My life alongside God's word volume 3. Theology of our Lord Jesus and salvation section.
An invitation to enjoy the Kingdom of God
The United Kingdom, where I live, is a green land of rolling hills, agricultural grassland and trees – richly fruitful and surrounded by seas. It has a population of 63 million of whom I am one! The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where my foster daughter lived, is a very hot and dry desert region, irrigated to blossom in places where water can be made to reach. It has a
population of 29 million. Both kingdoms have their rulers’ palaces and historical succession within their royal family.
The Kingdom of God is unlike earthly kingdoms
When the Roman governor, Pilate, asked our Lord Jesus Christ, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Matthew 27:11; Mark 15:2; Luke 23:3; John 18:33, our Saviour replied, “My kingdom is not of this world”, John 18:36. Since Jesus’ kingdom is not “of this world” in which we all live, it must be of somewhere else – of another world. It is different from the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia or any other human kingdom. Read the Lord’s full reply found only in John 18:36-37: “Jesus said, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, My servants would fight to prevent My arrest by the Jews. But now My kingdom is from another place.’ ‘You are a king, then!’ said Pilate. Jesus answered, ‘You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me’”.
Five key points
1. The Lord Jesus owns His kingdom: “My kingdom” and “You are right in saying I am a King”. The Prisoner, Jesus, was about to be executed, but He still possessed His special kingdom.
2. His kingdom is clearly different: “not of this world” and “from another place.” It has no
geographical boundaries but it does have a King and His subjects.
3. The kingdom is not to be physically fought over: “If it were, my servants would fight to
prevent my arrest by the Jews.” Guns and bombs cannot defend or extend this kingdom.
4. The kingdom was the purpose of His incarnation: “... for this reason I was born, and for this I came into this world.” Our Lord Jesus came to bear witness to this special kingdom. He said it was “near” and urged all people to “repent”, Matthew 4:17, because discovering the kingdom would mean adopting a complete change of understanding.
5. The Lord Jesus’ kingdom is the true kingdom: “I came ... to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me”, John 18:37. Facts are facts even if people don’t want to believe them. The kingdoms of the world and the kingdom of God are both real, but the
kingdom of our Lord Jesus must always have the top place in the life of the believer.
Taking on the focus of our Lord
The third and fourth phrases of the Lord’s Prayer focus on this kingdom of God, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”, Matthew 6:10. Older translations conclude with “for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory
forever. Amen”, Matthew 6:13, a footnote in the NIV.
The Lord taught that we are to live in the character of His kingdom now: “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given you as well”, Matthew 6:33. Life for the Christian is much more than food and clothing, necessary as they are. Christians must pay more attention to our Lord’s kingdom than to anything else. To recognise the kingdom, promote it and witness of it must be top priorities for us, just as they were for Jesus Christ.
“The Kingdom of God” — What does it mean?
The kingdom of God is the active rule of God over His creation. He establishes, redeems, judges and blesses. He works for and through His people, but all for His glory. Consider several points:
God’s kingdom is partly a present reality on earth and a greater, future hope in heaven.
God’s kingdom is a spiritual experience, available to anyone God calls into the body of Jesus Christ. This body is the true Church on earth, seen and known by its visible actions.
God’s kingdom embraces individual people rather than organised churches. They will have one clear understanding about Jesus Christ, His saving person and atoning work.
God’s kingdom may be seen as subversive by human governments. They may feel threatened by watching the lives of true, pure and holy Christians. Daily Christlikeness has an influence!
God’s kingdom includes Christian living that challenges and transforms local cultures by believers doing what God wants His people to do. This applies from the most remote tribal village to the most dangerous notorious prison.
Where does all this end?
Eventually God will be seen by everyone to rule heaven and earth. John offers us a glimpse of this, “Grace and peace to you ... from Jesus Christ, Who is
the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth”, Revelation 1:4-5. We whose sins have been dealt with by the blood of Jesus Christ, bought from every tribe, language,
people and nation, are “a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and ... will reign on the earth”, Revelation 5:9-10.
The majority of people today cannot choose the country where they live. Yet God gives everyone the opportunity to enter into His kingdom. Our Lord Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again ... I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit”, John 3:3-5.
Several very important questions
Here are a few vital questions I want to ask you:
1. Have you entered the kingdom of God?
2. Are you born again?
3. As a disciple, are you learning and able to discern God’s growing kingdom here and now?
4. Are your actions telling others that you are ‘of His kingdom’ – a Christian?
My passport says I am a citizen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and it is valid for five more years. If God calls me home to heaven before then, I know from the inner witness of God the Holy Spirit that I will be welcomed into an
“inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you (and me!) since the creation of the world”,
Matthew 25:34. I sincerely pray I will see you there.
First published in Grace & Truth Magazine, March 2015.