“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God…” 1 Peter 2:9-10
A. Situational Analysis
According to the Bible, Jesus Christ is the King (Lord) of the Kingdom of God. “On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:16). The Bible goes on to say that when you receive Christ into your life as savior and Lord you are “born again.” That is, you are born into the family of God “a chosen people.” As such, you are, right now, a citizen of the Kingdom of God, “a holy nation!” “In reply Jesus declared, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again’” (John 3:3).
The Bible says this Kingdom of God is a real kingdom with covenant rights for its citizens (a constitution of sort), statues, laws and a kingdom government (a monarchy). And the bible says this government, led by the return of Christ the King and His true disciples (those who obey Christ), will rule over all the nations on earth for a thousand years. “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ,” (Revelation 11:15).
“Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years,” (Revelations 20:6).
As a follower of Christ, you are expected to learn how to live here on earth in a manner consistent with your royal status and you are expected to obey your King and His teachings. “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples” (John 8:31). “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15). “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching” (John 14:23). “Remain in me and I will remain in you,” (John 15:4). “If you obey my command, you will remain in my love” (John 15:10). “And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us” (1 John 3:23-24).
“Religion is a cultural system that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and moral values. Many religions have narrative, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning of life or to explain the origin of life or the universe. They tend to derive morality, ethics, religious laws or a preferred lifestyle from their ideas about the cosmos and human nature,” (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia). Over the years most of Christianity has become a religion – actually several religions comprised of different beliefs, symbols, traditions, rules and regulations. According to the internet, there are approximately 38,000 Christian denominations. And based on my experience, most claim to have the truth and are suspicious of the legitimacy of the others. Religious behavior and systems are what the Lord Jesus Christ was battling with while he was on earth.
True Christianity is not a religion, it is teaching in the Bible (God’s handbook to humans) that defines reality (principles of truth concerning the ways things really are). The Gospel of Christ was His teaching on 1) how you can be reconciled with God and restored back to the original nature man was created with (salvation) and 2) the Kingdom of God/Heaven (the government that rules Heaven and all of God’s creation). “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people” (Matthew 4:23). “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders” (emphasis added, Isaiah 9:6). Government of what, you ask? The Kingdom of God!
The Bible also says those who make Christ both savior and Lord become citizens of God’s Kingdom, so one would think it wise to understand the Kingdom, its culture, and its government. Why? Because in a kingdom your rewards are tied to being obedient to the king. And in the case of the Kingdom of God, they are tied to being obedient to The King.
“Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’” (John 8:31-32).
“Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (John 14:23).
This is the first issue of a new series on Citizenship in the Kingdom of God. The purpose of this newsletter is to shed light on key principles of truth in the Bible and share practical insights on some incredible implications of this reality on those who believe Christ to be the Son of God and have put their trust in Him as Savior and Lord (i.e. King of the Kingdom of God). Sound strange? That’s because Americans do not understand the kingdom form of government and most churches are not teaching their congregations about the Kingdom of God as Christ instructed them to do.
B. Kingdoms and Their Government
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.” Isaiah 9:6
Numerous books and articles have been written on the Kingdom of God and The Kingdom of Heaven by smarter people than me. Perhaps that is the reason it is so difficult for the average believer to understand The Kingdom of God. “The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails — given by one Shepherd. Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them. Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body” (Ecclesiastes 12:11-12). Thirty eight thousand (38,000) denominations with multiple beliefs — are you kidding me? Do they really expect those who are led by the Spirit of God to believe they are teaching “firmly embedded nails” – given by one Shepherd?
“…for all His repeated mention of the Kingdom of God, Jesus never once paused to define it…Jesus used the term as if assured it would be understood, and indeed it was. The Kingdom of God lay within the vocabulary of every Jew. It was something they understood and longed for desperately,” (John Bright, The Kingdom of God).
According to Merriam-Webster a kingdom is “a politically organized community or major territorial unity having a monarchical form of government headed by a king or queen.”
In the United States we have come to believe that democracy is the best form of government. This is true only because we live in a world where most people are controlled by their “sinful nature” creating an environment of greed, self-dealing and corruption.
The democracy form of government creates checks and balances helping to mitigate greed, self-dealing and corruption. However, a kingdom form of government is much superior if it is led by a righteous king/queen. Let’s look at some reasons why:
- The kingdom form of government is the natural order of things and is how the universe is governed.
- The primary focus of a righteous king is the well-being of the people under his authority.
- As a citizen of the kingdom, you are under the protection of the king and his kingdom.
- Decisions are based on truth and what is right, not on what is politically or personally in the best interest of a person or party.
- It is more efficient and nimble.
- It creates order, focus and consistency.
- You have freedom and rewards if you obey the king and adhere to his culture.
“For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy” (Colossians 1:16-18).
“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me’” (Matthew 28:18).
“For he ‘has put everything under his feet’” (Psalm 8:6).
Now when it says that ‘everything’ has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:27).
“Jesus said, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.’ ‘You are a king, then!’ said Pilate. Jesus answered, ‘You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me’” (John 18:36-37).
What Jesus was saying is that his kingdom was not an earthly kingdom (yet).
Following are some key characteristics of a kingdom form of government. As you read them, consider the many verses in Scripture that deal with these topic areas and I believe the Bible will start to make more practical sense as you understand the your citizenship in God’s Kingdom:
- A king is never voted into power or takes it by force, he is born into power. Kingship is a birthright. The Bible says Jesus is the Son of God, a king, “And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).
- Accordingly, a king cannot be voted out of power and serves for life. Since Christ will never die, the Bible says Christ “will reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).
- In a kingdom, the king determines who will be its citizens and the standards for becoming a citizen. Jesus said “For many are invited, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14).
- In a righteous kingdom, the welfare of the citizens is the personal responsibility of the king. “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10b).
- When one submits to a king and his kingdom, he/she comes under his welfare. “If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God” (Deuteronomy 28:1-2).
- The word of a king is law and he is bound by it. His word cannot be challenged, changed, or countermanded. “Long ago I learned from your statutes that you established them to last forever” (Psalm 119:152). “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23-24).
- The authority of a king is unconditional. It can’t be changed by anyone or any governing body, such as congress or parliament. “When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying, ‘I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.’… Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Hebrews 6:13-19).
- In a kingdom government, the king is the government. He doesn’t represent the government, he is the government. He does not represent the authority, he is the authority. Where he goes the government and all its power and authority is present. “‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news’” (Mark 1:15)! Jesus was announcing as King, that since He was present on earth, the Kingdom of God was present.
- The king’s authority is delegated through his name and he can delegate authority to act in his name or on his behalf. This includes the authority to set up kings/kingdoms under his kingdom. “So I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates and gave them the king’s letters. The king had also sent army officers and cavalry with me” (Nehemiah 2:9). Note that God the father gave such authority to Jesus, “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18-19). Christ, the King has also delegated certain authority to His disciples (those who obey him,) “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it” (John 14:12-14).
- In a kingdom, the king owns everything; there is no personal ownership, only stewardship over the king’s property, “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters” (Psalms 24:1-2).
- A king’s status is measured by his prosperity and that of his citizens and their quality of life. “King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth. The whole world sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart” (1 Kings 10:23-24) and “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit,” says the LORD Almighty. “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the LORD Almighty,” (Malachi 3:10-12).
In a kingdom, the king has a realm and a reign.
- His realm is the territory or geographical boundaries over which a king reigns.
- His reign is his rule, power or authority.
In the Bible, the term “kingdom” is thought to generally mean wherever the reign of God is manifested. Perhaps because He is the creator of “the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1), therefore, He owns it all and it is all part of His realm. He also has a realm in Heaven (the realm we can’t see) where His throne is, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). Here, Jesus refers to both God’s reign and the part of His realm where the throne of God is.
This is specifically referred to in Matthew 23:22 — “And he who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it.” Note here that Christ says not to swear by God’s name because God is King and by using His name you would be representing that God has given you authority to use His name in your testimony – which He has not (see #9 above).
Most authors seem to agree that, in the Bible, the term “kingdom of heaven” and “kingdom of God” are generally referring to the same thing (compare Mt 4:17 with Mk 1:14-15, Mt:5:3 with Lk 6:20 and Mt13:31 with Mk 4:30-31).
C. The Kingdom of God and Christ’s Ministry/Mission
“You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
Christ did not come to earth to establish a religion; He came to define reality, to execute a plan of restoration of mankind and His creation and to reestablish the kingdom of God on earth. God gave humans authority to rule earth when He created them, but they lost that authority when they disobeyed God and Satan assumed dominion over the earth, Genesis 1-3. Satan demonstrates that dominion when tempting Jesus, “Again, the devil took him (Jesus) to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. ‘All this I will give you,’ he said, ‘if you will bow down and worship me’” (Matthew 4:8-9) and “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” (1 John 3:8b).
The focus of Christ’s teaching on earth was twofold:
- Restoration of mankind and all of creation.
- Teaching about the gospel of the kingdom.
“From there he went all over Galilee. He used synagogues for meeting places and taught people the truth of God. God’s kingdom was his theme – that beginning right now they were under God’s government, a good government! He also healed people of their diseases and of the bad effects of their bad lives” (Matthew 4:23 The Message).
And Christ has made it clear that His followers are also to be teaching about restoration AND the Kingdom of God.
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).
“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age’” (Matthew 28:18-20). This has become known as The Great Commission.
This is why I highly recommend you take the time to understand the Kingdom of God and the rights, responsibilities and rewards of being “a people belonging to God.”
I have been performing my own informal survey of Christians and their leaders concerning The Great Commission. I found that almost all of them have come to see The Great Commission as an evangelism process of bringing people into the Kingdom and baptizing them. But that is only half of Christ’s commission. The second half of His commission, “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you,” has been almost completely abandoned. Is Satan good at his job or what? Since all of God’s promises are tied to obedience, it is in Satan’s best interest to get Christians to avoid being obedient so they will not be living under God’s blessing and protection.
Helpful Tip for Your Spiritual Growth
“You Do Not Need Anyone To Teach You”
When Jesus departed planet earth (physically) he gave us a personal counselor, the Holy Spirit, the spirit of truth. In His teaching, Christ tells us the Holy Spirit will lead us to “all truth” (John 14, 15 and 16). That’s correct, “all truth.” And in these chapters Jesus repeats this teaching several times so there is no misunderstanding about what he is saying. Therefore, the best way to learn the truth in Scripture (define reality as Christ wants you to understand it) is to ask Christ to teach you truth through the “Spirit of Truth.” That’s what I requested of Him in 1986 and the journey since that time has been captivating.
You may think that “is above your pay grade.” That’s not what the Bible says, “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth” (1 John 2:20).
Perhaps you think I am taking things out of context. “My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments” (Colossians 2:2-4).
What about the Old Testament? “Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.” (Deuteronomy 30:11-14).
Is that still applicable under the new covenant? “But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming” (Romans 10:6-8).
You still don’t believe me. “As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit — just as it (the Spirit of Truth) has taught you, remain in him.” (1 John 2:26-27).
Editorial Note: These verses do not mean you don’t go to church, go to seminars, read books, listen to CDs, etc., or seek counsel from other believers in Christ. But first and foremost, you should read the Bible (it is God’s word) and seek the leading of the Holy Spirit. I will also pass along what Christ said to me in 1986 when I asked Him to teach me the truth, “If you want to know the truth, you will have to look vertically, not horizontally. That is, you will not find ‘all truth’ in any one denomination or church.”
In summary, when you make Christ your Savior and Lord, you are born into God’s family, become a citizen of The Kingdom of God and a joint heir with Christ. “So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir” (Galatians 4:7). That is incredible! “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1) In the next few issues I will be sharing insights in Scripture the Spirit of Truth has led me to over the years. However, I highly recommend you personally seek out the Spirit of Truth as your personal counselor. In the next issue of The Spirit Led Business™, we will continue our series of articles on your Citizenship in The Kingdom God, with an article on Power Submits to Power.
If you don’t have a Bible, you can go online to www.netbible.org. And if you want someone to talk to about the things in this letter, call us at ABA!
Note: All Bible verses are from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.
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