Dumping Religion For the Kingdom
Christian religious movements and Church organizations as well are supposed to be contact point of the Kingdom of God they represent. Yet, anywhere the Kingdom is demonstrated, religion will be the first to oppose a fierce resistance movement to the coming Kingdom culture. Religion and the Kingdom are strange and reluctant bedfellows. Simply, religion is the enemy of the Kingdom, so much so that one has to leave religion to enter the Kingdom. Religion is what you do to get connected to. The Kingdom is whose King you are the servant of, and whose Kingdom character and power your are effectively under and the demonstration of. Unsurprisingly, when the Kingdom had vacated from the Church, all we have left is a form of godliness without power.
Where the Kingdom is absent, mental knowledge and eloquence become substitute to Revelation, religious entertainment and performance fill the supernatural void, cunning occultism along man-made achievements and smug self-righteousness replace the demonstration of God’s power. The Kingdom is not an organized religious denomination or Church activism programs. The Kingdom is a demonstration of the King’s glory, not a religion. Christianism is not a religion, but a demonstration of the King’s dominion and character on the earth. Unfortunately, one can enter or be born into a religion, but never enter the Kingdom.
From Voodoo Philosophers To Occult High Tech Priests
From the time of classical Greek philosophy to the 18th century, rational savants adorned with their scientific thinking-cap have never been immune from occult influences. Socrates procured his own death under the charges of being an atheist who resisted the sun-god and moon-goddess worship. By sharing Anaxagoras’ views who claimed that the sun is a stone and the moon an earth, Socrates was pointing to the fact that the Athenians were rather worshiping wicked devils hiding behind the moon and the sun representations. In response to the stock charges of atheism held against him, Socrates himself publicly confessed that he believes in Demon whose voice he listens and follows. Scrupulously complying to his vows of obedience to Aesculapius, the heathen god of healing, Socrates fulfilled his last voodoo sacrifice ritual to the end. In 399 BC, on his deathbed, Socrates’ final word was about a faith proclamation to occultism: “ Crito, we owe a cock to Aesculapius, pay it and do not neglect it !”
Similarly, occult influence pervades Plato’s philosophy. In the Timaeus, Plato acknowledged that “we have no word from God”. Thus, he passionately rushed to the occult knowledge of Egypt for instruction about the mysteries of the universe. Down to the line from Pato through Constantine, occultism and christianity were fused together in some fascinating concoction. Cunningly, sun-god and moon-goddess worship was remarkably blended with the Gospel of Christ and pre packaged for public consumption. The renaissance era saw a revival of old-age esoteric traditions within culture and arts. Today, we witness the revenge of magic and indulge in the golden age of occultism through the Film, Movie and Music industry as well as the digital games and cartoons that occupy our minds.
Nowadays, we have all become blindly initiated to occultism through the medium of mass entertainment. Call it neo-occultism. It aims mainly at indoctrinating our collective conscience with the hidden knowledge of ancient mysteries. For instance, among the 10 best movies influenced by 20th century occultism, we can name Kenneth Anger’s movie titled, Invocation of my Demon Brother. The complex of mass entertainment made available through digital platforms and esoteric technologies have paved the ways for the speedy recolonisation and invasion of modern cities by ancient wicked gods. The occult is a do-it-yourself religion. It is not based on right and wrong. One can redefine evil and good as it pleases in order to fit personal interests and still indulge in some mystical experiences. Religious people often seek some supernatural adventure that does not challenge their sin life and best kept lifestyle. They are looking for a force or power to serve them, rather than looking to serve the Righteous and living God. Predictably, religion becomes the fierce enemy of the Kingdom when the Kingdom invades society with righteousness, truth, and power. Religion will always criticize and oppose the Kingdom advancement under the name of God.
Religion is the Enemy of the Kingdom.
Around 57-58 AD, Paul pitched his tent in Ephesus, for at least well over two years as part of his third missionary journey. Ephesus was the world trade center for ideas and goods of the ancient world. Artemis, the Near Eastern Magna Mater deity, was the patron goddess of this renowned seaport city. Her temple was the largest building in the Greek world and one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Paul preaches the Gospel of the Kingdom and demonstrates it with power by launching an open warfare against the kingdom of darkness at Ephesus. This clash of power encounter brought many to surrender to the Gospel of Christ. This resulted in a mass defection of the Ephesians from the cult of the goddess Artemis. So far, many were under cheap bargaining tactics with one religious security loan to satan and one credit deposit to the Kingdom of God. Indeed, they wanted the Kingdom without losing their religion by saving for later use their magic scrolls containing the secret formulas for the lucrative business of occult power. However, when the undeniable power of the Kingdom was publicly demonstrated for all to see on the marketplaces, the citizens of Ephesus dumped their religion along their idols as futile to chose the Kingdom of God. Idolatry is one of several facets of magic. Idols are an expression of what men are desiring, expecting, looking for, and choosing to worship: success, material prosperity, victory, power, security, protection, social status and ranks…
Undeniably for the first time at Ephesus, the demonstration of the Kingdom of God displayed a power far beyond man-made magic and religious gimmicks. This contest of power brought the people to the awareness of the futility of idols. The Kingdom exposes the futility of magic by demonstrating a greater and unmatchable power. Only through what Christians are able to teach and demonstrate, can we expect a radical impact in society. As Acts 19: 18-19 recorded, “many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their deeds. A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to 50.000 drachmas.”
The demonstration of the Kingdom at Ephesus was not received without a fight. The goddess Artemis orchestrated threat, riot, and social uprising through organized religion to oppose the progress of the Kingdom of God. For the Kingdom was disrupting the trust business that fed commerce, trade and business corporations under the umbrella of religion. Indeed, the preaching of the Gospel at Ephesus bankrupted the corporation of silversmith that was depending on the goddess Artemis cult for its survival. In Ephesus, the goddess Artemis founded a well established religion by way of a solid and perpetual lucrative business industry through idols worship. The idol making industry via shrines, amulettes, and statues was being threatened to disappear because of the arrival of the Kingdom. Therefore, religion stepped in with violence to oppose the Kingdom by organizing riot and chaos in the city to push Paul out of its territorial frontiers. Religion always opposes the Kingdom. As is always the case, the Kingdom exposes the hollowness of false religions pretending to offer what they do not possess. The Kingdom is about who the King is and our relationship to His attributes.
This same pattern of contest between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness is conspicuous in the ministries of Paul, Stephen, and Philip. In the book of Acts, we identify 22 power encounters between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness. Out of this clash of two kingdoms, only 1 occured in the Temple - the healing of the lame man at the Beautiful Gate in Acts 3. Wherever the Gospel of the Kingdom is preached and demonstrated, there is a dramatic contest or opposition between darkness and Light. As a result of this confrontation, Act 19: 20 drew a constant inference : “the Word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed”. Because of the dramatic confrontation between darkness and Light, in Acts 8: 6-7, the crowds gathered around Philip to witness the demonstration of God’s supernatural power. “And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles with which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed ”.
The same demonstration of the Kingdom is true with Stephen, a Spirit-filled preaching man. Stephen, full of faith and power, performed “great wonders and signs” among the people. He preached the Kingdom and demonstrated it with signs and wonders.The superior power demonstrated by Stephen threatened the old religious order. The religious group leaders from the Synagogue of the Freedmen rose up against Stephen, accusing him of blasphemy against the Law, the Holy Place, God, and Moses. They stirred up the scribes, the mobs, and the elders and brought Stephen before the religious Council. In Acts 7: 54, the religious leaders decided the fate of Stephen, making him to become the first martyr among the believers. They have Stephen stoned to death with the approval of Saul of Tarsus. Saul of Tarsus was the accredited persecuting tool of religion against the Kingdom. His religious zeal was brewing violence, hatred and murder against the movement of the Kingdom. His religion gave him the mission to stamp out Jews leaving their religion for the Kingdom. However, on the road to Damascus, when Saul of Tarsus made an encounter with Jesus, whose Kingdom he was persecuting, Saul became Paul and dumped his religion for the Kingdom of God. Likewise, when Jesus began preaching and demonstrating the Kingdom with power and wonders, the religious establishment felt strongly that their hollow power was under threat to collapse. The religious leaders opposed a resistance movement against the coming Kingdom. They got rid of Jesus to stop the spread of the Kingdom’s influence around the nation. Unsurprisingly, one has to drop his religion to enter the Kingdom.
Israel, God’s Kingdom Errand Boy To the Nations
Consistently, God’s mandate for Israel does not give place for doubt or confusion. God did not call Israel to bring a religion to the world, but rather, to demonstrate his coming Kingdom to the earth. Israel is God’s ambassador to the world announcing the coming Kingdom. As God’s errand boy to the whole nations of the earth, Israel is rightly called God’s servant and witness. “I have called you by name, You are my witnesses and My servant whom I have chosen.” Is. 43: 1-10. Israel’s purpose is irreplaceably and uniquely unchanging because salvation and restoration of the whole world is at stake. Only through Israel did God make an offer and a plan of salvation without any other alternative plan. What is God’s errand boy job description? We could resume Israel’s job description in a fourfold mission: (a) Israel is a world carrier of blessing opportunities; (b) Israel demonstrates the glory of God; (c) Israel is a world carrier of the Light of salvation to all the nations; (d) and Israel is an endtime sign.
First, Israel’s mandate in world history is to be a blessing to the nations of the world. “And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, so that you will be a blessing...And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” Genesis 12: 2-3. On the second hand, Israel’s calling is to lift up the Name of God or to glorify the Name of God among the nations.To glorify God is to demonstrate, extol, and make known the attributes and character of God. When God sent Moses to Egypt on a rescue mission trip for Israel, Moses was not given a religion and a ritual to lead the Israelites out of boundage. Moses came to Egypt to demonstrate a power far superior to the Egyptian power. Moses performed and demonstrated the character of the One who sent him through “signs and wonders” before the eyes of the Egyptian kingdom.
When two kingdoms clash, there is no time for religion, but a demonstration of power and character. As a result of this power encounter between Egypt and the Kingdom of God, pharaoh has to bow down in defeat and let the people go. In Exodus 33: 12, when Moses asked to see God’s face, instead, God demonstrated to his servant his character. Knowing God is knowing his character in order to demonstrate it to others. Knowledge lies in the ability to do or produce a demonstration. Those who know their God will do wonders by performing his nature! Those who don’t know God are striving and sweating in religious gimmicks to fill the void. In the Hebrew mindset, when you know something, you have to do it. When you do it, you’ll know it. David was a friend of God who knew God. Therefore, David the king demonstrated God’s power in a mighty ways for the whole world to see. Indeed, recalling about David’s life, Isaiah 55: 4 puts an emphasis on: “see how I used him to display my power among the peoples”.
God allowed his servant Moses to see his divine glory in a double measure of display. On the one hand, God’s glory is displayed through a vision of his goodness while calling out His own Name. The signature mark of God’s glory to Moses was spelled out in relation with his mercy, compassion, forgiveness, unfailing love, and faithfulness (Exodus 34: 5-7). The source of God’s power is hidden in his love and righteousness. On the other hand, God’s glory is demonstrated through his miraculous power. God made a covenant with his servant Moses to perform miracles unheard of for all the people to see his divine power (Exodus 34: 10). Thus, God revealed his character to Moses and his miraculous deeds to his people of Israel to be demonstrated to the nations of the world that are covered by darkness.
What is Israel’s mandate in the world as far as God’s glory is concerned? Israel is called to be a demonstration of God’s justice, mercy, love, righteousness and power because the righteous Lord loves justice. Consequently, to see God’s face, we are called to be holy, merciful, loving, and righteous (Ps. 11:4). The holiness of God will be displayed by his righteousness (Is. 5: 16). In Ps. 89: 14, righteousness and justice are the foundation of God’s throne. Unfailing love and truth walk before Him as attendants. Salvation is at hand when God’s glory is demonstrated and his holiness vindicated.
On the third hand, Israel is carrying God’s Light to the world. In Isaiah 49:6, Israel is called to be a Light for the nations so that God’s salvation may reach the end of the earth. Salvation is not a religious life insurance ticket to heaven. Rather, salvation is the restoration of God’s government on earth. Salvation is about a job description on earth, not a life saving escaping kit out of this troubled world. Israel is not a world insurance company provider for those who want to stay out of trouble, but the step-into the mess errand boy to bringing world solutions. “I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth”. In Isaiah 60: 2-3, nations will come to Israel’s light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. There is a salvation plan and Israel has the mandate to execute it. Like Joseph in Egypt, Israel is sent to his brothers in a difficult and challenging time. Israel’s mandate is to deliver provisions of bread through a long term agricultural policy to eradicating satanic famine and poverty against the nations.
On the fourth hand, Israel is God’s sign to the end of the age and a glorious future for the nations. At the end, Jerusalem is to become a city of truth.
The Kingdom Is Demonstration of The King’s Glory, Not Religion
Jesus came as God’s chosen Servant through Israel to fulfil Israel’s mandate as God’s servant. Jesus is taking up to the finish line the same job that was given to Israel. “I, the Lord, have called you to demonstrate my righteousness” Isaiah 42: 6. Speaking about the Lord’s chosen Servant, Isaiah 42 fixes his mandate in a fourfold job description as one who is called: (a) to demonstrate God’s righteousness; (b) to bring justice to the nations; (c) to be Light to guide the nations; (c) to bring freedom to the captives and open the eyes of the blind. As it was with Israel, so it is with Jesus. Salvation is not limited to Israel. Jesus’ mandate has also a specific task description. Going beyond providing restoration to Israel, redemption expands beyond Israel’s borders to include salvation for the whole world. “You will do more than restore the people of Israel to me. I will make you a light to the Gentiles, and you will bring salvation to the ends of the earth” (Is. 49:6). How do we come about offering to Israel children she never knew about or never raised? Isaiah 53: 10-11 has the clear answer for us. A suffering Servant took upon himself and bore the sins of the Gentiles, opening the gates of Israel to all who are thirsty, hungry, and in chains. When the life of Christ, the suffering Servant, is made an offering for sin, He will have many descendants because the righteous Servant sufferings and death made a way for many to be counted righteous.
That’s why Israel is never replaced or displaced by any other institution or nation, but rather expanded to include the Gentiles via the Church. Gentiles have become part of God’s house and the covenant people of God through the Church’s wide doors open. Gentiles have being brought to God’s holy mountain of Jerusalem. And God’s Temple now “will be called a house of prayer for all nations. For the Sovereign Lord, who brings back the outcasts of Israel, say: I will bring others, too, besides my people Israel” (Is 56: 7-8). Through the Church, gentiles have been pressing their way into the Kingdom, numbering among the innumerable children that Abraham foresaw in his vision. A Kingdom of many nations and ethnic groups under one house - the house of Israel. To be part of this Kingdom, there is one expectation. “All your people will be righteous” Isaiah 60: 18. It is a gift of the King. How did Jesus’ ministry fit as a demonstration of the King’s attributes?
The Gospel writers gave us a unique format and pattern of Jesus’ ministry on earth. This remains the only pattern he gave to his disciples. Jesus demonstrates and teaches about the Kingdom. Nothing less, nothing more. Jesus began to do and to teach (Act 1:1). All who claim to be Kingdom servants have no Church agenda or programme of their own. Their job is to demonstrate the Kingdom and teach it to others. Nowhere have we to see Jesus doing religion or rituals. Jesus does what he sees his Father doing. For instance, right at the opening of the book of Matthew Jesus is preaching in Galilee: “the time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand”.
Now he goes on to demonstrate the superiority of his Kingdom over the kingdom of satan through healing, miracles and wonders. Befittingly, Jesus set up the high priorities and the purpose of his mandate. Seek diligently, make a high priority of your life, the Kingdom of God and his righteousness. And all these things we are looking for shall be added unto us (Mt 6:33). The Kingdom is all about demonstrating the King’s righteousness, truth, justice, peace, and freedom. The King’s desire is that the earth be under the control of people that could rule creation by demonstration of whose kingdom power they are under and belong to. Entering the Kingdom is not a religious membership club or a Church denominational affiliation. We are not asked to join a religion, but to enter a Kingdom. Playing out our smug self- righteousness and seasoned religious traditions do not give us access to the Kingdom. But restoring a Kingdom through demonstration. For man did not fall from heaven or from religion. Man fell from dominion and right to be the official governor demonstrating the King’s glory on earth. Salvation is God giving man back what was lost: power to carry on the Kingdom mandae. The program of salvation is all about restoring the government of God on earth and his righteousness, and not playing religion. No wonder why many born into religion failed to enter the Kingdom. They take a double pledge allegiance to their religion and to other substitute source of power. Only when they know the King and enter the Kingdom could they lay their religion to rest in peace.
Narcisse Jean Alcide Nana
Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Narcisse Jean Alcide Nana and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana.