As mentioned last blog this next blog will complete the thoughts on the Kingdom of God with a focus on giving you an overview of a foundational book to read reading the Kingdom of God, let us continue.
Reading this book gave me insight into how the Kingdom of God can be seen throughout individual life’s, the church and the world. It has challenged me to asses if the Kingdom is manifested in my life through all my actions, thoughts & life. A Kingdom life is completely submitted unto God, His reign and rule. It is awesome to think that the only demand God asks to enter the Kingdom is to submit and decide to follow Christ, it is basically to die to oneself. This in itself brings great challenges; dying to oneself, desires, dreams etc … daily. However Christ has made it easy for us as if we do this the Kingdom of God will rule and reign in our lives. Reading Chapter 9 is also a challenge to make sure that we as the people of God are living in the Kingdom and are proclaiming God’s Kingdom wherever we may go, so that we can hasten the coming of the King.
A common expression in the church is to get people ‘born again’ yet in reading the only passage where that term is used in scripture we discover that being born again has only to do with SEEING THE KINGDOM OF GOD, this begs the question have you seen the Kingdom of God?
Chapter 5 – The Life of the Kingdom – The Kingdom which one day will change the entire external order has entered into this age in advance to bring the blessings of God’s Kingdom to men & women without transforming the old order. For example eternal life belongs to the future Kingdom and the age to come, however this eternal life has become available to man in the present evil age. The life of the Kingdom of God is life eternal, a life whereby we belong to God and His purposes are completely fulfilled within us. Eternal life therefore holds a future realm however God came to give us life now. We have everlasting life now and in its fullness.
Eternal life means knowledge of God. Knowledge does not just mean head knowledge but knowledge which is personnel; it is a personal relationship with God. Revelation 22 explains that as we see God we will be like Him. We will know God face to face; we will know him and therefore will be like Him. George Eldon Ladd explains that this intimate knowing of Christ belongs to the age to come. However John shows us in his writings that we have already entered into eternal life, we know Christ and so therefore the future has become present. ‘To be saved means to go about everyday in the present evil age living the life of heaven.’
‘Has the realization gripped you that the very life of heaven dwells with you here and now?’ Wow what a life to be living NOW!
Chapter 6 – The Righteousness of the Kingdom – The qualification of entering into the future Kingdom is a present righteousness. Living in this righteousness happens as a result of God’s reign in our lives. The righteousness which God requires is the righteousness of God’s Kingdom, this righteousness is God-given as He comes to rule in our lives. The righteousness of God’s kingdom is the product of God’s reign in the heart. It demands perfect purity, honesty, love and forgiveness. This cannot take place in one’s life unless they have a life submitted unto God. Kingdom righteousness is the result of a life submitted to the rule and reign of Christ, living in the Kingdom of God. ‘The rule of the Kingdom is a manifestation of the life of the Kingdom.’
Chapter 7 – The Demand of Kingdom – The Kingdom of God does not set a standard and then once you have reached that point you enter into the Kingdom, but the Kingdom of God makes one demand and that is a demand for a decision. A demand for the response of man’s will. We must respond & yield to the Kingdom of God. We are simply asked to repent, turn and decide to follow Christ. Entry into the Kingdom of God begins with a decision to yield to it’s rule and authority. We must receive the Kingdom and its blessings, as George Eldon Ladd writes, ‘destiny is reserved for those who embrace it.’
Chapter 8 – The Kingdom Israel and the Church – Jesus offered the Kingdom of God to Israel as he sent his disciples to the ‘lost sheep house of Israel.’ (Mat 10:6) However when Israel rejected the Kingdom, the blessings that should have been theirs have been given to any of those who would accept them. Ladd explains that the Greek word for Church, ‘ekklesia’ is commonly referred to as in the Old Testament as Israel as the people of God. This explains God’s intention to bring into existence a new people who could take the place of an old Israel who had rejected His Messiahship and His offer of the Kingdom of God. The fulfillment of this promise began at Pentecost, when historically the birth of the Church began. This new people is a ‘chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.’ (1 pet 2:9) The Kingdom of God no longer belongs to the race of Abraham but to the an elect race who are the men of Faith, sons of Abraham.
The Church is not the Kingdom of God, but God’s Kingdom creates the Church and works in the world through the Church. Men therefore cannot build the Kingdom of God but we can preach it, talk it and receive it.
Chapter 9 – When will the Kingdom come? – What are we to do as a result of the blessings of the living in the Kingdom of God? Are we passively to enjoy the life of the Kingdom while waiting for the consummation at the return of Christ? We are to wait, but not passively. World wide evangelization is to take place until the end of the age. Only when death, sin and Satan are destroyed will redeemed men know the blessings of God’s reign. The Gospel of the Kingdom is therefore an announcement of Christ’s conquest over death. There are two stages in the destruction – the defeat of death. Its final destruction awaits the second coming of Christ, but by Jesus’ death and resurrection Christ has already destroyed death. Death is still an enemy but it is a defeated enemy. A victory has been accomplished and must be proclaimed. We have a message of power to proclaim to the world, we are not required to transform this age, however we must take the message of the kingdom of god to the world. The final victory awaits the completion of our task. Christ will come again when the Church will complete its task. We should not only wait but hasten the coming of the day of God, this is our mission.