5 April: Entering the Kingdom of God

Bethel Baptist Church
Worship Service @ Home
5 April 2020

You can find the audio version of this service on the Bethel Podbean site.

Welcome

Well it’s 10:59:55 – 56 – 57 – 58 -59 – 11:00a.m. okay let’s start!

We are going to celebrate Communion as part of our Good Friday Worship @ Home & our Easter Sunday Worship @ Home so get some bread & wine / juice ready for next week.

Diane shared this testimony (please keep them coming in!): “The biggest blessing I have received at this time is the feeling of stillness & peace & time to be quiet & draw close to the Lord & seeing the goodness in people as they help others” – Amen to that Diane, thank you!

Anyone like to pick a hymn for Good Friday? & someone else for Easter Sunday? – let me know!

Worship

Stuart Townend & Kevin Jamieson Copyright © 1997 Thankyou Music 

Word

Reading: Matthew 4:12-17

When Jesus came out of the wilderness He heard that John had been put in prison so He moved from living in Nazareth to Capernaum (Matt 4:12-13). We might think that the devil is again calling all the shots but actually this had been prophesied 100’s of years previous – (see Matt 4:15-16 quoting Isaiah 9:1-2, which begins, “Nevertheless there will be no more gloom for those living in distress …”) – God is still working His purposes out.

The next thing we read is: “From that time on Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’” The kingdom of God, the rule & reign of God, was the main theme of Jesus’ preaching (as with John the Baptist) & He later emphasised that the Kingdom of Heaven had come upon them, that God’s end-time rule was already being manifested in the present by the Spirit: “But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matt 12:28, cf. Luke 11:20, cf. also Exodus 8:19). Thus it is the presence of Jesus & the powerful activity of the Holy Spirit which was synonymous with the coming of the kingdom.

There is a very close relationship between the Spirit & the Kingdom throughout the New Testament:

  1. No-one can see / enter the kingdom unless they are born of the Spirit (John 3:3John 3:5)
  2. Jesus taught that: “The kingdom is in your midst” (Luke 17:21). This began when Jesus Himself was anointed by the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:18-19).
  3. The Spirit works in believers so that we can inherit the Kingdom (1 Cor 6:9-11).
  4. Jesus came to give us life to the full, life in the kingdom (Col 1:13), which is totally different to the life we once lived because it is life in & through the Spirit: “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,” (Romans 14:17); “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power (1 Cor 4:20). It is those who do not live this life who will not inherit the kingdom: “For of this you can be sure: no immoral, impure or greedy person – such a person is an idolater – has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God” (Eph 5:5). This is also emphasised in Galatians 5:16-23“So I say, live by the Spirit, & you will not gratify the desires of the flesh (sinful nature) …” [for those who do gratify the desires of the flesh] “… will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
  5. As we saw in Ephesians 1:13-14“When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance …” The inheritance is the kingdom & “The Spirit not only guarantees the full inheritance; He is Himself the beginning & first part of that inheritance” [Hence the Spirit we have received at new birth is more than a deposit He is] “the first part of the inheritance which is the kingdom” (James D. G. Dunn). the presence of the kingdom still to come in its fulness (cf. “Already” / “Not Yet”).
  6. Some phrases regarding the kingdom may seem contradictory until we realise that there is an “already / not yet” tension which is understood as we understand the work of the Spirit e.g. we have already received eternal life: “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life …” (1 John 5:11-12). And yet eternal life is something we have to daily live for: “Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (Gal 6:8; see also Rom 6:22 & Rom 8:13).
  7. “Flesh & blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor 15:50). Again, it is the work of the Spirit who will transform our lowly bodies into spiritual bodies (1 Cor 15:44Phil 3:20-21Rom 8:11), so that we can inherit the kingdom of God in all its fulness. So let us respond to the teaching of the kingdom by not worrying about life, food, clothes, what tomorrow will bring, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matt 6:33 – read also Matthew 6:25-34)

Verse for the week

“A voice of one calling in the wilderness, “Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all people will see God’s salvation” (Luke 3:5-6) – see also Isaiah 40:3-5.

Prayer

Our Father in heaven, You who are eternal, righteous, loving & just, we worship You, & we exalt Your name, You who reign in majesty. We lift our hearts to You & we worship, praise & magnify Your holy name. There is none like You. We pray, that Your Kingdom come & Your will be done, here on earth as it is in heaven.

Lord forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Heavenly Father, through Your Son & by the power of Your Spirit be our strength, protection & comfort in these difficult times.

We pray for the nations of the world, especially for those like Italy, Spain, the USA, and each nation, including our own, in which there has been so much pain, suffering, illness, & death; Lord God, comfort & strengthen them & us. For those who are stuck at homes where there is abuse going on; for those who have lost jobs; for those who are really struggling, we ask of You Lord, be their comfort, strength, their deliverer & encouragement. We pray Father, that out of this very difficult time much good will come. We pray that in the nations of the world there will be a great turning to Your Son the Lord Jesus Christ.

Lord be merciful to us we pray & pour out Your Holy Spirit in a heaven sent revival. Lord prepare us and the nations of the world for Your second coming, in & through Jesus Christ, our Lord, Saviour & Friend, Amen.