You live and learn. At least your do if you have a thirst for life, possess a modest supply of humility, are not paralysed by fear and have an expectation that things will turn out well if you pursue knowledge rather than remain in ignorance. I was raised in a law-cantered fundamentalist religion. I came to know Jesus well after I had attempted to labour for Him in the church. I encountered the presence of Holy Spirit in the community of the saints in the last year of the 1980s and have had some familiarity with charismatic culture. I can say I have learned something from every swimming pool of The Body I have done laps in. In my later years, meaning the years prior to 2016, I have ministered with people who heal the sick. I have healed people in Jesus’ name myself and seen a girl in India who was raised from the dead the year before by her pastor and praying members of the congregation.
To me ministry means multiplying what Jesus began - in every way. The kingdom to me is healing the sick, raising the dead and casting out demons. But that’s not all.
Having spent much of my life without the manifest presence of Jesus, I fastened onto this Kingdom life like a limpet once I saw and experienced His manifest presence. For a time I thought His presence was everything - and it is. We are not much without Him. Certainly not our best selves. But there is more to the Kingdom of God than ‘the presence’ in a charismatic sense; more than gifts of healing and words of prophecy. This ‘more’ is Christ our life and the trinity incarnated in our being. Jesus had a foundation. Jesus was who He was in person and mission because He and His Father were one. This was His foundation and rootedness.
Today we are who we are and we are doing what we are meant to be doing with His Spirit and life because we and our Father are now one in Christ.
My daughter observed in her work that in some circles there is need of better teaching, of enlightened teaching of sound doctrine and the foundations of the faith. As wonderful as signs and miracles are, they are not the foundation of the faith. Theology is the foundation. But not the abstraction of theology. I am not speaking of theology in the sense of making a religious life out of doctrine. I’m done with this form of godliness without power. I’m saying theology is sound doctrine. It is the teaching of the facts about Christ and the revelation of who God is and who we are in Jesus. I say this because proper and fruitful theology is the truth about God, what He has done and who we are as a result. Good theology is the gospel of the Kingdom made plain and manifest as the sons and daughters of God.
This (what I just wrote) is the soil out of which the fruit that is the Kingdom grows. A gospel based on myths, misunderstandings, distortions or ignorance of the truth about God, what God has done and who we are as a result will produce weeds, bad fruit and incomplete lives. The branches of such a vine will be withered and the fruit will have mould.
The gospel of the Kingdom, that we are included in God’s family and given space to grow in His grace; that we are already present and participants in the Holy Family (the trinity) is the comfort, encouragement and spirit-life that nurtures us as sons and daughters and draws us into the completeness of who we are in Christ. This is our reality.
Good theology comes from the efforts of good theologians - scholars who by their dedication, intelligence and education ‘rightly divide the word of truth.’ The gospel of the Kingdom they reveal and the certainty of our belonging in it is so radical and delightful that the religious mind can often think it too good to be true. But it is true and the Spirit and the scriptures bear witness to its truth. But they are successful in revealing the love of our Father and the glory of Jesus not just through scholarly effort. They are assisted by the Spirit of wisdom and revelation. The nature of this Kingdom is love. The foundation of this Kingdom is grace. The execution and reality of it is Christ and His new covenant.
The companionship of the King is Christ in us. The incarnation and the executive power of His heart and will for mankind is Holy Spirit active in you. There are signs to be sure. But the greatest sign is Christ manifest in you, your marriage, your family and your vocation. He is in you, with you and manifesting through your persona. This is Christ our life!