Holding to Truth

holding to truth in love for the building up of the Body of Christ

What is the kingdom of God?

What is the kingdom of God?

If you’ve ever read the New Testament, you might have come across the expression—”the kingdom of God.”

God’s kingdom is hard to overlook because the gospels begin with it. For example, Mark 1:14-15 says,

And after John was delivered up, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God has drawn near. Repent and believe in the gospel.

But what is the kingdom of God spoken of in the New Testament?

Possibly you’ve considered that “the kingdom of God” must be the realm in which God exercises His sovereign authority over everyone and everything, the domain where everything is ruled by Him.

Such a definition is no doubt correct…in a general sense. But it doesn’t touch the deeper significance of God’s kingdom revealed in the Bible. So let’s consider what this deeper thought concerning what the kingdom of God is.

What is the kingdom of God?

 The kingdom of God is the goal of the gospel

The following quotes from the Life-study of Mark by Witness Lee provides an excellent introduction:

We need to see the crucial matter that the intrinsic essence of the gospel is the kingdom. The gospel is preached for the kingdom, and the kingdom is a divine sphere for God to work out His plan, a realm where God can exercise His authority to accomplish what He intends. The only way for God to reach His goal is through the kingdom. (p. 120)

To enter into this kingdom people need to repent of their sins and believe in the gospel so that their sins may be forgiven and that they may be regenerated by God to have the divine life, which matches the divine nature of this kingdom (John 3:35). (p. 48)

The kingdom of God in the New Testament is a realm of God’s divine life

The deeper significance of God’s kingdom in the Bible is that it is not just a matter of God’s ruling over all things. From the New Testament it is clear that the kingdom of God is a realm of God’s divine life.

The divine birth is the entrance into the divine kingdom

Any kingdom of life can only be entered by birth.

For example, it would be silly to think of “naturalizing” a dog into the cat kingdom. That would cause the cat kingdom a great deal of problems.

In the same way, it would be foolish to think that we human beings could enter into God’s kingdom in any other way than by birth. That’s why the Lord Jesus said,

“Unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

Of course, the Lord wasn’t referring to a physical birth because He continued by saying, “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (v. 5).

Then how can we experience the divine birth into the divine kingdom?

John 1:12-13, tells us clearly that those who receive the Lord Jesus, believing into His name, have the authority to become God’s children, to those who are born of God.

So whenever a person prays to receive the Lord Jesus, they’re born of God with His divine life to become a part of His kingdom, sharing in His divine species  (that is, partaking of His life and nature but not in His Godhead).

Have you experienced such a divine birth?

If you’re not sure you might want to pray the following prayer,

“Lord Jesus, I believe into You. I believe that You are the complete, eternal God who became a perfect, sinless man. I believe that you died on the cross for my sins and rose from the dead to impart Your resurrection life into me, and make me a child of God in the kingdom of God. Lord forgive me of all my sins. Come into my spirit right now with Your kingdom life. Thank you for regenerating me into Your kingdom. I love You.”

God transfers us into the kingdom of the Son of His love

Through such an experience of regeneration, or being born again, a divine birth takes place in our spirit, making us this divine species. In this way we are ushered into the very pleasant realm of the kingdom of the Son of the Father’s love. Colossians 1:13 says,

Who [the Father] delivered us out of the authority of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.

The expression “the Son” indicates that Christ is the embodiment of the Father’s divine life (1 John 5:11-12). And “the Son of His love” indicates that in this kingdom we are being ruled in love with life.

After receiving Christ to be born of God (John 1:12-13),  we need to go on to live by the Son as our life in His resurrection by eating, drinking and breathing Him (John 6:57; 7:37; 20:22).

When we live by Him, we are living in His kingdom. It is here that we have the real Christian life and proper church life.

 The Bible presents the kingdom of God and then the church

The Lord Jesus went around Galilee proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom (Matt 4:23). Then He revealed to His disciples that He would build His church and the presence of the church is God’s kingdom (Matt. 16:18-19).

Our proclaiming of the divine truth  presented above is the preaching of the gospel (Eph. 1:13). When anyone hears this truth and believes the gospel of the kingdom, they receive the divine life (John 3:16).

The result of a believer receiving the divine life is that they are ushered into God’s kingdom in life. This becomes the base for the living of the genuine church. Romans 14:17 says,

For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

The context of this verse is the receiving of the believers for the proper church life.

The reality of the church is the organic kingdom of God

The reality of the church is the kingdom of God. It is very important for us to see that the church revealed in the Bible is not some religious organization of man, but the organic kingdom of God.

Paul told the believers in Ephesus that they were “fellow citizens” (Eph. 2:19) and such a citizenship is related to God’s kingdom. In fact, all regenerated believers become citizens in this divine kingdom, the realm of divine rule, sharing in both its rights and responsibilities.

 The believers live the kingdom life in the church today

In  Romans 14:17  we can see that, in Paul’s mind, the believers’ church life is the kingdom of God. However, we practically live in the kingdom of God only when we are living “in the Holy Spirit” (v. 17).

We only enjoy the kingdom life in the church life when we live, walk and have our being in the spirit (the Holy Spirit joined to our spirit—Rom. 8:16).

We need to live such a kingdom life in the proper church life today, growing and developing this divine life unto maturity. It is in this way that we will enjoy the rich entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord (2 Pet. 1:5-11).

The result of our growing and developing the divine life unto maturity is that we will inherit the kingdom in the coming age (1 Cor. 15:50; Gal. 5:21).

When we see such a uplifted view of the kingdom of God we need to pray,

Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for revealing Your kingdom to me as the realm of your divine life. Lord, thank you, that by believing into You and receiving You, I am now reborn to be God’s child and a citizen in God’s kingdom. Lord, remind me to daily eat, drink and breathe Your kingdom life and to practically live this kingdom life in the proper church life. May all my living and work issue in this kingdom and may I continually grow and mature in Your kingdom life with all my fellow citizens until we inherit Your kingdom in full in the coming age.

References and Further Reading:

 

About Tom Smith

Hi. My name is Tom Smith. I'm the writer behind Holding to Truth in Love, and I love the Lord Jesus and His life-giving Word. Please feel free to send me an e-mail through the contact page if you have any questions. I hope you'd take a moment to subscribe to the Holding to Truth blog. Then you'll be sure not to miss a post. Thanks!

6 Replies

  1. Randolph

    As believer in God; am I living in the Kingdom of God?

    1. Tom Smith

      Randolph,

      To live in the kingdom of God, we must first receive the life of God’s kingdom. Just as possessing the dog life is necessary to live in the dog kingdom, possessing the divine life is necessary to live in God’s kingdom. That is why I stressed the importance of the divine birth to enter the kingdom of God (John 3:3; 1:12-13). If you have received the Lord Jesus, believing in His name, according to John 1:12-13, you are born of God into the kingdom of God. But whether you are presently living in God’s kingdom depends on whether you remain or abide in this union that you have with Christ. First Corinthians 6:17 says, “He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit.” Faith and baptism are the initiation, but we need to go on to live in this union with Christ to enjoy His kingdom life in our daily living. By calling on the Lord to drink the Spirit, feeding on His word to nourish our inner man, and walking according to the spirit–His Spirit with our spirit, we’re able to live in the reality of the kingdom of God today.

      1. Randolph McNair

        So I have to be more than a believer to inherit the Kingdom of God?

        1. Tom Smith

          Our divine birth, based on our faith in Christ’s redemptive work, is sufficient to give us entrance into God’s kingdom today. But the “inheritance of the kingdom” as a reward in the millennial kingdom is a special portion to those overcoming believers who live in its reality today (Rev. 2:7). (For more insight, please follow the link on this verse, with special attention to the second paragraph of footnote 7 on Rev. 2:7).

          Ephesians 5:5 says, “For this you realize, knowing that every fornicator or unclean person or greedy person (who is an idolater) has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” Many genuine reborn believers fall into this category today. They are eternally saved and will never lose their salvation (John 10:28-29), but may miss the blessing of the inheritance as a reward.

          A helpful note on this verse says,

          The kingdom of Christ is the millennium (Rev. 20:4, 6; Matt. 16:28) and also the kingdom of God (Matt. 13:41, 43 and notes). The believers have been regenerated into the kingdom of God (John 3:5), and they are in the church life, living in the kingdom of God today (Rom. 14:17). Not all believers, only the overcoming ones, will participate in the millennium. In the coming age the unclean, defeated ones will have no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God, the millennium. (Footnote 3, on Eph. 5:5 in the Recovery Version)

          However, in eternity, all God’s redeemed, whether prudent or slothful, will by the discipline and transforming work of the Holy Spirit, whether in this age or the coming one, be prepared to inherit the eternal blessings of God’s eternal life in the New Jerusalem for eternity.

          1. Randolph McNair

            So what happens to believers who don’t overcome if they don’t inherit the Kingdom of God

          2. Tom Smith

            Please read Matthew 25 for the Lord’s answer. The virgins and the slaves in these parables were all the Lord’s believers. However, some virgins were prudent and some were foolish. In the parable of the talents some of the Lord’s slaves were faithful and some were slothful.
            The prudent virgins and the faithful slaves were rewarded by the returning Lord. The foolish and slothful missed this reward. But this does not mean that they lost their eternal salvation. The Lord used a certain discipline of these believers in the millennium to complete His transforming work so that they might be prepared to reign with the overcoming believers for eternity. Such a warning word should encourage us to live to the Lord today. As Paul said, “I pursue toward the goal for the prize…” (Phil. 3:14).

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