The Kingdom Has a King

Matthew | Mark | Luke | John | Acts | Ethic | Subjects

No kingdom can long survive without its king. The kingdom of heaven has one that is like no other:

Nobody asks the most important question about the kingdom and the king any better than the late Dr. S.M. Lockridge:

Do you know Him?

Kingdom Christianity Expressed in Acts

Matthew | Mark | Luke | John | King | Ethic | Subjects

Forgive the double-entendre in the title, but it illustrates the principle that you find throughout Luke’s sequel, and that those acts of preaching often were accompanied by acts of mercy and compassion:

  • Jesus came back to talk “kingdom” 40 days (Acts 1:3)
  • Timetables weren’t part of the agenda (Acts 1:6)
  • Philip preached it (Acts 8:12)
  • Paul and Barnabas preached it, with a prophecy of trouble (Acts 14:21-23)
  • Paul argued it persuasively (Acts 19:31)
  • He committed to it, foreknowing the consequences (Acts 20:25)
  • He explained and declared it (Acts 28:23)
  • Boldly and unhindered, right up to the end (Acts 28:31)

And Paul and others wrote about it – what it isn’t and what it is:

That it is to be inherited, but not by everyone:

The inheritors receive it as a gift:

And they were both receiving it and would receive it soon:

Okay, I sneaked in a lot more than just the book of Acts here. Still, the theme of “acts of service” in the kingdom is consistent.

If we are concerned with sharing and serving, we don’t have to be concerned about the timing of the breaking in and coming of the kingdom.

We’re part of it.

Kingdom Christianity per John

Matthew | Mark | Luke | Acts | King | Ethic | Subjects

Like Paul Harvey, the apostle John tells us “The Rest of the Story.”

I don’t know whether he had access to one or more of the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark or Luke) – his closing verses lead me to suspect that – but he seems to concentrate on telling the parts of the story of Jesus that will lead us to believe (John 20:30-32).

So his two references to the kingdom are like bookends, near the beginning and the close of his story:

  • Be born again to see and enter it (John 3:3-5)
  • Understand that it’s of, and from, another world (John 18:36)

But in those few verses of the very mystical, miraculous, powerful, persuasive gospel of John there are profound truths.

The kingdom is transcendent, more important than fighting to prevent an unjust arrest, leading to a more cosmic judgment.

The kingdom is transformation, from this world to the next.

That transformation is compulsory – “You must be born again.”

And that transformation makes us “The Rest of the Story.”

Kingdom Christianity per Luke

Okay, Luke’s gospel is where the kingdom rubber meets the worldly road. Literally. Jesus goes on the road; He’s on a mission; and He’s got a deadline.

If I drop out the duplicate references to the kingdom from Matthew and Mark, this is what is left for me to do and be a part of it:

If I’m not mistaken, that’s more than the number of total citations I found in Mark (12-11). These are all unique to Luke; they don’t even count the duplicates.

Did you sense a recurrent theme? (What’s that “p” word again?)

Can there be any doubt that Luke is the “preach”-quel to Acts?

Kingdom Christianity per Mark

Matthew | Luke | John | Acts | King | Ethic | Subjects

None of Matthew‘s “kingdom of heaven” euphemisms for young John Mark! He’ll go ahead and risk the wrath of his fellow Jews by calling it what it is: the “kingdom of God.”

But I find his description of Jesus’ words about the kingdom consistent.

To be a part of that kingdom, I must:

People have debated for centuries whether Jesus really intended to found a church, and how much it overlaps His kingdom.

When I looked at Matthew’s references, I took it personally. (Jesse’s mom made an observation that put it in perspective!)

But – without accusing or lauding – I tried to look at Mark’s references for that overlap. Does the church bear out the vision of the kingdom that Jesus describes?

The answer is probably “yes and no.”

I just wonder how I would react if Jesus came like the thief in the Jack Benny sketch and, instead of demanding “Your money or your life!”, asked:

“The kingdom or the church?”

Would I stand there like Jack’s skinflint persona, one hand cradling the elbow attached to the hand where my chin is resting ponderously … finally answering: “I’m thinking it over!”?

I want to object to the question; I want to say there couldn’t be such a choice; it’s not valid to ask. Yet I look over John Mark’s bullet points as I’m pecking away at this keyboard and …

I’m thinking it over.

Kingdom Christianity per Matthew

Mark | Luke | John | Acts | King | Ethic | Subjects

I know that plenty of other and better writers have examined what it means to be a Kingdom Christian, but I’m writing this as an exercise in self-examination as much as anything else.

I thought I’d just go through and list what Jesus said about it, gospel by gospel.

If I aspire to be a Kingdom Christian, I should:

Whew! I’m glad I framed this as a list and not a pop quiz.

I’m not sure I’d like my score.