J. Gordon Duncan

Culture, Business, Fitness, Etc.

Walking in Love Part 2 – The Kingdom of Righteousness Peace & Joy

Part One of this series can be found here and audio for this sermon can be found at here.

My hope is that this series of posts could lead to greater church partnerships in the Garner/Raleigh area.  Feel free to join in the conversation.

17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.

Verse 17 is a strong reminder to both the stronger and weaker brother and perhaps a gentile rebuke as well.

  • The kingdom of God is not about whether or not you should eat only vegetables or meat and poultry.
  • The kingdom of God is not about whether you are free to drink alcohol or not.
  • The kingdom of God is not about whether you should observe Lent or not.
  • As passionate as I am about reformed theology and the Sovereignty of God, I will say that the Kingdom of God is not even about predestination vs. free will.

Every one of those things is important and pursuing depth in biblical understanding for each one is no an option but a necessity.  I and your future elders of this church will have definitive convictions about each one and will even be shepherding you along the lines of those convictions.  But the kingdom of God is not a matter of those things.  They play a part but they are not the essential matters of the Kingdom.  The kingdom of God, according to Paul, is about righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.  Let’s look at each one of those in depth.

First the kingdom of God is about righteousness.  Whose righteousness?  Not ours but Christ’s righteousness.  In and of ourselves, apart from Christ, we have no righteousness or goodness of our own.  Through Christ by faith, we can and do think, speak, and live out righteous acts, but never and I mean never is the Kingdom about our righteousness.  Commending yourself to God or others on the basis of anything you have done is foolish.  When Christ has given you His goodness, why would you ever reference or commend your own goodness?  Jesus’ goodness is of infinite value while we have so very little of our own in which to speak.  The kingdom of God is about your embracing the righteousness of Christ on your behalf and that righteousness motivating you towards a Godly life for yourself and a compassion for others.

Secondly, the kingdom of God is about peace.  Yes, your own personal peace but much more than that.  Knowing the forgiveness of sin and removal of guilt that comes through knowing Jesus Christ does give the heart heavy with sin and guilt, peace – it is a peace that cannot be achieved in any other way in this world described biblically as “a peace that passes understanding.”  So often the conflicts in the church are merely reflections of the conflict of the individual’s heart.  When Jesus declares in Matthew 11: 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Do you believe it?  Ask yourself what you do when you are stressed or overwhelmed and the answer to that question will show you just how much of God’s peace you understand.  When you are overwhelmed, angry, or stressed do you?  Spend significant an hour in prayer or do you eat or spend an hour online?  Spend significant amount of time in the scriptures or do you drink or play video games?  Those alternatives aren’t necessarily bad but they pale in comparison to pursuing and resting in the peace that Jesus offers that passes all understanding.  If you can’t walk peacefully with Christ in your own spirit then you are not going to walk in peace with others.  Peacemakers are blessed by Jesus in Matthew 5 as He declares that they are the inheritors of the kingdom of God.  Making peace means resting in it for yourself personally and knowing the peace that Jesus gives enables you to live peacefully with others.

Thirdly, the kingdom of God is about joy.  Joy is the promise of the Christian life and is essential for living it.  It derives from knowing that your relationship with God is not only repaired but that relationship has been changed from the enemy of God and slave to sin to the child of God and a slave to righteousness.  Paul prayed this for the Colossians 1:11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.  And ,we’re going to see Paul pray this for the Romans and for us in Romans 15 when he prayed, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”  Folks, the essential elements of righteousness, peace, and joy are yours.  They are decreed by the Father, secured by Jesus, and applied by the Holy Spirit.  These qualities are yours as the gift of God.  You may not walk in them well or pursue the depth of understanding in possessing them, but they are yours.  As you grow in living out these realities, then you will extend them to others more quickly and readily.

Paul reminds us what that looks like in verse 20.

Part 3 coming tomorrow.

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March 1, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 1 Comment