The Message of the Kingdom (GA)

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Acts 1:1–3 ESV
1 In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. 3 He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.
Do any of you remember the TV show, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. The storyline always centered on an individual or family with a house in disrepair who didn’t have the means to restore it. The repair, rebuild and restore crew would come in and make over the entire house in about a week. It was also always the cause that the people who received the new house had been in need of a makeover for a long time. They’d been fighting this uphill battle for a long time. After the house is rebuilt, they bring the family back. There’s a bus blocking their view of their rebuilt home. Everybody shouts, “Move that bus!” The bus moves, they see their fabulous new home and there’s tears of joy and exhilaration...
You and I cannot live in this world without a daily experience of the fact that things fall apart—our homes, our vehicles, our bodies, our world. We accept it as a fact of life that things fall apart and become in need of repair. Even though we know this to be true, we don’t necessarily like it. We wish that things, including us, didn’t fall into disrepair.
Well, you can probably figure out where I’m going with this… Things have fallen apart in God’s world…(i.e. roads that always seem to be under construction) But one of the things that the Bible shows us is that God has his own extreme makeover plan. And even though it can seem like a never ending uphill battle, the kingdom of God has broken into this world and is overcoming it. God’s extreme makeover is taking place by the work of his Spirit in the lives of his people.
My subtitle for the book of Acts is The Spirit of God at Work in the World through the Church. God sent the Holy Spirit to empower his church for kingdom mission. God is committed to making over the world.
To say that God is making over the world is a really big claim. At some level it seems silly to say given everything that we know and experience. But Luke wasn’t delusional and he wasn’t kidding about what he writes in this book.
Luke says to Theophilus in vv. 1-2
Acts 1:1–2 ESV
1 In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen.
Jesus gave commands/instructions to the apostles through the Holy Spirit. This is Jesus instructing his apostles after his resurrection and before he was taken up, before his ascension. This is that in-between time. And Luke says that the resurrected Jesus gave these commands to them through the Holy Spirit.
Two points here. First, if those commands that Jesus gave his apostles were going to be received and believed that had to happen by means of the Holy Spirit.
Secondly, he’s not just writing so that to provide certainty about what Jesus did and taught, but about what Jesus continues to do and teach.
Luke says he wrote about all that Jesus began to do and teach until the day he was taken up. That is, until the day he ascended to his rightful place, his throne and seat at the right hand of God the Father. The implication is that this book is about what Jesus continued to do and teach in this world after his ascension. His ascension was not the end of his activity in his world. In other words, Jesus is still at work, here and now.
The exercise of his presence and authority, everything Jesus began to do and teach, was focused upon the kingdom of God. In Luke 22:28-30 Jesus says to the apostles,
Luke 22:28–30 ESV
28 “You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, 29 and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, 30 that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
The apostles are now engaged in kingdom mission. From beginning to end every detail of Acts is about the message of the kingdom of God. It is about the kingdom of God breaking into and overcoming the world.
Did what Luke says in v. 3 hit you? Did you recognize the impact? He says that Jesus presented himself alive to the apostles whom he had chosen. He presented himself to them after his suffering by many proofs. His death on the cross wasn’t the end, and his apostles knew that as an undeniable fact. They were eyewitnesses to his resurrection. But here’s this thing tucked in at the end of the sentence. He appeared to them over forty days. And what did he talk with them about over the course of those forty days?
Over forty days he appeared to them and spoke about matters concerning the kingdom of God.
His subject matter was the kingdom of God. In those forty days he spent with them after his resurrection Jesus had a one track mind. There was only one subject that they needed to be instructed in through the Holy Spirit, and that subject was the kingdom of God.
The apostles are now engaged in kingdom mission. From beginning to end every detail of Acts is about the message of the kingdom of God. It is about the kingdom of God breaking into and overcoming the world.
This instruction was necessary because what the apostles needed was to have a one track mind like Jesus. The most important thing for them had to be the kingdom of God. Well, what in world is the kingdom of God, and what’s so important about it to consume forty days?
Vos - “To Jesus the kingdom exists not merely where God is supreme, for that is always and everywhere true. But where God supernaturally carries through his supremacy against all opposite powers and brings man to the willing recognition of this.”
Jesus is telling his apostles that the Father’s extreme makeover plan is in effect. There is going to be some supernatural carrying through of God’s supremacy against those forces opposing it. And they’re going to see people have no choice but to recognize it. And the apostles have to get that singular message ingrained into their heads and hearts because those forces opposing God’s supremacy are very real. So, watch this. The book begins with Jesus instructing his apostles on the kingdom of God. But let’s go to the back of the book and take a peak at the end.
In chapter 28, the apostle Paul is in Rome under house arrest. And what does Luke say about Paul in the last two verses of the book?…
Acts 28:30–31 ESV
30 He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, 31 proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.
Paul is under house arrest but he’s proclaiming what?…
The kingdom of God speaks to God's claim on the entire creation and his purpose to rescue, repair and restore it. And even if those who carry that message are bound, and detained, and hindered, the message itself cannot be hindered. The makeover plan is in full effect.
Rev. Dr. Mark Roberts
"As human beings we also face an impossible mission, but one that is truly beyond our potential. The problem: human sin and its results. The mission: to undo the dire effects of sin, to bring reconciliation between us and God, and to extend that reconciliation to all creation. In the quotable phrase of N.T. Wright, it’s the mission of “putting the world back to rights.” This mission’s degree of difficulty? Utterly impossible. No amount of human cleverness, no collection of spiritual gizmos and disguises, will mend the breach between us and God, and heal all that is wrong with the world."
But the deal is that God is able to bring reconciliation between himself and humanity and extend that reconciliation to all creation. God is able to put the world back to rights. And, by the grace of God, through the power of the Holy Spirit he enjoins frail creatures like us in that mission.
We didn’t read v. 6 of Acts 1, but the apostles ask the risen Lord a question,
Acts 1:6 ESV
6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”
Their only view of the coming of the kingdom was the final judgement of God, separating the righteous from the unrighteous.
The Coming of the Kingdom 19. The Delay of the Judgment

How was it possible for the kingdom to have come without at the same time making a separation between the wicked and the good?

They didn’t have a category for a coming kingdom of God that still met with resistance. But they needed that category and so do we!
The vast majority of U.S. adults believe in God, but the 81% who do so is down six percentage points from 2017 and is the lowest in Gallup's trend. Between 1944 and 2011, more than 90% of Americans believed in God.
A follow-up question in the survey probed further into what Americans' belief in God entails. Specifically, the question asked whether God hears prayers and whether God intervenes when people pray.
About half of those who believe in God -- equal to 42% of all Americans -- say God hears prayers and can intervene on a person's behalf. Meanwhile, 28% of all Americans say God hears prayers but cannot intervene, while 11% think God does neither.
Hebrews 12:28–29 ESV
28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire.
Why do we press into this broken world with the priorities of the kingdom? Why do we commit to and strive in all of these MNA ministries to represent the King and the ways of his kingdom in our work. Is it because we think the road is going to be smooth and easy? Is it because we think we’re not going to face resistance and conflict? No. It’s because our eyes are firmly fixed on the future and we know that our King is not content to let his creation continue forever dominated by sin and depravity.
He doesn’t say that since we are building the kingdom of God, let us hold on to grace, or let us be grateful. We can be tempted to think that we’re out there working for the Lord, helping him build his kingdom. The Pastor says, you ain’t building nothing. God is the one who is building his kingdom. You’re just a debtor to grace because you get the blessing of receiving the kingdom now. That’s why it’s an unshakable kingdom. It’s not dependent upon you.
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