by Marc Dupont, March 2008
“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field…”
Biblically speaking the number three is symbolic of perfection, or completeness. The number seven, as well, is symbolic of completion, but usually more in the sense of a cycle, season, or goal, being achieved and/or finished. The number 3 is complete in the sense that it needs nothing else to complete it. As well, 3 is the number God has chosen to make up completion, or wholeness, in many areas of life and relationships. For example, there are three realms of matter- animal, vegetable, and mineral. There are three parts to man- body, soul, and spirit. Regarding time there is the past, the present and the future. Of God, Himself, the ultimate reference point, there is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Concerning God’s priorities in focal points in life He has said faith, hope, and love are the essentials with love being the greatest.
I also believe that the formula God has established for the abundant life He
desires we live (see John 10.10) is comprised of three essential components. Those three essential parts are: Faith, Intimacy with God, and a prevailing Kingdom of God perspective in one’s life.
According to the writer of the book of Hebrews it is impossible to please God without faith. Hebrews 11.6 reads: “without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” While every verse found in the Bible is of importance, there are some verses and passages that are absolutely vital to both know and practice. Hebrews 11.6, along with a myriad of other verses is one of those verses. With love, in a Christ like way, as the goal, we are called to continually grow in faith. A faith that not only opens up the initial door to a relationship with God, but also leads to His specific blessings for our lives to such a degree that we can freely give to others out of the overflow of God’s abundant goodness.
In fact, faith enables us to experience God’s blessings and grace in almost every area of life. Philippians 4.6 tells us to “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” It is only by faith that one can thank God for what one has not yet obtained. In that vein, the Book of Hebrews also states that faith is: “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval.” (Hebrews 11.1&2).
Yet, as vital as faith is, in and of itself, it is not complete in order to walk in the fullness of God’s love. No one walked in more faith than Jesus Christ, the person who was both fully God and fully human, did. It was both normative and routine for Him to exercise faith to do truly amazing things. Things like dramatically multiplying food in a supernatural ways, miraculously causing blind eyes to see, and even bringing people back to life from the dead. Jesus, Himself, however, while He walked in great faith had two underlying, governing values that ruled His life. One, He walked in great intimacy with God the Father, and two, He did not live first and foremost for Himself, but He continually sought first to extend and express the Kingdom of God.
In both John 5.19 & 20, and John 8. 28 & 29, Jesus basically stated that He only did those things He saw the Father doing. In fact, in John 8.28 He said: “I do nothing on My own initiative”. According to Luke 4 Jesus was “led” by the Spirit of God. We read in the gospels of Jesus often arising early in the morning to spend time alone with the Father. When the twelve apostles returned from their first trip on their own where they cast out demons, healed the sick, and preached the gospel of the Kingdom of God, Jesus told them to “come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest for a while”. It is not too large a leap, due to Jesus own style of spending time secluded with the Father, to suggest He wanted His disciples to both refuel and refocus on the person of the Father, as well as Himself.
In speaking about the type of relationship Jesus desires with each of us He stated, in the gospel of John, chapter 15, verses 4- 5: “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” In short, apart from really knowing Him and being filled with His Spirit, we can’t really experience anything of the abundant life He has for us. While we can have faith in the promises and precepts of God, apart from intimacy, we cannot really come into those promises. Indeed there are many whom, while they may call themselves Christians, primarily have a relationship with their intellectual understanding of the promises of the Bible but have very little personal relationship, or heart knowledge of Jesus, the Word Himself! While faith is the key that unlocks the door, intimacy is the place we can then come into where we can both know and be known by God. And it is in that place of abiding in Christ that both the specifics and the timing of God for each of us can be perceived and understood. And those new vistas and perceptions of the future promises are to be God’s personal map for our lives and destinies in Him.
If love and intimacy with the Father was Jesus’ foundation for all He did, then we might also say that the extension, expression, demonstration, and proclamation of the Kingdom of God was the actual work that He did on earth. Despite the fact that much of the current teaching and preaching in pulpits today is about the church or the people of God, the premier message of John the Baptist, Jesus, the 12 apostles, the 70, and then the early days church was the message of the invasion of the Kingdom of God on earth as it was in heaven. In fact, depending on which translation of the Bible one reads, the word church in the gospel of Matthew is only used a few times while the phrase “the Kingdom of God”, or “Kingdom of Heaven” is mentioned some 34-36 times. Jesus and His disciples proclaimed the Kingdom of God is at hand, it is near, it is within you! In Jesus’ structure for prayer for the church found in Matthew chapter 6 He instructed us to pray for the Kingdom of God to be established on earth as it is in heaven. In fact, in the sermon of the mount Jesus stated one of the most widely quoted scriptures of all time: “Seek first the Kingdom of God”.
The Kingdom of God is more than a church program, practice, or a Christian political agenda. It is far more than any religious list of do’s and don’ts. It is the transforming, healing, and heart changing presence of God’s ways and the quality of life itself as heaven experiences. In short, it is the expelling of the ways of selfishness, carnality, destruction, poverty, and death and replaced by abundant life on every level. And yet the Kingdom of God is primarily a message of the heart as opposed to simply a philosophy, theology, or program. (Please see the article The Law of Kingdom Concealment, by David Orton, found in our web site)
Even though the Kingdom is hidden as Jesus illustrated in his parables, it becomes all consuming for those who find it and then sell all they have to obtain it. It is that tiny mustard seed Jesus spoke of that when planted grew into a huge tree (Luke 13.19). Jesus, out of intimacy with the Father, filled with faith (and the Holy Spirit), was constantly on a mission to seek first the Kingdom of God. Even though, the Kingdom of God is not always visible to those who are blinded by unbelief and hardened hearts, the outworking of it is, in fact, rather simple. It is basically just constantly and consistently living for others in order to make them know the love and power of the Kingdom of God. It is feeding the hungry, it is giving away love and friendship to the lonely, it is healing the sick, and it is giving out hope and faith for a better future. It is, in short, living for others in such a way that they taste and see God’s loving kindness. A kingdom lifestyle is the antithesis of living to build one’s own empire. It is sharing sacrificially, rather than out of what’s left over. It is to drown one’s own life in the raging river of God’s abundant love!
Without a kingdom paradigm and perspective faith by itself will lean towards self-centeredness. And faith and a kingdom lifestyle without intimacy with God will run towards religiosity and legalism. And a kingdom perspective and intimacy with God without faith will lead to poverty of power and provision. But when intimacy with God, heart faith in all of God’s promises, and a prevailing purpose of seeking first the Kingdom of God are mixed together the result is prevailing love, continual open doors, and seeing the reign of God’s goodness continually increasing- on earth as it is in heaven.
“if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.” Ecclesiastes 4.12