Many Christians claim to believe that the Kingdom of Heaven has or will have victorious dominion, but do they really believe it and what do they mean by victory? If we were to re-ask the question as: Will the Kingdom of Heaven defeat Satan in every area of life before the Second Coming? suddenly the real beliefs of Christians surface. They believe Satan, through the Beast or Anti-Christ, really gets to win on this planet while God's Kingdom gets mauled.
To illustrate: picture a 97lb weakling being beaten to a bloody mass by a group of bullies. He cannot defend himself in any way. Suddenly a martial arts expert happens on the scene and effortlessly knocks out all the bullies. Then the bruised and battered victim gasps, "I won." How foolish! He didn't win at all, he was rescued from certain defeat. [He would have had a hard time convincing any onlookers to join his "victorious" cause!]
many Christians hold a similar view of "victory" for the Kingdom of Heaven. They believe it will be continually bashed and tormented by Satan
and his followers until Jesus physically returns to rescue it. If that
is the case, can the Kingdom of Heaven - in all honesty - really be called
victorious? I don't think so. If that is what the Bible teaches, then
so be it, but let's not pretend it's victory.
Does the Bible teach real victory or defeat for the kingdom of Heaven? Jesus said "...on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it" [Matt. 16:18, NKJV]. This shows Satan and his followers in an extremely defensive position. The church has reclaimed, through Christ, all the ground given to Satan by Adam and is storming the very gates of Hades - which are about to give way. This was the vision Jesus had for the future of The Kingdom of Heaven.
"Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death." 1 Cor. 15:24-26, NKJV] Notice the kingdom of heaven is now and Jesus is reigning now. How is He reigning? Through His people who make up the kingdom of heaven. Before the end, when He physically returns, ALL enemies will have been destroyed, death being the very last one. This sounds like a victory Christians can get excited about!
"You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world...For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that overcomes the world - our faith" [1 John 4;4, 5:4 NKJV]. Again this sounds like, because of Christ, we really win. Really! [If the church as a whole would catch this vision it might find evangelism a lot easier - rather than trying to scare people into the kingdom with sensational "end-times" books and films. For the truth check out our e-mail course on The Book of Revelation.]
But, some may argue, we do win spiritually, but the Devil will control the world physically unto Jesus returns with the Kingdom of Heaven. I'd like to see anyone prove than from Scripture in context!
To begin with, man is a created spirit inhabiting a physical body. The only separation between the two is in physical death. Therefore, everything man does is spiritual because he is a spirit. The physical person is the way the spiritual person expresses himself. The two cannot be separated. Even if it were possible to separate them, the above statement would mean Adam lost everything in the Fall and Jesus was only able to win back the spiritual half by His death on the Cross. It would mean that the Kingdom of Heaven is only "spiritual" instead of the Kingdom of Heaven flowing from the spiritual to change the physical. It would be an insult to the complete work of Christ. Adam lost it all and Jesus won it ALL back.
many Christians look at the world around them and fall on their faces
and whine, "Oh my God, rescue us! Come quickly or we perish!" [The
disciples were rebuked for a statement like that in Matt. 8:26.]
Although many pray it innocently, it is the most selfish prayer ever
prayed for it would doom the majority of earth's five billion or so
inhabitants to hell.
Satan, of course, would be delighted. It would mean, in reality, he
won. [Of course, we look forward to the Second Coming, but we want to
welcome Jesus in victory, not have to hide our faces in shame.]
Israel at the Red Sea did a similar thing. They appeared to be trapped between the water and the Egyptian army. They forgot the victory promises of God. They forgot it was God Who had led them there. "Then they said to Moses, 'Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt?'" [Ex. 14:11, NKJV] It was the sin of unbelief. They did not really think God could win. They may have called it prayer, but God was not impressed. "And the Lord said to Moses, 'Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward'." [Ex. 14:15, NKJV]
Christians who pray such prayers are attempting to escape God-given responsibilities for defeating evil and establishing the visible Kingdom of Heaven. Christians, in abandoning the total Word of God, have allowed the humanists to flood in and fill the vacuum. If it were not for the Christian retreat into the so-called "spiritual" area of life, the world would not be in the disastrous shape that it is. God will not rescue us from the consequences of our unbelieving and retreating actions.
Christians are praying for escape and rescue when God is calling for courage in the face of battle. His words to Joshua resound loudly to the Kingdom of Heaven today if we will but hear them. "Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." [Josh. 1:7-9, NKJV]
Would you want to be in Joshua's shoes? Look at what you have and look at what the enemy has. You have a group of wanderers, without much battle experience, and only the most basic of weapons. Your enemy is inside fortified cities. They have the latest and best in weapons - including cavalry against your foot soldiers. They are fierce, merciless, experienced warriors. To top that off, your enemy is literally inspired and powered by demonic forces.
What hope have you got? Only one. The Word of God. "...for the Lord your God is He who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you." [Deut. 20:4, NKJV] "Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon I have given you...no man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you." [Jos. 1:3,5, NKJV]
As we take stock of our position and look at the world around us, what hope do we have? We're out-numbered. The enemy holds the strongholds. Education, politics, the media, and many other powerful areas have been captured by the humanists. Some churches are almost hopelessly infiltrated with humanism. Humanism has influenced everyone's thinking to some degree. On what can we stand? Only the Word of God. The total and complete Word of God. When we do, it is God who fights for us and He has already won. Then the Kingdom of Heaven will grow in influence.
"Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts." [Zec. 4:6, NKJV] "The Lord will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways." [Deut. 28:7, NKJV]
The shape the world is in is not necessarily a cause for depression. True, it is in terrible shape in some ways, but in that also lays great opportunity. "...when John Wesley arrived in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in May 1742, he wrote these memorable words: 'I was surprised; so much drunkenness, cursing, and swearing [even from the mouths of little children] do I never remember to have seen and heard before in so small a compass of time. Surely this place is ripe for Him who came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.'" The Puritan Hope quoted in The Reduction of Christianity. In the midst of sin, John Wesley saw an opportunity for God to work miracles and change lives. We must have the same vision. There are opportunities everywhere for expanding the Kingdom of Heaven.
We need to be careful of not being deceived into thinking it will be a short, easy battle. It may take generations or even centuries of diligent work before the earth is won for Christ [this means more than being saved]. But we must start where we are. We must have a long term vision. We must work in the mission field God has given us and also prepare our children, grandchildren, etc. to make even further progress than we have been able to make. The visible Kingdom of Heaven must grow from generation to generation. Do not be discouraged - we will win in the end.
In our program and plan for victory we need to realize it is only by the grace and working of the Holy Spirit that any victory is possible. "Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain." [Ps. 127:1, NKJV] In ourselves we can do nothing. It is only as our work is inspired and energized by the Holy Spirit that we will accomplish much. We already know His will on the subject. "They shall not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea." [Is. 11:9, NKJV] How do the waters cover the sea? Completely! Now that's a program for the victory of the Kingdom of Heaven!
Change in every area of life will come only as more and more people come to acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. As people live their lives according to the Word of God, society will change. It will not be a minority of Christians forcing the Word of God on a rebellious majority. [That's not God's way nor would it work in the long run - its been tried!] But as the majority voluntarily live according to the Word of God in every area of life, change will come and all will benefit. The effects of the Kingdom of Heaven, although established at the Cross, will become visible on this planet for all to see.
Humanist victory comes when people are compelled to obey them. It is a victory of force or manipulation. That is not the Christian way. That is not how the Christian victory is won. Violence is not in the Christian world view way of operating. "But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be abased, and he who humbles himself will be exulted." [Matt. 23:11-12, NKJV] The Christian wins by serving not by domineering. True, we need to stand up and expose the works of darkness, but our main commission is to serve. It is by providing the best service in every area of life that Christians will set the example and lead the world to the light of Christ. Genuine and humble service, not violence, is God's way of winning the world and establishing the visible Kingdom of Heaven.
Also, our program for Christian victory must include teaching. Many Christians love the Lord with all their hearts, but they don't really know what God expects of them. "My people are destroyed for the lack of knowledge." [Hos. 4:6, NKJV] The people to whom Hosea was writing had deliberately forsaken the knowledge of God. Today, some are in the same boat, but others have never known the Word of God. If they knew they would obey. Some churches give general guidelines where people need specifics. Other churches, in trying to give specifics, have fallen into the deadly bondage of legalism. People need to know that the knowledge necessary to change their lives and their world is in the Bible, including Old Testament Law. They also need to know that they are saved and kept solely by the grace of God, not by any work of the law. The present reality of the Kingdom of Heaven needs to be taught.
Finally, the Kingdom of Heaven must set the example for the country. People need to be able to look to the Christian community [made up of all people and denominations which serve the Lord Jesus] to see examples of love, unity, compassion, and even justice. The Kingdom of Heaven [for better or worse] will be the blueprint from which the country is built. If Christians through their lives and the universal church do not set the example, they have no right to cry foul when the world runs after Satan.
Let us not be slothful and half-hearted servants, but let us be diligent and whole-hearted, knowing that we will give an account to God for our actions in this present world. We will bear the responsibility and our children and their children will reap the rewards or else they will suffer the pain of our decision. Jesus won the victory, but it is up to us to allow the Holy Spirit to work through us to the expansion of the Kingdom of Heaven in this present world.
To understand one of the greatest but neglected weapons to achieve victory for the Kingdom of Heaven take the Master Life course.