Duane Vander Klok
When you hear the word, “kingdom,” what do you think of? Do you imagine a castle and a king sitting on a throne? What about when we talk about the “kingdom of God?” There is much that can be said on this subject, but here are four important Biblical concepts to consider as we further our understanding of the kingdom and deepen our relationship with the King, Jesus Christ.
Kingdom Coming | New Heaven & New Earth
When we talk about the “kingdom of God,” we are not just talking about a national border, dominion, or physical territory. Instead, His kingdom is wherever our King, Jesus Christ, rules and reigns. Wherever He is, the kingdom is there!
Today, we live in an age of “now” and “not yet.” Jesus Christ has ushered in His kingdom, and He is alive and present right now at the right hand of the Father. At the same time, however, there is a day coming where Jesus Christ will return to this Earth.
Revelation 21:1-3 says, “Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’ for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ’”
We live in the gap between Jesus ascending to Heaven, and His glorious return to Earth. Jesus tells us that He is preparing a place for us, and that we will dwell there with Him for all of eternity in our perfect resurrected bodies. It will be a new Heaven and new Earth married together as one, with Jesus Christ reigning and ruling over all creation. This is the kingdom of God coming!
Kingdom Now | Spirit-Filled Co-Laborers
We were not created to be bystanders in the kingdom of God. When Jesus ascended to Heaven, He didn’t say, “O.K. everyone, I’ve got this. Just sit back and I’ll be right back!” No. He said, “If you love Me, keep My commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of Truth… I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see Me anymore, but you will see Me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in Me, and I am in you,” (John 14:15-20).
We are not alone in this present age because Jesus Christ, our King, is not just coming in the future. He is here right now through the presence of the Holy Spirit! As believers, with the presence and power of the King within us, we have a job to do as co-laborers. Jesus instructed, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation,” (Mark 16:15). We were created with a purpose and a plan to further His kingdom in this present age.
Before we were born, He knew us and created us with specific gifts, talents, and a voice. Scripture teaches that, “Christ Himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip His people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ,” (Ephesians 4:11-13).
Truly, the King is not just in Heaven. He is alive within us, speaking to us, guiding us, and making us new every day, so we can better reflect His image to the world around us for His kingdom and glory!
Kingdom Lost?| Sin & Backsliding
What happens if we believe in Jesus Christ, but begin to backslide? What happens when we sin against the King? What happens if we fail? Ephesians 2:1-3 says, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live… gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.”
When we sin, the devil whispers in our hearts that we are failures, that we will never be good enough, that we don’t deserve to be forgiven. He does everything he can to harden our hearts, and tries to convince us that we are alone in a cage of our own making where God will never find us.
The truth is that the devil loves and hates when we sin. He loves it because he thinks he’s successfully undermining God’s plans and destroying God’s image within us. But the devil hates it because he knows that in our weakness, God does the impossible. In our failures, Jesus’ perfection is glorified through grace and forgiveness.
So when we are at our lowest, what do we do? What does the devil not want us to do? Repent! We are called to repent, which simply means “to turn back.” Even in our sins and failures, we are called to turn our eyes back to God. Scripture says, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,” (Acts 3:19).
The good news is that no matter where we are, when we confess and turn back to Jesus, He will be there! Not even the gates of Hell can hold Him back! He is willing, able, and expectant of our return to Him! The good news is that He will lift us out of the darkness, forgive, and restore us! Ephesians 2 continues by saying, “But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved,” (2:4-5).
Here’s the point: the kingdom of God isn’t made of people that are “perfect.” Instead, the kingdom of God is filled with people who, despite their sins and failures, are still loved, pursued, and actively being renewed by our King, Jesus Christ!
Kingdom Power| Gospel Testimony
As believers, we all have stories of where we came into contact with the living God. Each testimony is different, and it can be simple or complex. It can be long or short. The Apostle Paul was knocked off of his horse, temporarily blinded, and heard the voice of Jesus Christ Himself. That’s a pretty radical testimony! Yet Peter, who was a nobody fisherman, was seen by Jesus and simply instructed to, “follow Me.” Maybe that’s not as radical as Paul’s story, but we know that it is equally important! We wouldn’t dare say one is “better” or more important than the other.
Here’s what the devil wants to do: he wants us to compare our testimonies. He wants to shut us up by telling us that our story isn’t important, or isn’t as “extreme” as others around us. The truth is that no matter how “extreme” you think your story may or may not be, the power of the Gospel lives inside of your testimony.
Facts about God and the Bible don’t change an unbeliever’s heart. Instead, when you open your heart and share the story of what God has done in your life, that testimony cannot be denied. A testimony is one of the greatest treasures and weapons in the kingdom of God! It is alive and unique within you!
No matter the details of your story, you were once dead and you were brought back to life. You were spiritually dead, stinking, and rotting in your sins; and now you are alive, spotless, and redeemed through Jesus Christ. From death to life – I would call that a pretty radical event!
Your story starts here. If you’ve been reading and there’s a hunger in your heart, but you know you’re not right with God, or you have no idea where you stand with Him, and you say “I want to be forgiven, I want to be right with God, I want Jesus to be my Savior and my Lord,” pray these words from your heart:
“Oh God, I believe that Jesus died on the cross, and I believe His blood paid for my sins. I believe He rose again, and I give Him all of my heart and all of my life. I hold nothing back. I receive Him as my Lord, and I thank you that I’m forgiven, that I’m a part of your family, and I’m on my way to heaven. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.”
All scriptures are quoted from the New International Version of the Bible, unless otherwise stated.