Pertaining to the Kingdom of God – Acts 1:1-3

There is nothing as exciting as finding something of value among things that you already own –

Something of value, but you didn’t realize that you possessed it.

As most of you know I am a stamp collector – a philatelist.

As most of you don’t realize, philately is a fascinating hobby for a great many reasons.

Each stamp can be considered a work of fine art – so I am an art collector.

A great many stamps have some sort of relationship to history – so I’m a history buff.

And then there is the fact that each stamp is an investment, although most stamps aren’t worth more than a few pennies.

One of the most exciting aspects of my hobby is to discover that within my collection I have a minor treasure which I didn’t know about.

Perhaps I bought a handful of stamps for a couple of dollars and found that one of them was worth $10.00.

Or maybe as I was looking at them one evening I learned that what I thought was a common stamp, was actually a special variety worth ten times the catalogue price.

Within the last year or so, I discovered something in the pages of God’s Word that I hadn’t really considered very valuable up to that point.

I knew that it was a common subject of the Lord Jesus, and that was just my problem, I considered it a common subject.

But then through a book that was given to me, I was awakened to value of this particular subject.

And now I see this little treasure everywhere – Old Testament and the New Testament.

I find it in the Gospels, in the Book of Revelation, in Paul’s epistles, and here in the Book of Acts.

I know that we’ve dealt with this once or twice since I’ve become more aware of it,

But the context of our study suggests that we think about it once again.

After all, it is a treasure in every one of our collections, but very few realize its value.

I am talking about the “Kingdom of God.”

The former treatise, the Book of Luke, closed with Luke’s description of the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus.

Then 72 hours following his burial, Christ extricated Himself from both death and the tomb.

For about 40 days after that He visited with the Apostles, the church and many of the rest of His disciples.

He instructed them about things that they hadn’t grasped earlier and gave them further commands about their various responsibilities.

And then after visiting with the Apostles in Galilee, He commanded them to return to Jerusalem and to wait there for the fulfilment of the Father’s promise in regard to the Holy Spirit.

The thing that I’d like you to recognize is the term that Luke used to summarize all the instructions that the Lord Jesus had given them during that 5½ week period.

He was “speaking of the things pertaining to THE KINGDOM OF GOD.

I used to think that this reference to the “kingdom of God” meant that the Lord was talking about the days after His second coming when He establishes His Millennial Kingdom.

I’d venture to guess that many of us still think that way.

But, even though the Kingdom of God does include that thousand year reign of Christ on earth, the Bible very clearly shows that it is much, much more than that.

The Kingdom of God is a huge subject taking up a large portion of the New Testament.

The Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven is found in 144 different references.

I believe that this is called a “gross” – a dozen dozen references.

The word “ecclesia” or “church” doesn’t have that many references in the Bible.

Not only this, but the Kingdom of God is to be found in every book of the New Testament except Jude.

It is scattered far more universally through the New Testament than the doctrine of the church.

The Book of Matthew speaks of the Kingdom more than 50 times and only seven chapters have no mention of it at all.

In his epistles – to the CHURCHES – Paul speaks of the Kingdom of God more than 10 times.

The point is, you cannot see Jesus Christ in the Bible without running head-on into the Kingdom of Christ.

And if we misunderstand the Kingdom of Christ, then we will misunderstand the Christ of the Kingdom.

It is a very important Biblical subject which is almost thoroughly ignored by the average saint of God.

But the Gospel ministry is the ministry of the Kingdom of God.

We read a few minutes ago from Acts 28.

It’s very likely that as you listened you didn’t catch the references to the Kingdom of God.

Notice once again Acts 28:23 – “And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.”

Remember that Paul was in bonds and unable to get out of his house without a guard.

He couldn’t go into the synagogue to preach or out into the market place.

In other words he had no guarantee that he’d ever be able to preach the gospel to these people again.

Do you think that he failed to tell them about the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus?

Do you think that he only told them things about the second coming and the establishment of the future kingdom?

What do the verbs “expound, testify” and “persuade” all mean?

“Expound” means to reveal and teach.

To “persuade” is to teach with passion and enthusiasm, in order to convince others.

Paul taught them what the Old Testament said about the Messiah.

Perhaps he preached from Isaiah 53 and other chapters in that great book.

Perhaps he took some verses out of the Psalms which prophesied about the sacrifice of the Saviour.

Maybe he referred to the Old testament sacrifices and types just as he did in the Book of Hebrews.

I think that you can be sure that Paul preached rousing gospel messages.

And what does the word “testify” mean?

To testify is to assuredly affirm something with which he was personally familiar.

He could talk about aspects of the Kingdom of God which he had already experienced.

Notice Acts 28:30-31,

“And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him,

Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.”

I have come to see that we are terribly mistaken if we sever the gospel of Christ from Kingdom of Christ.

Turn to Acts 19 where we have a description of Paul’s ministry in Ephesus.

Acts 19:8 – “And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God.”

Are we to believe that Paul didn’t preach the gospel to those people?

In Acts 20, when Paul was on his way to Jerusalem and passing by Ephesus, for what he believed was his last visit, he gave a summary of his ministry.

“And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me.

But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more.”

What does Paul say was the ministry which he received of the Lord Jesus?

It was to “testify of the gospel of the grace of God.”

And in the next breath, how does he describe that gospel?

He had gone everywhere “preaching the kingdom of God.”

Either the message of the gospel is synonymous with the message of the Kingdom,

Or at the very least one is a part of the other.

Further examples of this abound throughout the New Testament.

One of them is in Acts 8 where we learn of Philip’s ministry in Samaria.

Verse 12 says, “But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.”

Are people supposed to be baptized just because they believe in the second coming of Christ?

Are people supposed to be baptized as some sort of sign of their SPECIAL PARTICIPATION in the coming Kingdom of Christ?

Ah, that is a very interesting question.

What is the Kingdom of God?

Pastor Forrest Keener, a few years ago,preached a series of 32 messages on the Kingdom of God.

These were later published in book form, and it is well worth the time and work to read and study.

Bro. Keener meticulously described about two dozen points which help to define that Kingdom.

These are important so please listen carefully; I’m not trying to bore you.

Unfortunately, we don’t have time to prove each of these facts right now.

Here are some of the things which he proved in his book:

The Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God are synonymous.

And that Kingdom is a common New Testament theme.

It is the message of virtually everyone of the New Testament writers and preachers.

It is past, present and future.

It is both spiritual, physical and mysterious

And it is, at this time, a mixture of good and bad.

In other words, there is a mixture of both citizens and mere servants in this kingdom.

The true citizens become citizens by way of salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ.

And they are characterized by the principles of the Sermon on the Mount;

In other words they love the Lord and the Word of the Lord.

This kingdom is to be preached throughout the whole world.

And it is an everlasting kingdom,

BUT those who are not willing citizens, regenerated citizens, shall be cast out.

Why did the Lord Jesus instruct the Apostles about that Kingdom during His last few days upon the earth?

Because this kingdom is WHAT ITS ALL ABOUT.

I’m not talking about the day when Jesus Christ returns to earth, overthrows Satan’s minions, and sits down on David’s throne in the New Jerusalem.

I’m not talking about the re-gathering or the re-establishment of Israel.

Although both of these things will one day be a part of this kingdom.

The disciples asked the Saviour about these things in Matthew 4 and Luke 21,

And the Lord gave them an abbreviated answer.

Then here in Acts 1:6 they asked if these aspects of the Kingdom were going to take place now.

And the Lord answered by saying, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.”

In other words, don’t concern yourselves about this aspect of the Kingdom,

There are other more important and pertinent parts of the promise than these right now.

So what is it that we should be concerned about in regard to the Kingdom of God?

What we need to focuse on is OUR relationship to the King of the Kingdom.

Yes, when everything is said and done there will be mansions in Heaven and streets of gold.

Yes, there will some day be a time when the lamb shall lay down in peace with the lion, and the child shall play above the nest of the asp.

Yes, Satan will be bound and then locked away for a thousand years and finally to be cast into the lake which burns with fire and brimstone.

These and a hundred other things about the Kingdom are not only important, but they are wonderful,

But infinitely more important is your personal relationship to the King of all kings, the Lord Jesus Christ.

And this is the crux of the matter.

There is a Kingdom, and Jesus Christ is the King.

The rule in this kingdom is righteous; perfect and complete.

There are moral laws which have been laid upon the subject of this Kingdom,

And there will be judgment enacted upon the lawbreakers.

To be more specific: “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.”

“The wages of sin is death.”

Please turn to Psalm 2 and read along with me:

“Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?

The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying,

Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.

He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.

Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.

Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.

I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.

Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.

Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.

Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.

Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.

Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.”

Bro. Oland Smith has mentioned this to me a couple of times, and I completely agree.

He has said that if something was ONCE sin in the sight of God, then it is still sin.

The kingdom that I am talking about is not temporary, and it is not relative.

Christ is not the King only if we want Him to be King; He is King – period.

If we choose not to bow before Him then we shall suffer the consequences of our rebellion.

And this is where the gospel – the good news – comes in.

The good news is as much the gospel of the Kingdom as it is the gospel of salvation.

We are ALL law-breakers by nature and the proof is abundantly clear by our personal history.

In other words, we are all sinners and under the condemnation of the law of the King.

There is a posse out looking for us and it will find us on the day of our death.

But if we will repent of our rebellion and submit ourselves to the true King,

He has promised to apply the pardon which He Himself has arranged.

It was about this aspect of the Kingdom which Jesus was talking to the Apostles.

It is this aspect of the kingdom for which the apostles would be empowered.

It is to this aspect of the kingdom that the apostles and their children are supposed to be “witnesses in all Judea and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

And it’s this aspect of the Kingdom that I want to lay before you this morning.

If you are not living in direct submission and service to the King of Kings;

If you have not and are not continually kissing the Son because you love Him and want to Honour Him;

If you have not bowed before the cross where He provided the pardon for transgressions against His Kingdom,

Then these things are proof of your continued rebellion and your lost condition.

You need a new heart; you need to be born again.

As the Holy Spirit of power convicts your soul, bow before the Saviour / King.

Kneel before the cross of Christ and pledge Him your heart, your soul and your life.

Repent and put your trust in the King.