23-Life in the Kingdom of God - The Essential Keys
By Colleen Donahue
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Probably I am like you when I need to understand more of God's ways. Besides searching the scriptures I also like to read what others have gleaned from their studies. So, in reading about the keys of the Kingdom I have read about:
-the key of grace
-the key of forgiveness
-the key of favor
-the key of wisdom
-the key of kindness
-the key of knowledge
-the key of purity
-the key of love
-the key of worship
-the key of fellowship
-the key of faith
-the key of prayer
I remember being a student in my grade school and being friends with the janitor. I was fascinated with his key ring. It was a big ring he wore on his belt. It had so many keys that it made me dizzy to think he could remember what they all opened. But one day he explained to me that only three keys were absolutely essential to him because they were the "master" keys to every door in the school.
As I've been mulling over all I have studied, I've concluded that there are 3 "master keys". I'd like to share them in this study. They won't be new to us, but perhaps we'll see them in a different light.
MASTER KEY #1 - GOD'S WORD
1. The Bible is a book of books and unlike any other. It's called "God's Word" because God spoke through men so that others, like you and I, could know God's mind and heart. God is called the author and men were his scribes. Some have described the Bible as the constitution of the Kingdom of God. Inside of its pages lie the mind and heart of our Father for each of his children. Therefore to operate to our fullest potential within the Kingdom of God we have to know what God wants. We have to study His word and walk in it so that it becomes the very fabric of our life.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 / Joshua 1:7-9
2. WHY can we confidently build our life on the truth of God's word?
Deuteronomy 32:4 / 2 Samuel 22:31 / Matthew 5:48
When we live by God's truth we live by the perfect standard of God Himself.
3. In times of the Old Testament, obeying God's commands was no easy task, In fact, why had God given his people The Law?
We find this same principle today. Rules and regulations just bring out what is really inside of us. For example, the teacher says, "There will be no gum chewing in my classroom." So all those set on chewing gum will do so anyway albeit on high alert so as not to be discovered. The "no gum chewing rule" only serves to expose those who are set on chewing gum. For the rest of the class it's no big deal. That's why Paul wrote this to Timothy.
1 Timothy 1:9-11
4. The Mosaic law of the Old Testament was given to eventually do what?
Galatians 3:19, 23-24
So Moses gave God's Law -- the ten commandments -- to the people to be like a guardian to them until the time was right for Jesus to come.
5. Jesus was the fulfillment of the law. He could keep it perfectly because He was the Son of God. He has been the only man to do so.
The good news of the Kingdom of God doesn't negate the law of Moses. What is repeated in the New Testament by Jesus and others is still in force today.
6. But -- notice this verse at the end of the section we just read in Matthew.
It's a warning to us but what does it mean? The Pharisees dedicated their entire life to keeping the laws of God and they wrote hundreds if not thousands more in laws to amplify what God had said. If obeying God's law was impossible, these Jewish leaders made it more so. Their keeping all the rules was done in their OWN strength, by their own will power and thus they had great pride in their accomplishments. I'd like us to read most of this chapter in Matthew. Make a list of all that Jesus had against these Pharisees. While you read also jot down all the different names that Jesus called them.
Don't miss the main reason that Jesus criticized these men so severely.
Matthew 23:25, 27-28
It's the same criticism that unbelievers have of some church folks today. They strut like peacocks looking good on the outside while on the inside they are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness. So these Pharisees weren't so good as they thought. Jesus as the Son of God saw right to their hearts and they were filthy through and through.
This poses a question for us. If we are to read, study, and memorize God's Word but NOT do it like the Pharisees, how ARE we to do so? This question brings us to our second master key.
MASTER KEY #2 - THE HOLY SPIRIT INDWELLING US
7. When the time was right for Jesus to come, we saw in an earlier study that God sent John the Baptist to prepare the people for the King who was coming. He called for the people to confess their sins and get right with God. Then, he would baptize them in water as a symbol of their repentance. This was only a preparation...... for what was to come?
8. It had always been the Father's plan that his children would live with God's Spirit indwelling them -- in a close partnership throughout life. What would this enable us to do?
Sin and rebellion by Adam and Eve drove God's Spirit from their human spirit --- for the Holy Spirit can't dwell within sinful hearts. Therefore since our first parents, every one of us has been born physically alive but spiritually dead. Jesus came to bring the Holy Spirit back to man so we could get back on track -- ruling and reigning with God in the development of his universe.
9. By going to the cross, Jesus would pay the ultimate and final sacrifice. It would close the Old Testament system of animal sacrifices and open up a new era of grace.
Hebrews 2:9 / 7:27 / 9:24-28 / 10:10
10. Christ's death on the cross did three things for us.
A. It dealt with our PAST sins -- all the things that we have said and done against God and others. What was to be the means of our forgiveness?
B. The cross dealt with our PRESENT too because it dealt with the old carnal nature that keeps us sinning. In a cosmic miracle God put every one of us into Jesus on the cross so that when He died we died. When He was buried our old nature was buried with Him.
Why is this important?
C. This opens the way for our FUTURE -- our resurrection with Jesus to a new life.
Romans 6:4-5, 8
11. And what is this new life?
Romans 8:1-2 ,5, 9-17
It is no less than God's Holy Spirit indwelling our own human spirit!
12. When we confess our sins, what is Jesus faithful about doing?
1 John 1:8-9
13. This forgiveness along with the death of our old nature, enables us to have a clean heart so that we can be the home for Christ's Spirit here on earth. It's what King David was beginning to grasp when he prayed this prayer.
14. It's what the Prophet Ezekiel predicted for God's children.
This cleansing and gift of God's Spirit was all God's idea. Reread Ezekiel 36:25-30 and count how many times God say, "I WILL."
HOW DO WE GET THE HOLY SPIRIT TO INDWELL OUR LIFE?
15. No matter what our status on earth, we all enter God's Kingdom the same way -- through Jesus.
John 10:7 / John 14:6 / 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 / Hebrews 10:19-20
I love how the New Living Translation expresses 2 Corinthians 5:14-15. "Either way, Christ's love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that WE have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them."
16. What happens to everyone who believes in what Jesus did for us at the cross and who now belongs to the Saviour?
2 Corinthians 5:17
Most people think that they need to reform themselves before coming to Jesus -- clean up their act and live right. This is not so. The reason our old nature was crucified (or died) with Christ is because God knew that we were beyond reform. We needed a completely new spirit -- a new operating system. So according to 2 Corinthians 5:17 anyone who is "in Christ" (because God has put us there) now belongs to Jesus and is therefore a new creation. The old life is gone and a new life has begun.
17. The forgiveness of our sins and the death of our old nature has been done for us in Christ. But God will not violate our free will. If we want to live by Christ's Spirit indwelling our own what must WE do?
Luke 11:9-13 (especially vs. 13)
18. And when we ask Jesus for His Spirit, how do we know that we can count on Him to give the Holy Spirit to us?
We can be assured that God does not show favoritism. He is no respecter of persons. He counts all of us alike. That's why in verse 35 it says He accepts all those who fear Him and do what is right. It doesn't matter if you are rich or poor. All who ask will be given. What is available to one is available to all.
19. God has assigned the Holy Spirit to walk with each of us through life until we go to be with Him. He is the power within us to carry out God's purposes. What will His power enable us to do?
As we look at the Bible, we see two stages of this indwelling.
A. First we see that Jesus "breathed" on his disciples and told them....
So when we come to Jesus at the cross, confess and repent of our sins, then ask Him to be the Lord and Savior of our life --- He does just that. He forgives us our sins, and then He gives us His own Spirit to indwell us. Every child of God has Christ's Spirit in them. When we are born again the Holy Spirit comes to dwell IN us. He is God's gift to us.
B. Second, we see in scripture what is called being "filled with the Holy Spirit" or "baptized with the Holy Spirit". By His divine power within us, we start to desire to do God's will above our own. But we know that we must have God's power to carry it out or we won't be able to do it. We are keenly aware of our inability and therefore ask for more of the Holy Spirit's power. And so we see in these verses that believers were filled with the Holy Spirit who gave them the power to do God's will.
Acts 2:4 / 4:8,31 / 10:44 / 13:52 / 19:6
As you can see from Acts 4:31 once they were filled with the Holy Spirit they could speak God's word boldly without fear of men. The truth is that when we are born again we have all of the Holy Spirit indwelling our own. The real question is does the Holy Spirit have all of us? According to how much the Holy Spirit has of us will He be able to work through us.
20. As one of the master keys, how does the Holy Spirit work with the Key of God's Word?
John 14:26 / 1 John 2:27
When Jesus spoke the words in John 14 we have to remember that nothing was written down yet. Therefore Jesus was assuring them that the Holy Spirit indwelling them would be their teacher to remind them what Jesus taught, as well as how to apply it.
21. If we are ever to know the heart of God for ourselves, we must have the Holy Spirit to reveal him to us.
1 Corinthians 2:10-12
This in turn allows us to share spiritual truth with others.
1 Corinthians 2:13
22. What will the Holy Spirit guide us into?
The truth that we will be guided into will enable us to make practical decisions in our ministry, business, and home. Here are some examples.
Acts 10:19-20 / Acts 13:2 / Acts 16:6
23. What else can we count on the Holy Spirit to do for us?
The same Spirit that Jesus had indwelling his body is now indwelling us. So if the Spirit gave life to Christ's dead body He can do so for us. Most of us just accept and suffer under whatever illness falls on us. We reach for the pills without any thought of asking the Holy Spirit for his supernatural life so we can continue to operate normally. But citizens in the Kingdom of God have a health system to rely on that is far better than what man offers.
24. Every child of God or Kingdom of God citizen becomes an ambassador for Christ in whatever life circumstance we are led to be in. According to this verse what do we become ministers of?
2 Corinthians 3:6
Notice in the second half of this verse that the New Covenant is based on the Spirit who gives life and not just on the letter of the law.
25. The Old Covenant was based on men and women keeping God's Law in their own strength. It was impossible. Why?
26. How did the New Covenant differ from the Old? As you read these verses make a list of the differences.
Hebrews 8:6-13 / 9:13-15 / 10: 15-18
This New Covenant is based on JESUS being able to keep God's law perfectly and since we are in Him and He is in us, WE can keep God's law. Notice in the New Covenant that God puts His laws on our minds and hearts and then the Holy Spirit helps to remind us of what we need and when we need it. That's why we don't need anyone to teach us. The Holy Spirit is taking the "Living Word" that God has placed within us and administering it to us.
If we only use God's Word without the Spirit it will bring death to others rather than life. (Reread 2 Corinthians 3:6). We have all heard a preacher or read an author that is speaking truth. But without the Holy Spirit that truth is cold and hard and makes us feel hopeless. When the same truth is spoken by a preacher or author who is filled with the Holy Spirit, it comes across as life for us and gives us hope that even we can walk in it.
So, the master keys of the Word of God and the indwelling Holy Spirit should always work together -- and they will always agree. If you hear someone say that they no longer need the Word of God because they have the Holy Spirit, they will be in danger. Satan can impersonate the Holy Spirit when he comes as an "angel of light". The devil can and will lead a believer to do things contrary to the Word of God which can lead them into even gross sin -- all the while they are thinking that they are following God's path.
REMEMBER: The Holy Spirit NEVER leads us contrary to the will of God as written in the Word of God. They are ALWAYS in agreement.
MASTER KEY #3 - PRAYER
Watchman Nee was a Chinese teacher and preacher of the gospel who is one I am most anxious to meet in Heaven. The short book called "Let us Pray" was compiled by his followers from various talks that Mr. Nee gave to them. I have probably read dozens of books on prayer, but this short volume helped me to see how prayer is like a third master key enabling us to activate the Word of God and the Spirit of God to accomplish the will of God.
27. For Kingdom of God Citizens, the King Father delights to reveal Himself to us. He has things for us that are beyond our human comprehension.
1 Corinthians 2:9
How does He reveal Himself to us?
1 Corinthians 2:10-11
If a believer only accepts from Jesus the forgiveness of his sins but doesn't go on to receive Christ's Spirit, then when the King Father does try and get through to his child what is true?
1 Corinthians 2:14
But when we accept Christ's work of forgiveness and cleansing so that His Spirit can make his home in us, then what becomes ours?
1 Corinthians 2:16
What has this got to do with the key of prayer? EVERYTHING!
We think that prayer starts with us but in reality it starts with God. God has a desire or a will that He wants to see happen on earth. And so He communicates His desire to one of his kids.
Here is a remarkable truth. Even though the King Father has desires for what He wants done on earth, he has given the rulership of earth to us. Therefore, He will never override our dominion and free will. He subjects Himself to working through one of us! God limits himself so that He can do his work in partnership with us -- amazing!
28. According to Jesus, how does God communicate his will to us?
Notice the phrase in the middle of this verse. "He will not speak on his own, He will speak only what He hears... " NIV
The Holy Spirit is our "receiver" to pick up what God is saying to us. The Holy Spirit indwelling our own spirit is what makes us spiritually alive and able to hear from God. Without Him we can't hear what God is saying.
29. But when the Holy Spirit is active in our lives, it's like we "hear" a voice within communicating God's will to us. Or, we see a light where there was only darkness before.
Isaiah 30:21 / 42:16
30- Those who can hear this voice and see his light have one main character trait.
"Know-it-alls" can't hear the still, small voice of God. Since they know everything already they miss what God wants to say to them. It's why Jesus said we must be like children. And what are children like? They are humble, dependant, trusting, and teachable. Only when we have these same qualities can we hear the King's voice through the Holy Spirit within us.
31. Once we do hear God's voice speaking through the Spirit, that's when we need to pull out the key of prayer. Since we know we are asking God for what He wants to do already, what can we be certain of?
1 John 5:14-15
32. Often the Holy Spirit will speak to us when we are reading the Word of God. Suddenly a verse will light up for us that we have never noticed in quite the same way and that will be our que to go to prayer. And when we go to prayer, what do we do?
Matthew 7:7 / John 16:24
33. Then, when God hears us pray, what does He do?
Jeremiah 29:13 / 33:3 / Isaiah 65:24
34. And after we have prayed what do we do?
Mark 11:24 / 1 John 3:22
So that is the key of prayer tying together the key of God's Word and the key of the indwelling Spirit.
1. God has a desire or will he wants to have happen on earth.
2. He communicates that will to us through the indwelling Holy Spirit in one of two ways:
a. We'll either read it directly in the Word itself and the Holy Spirit will highlight that Word to us.... OR
b. The Holy Spirit will tell us something we couldn't know without him and then He'll confirm it in his Word.
3. We take that Word from God and pray it back to Him. "Lord, you said such and such. I am asking you to fulfill your word in this situation."
4. God hears our prayers and is now free to work because He has a willing partner.
5. We stand firm and believe that what we prayed is going to happen whether it's now or later.
And so the key of God's Word, the key of the Holy Spirit indwelling and the key of prayer should be the master keys on your ring. Together they will guide you into using all the other keys such as faith, love, grace and forgiveness. The more you use the keys the more keys will be yours to use.