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© 2012 Jasper Life Publications 1st Edition in English – July, 2012 1st Edition in Portuguese – January, 2012 - 20,000 copies God’s Focus: The Kingdom O foco de Deus: o reino Translated from Portuguese with permission of Editora Árvore da Vida All rights reserved by Jasper Life Publications Inc. Jasper Life Publications Inc. 725 Viscount Road London, Ontario, Canada N6J 4G9 Phone: (519) 472-6620 www.jasperlife.com

ISBN 978-1926970-39-4 Printed in Brasil All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Bible text from the New King James Version® is not to be reproduced in copies or otherwise by any means except as permitted in writing by Thomas Nelson, Inc., Attn: Bible Rights and Permissions, P.O. Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214-1000.


CONTENT

Preface................................................................5 Man Will Rule Over the Coming World............. 7 The Ministries of Peter and Paul..................... 21 The Ministry of John........................................38 Knowledge or Life............................................50 Life and Spiritual Leadership..........................64 Preparing for the Kingdom............................. 80

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PREFACE

The fall of the twin towers in New York, USA, happened ten years ago. The attack of the economic symbol of this age was an unprecedented event, and inevitably caused and still causes many to think about the end of the world. The scenes that were broadcast on television were impressive. Since then, there have been rapid changes on the world stage in the political, economic and social aspects. In addition to the visible changes, Brother Dong Yu Lan also realized that the Lord desires to speed up the progress of His work on earth. From that time, he began to minister a series of messages to awaken us spiritually and show us the focus of God in the Scriptures. We try to summarize the heavy burden of the author in the chapters of this book to share with you this revelation. In reading and studying the Bible, people often emphasize the writings of the Apostle Paul because they speak of God’s New Testament economy in a deep way. From the events mentioned above, the Spirit led the author to pay more attention also to the writings of the Apostle John. 5


The ministry of John speaks of life that is eternal (1 John 1:2) and which surpasses time. This period of distress that we have been going through is a time of a transition; and now it comes down to practice, for this is a ministry which a person, even someone as outstanding as the Apostle Paul, cannot accomplish on his own. Revelation 1:1 says, “To show His servants— things which must shortly take place.” There was, therefore, the transfer from one to many servants, and also the transfer of focus—from the church to the kingdom. You will gain a better understanding of all these things while reading this book. The kingdom of the heavens refers to all the children of God; but who is prepared to reign with Christ? So, we need to cooperate with the Lord and be, in practice, more entrepreneurial spiritually and less doctrinal. This will certainly quicken our Christian walk, causing us to deny more of our self, our soul-life, for the divine life to grow in us. Our responsibility is also to bring this life to others and thus produce new servants of Christ, new entrepreneurs, of the affairs of the kingdom of the heavens. It is important to remember that as children of God we are all partners, not competitors, because there is a common goal for all of us—the kingdom! Enjoy your reading! São Paulo, February 2012 The editors

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Chapter One

MAN WILL RULE OVER THE COMING WORLD

A little over ten years ago, the world was stunned as we watched the fall of the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York. The terrorist attack on the largest economic symbol of this age was an unprecedented event, and even today, it inevitably causes many to think about the end of the world. Since then there has been rapid changes on the world stage in the political, economical and social aspects. In recent years, the occurrences of earthquakes, seaquakes, tornadoes, typhoons and natural disasters have greatly increased. And more recently, in the Middle East, in addition to old conflicts, clashes and internal revolutions broke out, beginning in Tunisia and reaching countries like Egypt, Libya, Syria and Yemen, substantially changing the political scenario in 7


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that region and in North Africa. The whole world was concerned about the deepening crisis in the financial system of the United States in 2008, and that has repercussions to this day, generating economic crisis in many European countries such as Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy. These serious overlapping events, occurring without intermission and without time to recover from the shock, pose a question within every man: will this be the end of the world?

But the End is Not Yet The book of Matthew records in chapter 24, “Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, ‘Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.’ Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?’” (vv. 1 - 3). Some of the disciples boasted of the grandeur of that building, the beauty of the stones (Mark 13:1-2, Luke 21:5). For them, the destruction of the temple, the greatest symbol of the nation of Israel and the Jewish religion, would be a catastrophe. So they went to ask the Lord to know when that would happen, what sign should they expect from the second coming of Christ and the end of times. 8


Man Will Rule Over the Coming World

“And Jesus answered and said to them: ‘Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, “I am the Christ,” and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows’” (Matt. 24:4-8). It is undeniable that wars and rumors of wars, conflicts of all kinds between nations, and climatic and geological disturbances, are very strong signs and are present in many places today. But according to what Jesus said, the end is not yet. These things are just the beginning of sorrows, that is, an indication that we are near the end. “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved” (vv. 9-13).

And the Gospel of the Kingdom Will Be Preached All these events indicate that the end is near; but for it to come, the gospel of the kingdom must first 9


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be preached, for Jesus Himself said, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matt. 24:14). We must ask God for revelation to understand that we cannot passively wait for the end, simply watching the signs of the times, ignoring the fact that we are the main players, the main ones responsible for shortening the time until the end by preaching the gospel of the kingdom of the heavens. After the gospel of the kingdom is preached to all nations, then the end will come. Knowing this, we must redeem the time, asking the Lord for light to reveal to us how best to serve Him so that His will is done in our days. We must seek how the gospel of the kingdom can be preached in a more efficient and quick way so that He may return.

God’s Concern for His Kingdom John the Baptist preached in the wilderness of Judea saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matt. 3:2). He was the forerunner of the Lord Jesus, preparing the way for Him and straightening His paths. The focus of his preaching was the kingdom of heaven. When the Lord Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, He was also anointed by the Spirit of God. 10


Man Will Rule Over the Coming World

Before beginning His work, He was led into the wilderness, and after overcoming the temptation of the devil, He withdrew to Galilee where He began preaching in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali: “The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned. From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’” (4:16-17). Again we see that the focus of Jesus’ preaching was also the kingdom of heaven, as we read in Mark 1:15: “The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” Among His many disciples, Jesus called twelve apostles so that they also would preach that the kingdom of heaven was at hand (Matt. 10:1-7). We saw earlier that for the end to come, the gospel of the kingdom must be preached in all the world (24:14). It is therefore evident that the focus of the work of God is His kingdom.

The Last Words of Jesus Before His Ascension How many Christians today, really know that God’s focus is the kingdom of heaven? We see this in Jesus’ words in Matthew 6: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these 11


God’s Focus: The Kingdom

things shall be added to you” (v. 33) and again: “In this manner, therefore, pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven’” (vv. 9-10). The book of Acts begins with the record of the last words of the resurrected Lord Jesus before His ascension. For forty days He appeared to the apostles speaking the things concerning the kingdom of God (1:3). The last words of Jesus have the most important charges. However, the apostles did not realize that the Lord was not concerned with the kingdom of Israel, but with the kingdom of God: “Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, ‘Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’” (v. 6). And Jesus said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (vv. 7-8). We are not to speculate about when the end will come, for this is exclusively reserved for the Father. What we need to do is preach the gospel of the kingdom in all the world for a witness unto all nations; then the end will come.

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Man Will Rule Over the Coming World

Man Will Rule the Coming World As we saw early in the book of Acts, even after rising, the Lord Jesus still continued to speak to His disciples about things concerning the kingdom of the heavens, because something was appointed to man that he would only know through the gospel of the kingdom: “For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels. But one testified in a certain place, saying: ‘What is man that You are mindful of him, Or the son of man that You take care of him? You have made him a little lower than the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honor, And set him over the works of Your hands’” (Heb. 2:5-7). This is a great fact: man was created to take over the government of the coming world. And the reason why we mention that the coming world will not be delivered to angels is because the first world—when God created the heavens and the earth—was entrusted to angels. However, they failed in this task. Let’s take a quick look at that.

Lucifer When God created the first heaven and the first earth, He did it in a wonderful way. The heavens declare the glory of God, as the psalmist says (Psa. 19:1), 13


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and when the foundations of the earth were laid, the morning stars (all the sons of God, that is, the angels) sang together and shouted for joy (Job 38:4-7). God gave the first world to a cherub who was also made in a wonderful way, just as was everything that God created. The book of Ezekiel gives a record of his creation and his fall: “Son of man, take up a lamentation for the king of Tyre, and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “You were the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering: The sardius, topaz, and diamond, Beryl, onyx, and jasper, Sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes Was prepared for you on the day you were created. You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, Till iniquity was found in you”’” (28:12-15).

Pride Lucifer was created perfect, talented with all sorts of gifts and abilities, as a prince to take over the government in the first world. But one day he thought that all his success was due to his own ability, 14


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forgetting that all these attributes were given to him by God. He was seized by pride, “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; I cast you to the ground, I laid you before kings, That they might gaze at you” (Ezek. 28:17). The book of Isaiah adds, “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, To the lowest depths of the Pit.” (14:12-15).

Self Exaltation Only God is the Creator of the universe. Everything came from Him and everything was done by Him; so He has the absolute authority and sovereignty, and all creation is subject to Him. The result of this original arrangement is righteousness and peace. But when Lucifer considered himself as capable as God, his soul went beyond the authority of God and he began to exalt his own self. He thus became a parallel authority to God. 15


God’s Focus: The Kingdom

Cast Down to the Ground The pride of Lucifer fed his dissatisfaction about the position he occupied. Convinced of his ability, he said in his heart: “I will be like the Most High.” God could not tolerate rebellion in heaven, so He cast him to the ground with the angels who followed him; so they defiled the creatures living on earth. God then judged the earth with the waters of judgment. This is implied in the first two verses of the Bible: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (Gen. 1:1-2). The first verse shows the heavens and the earth when they were created. However, between the first and second, there was a big lapse of time during which the rebellion of Lucifer occurred. He was then called Satan which means God’s adversary. The earth was not created by God to be chaos, but to be inhabited (Isa. 45:18). After the coming of Satan with his angels, the earth became formless and chaotic.

God Creates Man to Restore His Kingdom In this background, God created man to deal with the illegitimate government of Satan in the world 16


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today and to rule the coming world. God created a tripartite man—with spirit, soul and body. Man’s body was made from dust. The breath of God, by entering into man’s body became the human spirit. As a result, man became a living soul. Of all the creatures on earth, only man has a spirit, because God is Spirit (John 4:24) and wants to dispense His own life into the spirit of man. That was the reason why God, after creating man, put him in the Garden of Eden, with the tree of life, which represents God Himself as life, in the middle of the garden. If he received God’s life within him, man would have a new life besides his own. When the divine life in him would grow and mature, then he would be prepared, ready to take over the government of the coming world. That in essence, is the gospel of the kingdom, which we will cover later on. The Serpent Deceives the Woman Knowing that man was created for this purpose, Satan tried to frustrate God’s plan. Perhaps convinced that his chance of deceiving Adam would be almost none, the serpent approached Eve. At first, he made her doubt the Word of God, and once the mind of the woman was separated from her spirit to act independently, she became vulnerable to the direct attack of Satan. Finally, Eve ate the fruit and gave it to her husband, who also ate it (Gen. 3:1-6). 17


God’s Focus: The Kingdom

Before then, man’s relationship with the Creator was full of faith and purity; he simply did things according to whatever God had told him to do. The mind of man was made to receive only what came from his spirit. However, with the fall, his mind became separate, isolated from the human spirit, and now has an independent life of its own which we call the soul life. As a result of the fall, sin came into man and death spread to all men (Rom. 5:12).

The Gospel of Grace God is rich in mercy and His plan could never be frustrated. Because of the great love wherewith He loved us even when we were dead in trespasses and sins, He gave us life together with Christ. By grace we are saved (Eph. 2:5). God did not give up on man, but He sent His Son to die on the cross for us and deliver us from our sins and from a spiritual death. After Jesus had died, a soldier pierced His side with a spear, and from there blood and water came out. Blood is for the forgiveness of our sins, redeeming us back to God, and water is to give us His life. Now, as Adam and Eve should have done in the Garden of Eden, we can feed on the tree of life, thus receiving the divine life in our spirit.

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The Gospel of the Kingdom The life that came into us when we believed in the Lord Jesus and called upon His name, has made us children of God (John 1:12). Jesus said to Nicodemus: “Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” and also, “unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (3:3, 5). In order to see the kingdom of God and enter into it, one must be born again; that is, we need to have the life of God in our spirit. The goal of the gospel of the kingdom is to supply us with the divine life, so that we grow in this life to maturity to reign with the Lord in the coming age.

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God's Focus: The Kingdom  

How many Christians really know that God’s focus is the kingdom of heaven? If you know, do you live according to that realization? The Bible...