““The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it.” Luke 16.16
“And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.” Matthew 11.12
Concerning Jesus’ startling words in Matthew 11.12, John Calvin wrote, “Let us also learn from these words, what is the true nature and operation of faith. It leads men not only to give, cold and indifferent assent when God speaks, but to cherish warm affection towards Him, and to rush forward as it were with a violent struggle.”
Would we describe ourselves as “rushing forward as it were with a violent struggle” to lay hold on more of the Kingdom of God?
Not if we don’t desire the Kingdom as the defining priority of our lives. And not if we aren’t prepared for the struggle which realizing that Kingdom will require. Columbanus wrote (Sermon X), “Thence we now force the kingdom of heaven by strength and violence, and this we snatch somehow, as it were, from amidst our enemies’ hands in the middle of the field of strife, and as it were in the blood-stained soil of battle, while we are too hardly assailed not only by our foes but by ourselves, while each loves himself ill, and in the act of loving hurts himself; for he loves well who hates, that is, disciplines himself savingly; but he who makes terms with his foes is not said to love himself aright.”
Jesus described the true Kingdom-seeker as a “violent” person who takes the Kingdom “by force”. Columbanus applied this to the disciplines we practice to subdue heart, mind, and conscience to Christ and to train the members of our bodies for godly living. Our great enemy in this endeavor is our old self. The old self in us is set in its ways and wants to persist in ruthless and destructive self-love. The Kingdom-dweller knows the destructive ways of the self and bridles it with grace and truth that it may be serviceable to the Lord and others.
We must struggle to realize this victory and gain more of the promised realm of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. Thus we press ever more deeply into the Kingdom of God to the extent we use holy violence to godly ends.
Resources for Shepherds
What is the Kingdom of God? What does it mean to seek it? How should our lives be different by our having been translated into that Kingdom? These and other questions are answered in our book, The Kingdom Turn. Learn more and order your free copy by clicking here.
Men, have you ever thought that writing might play an important role in your ministry? Might extend your teaching? Reinforce your preaching? Or help you in working through pressing questions and issues? Our course, The Writing Pastor, can help you discover whether and how God might use writing to enhance, enlarge, and extend your ministry. The course is free, and you can take it on your own or we’ll provide a Reader to work with you. Watch this brief introductory video. Then, to enroll, first register at The Ailbe Seminary (upper right of the home page) then enroll in the course.
From the Celtic Revival
Our present Crosfigell series (Tuesdays and Thursdays) is considering a remarkable Christian worldview statement by an anonymous 7th-century Celtic scholar. Here’s an excerpt from a recent installment:
However after preliminary discussion, in so short a space, of the Creator’s immeasurable greatness, let us look for a little while at the order of created things. In this we are not following an invention of our own purpose which is nothing of itself but – in some poor account admittedly – the footprints of holy Scripture and of our predecessors who expounded them.
- The Book of the Order of Creatures II.1
Celtic Christians in the early medieval period studied diligently to make sure their teaching and ministries were grounded in Scripture and orthodox tradition. This is yet another reason why we have so much to learn from these people.
Subscribe to Crosfigell today (click here to update your subscriptions, be sure you click each one you want, including Pastor to Pastor) and follow us through our study of this remarkable document.
Check out our Celtic Legacy podcast and the other resources available on our dedicated Celtic Revival home page.
You can also download a free copy in PDF of our book, The Celtic Revival: A Brief Introduction, by clicking here.
T. M. Moore.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Davies, p. 3