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Faith Imagined: Kingdom is Here

Faith Imagined

Alisa Hope Wagner: Christian Writer

April 25, 2010

Kingdom is Here



As I was studying the Scriptures tonight about what I feel the Holy Spirit is calling me to write, God humbled and enlightened me. I wanted to write about the criminal on the cross who hung next to Jesus. Out of everyone who was with Jesus during His ministry, this man was the only one who got it.

Jesus' disciples, the religious leaders and the current culture of the time were waiting for a new King David to free the Jewish people of their oppression. They were looking for a warrior king to establish their earthly kingdom. They didn't realize that Jesus was establishing an eternal kingdom (Matthew 25.34 NIV), which came straight from the paradise of God (Revelation 2.7 NIV). This kingdom is far greater than the kingdom the people fervently desired. They just couldn't see it...but the criminal did.

The criminal reached out to Jesus in the shortest salvation prayer that I've ever heard:

"Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom" (Luke 23.42 NIV)

Jesus is so amazing because this man took one tiny step of faith toward Him, and Jesus made up the difference. Jesus confirmed this man's timid request with a mighty promise:

Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise" (Luke 23.43 NIV).

I was going to write tonight that the reason this criminal hanging on his cross next to Jesus was able to get it -- why He was able to understand that the new kingdom was not of this earth -- was because he was on his deathbed. Nothing gives us more clarity about eternity then when we are about to enter it. However, the Holy Spirit told me otherwise.

For us to believe that we will enter the Kingdom of Heaven only after we die is extremely egocentric. It would be like saying the Kingdom of Heaven's existence is dependent on us. But it is not. God gave Jesus the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven, and Jesus already opened it with His death and resurrection. The criminal on the cross knew the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand not because he was about to die, but because Jesus was about to die.

The Kingdom of Heaven was established and is in existence now. We are walking in it, breathing in it and living in it. We received our place in this kingdom when we prayed for Jesus to come into our hearts and forgive us of our sins. Since our sinful flesh prohibits us from entering this kingdom physically, God placed the kingdom into all Christians (Luke 17.21). Our souls are redeemed by Jesus' sacrifice for our sins, and they are now resting on a hammock on the shores of Paradise.

What does this mean for us? How do we conduct ourselves knowing that our souls are already dwelling in the Kingdom of Heaven? The following verse gave me some clairty.

"I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind (declare to be improper and unlawful) on earth must be what is already bound in heaven; and whatever you loose (declare lawful) on earth must be what is already loosed in heaven" (Matthew 16.19 AMP).

Since Jesus' death on the cross already established the Kingdom of Heaven and that kingdom -- which comes from the core of God -- has already been placed in each of us, shouldn't we be living like it? I try to imagine that I'm always at the foot of the throne, even if I can't see it with my human eyes. There are no secrets from God. He sees everything. God desires to love us, and He's willing to pour out His grace on all of our mistakes so He can hold us near to Him. All we have to do is allow God to embrace us and not try to wiggle free from Him. When we draw close to God, we find ourselves in complete joy (Kingdom of Heaven), and we realize that the worldly happiness we begged God for was counterfeit (Earthly Kingdom).

My soul at this very moment exist in God's established Kingdom. I'm sitting on a swivel chair, typing on a computer smack-dab in the middle of Paradise. I just need to get my flesh to wake up to that fact. I want to yoke myself to Jesus every moment, so He will anchor my soul-awareness in His Kingdom. I don't want to wander off and realize that I've stumbled yet again into the Kingdom of this earth which is controlled by the Enemy.

I choose life. I choose joy. I choose paradise.

Because Jesus already gave them to me, I claim them now.


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22 Comments:

Blogger Kristine said...

Wonderfully stated. I'm with you...I choose life, joy, and paradise.

10:43 PM  
Blogger christy rose said...

This was an excellent post! I want Him to anchor my soul-awareness in His Kingdom too! What a great statement!

11:54 PM  
Blogger Lynda Young said...

"I want to yoke myself to Jesus every moment, so He will anchor my soul-awareness in His Kingdom." I love that line. It says so much.

12:25 AM  
Blogger MTJ said...

Hi Alisa,

Thanks for sharing a perspective on the kingdom from the eyes of one who got it.

It's important that we realize and experience the joy of the kingdom of God; rather than being a spectator.

What lies ahead for each of us is the inifinite extension of that kingdom, not the entry.

Thanks for sharing an inspired view.

MTJ

12:32 AM  
Blogger Niecy said...

This was such an Inspiring read. The Kingdom of Heaven is right at our doorstep. All we have to do is open our eyes, lift them up to Jesus and let the Lord's love flow. Thanks for sharing such an uplifting message.
God Bless With Love,
Niecy

2:45 AM  
Blogger Missie said...

Amazing isn't it?
Thanks for sharing!

7:32 AM  
Blogger Randi Troxell said...

completely true, and wonderful the same...

as always thnx for sharing!

10:49 AM  
Blogger Stuff could always be worse said...

I agree this is an excellent post. We should remember this often.
kim

11:08 AM  
Blogger Jan Cline said...

The Kingdom is now...I so agree. Another thing that struck me about the thief and Jesus is that Jesus never asked him to do anything in order to be accepted. He didn't have to study or prove himself, because there wasn't time. The mercy of God is so great.

12:36 PM  
Blogger mundo_idiot said...

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2:38 PM  
Blogger alicia said...

Awesome, inspiring post! Thanks so much for sharing!

3:10 PM  
Blogger Crystal said...

Another wonderful post my friend...whoo hoo for the Holy Spirit. :)

3:14 PM  
Blogger Deborah Ann said...

I don't think I have ever heard this teaching. I thought we had to wait in the sweet by and by. Wow, this really changes things. We're already there...lots to chew on.

3:43 PM  
Blogger Karen Lange said...

Me too. Never thought about it from that angle before. Thank you:)

4:32 PM  
Blogger Bernadine said...

Lovely, thought provoking post as always.

5:20 PM  
Blogger Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Makes me wonder if the thief was ever part of the crowds that followed Jesus. You've got my writer brain going here, Alisa!

Thank you for bringing the Word with clarity and simplicity.

Blessings,
Susan :)

7:44 PM  
Blogger Hippie4ever said...

Beautiful

8:09 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

Alisa,

I wanted to thank you for being a part of my first year of blogging! What a wonderful year it has been. I'm throwing a little party and as an honored guest, I would love for you to stop by and share a highlight of your year with all of us.

http://justsarahdawn.blogspot.com/2010/04/cactus-happy.html

Cactus Happy,
Sara

12:24 AM  
Blogger May said...

Excellent post, thanks be to God that we have a choice to chose all three life,joy,and paradise.

10:20 AM  
Blogger Warren Baldwin said...

Wonderful post. Like the Jews of the first century, many today are looking for the kingdom to be established at some future time. Yes, I believe it will be revealed in its full expression when Jesus comes again and claims his own. But, the kingdom, God in us, is already here. Great job.

11:15 AM  
Blogger Karen said...

Amen...choosing and claiming those things with you...

8:24 PM  
Blogger Together We Save said...

Beautiful post!!

1:54 PM  

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