From the very outset in the Book of Acts we find Luke referring to “The Kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). He was actually referring to Jesus’ ministry “over a period of 40 days” before He went to be with the Father. In the same breath, Luke repeats Jesus’ command to remain in Jerusalem and wait for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (1.5). In was in this context that the disciples asked if this was the time when God was going to restore “the Kingdom” (1.6).
Some think that the beginning of Acts is only about the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, however, the Book actually begins with the crucial issue of the Kingdom of God. Now that Jesus had inaugurated the Kingdom of God during His ministry, and spoke further of the Kingdom during His post-resurrection appearances, the crucial issue now facing the disciples is how might the Kingdom be maintained and furthered? And this is where the Pentecostal outpouring of Acts Ch 2 comes in – the Holy Spirit in their lives is what is going to empower them for this very task.
Going back a little, the message of John the Baptist was, “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt.3.3). Soon after, Jesus emerged from the Temptation and “began to preach and say, ‘Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand’” (Matt.4.17). Jesus was ushering in the Kingdom of God, and His disciples would continue the work. Understanding the coming of the Kingdom is sometimes an issue we miss when reading the Gospels.
Jesus went to great pains to explain what the Kingdom of God is, and what it isn’t. One of the most effective ways He did this was in a collection of what we call “the Parables of the Kingdom.” According to the Book of Matthew, there were at least nine: the Parables of the Sower (Matt.13.5); the Wheat and the Tares (13.24); the Mustard Seed (13.31); the Leaven (13.33); the Treasure Hidden in the Field (13.44); the Fine Pearls (13.45); the Dragnet (13.47); the Head of the Household (13.52); and the Landowner (20.1). All of these parables reveal a Kingdom diametrically opposed to that other opportunist kingdom, the Kingdom of this world. As Jesus said, “My Kingdom is not of this world” (Jn.18.36).
Of immediate concern to us is how are we to help extend this Kingdom? The answer is twofold: our Godly Character; and our Godly action. Thus, the Kingdom of God is breaking into the world wherever and whenever the gospel is preached (the action), and wherever and whenever the life of the Kingdom of God is in the hearts and minds of the disciples of Jesus (the character).