“The doctrine of the Kingdom of Heaven, which was the main teaching of Jesus, is certainly one of the most revolutionary doctrines that ever stirred and changed human thought.”~ H G Wells
The Kingdom has a particular lifestyle, one that does not necessarily match modern North American Christendom. It is a lifestyle that is to be so radically different that it is attractional: something that others want to be a part of.
The following is adapted from our book: Living In Kingdom Authority
Since we are going to delve into the Attractional Lifestyle Of The Kingdom, we should spend a moment defining the Kingdom. I do not plan to give an exhaustive study, but to give us a context or framework of God’s kingdom perspective. Grasping an understanding of the Kingdom will transform our concepts of the church, its purpose and our individual involvement.
It is interesting to note that Jesus’ inaugural message was very pointed about one thing: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). Mark’s version quotes Jesus as saying: “The time has come…The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15) The implication of this statement is that there was a time line of Kingdom manifestation and its appearance was the good news, or the Gospel.
So, What is the Kingdom?
Since Jesus placed such significance on the arrival of the kingdom, it prompts the question “What is the Kingdom and it’s importance?”
In the above quoted texts, the Greek word translated kingdom is basileia and means “sovereignty, royal power, dominion,” (Vine’s). It also can mean “rule, or a realm” (Strong’s) and can be translated as reign. So Jesus was saying that the power, dominion or rule of heaven was at hand. Or it could be stated the realm or reign of God was at hand. Further, the English word kingdom is said to be derived from two words; “king – meaning head of a kin” and “dom – meaning state, condition or power, position of domain.” Or it could be stated: “kings domain.” It is the territory or area over which a king reigns and rules. Therefore, the Kingdom is the reign or rule of God, whether in heaven or on earth. It is the place where His dominion or power is expressed. It is also the purpose or intent for the extension of his rule or reign.
Thus, Jesus’ proclamation in Matthew 4:17 was an introduction that the dominion or rule of God had come near. This declaration was of great spiritual, prophetic and cultural significance for His intended audience. To the Jewish people, the idea of the Kingdom was a prophetic fulfillment linked with the Messiah. Their concept of messianic deliverance was not an escapist view of a far away place called heaven: It was packaged in the idea of Kingdom restoration. Thus Jesus’ statement carried profound revelation and signified a major step in God’s prophetic timeline.
The Kingdom IS His Plan
To grasp the truth of the Kingdom, we must put it in proper context. It is not part of God’s plan: it IS His plan! The Kingdom theme can be traced through the word of God, from the creation story of Genesis to the book of Revelation. The Kingdom was not intended as a one-time event or just an Old Testament governmental structure: it has been in the mind of God for eternity. The psalmist tells us: “Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations” (Psalms 145:13). Daniel stated to King Nebuchadnezzar that God’s Kingdom was “an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation” (Daniel 4:3). Regarding Jesus, the angel Gabriel spoke to Mary stating that God would give to him David’s throne and “he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:32-33). The Kingdom IS His plan!
Not only is the Kingdom an everlasting one, but also the saints are to have an active part in its manifestation. Again, the psalmist tells us that they will “speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and talk of thy power; To make known to the sons of men his mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of his kingdom” (Psalms 145:10-12). Daniel weighs in again prophetically and tells us that the saints will take the Kingdom and posses it “for ever, even for ever and ever” (Daniel 7:18). Further on, we will elaborate more on the saints or church’s involvement, but suffice it to say we are to play an integral part in His kingdom manifestation. Yes, The Kingdom IS His plan!
The Kingdom Established
From the first verses of Genesis, we see God’s plan unfold. Understanding the idea that the Kingdom is where the reign, domain or dominion of God exists, gives us the context to view its establishment in the creation process.
As part of the process, God created Adam in a special way for a unique purpose. What set Adam apart from the rest of creation was his being in the image and likeness of God. Based on this distinction, he was given dominion and rule over creation. It was through Adam, God planned to manifest Himself and reign over creation. If Adam were to obey the command to be fruitful and fill the earth, God’s image and dominion would be established throughout the earth. Unfortunately, because of disobedience, Adam and his offspring, lost the right and ability to demonstrate God’s dominion. From that time on, we see God working to reestablish his domain (kingdom) on the earth.
Israel, God’s Kingdom Demonstration
Now, fast-forward many centuries to God’s next manifestation of His kingdom, this time in the nation of Israel. After delivering Israel from Egypt, God, via Moses reveals his purpose for them: “And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation” (Exodus19:6). It was His intent that as they lived under the theocracy of God, revealing a distinct culture, they would be His instruments on earth demonstrating His reign. It was this Kingdom (dominion/reign) that would be the method of revelation to the nations of God’s identity.
Much like Adam and Eve, Israel did not always provide the best demonstration of God’s kingdom. Yet, because the Kingdom IS His plan, we see God continuing to bring about Kingdom restoration. His next step: the Kingdom of God in Jesus Christ.
Jesus’ Ushered In The Kingdom
With his ministry, Jesus steps on the scene as the ultimate manifestation of God and his rule. As previously stated, his first message centered on the Good News (Gospel) that the Kingdom was here. However, not only did he declare the Kingdom’s presence, he stepped it up a notch and demonstrated the power and dominion of the Kingdom like none other. Matthew tells us “Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people” (Matthew 4:23). I believe the miracles performed by Jesus were to reveal the presence of the dominion of His kingdom. In fact, when the source of his miraculous power was attributed to Beelzebub, Jesus responded with this statement: “if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you” (Matthew 12:28). He was clearly declaring that the miracles he performed were the proof that the Kingdom of God had come to earth.
The Kingdom And His Church
Unfortunately, again Israel, did not grasp the significance of their purpose as God’s kingdom people. Their crucifixion of Jesus resulted in the Kingdom demonstration being transferred to a new nation or people group, the New Testament church. Jesus used the Parable of the Tenants (Matthew 21:33-42) to illustrate Israel’s rejection of himself and the Kingdom, followed by a prophetical statement: “The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof” (Matthew 21:42). The Jewish people had such a nationalistic concept of the Kingdom of God; they rejected their King (Matthew 26-27). It is a sad commentary that they did not learn the lessons of history.
In his first letter, Peter gives further clarification to the church regarding their Kingdom role.
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9 ESV)
In this text, the word “royal” is basileios and means “royal, kingly or regal.” (Thayer’s) So it could be stated we are a kingly priesthood, obviously then, we must be associated with a kingdom.
It is interesting to note the obvious similarities in verbiage used by Peter and God’s calling of Israel in Exodus 19:5-6 when he called them to Kingdom manifestation. Remember He referred to them as His possession, a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. It is no coincidence: both were called to be His kingdom representatives.
It is now God’s intent that through Jesus Christ, the church is the vehicle of Kingdom demonstration. As born again believers, we are the representatives of the King and His kingdom.
You And His Kingdom
It is wonderful to know that God has chosen to manifest His kingdom plan today through his church. But to me, the greater wonder is to grasp that we, not buildings or organizations, are the church commissioned to demonstrate His kingdom. It is a personal thing!
In a dialogue between Jesus and Nicodemus, a religious leader of his time, we are presented the method of our access to the Kingdom. Jesus stated:
- “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3)
- “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5)
Jesus’ statements clearly tell us that our new birth experience not only allows us to see the Kingdom, but also allows us to enter into the kingdom. It is at our born again experience we change citizenship from the kingdom of darkness into God’s kingdom.
Paul references this transference of kingdoms when writing to the church at Colossi stating: “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:13). The Greek word used for “translated” is methistemi and means: “to transpose, transfer, remove from one place to another: change of situation or place.” (Thayer’s) The New Living Translation puts it this way: “he has brought us into the Kingdom of his dear Son.” Paul is further elaborating that we have been transferred or moved from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of Jesus. This is a present active event, not something we are waiting for.
To the church at Thessalonica, Paul states that we have been called into His kingdom and glory. He states: “That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory” (1 Thessalonians 2:12). The word “called” here is kaleo and it means “to call anyone, invite or summon” (Vine’s). The word unto in the original is “eis” and means “to or into (indicating the point reached or entered), of place, time” (Strong’s). So Paul is saying we have been invited or summoned to a particular place, that being the Kingdom!
Finally, while we have been invited and placed into His kingdom, we have not received all there is in the kingdom. In fact, we are in a process of regularly receiving more of the kingdom until that final day when He returns and His kingdom will be fully manifest. The writer of Hebrews tells us we are in the process of receiving a kingdom:
“Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: (Hebrews 12:28)
For our current discussion, the focus of this verse is on the word “receiving” and its application for us today. The original Greek used here is paralambano and means: “to take with oneself, to join to oneself, to receive something transmitted” (Thayer’s). Now to me, the exciting point of this word is the fact it is a verb in the present active mood. For us this means we are presently and actively involved in receiving the Kingdom.
The Kingdom we are receiving is one that cannot be shaken. Why? Simply put, it is His plan! It has been His intent or plan to establish His manifested dominion or reign since creation and Adam. The Kingdom IS His plan!
Now I am not claiming that the fullness of the kingdom is here, but I am saying that at our new birth, we are placed into His kingdom spiritually. We now become part of the kingdom of priests to minister and demonstrate who He is to this world. We are his representatives or ambassadors, to show this world what it will be like to live under his reign. Eventually, at his coming, he will literally establish his kingdom on earth and sit on the throne of David. Until then, we are to live a lifestyle that reflects His kingdom, making it attractive to those around us.
In the next note, we will discuss the idea of culture.
till next time
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Dr Martin lives in St Louis with his wife Ava and their dog Zoe. He is available to speak to your local assembly, organization or ministry. His focus is ministering the principles of Kingdom Authority that empower believers to use their spiritual gifts, demonstrating the miraculous power of Jesus and his kingdom. The results: increased faith and the potential for greater revival and harvest. For more about our ministry check us out here