Debie Misir: December 14, 2010

The Kingdom of God

What is the Kingdom of God?

The kingdom of God also referred to as the Kingdom of Heaven in the word of God, is the spiritual, eternal Kingdom in which our Sovereign God rules over all of His creations who have willingly surrendered to the Him and have a relationship with Him. This includes all Heavenly creatures who did not choose to rebel with Lucifer as well as human beings who have been “born again” or “born of the spirit.” The word of God says “no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit…. You must be born again." (John 3:5, 7). Those who have entered into the Kingdom of God and are subject to God will live eternally as He does, for God is eternal and His Kingdom is eternal. “His Kingdom is an eternal kingdom; his dominion endures from generation to generation” (Daniel 4:3). Everything and everyone outside the Kingdom of God will be destroyed.

Where is the Kingdom of God?

The Kingdom of God is not somewhere we go when we die if we are “born again”. But, when we are “born again” by believing in the Lordship, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ in our hearts, and confessing it with our mouths, “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”(Romans 10:9), we instantly enter into the Kingdom of God. We know this because the word of God says that the Holy Spirit, who indwells every Believer, bears witness with the Believer’s spirit. “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” (Romans 8:16). Thus, when we are “born again”, we move from this earthly physical realm into the Heavenly spiritual realm of God’s Kingdom. We are in this world, but we are not of this world. We are in the Kingdom of God, but we are also still on earth, in our physical bodies destined to perish. We are now sent from the Kingdom of God as ambassadors for Christ in this world, to fulfill our calling. And we are to remain here until our physical bodies die or Christ comes again. Hence, the word of God tells us that the Kingdom of God is also placed within us, enabling us to live after the Spirit and not after the flesh while we are in this world. ”The kingdom of God cometh not with observation…For behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20, 21).

What is life in the Kingdom like?

Once we enter into the Kingdom of God, we are living in a spiritual realm under subjection to God’s authority and rule. We must no longer live in the realm of the flesh for the word of God says, “The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:7, 8). Also “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. (Romans 8:6). Yes you are still in flesh and you are still tempted with fleshly desires but the Bible tells us that “If you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.” (Romans 8:13). We have to do our part as well. We have to crucify our flesh daily. Paul assures us that the Spirit helps us with our weaknesses, and it is when we are weak from resisting temptations or enduring trails, that the strength of the Lord is perfected in us. He goes on to tell us that we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us and that there is nothing that can separate us from His love. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35, 38). We have the assurance that we are fully equipped to live the Kingdom life, placing our priority on spiritual things that are eternal and not on earthly things that will perish. “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” (Romans 14:17). But we live on earth, in a physical body and must have our physical needs met in order to survive, you say? The Lord assures us that our needs will be met when we focus on the spiritual things of God and seek to live righteously before Him and each other. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). For, it is the Lord who gave us life. And it is the Giver of our lives who must take first priority in our lives. Unless we seek Him we cannot know the meaning and purpose of our lives, or the destinies He has ordained for us. Unless we seek Him we cannot understand His ways or know how to walk with Him daily; learning of Him and growing in Him through obedience to His Holy Spirit. Unless we obey Him and grow in Him we cannot receive all that we need for our lives; physically, spiritually or materially. God must take first priority in our lives. He will lead us by way of His Spirit to walk in the things that are eternal. The Spiritual must take priority over the things of self and the world – working out our salvation, living in obedience to Him, and sharing the good news of the kingdom with others. This is the promise of God. When we take care of things that are spiritual and everlasting first, God will see to our temporary physical needs. This is the divine arrangement of business in God’s Kingdom. We have no need to be concerned or worried. He shall supply all our needs. Now He may not be supplying all you think you need, but He will supply all He knows you need. For example you might think you need riches, worldly success, and a husband. But God knows that what you really need is a wilderness period of suffering, loss, lack, and solitude, to build your faith and make your stronger spiritually. He knows what is best for you. He did not ask you to surrender your life to Him so He could help you to live the way you want to, but He asks you to surrender your life to Him so that He could take control of it, and help you to live your life for Him His way – In the Spirit.

Kingdom life is not an easy life, for it means denying flesh and all fleshly desires. This is where God steps in to help you. If you surrender to the work of the Holy Spirit, He will mold and make you into a being who is totally led by the Spirit. He does this through various means: from gently rebuking and correcting you, to allowing great trials, loss, lack, and sufferings in your life. Do not despise the times of trials and sufferings for this is what will enable you to live in the Kingdom of God both naturally and supernaturally. Jesus Christ says, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24). All who have followed the Lord have endured sufferings in varying degrees. The Lord Himself suffered the greatest persecution, rejection, scorn, torture and death of the worst kind. Job suffered immense loss and pain in all areas of his life – his health, family, relationships, and wealth. Joseph was thrown into a pit, sold into slavery buy his own brothers, and thrown into prison. Paul was beaten many times with many stripes, imprisoned, and tried and martyred in the end. John was submersed in boiling oil and then exiled on the isle of Patmos. And many more saints suffered similar fates. Many missionaries and Pastors are suffering the same fate today. Are we to say these were not children of God? That they were not in the center of God’s perfect will and as such blessed? God forbid. No Beloved, this is the way of the kingdom. I know it is a far cry from the “Prosperity Gospel” that is being preached today. But, the word of God is true and so simple, even a child can understand. We need the mind and heart of a child to understand them. This is why the Lord cautions us, “Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.” (Mark 10:15). It is when we do not surrender to His perfect will and obey His commands just as He gave them to us that we are led astray. It is when we do not want to go through trials, lack, loss and sufferings to learn obedience that we willing follow anyone who distorts the gospel and presents life in the Kingdom as a life of physical and material blessings only. And it is when we eagerly accept a watered-down gospel full of prosperity promises that we continue to live as carnal Christians and not as Kingdom citizens.

Prosperity may come, but God is more concerned with our spiritual prosperity than our physical. He knows that spiritual prosperity is eternal, but physical prosperity will perish. He also knows that if physical prosperity comes before the soul has a chance to prosper by going through the refiner’s fire, then the soul could be destroyed. He knows that material prosperity can lead to lust and pride, putting the soul in bondage to the enemy and making it difficult for one to enter into the Kingdom of God. “And again I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24). He says the Kingdom of God belongs to the poor in spirit “And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God” (Luke 6:20), and it is difficult to be poor in spirit when one is tempted on every side by success, riches, and the pride of this very temporary life. The Lord taught us that our focus should be away from the world with its alluring pleasures; from secret lusts and pride to very blatant ones. We must stay humble before the Lord at all costs, shake the worldly dust off of us, and keep our eyes focused on Heavenly things and be about our Father’s business. We are still on earth for one purpose and one purpose only: to serve God and to be transformed daily into the image and likeness of Christ.

What is the evidence that we are living in the Kingdom of God?

We have the evidence of being Kingdom citizens if we are:

Working out our own salvation with fear and trembling: When we are “born again”, we are saved. We are living in the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of God is within us. Then sanctification starts. We, who have been justified and are covered with the righteousness of Christ, have inherited eternal life. But that is not all. We need to have our own righteousness. We must be restored back to the image and likeness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This is the work of the Holy Spirit, but we have to align our wills with Him as He does this work of sanctification in us. We must do our part and deeply desire and pursue the righteousness of God, obeying His commands and doing what is right in His eyes. We must guard our hearts with all diligence being careful not to open doors to the enemy through disobedience, and when we disobey we must be quick to recognize and accept the convictions of the Holy Spirit, repenting and seeking His forgiveness. We must be zealous to seek Him in prayer, in worship, in His Word, in intimate fellowship with Him, and we must serve Him. We know we are living in the Kingdom of God if we are doing all of the above and we are falling in love with Jesus in the process, deeper and deeper every day.

Serving God in total humility: Jesus Christ saved us not only to forgive us, heal us, and give us peace and eternal life but to be His bondservants and to serve Him – and He showed us the way. He Himself came as a bondservant to God and to us. “But made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. (Phil 2:7). Jesus Christ served God and us. He taught, healed, delivered, preached and suffered and died on a wooden cross to pay the penalty for our sins. Likewise, all who are followers of Christ and Kingdom citizens are bondservants of Christ. Paul and many others knew this. They identified themselves always as such. We hear of “Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:1), “Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ” (Col 4:12), “James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” (James 1:1), “Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:1), “Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:1). These Kingdom citizens were the early church founders and fathers and they are the examples of Godly men God has left us for the church today. Sadly, the church leadership today has not been following the example set by these mighty men of God. Today we hear of Bishop X, Apostle/Bishop X, Apostle/Prophet X, Doctor Bishops, Executive Pastor X, Pastor X doctor of Theology etc. and many more lavish, acclaimed titles paralleling the corporate world. But we rarely hear bondservant of Christ and of His people. Jesus Christ taught us to hold fast to this title and only this title, embracing all that it represents and dedicating our lives to fulfill all the purposes inherent in it.

Believers, being bondservants of Christ means God chose us to lead others to Salvation through the preaching of the Gospel, to teach them and make disciples of them so that they can in turn serve the Lord. Everyone who is “born again” must serve God in some way, otherwise they are not growing in the Lord and they are not being transformed in the image and likeness of Christ. We can go to church as much as we like, read the word of God daily, pray and meditate, and worship the Lord always, but if we are not serving God, we have not received anything of Him. He commands us, “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.” If we are not giving out anything, it means we must not have received anything which is evidence that we are not in the Kingdom of God. Or we received and are keeping it to ourselves. Beloved this can only destroy us. The Lord says every branch in him that does not bear fruit will be taken out. “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away.” (John 15:2). If we are not bearing fruits - having the fruits of the Spirit, making disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and freely giving of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, then we are not worthy of the Kingdom of God and it will be taken from us. Beloved, be advised of the words of our Lord to the fruitless Pharisees, ”Therefore say I unto you, the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” (Matthew 21:43). In the book of Revelation where the future is unveiled, the Lord reveals to us that in Heaven also, we will be serving God. “The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.” (Rev 22:3). This is what we will be doing for all of eternity. If we cannot do it now, we will certainly not like it in Heaven.

True servanthood is essential to our spiritual growth. The call to serve God is not for a chosen few like most believe, but for every believer. This is our sole task - to advance the Kingdom of God. The magnitude of the call depends on each believer’s degree of surrender to Christ; denying themselves and taking up their cross and following Him. The Bible says “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Eph 2:10). Before we were saved, God prepared good works for us to do. Jesus Christ himself says to us, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do (John 14:12). Jesus Christ served all when He was on earth. He did great works and promised we who believe would do what He did and more. His word is true. Those who are truly serving God in humility are really doing the greater works He promised. This is evidenced by true bondservants like Billy Graham, Benny Hinn, Reinhardt Bunke, and Oral Roberts. Jesus Christ preached within a 60 mile radius, but Billy Graham has preached all over the world to millions. Jesus Christ healed thousands in Israel, but Benn Hinn and Oral Roberts healed many thousands by the power of the Holy Spirit throughout the world. Jesus Christ personally raised Lazarus and Jairus’ daughter from the dead during His three year ministry, but Reinhardt Bunke raised many more. God has prepared a work for all who are in the Kingdom to do. If we are not doing it, if we are not serving Christ in some way, we may be born again, but we are definitely not living the Kingdom life. Most Christians are saved, but they never surrender enough to live under the authority and lordship of our King in the Kingdom of God.

If, however, we are serving God with hearts burning for souls to be saved, and we use every opportunity, every means, every occasion to intercede, witness, and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ through persecution, rejection, alienation, abuse, lack, and loss, then this is the evidence that we are living in the Kingdom of God. If we remain steadfast in His commission at all personal costs to ourselves like the Lord commanded, “Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:60) and if we never waver or turn back no matter what comes our way, “And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62), we are living the Kingdom life. If we place serving God above every other priority and relationship in our life, “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37). If we are witnessing with the power of God following us wherever we go whether in supernatural signs and wonders, or the inner transformation of sinners’ hearts “For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.” (1 Cor. 4:20), and if we are bearing the fruits God expects from Kingdom subjects, then we are truly His children and bondservants to Christ living in the Kingdom of God. "Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them." (Matthew 7:19, 20)

Beloved, if you are not living the Kingdom life, I invite you commit your life again to the Lord and ask Him to take full control. Rededicate yourself to Him and ask Him to help you live the Kingdom life. If you do not know the Lord and would like to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, simply pray. “Lord Jesus, I believe you died for my sins and rose again on the third day. I repent of my sins and ask you to cleanse me. Lord I invite you into my heart, be my Lord and god. I give my life to you. Help me to be a citizen of your Kingdom, living life in your Kingdom and bearing much fruit. Amen”