Kingdom of Heaven – Preface

It is important for the reader to understand the reasons for which this text has been written. As a small child, I often pondered why everything I read in the scripture concerning the early church and the life of Jesus seemed so different from what I could see and had experienced. I was raised in a Christian home. A home committed to Jesus as the son of God; but, there were still problems. Our human nature still lorded over us. I went to college to study the scripture and to begin a life in the ministry. Yet, my life was filled with overwhelming sin. I could not, in spite of my self-righteousness, be a minister of the gospel because I knew myself. I knew what God truly saw when He looked at me. How could I, so full of sin, preach what I could not live myself?

In 1972 a striking thought came after prayer and Bible study. When I looked at the first four books of the New Testament, the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John; a startling question arose. Why does Jesus mention the word “church” (Ekklesia – those who are coming together) only twice; and, then Jesus talks about the kingdom of heaven or the kingdom of God over 100 times? Yet today, we seem to be almost exclusively preoccupied with a corporate body, a body of believers meeting in a earthly building; and, we refer to this as the church? I have sought an answer to that question; and, … all of the new questions that study has generated…

  • Why is Jesus, the Son of God almost exclusively occupied with the kingdom?
  • Why did Jesus say He would build His church, yet we talk, almost exclusively, in the context of building churches?
  • Why do we not talk about the kingdom with the same priorities as Jesus did?
  • What then is this kingdom that Jesus talked so much about?
  • Have we given position or authority to the church that it does not have?
  • What really is the church?
  • What, Where, How and Why? Is my place in the kingdom? In the Church? In Jesus Christ?

The more I studied, the more questions seemed to arise. If you have pondered the same questions, even ones similar; or, these questions have pricked your curiosity, then this expository study is for you. Can it be that the Christian community is off of the mark? That we have institutionalized the message of Jesus? That without answers to these questions I am missing the whole picture? The finer question becomes, how can the whole message of Jesus help me to put it all together.

I have often sought God in prayer, wanting and asking for the fervor, the truth, an overwhelming desire to see God move like I read about in the New Testament accounts of the first century. A full and complete restoration of the first century Christianity. Yet the results those desires and those moments bring, seem only to be sporadic at best. Possibly, you know what I am talking about. For instance, you sit there in church and desire to see the sick and lame healed, or just to see God move more powerfully in the lives of His people; and, when it happens, to have them know that it was God that moved them.. You sit alone in prayer and just wish God would speak back to you, that a real conversation would ensue. You pick up the Bible and read; wishing that you knew what it really meant. You want God and His mercy to fill your whole life, not just to do this religion thing only part of the way, to commit to God completely and have it stick firmly for the rest of your life. Sticking so permanently, that it is a part of your life every hour of the day, not just an inspirational two hour session on Sunday.

Could it be though, that I have sought to see God move under my terms, my theological conditions, my own self contrived kingdom, church or society of believers? Or could it be, that I have let the gospel of others, of men, of tradition, limit God in my life? Have I accepted these beliefs without question? Have I not been concerned enough about my eternity to seek the answers out for myself, instead of accepting the comfort of the beliefs of others?

I could not accept the emptiness these questions brought. If I truly believed that God was capable of making me, then He must be able to allow the whole message of His Son, Jesus Christ to be made plain in my life every day, all the time, not just a Sunday “church” experience. Can God can bring us to the answers of these questions, without the need to promote any personal understanding? If salvation is truthfully an individual thing, then anyone should be able to hear the message of Jesus and come to the conclusions necessary for their individual salvation.

The hunger to understand what I had felt and observed as a child still lingers. The study and struggle of my existence has been to come to a reconciliation of this spiritual dilemma. A reconciliation not by revelation or some great event. The simplicity of God is starting to become more obvious, and the dilemma has begun to be dissolved. The kingdom of heaven is real. All things are becoming new and all the old is passing away.

Is the overwhelming victory and movement of the kingdom of heaven as witnessed by the early Christians ours as joint heirs in the kingdom? I hope you are motivated to share this study with me; however, please seek the truth of these discussions with prayer and continually test the spirit of the message and the messenger. Amen.

May the grace of the Lord abound in you as you approach the day of your calling.

Kenneth D. Davis

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Last modified 22 Jun 2005