Several years ago, Michael Hyatt (former CEO of Thomas Nelson) responded to a rumor on his blog. In the post, Michael wrote,
“According to the most recent rumor—which I’ve now heard twice—we [Thomas Nelson] are planning a layoff for June 19th … There is absolutely no truth to it … If you hear this rumor, I would be grateful if you would help me short-circuit it. You can tell ’em it’s not true, and you heard it directly from me.”
I recall when this rumor was circulating and was saddened (and surprised) at how many Christians believed it without going straight to Michael to see if it was true or false. Here’s another example that’s much more national.[Continue Reading…]
Kingdom Myth 7. The kingdom of God is the equivalent of signs, miracles, and wonders.
Today’s myth is the idea that the kingdom is the equivalent of signs, miracles, and wonders. This view is popular among some quarters of the charismatic segment of the body of Christ. The idea is that those who preach the kingdom today must always confirm it by miraculous signs and jaw-dropping wonders.
As I’ve explained in great detail in my Titan Collectible, I’m a post-charismatic. So I believe (and even function in) the gifts of the Spirit, but without the charismatic wrappings and Pentecostal packaging.
Those who believe God is in the business of always performing signs and wonders – and that every Christian should be walking the streets and visiting local hospitals healing the sick, casting out demons, and “doing the stuff” that Jesus did — overlook the following:[Continue Reading…]
Kingdom Myth 6. The kingdom of God is “within you” as an individual, privatized reality.
Many years ago I went on a trip with an old ex-pastor and an acquaintance who happened to be a professional debater with a reputation of being devious. My acquaintance also happened to have attended Bible school (something I chose not to do).
All three of us were having lunch together and the old ex-pastor asked us, “In Luke 17:21, Jesus said that the kingdom of God is ‘within you’ in the King James Version. Do you think He meant ‘within you’ or ‘among you’?”
I answered, “I don’t think He meant ‘within you’ because Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees. And that would mean that Jesus was saying the kingdom was dwelling in the Pharisees, which cannot be the case.”[Continue Reading…]
Kingdom Myth 5. The kingdom is separate from the ekklesia.
By “ekklesia,” I’m not talking about a church building, a Sunday morning service, a denomination, or an institutional organization that people call “church.”
I’m speaking about what the New Testament writers meant by ekklesia—a local, face-to-face community of people who surrendered their lives to the lordship of Christ and were learning to live by His indwelling life together. (I’ve detailed the difference between ekklesia and “church” as we know it elsewhere.)
Those face-to-face communities are “the manifestation of God’s ruling presence” in the earth. Consider Revelation 1:6:
“[He] made us to be a kingdom.”
And also Revelation 5:10:
“You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God.”[Continue Reading…]
Kingdom Myth 4. Christians are called to build the kingdom.
Young people are often captured by a vision to improve the world. When they get older, however, most of them realize that the vision was mostly informed by idealism. There has been progress made, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s a dent.
The problems of injustice, oppression, racism, sexism, hatred, and war have been with us since the fall. (The first child ever born into this world was a murderer.)
These problems will always be with us until Christ returns and sets all things right.
While there have been improvements to society, few if any of them have brought Jesus Christ into unmistakable prominence.
The kingdom message of the New Testament isn’t about “building” the kingdom. It’s one of “manifesting” the kingdom by being an alternative to the world system, and then demonstrating the grace and glory of the King to society as the Spirit leads.[Continue Reading…]
Kingdom Myth 3. The kingdom of God is the equivalent of heaven.
If you polled every professing Christian on the planet today and asked them to define the kingdom of God, the majority would say “heaven.”
But this is not what Scripture teaches.
For years, I’ve defined the kingdom to be “the manifestation of God’s ruling presence.”
Consequently, the kingdom is already, but not yet. It’s present, but it’s also future.
We live in the time between times, where the kingdom of God is here, but not in its fullness.
Consequently, those who teach that the kingdom has nothing to do with the here and now are misinformed. This brand of “escapist theology” says, “We’re simply waiting for Jesus to return. Our job is to try and get as many souls ready for heaven, that is, ready for the kingdom of God.”[Continue Reading…]
Kingdom Myth 2. The gospel of the kingdom was for the Jews; the gospel of grace is for the Gentiles.
Okay, I’ll just say it without blinking. This myth is one of the most destructive doctrines in history. It began in the 19th century with the Plymouth Brethren, who taught a hyper form of dispensationalism.
The doctrine was popularized by C.I. Scofield who published his famous Scofield Study Bible in 1909. Scofield’s Bible was used at Moody Bible institute and spread throughout evangelical schools all across America.
For this reason, this doctrine is still with us. And it has diluted and watered down the cutting edge of the gospel of Jesus Christ to where it’s been all but lost.
The net result: You can be a “Christian,” but not a disciple. You can “believe,” but not “follow.” Your devotion to Jesus Christ can be anemic at best, and that’s okay, because you’re under grace.[Continue Reading…]
At this point in my series on the kingdom of God, I’d like to begin dispelling some stubborn myths. Today is part 1 of “dispelling kingdom myths.”
Kingdom Myth 1. Jesus preached the gospel of the kingdom, and Paul preached the gospel of grace.
This statement is patently false. Jesus preached both the kingdom of God and the grace of God. And so did Paul.
Just read chapter Acts 14 to 28. There you will see Paul proclaiming the kingdom of God numerous times.
Here are some examples:[Continue Reading…]