WHAT IS THE KINGDOM OF GOD TODAY?
Some say that "Christianity" is the Kingdom of God (but which "Christianity" would that be?). Or, that it's "the church" (again, which one?).
And there are references to "claiming the Kingdom", "building" it, "extending it", or "taking it" are not uncommon. And sometimes there's "the culture of the Kingdom".
But to those who are born again of the Spirit it really is, as Paul teaches " ... righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit".
Jesus, as our greatest example, walked the earth living it out and speaking out in holiness and godliness and signs and wonders.
And He calls His followers to do the same.
The scriptures of Acts 2'1 to Revelation 3'22 show early Believers expressing God's Kingdom in their every day lives (see The Way on the Menu).
So, the Kingdom of God is ...
" ... righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit".
The first thing to notice here is the phrase "in the Holy Spirit". Through Paul, God urges His People: "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit," Galatians 5'25.
As a result of being born again of the Spirit, Believers live in the Spirit. But obviously, Believers are still natural.
In spite of that, their conversion means that they have a new human arrangement. They are spirit, soul, and body. That's because they have been made new creations.
When they were unbelievers, their total order as human beings was the reverse: body, soul and spirit and naturally "the flesh" was the dominant influence in the way they lived.
Nevertheless, those who live the Kingdom way of life are still natural. But, Paul says to Believers: "Walk in the Spirit and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh," Galatians 5'16.
And our natural lives are lived out in harmony with this understanding:
"... you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s," 1 Corinthians 6'20.
Perhaps this could be described as being "spiritually-natural and naturally-spiritual"!
2 Corinthians 4'7 says:
"... we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.
"The Kingdom of God is righteousness ...".
Notice that "righteousness" comes first. But what is this righteousness?
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).
There is another kind of righteousness which is behaviour that is right with God as these scriptures reveal:
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".
Finally, 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".
Kingdom righteousness is something that is practised. 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 an act of righteousness, carried out before His heavenly Father in worship.
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".
Righteousness is the way true Believers behave.
Righteous acts are the expression of God's will done God's way, whether it be speech, marriage, praying for the sick or witnessing about the Lord to the world.
Even before the giving of the Holy Spirit, those who wanted to live in ways pleasing to God were told:
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths," Proverbs 3'5-6.
For Kingdom Believers this is added:
"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.
God's will (what He wants done) is found in the Word of Christ. His way (how He wants it done) is in the Spirit.
(Put another way it's' what our Father wants His Children to do and how He wants them to do it.)
For it to be Kingdom it has to be God's will done God's way.
"The Kingdom of God is ... 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 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, long-suffering, 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.