Let me begin, by stating (once again) that I am not a theologian. Nor, am I a Bible scholar and let’s be honest, this is not an easy subject. I am, however, a follower of Christ and as such, I have the Holy Spirit within me. And after all, it is the Spirit who brings revelation.
So to that end, in some small way, I am not only qualified, but approved to write about the Kingdom of God (As are you, I should point out).
That being said, to understand what the Kingdom of God is, we also have to understand what the Kingdom is not. It is not a mythical place in the clouds. It is not a liberal ideal, wherein society reaches a kind of man-made utopia. It is not the United States. It is not a political system. It is not a universal Church. It is not even Jesus Christ Himself.
So, what is the Kingdom of God?
The True Gospel
In Mark 1:15, Jesus says,”..repent and believe in the Gospel.” Often we hear people say that Jesus is the Gospel, but if that were true why wouldn’t Christ just have said “Repent and believe in me.” Was He just being humble or playing coy?
No, because right before in Mark 1:14, we are told, “ Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
The gospel that Jesus preached is the Kingdom of God.
Cool, right? The book of Mark even begins by stating that it is “the begininning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” meaning the gospel Jesus preached–the Kingdom of God.
So if Jesus preached the gospel of the Kingdom of God, what is it? Where is it? How do we find it?
The Now and the Not Yet
Many of you touched on the idea in yesterday’s post comments, in fact. George Eldon, author of The Gospel of the Kingdom, does an excellent job of communicating the idea of the Kingdom of God being both in the now and the not yet.
Put simply, Eldon says that the Kingdom of God is the redemptive work of God, active and present throughout history, to bring defeat to his enemies and bring glory to men through His divine reign.
In other words, the Kingdom of God is the rule and reign of God, both now and that which is to come.
It is present because Jesus told us. ““If I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matthew 12:28). But, it is also that which is to come, when in 1 Corinthians 15:50-51, Paul writes, “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” If flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom then the fullness of the kingdom is still to come–when our bodies are made glorified with Christ in heaven.
…And, as Paul states, therein lies the mystery of the Kingdom.
Because we know that the Kingdom is upon us, but we also know that men can reject it. We know that the Kingdom of God is the gospel Jesus Himself preached and yet we are not able to experience it fully…not yet.
The Kingdom of God is the hope we hold now and the hope that is to come…the glory of Christ in us now and the glory that is to be revealed. As this author states:
“The kingdom is both a journey and a destination, both a rescue operation in this broken world and a perfect outcome in the new earth to come, both already started and not yet finished.”
Seek First the Kingdom
When Jesus told us to “…seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,” how are we able to do so unless we understand what it is we are to be seeking?
We must seek the rule and reign of God. Which is why when we read the Lord’s prayer, we read that Jesus said “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Your rule and reign Father, both now–on earth–and as it shall be–in heaven.
We must not pray this as simply a nicety, or Christian-ese, or rote routine. We must pray those words, as Jesus did, seeking the kingdom.
And it is the gospel of the kingdom of God that we too must preach, the very gospel Jesus shared. For that is our call. “The gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all the nations; and then the end shall come” (Matthew 24:14).
As Ladd writes, “To us it is given not only to wait for but also to hasten the coming of the day of God (II Peter 3:12). This is the mission of the Gospel of the Kingdom and this is our mission.”