Session 6: The Kingdom of God – (June 2008)
In “The WORD – Live” in our first few sessions, we have looked at the Foundations of our Faith as Christian people. Forgiveness (what God has done for us, through Jesus and his Sacrifice); Repentance (Our response to Jesus, a change of mindset and direction for our lives); Baptism in the Holy Spirit (Power to be witnesses and servants of God, in an Alien land); Identity (Who we really are, i.e. Children of God who belong to Him and to each other as fellow Christians with the responsibility this entails); Relationships (Loving other people our reaction to interaction with Family, friends, colleagues and enemies as Christians).
All the above lead us to the “Kingdom of God” where we need to realise that as Christians that everything we say, think and do is now under the Sovereignty of God; so we are to live our whole life the way God would want us, NOT just when it suits us. i.e. It is GOD’s way and NOT my way.
Firstly, though we will look at a little bit of background. In the New Testament we come across two terms used that have caused a little confusion, they are “Kingdom of God” and “Kingdom of Heaven” and some have felt these are two different things, otherwise why would they have used different terms. But on a more detailed study it can be seen that “K of G” is used 68 times in 10 different books, whereas “K of H” appears 32 times, but only in ONE book, i.e. Matthew’s Gospel. Matthew was a Jew and he primarily wrote his gospel for the Jewish people. The Jews showed their reverence, respect and fear for God by not mentioning or writing His name, so Matthew chose to use the word Heaven rather than God.
The word used for Kingdom in the Greek, Hebrew and the Aramaic do NOT mean a Kingdom in the sense of a Territory, i.e. somewhere you can visit [Luke 17 v 21], but more of a Dominion under the authority of Christ.
What is the Kingdom of God?
The Kingdom of God [Psalm 103 v 19] embraces all created intelligence, both in heaven and on earth; that are willingly subject to the Lord and are in fellowship with him. The “K of G” is the central theme of the ministry of Jesus. It is the kingly rule of God through the ministry of Jesus. It is :-
Universal – it includes both Angels and Men
Eternal – because God is eternal
Spiritual – we enter the Kingdom when we are “born again”
A relationship – we are “born of the Spirit” [John 3 v 5], the Spirit bears witness with our spirit. [Rom 8 v 16]
This gracious rule which brings SALVATION into the world will become a Kingdom at the end of the age. GOD will create a new universe after the second coming of Christ as the judge of the world. [Matt 25 v 24; Rev. 21, 22]. Therefore the “K of G” in its fullness is what shall be at the end of the age, however, in the ministry of Jesus it is experienced as a present reality for JESUS is (and will be) the centre of GOD’s kingdom. So in this world we will only see part of the “K of G”; but at the end of the age we will see and experience it in its fullness.
In the “Kingdom of God”, we must remember that God is Sovereign; Omnipotent (all powerful), Omniscient (all seeing), Omnipresent (everywhere) and ruler over all his creation.
What does this then mean for us?
Imagine you were a King with ultimate power, think of 3 laws you would introduce for your people and give reasons for your choices.
ALL the laws outlined in scripture by GOD, are introduced for one reason, “LOVE”.[John 3 v 16] God always has our best interest and our care in mind, because he is our Father and he wants the very best for each and every one of us.
When we are “born again” we make the choice to follow Jesus, and therefore become part of the “K of G”, we accept Jesus as Our LORD and Saviour. The emphasis nowadays is far too often on the “salvation”, what Jesus saves us from, but as we look through scripture the emphasis is clearly on the LORDship of Christ and this emphasises our position and our need to be obedient to His commands in scripture. [Rom 12 v 1 – 2]
This is obviously going to have a major impact on the way we live our lives, we need to realise that Christianity is a lifestyle; with high standards that we are expected to live up to, (through the Power of the Spirit). We are called to be disciples, who are expected to live disciplined lives. God does not promise that it will be easy, but does promise that He will be with you, [Matt 28 v 20] giving you strength to walk the way he has called you to go.
It is eternal, everlasting, so it is not for the uncommitted. We need to be aware of what we are letting ourselves in for. The disciples gave up their jobs, left family and friends to follow the call into the “Kingdom” [Matt 4 v 18 – 22]. Be sure what ever God calls you to He will give you the strength to follow it through. It is not a lip service (I’m a Spain or Holland Fan), or a fair-weather fan (I’m a Chelsea or Man U. Fan) attitude but he demands total commitment.
It is a Spiritual & Universal Kingdom that includes both the Angelic beings and Mankind, where mankind has the need to be “born again”, so that our Spirit is awakened to spiritual things. This makes it difficult for us, as we have been brought up in “the flesh” which is at war with the spirit and so often leads us the other way; and all others who are not “born again” are not awake to spiritual things, so they will naturally want to leads us a way from the things of the Spirit. [Rom 8 v 5 – 11]
So, how do we equip ourselves for this “Kingdom” lifestyle? Well we obviously need to know what God expects from us, and so that means we need to be close to him, as we said it is a relationship and we develop a relationship through communication. [Acts 2 v 42]
1. God talks to us through his Word the Bible and through it shows us the way he wants us to live. He does not want you to devise your own interpretations and personal judgements, but to accept it and act on it. [II Tim 3 v 16]
2. We can talk to Him through prayer we have a direct line to him and can share with Him everything. Our praise, our thanks, our needs, our wants, our concerns, our frustrations, our unbelief, yes everything!!![Phil 4 v 16]
3. Fellowship with other Christians, it was not meant to be a private faith that you do not share with others, but we are part of a family.[I Cor 12 v 12 – 31]
4. Breaking of Bread, i.e. communion were we remember what Christ did for us on the cross, on a regular basis, so that this puts our faith into perspective and helps see what God has sacrificed. [I Cor 11 v 26]
The following of these had there consequences as we read in [Acts 2 v 47]; in that “the LORD added to their number daily those who were being saved” – so the “Kingdom” grew.