— Brother Phil Enlow: This is one of those mornings when I got up and just felt blah…anybody know what I’m talking about? Yeah. But praise God!
You know life in this world is not all mountain tops, is it? God wants us to learn how to walk with Him whether we’re on the mountain or whether we’re in the valley, whether we’re sick or well…whatever the circumstances are. He is still on the throne, and everything He does is to serve His purpose.
And, I don’t know, I’m just gonna try to go forward and ask the Lord to lead about this ministry on the Kingdom. We have talked about the fact that there was…that God had a purpose from before the foundation of the world, to have an eternal Kingdom. That’s really where it starts.
You can go back and say, oh, it started when the Devil rebelled. No, it started way before that. It started before He said, “Let there be light.” God had a purpose to have a people with whom He could share His love, His power, everything that He is, forever and forever.
And He wasn’t taken by surprise when the first creation happened and then our parents rebelled, and those spirits, angels of His…some of them rebelled. God wasn’t taken by surprise by that. In fact, it plays into His plan. God uses everything that has happened in this world to help shape the people with whom He is going to share eternity.
You know, I thought about this in this regard. God’s Kingdom exists in heaven. This is not just something He invented here. Am I right? There is a Kingdom, there is a place, there is a realm, where God absolutely rules. There is no sin. There is no darkness. There is no rebellious self-will. The atmosphere—the very atmosphere is one of love. It’s one where God cares about every one of His creatures, and He’s devoted to their happiness. They’re devoted to praising and worshiping Him. There’s an atmosphere of peace.
This Kingdom is real! It exists! And it existed even though darkness was reigning down here. That Kingdom was real. And so, when Jesus came, He came to begin to bring that Kingdom here.
Okay? And, let me ask you a simple question. This is one to ponder, because it goes beyond just what I have in mind today. What would God’s Kingdom look like, if it existed in the midst of this world of darkness? What would it look like? Interesting question to ponder…because that’s what we’re really talking about.
Jesus told the disciples to pray, when He taught them how to pray. One of the things He said, Thy will be…”Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” (KJV). See, it was already being done there, but now we’re trying to bring it down to earth so that the Kingdom of God literally has an expression on earth. So what God did to begin to institute that, was to send His Son who was the very embodiment of the Kingdom of God on earth.
And He didn’t come as some glorious figure, as some…here I am, I’m God, I’m gonna do all these wonderful things. He came in the weakest possible way…born in the womb of a young woman, born from the womb of a young woman, and lived as a baby, lived as a carpenter, just lived an ordinary, human life.
But there came the very time when God was going to unfold His purpose. And so, following…about six months into the ministry of John the Baptist, Jesus comes and presents Himself to John and John recognizes Him. How did John recognize Him, by the way?
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Yeah, God revealed it, didn’t He? That gives you just a little hint right there as to how we know stuff. We don’t know stuff because of this [pointing to brain]. We know stuff because of Him. So God revealed to John who this was and immediately, oh my God, You need to baptize me. I don’t need to baptize You. And He said, allow it to be this way, or this is right, “…to fulfil all righteousness.”
And so, Jesus was baptized, and the Spirit came down. God gave Him a witness, both by the presence of a dove…I don’t know who all saw it, but I know John did and I know Jesus did, at least that much. But anyway there was this witness that way, and there was a voice that came from heaven. “This is my…Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
And so…and of course, then Jesus went into the wilderness and faced all the temptations that He had to face, everything you and I would ever face, He faced. And He trusted in the power of His heavenly Father, and He was willing to say, no, to everything the Devil threw at Him. He said, no, I’m gonna obey God. I’m gonna go by God’s Word. I’m completely committed to Him.
Is that a pretty good picture of the Kingdom of God right there? Yeah. And as a result of that, then He went forth in the power of God’s Spirit. But anyway, the embodiment of the Kingdom of God was within human flesh.
So, at least in part, the Kingdom of God is not just about ‘there,’ is it? It’s about God literally coming to reside in a broken, fallen world in human flesh, despite all of its weaknesses. This is the essence of what the Kingdom of God is here and now that He came. Jesus was the primary example of it, of course, and He gave Himself.
But I just want to read a couple of scriptures in the context that are very familiar to us. But I want to tie these things together and have you see in the Bible where these things are from. John chapter 1. Let’s look at the beginning of John’s Gospel…and just read some familiar words, because this kind of sums up the beginning of Jesus’ ministry and what it was about.
And John goes all the way back to the beginning, doesn’t he? He said, “In the beginning was the Word…” (NIV). Now the Word there is the ‘logos,’ the expression of God’s heart, the expression of God’s purpose…everything that God is about, expressed. And so, Jesus is literally…that ‘Word’ is used of Him as the very expression of God.
We’re told elsewhere in the scriptures, He is the express image of the invisible God. God is invisible. You’re never gonna go someplace and see an old man sitting on a throne, and say, oh, there’s God. God is a Spirit who inhabits eternity. But He has an expression of Him, so that we know what He is like by the One that He lives in, and through whom He expresses Himself. And that’s Jesus, His Son.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him…” — that’s through Jesus — “…All things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”
Now here’s a key right here. “In him was life, and that life was the light of men.” You want to know what enlightenment truly is? People think of enlightenment as ideas, better ideas. You know…you have your idea, but you need to be enlightened. You don’t really have it straight. And they think in terms of concepts and ideas and doctrines.
I’ll tell you what real light is. It’s the life of God. That is what light really is. Now that will find expression in truth, but the essence of light is life. And when men encountered that life, they were encountering God…and that was the question. What are we gonna do with it?
And of course, you see this expressed in this passage. “…That life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” And, another translation of that is, “…the darkness has not overcome it.” (ESV). I like that one.
But the darkness literally…men encountered Jesus…they knew He was different, but they didn’t know…what is this, I don’t get this. And there was such a condition of heart and mind, that men…it disturbed them! It interfered with the very nature that drove the fallen race of human men, of human beings. So anyway, they didn’t understand it.
“There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light…” (NIV). Now why did he do that? “…So that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.”
I’ll tell you, isn’t it amazing that God would look down on a world such as we have, and the wickedness that happens here, and say, I’m gonna reach out? My nature is one of love. I’m not rejoicing in the idea of destroying people and judging people. I am all about reaching out in salvation.
And so, God did what He did, and He did it in a way that makes a division among men, doesn’t He? And so, there were some who recognized it. There were some who just didn’t get it at all.
And this is what he says here in verse 10. “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.” Now he’s talking about principally Israel there.
“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God….” That’s what God was about. Now what’s the nature of that? What does it mean to be a child of God? “…Children born not of natural descent….” So it’s not a matter of being a Jew or something else. This is irrelevant to this kind of birth.
“…Children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will….” It’s not something that just naturally happens in the world. Okay, I’m a child of God because…this is something that happens from God’s end. God has to invade. They are born not, “…of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”
You know, that kind of reminds you of John chapter 3, when Nicodemus came and was wondering what in the world was going on? Jesus said, unless you are born again, you can’t see the Kingdom of God. And then He turned around and said, unless you’re born again, you can’t enter the Kingdom of God. It is a birth, a literally…I need a different life than I was born into this world with.
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It doesn’t matter how you rearrange this, what ideas you embrace, what kind of philosophy and self-effort you put forth, I am what I am. It’s not a question of what I do and what I think. It’s a question of what I am, and the only way to fix that is to replace me with God’s life.
And so, I’ll tell you, that’s the essence of who belongs to the Kingdom of God. And that’s what Jesus was sent to do…was to open a doorway where people could literally experience God’s life and be born afresh and anew.
And that life is everlasting life, isn’t it? I don’t care who you are, whether you’re the mighty, rich people and the people of power, whether you own the whole world, you’re gonna die. Your life here will not last. But Jesus came to give a life that cannot die. Thank God! Thank God.
And so now, he goes on and he says, “The Word became flesh…” That’s amazing! “…And made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
That’s John’s testimony among those to whom God revealed who this really was. But the nation, as a whole, did not. There was a remnant of people who did, who recognized who He was. But that tells me something about how God goes about building His Kingdom. He didn’t arrive with angels and say, I’m here, join My Kingdom. He came in the simplest possible way.
And…turn over to another familiar scripture in Colossians, chapter 1. It talks about some of these same things. Paul is encouraging a group of believers in the city of Colossae that he had never personally met, but he knew about them. And he’d heard reports of how God had reached them and they had really come to God. And so, he’s writing to say, man, I’m praying for you, I love you, I want to tell you some stuff that’s gonna really help you. And that’s the reason for the letter.
And, in verse 9, he says, “For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.”
What does that tell you about how we get knowledge? It better come from Him! Man, you’ve got people out there that think they can study this Book and figure it out. You can’t do it! The smartest people in the world will study this Book and miss it completely. I’ll tell you, there’s one way we come. Jesus said, He had, “…hid these things from the wise and prudent…” (KJV). But who’s He revealed them to?
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That’s what I want to become in my own eyes. I was reading scripture this morning. I said, Lord, I don’t know what in the world this is about, but You do, and it’s Your Word, and I’m just gonna trust You with it. If You ever want me to understand this, You’re gonna have to open my eyes.
That’s a good place to be, where we’re not trying to come up with an answer to every little thing. We’ve got to say, Lord, You know…my hope is not in my intellect and my ability to grasp every little thing and answer every little question. My hope is in You! And You are real and I’m trusting You.
But anyway…but Paul recognizes how knowledge comes. And so, he’s asking God. That’s a good thing to do for one another, isn’t it? Lord, there’s stuff we don’t know! But, oh God, we want to know the truth!
I was thinking about something on the way to church this morning…different opinions about certain doctrines. I said, Lord, I don’t care which way it is. I don’t have a ‘dog in this hunt.’ I didn’t put it that way, exactly, but that’s one way to put it. Lord, I just want to know the truth. You reveal it in Your time and way, and that’s good enough for me. I don’t care. If I’ve been wrong all my life, praise God! Let’s go for the truth. This is not about me and my ego…all right.
“And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God…” (NIV). So, that’s a progressive thing, isn’t it? “…Being strengthened…” Now, where am I gonna get the strength for all this? “…Being strengthened with all power…” Based on what? “…According to his glorious might….”
See, the resource for this Kingdom has to all come from Him, doesn’t it? That’s a glorious picture, isn’t it? I don’t have it. Do you? Anybody here got the strength to be all that God wants you to be? I don’t have it. But we’re strengthened with His glorious might! That’s what God wants us to learn to tap into.
Why? “…So that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.” Boy, that’s a mouthful, isn’t it? Praise God! A kingdom of light!
Now, what is light again? It’s God’s life, isn’t it? This is a Kingdom filled with God’s life! How do I get to be a citizen? How do I get to inherit something like that, a person like me? He does the qualifying. He stepped in, and did what was necessary to reconcile me to Him, so that I could have this. Praise God! And you, and all who hear the message of hope and life. Praise God! God has qualified us.
“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness….” And there’s a quick picture of what we’re talking about. This world is a kingdom, isn’t it? This world is a kingdom ruled over by wicked rebels against God, who are determined to have their way, to blind everybody so they won’t serve God, so they’ll live under the dominion of sin and death.
And, I’ll tell you, the Devil knows that he has lost and he’s mad about it, and he’s gonna take everybody down he can. This is the context in which God is establishing His Kingdom! This is not an accident! This is not God saying, oops, plan A didn’t work, so let’s go to plan B. This is plan A.
Notice above…I passed over this when I read it. But the reason God was giving all this strength was so that we might have great endurance and patience. What do we need that for? Doesn’t that tell you something about how this Kingdom is formed and grows? That we’re meant to live in a world that opposes us!
We’re gonna have to stand up against stuff that comes against us! We’re gonna have to go through days when we don’t have feelings. We’re gonna have to go through days when we feel our own personal weakness, and the Devil’s whispering and telling us all kinds of lies about us…or even truths about us, but using them in a way to condemn and to take away hope! We’re gonna have to learn how to stand by faith, and stand up to all of this!
That is central to God’s purpose in establishing His Kingdom. None of this is an accident. And so, God is gonna absolutely build what will last forever in the context of a world that is absolutely opposed to everything that He’s doing. That’s just the very nature of it.
But He has literally rescued us from the dominion of darkness! We were born in a cage. We were born in a prison, from which we…not only could we not escape, we didn’t want to escape. We didn’t know there was anything else until God stepped in. But even when we knew about it, what could we do about it? God is the One that had to take the key and open the door. That door is open! Praise God! That door is the Lord Jesus Christ, who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (KJV).
“…Rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (NIV). Praise God! One thing I passed over in this…I’m trying to see where it actually says this. Oh, it’s down in the following verses. I’ll read a few more.
“He is the image…” Well, this is what I said awhile ago. “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.”
That’s a key. You want to know the reason, you want to know the purpose behind stuff…I don’t know anything beyond the beginning. That’s what we’re told. In the beginning, He was there. You ask me what happened before that…I don’t know. Does that even mean anything? You’re asking a time-based question about eternity. All I know is He was there. I know everything that was created, He created it.
But what’s the reason for that? It was created, not only ‘by’ Him, it was created ‘for’ Him. This is, Son, I’m gonna build You a Kingdom. I’m gonna set You in a place of honor and joy. You’re gonna express My nature, but it’s not gonna just be You and Me. It’s gonna be a whole family. Praise God!
So it’s, “…Created by him and for him.” Keep that in mind. “He is before all things, and in…” This is even more amazing. “…In him all things hold together.” You want to know why the universe doesn’t go…
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…Fly apart? You say, oh, there are natural laws in place. Well, who passed the laws? You think about the power. You think about the greatness of this One who literally holds this universe in the palm of His hand, who has the power to name the stars. I’ll tell you, you feel weak, you feel small? We’ve got a great Savior and we’ve got a great God who has got a great purpose. And there ain’t nobody gonna stop Him. Praise God!
All right, the firstborn…”And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead….” That reminds us of the fact that He’s not just the only one, is He? He’s just the first. So that’s the hope that we have today.
“…So that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”
Boy, there is some rich truth in that. I mean, you could take every phrase and just break it down and make a message out of it. But I mean, I just want to paint a picture from these two scriptures of who it is we’re talking about. God invaded a planet—a prison planet, where everybody here was in hopeless state of darkness, blindness, sin, death, and He sent His Son and said, I’m gonna establish a Kingdom in the midst of this. And I’m gonna do it right in the context of this. That’s what’s amazing.
Okay? And so, what we saw in Jesus…I think we said this the last time, was literally the embodiment…He was the way, the truth and the life. We saw God in action through Him. We saw God’s character, Who while He rejected the folks who were self-righteous and religious, proud of what they thought they could do, yet, His heart went out to the lowest of the low, the weakest of the weak.
If that’s you here today, pay attention to the fact that God made Himself known through Jesus Christ. He knows your name. He knows the things that you’re ashamed to tell anybody. He knows the secrets of your heart. He knows your weaknesses. He knows the baggage you carry. He knows everything.
Look at the heart of Jesus, who reached out to the woman at the well, to the fallen woman that the Pharisees threw at His feet, and so many others, who were just despised among their own population, and yet His heart went right to them. He told them the truth but gave them hope. That’s His heart! Praise God, I want to be part of a kingdom like that, don’t you? Praise God!