On Earth as It is in Heaven #3:
The Kingdom of God Expressed Outwardly

By | 16 Jan 2024
On earth as it is in heaven graphic

on-earth-as-it-is-in-heaven memeWe’ve spent the first two articles in this series exploring where we obtained the concept of “on earth as it is in heaven” and explored how that translates into our personal relationship with our Heavenly Father.

In this final article, we will now discuss how the Kingdom of God expresses itself through us towards a hopelessly-lost-without-Jesus humanity. In doing so, we will also attempt to answer this crucial question: “If His Kingdom is to be manifested within and towards culture, what’s that supposed to look like?”

Funnily enough, as I was writing this article, the Holy Spirit reminded me how I had already embraced and begun proclaiming much of what the Body of Christ is supposed to be doing.

Where is that, you may ask?

In my bio and ministry philosophy page published on this very blog, of all places! Here is the pertinent excerpt:

He (Jesus) stood in loving opposition to everything the culture, society, governments, and religious establishments of His day deemed normal, proper, and correct while demonstrating compassionate mercy to the marginalized and healing the sick and wounded.

As a radical, I believe the Church’s calling is to be culturally relevant, not culturally compliant. We are called to be counter-culture revolutionaries in the same way Christ-followers operated for the first 300 years of the Church’s existence. Jesus calls us to be salt and light, not chameleons. In other words, we’re supposed to be transforming our societies and cultures by our personal purity and loving witness in the power of the Holy Spirit, not conforming to it in a misguided craving for social respectability.

I am convinced much of what the world system derisively dismisses as Christianity has so repelled the unsaved and marginally churched they have thrown away the Truth-of-the-Gospel baby with the barren-doctrines-of-men bath water. They cannot see the real Jesus because our religious baggage is obscuring their vision of the only Way, the only Truth, and the only Life.

Words Are Not Enough. We Need Power!

Well, one thing I can say with complete certainty: words are not nearly enough! The world has heard endless “words” from the Church for over 2 millennia, far more than enough to choke on. Those could — and in certain places do — fill libraries!

Sometimes they were words of life; much of the rest of the time? Not so much!

Tragically, the words coming out of Christendom (the institutionalized expression of Christianity in the earth) haven’t meshed well with Jesus’ teachings about love, grace, mercy, crucifying our flesh, and serving others. Instead, much of what we hear out of pietists tends to be vile and hateful, both towards our own members they disagree with as well as those outsiders whose attitudes and/or behaviors disgust us.

It is well past time that our words and actions reflected the character of Christ rather than the wisdom of this world masquerading in Christian jargon.

Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does the work.
Mark Twain, American author & humorist

Our words as Christ-followers are like thunder. Those words can be good, they can be impressive. They can awe and inspire. I can even have delusions that all my words here qualify as such. 🙂

Proclaiming the Gospel indeed requires words, but it’s the lightning of the Holy Spirit that gets the work done. But don’t take my word for it; the Apostle Paul stated the exact same sentiment in the Scriptures:

For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power.
1 Corinthians 4:20

For the kingdom realm of God comes with power, not simply impressive words.
1 Corinthians 4:20 TPT

Mere words can be debated, denigrated, and dismissed in the marketplace of ideas. Those who utter them can be maligned, misquoted, and mocked by skeptics. But supernatural lightning strikes cannot be minimized or ignored when you have documented instances of:

  • Healings of incurable diseases and hopeless medical conditions (blindness, deafness, cancers, paraplegia, diabetes, arthritis, Lyme Disease, lupus, etc.)
  • Miraculous resetting of badly healed skeletal injuries
  • Re-creation of missing limbs and organs
  • Supernatural removal of surgical appliances (pins, plates, rods, etc.) because the conditions they corrected no longer exist
  • Complete cures of traumatic brain injuries and barely-treatable psychological disorders, such as autism, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia, etc.
  • Instantaneous deliverances from decades-long addictions to heroin, crystal meth, and fentanyl
  • Dead folks being raised back to life

When faced with such facts, some words of Winston Churchill come to mind:

The truth is incontrovertible. Panic may resent it, ignorance may deride it, malice may distort it, but there it is!Sir Winston Churchill, British statesman

Enter the Pharisees

pharisees imageThe Pharisees of Jesus’ day demanded the kinds of supernatural signs and wonders from Him they were expecting while completely ignoring or — worse yet, objecting to! — the ones He actually performed before their very eyes. They wanted theatrical phenomena in the heavens (see Mark 8:11) like those foretold by various prophets (e.g., “…blood and fire and pillars of smoke.” — Joel 2:30). Instead, they witnessed miraculous healings and deliverance from demonic oppression/possession in folks they considered spiritually inferior to themselves. In other words, “those who didn’t deserve it.”

Having been deceived by our real enemy, Satan, modern-day Pharisees are tragically little better. By all appearances, they seem to be gleefully anticipating the deaths of literally millions of human beings for whom Jesus paid such a horrendous cost, all in the name of “God’s judgment upon evildoers.”

Yet others of their ilk comfort themselves with their carefully-crafted-yet-bereft-of-power doctrinal statements and life-sucking traditions of men. They endlessly reiterate the Buddhist/Catholic/Calvinist lie that God inflicts sickness, disease, and disaster upon certain folks to teach them patience, humility, faith, or something equally pious-sounding, but completely unscriptural. Why? Because they are either deceived into unbelief or are too terrified of “what if it doesn’t work” to publicly utter risky-to-their-reputations prayers of faith for healing and deliverance. It seems like they specialize in cementing their theology around what didn’t or might not happen rather than what the Word clearly states.

hospital ward photo

The Church should be a hospital, not a hospice. We are supposed to help people get better, not help them be more comfortable while we watch them die.

Jesus healed and delivered everyone the Father sent Him to (see John 5:19-20) plus all who came to Him.

The first 15 verses of that same chapter recount Jesus’ Sabbath-day healing of a paralytic man by the Pool of Bethesda. Verse 3 states there was a “great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed” present at the time (some estimates place that number to be 900-1000 people). That day, Jesus strode right past all of them to this one man, spoke to him, healed him, then departed.

Can you imagine if that had happened today? Rather than celebrating the man who got healed as the gospel account does, the news media would be interviewing all those other folks Jesus walked past, asking, “How did it feel when Jesus ignored you?” All the Internet trolls would be having one of their feeding frenzies, attacking the validity of healing ministries in general and Jesus’ in particular. Theologians would be tut-tutting, pointing their fingers, saying, “See! We were right all along! We can’t preach divine healing because of all those folks who didn’t receive it!”

But I digress…

Such folks appear to be far more interested in either being right, safe, and/or dignified than they are in seeking and obeying the Father. Those who actually show any concern for the lost seem to be so mired in the ministerial methods and philosophies of previous centuries that they cannot grasp — much less embrace! — what God is doing in the here-and-now.

They then portray those enthusiastically participating in the current worldwide revival — where miracles are the norm, not anomalies — as heretics. And Satan laughs and laughs and laughs because he continues to steal, kill, and destroy unchallenged by a Church deceived into thinking those tongue-talking “weirdos” are the real enemy.

All fire is strange fire to those without fire.Bill Johnson

Jesus is Perfect Theology

Speaking of Bill Johnson, he often tells a story about a pastor who was overseeing the building of his new church. Though he had next to no carpentry skills, he did know how to measure a board and saw it to length. After a few days of pestering, he prevailed upon the contractor to let him assist in this manner. So The contractor told hime to cut 100 2x4s, each to an 8-foot length.

photo of someone cutting a board with an portable electric sawThe next day, he placed the first board on the sawhorses, carefully used his measuring tape to mark off 96 inches, then cut the board precisely and squarely at the line. He then put away his tape measure and used the first board to measure the second one, marking off his line, and then making the cut. He then used the second board to measure the third, the third to measure the fourth, the fourth the fifth, and so on until he finally finished the 100th 2×4.

The problem, though, is each time he measured, the succeeding board was about 1/8th of an inch longer than the previous one. Had it only been a couple of boards, no problem! But 100 boards later, the last board was over 9 feet long!

The Church has been doing the same thing theologically for centuries now. Each time there has been a move of God in the earth over the last 2 millennia, it seems the leadership of those movements measured what was happening in their day against what had happened during the era immediately prior, rather than going back to the Original Measuring Tape, Jesus Himself. By this, I mean certain theological assumptions and preconceptions have crept in during those centuries which have progressively lengthened our doctrinal “boards” until we have what now passes for Christianity in the modern era, a Christianity which often bears little resemblance to what Jesus said and did across the board (pun intended!).

Two perfect examples of this are Martin Luther and John Calvin, both of whom were firmly Augustinian in their viewpoints. This was not a good thing because Augustine was dead wrong on a variety of issues, the details and scope of which are not germane to this article. Rather than returning to the Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible, both these courageous men erroneously assumed Augustine had his doctrinal ducks in a row and filtered everything through the conceptual lens of his writings. Thus, Augie’s theological gaffes transferred virtually intact into what became known as the Protestant Reformation and, like leeches, continue to suck power out of the Body of Christ to this very day.

I dare you to show me one modern-day Lutheran or Calvinist church experiencing a mighty move of God’s Spirit, where they have so many new converts they must hold hour-long, non-stop water baptism services to handle them all.

Better yet: show me one within the last century.

I’ll wait…

Jesus is God

Jesus is God & Messiah memeWhenever we look at Christ, we see our Heavenly Father in human form (see John 14:9-10; Colossians 1:15 and 2:9; Hebrews 1:1-3). Everything Jesus said and did — including His death, burial, and resurrection — was divinely crafted to reveal the Father to a world full of rebellious spiritual orphans. We who have surrendered our lives to him by faith have been adopted into His family (see Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:5) and are now on a mission. That mission is to invite those remaining orphans to join our family by our revealing the nature and will of the Father we have personally experienced through His Word and Spirit.

To our shameful discredit, the Body of Christ as it now dysfunctions is so divisive, so dismissive, so judgmental of its own members that the world doesn’t see us as a family. Instead, it regards us as merely another bunch of hate-filled orphans going around spouting incomprehensible religious buzzwords.

No wonder the lost are not flocking to our banner!

Jesus is our Example

While remaining 100% God in nature, Jesus set aside His godhead powers and took on the nature and limitations of His 100% humanity. This is a divine mystery theologians call the “hypostatic union.” As a mystery, it can be briefly summarized as I just have here and accepted by faith as true and factual. However, it cannot be more deeply analyzed or defined without straying into heresy because, as I stated earlier, it involves a finite intellect trying to comprehend the Infinite. Point-of-fact: a goodly number of the heresies which have cropped up since His Ascension involve one or more bozos trying to pound the square peg of this particular mystery into the round hole of their own intellect — and failing miserably!

All Jesus’ miracles were performed by the power of the Holy Spirit. He had the Spirit without measure because He was without sin. Now if Christ had employed His pre-incarnate godhead powers to effect His miracles, we are reduced to being awestruck spectators, shouting, “Yay, God! Woohoo!” But if He indeed did all of them as a human being empowered by the Holy Spirit, He then becomes an Example for us to emulate.

Our primary purpose as Christ-followers is to not only become more and more like Him in our personal character (holiness, moral purity), but also to be more and more like Him in power. The two are scripturally inseparable. And since the Word of God clearly states all of this, we are therefore without excuse.

His Great Commission

the great commission memeAnd Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 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, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:18-20 (emphasis mine)

Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:18-20 MSG (emphasis mine)

The major problem with prevalent take-aways of this passage again have to do with that pesky word “all” which virtually everyone blows right past as if it wasn’t there — including most theologians, I might add. I just checked that word in the original language and — amazingly enough! — it literally means precisely that: “all.” We don’t get to stroll down a doctrinal cafeteria line, choosing which aspects of the Great Commission we will obey and which we won’t simply because we prefer some parts and don’t like others because they fail to conform to our theological preconceptions.

The way most folks interpret this passage results in them teaching “most of,” not “all.” Without exception, they’ll always include Jesus said about what our character and behaviors are supposed to be. What they leave out, with almost no exceptions, is what Jesus commanded when He twice sent out his disciples to minister two-by-two (not to mention the rarely-cited version of the Great Commission in Mark):

Matthew 10:8 memeThen He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick…So they departed and went through the towns, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.
Luke 9:1-2,6 (emphasis mine)

Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.Matthew 10:8 (emphasis mine)

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.
John 14:12-14 (emphasis mine)

And these signs will follow those who believe:…they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
Mark 16:17a,18b (emphasis mine)

Please note something about Mark’s version of the Great Commission: Jesus said, “these signs will follow those who believe,” not “these signs will follow My remaining original 11 disciples plus one who is to come (Paul).”

All this somehow has gotten lost in transmission over the centuries since His Ascension and only began to be re-incorporated into mainstream Christian teaching within the last century or so. If we are to truly fulfill the Great Commission in its entirety, this power aspect of Jesus’ teaching needs to be fully restored to our message. Only then will we undeniably be fulfilling our divine mandate.

Since we have been commissioned to emulate what Jesus did during His earthly ministry and reveal our Heavenly Father to all those spiritual orphans out there, this begs the question: how did He go about doing that?

  • He revealed the Father through His love, grace, kindness, mercy, and wisdom.
    So should we!
  • He revealed the Father by going out of His way to seek and save the lost, leaving the 99 for the 1.
    So should we!
  • He revealed the Father through sacrificing Himself for the good of others.
    So should we!
  • He revealed the Father through humbly serving the lowly.
    So should we!
  • He revealed the Father through miraculous signs and wonders of healing and deliverance.
    So should we!

Miracles are the primary evidence of the resurrection of Christ.

Of course, the single biggest miracle any person can receive is the New Birth; our individual testimonies of that experience are indeed powerful and should never be minimized. But our miracles don’t end with our moment of salvation, they merely start there.

We Need Fresh Revelation

No, we’re not talking about adding to the Bible here; doing that would be heretical on its face because the canon of Scriptures was closed by the Council of Nicæa back in 325 AD. Instead, what I am talking about is divinely-inspired perceptions, prophetic utterances, Kingdom insights, and godly values.

Before moving on, I must reiterate how all true Christ-followers live and die by the Word of God. The Scriptures are Jesus in print (see John 1). The Bible is our absolute authority over faith and practice, period, end of story, without exception! If any of those perceptions, utterances, insights, and values I just mentioned contradict God’s written Word, then they are lies — and therefore satanic in origin because Satan is the father of lies (see John 8:44). Why? Because the Holy Spirit Who inspired the Word (see 2 Timothy 3:16-17) never contradicts Himself.

That being said, He is not at all shy about saying something which is contradictory to some aspect of our as-of-that-moment understanding of His Word because our intellectual grasp on its contents is never perfect and we are always learning — or at least we’re supposed to be! We’re back to that selfsame “finite minds trying to apprehend the Infinite” conundrum I’ve mentioned a couple of times earlier here. Accordingly, we are always to remain teachable, thereby preventing “hardening of the categories.”

Back to fresh revelation. Here’s the premise for my claim:

  • God created the earth.
  • Man broke much of it through sin. Also because of sin, we cannot fix what we’ve broken.
  • Only He has a perfect grasp of how it all works, where we’ve broken it, what the viable solutions are, and how to most effectively implement them.

God longs for us to seek Him with our whole hearts. Through our seeking, He wants to impart His character to us as well as communicate His solutions to and through those completely surrendered to Him. We then have the privilege and responsibility of co-laboring with Him to bring life-giving answers to perplexing problems in the earth where there is currently only death, destruction, and despair. His divine solutions — in tandem with His Word and the power of the Holy Spirit — combine to bring Him glory by bearing witness to His goodness, His mercy, and His love. This expresses itself within one of two types of venues:

  1. Christ-followers working within secular organizations (governments, businesses, schools, etc.) to:
    • Affect policy and direction, whether through direct leadership and/or prayer and/or personal witness, or;
    • Be channels for divinely-inspired “witty inventions” (see Proverbs 8:12 KJV) and/or hitherto unknown technological advancements.
  2. Missional enterprises

The first is fairly self-explanatory. His creative solutions will be innovative, practical, and achievable. Again, we are not talking about dominion theology where God’s prophets become the instruments of government as we see in the Book of Judges. Remember, no theocracies allowed! Instead, the goal here is influence.

In this very manner, my son-in-law Sean swings way above his weight within his sphere of influence in academia. He is a retired military master sergeant, politically conservative, and a charismatic Christ-follower surrounded by this incredible “Through the Looking Glass” world of woke-to-the-core academics. Incredible amounts of divine favor have been showered upon him as he exemplifies a life of integrity and godly wisdom as well as his unflagging tenacity in faithfully serving our Lord in one of the most philosophically hostile environments in modern society. All the other departments at his college are sucking fumes for enrollments while his department has been thriving. He recently was promoted to academic dean. It’s truly awe-inspiring!

Missional enterprises, however, requires a brief explanation. We all know what an enterprise is (a business, not a starship! 🙂 ). A business enterprise becomes missional when it aspires to pursue the Christian version of the Triple Bottom Line:

  1. Making money — Every business must make a profit if it is to honor its stakeholders, employees, vendors and, of course, stay in business.
  2. Making disciples — When an enterprise creates space for spiritual transformation, the Great Commission is advanced through life-on-life discipleship, and generations of disciples are made through equipping and training.
  3. Making a difference in its community and environment — The creative mandate is honored as the enterprise has a positive impact in caring for the community and the environment in which it lives, works, and plays.

The Heavenly Realm

If all that wasn’t enough, our expressing God’s Kingdom outwardly is not only towards the earthly realm, but also the heavenlies.

To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him.
Ephesians 3:3-12 (emphasis mine)

Just to help us better wrap our heads around on this concept, let’s take a look at verse 10 in a few other translations:

God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
Ephesians 3:10 NLT

So now through the church the multifaceted wisdom of God [in all its countless aspects] might now be made known [revealing the mystery] to the [angelic] rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
Ephesians 3:10 AMP

The purpose of this was to unveil before every throne and rank of angelic orders in the heavenly realm God’s full and diverse wisdom revealed through the church.
Ephesians 3:10 TPT

The purpose is that through Messiah’s community the multi-faceted wisdom of God might be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places, which is in keeping with the eternal purpose that He carried out in Messiah Yeshua our Lord.
Ephesians 3:10 TOL

While quite a few translations, such as a couple of the versions cited above, include the word “angelic” or “angels” in verse 10, those terms are conspicuous by their absence in the original Greek text. The actual words used here are “principalities” (“arche”) and “powers” (“exousia”). You may already see this one coming, but those selfsame words also appear later in Chapter 6 where Paul discusses the whole armor of God:

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Ephesians 6:12 (emphasis mine)

So using the proper rules of hermeneutics regarding context, it’s entirely accurate to say the Church is not only charged with bearing witness of God’s wisdom in our lives in Christ to the lost, but also to rub the noses of the powers of darkness in His miraculous power working in and through us. Since their raison d’être is stealing, killing, and destroying in the lives of humans, it must chap their hides to see us undoing all their hard work by bringing salvation plus miracles of healing and deliverance to those they have targeted!

So how does all that work exactly? I have not a single clue. I’m simply quoting God’s Word which clearly states this is part of our job description!

In Closing

Here is an infographic video based upon a sermon by John Wimber, the current leader of the Vineyard Movement. His words deserve a good listen! If the embedded version here will not play, here is a link to the same video on YouTube.

  • We are supposed to be allowing Jesus to rule and reign over every area of our lives at levels we can only commence to begin to start to wrap our puny minds around.
  • Jesus gave us a commission, not a suggestion. Making disciples is far more involved than merely making converts. Making disciples also means helping those converts fulfill their divine destiny through lives of personal purity and the power of the Holy Spirit so they, in turn, can do the same for others. It’s both-and, not either-or.

    Anything less is not making disciples, no matter how hard we try to dance between the raindrops and label it as such.

In summary, Jesus didn’t suffer all the torments He endured simply so we can do church.

Selah!

Thanks for reading!

Author’s Note: I would like to thank Jim Albert, my friend and former discipleship mentor, for the missional enterprise concepts expressed herein. So much of what I’ve achieved for Jesus over the last 50 years has been built on the solid spiritual foundation he helped erect in me (1 Corinthians 3:9-11).

I’d also like to thank my fellow contributor here at Miscellaneous Ramblings, Pastor Ron Merrell, for his always-valuable editorial feedback. (Proverbs 27:17)