Perhaps no other phrase is fraught with more controversy or produced more misunderstanding in the body of Christ of the present generation (except for the phrase "word of God"). The term brings to the surface the hidden tension with which the body struggles as it is forced to live in two worlds at the same time. Now as in the past, new voices are being raised urging the Church to take its (debatably) right place of influence in world affairs, to stop withdrawing and start confronting, to stop resting and start occupying, to stop focusing on future hope and start focusing on present influence.
As the Church and the heavenly Kingdom of God come closer and closer each generation to their ultimate manifesting, each generation hears that voice raised in a new way, one that reflects the immediate state of attained manifestation. And inevitably the voice is challenged each generation, "How much confronting? What kind of occupying? What do you mean by 'influence'?"
These are the predictable questions that have been and are now once again raised, drawing battle lines of conflict. The conflict over kingdom teaching reflects two main realities:
1) No matter how far we think we've arrived, there's an ongoing degree to which we haven't arrived. For if we had arrived in totality of manifestation, there would be perfect unity (one of the hallmarks of arrival) hence, no conflict;
2) In our remaining state of "unarrival" we are still subject to extremes. Conflict exists not on account of those with well-grounded balanced perspective between present possession and future hope, but on account of those who are either so futuristically minded in such a way that their immediate presence on the planet is rendered null, or those so presently minded that their concept of God's kingdom is shorted out and reduced to a mere redefining of the world's essential life course in Christian terms and symbols.
To sum, the presence of controversy itself over kingdom teaching shows that the kingdom of God has indeed come into manifestation among us, yet not perfect manifestation in such a visible way as to defy all question. The purpose of this article is to convert some of this heat into light.
In Christ…from the Inside Out
True dominion teaching is an "inside-out" theology. It recognizes that all definition of the kingdom of God is traced to the work wrought in the heart of man, from which all else springs. It does not center on the actions of converted men or on their relationship to that which is around them. Such have meaning only in light of the kingdom heart from which they come.
What supernatural powers may manifest in accordance with this process are also not the essence of the kingdom. Though such fire, wind, and earthquake may be of Him, the essence is found in the still small voice. This is the difference between "manifestations of the kingdom" and "Kingdom Manifestation."
The key phrase is the phrase "in Christ" found in Ephesians and Colossians to describe the subduing of all things to be brought together in (under) Him. What is "in Christ"? This is inner man heart reality and conversion. All things have to go through or result from the purging process of inward regeneration and sanctification found only in Christ to be considered so brought together in Him.
Thus "all things" does not refer to anything not so subdued. If it isn't come through this process, it is not "brought together in Christ." It is not under Him. Christ only rules from the inside out. Whatever is outside Christ in this way is outside His kingdom and cannot be considered part of it in any but the most general of ways.
For this then, whenever we speak of the Kingdom or its expansion, we must take our reference point from the inside out. Otherwise, we are not talking about God's manifest Kingdom. Whatever does not descend from the inner knowledge of God is not of His kingdom, even if it is under His peripheral control (as all the universe is now and always has been -- including satan.)
Foundation, Conduction, Goal
When we are talking about the kingdom, we are looking at a foundational essence, a means by which that essence is executed and carried forth, and the goal of that execution:
· The foundation is the work of Christ (sovereignly distinct in identity)
· The conductor is the knowledge of God through the work of the cross in us—rooting out the knowledge of good and evil
· The goal is transformation into the complete image of Christ—unto a new body like His glorious body.
False Kingdom Teaching: a Matter of Subversion
The foundation or the goal: If the devil can't destroy us in one of these, he will seek to destroy us in the other. The preeminent issue under consideration at this time is kingdom teaching, i.e., false kingdom teaching.
False kingdom teaching short circuits true faith by subverting the goal of faith. It removes the goal from transformation into Christ's image (unto ultimate physical transformation) and puts it into earth-focused manifestation of the demonstrable power of God (i.e., impersonal power) in its ability to affect earthbound situations. It removes worship from the person of God to the force of God, thus, making a god of force.
In false kingdom teaching, the knowledge of God becomes supplanted by the knowledge of power, exercised through the knowledge of laws (physical or spiritual) rooted in the knowledge of good and evil. Hence, the conducting of transformation into Christ-likeness through the work of the cross is replaced by the conducting of natural effort (physical. mental, or spiritual) to carry out the requirements of the certain law or principle (of God) that will produce the desired forceful effect. This is the work of the flesh under the spirit of control-manipulation, known also as witchcraft.
False kingdom teaching is built upon a false foundation that compromises the sovereignly unique identity of the Church established by the purchase of Christ. It fails to recognize the mutual exclusivity of the identity of the people of God as a called out body from the original carcass of a dead world. As a result, it seeks to use the benefits that emanate from the process of redemption to convert or reform the body politic of natural society within its own dead temporal context without calling it out of itself.
False kingdom teaching seeks to mingle eternal life with natural life as if to become an alternate life support system for a dead natural life. The effect of this is to produce a chaotic, hybrid effect in which natural society becomes garbed in Christian dress which is then abused by that society unto the shaming of the name of Christ. Though dressed in this superficial righteousness, the society remains essentially unchanged, yet is now become inoculated against genuine conversion.
Assessing a Right Kingdom Focus
Does all this mean that true kingdom teaching has no vision for or effect upon the present world? Absolutely not. The difference however is in direction of focus. In true kingdom teaching, vision for earth and effect upon it is rooted and grounded in
1) foundational awareness of distinct identity,
2) commitment to personal inward change through the separation work of the cross according to that identity,
3) focus upon the goal of transformation into the image of Christ unto physical translation through the knowledge of God.
According to true kingdom teaching, as the people of God remain transfixed upon the goal of their transformation through the conveyance of the knowledge of God, not only will true vision for the earth be birthed, but the genuine power of God to effect that vision will emanate forth from them, spreading the savor of God's presence in every place, a savor which produces all the effects which false kingdom teaching seeks to implement through direct fleshly focus and manipulation of legal forces. In true kingdom teaching, the world is changed by self-denying focus away from the world unto the worship of the Lord.
written from Merrimack, New Hampshire
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship
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Page created September 28, 2016