General Sketch of the New Testament in the Light of Christ and the Church, A - Part 1: The Gospels and the Acts, by Witness Lee


The Kingdom of the Heavens Drawing Near

The first matter in the New Testament is the incarnation, including the birth and growth of Christ. Following this, the second thought, the second matter, revealed is the kingdom. Following the matter of incarnation, the first word proclaimed, announced, and declared in the New Testament is the kingdom. Matthew 3:2 says, “Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.” Repentance is necessary because the kingdom is here. The first message of the New Testament gospel is the kingdom. After John the Baptist announced the kingdom, Christ repeated the same thing (4:17), and He instructed His disciples to repeat it again (10:7).

Instead of telling people to repent because the kingdom is here today, Christianity mistakenly asks people to repent in order that they may go to heaven. However, the reason we repent of our sins and receive God’s gospel concerning Christ is that the kingdom has drawn near. Our rebirth, our regeneration, is not for going to heaven but for entering into the kingdom of God today (John 3:5). The first word of the New Testament is concerning incarnation, that God became a man as Emmanuel. Then the second word of the New Testament is the kingdom. Through incarnation, Emmanuel brought the kingdom of the heavens to people. Now every human being has to deal with this kingdom.

The Expression of God and the Authority of God

What is the kingdom? Some may answer that it is the rule of the King, but this matter is hard to understand merely by our human mind. The proper definition of the kingdom is found at the close of the prayer that the Lord told us to pray, which says, “Do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen” (Matt. 6:13). The word power also indicates authority. According to its proper meaning, the kingdom of God is a matter of authority and glory. God’s authority is for dealing with His enemy, and God’s glory is the very manifestation and expression of God Himself.

This is the reason that two crucial matters are mentioned in the creation of man (Gen. 1:26). The first is that man was created in the image of God for His expression, and the second is that God committed His authority to man for man to rule over all things on this earth, especially over the creeping things. Among the creeping things there is the serpent, which is a symbol of Satan, God’s enemy. By reading Genesis chapter one carefully, we can realize that God created man with the authority to rule over the earth, upon which there is the creeping one, the serpent.

Moreover, man was created in the image of God, which is His expression, which equals the glory of God. First Corinthians 11:7a says, “For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is God’s image and glory.” Man is the glory of God because he is the image of God; he was made in the image of God for God’s expression, that is, for the glory of God. Furthermore, God committed man with His authority to rule over His enemy. This reveals what the kingdom is. On the negative side, the kingdom is for subduing and ruling over God’s enemy, while on the positive side, it is to glorify and express God. Hence, God’s kingdom is to subdue, conquer, defeat, and overcome all His enemies and also to express His glory.

Incarnation is the mingling of God with man, and along with this incarnation, God’s kingdom was brought in to subdue, overcome, conquer, and defeat all His enemies by His divine authority and to express Him in a full way for His glory. We need a heavenly vision of this, not merely a mental understanding.

(General Sketch of the New Testament in the Light of Christ and the Church, A - Part 1: The Gospels and the Acts, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)