I wonder how often we reflect and meditate on the significance of our calling into God’s marvelous light? I wonder how often we thank our loving, merciful heavenly Father for calling us at such a time as this? In view of the chaos and confusion that exists in the world today, how blessed we are to know the truth of God! That truth sets us free from fear, ignorance, superstition and the dogmas of man. We are not just another religious movement seeking to gain converts—we are members of the Body of Christ, the Church of God, the Israel of God.
What is the theme of that precious book, the Bible? It’s the book we say that is so near and dear to our hearts—the book that through God’s Spirit reveals to us the keys to the Kingdom. The theme of the Bible can be expressed in the following ways: the Kingdom of God, the family of God; God is bringing sons and daughters to glory in his family.
At a fairly recent regional family weekend, a 1992 graduate of Ambassador University called me aside and said, “I have something I want to give you.” He pulled out this weathered and yellowed 20-year-old index card. He said, “You gave us a speech of exhortation on what to hold onto just before we graduated, and I wrote the keys points down on this card.” He went on to tell me that several times through the years he has pulled out this card, and it provided him with the anchors and the guidelines to continue to fight the good fight of faith. He went on to say, “I have made copies of this, and I want to give one to you.” He then continued: “I am going to pass this on to my children.” The key points on that card summarized what I call the “trunk of the tree”—why were you born and how to become a member of the family of God.
Today there are many religious and secular voices crying out, warning people to flee from the wrath to come. As noble as those efforts may be, most do not really know why God created humankind in the first place. They do not understand their God-ordained potential of becoming glorious radiant spirit beings in the Kingdom of God. It is awesome to contemplate the fact that in the resurrection, your very essence—your very being—will consist of the eternal Spirit of God and Christ.
On the day that the Holy Spirit was sent to dwell in men when the New Covenant Church began in A.D. 31, the New Testament had not been written. The gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John did not exist. None of Paul’s epistles or any of the General Epistles had been written. And the book of Revelation had not been revealed and recorded by the apostle John. They did not know or understand many of the end-time prophecies that some people get so glandular about today. They were not concerned with “who is the beast?” or “who is the false prophet?”
The most significant prophecies that they were concerned with were those that centered on the coming of the Messiah. The Jews were not looking for a suffering Messiah who would come and die for the sins of the world. They were looking for a great geo-political leader who would restore the Kingdom of Israel to the glory and splendor that it enjoyed during the reigns of David and Solomon. Today, the Zionist Jews are still looking for such a Messianic figure to come on the scene and bring peace to the world.
Even the apostles did not understand the gospel of the Kingdom of God and God’s inclusive plan of salvation. The apostles witnessed the crucifixion, and even though Jesus appeared to them at least three times after His resurrection, they still did not understand much about the Kingdom of God.
Let’s note the first Kingdom promise in Exodus 19:5-6 Exodus 19:5-6 5 Now therefore, if you will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then you shall be a peculiar treasure to me above all people: for all the earth is mine:
6 And you shall be to me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.
American King James Version×: “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel” (King James Version throughout).
They misunderstood the promise in 2 Chronicles 13:5 2 Chronicles 13:5Ought you not to know that the LORD God of Israel gave the kingdom over Israel to David for ever, even to him and to his sons by a covenant of salt?
American King James Version×that was made to David concerning the Kingdom of God: “Ought ye not to know that the Lord God of Israel gave the kingdom over Israel to David for ever, even to him and to his sons by a covenant of salt?” They thought that the prophesied Kingdom would be a physical kingdom. Isaiah also prophesied that a descendant of the seed of David would sit on the throne of David in Isaiah 9:7 Isaiah 9:7Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, on the throne of David, and on his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from now on even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
American King James Version×: “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”
Daniel also prophesied of the establishment of the everlasting Kingdom of God in Daniel 7:21-22 Daniel 7:21-22 21 I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them;
22 Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.
American King James Version×, where it is stated, “I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.” Again in verse 27: “And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.”
The exact phrase “the Kingdom of God” does not appear in the Old Testament. The phrase “the kingdom of the Lord” appears once (2 Chronicles 28:5 2 Chronicles 28:5Why the LORD his God delivered him into the hand of the king of Syria; and they smote him, and carried away a great multitude of them captives, and brought them to Damascus. And he was also delivered into the hand of the king of Israel, who smote him with a great slaughter.
American King James Version×). The apostles were not converted during Christ’s ministry on earth (Luke 22:32 Luke 22:32But I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not: and when you are converted, strengthen your brothers.
American King James Version×). On one occasion after the resurrection Jesus opened their eyes of understanding and explained to them the purpose of His mission, and He commissioned them. Note that beginning with Moses He expounded to them the things that were written of Him (Luke 24:36 Luke 24:36And as they thus spoke, Jesus himself stood in the middle of them, and said to them, Peace be to you.
American King James Version×; Luke 24:41-53 Luke 24:41-53 41 And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said to them, Have you here any meat? 42 And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. 43 And he took it, and did eat before them. 44 And he said to them, These are the words which I spoke to you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. 45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, 46 And said to them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: 47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And you are witnesses of these things. 49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father on you: but tarry you in the city of Jerusalem, until you be endued with power from on high. 50 And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. 51 And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: 53 And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.
American King James Version×).
Perhaps they came to grips with the essentials of conversion shortly after this as they waited for the Holy Spirit to be sent. Just before Jesus ascended to His Father’s throne, they asked Him if He would restore the kingdom to Israel at that time. Their understanding of the Kingdom of God was still vague, as they were expecting the restoration of a physical kingdom.
The Kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom—flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God, as Paul states in 1 Corinthians 15:50 1 Corinthians 15:50Now this I say, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit incorruption.
American King James Version×. It was not until the days of the apostle Paul that the Church began to understand the deeper spiritual meaning of the Kingdom of God.
The trunk of the tree in the individual sense centers on knowing and understanding the answers to the great questions of life. To a large degree the gospel of salvation is summarized by what I call seven of the great questions of life:
1) Does God exist?
2) Who is God?
3) What is God?
4) What is God’s purpose?
5) Who is man?
6) What is man?
7) What is man’s purpose?
You cannot really understand the keys to the Kingdom unless you have an understanding of the great questions of life. The answers to these great questions should be on the tip of our tongue at all times.
There are at least five great understandings that have been restored in the Church of God in recent decades. These truths are:
1) The nature of God and Christ;
2) the purpose of God and human existence (the Why Were You Born? booklet being the capstone);
3) the spiritual law of God is eternal;
4) a grand overview and understanding of God’s awesome plan of salvation as revealed by the Holy Days;
5) that the saints are born into the family of God at the resurrection and that we are changed from human kind to the God kind.
This means that as resurrected spirit beings we will be on the same plane of existence as God and Christ (Revelation 1:5 Revelation 1:5And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. To him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,
American King James Version×; Romans 8:11 Romans 8:11But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwells in you.
American King James Version×; Romans 8:14-17 Romans 8:14-17 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 15 For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
American King James Version×; Romans 8:29 Romans 8:29For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
American King James Version×).
The answers to the great questions of life and the basic understandings of the trunk of the tree are where we must focus. We must hold fast and never let these precious truths slip. When you come to understand God’s great purpose in creating humankind and know that at the resurrection you will be born into the family of God as a glorious, radiant spirit being ruling and reigning with God and Christ and the saints in the Kingdom of God, then you will have a grasp of the trunk of the tree.
Once again, we were created to go from the human kind to the God kind. Of all the understandings that Satan hates this is the one he would pervert. He knows he is shut out, so he will do and is doing everything he can to subvert this great truth. The Trinity heresy (please see my article on The Trinity in the current issue of Beyond Today magazine), which contradicts this great truth, was at the heart and core of the great heresy that split and shattered the Church into scores of splinters.
I suspect that the final battleground will be over this very truth. I hope and pray that you and I will never let these things slip and that we will be willing to give our lives for the trunk of the tree.