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Many people believe Jesus Christ taught that the Kingdom of God is something that exists only in the hearts and minds of believers. They base this on Luke 17:20-21 Luke 17:20-21 20 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God comes not with observation: 21 Neither shall they say, See here! or, see there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
American King James Version×
, which says:

“Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, ‘The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.’”

The assumption that the Kingdom exists only in the hearts of believers is incorrect for several reasons. The Greek word entos, translated “within,” is better translated “in the midst of” ( Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, “Within”). Several translations, including the Revised Standard Version, Jerusalem Bible and New English Bible, make this clear. Jesus Christ could not have been telling the Pharisees that God’s Kingdom was something that existed within their hearts or minds—after all, these were people who wanted to destroy Him (Matthew 12:14 Matthew 12:14Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him.
American King James Version×
; Mark 3:6 Mark 3:6And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him.
American King James Version×
).

Actually, Christ was pointing out the paradox that the Pharisees did not have the spiritual discernment to recognize that the message of the Kingdom of God was at hand or being offered to them (Matthew 23:15-17 Matthew 23:15-17 15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, you make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. 16 Woe to you, you blind guides, which say, Whoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor! 17 You fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifies the gold?
American King James Version×
). To punctuate this point, Jesus, who will be the King of Kings in that Kingdom, was referring to Himself when He said “the kingdom of God is among you” or “in your midst.” The spiritually blind Pharisees did not recognize Jesus as the divine Representative of that Kingdom.

Rather than telling the Pharisees that the Kingdom of God was something in their hearts, Jesus Christ warned them that they were so spiritually blind they couldn’t recognize the very personification of that Kingdom in Him. There is no basis in this passage for believing the Kingdom of God resides in one’s heart instead of being a literal world-ruling government.

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    Comments

  • Sounda

    Is the kingdom of God within you.

    My believe on the statement is that Jesus was referring to the soul within us. Our soul is part of the kingdom of God and when we are able to reach out to our soul, we can experience the kingdom of God.

  • Ken Murray

    Yes Sounda, it is true that we can begin to live now, like we will in the future Kingdom of God, when Jesus comes to establish the Government of God on this earth.

    As you imply from your comment, we can seek the “true God” (1 John 5:20) now, while God may be found.

    We can love God now and lovingly live by God’s commandments (1 John 5:3), laws and Way of christian life now, in anticipation of Christ’s future reign over the nations of this world, as is prophesied in the Bible.

    Daniel prophesied that the faithful of God would be given positions of serving Christ in God’s Government (Isaiah 9:6-7) over the nations, after Jesus returns to this earth. (Revelation 5:10; Daniel 7:14; Daniel 7:18; Daniel 7:27).

    As you know, in Luke 18:20, Jesus was asked by the Pharisees, who were seeking to trap Christ by their questions; “when would the Kingdom come”?

    Naturally, Jesus knew that they were scheming hypocrites, because he told them they were so, in Matthew 23:13-17 and were “fools and blind”.

    So, in these verses in Luke 18:20-22, where Jesus was being questioned about the Kingdom of God, there is no way that Jesus was saying that the Kingdom of God was in these Pharisee souls or hearts, who we standing beside Him.

    Far from it as i am sure you agree, Christ was plainly telling them that a representative of the Kingdom of God was right amongst them, in the midst of them, and they were too blind to see that fact, that is was actually, Him, Jesus Christ the Son of God, in person.

    Their blindness to this fact, of course, was later evidenced by their scheming involvement in plotting to put Jesus to death.

    A good lesson for all of us from these scriptures, is that we can be called now, in this life, to love God and live by God’s way of life now, in preparation for us to help serve in God’s coming Governmnent on this earth, over the nations.

  • Skip

    Hello Sounda,

    I think we need to first ask ourselves what was going on here.
    If we look just a little beyond (Luke 18: 9 –14), we see Jesus painting the Pharisees as full of pride. Now ask yourself, would Jesus say that a person who is full of pride has the Kingdom of God within? I don’t think so either.

    When Jesus makes the statement (Luke 17: 20 & 21), it is very close to the end of Jesus’ physical life. “Within” can be also translated “among you” or “in your midst.” Jesus was stating to those who heard Him, that they had better listen up! He was THE representative of the Kingdom of God. He was right there with them & they did not recognize Him. Let’s pray that we are able to recognize God’s Kingdom.

  • Conscious

    The main answer that was given above is not close to the truth. You said that “There is no basis in this passage for believing the Kingdom of God resides in one’s heart instead of being a literal world-ruling government”. First of all you attempt to take God out of my heart and then you put the blame on some government, I think,not sure because you are not coming to the point and I don’t know who you are blaming, if anyone.The truth is you are misinterpreting the message from Jesus. You are over thinking and instead you are covering it up with your minds ego. The ego will go to extremes.The ego will fight till the end of time unless you can create a thought gap and get into your consciousness without thinking. Many people believe that changing their belief system will make them weaker, the truth is changing your belief system will make you stronger.
    YES, Jesus was telling the Pharisees that the Kingdom of God was within them. The reason he was telling them was because they were full of thought and ego and they couldn’t see anything but the ego.Jesus knew this. If your belief was true Jesus who had so much faith would have said, I am the son of God and you are in my midst and of course you are in the midst of God. It was their egos that wanted to destroy Jesus, not who they truly were, which was why he said what he said in the first place.
    Then you try to explain about the Greek word entos, meaning “within”, is “Better” translated to ” in the midst of”. I think you say this because it’s your ego trying to remain alive in your belief. Besides, it doesn’t matter which way you change this one word. The message remains the same either way.
    Your first sentence in the last paragraph would have been right if you would have changed the last word to “them” instead of “him”. And there is No Truth at all to the last sentence.
    I am shocked that this is your belief. If it is your belief then I suggest you get into the present moment right now. Just breath without thinking. Feel God in your heart without your ego about your belief getting in your way. Feel the JOY of God ! Feel the enthusiasm of God. Accept God in your heart. Don’t let your ego take control, let God take control. I am praying for you as I write my reply.
    When you accept the fact that your mind is just a second opinion to the real you, you will get into this present moment and rethink your beliefs.
    Some more comments on this answer seem to be agreeing with your answer. Someone said, the Pharisees were blind to many facts which I agree with but Jesus knew they were blind to the fact that God was within them.Their egos was why they were blind. It’s why he made the statement. I’m thinking your answers are blind to the fact that your ego’s are misinterpreting what Jesus really meant.
    I’m not expecting this comment to remain on this web site for very long. I’d just like you to reconsider how you think about your answer.Because——– The KINGDOM OF GOD IS WITHIN YOU !

  • Steven Britt

    Conscious, we believe that God indeed lives in His people through the Holy Spirit, and this is a well-established biblical fact - if you repent and are baptized, then you will “receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). Within that statement though comes the understanding that the Holy Spirit is a GIFT that is NOT in you prior to that time. The New Testament letters speak over and over again about “receiving” the Holy Spirit, clearly showing that it is not something that we already have within us that is merely being “awakened” or “connected to.” You seem to assert that this connection can be made simply by looking within yourself, and I don’t see how you can reconcile this with our total dependence on Christ to reconcile us to God by His sacrifice.

    Additionally, just because the Spirit lives in us does not mean that the Kingdom of God is some secret that resides in our hearts. The bible consistently indicates that the Kingdom is a real government system that will take over the entire earth at Christ’s return (Zechariah 14:16-21, Daniel 2:44-45, Revelation 20:4-6). Christ taught the disciples to pray “Your Kingdom come” in Matthew 6:10, and the New Testament shows over and over again that God’s Church was eagerly awaiting that Kingdom.

  • Conscious

    Jesus has graciously ordered that the preaching of the gospel shall be stopped by no barriers. Wherever there is man, there it is to be proclaimed. To every sinner he offers life, and all the world is included in the message of mercy, and every child of Adam is offered eternal salvation.

    Neither Jesus nor His disciples laid down any rules about how baptism was to be done, nor did they provide much interpretation of its spiritual significance. As a result, many different beliefs and practices have developed within Christianity over the centuries.
    Baptism is a public symbol of a spiritual rebirth that has already occurred in the person being baptized.

    Jesus didn’t mention baptism at all. He did mention born of water : John 3:6-7
    Jesus routinely sent the people off after being healed without baptism. Could it be that faith is the key to having a relationship with God and not baptism?
    Of course you have to look inside yourself to get the connection and to become awakened. The essence of who you are is consciousness. It doesn’t mean that I can’t be saved because I look inside myself to find the meaning of life and all it’s joy. Actually it makes me enthusiastic. Why wait? All we have right now is the present moment. All we have for eternity is this present moment. When Christ returns we will have this present moment. Why not get in the present moment now, learn how to be aware, get awakened, and be ready for the present moment when Christ returns?
    We should stay in the present moment. When your mind gets into the future you become stressed and anxious which can lead to diseases and/or health problems. Why not be happy by just staying in the present moment?
    Jesus said: “It is not I but the father within me who does the works and I can of my own self do nothing.” Anxiety, stress, and negativity cut you off from that power. The illusion that you are separate from the power that runs the universe returns. You feel yourself to be alone again, struggling against something or trying to achieve this or that. But why did anxiety, stress, or negativity arise? Because you turned away from the present moment. And why did you do that? You thought something else was more important. You forgot your main purpose. One small error, one misperception, creates a world of suffering.
    As soon as you turn away from the present moment, God ceases to be a reality in your life, and all you are left with is the mental concept of God, which some people believe in and other’s deny. Even belief in God is only a poor substitute for the living reality of God manifesting every moment of your life.

  • Skip

    Hello Conscious,
    I’d like to comment on your 26 (& 25) July comments.

    “The essence of who you are is consciousness.”
    I’ve only had a few courses in psychology but consciousness and ego seem to overlap significantly. (Wikipedia definitions of Id,ego, super-ego. See the graphic to the right of super-ego.)

    In other words, first you want us to (25 July) “Feel God in (our) hearts without ego about (our) belief getting in (our) way. Feel the joy of God.”

    Then you say, “The essence of who you are is CONSCIOUSness.”

    I find it hard to do both at the same time:
    –remove ego which is how most of us CONSCIOUSly perceive the world,
    and
    –still live in the external (shall I call it real) world.

    If I live in my own concocted fantasy world then I guess I can do away with ego entirely. But if I actually want to interact with others on a plane that approaches average, normal, I need some ego.

    Psychology helps us understand many things but not quite all things.
    In this case I’m afraid it has derailed a simple teaching of Jesus Christ: He was (& is) the King of the soon coming Kingdom of God. The Pharisees , as worldly sharp as they were, just couldn’t see this because the essence of their consciousness was not Godly. The Kingdom of God was definitely not in their hearts.

  • Skip

    Hello again Conscious,
    I really like your 26 July first sentence!
    Matthew 24: 14 & Mark 13: 10 certainly agree with your assertion.

    But then I have to disagree with your second paragraph.
    Jesus Christ stated several crystal clear rules. For example:
    “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Is this just metaphor?

    Then in Matthew 5: 17 Jesus states, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” Please reread verses 18, 19, & 20 also. They seem to me to be clear rules requiring compliance.

    Notice some other New Testament rules that Jesus said to obey:
    –verse 22: “…whoever is angry with his brother without a cause,shall be in danger of the judgment.” Rule & consequence.
    –verse 28: “…whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
    –verse34 to 37”…do not swear at all…let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’
    whatever is more is from the evil one.

    Aren’t these rules? (And I’ve just started to list some!!)

    But oh yes!
    You were talking about rules for Baptism, not just rules in general. I find it very interesting that we humans are pretty good about taking others to task for the small mistakes and excuse ourselves from some pretty significant shortcomings.

    I am not saying that you have shortcomings!! But I know that I, personally, will focus on small points of an argument that I want to win and avoid big consequential points.

    I would think that some of the different concepts about Baptism fit into this category. We have great New Testament examples of how it was done and why & where. These serve as examples to follow. We do not have a “Thus sayeth the Lord.”

    Finally I wonder about, “But why did anxiety, stress, or negativity arise? Because you turned away from the present moment. And why did you do that? The illusion that you are separate from the power that runs the universe returns.”

    I have lived in that “present moment.”
    It can be very,very persuasive, but it is a lie.
    Whether it is Eastern Philosophy/Religion or
    Oprah Winfrey Self Fulfillment or
    the “darker” side promises of certain drugs —
    none of these really work in the long term.

    Sorry, but I do have to look to a very real future.
    The pages of God’s Word do describe a time when we humans can become permanently connected to the very REAL true power of this universe. But it is not intrinsic to us; it must be given.

    At the end you say, “As soon as you turn away from…”
    at this point I would write “God’s Word”.
    It is the one physical entity that will not let us down.
    But it takes a complete lifetime to prove that point.

  • Milan Bizic

    Hi Conscious,

    I won’t address all of your points, but there is one correction I’d like to make to what you said. You said that Jesus never mentioned baptism.

    Actually one of Jesus’ most stirring and powerful commands had to do with baptism: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).

    It is by Jesus’ direct order that we are to baptize those who believe in Him, understand His word and are willing to live by it.

    Hope this helps,

    Milan

  • Steven Britt

    Your comment, “Could it be that faith is the key to having a relationship with God and not baptism?” is a straw man. No one here said that baptism is the key to having a relationship with God. We don’t believe that way because, frankly, it isn’t THE KEY. That doesn’t mean it isn’t required though - Peter, being filled with the Holy Spirit, told us that this is what we were supposed to do (Acts 2:38). While faith IS the primary key to a relationship with God, you also have to realize that faith entails obedience to God’s will - i.e. actually DOING what God says to do because of your belief. Faith is not merely some touchy-feely internal feeling that requires no action.

    You are also mistaken when you say that the bible does not reveal much about the spiritual significance of baptism - Paul spent quite a bit of time on baptism in Romans and a few other places. For a good study on what the bible says about baptism, see: http://www.ucg.org/bible-study-lesson/bible-study-course-lesson-8-what-christian-conversion/baptism-why-do-we-need-it/

    Furthermore, I know of not one single scripture that advocates these concepts of “living in the moment” and “looking within yourself to become awakened.” While it’s true that Christ instructs us not to worry about the needs that we will have tomorrow, He does not tell us to altogether forego thinking about the future. If God didn’t want us to think about the future, then He did us a disservice by giving prophecy! On the contrary, God has planned wonderful things for the future of mankind, and dwelling on these things is both appropriate and inspiring (see Hebrews 11:13 to see that the Heroes of faith did exactly this in their lives). Additionally, we are commanded over and over again to watch for the coming Kingdom and to conduct ourselves properly BECAUSE that time is coming (2 Peter 3:10-12).

  • Conscious

    Hello everyone: I’m going to answer each and every comment, question, or statement made. If I leave something out please let me know but probably have to take some time between answers because of work obligations. I sense long replies on my part, so I may have to use a few of these blocks for my replies. This conversation has made me interested in your beliefs.
    Hello Skip:
    You said “I find it hard to do both at the same time:
    –remove ego which is how most of us CONSCIOUSly perceive the world,
    and
    –still live in the external (shall I call it real) world.”

    I say : When you are viewing the world through your ego you are not conscious but are unconscious.Your ego is/are thoughts that you THINK you are ,( through past life experiences ) not what the world actually is. When consciousness (you) becomes completed identified with thinking and forgets it’s essential nature, it loses itself in thought.Every thought, desire , fear, action,or reaction is then infused with a false sense of self that is incapable of sensing the simple joy of BEING, and so seeks pleasure, and sometimes even pain as substitutes for it. This is living in the forgetfulness of BEING. In this state of being,whatever you achieve, soon you will be unhappy again, or some new problem or dilemma will draw your attention in again. When you are conscious you are more aware, you connect with a higher intelligence than your mind could ever know and you will be able to live in the external world in a more quality manner. That is staying in the present moment.You may find it hard to do because of the uncertainty of just being in the present moment. If you can’t accept uncertainty of the present moment it will turn into fear. When you become comfortable with uncertainty, many better possibilities open up in your life. It means fear is no longer a dominate factor in what you do, say, or write. AND fear no longer prevents you from taking action to initiate change. If uncertainty is perfectly acceptable, it turns into increased aliveness, alertness, and creativity. You find it hard to do both like you say because the ego doesn’t understand the present moment and your ego will fight till the end of time to exist in your mind for the sole purpose of making you who you are.” your thoughts’. The number one enemy of the present moment is ego.
    You say: “If I live in my own concocted fantasy world then I guess I can do away with ego entirely. But if I actually want to interact with others on a plane that approaches average, normal, I need some ego.”
    I SAY, ” Your concocted fantasy world is not a fantasy, your thoughts are the fantasy”. When you interact with others and are ’ Conscious”, your interactions will be a lot better quality and better understood. You will be happier and it will come across to others. You will not be fighting your ego as you go about enjoying life. You just think you need some ego because ” your ego will fight forever to have an identity. Good or bad, your ego is not letting go of you. But you can recognize this and learn to be the essence of who you are ” Consciousness”. Don’t worry so much about losing something ( your ego) , because you won’t ever lose your ego, but you can recognize your ego for what it is, and in return be in the present moment and be much happier and better with every single thing. You’ll have an awareness that is beyond understanding by the mind. When can you get in the present moment? NOW , What has to happen to get in the present moment? Just say hello to the ego and recognize it for what it is, That incessant second voice in your head holding on to whatever it can to make you what it wants to make you.
    Finally Skip on your last comment of first comment : I’m not talking about Psychology here although it was perceived that way. I’m talking about the present moment. , If you are insisting on the fact that you have to have ” some ego”, no matter what is said, discussed, prayed about, put in the bank, nothing I can say will have an effect. Nothing stands in the way of ego except the present moment. I’d love to go to a Church service one time and the Preacher say, Ok, everyone, please take 2 minutes, don’t think or anything, just breath, no thoughts, just breath. Being conscious of breathing automatically puts you in the present moment. Then after the breathing, the Preacher say, ok, Now, in the name of Jesus, lets all say a silent prayer. I would always come back to this church and so would a lot of other’s. Why? Because that preacher just changed the way I was for a couple of minutes. All that cluttered thought I had in my brain was put to the side for a couple of minutes. I admire that Preacher, and I’ll be back to this Church for sure. That’s what we need today in this 2011 world. I would know and other’s would know that it took a lot of courage for that preacher to do the breathing thing. For that one little thing really made a difference to me. That is an example of being in the present moment. You can’t argue egos’. Ego’s have started wars , were the deciding factor in many terrible situations, Ego’s are why many people do terrible things, are in the hospital for not only mental things but also physical things because of the stress the ego puts on people. Not only stress but many many things can be much better if we can only be conscious. Right NOW, in this present moment.
    TO Be Continued, in the Present Moment

  • Conscious

    Hello Skip:
    I don’t see what you are seeing in Matthew 5: 17 -20
    Or the other verses you quoted -verse 22:verse 28: verse34 to 37” do not enlighten me on the rules of baptism, I don’t see baptism mentioned . In Matthew 28:19 Jesus does mention baptism, but is he talking about water baptism? They are not crystal clear like you wrote. I’m not seeing crystal clear. It’s just how you are interrupting the verse to yourself, or the way someone you know interrupted the verses. I just have questions about it.
    Y O U S A I D  !
    ” Q U O T E “
    “But oh yes!
    You were talking about rules for Baptism, not just rules in general. I find it very interesting that we humans are pretty good about taking others to task for the small mistakes and excuse ourselves from some pretty significant shortcomings.
    I am not saying that you have shortcomings!! But I know that I, personally, will focus on small points of an argument that I want to win and avoid big consequential points.
    I would think that some of the different concepts about Baptism fit into this category. We have great New Testament examples of how it was done and why & where. These serve as examples to follow. We do not have a “Thus sayeth the Lord.” ” E N D Q U O T E “

    I SAY<< ” Believe me when I say, I’m not trying to win an argument”, I just want the truth about how things are interrupted from the Bible, any Bible, New Testament, Old Testament, Any Testament. Small things do mean a lot when doing anything as all things are small and they all add up. I just don’t see how you are coming up with what Baptism really means from those verses. Of course I have shortcomings, so you wouldn’t be wrong if you said that directly. I am a just a person who is in the present moment and awakened to the now. All those ” Words” can be interpreted a bit different, and of course your words or my words can be interpreted differently by different people.
    You said ” Q U O T E
    “I have lived in that “present moment.”
    It can be very,very persuasive, but it is a lie.
    Whether it is Eastern Philosophy/Religion or
    Oprah Winfrey Self Fulfillment or
    the “darker” side promises of certain drugs —
    none of these really work in the long term. E N D Q U O T E
    I S A Y “This whole paragraph lets me know that there’s nothing I can say to change your mind. Or probably nothing anyone can do to change your mind. Your ego wins this one,and every one, period. I would be very foolish to think i could argue with you to try to convince you of the present moment. The biggest enemy of the present moment is the EGO. I can see you are not in the present moment by your last statement of, ” in the long run” and I also know this by your telling me” I have lived the present moment”, The present moment is all you had when you were in it and all you have now. You are in the present moment now, why deny it?
    Yes, I would also write in God where you did, with that we agree !
    Hi Milan
    You are right and I stand corrected sort of, Matthew 28:19 Jesus does say that, thanks for that insight, He says Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. My question is, Did Jesus mean water baptism or was he talking about another form of Baptism? Like identifying with. It’s just not that clear to me., But I’ll say water baptism is ok to assume. I wish that was more clearly stated, but nonetheless it is a direct order from Jesus and I do believe that.

    Hello Steven Britt:

    My comment,”Could it be that faith is the key to having a relationship with God and not baptism?” was a question, not a straw, since I don’t think it is clearly stated in the Bible. For me, anyway. I think it’s possible to ask questions without stones being thrown. Since Jesus only stated the Baptism phrase one time and how he meant it was interpreted different ways by different people.
    You said ” Q U O T E”
    “Faith is not merely some touchy-feely internal feeling that requires no action.” E N D Q U O T E
    I SAY: Faith IS a TOUCHY_ FEELY internal feeling. But OF COURSE it does require action. You are mistaken about the internal feeling, it is not a mental construct like you have determined.

    You say, I Q U O T E
    “Furthermore, I know of not one single scripture that advocates these concepts of “living in the moment” and “looking within yourself to become awakened.” While it’s true that Christ instructs us not to worry about the needs that we will have tomorrow, He does not tell us to altogether forego thinking about the future. If God didn’t want us to think about the future, then He did us a disservice by giving prophecy! On the contrary, God has planned wonderful things for the future of mankind, and dwelling on these things is both appropriate and inspiring (see Hebrews 11:13 to see that the Heroes of faith did exactly this in their lives). Additionally, we are commanded over and over again to watch for the coming Kingdom and to conduct ourselves properly BECAUSE that time is coming (2 Peter 3:10-12).” ” E N D Q U O T E
    I SAY: If you’re not living in the moment, how could you even read a scripture right now? Does Christ have to tell you every single thing in order for you to do it? If it’s not in the bible then should we all give up on anything else? Can we not learn on our own? Can we not have presence if Christ didn’t instruct us?
    I didn’t say anything about foregoing the future. You are mistaken. With this moment we create the future.
    If you want to keep your mind in the future, that’s your choice. When the coming Kingdom has come will you have forgone all of your past moments and really not have lived to the fullest because your mind was in the future already? I say, stay in the present moment so you can have higher intelligence NOW and when the coming kingdom comes. Live life to it’s fullest! Does it have to say that in the Bible for you to not do it, or do you just not live life to it’s fullest because it doesn’t say that in the scripture’s? When you put your mind in the future stress is created and you don’t have the awareness you should have.
    It is when we are trapped in incessant streams of compulsive thinking that the universe really disintegrates for us, and we lose the ability to sense the interconnectedness of all that exists. Thinking cuts reality up into lifeless fragments.
    There is in our civilization a great deal of ignorance about the human condition, and the more spiritually ignorant you are the more you suffer. This intelligent stupidity, for which one could find countless obvious examples, is threatening our survival as a species.
    The primary factor in creation is consciousness. No matter how active we are, how much effort we make, our state of consciousness creates our world, and if there is no change on that INNER LEVEL, no amount of action, no words I write, nothing at all will make any difference.We would only re-create modified versions of the same world again and again, a world that is an external reflection of the ego.
    You can only lose something that you have, but you cannot lose something that you are.
    I am enthusiastic about the coming of the Lord. I am enthusiastic in this moment because I am in this moment. When the Lord comes I will still be in this moment. This moment is all I have. No one can take this moment away from me except me. All the power in life is in this moment.

  • Skip

    Hello Conscious,

    I appreciate your careful attention to detail, especially as you quoted what I said & answered my questions. And I agree that I probably will not change my perspective anytime soon, at least not in any radically different way.

    Once upon a time I had questions that I thought had never been adequately answered by my upbringing or early teachers. But because I had been taught to read, incisively, I searched widely for better understanding. I sense that you too have looked around.

    One book I read that strongly influenced me was “Stranger in a Strange Land” by Robert Heinlein.

    It encouraged me to live entirely “in the moment.” I tried it.
    But that “science” fiction book, compelling as it was, did not
    tell the whole story. It obscured the very most important truth:

    We humans are not yet God!!!!
    No matter how you choose to say it, only God can live ENTIRELY in the moment. Until we are changed (& I mean thoroughly and completely changed) the residue of Ego (as you call it) will keep popping up, shining through, hanging around.

    And, as I found out, that is okay because: I am mostly human!

    5, 6, or 7 years after reading “Stranger” I had another epiphany.
    Humans, with their Egos (which they cannot lose without help) have an incredibly bright potential!

    And it is not “pie in the sky when you die, bye & bye.”
    But it is still future.
    Now we are given a down payment. And it works! (2 Cor 1: 22)
    This “inoculation” with God’s Holy Spirit keeps us “in the moment” as much as possible to help us realize our tremendous need to be completely changed to a full on Spirit creature at the proper time.

    When that change comes we will live as God “in the moment.”

  • Conscious

    Hello Skip:

    Thank you for agreeing that you probably won’t be changed any time soon. You have undoubtedly looked around.
    I have heard of that book Stranger in a Strange land but have never read it. I looked on Amazon.com and a lot of people have rated that book a five star book but some have rated it a one or two star book. I’ll have to read it because it looks interesting.
    I have to say that I probably won’t be changed with my belief about staying in the present moment.
    I find that staying in the present moment is where I am the happiest and where I am aware with a higher intelligence then the mind can even imagine. I do agree however that we humans are not yet God. I do think that God is in us and he gave his only son for our sins. Who ever believes in Jesus and accepts him as their savior will have everlasting life. Jesus said, “I am the one who brings people back to life, and I am life itself. Those who believe in me will live even if they die.”
    I do think that we can live now in the moment.
    I feel I have been awakened and I’m in the awareness of my conscious which is my essence. There is still an ego in me but I recognize it as my thoughts. Thoughts that can get out of control and think to much unless I stop thinking and have some “thought gaps”. I feel many other’s have a problem with the ” thinking” and need to learn how to be aware and create some thought gaps.
    A lot of people wind up in the mental hospital because of out of control thoughts.
    On the other hand there are plenty of people who are in the present moment. Creativity comes from being in the present moment. Many artists, musicians, poets, and others have created amazing things by being in the present moment. Some didn’t even notice that they were in the present moment when they created.
    Jesus said : ” Deny thyself” What he meant was: Negate Time ( and thus undo), the illusion of self. If the self -ego- were truly who I am, it would be absurd to ” deny” it.
    Recognize the ego for what it is” a collective dysfunction, the insanity of the human mind. Once you see the ego for what it is, it becomes easier to remain nonreactive toward it. Nobody is wrong, it’s the ego in someone, that’s all. Compassion arises when you recognize that all are suffering from the same sickness of the mind, some more acutely than other’s.

  • Conscious

     Thanks.

  • Skip

    You are welcome!

    Hello Conscious,

    In Matthew 16: 24 – 27 Jesus told His disciples that if they wanted “to come after (Him)” they had to deny (something to themselves.) This sounds to me like not living entirely in the moment. At least not all the time.
    I remember a beer commercial. It said, “Grab all the gusto you can get!”
    That is what I call “living in the moment.” Not denying yourself any thing.
    It was just an ad but it portrayed, I believe, what we are discussing.
    But it also seems to me to be the exact opposite of what Jesus says in Matt 16: 24 – 27.

    Then Christ says (Matt 16: 25 specifically) – please allow me to write a paraphrase:
    “If you live entirely ‘in the moment’ NOW as a mostly human being, you will miss out on the potential to live like God – outside of time constraints – forever. But! If you give up some of those admittedly precious moments NOW, I will give you true Eternal moments.”

    Yes, I understand that this is just the way I see it. But to be completely honest, what I have just written was taught to me by others, who were in turn taught by others this WAY of life. That string of teachings extends back a very long way.

    And this way Works!

    Living entirely “in the moment” as a mostly human being doesn’t.

  • Conscious

    Hello Skip

    Yes I see. Funny how two people can read the same verse in the bible and come up with two different meanings. No wonder that so many people have came up with so many meanings.
    Matthew 16: 24 “Let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow me.” To me “denying yourself”, is denying the ego which would put you right in the present moment and into the spirit
    Matthew: 16:25 “whoever will save his life will lose it and whoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” To me save his life means, saving things that the ego has made your life into, and losing your life for my sake is getting rid of your ego for Jesus sake in order to find your life. Which is the conscious spirit. ,
    Matthew 16: 26 “For what is a man profited , if he should gain the whole world, and lose his own soul, or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul” To me this says exactly what I’ve been saying, Gaining the whole world is all the things that the ego wants, and if you do that you will lose what really matters, your soul, spirit, and the present moment.
    Matthew 16: 27 ” For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of his father with his angels, and then he shall reward every man according to his works” He said all of that to say that your “works” should be your conscious and your spirit and soul, So, in order to be rewarded you should get in the present moment, which is the opposite of the ego and do your “works” which is opening consciousness to the rest of mankind and what ever else your consciousness leads you to do. If you are aware you rise above thought in to something the mind knows nothing about.

    If you take away one kind of identification, the ego will quickly find another, It ultimately doesn’t mind what it identifies with as long as it has an identity, Making your self right and others wrong is one of the principal egoic mind patterns, one of the main forms of unconsciousness. In other words, the content of the ego may change, the mind structure that keeps it alive does not.
    How could humanity have been taken in by this for so long? The ego isn’t personal. It isn’t who you are. If you consider the ego to be your personal problem, that’s just more ego.
    The ego isn’t wrong, it’s just unconscious. When you observe the ego in yourself, you are beginning to go beyond it. When you detect ego in yourself, smile, or laugh. Don’t take the ego to seriously.
    Again how could humanity have been taken in by this for so long? The madness of this world never ceases to amaze me.
    You say this way works ! Yes, it works for you and other’s but is the real you? Is your consciousness aware that it’s working for you or is that just your ego trying anything to keep it’s identity? Your unconsciousness. Living entirely, in the moment is the egos worst enemy. You would never admit it because you are not aware of what I am saying. When I say stay in the present I mean as a conscious being. Not as some thoughts that you have learned or other’s have learned and have taught you. The thoughts in you are just thoughts that you think you are. Or thoughts that you think are the truth. The real truth is all truth is relative. You can find untruth in every word, sentence, paragraph, book, ever written or said. Sure there is some truths that are close to the truth but we as humans have to accept the fact that all truths are relative. When some one tells you that the sun rises and sets do you take this as the absolute truth? While the sun sets and rises if you are here on earth„, the real truth is the sun is shining at all times.
    I’m saying all if this to remind you that staying in the present moment should be your goal . You don’t have to wait to do your “works”, you can get in the present moment and do it now. This moment is all we have.
    Your paraphrase has meaning for the ego mind. I’m not going to miss out because I’m in the present moment, To me save his life shall lose it means: saving things that the ego has made your life into and you’ll lose who you really are, and losing your life for my sake shall find it,is getting rid of your ego for Jesus sake in order to find your life. All in this present moment.Why wait? I do give up my egoic precious moments now and I have awareness now. I noticed you said SOME of those precious moments, which can only mean you do want to get in the present , ‘Some”.
    Thanks for your reply

  • Steven Britt

    If you want to read the scriptures in the mindset of identifying elements of this philosophy, such as “consciousness,” “egos,” and “the present moment,” then that’s fine and after reading your explanations I don’t see any problems with it. I don’t think that it is necessary for a Christian to hold this view - otherwise, God would have taught us about it in His Word - but there is some truth to living by these principles. Unfortunately, some of the conclusions that you have reached as a result are unbiblical. If you correct these false conclusions in your thinking, I think it will help you obtain a richer understanding of our dependence on God rather than ourselves.

    The primary error that I see is the idea that the Holy Spirit is already within us and that it’s just a matter of “awakening” it. Aside from the scriptures that I already presented arguing this to be a false view (in the sense that the Spirit is only given to us AFTER we enter the New Covenant), I think the following prophecy about the New Covenant makes this point quite clearly:

    Ezekiel 36:26-27
    “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them”

    There is no way to interpret this as awakening the Spirit of God that is already within you - it clearly says that we must receive a NEW heart and a NEW spirit that is not our own. To say that God is already within you devalues the sacrifice of Christ. Why did we need Him to suffer if we already had everything that we needed within us? In fact, Christ died precisely so that we could receive the Spirit, as He said in John 16:7 - “Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.”

    Consider this carefully with prayer and meditation, and you will find truth in it: we need God’s active intervention in our lives by the Spirit because we are imperfect and not capable of perfection on our own. Romans 8:1-11 also speaks to this - our flesh-and-blood minds are God’s enemy, and we CANNOT be in touch with God unless He gives us His Spirit. After He does so, we must live by the Spirit, which is what I think you mean by living in the present moment, and that entails denying our natural impulses (the ego).

  • Norbert Z

    Here’s the thing about Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words explanation about the word entos. They say it is better translated as “in the midst of”.

    The same word is used in Matt 23:26 “You blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.”

    In my view it becomes an interpretative thing and until I understand it fully I wouldn’t want to be dogmatic about it. At the moment I cannot agree with both interpretations. I do suspect the worldview of the Pharisees in Matt 23:26 is of a similiar approach they were having when asking the question in Luke 17.

  • joecane

    I’m sorry but this translation by the poster is EXACTLY what is wrong with the Church today. Your translation is nothing more than your own translation that you are comfortable with. Nothing more. What really gets under my skin is that Jesus even tried to make it clear that it is not a place or something that is coming. Read it again. Because Jesus told the Pharisees that the Kingdom of God is within them, that makes it clear to me that the Kingdom of God is within ALL of us.

  • Conscious

    I agree with joecane.

    But I don’t think the “poster” will change his opinion as it is the opinion of this particular religion with years and years of their interpretation. It takes years to change a church belief.
    I’ve posted several more non violent replies to this post but now they aren’t letting my posts in. Unless by chance this post gets in I am now silenced.
    Isn’t that what happens with religions? If someone doesn’t believe exactly what the majority believes he/she is silenced.
    In the past people were killed for not believing exactly what they were told to believe by their church. Wars have been fought over this exact issue. Sad but very true.

  • ucgadmin
    Hi Conscious You state that, “I’ve posted several more non violent replies to this post but now they aren’t letting my posts in.” Unfortunately, that is not true. I did have to deny one post where you were speaking of “Karmic” things - a term from a pagan religion. That being said, the comments on this page are for discussion and even debate, but not for a never-ending back and forth. It is clear that nobody will change your mind and you will not change anybody else’s mind. Your last statements, “Isn’t that what happens with religions? If someone doesn’t believe exactly what the majority believes he/she is silenced.” are quite harsh. Please review our comment policy before posting again. Tom Disher Senior Web Developer
  • Larry Walker

    UCG’s explanation of Luke 17:20 has engendered many comments. This important passage is critical for proper understanding of the kingdom of God.

    The true meaning of the kingdom of God has been lost over time. For a good historical account of how this happened, check out the article “millennium” in the scholarly classic, Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edition–available online at this address: www.1911encyclopedia.org/Millennium.

    The kingdom of God in its fullness will not be on earth until Jesus Christ returns to establish it. However, in the meantime, access to the kingdom of God is available, which is the main message of the gospel that Jesus preached (Mark 1:14-15). For those who respond and God chooses, Colossians 1:13 (New Revised Standard Version) tells us that, “He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son.” So we are able to be citizens of the kingdom of God in this life while we await the coming of Jesus Christ to establish the kingdom of God in its fullness (Philippians 3:20). That means that we are able to be transferred into and thus are “in” the kingdom of God in this life.

    I suppose that one could thus conclude that the kingdom of God is in our hearts in the sense that seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness first (Matthew 6:33) is the foremost motivation and desire of our heart.

    However, Luke 17:20 simply cannot be used to prove this point without being guilty of prooftexting, because the context simply won’t allow it. Jesus addressed this comment to the Pharisees, and mut be understood in this context. As The Expositor’s Bible Commentary correctly concludes, “The NIV “within you” (for entos hymon, v. 21) is a questionable translation. Jesus would hardly tell Pharisees, most of whom (especially those who interrogated him) were unbelievers, that the kingdom was within them…. The NIV margin (“among you”) is surely right.”

    Rather, He was saying that they don’t have to “carefully search for” (meaning of the Greek word paratereo) the kingdom of God because He as the King of the coming kingdom of God and therefore the foremost representative of that kingdom was in their midst or among them.

    One of the fundamental rules of interpreting scripture is to compare how words or phrases that the same author uses elsewhere. Luke makes a similar statement in Luke 11:20 (NKJV) in reference to casting out demons, “But if I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.” Or as the New Living Translation renders the passage, “But if I am casting out demons by the power of God, then the Kingdom of God has arrived among you.”

    I encourage you and all who read this to sign up now for the UCG Kingdom of God seminars coming soon to a city near you.

  • Joao316

    Is the kingdom of God a present or future reality? Yes. The original article makes no reference to Jesus’ telling words that it does not come in such a way as men say “here it is” or “there it is”. Jesus never gave a straight-forward answer to this question. In Acts 1:6ff he’s equally ….nuanced. But the affirmation that the kingdom is within/among (I take as an intentional and enriching ambiguity) stands. It’s consistent with Paul’s references to the existing Kingdom in Colossians 1 and Romans 14. In the latter the Kingdom of God is parallel to the “work of God” in the fellowship of believers and that they risk opposing by division, i.e. by condemning and judging each other over matters of opinion. Finally, I’d appreciate a reference for this line in the original article (above) - “Many people believe Jesus Christ taught that the Kingdom of God is something that exists only in the hearts and minds of believers”. I’m not aware of anyone who teaches this is the “only” manifestation of the kingdom. Can anyone give a reference. And I’m sure this reflects my ignorance re: the plethora of opinions out there….But thanks if anyone can help.

  • Larry Walker

    This is a response to poster joao316.

    You make some very good points about the nuanced references to the kingdom of God in scripture. However, the fundamental meaning of the term is still the future world ruling government to be established on earth at the coming of Jesus Christ–a doctrine which has largely been rejected by much of mainstream Christianity. A quote from the classic theological work by Berkhof makes this very clear:

    “According to Pre-millennialism Christ at His return will re-establish the kingdom of David on earth, and will reign at Jerusalem for a thousand years. This theory is based on a literalistic interpretation of the prophets and of Rev. 20:1-6. It makes the kingdom of God an earthly and national kingdom, while the New Testament represents it as spiritual and universal, a kingdom that is even now in existence, Matt. 11:12; 12:28; Luke 17:21: John 18:36-37; Col. 1:13. The New Testament knows nothing of such an earthly and temporal kingdom of Christ, but does speak of His heavenly (2Tim. 4:18) and eternal (2Pet. 1:11) kingdom” (Berkhof, Louis (2011-02-07). Summary Of Christian Doctrine (Kindle Locations 2009-2013). Kindle Edition).

    In Berkhof’s book The History of Christian Doctrines, he concludes the chapter titled “The second advent and the millennial hope” with this summary statement regarding the status of this doctrine, “Up to the present time, … the doctrine of the millennium has never yet been embodied in a single Confession, and therefore cannot be regarded as a dogma of the Church.”

    You asked for a comment about Jesus’ statement recorded in Luke 17:20 that the kingdom of God does not come “in such a way as men say ‘here it is’ or ‘there it is’.”

    The KJV and NKJV translation, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation” is awkward and misleading. The meaning of the Greek word parateresis translated “with observation” is derived from the verb paratereo, which includes the meaning “to watch closely or diligently” (Louw Nida lexicon). Paratereo is used in reference to the Pharisees in Mark 3:2, “So they watched Him closely, whether He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him.”

    In Luke 17:20, Jesus was telling the Pharisees that they don’t have to carefully watch for the kingdom of God because He as the King of the coming kingdom of God and therefore the foremost representative of that kingdom was in their midst or among them.

    It certainly does not mean that the coming of Jesus Christ to establish the kingdom of God will not be accompanied by observable conditions.

    Matthew 24:24-27 “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. “See, I have told you beforehand. “Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. “For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.

  • joecane

    To the poster.

    I wanted to let you know that I apologize if I came off as a “jerk” in my post. I’m a Christian on a quest for truth due to certain circumstances that contradict some of the things I’ve been taught. In this quest for truth, I have found some disturbing things that have made me angry because I feel like I’ve been lied to my whole life. I did not mean to take that anger out on you.

    You seem open minded enough so I wanted to comment on how the word Karma is a “Pagan” term. Most people do not realize how many Pagan symbols, holidays and methods we as Christians have adapted. This was done hundreds of years ago to make the transition from pagan to Christianity easier for non-believers.

    Here are some examples:

    Fish symbol

    Sometimes called the ‘Jesus Fish’ because of its link to the ancient Greek Ichthys. Currently vogue, the curious fish symbol is not as widely recognised as the cross. It means nothing to most non-Christians and so is largely known only ‘in-house’.

    The fish is an ancient symbol used by other religions, such as Buddhism and Paganism.

    The word “Amen”

    From old Egyptian texts we can see that people regarded the sun as the emblem of the Creator. They called the sun Ra, and all other gods and goddesses were forms of the Creator. One of these gods was Amen; a secret, hidden and mysterious god named variously Amen, Amon, Amun, Ammon and Amounra. For the first eleven dynasties (c. 3000-1987 B.C.) Amen was just a minor god, but by the 17th dynasty (c. 1500 B.C.) he had been elevated to be the national god of southern Egypt. This position gave Amen the attributes and characteristics of the most ancient gods, and his name became Amen-Ra, that is, a supreme form of God the Creator. By the 18th Dynasty (1539-1295 B.C.) a college had been established to study Amen-Ra and as a focal point for worship.

    Jews settled in Egypt for around 400 years4 from 1847 B.C. and during this sojourn they would certainly have been fully exposed to the worship of Amen-Ra. By the time of their exodus from Egypt in 1447 B.C., the term ‘Amen’ would be in their language even if it was not their god. It would be a word that had associations with reverence and majesty. This is not difficult to understand. People still talk about Moses, Jesus, Mohammed and Buddha, and often use those names completely out of context as expletives. Amen was seen as a powerful god and the name continued, out of context, as an exclamation or salutation; a classic example of language evolution. From the Jews, the word was adopted by Christians, Muslims and others.

    So Amen was originally the name of a Pagan god, who was considered a form of God the Creator. But he was certainly not considered God, or Christ. Interestingly, most Pagans today tend not to use the word, preferring instead to say “So mote it be”, an old Anglo-Saxon term. Perhaps they see the word Amen in the Bible and the Tanakh and don’t want to be associated with Christianity or the like. Indeed, in the Bible3 we see Jesus Christ referred to as “The Amen”. Christ is God’s Amen to all that he has spoken. Thereby the name used for an old Egyptian god is replaced by the same name used for Christ.

    Christmas

    Saturnalia was a festival held between 17th and 24th December, which began in the days of the Roman Empire. This was a week of feasting, gift-giving and an excuse for an orgy during the Northern Hemisphere’s winter solstice. The objective of the debauchery and dancing around (carol1) was to give the sun a nudge and send a message to Mother Earth to begin reproducing for the spring. This seemed to work quite well because sure enough, in spring things started growing again.

    Which burns longer; a green candle or a red candle?

    Neither. They both burn shorter!
    The traditional Christmas colours of red and green, being complementary colours2, represent the fertility of the male and incubation by the female. Pagan decorations still seen around Christmas include the red berries and green leaves of holly, mistletoe and wreaths. Yule festivities are a mixture of customs and beliefs going back thousands of years.

    Celebrating the winter solstice was forbidden by the early church, but customs survived anyway and it didn’t take much to tempt Christians to join in the solstice feast in honour of the Pagan god Mithra. So the church provided an alternative with a festival in honour of the birth of Christ and celebrations were definitely in order.

    In the 2nd century, the winter solstice was 6th January and Christians celebrated both the birth and the appearance of God’s Son on that day, Epiphany Day.

    By the 4th century, the date for the winter solstice was moved to 25th December and Pope Julius I declared that Jesus’ birthday celebrations would also be on that day. (The appearance of Jesus to the Magi continued to be celebrated on 6th January.) This effectively transformed the Pagan occasion into a Christian holy day (holiday).

    This was not, however, merely a convenient way to ‘Christianize’ a Pagan celebration. There is no historical evidence to prove what date Jesus was born on, or the season3, or even the year. The important thing for Christians is to celebrate the birth of Jesus because that showed God’s love for us. It doesn’t really matter a hoot when the birth is celebrated; the important thing is to celebrate it. So since the ‘why’ is much more important than the ‘when’, 25th December has been good enough for Christians ever since. (See Meaning of the Cross.)

    Nine months before the birth of Jesus, Christians acknowledge the Feast of the Annunciation (the conception of Jesus) and this is set as March 25th. Consequently, this day is known as Lady Day (after the Blessed Virgin Mary) and until 1752 in England, this day was the first day of the calendar year. (When the Julian Calendar changed to the Gregorian Calendar in 1752, January 1st was recognised as New Year’s Day.) Lady Day, or the date adjusted for lost days of the calendar change, April 6th, was the traditional day for starting new work contracts or tenancies. For this reason, the fiscal year began on April 6th and is still the start of the tax year in the UK.

    The work schedule of today’s UK accountants was largely determined in the 4th century by Pope Julius.

    ———————————————————————

    This is just a few. This may come as quite a shock to some of you but it is very true. My own pastor confirmed it.

    The reason I’m posting this is because I don’t believe that any Christian would not want to know these things. However, it is important to remember that none of these things have anything to do with salvation. These issues are the result of mistakes made by our ancestors and not by Jesus or his teachings. Finding out these things really made me angry at first but then I realized that it’s made me read my Bible more and has drawn me closer to God.

    Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth and the life” so do not deny or be afraid of the truth. It can only bring you closer to Christ.

  • Brian Reed

    “The Kingdom of God does not come with observation.” Jesus said several times to “watch” for the Kingdom, so the explanation Larry Walker gave about “watching closely” seems very apt. The Kingdom isn’t something that’s going to scurry on behind you snickering when you’re facing the other way. Jesus is saying, in part, that you’re going to be well aware of His return, so even when you’re tempted by longing hearts and disappointment, don’t be led out of your way by promises of secret comings or Jesuses behind the bushes.

    Also, the Kingdom is described literally by almost every book of the Bible as far as I’m aware, so even if this verse were referring to, as Larry put it, the Kingdom being the desire of our hearts, it doesn’t negate all the other verses about rods of iron and falling Babylons.

  • Steven Britt

    Hi joecane,

    You’re absolutely right to say that modern Christianity has adopted many pagan symbols, rituals, and practices; however, I strongly disagree with your conclusion that none of these issues affect one’s salvation. One of the express goals of our church as an organization is to eliminate such non-biblical elements from our worship of Almighty God. The reason why is simple: Deuteronomy 12:29-32 expressly prohibits God’s people from worshiping Him according to the abominations with which other people serve their false gods.

    If you look through some of our literature, we do a great deal to try to inform people of the true origins of pagan practices such as Christmas so that they can turn away from them. For example, while it may seem like a good thing to celebrate the birth of Christ, God did not think that it was important enough to command us to do so! On the other hand, He did command us to keep the Passover, which proclaims the death of Christ until He returns (1 Corinthians 11:23), along with several other Holy Days (see Leviticus 23) which have been forgotten by modern Christianity. Christians only began celebrating Christ’s birth because the pagans around them were celebrating the birth of their gods, and they have simultaneously abandoned God’s commanded Passover and other Holy Days - so not only have they “added to” God’s word, they have also “taken from” it. This is sin that needs to be repented of and corrected. (check out our booklet “Holidays or Holy Days: Does It Matter Which Days We Observe?”)

    Also, there is some indication of the season during which Christ was born. We are told in Luke 2:7-8 that the shepherds were still keeping watch over their sheep in the fields at night, so it could not have been during the winter. There are other bits and pieces of information that allow us to form a pretty solid argument that Jesus was born during the fall, but I find it ironic that the only season that is 100% ruled out for His birth is the one during which Christians celebrate it. (see http://www.ucg.org/bible-faq/when-was-jesus-christ-born-was-jesus-born-december-25-christmas-day or do a search for “when was Christ born?”).

    Both the fish symbol and the crosses that hang in most churches were originally pagan symbols - actually, they STILL ARE pagan symbols because God never sanctioned their use in worship. The 2nd commandment prohibits using images to represent our God. This is examined in detail in our booklet “The Ten Commandments,” and you can find the specific origins of the cross at http://www.ucg.org/bible-faq/why-shouldnt-we-wear-cross-sign-being-christian

    You are right on the money when you say “These issues are the result of mistakes made by our ancestors and not by Jesus or his teachings,” but you should also realize that we should make every effort not to repeat those mistakes. God doesn’t have a classification system of “mistakes” versus “sin” - rather, a sin is a sin, and we must make our best to avoid it.

  • Skip

    Excellent post Steven Britt!

  • rayian

    Matthew 6-33
    “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” KJV

    How can you possibly search for something that doesn’t exist now.
    Where does it exist now. Not out there somewhere. Only one place to look.
    Within. Prayer and meditation.

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