THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN: BY PATRICK RUSSELL
If ever there was a time to be aware of this, that time is now. At hand means "right in your face dude." Could it be that we have not correctly understood the true meaning of "at hand" and Kingdom of Heaven? Or are these simply figments of the imagination of the duped ignorant masses? If the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, why canít we, or donít we "behold" it? Could it be that we are beholding the Kingdom, but donít fully understand what it means? I am fairly certain that is the case. Iím no big guru, out trying to get rich. If the kingdom is at hand, than I need to understand how to gain entrance, acquire heavenly provision in the here and now, free of charge. God says that His gifts are free. Jesus advises us that the "cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the Word and makes It unfruitful." God gives all He possesses freely to anyone who asks in true faith. The only requirement is "believing" God meant what He said. Who really believes that? Do you? Either God is a Liar or we have been given an open door into heavenly provision, and all we have to do is "ask." I know God is no Liar. He is Goodness itself. He is the very Nature of Love. He is filled with compassion and mercy. He and we are so interwoven that there is literally no distance between us. He doesnít like sin, and has made the provision for its destruction in our lives. The Blood shed upon the Cross of Jesus Christ provided a perfect atonement. Why? because Jesus was the Christ, and the Lamb of God. He was also the Firstborn of many Brethren. He is our Savior. He is the Doorway to the Kingdom of Heaven, for it is contained in the Spiritual realm within your heart.
I first heard about Jesus Christ as a child while attending a mainline religious institution along with the rest of my family. I attended parochial school and learned first-hand about heaven and hell, along with a bunch of superstitious beliefís foisted upon me by nuns. While I learned to fear of the LORD God, I also internalized a morbid fear of all authority figures, such as teachers, government officials, or police. To this day, whenever a police car gets behind me, I feel fear rising up in my heart. God says to "fear not!" I needed deliverance. I was hearing about the Kingdom of heaven, but did not see it anywhere.
John the Baptist proclaimed that the Kingdom of Heaven "was near." Jesus, and ALL of His disciples preached that the Kingdom of Heaven is "at hand." What is the difference? While John preached in Israel, he was the first voice of God heard in the land in 400 years. His very presence worried the ruling authorities, especially the religious ones. He was a true prophet. He was on hand to attest to the Authenticity of the Lamb of God at His appearing. God confirmed Johnís testimony by sending a dove, and speaking, saying, "This is My beloved Son"
16 When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying,"This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."NKJV
Here we see that the "heavens" were opened to Him. Heaven literally came to earth in a new way. Jesus was the first fruit of the Kingdom of Heaven. Any, and all who come to God through faith in Jesus are translated into that kingdom. Their "citizenship" is now in this same kingdom.
A "kingdom", by definition, requires the presence of a king somewhere in that realm. The king rules with absolute authority over all the affairs of his realm. Its citizenís are totally subject to his authority. By the same token, they are also authorized to receive all of the benefits of that kingdom. If the person is not receiving the benefits, then something is amiss.
Our King is The LORD Jesus Christ. His Kingdom is at hand. It is not a kingdom that is coming, but has already come. He is enthroned in the heavenlies until all of His enemies are under His feet. In one sense, all of His enemies are under His feet because He is in heaven and earth. He is in the earth in His body, the church. The church is not a building made with hands, but is our very hearts, and we are His body. All that He does in the earth is done through us, His body. Sin, sickness, and death are all subject to His authority. Yet, we receive none of the benefits of the Kingdom without faith. "Without faith, it is impossible to please God."
Over the years, the LORD has taught me, and all of us, His Kingdom principles. The approach is the slow growth plan. Has been for me. The Kingdom is revealed "line upon line, truth upon truth, here a little, there a little" etc We live in a new era in the Kingdom of God. For Him, all things are a continuation of His Divine Plan. Nothing has hindered the flow of His Divine Purpose, and the Kingdom marches on towards its Divine Fulfillment, In Christ, in all things.
Question: Does a baby have only a portion of its components mature, while other parts fail to achieve their potential? I think not. God has designed into each of His creations all things it requires for mature completion. Man takes the longest of all creatures to reach full maturity. Although he may reach physical maturity, he is still immature spiritually, and the sin nature he is born with keeps him in outer darkness until he finds a way out. Christ is the way out.
David was also mystified by Godís attentiveness to mankind. "Lord, what is man that You should think upon him?" The answer to that question is revealed here: "As ye do unto the least of My brethren, so do ye unto Me". Also it is revealed here: "Behold, I show you a ministry hidden from the foundation of the earth, and that is "Christ in YOU, the hope of glory!"" God is so close that He is, in fact, our very Life. "In Him we live, and move, and have our being." To him who believes, all things are possible. My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus."
I been down so far that bottom looked like up. The silver lining shining there is this: "You have no place to go but up." So it is with Sons of God. Those called to Sonship are called too much purification. That is a fancy word for affliction. He calls it "gold refined in the fire." All of the old friends have generally accepted your conversion experience, but really would prefer not to hang with such a "Jesus Freak." I donít like foul-mouthed, Mother disrespecting, and ungrateful, drunken ignoramuses for much company. The counsel of my own company is usually sufficient. Jesus is my Best Friend. I need to decrease that He might increase. What else can I say! If God donít make a way for me, than I am doomed. So far, for 63+years, He hasnít let me down. To know Him is to love Him. One can but rejoice in the fact that salvation has come to mankind from the hallowed halls of heaven.