with the Lord, than much wealth without Him, and we are content with “herbs.”

The Flesh Straineth, Christ’s Love Constraineth #8

Monday, September 17, 2012

“For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again” (2 Corinthians 5:14,15 KJV).

We would do well to memorize, meditate on, and believe today’s Scripture, a wonderful encapsulation of the Christian life.

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate [hinder, disrupt] the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain” (Galatians 2:20,21). We could not achieve righteousness (salvation) by our performance, and we cannot achieve righteousness (godly living) by our performance. If our performance was ever the issue (for salvation or godly living), “Christ is dead in vain [is (present tense) dead for nothing].”

Our Christian lives are really Christ’s life! “Christ liveth in me.” We live by His faithfulness, by His performance working in us. Compare “the Son of God… who loved me, and gave himself for mewith today’s Scripture: “the love of Christ constraineth [motivates] us… [Christ] died for all… [Christ] died for all… [Christ] died for them.”

God’s grace—everything that He has done for us on Calvary’s cross—teaches us: “Denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly [responsibly], righteously [acceptable to God], and godly [reflecting God’s values]” (Titus 2:11,12).

We who have trusted Christ are “new creatures in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Our lives should reflect this new position/identity. God died to save us from our sins, so why should we return to them? We should let Christ Jesus live His life in and through us, “to prove that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2). We do this by placing our faith in this sound Bible doctrine, which God uses to transform our minds, and then our lives!

“The flesh (always) straineth, Christ’s love (always) constraineth….”

*The past eight devotionals have been combined and expanded to form a larger Bible study with the same name, which can be read here or watched here.