Faith & The Kingdom Of God
MORE ABOUT FAITH AND THE KINGDOM OF GOD
A.     Introduction:  We have been talking about the fact that as Christians, we are now in      the kingdom of God. Col 1:13     
1.     It is important that we understand some things about the kingdom -- what is is           and how it works because we are now members of it.          
a.     There are two aspects to the kingdom of God.               
1.     It is an actual place called heaven.
2.     It is also any place where God rules and reigns.          
b.     We enter the kingdom when we believe the facts of the gospel and submit                to the rulership of Jesus.     
2.     It is God's desire that the fact that we are members of His kingdom affects us,           not just when we go to heaven, but in this life as well.          
a.     Even though we don't yet live there, we are citizens of heaven. Phil 3:20          b.     And God has made full provision for us in this life because we are a colony                of heaven living on earth.                
1.     Phil 3:20--But we are a colony of heaven, and we wait for the Savior                     who comes from heaven, the Lord. (Moffatt)               
2.     Eph 1:3--Praise be to God for giving us through Christ every possible                     spiritual benefit as citizens of heaven. (Phillips)     
3.     In order to benefit in this life from the fact that you are now in the kingdom           of God, you must know how to live by faith. Rom 1:17     
4.     We want to continue to talk about faith and the kingdom of God in this lesson.
B.     Let's define faith according to the Bible -- the way Jesus most often used the word.
1.     First, we must state what faith is not.          
a.     It is not the kind of church you go to, or a feeling you get.          
b.     It is not sincerity or depth of commitment to Christ.          
c.     The disciples were fully committed to Christ, yet, on numerous occasions,                He told them they had little or no faith. Matt 4:18-20; Mark 10:28; 4:40     
2.     Often, when we use the word faith, we mean faithful to Christ.          
a.     There is nothing wrong with using the word that way, but it can be                misleading when we talk about the kind of faith we are to live by in the                kingdom of God.  They are two different things.          
b.     Sometimes we say:  He has great faith, meaning he has been committed to                the Lord for 50 years.          
c.     That may be true, but, it is entirely possible that he has no faith (the way                Jesus defined the word) in specific situations -- just as the disciples did not.          d.     Look at what Jesus called great faith:  Matt 8:5-13     
3.     The faith Jesus commended:          
a.     Needs only God's word to know that a thing is so.          
b.     Needs no physical proof (evidence) before it believes what God says.          
c.     Is expressed or demonstrated by the words of the mouth.          
d.     Accepts God's word as fulfilled before it sees, and eventually sees results.
4.     Look at what Jesus called no faith and faithless:  Mark 4:36-40; John 21:24-29
a.     In both cases, the disciples based what they believed on what they saw.          b.     In one case, it involved an act of the will; in the other, it involved                forgetting Jesus's previous words to them.     
5.     Bible faith takes God at His word.          
a. Bible faith is believing what God says without any physical proof.          
b.     Bible faith is confidence in God that He will do what He said He'd do.     
6.     Bible faith involves three elements:
a.     Knowledge of God's will (revealed in His written word).          
b.     An act of your will (a decision you make) whereby you choose to accept                what God says as true no matter what you see or feel.          
c.     Express your decision to agree with God through what you say and do.     
7.     That is the faith we are to live by in the kingdom.     
C.     Let's connect this information with what we discussed last week -- the kingdom of      God, the kingdom to which we now belong is a spiritual kingdom.     
1.     Spiritual doesn't mean not real, less real.  It means invisible = not visible.          
a.     God is a Spirit and He is invisible. John 4:24; Heb 11:27; I Tim 1:17; I Tim                6:16; Col l:15          
b.     Yet God is real, and, He is THE most powerful being (omnipotent) in the                universe.  He is the Creator.  Gen 1     
2.     All of the seen creation is the work of the Unseen, Invisible God who reigns           over an invisible, spiritual kingdom.          
a.     The invisible created the visible. Heb 11:3; Gen 1:3          
b.     The invisible can and does affect and change the visible. Mark 4:39          
c.     The invisible will outlast the visible. II Cor 4:18          
d.     The invisible realm of God exists side by side with the visible realm.                Luke 2:13,14; Luke 9:28-32; II Kings 6:13-17     
3.     We are now part of a kingdom that is more real, more powerful, than anything           we see around us.          
a.     For many of us, though, the fact that the kingdom of which we are now a                part is invisible, leads us to believe it can't give us real help.
b.     But, we have real help -- the spiritual created the material, can change the                material, and will outlast the material.     
4.     The Bible is our only tangible, reliable contact with this invisible realm.          
a.     The Bible (God's word) tells us how the kingdom works and what                provision has been made / is available for us in the kingdom.          
b.     The Bible is the means through which God brings the invisible into the                visible realm. Gen 1:3; Heb 11:3; Mark 4:39; Ps 107:20; Matt 8:8     
5.     Remember, Jesus said God's word works like a seed. Mark 4          
a.     When you have a seed, you don't have the harvest, you have the potential                for the harvest, depending on what you do with the seed.          
b.     When you have a tomato seed, you have a tomato, just in a different form.          c.     When you have God's word, you have help in its invisible, spiritual     form.          d.     If you do the right things to the seed, it will produce visible results.          
e.     If you do the right things with God's word, it will produce visible results.           f.     The right thing is faith!!     
6.     Faith is taking God at His word so He can bring His will / His word to pass in           our lives -- or bring it from the invisible realm to the visible.          
a.     God works in our lives through His word.          
b.     God has already provided for us all that we need to live this life and the                next through the Cross of Christ. Eph 1:3; II Pet 1:3          
c.     God's word tells us what He has already done for us through Jesus -- and                what He will do for us because of what He has already done.          
d.     He now wants to bring these promises / provisions to pass in our lives.          
e.     But, His provisions are conditional, and the condition is faith.      Heb 6:12          f.     Faith opens the door to God to do in us and for us all that His word                reveals He has done in and through Jesus.          
g.     Faith opens the door to the invisible realm to touch the visible realm.
D.     The kingdom to which we now belong is spiritual and all of God's provision for us      is spiritual = invisible.     
1.     Our only "physical" evidence of any of this is God's written word, the Bible.
a.     But, the spiritual will effect the seen realm if we will     believe God's word.          
b.     That's what faith is all about -- taking God at His word so He can bring it to pass in our lives.     
2.     We are to live by faith.  Faith in God is faith in His word, His promise.
a.     His word is an expression of His character -- He cannot lie. Heb 6:18          b.     He is faithful to do what He promised. Heb 10:23     
3.     Most Christians know we are to live by the Bible, but the question is -- what  does that mean?          
a.     Obviously, it means to obey what God tells us, but it means much more.          
b.     The Bible is to be the deciding factor in our lives = the most important                source of information in our lives.               
1.     Everything else bows to it -- feelings, thoughts, experience.               
2.     Most would say amen to that in church, but don't really live like that.          
c.     If you say:  I know what the Bible says, but..., that means, for you, there is  a source of information more reliable, more accurate than God's word.     
4.     If that is so, you won't fully benefit in this life from living in the kingdom.
a.     Feelings, thoughts, and experience don't bring the invisible into the visible.          
b.     Faith in God's word does.     
5.     Faith is trust / confidence in God that He will do what He said He would do.          
a.     In fact, once you have His word on something, it is as good as done, so much so that you can speak of a thing in the past tense even though you can't yet see it with your eyes.          
b.     There is a past, present, and future element to faith. Luke 1:45; Acts 27:25; Rom 4:21               
1.     Past = God's word revealing what He has done in Jesus; His promise.               
2.     Future = the fulfillment of that promise; I see results with my eyes.               3.     Present = confidence, assurance (right now), what even though I don't                     yet see it, I will see (future) because God has already spoken (past).          
c.     Rom 10:17--Faith or confidence comes from God's word, because the  Bible tells you what God is like and what He has done for you through                Jesus Christ, and how He works in our lives.     
6.     Faith is confidence in what cannot yet be seen -- because God has spoken of it.          
a.     There are numerous examples of people in the Bible who based their beliefs and actions on what God said -- not on what they could see -- and they eventually saw the invisible come to pass in their lives.          
b.     The visible was changed by the invisible because they believed God's word.
E.     Let's briefly look at one example of how faith in God's word is supposed to work      for sojourners in this earth. Ps 119:19     
1.     Hebrews 11 lists numerous OT saints who recognized they were only passing           through this life, and that heaven was their destiny.          
a.     They lived their lives with their eyes on the heavenly city, on the Invisible                God.  Heb 11:13-16;27         
b.     And, from this invisible kingdom came the help, strength, and provision                they needed to live this life.          
c.     These OT people were fully human -- they did some things right, but they                did some things wrong.          
d.     Jacob is one who is commended for blessing the sons of Joseph by faith --                he told them they would be great, God would bless them, and they would                go back to the promised land. Heb 11:21; Gen 48:15-21     
2.     But, as we look at Jacob's life, we see there were times when he based what he           did and said only on what he could see     instead of on what he couldn't see,           and he did not benefit from being a sojourner as much as he could have.     
3.     Early on, God promised Jacob He would be with him and take care of him.           Gen 28:10-22          
a.     And God did take care of him. Gen 31:7-13;18          
b.     Jacob's testimony at the end of his life was that he could look back and see                God had been at work. Gen 48:16          
c.     Yet, there were times in his life when he focused only on what he could see                and it made bad situations worse. Gen 42:36; 47:9     
4.     One of the main benefits of being in the kingdom is peace of mind in the midst           of turmoil. Rom 14:17          
a.     But, you will not have that kind of peace unless you know how to walk by                faith in God's invisible provision.          
b.     You have to know how to see it through His written word. Phil 4:6-8
F.     Conclusion:  You are now part of a spiritual, invisible kingdom.     
1.     If Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior, you will go to heaven (the kingdom of           God) whether you walk by faith or not in this life.          
a.     But, you will not benefit from the peace that the kingdom has to offer.          
b.     You will not experience all the provision that God has for you in this life.     
2.     To live by faith means you believe what God has said about you and your           situation above all else.          
a.     It's important that you learn to do this because all of God's help and                provision for you is spiritual = invisible.          
b.     But, the spiritual will affect / change / move into the seen realm if you will                believe God's word above everything else.     
3.     The faith that pleases God, the faith which brings results:          
a.     Needs no evidence but God's word that a thing is so.          
b.     Knows that the spiritual, invisible kingdom which is revealed to us in                God's word will change what we see and feel.
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