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E65: How you can bring the kingdom of heaven to earth! – Parables series
PODCAST: Why was Jesus always talking about the kingdom of heaven?
Jesus started many of His parables with, “The kingdom of heaven is like …,” and while researching this series on the parables it really stood out to us just how many times Jesus spoke about the kingdom of heaven. Join Kathy and Julia in this episode as we discuss why the kingdom of heaven was such a main issue for Jesus and how we can experience that kingdom already while we are on this earth!
Transcript: “Living the Gospel” podcast, E65: How you can bring the kingdom of heaven to earth! – Parables series
Welcome to ActiveChristianity’s “Living the Gospel” podcast. Join us as we talk about how we can “live the gospel” every day, no matter who we are, where we live, and what our circumstances are.
Kathy: Hi everyone. Welcome to another episode of “Living the Gospel.” I’m Kathy.
Julia: And I’m Julia. So, today is our third and final episode in our series about Jesus’ parables.
Kathy: Right. And today we’re not going to talk about one specific parable actually. I had kind of gone through and, you know, was looking for which one could we do, like, what story could we focus on, kind of. And you see that every one of Jesus’ parables, or most of His parables anyway, start with “The kingdom of heaven is like ...,” right?
Kathy: So, I thought to rather talk about that. Why does He start these parables with, “The kingdom of heaven is like?” And, yeah, to talk about the kingdom of heaven then and what that actually means for us.
Julia: Right. So, Jesus used the parables as, obviously, a teaching device. And He had a lot on His heart to say about the kingdom of heaven.
Kathy: Yeah. And it was interesting, because then I just did a search in the Bible of the words, “the kingdom of heaven.” And you realize that Jesus was constantly talking about the kingdom of heaven, right. And the first time it’s mentioned is in Matthew where it says, “From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” Matthew 4:17.
Julia: And then also, if you read in Paul’s letters, he says in Romans that “The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” So, he’s saying that the kingdom of heaven is something that we experience here on earth already!
Kathy: Right, yeah.
Julia: If we follow His commandments.
Kathy: Yeah. And yeah, I was thinking, like, it’s interesting, Jesus, He’s preaching about this new time that came over the earth with Him, right, when He came. And it was a time actually for the kingdom of heaven to actually rule on earth as it does in heaven, kind of. Do you know what I mean? Like, so it’s not just like, yes, I kind of accept Jesus and I want to be part of this kingdom of heaven, and someday I’m going to be that in eternity with Him. But the kingdom of heaven is this, it’s something that I get inside me here on earth, like you said.
Julia: Yeah. Well, you can say, in a way, that it seems like, when you actually read how much Jesus speaks about the kingdom of heaven, it seems that His purpose in coming here was to teach us how to bring the kingdom of heaven down, from heaven onto earth. For example, in the Lord’s Prayer, He teaches us to pray, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” So, that’s something that we can actually be part of, bringing the kingdom of heaven down here to earth.
Kathy: Right, yeah. I remember, I was listening ... I was telling you about this already once ... But I was listening the other day to someone talking about the Lord’s Prayer. He was talking about how we need to pray that God’s kingdom comes and His will is done on earth as it is in heaven. And you know, to pray and wait for that day. And as I was listening, I was like, I don’t know. Like, for me, that means that here in my situations, I need to pray that in my own situations, God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven, through me, through my life. Right? And then I am bringing His kingdom of heaven to the earth. In my life. And that’s actually very exciting, that it is through my decisions and my choices, and actually ... In a way it sounds kind of weird to say my decisions and my choices. But it’s my obedience to the Holy Spirit’s leading in my life that causes the kingdom of heaven to come down to earth.
Julia: Well, if you think about having the mind of Christ, that that mind that was in Christ – and is in Christ, in heaven – that if I have that mind, then that mindset begins to rule, at least in my life on this earth. And then, the more people that have the mind of Christ, the more the mind of Christ is ruling on this earth.
Kathy: Right, right. And then when I am obedient, and I have that mind of Christ, like you said. Like we read and we’ve talked about this many times, but we read about Him, that His mind was, “Not My will, but Yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42.) So if I have that same mind in my life, that my whole attitude is, “Not my will, God, but Yours, be done.” And we know that’s not so easy, because my will is strong, and myis very insistent with its demands. And you know, I have all these feelings and thoughts about how things should be, and something happens and I get upset about it, or like, you know, I have a strong opinion about how something should be. And we know that it doesn’t come naturally then to choose God’s will instead of mine. And God’s will is always that I don’t sin, right?
Kathy: That’s how we know what God’s will is, that I do not sin. So in a situation, I have tothat sin that I get to see in my own flesh. Like, my anger at someone, my irritation, holding on to my own 'I', my thought is the right one and my way is the right way to do things. I need to put that to death in the situation, and that causes . That cause a to take place … Like we read there, or Jesus said, that the spirit is willing. And I know that, with my spirit I’m very willing. I want to do God’s will and I want to follow Jesus – I want to become like Jesus. But first I have to give up my own will. So, the spirit is willing, Jesus said, but the flesh is weak. (Matthew 26:41.) So, the flesh is there, and it has this desire, that it tries to get its own will. So, then it comes down to obedience to the word and the Spirit’s working in me, right?
Julia: And like you said, it’s in those small situations. It sounds like a huge thing, bringing the kingdom of heaven down to earth, but, for example, in one of the earliest parables that Jesus speaks, He says that the kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man goes and plants and it’s the smallest of the seeds, but it grows into the mightiest tree. Right, so God plants that seed in my heart, and it’s just a word or just a prompting of the Spirit, something small that I need to do, like you just said. Any of those situations. And then, if I’m obedient to that, then the kingdom of heaven begins to grow in me. And it can grow into something huge, just by being simply faithful in these small situations.
Kathy: I read the other day from an article that Aksel J. Smith wrote, I read this. He’s talking about the good confession, and he says, “What is the good confession? It was what Jesus testified about before Pilate that His kingdom was not of this world. What does God’s kingdom consist of? Righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit we cannot be reconciled with God’s kingdom We are to grow by God’s grace and are called to a life in growth up to Him who is the Head. It begins with small things just as the mustard seed. Righteousness means among other things to keep your word and be precise.” So you know, you just take a little thing like that. Righteousness means to keep your word and to be precise. So you know, you think it’s going to be some kind of big thing that you have to work with to get to righteousness or whatever, but just these little things, like in the parable of the mustard seed. These little things that you need to be precise and righteous about. And then that grows up and the kingdom of heaven actually, like it says in that parable, it becomes the greatest of all the seeds. It kind of, it starts to like, thoroughly permeate every aspect of your being and your life, right?
Julia: And like you said earlier, it costs me everything. These situations are small, and they’re one at a time, thank goodness, you know God doesn’t always send us huge things to work with. Sometimes they’re very small. But I have to be willing to give up everything. And so, Jesus speaks about that in the parable of the pearl of great price, right. Where he compared the kingdom of heaven to a merchant who obviously sells precious things, sells and buys precious things. And he finds this pearl of great price and sells everything that he has to get it. So that’s the attitude that I need to have when it comes to salvation, that I give up everything. And in these little, small situations, sometimes it requires giving up something huge. My will. My will is enormous, it’s the biggest thing, you know? But by doing that in those little situations, just one at a time, plugging away at it, then I can grow up into Him who is the Head, like you said. I actually read, recently, a quote from J.O. Smith where he said, “Everything that is great is the result of great faithfulness in little things.” And it’s just that simple. Just one little thing at a time, drawing the kingdom of heaven down into my life.
Kathy: And I just think about that, like, if I can kind of have this picture in my mind, as I’m going through life. Like, I think of this, like … I just imagine looking down at this earth where everything is like, just really in a horrible state, right. But then you see these little spots, where these people are, where the kingdom of heaven surrounds them, you know. And walking around the earth you see this light and this garden of beauty that just goes around with them and spreads where they go so that, you know, when I’m in a situation where, you know with my co-worker or my classmate or whoever it may be, someone I meet just while I’m out and about in my life, then you know, in this situation where there could be tension and strife, instead of snapping and having harsh words and all this, instead this righteousness and peace and joy comes forth, because inside of me I’m putting to death all that, all these demands of the flesh and instead then goodness and beauty comes up and it spreads around me, right? And then I thought too, it’s that, that in those moments when I’m with someone or I’m in a situation where something comes up from me. But also, in the quiet moments where later the Spirit comes to me and say, “OK, you didn’t snap in that situation, you weren’t harsh, but how were your thoughts then after that? Were you bitter towards that person for their action to you? Did you think about how you didn’t get your way; you didn’t get your rights?” You know, did you have all these thoughts? So, there’s a double cleansing that can take place, right. Where then too I can say, OK, yes, I need to actually humble myself and give up all of that in me that wants something for myself, that wants to protect my ego and my will and all this, and just completely give that up and go into those lowly places, like Jesus, where nothing of myself matters and the only thing that matters is that – what’s happening inside me. Is that the kingdom of heaven is being born there inside of me.
Julia: Yeah. Actually, this song has been in my head for a little while. I’m not sure where it comes from, but in any case, some of the lyrics are, “In this world He bids us shine, you in your small corner, and I in mine.” And I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately with, you know, isolation and not being able to be out in public as much and things like that. But that that’s what God requires of us, that we shine as a light where we are, and maybe it doesn’t seem like a whole lot, but there is tremendous power in the kingdom of heaven and in the Spirit of God. And when I live a faithful life and I bring that down here to earth – even if it seems like my circle isn’t that big – there is huge, huge power in that. And then I thought too, while you were talking about, you know, this battle of when you’re with people and you don’t want to answer back a harsh word, or whatever it is, that when we are in a battle against the sin in our flesh, then inside the battle rages, but outside it’s just peace and calm. And that’s how it should be, you know. That it’s just this incredible picture that because there’s a battle raging inside of me, one that I am certain to win when I pray to God for help, yeah, no one around me needs to sense any conflict. There can just be peace and goodness that comes forward. And no one needs to know what battle is going on inside in that way. They just see the fruit of it. And that speaks volumes.
Kathy: And it’s interesting, because I think, like, as people we like for people to know that, you know, we’re kind of going through something, we ... But you know, it’s just, I live before God’s face and I do it to serve Jesus and because I love Him and I want to overcome sin so that I can be like Him and live for His sake, really. And nobody needs to see. And I know that first of all I get this reward that the kingdom of heaven grows in me now. And then I know that I get an eternal reward also for this faithfulness, right.
Julia: And I think too, I remember once our dad saying at some kind of a gathering for somebody, that he was saying that ... Well, we read this verse in Romans that the kingdom of heaven is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. And He was speaking about heaven and he was saying that it’s not going to be – I mean, heaven is going to be amazing, we can’t imagine even – but what’s going to make it fantastic is that it’s going to be the people that we are with that are filled with righteousness and there’s no sin in them. And then if you think about it that way, of course we can bring the kingdom of heaven down, because we can become that person now already, you know. To be with people like that is like experiencing the kingdom of heaven. There is no other way to describe it. It’s actually incredibly exciting to think that I can bring that down to this dark earth and be that, at least for those who are in my circle, you know.
Kathy: And you can see why Jesus talks about it as this pearl of great price. Because it changes your life entirely and it’s something that has value now and for all eternity. It is worth giving up everything for. It is worth selling all that I have. All my own ego and opinions and ideas and feelings andand desires and all of this. It’s just 100% worth selling all of that in order to gain this incredible treasure.
There are a lot more parables, obviously. I actually counted; I think it was 11 parables that start with “The kingdom of heaven is like ...” I’m not going to lie, there’s a couple of them where I’m like, I don’t really quite get this yet. Hopefully someday I’ll get it a little bit more, but for now I don’t. But I know that what I want is the kingdom of heaven in me. And I really want to experience that life more and more. I think I’ve experienced some of it, you know, so far in my life. But I want to experience it more and more and I know that the only way I can do that is by denying my own will, my own lusts and desires, so that God’s will can be done in my life.
Julia: So yeah, if you want to read more about the parables, basically crack open Matthew. Starting in chapter 13 is when Jesus really starts getting into them. And there’s so much to go through there. And like you said, we don’t always understand them all right aways. But that’s the amazing thing about being in a life of development, is that as you press in more and more to the life of Christ and make progress, you go back and read some of these things you didn’t understand, and you find that next time God can open them up for you.
Kathy: Yeah, it’s true.
Julia: So it’s actually, there’s always something to work with. It’s very exciting.
Kathy: I just did a quick search too. Things that belong to the kingdom of heaven, if you look through some of these verses. Poverty of spirit belongs to the kingdom of heaven. Righteousness, peace, and joy like we talked about. Humility. Forgiveness. So, it’s interesting ... might be an interesting kind of task to ...
Julia: Quarantine hobby!
Kathy: Yeah, if you’re still in quarantine where you are or, you know, if you have to kind of isolate a bit, then it could be interesting to take your Bible and search what Jesus says about the kingdom of heaven and find for yourself and ... Yeah, I think would be very edifying. And you know, Sam Petkau exhorted us when we talked to him a couple of weeks ago, that when you pray, or when you read, to pray that you have the Spirit of wisdom and revelation when you read and then God can really open up His word for you.
Julia: So that it’s not just something we read, but something that we work with and it makes a change in our life. That’s the whole point.
Kathy: Yeah, it is.
Julia: So next week is Christmas!
Kathy: Yay! I love Christmas.
Julia: Kathy loves Christmas a lot more than I do, but anyways. So next week is Christmas, and we have a special Christmas episode planned, so ...
Kathy: Stay tuned.
Julia: Make sure you don’t miss it!
Kathy: Yeah. Thanks for listening today again and see you next week.
Julia: OK, bye everyone!
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®, unless otherwise specified. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.