8. The Development of the Kingdom of God
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Scripture Reading: Acts 1:3, 8-9; 8:12; 14:22; 19:8; 20:25; 28:23, 31

I.     The Gospel of Luke is a narrative of the ministry of the incarnated Jesus as a record of the incarnated Jesus on earth; Acts is a record of the succeeding ministry of the resurrected and ascended Christ in heaven carried out through His believers on earth—1:8-9:

A.     In the Gospels the Lord’s ministry on earth, carried out by Himself, was sowing Himself as the seed of the kingdom into His believers, with no church built up yet—Luke 8:4-15.

B.     In Acts the Lord’s ministry in heaven, carried out through His believers in His resurrection and ascension, spreads Him as the development of the kingdom of God for the building up of the church throughout the entire world to constitute His Body, His fullness, to express Him, even the fullness of God for God’s expression—1:8; 8:12; 14:22; 19:8; 20:25; 28:23, 31; Matt. 16:18; Eph. 1:23; 3:19.

 

II.   The kingdom of God is the main subject of the apostles’ preaching in Acts (8:12; 14:22; 19:8; 20:25; 28:23, 31); this is indicated by the fact that the resurrected Christ, in His appearing to the apostles through a period of forty days, spoke to them concerning the kingdom of God (1:3):

A.     In the Gospels the Lord Jesus Himself had announced the gospel of the kingdom—Luke 4:43:

1. The kingdom of God is the Savior as the seed of life sown into His believers, God’s chosen people, and developing into a realm over which God can rule as His kingdom in His divine life—17:21; Mark 4:3, 26.

2. The entrance into the kingdom of God is regeneration, and the development of the kingdom is the believers’ growth in the divine life—John 3:5; 2 Pet. 1:3-11.

3. The kingdom of God is the church life today, in which the faithful believers live, and it will develop into the coming kingdom as a reward to be inherited by the overcoming saints in the millennium—Rom. 14:17; Gal. 5:21; Eph. 5:5; Rev. 20:4, 6.

4. Eventually, the kingdom of God will consummate in the New Jerusalem as the eternal kingdom of God, an eternal realm of the eternal blessing of God’s eternal life, which all of God’s redeemed will enjoy in the new heaven and new earth for eternity—21:1-4; 22:1-5, 14.

5. The kingdom of God is what the Savior announced as the gospel, the good news, to those who were alienated from the life of God—Eph. 4:18.

6. The Lord’s word in Luke 17:20-21 indicates that the kingdom of God is not material but spiritual; it is the Savior in His first coming (vv. 21-22), in His second coming (vv. 23-30), in the rapture of His overcoming believers (vv. 31-36), and in His destroying of the Antichrist (v. 37) to recover the whole earth for His reign there (Rev. 11:15).

7. The kingdom of God is the Savior Himself, who was in the midst of the Pharisees but who is now within the believers—Luke 17:21; 2 Cor. 13:5; Col. 1:27:

a. Wherever the Savior is, there the kingdom of God is; the kingdom of God is with Him, and He brings it to His disciples—Luke 4:43; 17:21.

b. Christ is the seed of the kingdom of God to be sown into God’s chosen people to develop into God’s ruling realm—8:5, 10.

c. Since His resurrection He has been within His believers; hence, the kingdom of God is within the church—John 14:20; Rom. 8:10; 14:17.

B.     In Acts 1:3 the Lord Jesus as the One in resurrection must have helped the disciples to have such a proper realization concerning the kingdom of God:

1. The disciples must have begun to see that the kingdom of God is the spreading of Christ as life in the believers, that it is the propagation of Christ as life in His believers to form a realm in which God rules in His life—John 3:3, 5.

2. The disciples certainly must have understood that they were now part of the propagation, the spreading, of Christ, and thereby were part of the kingdom of God—Acts 1:8-9; 8:12; 20:25; 28:23, 31.

III.  The kingdom of God is the spreading of Christ as life into His believers to form a realm in which God rules in His life—2 Pet. 1:3-11:

A.     To enter into this kingdom, people need to repent of their sins and believe in the gospel so that their sins may be forgiven and so that they may be regenerated by God to have the divine life, which matches the divine nature of this kingdom—Mark 1:15; John 3:3, 5.

B.     All the believers in Christ can share the kingdom in the church age for their enjoyment of God in His righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit—Rom. 14:17.

C.     The kingdom of God will become the kingdom of Christ and of God for the overcoming believers to inherit and enjoy in the coming kingdom age so that they may reign with Christ for a thousand years—1 Cor. 6:9-11; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:5; Rev. 20:4, 6.

D.     As the eternal kingdom, the kingdom of God will be an eternal blessing of God’s eternal life for all of God’s redeemed to enjoy in the new heaven and new earth for eternity—21:1-4; 22:1-5, 14, 17.

IV.  The churches and the kingdom of God go together; the churches produced by the propagation of the resurrected Christ are the kingdom of God on earth today—Acts 14:22; 20:25:

A.     The resurrected Christ, who is propagating Himself in His ascension, by the Spirit, and through the disciples, is the reality of the kingdom of God; the kingdom of God is His expansion—1:8; 8:12:

1. The churches are the expansion of Christ, who came to sow Himself as the seed of the kingdom of God; this is revealed in the Gospels—Mark 4:3, 26.

2. In the Gospels Christ was the seed of the kingdom; in the book of Acts we have the propagation of this seed to produce the churches as the kingdom of God—8:1, 12; 13:1-4.

B.     We in the churches are the propagation of Christ and the expansion of Christ, and we are enlarging the kingdom of God—Rev. 1:9, 11.

V.   In Acts 14:22 Paul entreated the believers who were continuing in the faith to realize that through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God, because the whole world opposes our entering in; to enter into the kingdom of God is to enter into the full enjoyment of Christ as the kingdom.

VI.  In Acts 19 we see that Satan is fighting against God’s spreading of His kingdom on earth; the prevailing ministry for the propagation of Christ is a fighting, a battle, for God’s kingdom—vv. 9, 23-41.

VII. Paul’s proclaiming the kingdom of God in 28:31 was the propagation of the resurrected, ascended, and all-inclusive Christ—vv. 23, 31:

A.     This is proved by the words teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ, which things go together with the kingdom of God—v. 23.

B.     To teach concerning Christ is to spread the kingdom of God; therefore, the kingdom of God is actually the propagation of the resurrected Christ—a process that continues to be carried out through the believers today—v. 31.

 

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