The message of Jesus was the gospel (good news) of the kingdom. John the Baptist prepared the way by saying "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt. 3:2b). Jesus explained that He came to preach the kingdom of God (Luke 4:43). He described the kingdom to the masses through parables, and then explained the parables to His disciples who were chosen to know the mysteries of the kingdom. He told Nicodemus that one must be born again to enter the kingdom. He told us to pray that His kingdom would come. Jesus taught that the end would not come until the gospel of the kingdom was preached to the whole world. His followers continued to teach about and preach the kingdom after Jesus had returned to the Father.
The kingdom message was (and is) important to Jesus. Yet, too many American believers do not understand the relevance and importance of the kingdom message today. A number of possible explanations could explain the phenomena. Do they believe the church has replaced the kingdom? Do they believe the kingdom is only relevant to Jewish believers? Do they believe that the kingdom message is restricted to Christ's millennial reign? Have they ever been taught about the kingdom?
If we believe the world needs righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, then the world needs the kingdom message. If we believe that worry about the things of this world is a major issue with believers and nonbelievers, then we need to get people to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness first. If we believe that Christians need power, then we need to seek the kingdom.
"For the kingdom of God does not mean eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Rom. 14:17).
"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be given to you" (Matt. 6:33).
"For the kingdom is not in word, but in power" (1 Cor. 4:20).
Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice on the cross so that we can enter the kingdom. He sent the Holy Spirit to empower us for kingdom work. Our Lord's kingdom is filled with sons and daughters, kings and priests, and not serfs. All believers are equal, and through acceptance of our Lord as King of kings and application of His kingdom principles can experience the abundant life of a citizen of heaven in this life.
Future articles will provide detailed explanations of the kingdom, its principles and our responsibilities. But a brief description follows.
- Man was created to rule and have dominion over his areas of responsibility.
- In the Garden of Eden, the kingdom was fully operational as Adam and Eve were sinless and regularly communed with God.
- Adam and Eve lost the right to rule when they sinned.
- Jesus came to restore the kingdom, provide for the forgiveness of our sins and provide for our empowerment.
- Believers are sons and daughters of God.
- The citizenship of believers is in the kingdom of heaven.
- Believers are representatives and ambassadors of the kingdom of God.
- Believers have the charge to bring the culture, values, morals, love and attitude in all areas of their responsibility and influence.
- Believers have all the resources of heaven to help them overcome and rule in their areas of responsibility.
- Jesus will come back to personally rule over the earth as King of kings for 1,000 years.
- The kingdom of God on earth will be joined with the kingdom of heaven for eternity with a new heaven and new earth.
With Jesus comparing the kingdom of heaven to a costly pearl or treasure that a person would sell everything they have to obtain, perhaps we should be more diligent in studying and applying kingdom principles. Heaven is our destination. But this life is expected to be abundant as well. Jesus died for both. Jesus is our King, and we should act like it.
Dr. James Russell is a professor of economics at Oral Roberts University.
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