'EDEN' and the KINGDOM OF GOD -by Andrew Strom. We have touched on this subject before, but because it is such a key to grasping the real essence of what the early church was like, I want to bring out some further aspects of it. Let us begin with this question: Have you ever thought deeply about how much the original church was like the Garden of Eden? -Seriously. When we read at the beginning of Acts what the early church was like, it so closely resembles the harmony, unity and love of the original 'paradise on earth' - it is amazing. I believe this is a very significant point to grasp. Read this passage slowly and take it deep into your soul: Acts 2:42-46 (NIV)- "They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts..." Can you imagine being part of something like that? -The simple love and unity and devotion? -The lack of 'Religion'? -The childlike faith? Jesus said, "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you LOVE one another." We spoke a couple of weeks ago about how the "hippie" movement of the 1960's tried to recapture this 'paradise lost'. But they found that their hearts were not capable of entering it unless they ingested large quantities of marijuana and LSD to make themselves "loving" and peaceful. Thus it was only a temporary fix. -It could not last. It was not how they really were inside. All people everywhere have a deep longing for this "lost Eden" and wish that there were some way of finding it again. Sadly, they look at the church today and we seem to be no closer to it than anybody else. What a tragedy. I am convinced that God wants us to truly live in 'Eden' today - first in our own hearts and then amongst one another. I believe this has always been His desire - to return us to our state before the fall. -To walk before Him in innocence and love, with "no knowledge of present sin". This is what the "kingdom" really is. It is any place where God's will is done "on earth as it is in heaven". In other words, when you experience the kingdom, then you experience a place "like heaven" - first inside you and then amongst one another. Jesus said, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand." -Meaning that there was a visible manifestation of this kingdom about to appear before their eyes. And His words were fulfilled in the early church. They lived before the world in a kind of 'paradise' of the heart. They fully displayed His kingdom for the first time since the fall. -And they did it without drugs because their heart was so right with God. Who needs drugs when the "kingdom of God is within you"? Do you know that what we are talking about here is the 'NORMAL' state of the church? In other words, if people do not see this amongst us, then how can we claim to be the church? If we are not like the "original" then what are we doing claiming to be true Christianity? Do you realize that when we talk about 'Revival' we are simply talking about the church returning to this Edenic state - just for a time? 'Revival' seems to be the only time the church truly walks in the 'kingdom'. It is the church returning to 'normal' for awhile. And then it is lost and God has to try again to bring us back to it. So how exactly do we get back into this state? Well, the answer is there, right at the start of Acts. -That is how the early church came into it. I was reading the book "Rees Howells Intercessor" recently - about an anointed Welshman back in the early 1900's who was sent for a time to Gazaland, Africa. And the 'Pentecost' that occurred there just confirmed the simplicity of the whole process to me: "They had no word in their language for revival, so he told them about Pentecost: that it was God who had come down then, moving upon the hearts of men and women... and that He would do the same with them, if they were willing to repent.... he continued to speak to them about Revival, and in six weeks the Spirit began to move upon the Christians... Mrs Howells taught them the chorus, 'Lord, send a revival, And let it begin in me'...." "While they were on their knees, the Lord spoke to Mr Howells, telling him that their prayer was heard and the revival was coming... the Holy Ghost was coming down to give a Pentecost in their district. 'In the evening down he came. I shall never forget it... within five minutes the whole congregation were on their faces crying to God. Like lightning and thunder the power came down. I had never seen this even in the Welsh Revival. I had only heard about it with Finney and others... The next day He came again, and people were on their knees till 6 p.m. This went on for six days and people began to confess their sins and come free as the Holy Spirit brought them through.'" As the Revival spread far and wide, Rees wrote of the great joy that resulted from forgiveness and deep cleansing in these people. Truly it was "heaven come to earth". -An 'Eden' had come down amongst them. So now we see the secrets. It is no different to Pentecost. There was (1) Intense PRAYER for an outpouring, (2) An anointed 'repentance' PREACHER, (3) A great OUTPOURING of the Holy Spirit, (4) Deep REPENTANCE leading to deep joy and forgiveness. -This is how these people came into a state of truly "living in the kingdom". And we see this repeated again and again, right down through history. It seems that these are the simple keys to coming into the 'Eden' experience of the early church. They have been proven time and time again. And with a 'new wineskin' it has been shown that such Revivals can last for 40 years - not just a few. As always, they start with God's people simply crying out to Him for an "outpouring". This is something we can all do. -It is that simple. So will you join me in pleading for a 'Pentecost', my friends? -For that is where it all has to start. God bless you! Kindest regards in Christ, Andrew Strom.