This We Believe: God’s Kingdom
This month, I’ve started a new series entitled “This We Believe.” Using the Fourth Century Nicene Creed from the early Church, I will examine four aspects of what we believe:
God’s Kingdom, Jesus is God, Salvation, and the Holy Spirit or God’s Power
All these aspects are essential elements of the gospel of the Kingdom.
What is the Nicene Creed? And why is it important for us today?
We are not a creedal church, but creeds from the early church still help us remain anchored in orthodox principles of Christian faith. In our twenty-first century culture, many are deconstructing faith, and moving away from established Christian beliefs and practice. For the early Church, creeds gave believers a vehicle to memorize or understand quickly key tenants of the faith. Keep in mind it would be a 1000 years later before the printing press.
The Nicene Creed is a statement of the orthodox faith of the early Christian church in opposition to certain heresies. These heresies, which disturbed the church during the fourth century, concerned the doctrine of the trinity and of the person of Christ. In its present form this creed goes back partially to the Council of Nicea (A.D. 325) with additions by the Council of Constantinople (A.D. 381). It was accepted in its present form at the Council of Chalcedon in (A.D. 451), with the “filioque” phrase (“and the Son” by the Western Church. 
We believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
begotten from the Father before all ages,
God from God,
Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made;
of the same essence as the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven;
he became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary,
and was made human.
He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered and was buried.
The third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again with glory
to judge the living and the dead.
His kingdom will never end.
And we believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life.
He proceeds from the Father and the Son,
and with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified.
He spoke through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church.
We affirm one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look forward to the resurrection of the dead,
and to life in the world to come. Amen.
What was God’s intent for humanity and creation?
God’s original intent was for humanity to walk in relationship with God and steward over His creation.
We were created in the image of God clothed with a material vehicle (natural body). We are a spirit like unto Him with understanding, will, and liberty.
The Latin phrase, Imago Dei, or Image of God means in likeness, or similarity, to God. Humans are created with unique abilities, absent in all other creatures of the earth, that mirror the divine nature of God.
The phrase “Image of God” has its origins in Gen. 1:27, where “God created man in his own image…”
This biblical passage does not imply that God is in human form, but that humans are in the image of God in their moral, spiritual, and intellectual essence. Thus, humans reflect God’s divine nature in their ability to achieve the unique characteristics with which they have been gifted. These unique qualities make humans different than all other creatures: rational understanding, creative liberty, the capacity for self-actualization, and the potential for self-transcendence. 
Before the fall, God placed Adam and Eve in the garden, and it was there He would come and speak with them. God gave them dominion and authority over all creation. Man was God’s vice regent on planet earth.
Consider God’s instruction to Adam and Eve about governance,
“God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Gen. 1:28 NIV
When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they forfeited the authority God gave them and were removed from the garden. Sin entered humanity and affected creation and planet earth.
Though Adam and Eve sinned, God never lost control or ownership of earth.
“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” Psalm 24:1 NIV
Despite the fall, the earth domain God gave or assigned to humanity. Think about this, God didn’t relinquish ownership of earth, but He did assign humanity the responsibility of governing it. And because we are in His image, He made us capable of governing it. This reality is true even after the fall in the garden.
The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’s; But the earth He has given (assigned) to the children of men. Psalm 115:16 NKJV
God has never lost control over earth. Whether it’s a world war, economic chaos, pandemics, or any situation. During darkness, God is loving, merciful, and long suffering. Not willing that any would perish but come to repentance and faith in Christ.
Some wonder, “Well if God is good why is there evil in the world?” The answer: because we live in a fallen world where there are two kingdoms at war with each other, God’s kingdom of light and Satan’s kingdom of darkness. They are opposed to God’s purpose of reconciliation and restoration of humanity.
Kingdom of God defined:
The English word kingdom translates from the Greek Basileia which means, first, the authority to rule as a king and, second, the realm over which the reign is exercised.
Essentially the rule of God as supreme and His realm over which he reigns—the universe and all of creation. Consider these verses:
Dan 2:37 NKJV “You, O king, are a king of kings. For the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory.”
Psalm 103:19 NKJV “The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules overall.”
Psalm 145:13 NKJV “Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and Your dominion endures throughout all generations.”
These verses state the rule, authority, and the sovereignty of the King. God’s kingdom is everlasting, His rule over all never ceases.
We may think of the kingdom as primarily God’s realm, but it is first his authority. He has authority as the Creator.
Jesus defined what God’s kingdom was and how it was being revealed.
Historically the Jews thought the Messiah would come and establish the Jewish Kingdom again, much like what David had done. So, when Jesus came, He was rejected by the religious leaders because a “political kingdom” wasn’t initiated. But both John the Baptist and Jesus declared something else:
Jesus … “From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matt 3:2 NKJV
The “kingdom of heaven is at hand” (pressing in upon me). The New Testament (NT) mentions the kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven about 80 times.
Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1:14-15 NKJV
Preaching the gospel (euangélion) of the kingdom, it’s at hand (pressing in upon me). Gospel means “the in breaking of God into this world.” (From LXX Isa. 40:9) The authority of Christ completes the kingdom message.
Jesus demonstrated God’s kingdom of love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness. He loved and forgave sinners, healed the sick as acts of God’s love, compassion, and reality of God’s kingdom. He delivered the demonized and even raised the dead. He cared for the poor and multiplied food for the masses. All these acts demonstrate the superiority of God’s kingdom over the kingdom of darkness.
Entrance into God’s kingdom and family occur through faith in Christ.
“Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” Mark 10:15 NKJV
Through humility we receive God’s Kingdom.
Jesus recovered what was lost in the garden.
He is reconciling all things and is returning all things to their original state. Partial and progressive until the 2ndComing of Christ. His finished work on the cross is accomplished, in this sense He has reconciled all things. Yet, we have free will.
God through His infinite wisdom and mercy provided not only for the redemption of mankind but for the land that became cursed due to Adam’s sin. God used the cross, a sacred tree, to repair the breach between heaven and earth that came through the tree of knowledge.
Paul describes this truth:
For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross. Col. 1:19-20 NLT
Through Jesus, the second Adam, God provided a way to restore man and the earth. Adam removed obedience from the tree, but Christ returned obedience to the tree. How does this affect our lives? We can now eat from the tree of life! Life in Christ!
In Christ, you have been restored to God’s original intent—justified by faith through Jesus in right relationship with God. You and I are still maturing and growing into the image of Christ as we continue to yield to the Holy Spirit and God’s Word, but we are in right relationship with God, as Adam and Eve were, before the fall.
We are called to enforce the reality of Christ’s redemption over the earth and society—to help restore our world to God’s original intent!
When is the Kingdom of God coming?
Answer: It is both present and it is future.
One day the Pharisees asked Jesus, “When will the Kingdom of God come?” Jesus replied, “The Kingdom of God can’t be detected by visible signs. You won’t be able to say, ‘Here it is!’ or ‘It’s over there!’ For the Kingdom of God is already among you.” Luke 17:20-21 NLT
When is God’s Kingdom coming? Present now and it is future.
The Kingdom of God has always been present. Jesus began to demonstrate what was a present reality. Matt 28:18 all authority given to Him.
Until he returns, we operate in part,
“The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.” Rev. 11:15 NIV
God’s Kingdom manifests through us partially until He returns—then fully.
No man knows the day nor the hour of His Second Coming.
“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying, and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.” Matt. 24:36-39 NIV
We are to steadfastly follow Jesus and endeavor to advance the present reality of God’s kingdom through evangelism and discipling others. This includes healing the sick, a demonstration of God’s love and of His kingdom.
Next week I’ll continue with looking at Jesus, God’s one and only Son!