Our Spiritual Emphasis
THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM DEFINED
Let’s begin by trying to define the terms “Kingdom of Heaven” or “Kingdom of God” (I believe these two terms to be the same). And what was the message of the Kingdom?The Kingdom of Heaven or God = The realm of a monarch. In this case, the whole created order being God’s realm. Or more importantly, the rule or sovereign authority of a king(Luke 19:11-13). With even a casual reading of the three synoptic Gospels, especially Matthew and Luke, we see that the main thrust of Christ’s teachings is the Kingdom of God. About one third of the teachings of Christ are parables and many of these parables use the terms “Kingdom”, “Kingdom of Heaven” or “Kingdom of God”. The use of the term “Kingdom of God”, “Kingdom of Heaven”, and “His Kingdom” occurs about eighty times in the New Testament. In Matthew 4:17, we see Christ began His ministry preaching. “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” And in Acts 1:1-3, just prior to His ascension, He was speaking to His Apostles of the things pertaining to the Kingdom.
Therefore, when Jesus proclaimed that the Kingdom of God was at hand (near), He was saying that the authority and sovereignty of Heaven or of God was near.
More insight can be found in Matthew 6:10 “Thy Kingdom come,Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” In Christ’s mind, the Kingdom is a Kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy where the will of the Father is being done.
Herein, lies the problem. The perfect will of the Father is seldom done here on planet earth. Most people are not even aware that it could be. Therefore, the message of the Kingdom always begins with a command to repent, which literally means to change one’s mind. In Mark1:15, Jesus, at the beginning of His ministry, proclaimed, “The time has been fulfilled.The Kingdom of God is at hand.Repent and believe the gospel.” We then find at the heart of Christ’s message, the announcement of the nearness of the Kingdom.
Many New Testament truths are better understood in the context of the Kingdom. In fact, in John 3:3-5, Jesus told Nicodemus that unless one is born again, he can not see or enter the Kingdom of God. Even the most important doctrine of Christ, the new birth or being born again, is taught in the context of the Kingdom. In much the same way, other New Testament truths can be better understood in kingdom context. For example, exorcism is proof that the kingdom of God has come upon you (Luke 11:20). The second coming of Christ is also better understood when one realizes that the King returns to earth to set up His throne in the new Jerusalem in answer to “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” In the mean time, we are told that we must proclaim and demonstrate the truth that the Kingdom has come and lives within us (Matthew 10:7, 25:34-36, Mark 16:15-18). Perhaps, we might say that living a life of obedience brokenness, and servant leadership is simply externalizing the Kingdom that lives internally.
In most modern conservative Christian Churches, the message of the Kingdom is confined to end-time events and of course, these are the final culminating events that usher in eternity. But there is an aspect of the Kingdom that began in the earthly ministry of Jesus and continues on in the life and influence of the Body of Christ. This paradox of “the now and the not yet” is best explained in the parable of the yeast and leaven which explains the process of the coming Kingdom of Christ. The Kingdom is even now manifesting itself in part when the darkness of this present age is challenged and sometimes even overcome by the benevolent power of the grace and mercy of God working through His people.
Therefore this book is dedicated to the pursuit of Kingdom truth and it’s practical application in our every day lives, until the coming of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. Amen
The second letter of our acronym is A which stands for Apostolic.
For the purpose of this paper, we used the term "apostolic" to mean "missionary outreach, world evangelism, training and sending out church-planting missionaries".
Sheep beget sheep. Pastors beget pastors. Missionaries beget missionaries. This principle has proven true in our lives. We have been blessed to have the same pastor for all of our 44 years of Christian life. And he was a missionary. In our formative years, we heard missionaries from around the world tell their stories. I was first called to missions in a men's prayer breakfast where Bishop Reid was showing films of his ministry in Korea. I have never been the same since that day
When we began our work in the Philippines, it seemed only natural to me that one day, we would also send our missionaries. One morning, while I was driving and praying in my car, I heard the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to my heart. "You must raise up missionaries to pursue the hundreds of thousands of Filipino workers laboring in foreign land and establish churches in 20 major cities of the world." Of course, at that time, I was a struggling pastor with just a handful of people in his congregation. But God had given me a dream. So, together with our church leadership, we began to put in place the necessary infrastructure to realize this God-given dream.
I wish I could tell you that we sent out missionaries immediately. But we did not. It took years. But the day finally came when we sent out our first missionary. And we have continued to do so throughout the years. Presently, some of our original missionaries also have networks of churches under them. This is God's method of sustainability. "Let every creature produce after its own kind.”
The third letter of our acronym is P which stands for Presence.
For the purpose of this paper, we used the term "presence" to describe the manifest presence of the Lord in contrast to His omnipresence.
As a Pentecostal Christian, I have had the privilege of living through several seasons of Pentecostal revivals. I am not defining revival as a three-day meeting in a local church with a visiting evangelist, but rather, an outpouring or visitation of the Holy Spirit upon the church. Perhaps because of this, I have been exposed to the manifested presence of the Holy Spirit. As a student of the Word of God, I am well aware that God is omnipresent. This is an undisputed theological fact. But as a Spirit-filled believer, I also believe that there are times when the Holy Spirit draws near and allows us to experience Him in a special way. I believe this because I have experienced it many times. This is not an intellectual knowing that He is near but a spiritual one. His presence can be known and felt sometimes, very softly and at other times, with mighty power.
By the latter part of 1996, our church was almost two decades old and was one of the largest churches in our denomination in the Philippines. It was a strong church, a vibrant church and a growing church. But in spite of all this, I was becoming dissatisfied. I knew there was more and I began to seek the Lord for a fresh wind of the Spirit to blow upon us. During one of these times of prayer, I felt the Lord spoke to my heart that revival was coming by September or October of 1997. So, I continued to pray for the fulfillment of this promise until one Sunday, I shared the promise of the coming revival with our congregation and I heard myself say, “If this does not happen, I will resign because you need a pastor who can hear from the Lord. And I believe that I heard from God.”
For the next nine months, my prayer life was very intense. I did not want to resign my church. I love the people of Cebu and felt I was in the purpose of God. I began to wonder if I had spoken presumptuously until on October 5, 1997, on the Day of Atonement, revival broke out in our church and changed us forever. In the months that followed, unusual signs and wonders began to occur without any human initiation. It was as if God truly took over the leadership of our church and just asked me to step aside and let Him work. Many lives were changed. Physical bodies were healed. People with mental health and emotional issues were set free. Financial breakthroughs became the order of the day. And more importantly, many came to know Jesus. For the first time in their lives, Christians began to experience the same kind of things they saw in their New Testament. It was fun to pastor this church. God began to put gold teeth in people’s mouth. I know it’s true because it happened to my wife. I wasn’t even sure I believed in this but it was happening in front of my eyes. I had to believe it. All of a sudden, some mysterious particles that looked like gold dust, began to appear on the clothing, hair, and skin of many people in our church. During one Easter Cantata, the entire choir was covered in this mysterious dust.
Many other strange signs and wonders took place in this season while we were worshipping and praising God. These strange phenomenas occur occasionally even up to this present time. Our church has always been a church of prayer and intercession but we began to experience a new intensity and a higher level of spiritual warfare and worship. Demons were being cast out. People were being set free. All this has created a church culture that longs to be in the presence of God. Every time we gather together, there is a spiritual hunger and an intensity in worship that I have seldom seen. It is now hard to be a spectator but easy to be a participator.
Jesus used many illustrations to describe the church. One of them is being the temple of the Holy Spirit (the house of God). If this be so, should we not therefore endeavor to allow Him to create a space where He is comfortable. There are many ways to do church and I am sure that they all have a place in the plan of God. But if I were to have to choose whether to build a house where man is comfortable or one where the Holy Spirit is comfortable, I would much rather choose the latter for the church is none other than the house of God. Anyway, isn’t it all about Him and not about us?
I believe that the church is very much like a human body. Just as each individual has his specific DNA that causes him to be who he is, each congregation has been given a spiritual DNA which causes them to be who they are. Difficulties arise when we as individuals or for that matter, churches try to be other than what God wants them to be. Church DNA is made up of the gifts, leadership, and members present in that local church. God placed them there to fulfill the calling of that church. As a church elder in the seventh decade of my life, it is my passion and desire to raise up a generation who will understand their spiritual DNA and take the work of the church to the next level in their generation.