KINGDOM VALUE 1: THE UNSEEN HAS THE FINAL WORD
Updated: Jun 25, 2019
These are my notes for teaching at the Cornerstone on Sunday, June 23, 2019.
KINGDOM, THEN AND NOW
We spent the first half of 2019 looking at Jesus in the Gospels. At the core of Jesus' life and ministry was the presence and power of God's Kingdom rule. This is why, in the second half of 2019, we will focus on how God's Kingdom rule intersects with us today.
(Mark 1:14-15) Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Kingdom refers to God's promised rule over people and powers in the world. The Kingdom was promised in the OT and initiated in Jesus Christ).
(Mark 1:27) The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.
(Mark 1:32-34) That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. 33 The whole town gathered at the door, 34 and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.
(Mark 1:38) Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.
(Luke 4:43) He said, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.
It is clear that God mediated his rule through Jesus as Jesus declared the presence of the Kingdom and demonstrated its power by healing the sick and casting our demons. But that is not the end of the story. Today, God mediates his Kingdom through us.
You cannot separate your Christian faith from the Kingdom of God. It has a direct and daily influence on how you live and how you engage with your family, community, and world. We continue the works Jesus did: announcing the good news, restoring people to God, and praying for healing from disease and deliverance from the evil powers.
WHAT ABOUT THRIVING IN BABYLON?
Peter, I thought you were going to start a teaching series called Thriving in Babylon - all about Daniel and how he engaged with an unbelieving government and nation. What happened? Yes, I was planning on that. BUT ... I don't think we can talk about that kind of engagement, which is really Kingdom engagement, until we understand the values (or core beliefs) that should guide that engagement. I call these Kingdom values.
As a result, today we begin a very important teaching series called Kingdom Values. I'll answer this question: what does it mean to live under the rule or authority of King Jesus? Listen to this description of his powers:
(Ephesians 1:20-22) (God) raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church ...
Jesus is Lord of all. He is the supreme ruler. He wields ultimate authority over every atom in the universe, over every person and power. He is the source, the center, and the goal of it all. All hail King Jesus.
Ephesians is a guidebook to living as a Kingdom community. It teaches how to live under the authority of King Jesus. I believe you'll find it really helpful and a great preparation for the Thriving in Babylon series that we'll get to in a few weeks.
Today's Kingdom value is: The unseen world has the final say on our identity, worth, status, and purpose.
There is an entire dimension of reality that is invisible to the natural eye, yet it impacts our daily lives in foundational ways. Ephesians 1 is our guide to the impact of the unseen world.
WHAT THE UNSEEN WORLD SAYS TO US
Invisible reality intercepts our daily lives in three ways. Let's look at them very briefly:
A. THE UNSEEN WORLD DICTATES OUR IDENTITY - verses 1-3.
In the visible world, identity is a complex and controversial topic. We talk about gender identity and racial identity. We define ourselves by our backgrounds and experiences. Friends, family, bosses and governments try to define us. Result? Misery.
BUT ... we should never let the visible world define our identity. That is the fastest way to feel hurt, excluded, and worthless. It will ruin your life. No, our true identity is established in the unseen realm where Jesus has the final word on who we are. Verses 1-3 identify us as blessed, holy, faithful, and in Christ.
We are blessed. In Christ, God has given us every good thing he wants for us, generously, abundantly, holding nothing back. Some are listed in verses 4-14 - adoption, redemption, forgiveness, etc. These blessing are invisible; the invisible Holy Spirit gives them; they're kept in the invisible heavenly realms. But they are just as real and more enduring than anything we can see with the natural eye.
We are holy. Israel was called a holy people because they were set apart for God (Exodus 19:5-6; Deuteronomy 7:6-8). The Lord named them and he claimed them as his very own. In the same way, God claims us for himself so we get our identity from him. It doesn't matter what anyone else calls us.
(1 Peter 2:9) You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession ...
We are full of faith. By faith, we perceive unseen wonders that our friends without faith cannot see: Father God, Jesus on his throne, angelic powers, grace, our new life, and forgiveness in the cleansing blood of Jesus. These are all unseen and real. And they all have a life-shaping impact on who we are. This "sight" is a privilege, not a problem.
We are in Christ. This is mind-bending. We are joined to Jesus Christ so that he is in us and we are in him, and he is the source of all our blessings. His exalted life is alive in us. "In Christ" is our most fundamental identity. We are all that Jesus is for us. No one can ever take that from us. Jesus has the final word on who we are.
B. THE UNSEEN WORLD DESCRIBES OUR LIBERTY - verses 4-13a.
This paragraph of praise has shaped my life and I want it to shape yours also. We could easily spend weeks diving deep here, but I want to give you a view from 30,000 feet. I want you to see the big picture, which is this: In the invisible world, we are in Christ and, therefore, we are free:
Free from alienation - verses 3-6. In the past, God was a stranger to us. But in Christ, he has chosen, loved, and adopted us. God has brought us close to himself - like sons embraced by a perfect father.
(Ephesians 2:13) But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
The devil will try to tell you that you belong to him. Your emotions will lie to you and convince you the devil's right. But stand firm on this unseen reality: God accepts you and holds you close. That's the final word.
Free from condemnation - verse 7. In the past, because we were slaves to sin, our hearts were set on living without God. Sub-consciously, we knew we were guilty, but we got by in a state of denial. Now, in Christ, by his blood, we are redeemed or set free from our guilt. And it was all done by God's abundant grace.
(Romans 8:1) So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. (NLT)
Free from misdirection - verse 11-12. We can't know the true purpose of life until we surrender to King Jesus. Then the reason we're here is made clear: "for the praise of God's glory." That's our life's purpose: to honor God. Even now, without our help, a billion angels around his throne worship him for his redeeming grace towards us in Christ - see Revelation 5.
None of these freedoms are evident in the visible world. And yet, these invisible realities influence us every day. We're never alone because we always have access to Father God. We're always accepted because we live in his constant grace and forgiveness. Our lives have significant purpose because we are a billboard for the praise of God's glorious grace in Christ.
THE UNSEEN WORLD DETERMINES OUR DESTINY - verses 13-14.
Our destiny is to inherit all God has for us. The Holy Spirit has guaranteed it. He himself is the down-payment, a first taste of what's still to come.
Our inheritance is something the visible world neither sees nor values. But we who have eyes to see into the invisible realm know that the greatest treasure is neither money nor prestige. The greatest treasure is to know Jesus, to taste and see that he is good, to see him face to face, and to become like him.
(Revelation 21:3) And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God's dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.
LET THE UNSEEN WORLD SPEAK
What happens in the invisible world has massive implications for us. Neither your identity, nor your liberty, nor your destiny are determined by the people or the institutions or the customs you can see. No, Jesus has the final word on all of that.
Don't give the final word to anyone else. Stand firm on the solid rock of unseen realities even when no one else sees them. The blood of Jesus cannot be seen, but its power cannot be denied. The love and acceptance of God cannot be seen, but your heart of faith can perceive them. The visible world tries to define you by visible categories such as race, gender, sexual orientation, success, failure, status, wealth, poverty, IQ, etc. But Jesus speaks the final word on who you are: blessed, holy, full of faith, in Christ.
Speak the reality that you see in the invisible world into your visible experiences. Use those words to shape and define your life. Learn to combat the inaccurate assessments of friends and family and co-workers and governments: "I am not who you say I am. I am who God says I am." \
Declare this until it is engraved into your heart: "In Christ, I belong to God, I am holy, I am loved, I am forgiven, I am accepted, I glorify God. and I will inherit all God has for me."