Series: The Kingdom of God
Sun am 20 March 2016 – Kobus Swart
(Matt. 18:3); Matt. 10:7-8; Col. 1:13 (Amp & Msg); Luke 16:16;
Mark 1:15; John 3:3-5, 13; (Gen. 3:24); (Matt. 16:18); (Matt. 18:17);
(Acts 1:3); (Matt. 6:9-10); (John 3:13); Eph. 2:19; Phil. 3:20-21;
(Rev. 21:1); John 17:15-16; Luke 13:20-21; 2 Cor. 5:20
When we look at the kingdom of God, is the first thing we must remember, is that kingdom has a KING and everything revolves around Him! Everything about the kingdom honours Him, Jesus Christ our Lord. In Him everything was created, through Him, to Him, He was the first-born of all creation.
Secondly, we can also not talk about the kingdom of God without referring to the Holy Spirit (Rom 14:17). More about this in our next sessions…
We must take another look at what it means to be born again. For many in the wide church of Jesus Christ, the term used is “being saved.” What does it mean? A better term is to be born again. There is something about becoming like a child that connects to the born again experience (John 3:3-5). We have to become like a child to enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 18:3).
When Jesus sent out (=apostolic) the twelve He said, “As you go, preach to the lost…” The message? “The kingdom of God is at hand” (Matt. 10:7-8). In previous seasons evangelists seldom used that message. The teachings were more about getting saved and going to heaven. I never heard about the kingdom of God as a young man in many evangelistic crusades. The missing ingredients in those seasons were authentic apostles.
We need a deeper understanding of being born again. Why is the Church not impacting its surrounding cultures? Why is the world in the condition it is in? This is what happens when we get born again: [The Father] has delivered and drawn us to Himself out of the control and the dominion of darkness and has transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of His love (Col. 1:13-Ampl). God rescued us from dead-end alleys and dark dungeons. He’s set us up in the kingdom of the Son he loves so much (Col. 1:13-Msg). This helps us understand the word ‘kingdom’. He brought us under a new government. That should reflect in a saved person’s life. When you are transferred out of the kingdom of darkness, out of obscurity, out of wrong government, you are born again and transferred into the kingdom of His Son; you are no longer aliens (foreigners) in the land of promise.
Citizenship has great power and privileges. As a South African citizen if you are in trouble in another country, you have privileges. When it comes to citizenship the kingdom of God is no different from any other nation. The same principles apply. The kingdom of God is not a religion; it is a government (King) with a country. Where is that country? I will listen to your ‘accent’ and tell you where you live. The name of the King is Jesus Christ and the country is heaven (Matt. 10:7).
What I would like to see in kingdom churches is this: The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it(Luke 16:16). When people hear the gospel of the kingdom, they will want to be there and will force their way into it. Once people hear the gospel of the kingdom accurately, they cannot wait to get in – especially if they see it modelled. In the world we are citizens of another realm and people should notice that. When we are born again we become kingdom citizens. If we do not understand this, we will forever vacillate in and out of the kingdom of God. We will not experience the true privileges and protection of being a kingdom citizen.
What is the foreign country we come from? It is a dominion of darkness. We as a race have been exiled since Adam’s rebellion in the Garden of Eden. They were banned from the garden, from the presence of God, from that special, intimate relationship with God. Humanity was exiled into a dark kingdom. Jesus came to reconcile humanity back to God, and said, the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand (Mark 1:15). Jesus had one mission and that was to open the door for exiled humanity to be reconciled to God. Each person needs to have an encounter with that truth. Humanity has to have a revelation that Jesus paid the price and then make the transition and come under a new government. That government is the government of God. A true Christian walks under the government of God. When Adam and Eve were banned from Eden, they lost their citizenship in heaven (Gen. 3:24). Then Jesus came and the door was opened for humanity to come under the government of God. That was the only message Jesus preached: the kingdom of God. In His resurrection body He talked only of that which was closest to His heart – the kingdom of God! (Acts 1:3).
We enter the door that Jesus opened by being born again, becoming like a child and coming under a new government. By that experience we become citizens of the kingdom of God. It means we voluntarily align ourselves with a new government and a new country, embracing its language, ideals and its values. My conversations, my ‘accent’ must reflect that I am a citizen of the kingdom of God. How many times do we end up in negative conversations? Do you participate or do you bring another sound?
Jesus said, Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:9-10). He brought the two realms together. Jesus walked on earth in heaven; He was in heaven on earth (John 3:13). In Him the two realms combined. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household (Eph. 2:19). Out citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20). Religion is our problem because it postpones our citizenship to sometime in the future. With the new birth our heavenly citizenship starts immediately.
There is such a thing as dual citizenship. While we are citizens of heaven, we are also citizens of the nation in which we were born. All kingdom citizens carry dual citizenship and this status will continue until the day that the present heaven and the present earth will pass away and we will see a new heaven and a new earth (Rev. 21:1). We are not of this world (John 17:16). In fact Jesus also said, I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one (John 17:15). It does not make sense to pray for Him to take us out of the world.
What is our mission in this world? And again He said, “To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened” (Luke 13:20-21). Kingdom citizens must leaven all of society. If that does not happen something is wrong. Leaven only works if it is put into the dough. It is the same with salt. We are to be ambassadors. An ambassador is an accredited diplomat sent by a State as its permanent representative in a foreign country, with all the privileges of the home country (2 Cor. 5:20). That is who we are when we are born again. We are diplomats of the kingdom of heaven in the nations we live in.