Kingdom of God
(Reading Acts 1:1-11; series on the kingdom of God) The apostles asked a similar question just before Jesus ascended to the heavens, recorded in Acts 1: 6 “Therefore when they had come together, they asked Him, saying ‘Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom of Israel?”
I found it interesting that His disciples asked this question, because they had been with Jesus. And Jesus in his three years ministry had been teaching about the kingdom of God. After His resurrection, for 40 days He taught them about the kingdom of God. Acts 1:3 says: “…speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” Read again the question the disciples asked Jesus in Acts 1: 6, “…Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” Jesus answered them, “It is not for you to know times and seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” It is obvious that He promised His disciples that they would be baptized in the Spirit, (He uses the word ‘receive’) not many days from now. Jesus’s primary emphasis was not the immediate literal political kingdom here on earth. The disciples asked about the restoration of the kingdom that they used to have, especially during the time of David, Solomon and other kings before the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC by Nebuchadnezzar One wonders if ever there was a link with the proclamation of the kingdom and being baptized in the Spirit.(We will discuss more about the notion of baptism in the series). So far as the Jewish disciples were concerned, at this time, they thought that there would be an immediate literal, actual, political restoration of the kingdom of Israel. Jesus made a fascinating response. Jesus did not deny the restoration of the kingdom to Israel, and astonishingly enough, he did not affirm it. Jesus did not even give any correction of what they were thinking about. Jesus just said, “It is not for you to know the times and seasons which the Father has put in his own authority.” Then Jesus gave them instructions about what they should be doing—that is to be witnesses. Jesus looked beyond the national, political borders of Israel, because He said, “you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and all Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” This is about the extension of the kingdom, Christ reigns in people’s hearts. And the disciples would need the power of the Holy Spirit, they needed the baptism of the Holy Spirit to be connected together as the body of Christ, the church—to become a powerful witness to all people to the ends of the earth. In Matthew 24: 14 Jesus said: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” That is why the Holy Spirit came to put us together as the body of Christ here on earth. Anyone who trusted Christ as his or her Saviour is baptised, joined together to the body of Christ. 1 Cor.12:13 says “for by one Spirit we were all baptised into one body-whether Jews or Greeks whether slaves or free, and have all been to drink into one Spirit.” If you are a Christian, you are also a witness of the grace of God. You belong to Him (Rom.8:9). To be a Christian is by grace alone through faith alone.