The Kingdom of God Today
"This Good News of the Kingdom will be preached in all the world
as a witness to all the nations,
and then the end will come,"
"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,"
THIS GOOD NEWS
Because the Kingdom of God covers all things spiritual and natural in the past, in the present and in the future there is much that can be said about it.
However, the focus on this website is on God's Kingdom in the present: the Good News of the Kingdom of God as presented by the Lord Jesus and the word of Christ.
It is significant that the Lord should emphasise "this good news ...".
Just to begin with, there is one thing that usually goes unmentioned in references to the Kingdom of God in teachings and preachings among Believers.
Ask the question "who is the King of the Kingdom of God?" and the answer is very likely to be "Jesus".
But it is God: Father and Son and Holy Spirit who is the King of the Kingdom.
The point is, God has ordained that Jesus be called Lord, and the New Testament refers to Him many times as Lord not king.
(The exceptions of 1 Timothy 6'15 and Revelation 17'14,19'16 refer to Him as King of kings and Lord of lords in other contexts. And He is referred to "king of the Jews".)
But the Holy Spirit makes the point that ...
“... God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,
and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father,” Philippians 2'9-11.
Thomas honoured Him very clearly: “My Lord and my God!” John 21'28.
And 1 Corinthians 12'3 confirms that ...
“... no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit".
After the Father and the Son had sent the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost the whole counsel of the Kingdom of God began to be taught to, and practiced, by those who had received Christ.
But what is the situation regarding the teaching of God's Kingdom today? What knowledge do Believers have of it?
What is a Believer's personal relationship to it? What is the relationship of God's People, the Body of Christ, to it?
The words power, kingship, dominion and rule all describe the total authority of what a kingdom is.
Such words may seem irrelevant to some. But there are people who live in the harsh reality of a kingdom or totalitarian government today.
In New Testament times life was like that. Every day citizens felt that harsh reality. And it was the reality into which the Lord came preaching the Good News of the Kingdom.
The Kingdom of God (aka the Kingdom of Heaven) is real for those who have received Christ. Jesus talked of seeing it, entering it, and seeking it.
And Believers everywhere in whatever circumstances can know the working of the King of the Kingdom in their lives.
WHAT IS THE KINGDOM OF GOD?
Some say that "Christianity" is the Kingdom of God (but which "Christianity"?!) or "the church" is ( but which church?). If Believers were to seek it, as the Lord urges, would they know where to look?
Also, common references to it talk of "claiming it", "building" it, "extending it" or "the culture of it". But the Lord walked the earth speaking out and living out the Kingdom of God.
And He calls His followers to do the same.
To do that successfully there is one understanding that needs to be in their hearts. That understanding is this.
That our heavenly Father ...
"... has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love," Colossians 1'12-13.
Yes, our Father has put each one of His born-again children into the Kingdom of His beloved Son! This understanding is the platform from which a Believer can begin Kingdom life.
But the enemy of Believers wants to keep them in his darkness. He hates these words because they render him powerless in his attempts to hinder them from living in God's Kingdom power.
But try as he may, he's always on the back foot. It is a very powerful understanding.
Christ's New Covenant Kingdom of God is expressed in the scriptures of Acts 2'1 to Revelation 3'22. The lives of those early Saints show that it basically amounts to expressing a different way of living.
It is life lived out according to the will of God. And it's different because it expresses a different kingdom (see The Way on the Menu).
It's described in Romans 14'17 as ...
" ... righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit".
The first thing to notice about these words is the phrase "in Holy Spirit". God is expecting His People to live and walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5'25) which is not possible for unbelievers.
Nevertheless, Believers are spirit, soul, and body/flesh. Consequently they too are in the flesh but the flesh does not control them. Being born of the Holy Spirit they have His power.
Of course, those who live the Kingdom way of life are just as natural as those who live the world's way.
But their natural lives are lived out in harmony with the Word of Christ but also unstood in spiritual terms which 1 Corinthians 6'20 says :
"... you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s".
A useful way of putting it could be that Believers' lives are spiritually-natural and naturally-spiritual.
For example, in the Spirit immersion in water indicates Believers understanding that they are crucified with Christ, dying with Him and rising with Him.
In the world a immersion, or similar ceremony, indicates a person's initiation and induction into an earthly organisation.
"The Kingdom of God is righteousness ...".
If the Kingdom of God is firstly a kingdom of righteousness. What does that mean? Obviously it is not the personal righteousness of God Himself (Romans 1'17) nor is it the gift of righteousness credited to all who will believe (Romans 5'17).
So what is it then? To put it briefly, it is behaviour that is right with God.
These scriptures describe it:
Revelation 19'8 talks of ...
"... the righteous acts of the saints".
And 1 John 2'29 says ...
"If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him".
What about 2 Peter 3'13?:
"Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
Kingdom righteousness is something that is practiced. For instance, when Jesus presented Himself to be immersed John began to strongly resist Him.
"But Jesus answered and said to him, 'Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness,' Then he allowed Him".
Christ's immersion in water was a righteous act. It was carried out before His heavenly Father. And it was confirmed by Him when Jesus came up out of the water.
Righteousness is the way true Believers behave in everything they do.
Romans 6'13 exhorts Believers to:
"...present ... your members as instruments of righteousness to God".
And Romans 6'19 also says:
"present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness".
Righteous acts are Kingdom acts. They are the expression of God's will done God's way, from general behaviour, speech, marrying, praying for the sick to witnessing of Christ to the world.
Expressing God's Kingdom means obeying. His will - that is, the things He wants done - is found in the Word of Christ. His way is that they are done in the Spirit.
In personal life, in family life, in church life - for it to be Kingdom it has to be God's will done God's way.
"The Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy ..."
Peace and joy are wonderful characteristics. The Lord displayed them during His ministry on earth.
He put emphasis on His People possessing peace and joy too when He said:
“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.
Peace and joy were in His disposition. They were the way He was.
Later Paul was able to tell Believers that the Holy Spirit Himself produces peace and joy (and other characteristics) in them:
"... the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control," Galatians 5'22-23.
Hebrews 12'14 exhorts us to go for it:
"Pursue peace with all people ...".
Romans 12'18 also exhorts:
"If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men ...".
"And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit," Acts 13'52.
To sum up here's what Colossians 3'17 says:
"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".
OPPORTUNITIES TO SERVE
One tragic thing about serving religiously is the uncertainty. Sadly, to those who are in various religions no assurance of eternal life offered can be offered.
They are never sure that their good works are acceptable to their "god/s" or enough to earn their salvation.
Conversely, Romans 14'17 says that serving Christ in righteous acts is not only well pleasing to God but is also seen as genuine by men.
Opportunities to serve the Lord occur constantly, sometimes very unexpectedly. Remember the Lord's example of the Samaritan?
"Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith," Galatians 6'10.
"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.
"For we are His workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus for good works,
which God prepared beforehand
that we should walk in them,"
[SORRY, THIS IS YET TO BE COMPLETE]
The Kingdom of God Today
“Assuredly, I say to you,
whoever does not receive the kingdom of God
as a little child will by no means enter it,”
The Kingdom of God Today
“When anyone hears the word of the kingdom,
and does not understand it,
then the wicked one comes
and snatches away what was sown in his heart," Matthew 13'19.
MISREADINGS AND MIS-TAKES
The Lord speaks of "this Good News of the Kingdom" and He began preaching it right from the start of His earthly ministry.
It's not surprising, then, that Jesus, His word and His Good News and His Followers have been the focus of the enemy's attacks ever since the Day of Pentecost.
He is constantly attempting to deceive Believers and will attempt to misrepresent them and the Kingdom to anyone who will listen.
For example, in Roman-occupied Thessalonica the accusers claimed that the Believers were dishonouring, even disobeying, the ruler of the land, that they were:
"... all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king - Jesus" (Acts 17'7).
Accusations against God's people are likely to be about anything that the can enemy think use to interfere with the work of God.
MISREADINGS AND MISTAKES
Much of what is said about God's Kingdom is based on Believers' mis-readings or mis-takes such as: the Kingdom of God is "within you", it "suffers violence", or needs "pressing into".
Then there's the idea that Jesus is the embodiment of the Kingdom.
As with most misreadings, they are taken out of their context or are simply mis-takes. Needless to say, they result in confusion.
A closer look:
Example 1. The Kingdom of God is "within you" (Luke 17'20-21):
The truth is, the Kingdom of God is not "within" anyone! Sadly, it's a common error which is brought about repetition and lack of discernment.
In context, the true rendering of the Greek word is "among" you, as follows:
"Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, 'The kingdom of God does not come with observation;
nor will they say, "See here!" or "See there!"' For indeed, the kingdom of God is among you."
The point is that God's Kingdom was not within these Pharisees. It was among them. The one who was preaching and living the Kingdom of God, that is the rule of God, was in their midst.
A kingdom is something that people live in and under the rule of. Then there's the question: If a person has to be born again to be able to even see it or enter it, how can the Kingdom be within?
Jesus was the Kingdom's first earthly ambassador!
Example 2. The kingdom of heaven suffers violence (Matthew 11'12).
Speaking to the multitudes one day, Jesus said:
"... from the days of John ... until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force".
"Until now" refers to a limited time. And as Jesus says, this using of force was practiced in the days of John. When the Lord came preaching "the Kingdom is at hand" it became obsolete.
In any case, this saying has no place in Jesus' New Covenant Kingdom teachings. It is totally inapplicable, or even meaningful today.
Example 3. "... everyone is pressing into it" ( Luke 16'14-16).
The context is this:
"... the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these things, and they derided Him.
And He said to them, 'You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.
The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it'".
As the Lord says, when people heard Him preach about the Kingdom of God they began pressing into His teachings.
As Matthew 7'28-29 says:
"And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes".
And Mark 12'37:
“... the common people heard Him gladly".
The teaching of "pressing into" God's Kingdom is wrong. It contradicts the truth.
When the Holy Spirit came on the Day of Pentecost He brought Christ's complete New Covenant Kingdom teachings with Him.
Kingdom life begins when a sinner repents, believes and receives Christ and the Father conveys them into the Kingdom of the Son of His love (Colossians 1'13).
Prayer. Thank you, Father, for the whole counsel of the Word of Christ. Thank you, too for your Kingdom and the privilege of being able to see it, enter it and live in it.
In Jesus' name. Amen.