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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

The Book of God’s Covenant

Founding Documents (1)

 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone… Ephesians 2.19, 20

The foundation of the Kingdom

The Kingdom of God is the rule of Christ Jesus in righteousness, peace, and joy by His Word and Spirit, in and through the Church (Rom. 14.17, 18). The Church has been brought near to Christ and translated into His Kingdom (Eph. 2.13; Col. 1.13); He has commanded us to seek His Kingdom and righteousness as the highest priority in life (Matt. 6.33), and given us the power of us Spirit to accomplish this holy objective (Acts 1.8; 1 Cor. 4.20; Ezek. 36.26, 27). When the Church is faithful in seeking Christ’s Kingdom, the Lord brings the knowledge of His glory to the attention of men and nations, as they observe the hope that lives within us and the light that shines through us (Hab. 2.14; 1 Pet. 3.15; Matt. 5.13-16).

 This makes the Christian life full and abundant in Jesus Christ (Jn. 10.10), when we walk in the Spirit within the framework of the growing Kingdom presence on earth (Gal. 5.16-23; Dan. 2.44, 45; Is. 9.6, 7). Nothing could be more desirable than for us to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and to serve Christ and bless men by a diligent and conscientious pursuit of the Kingdom of God (Rom. 14.17-19).

 This is what we mean by “Kingdom Civics.” Kingdom Civics defines the nature, objectives, and means of the pursuit of Christ’s rule on earth as it is in heaven. This is the believer’s high and holy calling in life, a calling which he can only take up on the foundation of what God has revealed in His Word and preserved through His Church (2 Thess. 2.15). The Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, understood in the light of the great tradition of interpretation in the Church, are the authoritative founding documents of the Kingdom of God.

One story

The Bible is the greatest and most influential book of all time. It continues, year-in and year-out, to sell more copies and affect more people’s lives than all other books, past or present. We cannot expect to enjoy the fullness of Kingdom living apart from a growing understanding of the Word of God in Scripture. Everything about the Kingdom of God takes its shape according to what God has revealed in the Bible. We cannot seek the Kingdom, nor shall we realize its blessings, without a deep devotion and growing commitment to the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament.

While the Bible consists of two primary “testaments”, comprised of sixty-six separate books, it is the work of one Author and one Mind – God and His Word and Spirit (Jn. 6.63; 1 Tim. 3.15, 16; 2 Pet. 1.19-21). Thus, in spite of the fact that the Bible was compiled over a period of some 1500 years, written by some forty different writers, in three languages and on three continents, yet it tells one story – the story of God’s covenant relationship with His people.

God’s way of relating to men has always been by a covenant, which God Himself consistently refers to as “My” covenant. The covenant whereby God binds men to Himself and incorporates them into His Kingdom is His covenant. It is entirely of His design. He disposes it as He will. He accomplishes and sustains it as a working bond between Him and His people. God’s covenant is all of grace. God’s one covenant of grace unfolds by stages throughout the various epochs of revelation, according to the needs of God’s people and the purposes of His redemption at any particular stage. The story of God’s covenant, as it unfolds throughout the Scriptures, reveals and advances the purpose of the divine economy in bringing into being a people for God’s glory.

“I will be your God…”

The story of the Bible, and of God’s covenant, is summarized in what we might call the “covenant motto,” which could also be the sub-title of the Bible: “I will be your God, and you will be My people” (cf. Lev. 26.12; Jer. 7.23; Jer. 11.4; Jer. 30.22; Ezek. 36.28; 2 Cor. 6.18; Rev. 21.3). The Kingdom of God, anticipated in the Old Testament and brought near in the New, is, by the Word and Spirit of God, the active agency by which God accomplishes His covenant purpose.

Thus, the better we understand the character, content, and course of the Bible – the Scriptural story of God’s covenant – the better we will be able to realize the promise of the Kingdom for every aspect of our lives. Scripture is sufficient to equip and enable us for the good works of Kingdom-seeking that God has redeemed us to perform (2 Tim. 3.15, 16; Eph. 2.10). Yet many Christians today, while they may hear many sermons, participate in active Bible study groups, and even read the Word faithfully day by day, still remain ignorant of the overarching purpose of the Bible and of their place in its covenant story and Kingdom design.

But there will be no progress of God’s Kingdom, either in our own live or through us in the world, apart from a growing understanding and submission to the Kingdom principles, protocols, and practices revealed in God’s covenant book, the Bible.

In this series of Kingdom Civics, therefore, we shall consider the Scriptures as the founding documents of the Kingdom of God. Then we will show how, by His Word and Spirit, the Lord has preserved His Word and enlarged its application in advancing His economy, through the Church and its creeds and confessions. The story of God’s covenant, which begins within the pages of Scripture, has continued through the course of human history, as the Church has labored to advance Christ’s rule on earth as it is in heaven by diligence in understanding and obeying the Scriptures, the Book of God’s Covenant.

Are your Bible reading and study practices what they ought to be? For a concise overview of how to study and apply the Bible, go to our book store and order a copy of Text to Transformation.

The Old Covenant

August 02, 2010
The Old Covenant

Founding Documents (2)

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15.4

Two covenants in one

The Book of God’s Covenant – the Bible – is divided into two covenantal dispensations, traditionally referred to as Old and New. These two Testaments together tell the story of God’s covenant relationship with His people, whereby He brings them to His Kingdom and righteousness through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

As covenants, both the Old and New Testaments partake of a similar structure. In each God comes to His people entirely by grace, offering precious and very great promises by which they may know Him and the blessings of a restored relationship with Him (cf. Gen. 12.1-3; 2 Pet. 1.4). These promises entail everything that pertains to life and godliness, all that human beings could ever want for happy and fruitful lives.

Enjoyment of the promises is contingent upon faith and obedience. Arrested by grace, God’s people respond by believing Him and His promises and following in the path He marks out for them as the way of obedience. All those who refuse the promises of God, freely and lavishly offered to undeserving sinners, are left to themselves and the ravages of sin, leading to death and everlasting separation from God.

This covenantal structure – grace, promises, faith and obedience, blessing or sanctions – holds the entirety of Scripture together. Wherever we may be reading in the Bible we can see that we are engaged in some aspect of this structure. Understanding this structure, and being able to discern it, helps us to hold the Bible together as one book and allows us to relate the parts, whether in the Old Testament or the New, to the whole.

This structure is evident in Scripture from the very beginning and recurs and expands in developing dispensations throughout the Old into the New Testament.

A story of covenant development

The Old Testament – 39 books written by some 35 authors over a period of around 1500 years – reveals the developing nature of God’s covenant relationship with His people. In the Old Testament we see God’s Covenant unfolding in five separate covenantal periods. Each of these lays the foundation for the next and, to a certain extent, continues into it, although certain “administrative” changes appear with each successive period.

Nevertheless, through all five periods, the structure of grace, promise, faith and obedience, and blessing or sanction remains intact.

The creation covenant. The first period of covenant-making in the Old Testament is that which begins with the creation. God did not have to create the world, and, in particular, He did not have to create people to live in this “very good” environment. God has no need of anything or anyone outside Himself; His act of creating, therefore, was entirely of grace, in order that created beings might share in His glory and enjoy the fullness of life and love He has known within Himself from all eternity past.

Graciously placing human beings in a lush, abundant, and beautiful environment, God commanded them, if they would know the fullness of His blessings, to obey His Word. When Adam and Eve failed, the sanctions of the creation covenant fell upon them, and they died to righteousness and, ultimately, to (temporal) life itself.

The covenant with Noah. By the time of Noah in Genesis 6 God’s covenant was already in place, although the people of earth had largely scorned its promises and consigned themselves to its judgments. God did not say that He would make a new covenant with Noah; rather, the covenant He extended to Him was “My” covenant – the one He had already initiated and was maintaining. In faith and obedience, Noah built the ark and brought the blessings of God to the world.

The covenant with Abraham. Following the episode of the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11) God moved to enlarge the scope of His covenant once again, by reaching out to Abram in Ur of the Chaldees and offering Him the promises of Genesis 12.1-3. To gain those promises Abram was commanded to believe God and obey, first, by going to the land of Canaan; second, by having a child with Sarah; and, third, by circumcising the child on the eighth day. During a season of testing and setbacks, Abraham obeyed God and was given a further promise that his descendants, after a period of sojourning in Egypt, would return to Canaan where they would flourish in the promises of God (Gen. 15.12-21).

We note that the form of God’s covenant relationship with Abraham was the same as that with Adam and Noah – approached by grace, given promises, told how to obey, and blessed for obedience. The way the covenant was administered differed in each of these periods, due to changes in the historical circumstances in which the covenant was offered. The form of it, however, remained the same, and we can see certain elements of the covenant continuing unchanged in each period, as, for example, the command to multiply and fill the earth.

The covenant with Moses. Following their period of captivity in Egypt, Israel was now no longer a tribal entity, but a great nation. God’s covenant would once again need to be altered – without compromising the essential structure or replacing the core components of promise – in order to meet the needs of a nation of people.

The Law of God, the land of Canaan, and the tabernacle became the primary administrative components used by God in this new epoch of covenant development in order to extend His blessings to His people. Israel was not saved by keeping the Law; they were saved by grace. Keeping the Law was the way to show gratitude to God and to demonstrate their covenant uniqueness (cf. Deut. 4.1-8).

The covenant with David. With David God expanded the scope of the covenant, formalizing it into the kingdom aspect which was first promised in Genesis 35.9-12 and 49.8-11. The kingdom focus is twofold, one on an earthly monarchy, descended from David, and one extending as an eternal Kingdom through, we must suppose, an eternal Son (2 Sam. 7.8-16; cf. Ps. 89.1-37). Again, the purpose of this new dispensation of God’s covenant was not to nullify what had gone before, but to adapt, adjust, and enlarge God’s Covenant in order to prepare for its final stage of development, that of the New Covenant.

We may thus think of the Old Testament developing within a covenantal structure, according to progressive covenant epochs, each overlapping and bringing forward aspects of the previous period, while, at the same time, introducing new components and developments in God’s covenant relationship with His people.

This same structure continues into the period of the New Testament, which, indeed, is already anticipated and foretold within the Old Testament, as we shall see.

Are your Bible reading and study practices what they ought to be? For a concise overview of how to study and apply the Bible, go to our book store and order a copy of Text to Transformation.

The New Covenant (1)

August 16, 2010

Founding Documents (3)

“But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you.” Matthew 12.28

The New Covenant (2)

August 23, 2010
“…the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and on earth.” Ephesians 1.9, 10

The Rule of Faith (1)

September 13, 2010
It was not long after the passing of the apostles that differing voices arose...

The Rule of Faith (2)

September 20, 2010

In the generation following Irenaeus, the lawyer Tertullian stood forth to carry the torch of orthodoxy forward.

Free Forever

March 14, 2010

The Law of Liberty (21)

Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end. Psalm 119.33

Over the more than 40 years that I

The Law of Liberty (20)

I hate and abhor falsehood, but I love your law

The Law of Liberty (19)

When I think on my ways, I turn my feet to your testimonies; I hasten and do not delay to keep your commandments. Psalm 119.57, 58

Celtic Christians worked hard at building communities dedicated to the pursuit of holiness. Not just monks and other clergy, but lay men and women from all walks of life joined in the effort to grow out of all sinful practices into the liberty and love of God

Free to Pursue God

March 11, 2010

The Law of Liberty (18)

Make your face to shine upon your servant, and teach me your statutes. Psalm 119.135

In the human soul, the conscience functions as the keeper of priorities, values, and default choices. In that respect it is nearly equal to the will. Except when people are reacting instinctively to something

The Law of Liberty (17)

Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart. I incline my heart to perform your statutes forever, to the end. Psalm 119.111,112

In Scripture, the heart is the centerpiece of the soul, the seat of our affections, the wellspring of attitudes, emotions, aspirations, hopes, and desires. Both Solomon and Jesus warned us to keep a close watch over our hearts, because the primary issues of life flow from that source, and it can corrupt and mislead us, if we do not attend to it continuously.

This is why God requires that we love Him with all our hearts. He knows that the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, prone to lead us into false affections, misleading desires, unwholesome attitudes, and vain hopes. When we refuse to love God with all our hearts, our hearts will bend toward mere self-interest. That may seem the thing to do just now, but it usually ends up not as satisfying as we

Free to Think God

March 09, 2010

The Law of Liberty (16)

Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart. Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it. Psalm 119.34, 35

At times, when I was a kid, I found my parents to be somewhat unreasonable and hard to live with. Whenever I wanted something with which they didn

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