I want to understand more about the kingdom of God in terms of the following:
- Is an inheritance
- Is a journey
- Is a building of God in a man
- Is a home for the overcomer.
The question we will attempt to answer in this study is to understand what living in the kingdom of God looks like. Before we understand kingdom living, we need to know the status of the kingdom of God in our world today. There are two components to the kingdom. Jesus declared that the kingdom had already come upon us and is in our midst (Matthew 12:28, Luke 17:21). At the same time, other scriptures state the coming kingdom is in the future, such as in Luke 19:11-12.
There are two aspects to the kingdom. The kingdom is a present blessing for those who have been saved and received the gift of salvation in Christ. They have been delivered from the powers of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of Christ (Colossians 1:13). At the same time, the kingdom’s full consummation is yet to happen. At present, the kingdom’s impact is restricted and will be fully realised once Christ returns. Amen!
Let’s begin with who has access and inheritance to this kingdom. Only those who have received salvation through the gospel of Jesus Christ can enter this kingdom. Scriptures teach us that unless one is born again, no one can see the kingdom of God (John 3:3). It is a gift given to all those called by God and not something that we can achieve in and of ourselves; instead, it is a work of the Spirit through whom we are baptised into the body of Christ.
In believing this good news of the gospel and through the work of His Holy Spirit, we become a new person. The old self is gone, and we put on the new, through which we glorify Christ. It is to put off our former manner of life, corrupted through deceitful desires and instead be renewed in the Spirit. This renewal leads to the putting on of the new self, which is created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24).
The kingdom is for those who are being sanctified by the Spirit. It is those who God has chosen as the first fruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:13). If you are still of the world, then you have no inheritance of the kingdom. Those who are of flesh and blood will not inherit. These are the ones still being led by worldly desires and pleasures. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-12, we are told the deceived will not inherit the kingdom. Those who are sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, men who practice homosexuality, thieves, greedy, drunkards, revilers, swindlers and the like. We were all like these before, but now we are born again in Christ and, through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the work of His Spirit, be gifted this inheritance to the kingdom.
It is a challenging journey to this kingdom. It is one of difficulty, and the overcomer will gain access. It is difficult to enter the kingdom of God, especially if you are rich in the things of this world, having your hearts set on the riches of this worldly kingdom rather than Christ’s. Not just with wealth but gaining riches in this earth’s pleasures, materialistic aspects, and even relationships that take the place of Christ. If these are more precious than Christ to you, then it is impossible to enter.
Mark 10:23-25 says, “And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”
Unless we turn from our old ways and become like children, we will never enter the kingdom of heaven. That is to become like children with characteristics such as humility, simplicity, teachableness and being totally dependent on God (Matthew 18:3), and not on people, money, or anything else.
It is to set our eyes on the price of the kingdom. We are to fix our eyes on things above, not earthly things. There is a price for doing so. You will be hated by many for the sake of Christ, but the one who perseveres to the end will be saved (Matthew 10:22). In this world of increasing wickedness, the love of many will grow cold, but by your patient endurance, you will gain your souls. (Mathew 24:1, Luke 21:19). James 2:5 tells us that God has chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, promising it to those who love Him. Therefore, walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into His kingdom and glory (1 Thessalonians 2:12).
For those who are children of God, the kingdom is now within us because we are the temple of His Holy Spirit and Christ the King dwells in us. He is the ruler of our hearts, and we are His ambassadors representing Him in His mission to declare the good news of reconciliation to God (2 Corinthians 5:16-20). In fact, Luke 17:20-21 says, “Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.“
Jesus is saying here that the kingdom is in their midst. That is to say that where the king is, that is where his kingdom is. According to Graeme Goldsworthy, Jesus represents the concept of the kingdom of God’s people in God’s place under God’s rule. Jesus serves as both the just ruler and the righteous citizen of the kingdom. Therefore a believer in Christ gives all commitment to God’s kingdom rather than any of the kingdoms of this world. That is to say that we are subject to God’s laws and belong to His community, the church. We cannot in our strength keep these laws, so God, through His Holy Spirit, gives us the ability to live by His laws. Romans 14:17 tells us that the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating or drinking but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Again, 1 Corinthians 4:20 says, “For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power.”
Power to transform a person inside out by changing the heart of stone to a heart of flesh. To give new desires and priorities. To change the nature of a person so that one’s passion is to glorify God and finds pleasure in Him. We need God’s help as we journey toward the full consummation of God’s kingdom, for we must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom (Acts 14:22). Amen!
Let’s close with Hebrews 1:8, saying, “But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.”