Did you know Jesus referred to the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven 162 times in the New Testament? While the Kingdom of God will not appear in its fullness until the second coming of Christ, God expects us to be the “firstfruits” of the coming Kingdom in the present age. We are not only ambassadors of His salvation, but also His agents of change. We are saved for a purpose. Ephesians 2:10 reminds us “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (ESV)
These evil times, that seem to be getting crazier every day, are the perfect opportunity for us to be salt and light to a world dying of unbelief and rebellion against God. How do we practically demonstrate the arrival of God’s Kingdom on earth? By being living examples of restoration. Jesus reminded His disciples that the prince of this world, Satan, is a thief and a liar and he “comes only to steal, to kill and destroy” but that He (Jesus) “came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) The outcome of salvation is restoration. Whatever the thief has stolen, Jesus replaces. Whatever the thief has killed, Jesus resurrects. Whatever the thief destroys, Jesus rebuilds.
Signs that the Kingdom of God has arrived are the same today as they were when Jesus lived on earth:
- Jesus restored relationships – He forgave sin, reconciling people far off from God to their heavenly Father. He exhorted and enabled His followers to heal broken relationships with family, friends, neighbors, co-laborers and people of other nations.
- Jesus restored health – He healed every kind of illness, disease and injury, including birth defects and demonic possession. By the power of the Holy Spirit, He restored people’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.
- Jesus restored community – He intentionally and consistently reached out to those who had been forgotten, rejected or marginalized by society. He saw their need and loved them, accepted them, and invited them into His fellowship.
- Jesus restored the church – He replaced rote rule following with a loving relationship that motivated obedience. He exposed hypocrisy, eliminated hierarchy, emphasized grace and mercy, and sent the gift of the Holy Spirit.
In John 14:12-14, Jesus makes two incredible statements. First He says “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in Me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.” Notice He prefaces His statement with “Truly, truly”, emphasizing the trueness and reality of His words. He then goes on to say “Whatever you ask in My Name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in My Name, I will do it.”
How can this be? Well, after some investigation, I found that the Word of God gives us the requirements of exercising authority and becoming His instruments of restoration and agents of change.
- Jesus gives us the first requirement – we need to believe in Him. He is the Word of God (John 1:1) and the Truth of God (John 14:6). In order to be effective, we need to believe God’s Word as revealed in the Holy Bible completely, absolutely, and as written.
- Next, in order to exercise Jesus’ authority, we need to be under His authority. We are His subjects, under His authority as King. We are His disciples, under His authority as Master. We are His church, under His authority as High Priest. We are His creation, under His authority as Creator. Jesus has to be Lord of our lives.
- The instrument of Jesus’ mighty power on earth was the Holy Spirit. Colossians 12:2 reminds us that “the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you.” The Holy Spirit brings spiritual life to our mortal bodies that had been dead because of sin. With the Holy Spirit living inside us, we have access to the resurrection power that raised Jesus from the dead.
- Hebrews 4:12 reminds us that the Word of God is not just a bunch of letters on a page. Instead, it “is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword . . .”
- In Isaiah 55:11, God promises us “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” When we speak the Word of God over a situation, circumstance or problem, we can expect results, if we ask in faith (James 1:6) and in accordance with His will (James 4:3). God has equipped us to go in His Name, pray in His name, and declare the truth in His name.
- We are to “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His Might.” God has provided us with a full suit of armor to protect us from “the schemes of the devil” and “the spiritual forces of evil.” In addition, He has equipped us with “the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” as a powerful offensive weapon to be wielded against our enemy. (Ephesians 6: 10-18)
- The “spirit of the antichrist”, so apparent in the world, does not dismay us because in Christ Jesus “you are from God and have overcome them, for He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4: 3-4) In the battle between good and evil, goodness always triumphs.
- God has saved us by His grace and mercy and raised us up with Christ Jesus and seated us with Him in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 2:5-6) God gave Jesus Christ “all authority in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18) and He has given His followers the authority to act in His Name.
Being reminded of how well He has equipped us for every good work (2 Timothy 3:17), won’t you join me in asking God how He wants to use you and me as His ambassadors of grace, instruments of restoration, and agents of change during these challenging times?
Note: Scripture references are from the English Standard Version (ESV).