Kingdom of God Today

(THE MANIFOLD WISDOM OF GOD)

Two

LIVING IT!

"... the kingdom of God is ... righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men," Romans 14'17-18.

The question, "What is the Kingdom of God?" is an not an uncommon one but answers are often complicated.

Nevertheless, scripture provides the answer. But not only does it say what it is, but also what it is not: "... the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

The whole statement appears in Paul's powerful and encouraging letter to the Roman Believers. And the first thing to notice about it is that it has to do with their daily lives, that is, Kingdom living.

He was responding to those who were promoting their version of serving God. They were thinking it was about holding to certain rituals, foods and days.

But Paul is first and foremost a Kingdom thinker (our example!). Dealing with this contention he summarises what the Kingdom of God is all about.

Emphatically, he says, "the kingdom of God is ... righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit". No misunderstanding there.

But understanding it is essential to living it because the Kingdom of God is all about righteousness and peace and joy. However, it is "in the Holy Spirit" - not in the flesh.

So, what does "in the Spirit" mean? What Paul said about Jesus can be helpful. He says, "God was manifested in the flesh," 1 Timothy 3'16. God is Spirit, but when the Lord came, He came in the flesh in the form of a man who was born of the Holy Spirit, Jesus. 

True Believers are born again of the Holy Spirit. Therefore they are in the Spirit. And that holy spirituality is demonstrated through the way they speak and behave, the way they carry out tasks and do natural things, just like Jesus did.

Kingdom righteousness ....

In the description of what the Kingdom of God is the first thing is righteousness. This is an all-encompassing, powerful word which is familiar to all who have received Christ. Nevertheless, righteousness is a word that needs some clarifying, because there are three kinds.

First, there is the personal righteousness of God Himself, which is referred to in Romans 3'5.

Then there is the gift of righteousness which is credited to all who believe, and referred to in Romans 5'17.

Thirdly, there is the kind that could be called Kingdom righteousness because it has to do with actions that are right before God, and therefore acceptable to Him.

Jesus led the way in this kind of righteousness. And it was on His first public occasion as an adult, when He presented Himself to be immersed in water.

John strongly resisted Him, pointing out that it was not right for him to be immersing Israel's Messiah (Matthew 3'13-15).

But "Jesus answered and said to him, 'Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness'".

This act of being immersed in water was an act of righteousness. It was right before God. Jesus knew it would be acceptable to his heavenly Father. And it was - because ...

"... a voice came from heaven, saying, 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased'”.

He displayed the disposition of wanting to do the Father's will. It's the example for all who would follow Him.

Romans 6'19 says:

"present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness".

1 Peter 2'24 says:

"... who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness - by whose stripes you were healed".

So Kingdom righteousness is about serving Christ as He served His Father. He lived and suffered that we might live righteously.

Revelation 19'8 refers to "the righteous acts of the saints" - doing God's will - God's way:

"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them," Ephesians 2'10.

Therefore,

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom ... And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him," Colossians 3'16-17.

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Kingdom Peace and Kingdom Joy

In Paul's description of the Kingdom of God peace and joy appear alongside righteousness. Here's what Jesus said to His disciples about them:

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid," John 14'27.

“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full," John 15'11.

He Himself displayed both in His ministry. They were part of the way He was. The peace and joy He is referring to are His own Kingdom characteristics. And He has bequeathed them to all who believe in Him.

One time "... the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit," Acts 13'52 says. But Believers are to this in mind:

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;
and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus," Philippians 4'6-7.

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LIVING IT

People like those who wanted to introduce rituals, etc, into the Roman Believers' lives are still around today. They teach that serving is about earning some sort of spiritual credit to have eternal life.

Not so with Kingdom living. Serving is not earning! It's worshiping.

It's not a system of doing good works in order to be worthy and therefore gaining approval on "the day of judgement" or to enhance the chances with reincarnation.

These systems provide no certainty that the good works are, or will be, acceptable to their "god/s", or enough to earn salvation or a better reincarnation.

What a privilege it is to serve Christ and please our heavenly Father. All who truly believe, repent and receive the Lord understand that there is no work that can be good enough to achieve such eternal approval or credit. Eternal life is a free gift.

But, serving the Lord with acts of righteousness can be things like giving thanks or worshiping or doing some daily chore. This worship can be offered at any time.

"And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ," Colossians 3'23-24.

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"... for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints," Revelation 19'6-8.

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Next. The Kingdom of God Today - 3: KINGDOM CONFUSION?