KINGDOM OF GOD
“KINGDOM” — what
a magical ring that word plays upon the ear, yet when it comes to the subject of
the Kingdom of God there seems to be no end to the carnal-minded reasonings of
man as to what it is, where it is, and how it will come to pass.
If you were to ask several average professed Christians what the Kingdom
of God is, you would receive a variety of answers.
There are a great many ideas, opinions, interpretations, conceptions and
mis-conceptions among believers as to what constitutes the Kingdom of God.
Vast multitudes of people believe that any minute Jesus will appear in
the sky and whisk away (rapture) those who are saved and take them to heaven to
enjoy the Kingdom of God. They
teach that the Kingdom of God is heaven and that it has no relationship with the
earth. For these the “end time” means the cataclysmic end of the
universe, the destruction of the earth by fire, the sending of all unbelievers
and wicked people to eternal damnation in hell, and the establishing of an
eternal order of bliss for the saved in some far-off heaven somewhere.
Others teach that the Kingdom of God is purely earthly, and that it will
be a political and social structure enforced on earth for a thousand years at
the return of Jesus Christ with His saints to rule and reign.
This theory has been popularized by the Scofield Bible.
To these the Kingdom of God is the restored kingdom of Israel fulfilling
the Davidic covenant. Jesus offered
this kingdom to the Jews, but they refused; therefore Christ withdrew His offer
and postponed it until a future time when they would accept Him as their King. When that day comes, they say, Jesus will come back and set
His feet upon the mount of Olives. His
saints with Him, He will come to the eastern gate of Jerusalem.
Having been sealed up for centuries, this gate will be opened for Him to
pass through into the city. He will
then set up His headquarters in a building, sit on a throne, and be crowned
King. His Kingdom will then be established. People from all nations will journey to Jerusalem to see
Jesus — in
person — and
to worship Him in a millennial temple there.
From Jerusalem the Kingdom will expand to rule over all nations.
The nations will quit fighting — will
beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks and there
will follow a thousand years of unparalleled peace, blessing, prosperity, and
A variation of the above plan involves the Anglo-Saxon-Celtic nations of
earth as descendants of the “lost” ten tribes of Israel — the
northern kingdom of Israel carried away into captivity.
There is some evidence that these tribes have become the modern nations
of Britain, the United States, Australia, New Zealand,
north-western Europe, etc. According
to this concept Christ comes back to reign over these great Israel nations
rather than the Jews — and
the capital city of the restored Israel Kingdom will be London, England, where
the throne of David is now located. This
Kingdom will be earthly, political,
judiciary and military.
Still another teaching is that the Church (organized Christianity) is the
Kingdom of God. The covenantal
promises God made with Abraham and David have been transferred to and fulfilled spiritually
in the Church. The Church is thus
the New Israel in the earth. This
theory prevailed during the Middle Ages (also called the Dark Ages) when the
supreme head of the Church (the Pope), complete with a crown, a throne, a
government and an army, ruled the nations of Europe for a thousand years as the
Kingdom of God on earth. Unfortunately,
this period, instead of being the most enlightening, progressive, prosperous,
righteous and glorious epoch in history was in fact the darkest, most illiterate
and ignorant, superstitious and backward, of earth’s generations!
Some among us even today believe that the Kingdom will come as a result
of Christians becoming politically active, taking over the existing political
institutions, getting elected to office, and ruling the earth through the power
of politics. This is exactly what
happened when the Roman Emperor Constantine began mixing Christianity with
carnal government which gave rise to the Papacy and the temporal powers of
government were seized by the so-called Church. The result was not earth’s “golden age,” “Utopia,”
or “Jubilee,” but the now infamous “Dark Ages” ruled over by the kingdom
of MYSTERY BABYLON THE GREAT.
IS THE KINGDOM OF GOD?
The Bible speaks of a number of kingdoms.
The first world empire — the
Chaldean Empire often called “Babylon” — was
a kingdom. God inspired the prophet
Daniel to say to its king, Nebuchadnezzar, “...the God of heaven hath given
thee a kingdom, power, and strength,
and glory” (Dan. 2:37). Then
there was the kingdom of Israel —
descended from Israel, which became one of earth’s nations or governments.
Nearly all kingdoms involve an ethnic entity (racial group) and their
government. The kingdom of Israel
under Solomon was a type of the Kingdom of God.
Therefore the Kingdom of God is dual:
(1) A GOVERNMENT. A government — or
kingdom — is
composed of four things: (a) a KING, ruling over (b) people, subjects, or
citizens within (c) a definite jurisdiction of territory, with (d) laws and a
system of administering them. (2)
A FAMILY. As with all
kingdoms, the kingdom of Israel was a family of the children of Israel.
In respect to the Kingdom of God, it comprises the Family of God —
a family into
which man may be born, which shall be formed into a RULING or GOVERNING family
that shall have jurisdiction over all nations, that is, the whole earth, and,
later, the entire universe!
As Bill Britton once wrote: “What a marvelous mystery!
What a glorious destiny! This
new nation of holy people is God’s Kingdom.
This Kingdom has a King of kings. And
there are kings and priests. There
are overcomers who rule and reign with Him.
There is a bride and Bridegroom. There
is a first-fruits, a harvest, and a great gleaning.
There are 30 fold, 60 fold, and 100 fold in that great harvest.
There are 144,000 who follow the Lamb wheresoever He goes, and there is
an un-numbered multitude standing triumphantly before the throne.
There is a Holy City and a Temple. There
is a marriage supper attended by Bridegroom, bride, guests, servants, and even
intruders. What else could there be
in this Kingdom? More by far than
our minds could comprehend. Get
ready. Be there!”
The dictionary defines “kingdom” as “a government or country headed
by a king or queen; a monarchical state; a realm or domain.” The word “kingdom” is made up of the noun “king”,
and the suffix “dom”. “Dom”
is a noun-forming suffix to express rank, position, or domain.
For example, a dukedom is the domain over which a duke has authority or
exercises rule, and in the abstract the rank of a duke.
In like manner a kingdom is the domain and the people within that domain
over which a king exercises authority and rule.
It is the “king’s domain”. “Kingdom”
is thus a contraction of “king’s domain”.
The term, Kingdom of God, can mean no other than the domain over which
God exercises rule as King. It is
God’s declared purpose therefore that His people,
His holy nation, His peculiar
treasure, should be the domain over which He would rule as King, and
ultimately all the earth and all things and every creature.
The Lord’s greatest dominion at this time is in the lives of His elect
and chosen ones. We are now
becoming ruled and governed by the Lord totally and absolutely.
He has extended the dominion of His Kingdom to our hearts and lives, and
now the Lord will rule us with complete and undisputed dominion.
And He will continue to rule and reign in our lives until every enemy
within us is made subject to Him. This
is the present truth of the Kingdom of God!
God has a plan, a wonderful Kingdom program for this earth and every
person on this earth. You might be
surprised to discover how many people go through life — some
of them even go to church and speak in tongues — but
never truly realize that God has a plan and purpose for them and for the ages.
Friends, things are not just “happening” with God.
He didn’t fling this earth out in space and then sit back and say,
“Whatever will be, will be.” God has a plan and He works all things after the counsel of
His own will. God is sovereign and
nothing shall thwart His plan. Once
you begin to see yourself as a vital part of that plan and purpose, that what He
has planned and purposed for your life will not be defeated or stopped, you will
then begin to walk forth in victory and in life. But, precious friend of mine, let me assure you that this
won’t come just because you give mental assent to it and make a positive
confession — this
comes only as we bring our lives into conformity with God’s priorities.
We need to understand what God’s priorities are and then flow with
those priorities. The Lord’s
people are dabbling around with so many non-essentials, playing little church
games, majoring in minors! The real
purpose for which God sent Jesus into the world was to ESTABLISH ON THE EARTH
HIS KINGDOM! And His ultimate
purpose is that the kingdoms of this world shall experientially
become the kingdoms of our God and His Christ.
That is the plan of the ages. The
prayer that Jesus taught us to pray, and which vast multitudes unheedingly
repeat by rote, says, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done...” Where?
“On earth as it is in heaven.”
The all-wise and omnipotent Creator planted within man’s very nature a
tendency to form into tribes, clans, colonies and nations with some kind of
government, having a patriarch, chief, or king.
Every kingdom requires a king. You
cannot have a kingdom without a king. Neither can you have a king without a kingdom.
The king must have a sphere over which he rules with absolute authority.
If you don’t believe that ask Constantine II, exiled king of Greece,
who for a time lived in Italy and now lives in London.
He is no king — he
doesn’t have a kingdom. He is out of a job. A
true king must have a kingdom.
For people living today, living under democratic governments in the
western world and in the twentieth century,
the word “kingdom” is not at all a natural term to use.
We know a lot about governments and politics, but very little about a
kingdom. In Bible days, however,
this was not the case. Most nations
were then ruled by a king. The king
was not elected by the people and he ruled with absolute authority — the
king’s word was law. Today, when
our elected officials are held more accountable for their actions, I’m not
sure we can begin to appreciate the absolute power of an ancient monarch.
A thousand years ago, when a king spoke, people trembled.
Subjects didn’t say, “I’ll, ah...take that into consideration, your
majesty.” What they replied was,
“Yes, your majesty!” The
closest modern equivalent I can think of would be a decision handed down by the
United States Supreme Court. You
wouldn’t argue with it, you would just accept it. And yet, that doesn’t even come close. In the New Testament just a word from king Herod was enough
to slaughter all the male children in Bethlehem two years old and younger.
A king like Herod might be hated, but because of his position and power
he was still treated with great respect.
Today there are few kings left in the world, and those that still bear
the name actually wield very little power.
They are kings by title only. The
kingdoms of today are a rather hybrid form, that is, a figurehead as a king, yet
the kingdom is ruled by some kind of assembly or parliament.
They are constitutional monarchs and present to us a picture far
different from the king in ancient times. The
idea of doing obeisance before someone and being obedient to his every wish and
command is foreign to us if not even repulsive.
The very thought of not being in control of their own lives has not even
entered very many men’s minds. We
in this country are used to “freedom” and any “kings” that come along
may have some difficulty asserting their influence over us.
Alas! that is the very reason so many Christians today have found no
entrance into the Kingdom of God! They
want God’s grace and His blessings, but are submitted to His authority very
We have now come to the most sublime of all truths.
Our hearts should bow in holy reverence and rejoice that the heavens are
opened and that the mind of Christ is coming to dwell in men.
We should be glad with joy unspeakable and full of glory that the
mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven are being unveiled within our very hearts.
The light of the Holy Spirit’s wisdom and revelation is shed with its
quickening and illuminating rays upon our understanding, dispelling the mists,
dividing the light from the darkness, that all the elect sons of God may find an
abundant entrance into the Kingdom of God in this great Day.
May the blessed spirit of truth make very real to all who read these
lines that the phrase “the Kingdom of God” is only a manner of speaking.
That is why Jesus never said, “The Kingdom of God is
such and such,” but always, “the Kingdom of God is like
such and such.” He explained the
Kingdom in terms of parables and metaphors.
There is actually no such entity as the Kingdom.
It is not a kind of visible structure or outward establishment that God
sets up. “The kingdom of God
cometh not with observation: neither
shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there!” It
is rather God Himself exerting His rightful power to actually rule by
His Spirit over all people, to bring them consciously under His control, to
subdue them to His purposes, and direct them by His will.
When Jesus speaks of the Kingdom as “coming,” He does not mean some
“thing” or some “age” or something else which is to appear or begin.
He speaks of God Himself making His rule effective in the hearts and
affairs of men. May God help us to
see the great and eternal truth that when we speak of the Kingdom of God we are
talking about something that has no existence at all apart from GOD HIMSELF.
Just as we speak of the grace
of God, the mercy of God, the love of
God, the wisdom of God, the righteousness
of God, or the power of God, we
deceive ourselves if we think of them as having some tangible existence apart
from God Himself. They are merely
verbal ways of describing God Himself as He acts and manifests out of His state
of being. So the Kingdom of God is
a way of speaking of God Himself as He moves in power and glory and goodness and
wisdom and righteousness to influence and rule in the hearts and activities of
RULE OF GOD
It is significant to note that the phrases “Kingdom of God” and
“Kingdom of Heaven” are not to be found in the Old Testament.
They are strictly New Testament terms beginning with John the Baptist and
Jesus. When Jesus came He did not
preach a message called grace, or salvation, or justification, or
sanctification, or regeneration, or even the Church. Could there be any more glorious message than the one that
fell from His lips as He began His sonship ministry declaring, “The KINGDOM OF
GOD IS AT HAND!” From that time
forward the great teaching of the Lord centered in the truth of THE KINGDOM. His
gospel was the gospel (good news) of the Kingdom of God. He only lightly touched on the other subjects which today are
considered the great doctrines of the Church and then only as they related
to the Kingdom. All of these
things are included within the Kingdom, but the Kingdom is none of them.
The Kingdom is THE RULE OF GOD. It
is the DOMINION OF GOD. That is
exactly what it is. And Jesus came
with just that message — the
revelation of the RULE OF GOD within the hearts of men, and through men, over
the earth, yea, over the whole vast universe!
First He must reign completely in our
lives. The Kingdom of God is God in Christ in the saints governing
the creation of God. The rule of
God begins in the hearts of His elect.
Jesus, after His resurrection, asked Peter three times if he loved Him.
He then said to him: “When you were young, you girded yourself and
walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands,
and Another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go.”
Commenting on these words, the Holy Spirit adds: “This Jesus said to
show by what death Peter was to glorify God” (Jn. 21:18-19).
The expressions when you were young
and when you are old speak of two
distinct periods in Peter’s life. They
indicate His walk before and after entering the Kingdom. The reference to his past (when Peter was young) and to his
future (when he would be old) is not a reference to age but to spiritual
immaturity and maturity. Emphasis
in the first statement in on the pronoun you
(“you girded yourself, you
walked where you would”). During
this period, Peter’s walk with the Lord was a walk which centered on self —
on where he
wanted to go and what he wanted to do for the Lord. How
impetuous was he in his desires! But
the day would come when Peter, subject to Jesus as his King, would allow the
Lord to do with him as He willed.
The words another will gird you and
carry you where you do not wish to go succinctly describe the walk of the
Kingdom. The another here refers to the Lord.
The walk of the Kingdom is far from easy and unlike anything we have
experienced in the past. Whereas
the Lord tolerated and even overlooked the many inconsistencies in our walk when
we were young (immature), He now subjects us to a discipline of fire until His
image is formed in us (Mal. 3:2-3). Every
part of our being — spirit,
soul, and body — must
come under His dominion. All our
strongholds will be exposed and reduced to ashes, and every thought made captive
to the obedience of Christ (II Cor. 10:3-5).
In the Kingdom we come to know God as an all-consuming fire — not
to destroy but to purge and sanctify us (Heb. 12:29).
“Who among us,” asks the prophet Isaiah, “can dwell with the
devouring fire?” The answer: “He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly,
who despises the gains of oppressions, who shakes his hands, lest they hold a
bribe, who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed, and shuts his eyes from
looking upon evil, he will dwell on the
heights...his bread will be given him, his water will be sure.
Your eyes will see the King in His beauty; they will behold a land (the
Kingdom) that stretches afar” (Isa. 33:14-17).
The epistle to the Hebrews was written to those who were following on to
know the Lord. In the twelfth
chapter the writer informs his readers that God wanted to wean them from their
babyhood walk in God and that which appealed to their physical senses in order
to introduce them to that which was real and lasting — the
Kingdom. To experience the Kingdom,
they would have to forsake the elementary principles which the whole church
world glories in today, and go on to
perfection. Jesus as King would
become the living reality of their lives. But
for this to happen, their earth and
heavens first had to be shaken. That
the earth in us (our humanity) must be shaken before we can enter into
the Kingdom is a truth very few would deny.
But that our heavens (religious
experiences, concepts, understandings, ministries, activities) must also be
shaken before we can receive the Kingdom is another matter.
To realize all that God has for us as His sons in the walk of the
Kingdom, our earth and heavens must give way to a new order — to
a new earth and heaven. Not a new earth of mountains and valleys and streams and
trees; not a new heavens of galaxies, solar systems, suns, planets and moons;
but a NEW HUMANITY AND NEW SPIRITUAL DIMENSION.
Only then can we know what the Kingdom really is and how to walk in it
and minister it to creation. All
religious activity apart from the realm of the Kingdom is nought but hay, wood,
and stubble. It makes very
impressive edifices, but it is not the Kingdom of God, and will disappear
forever in the all-consuming fire of God.
OF GOD — KINGDOM OF HEAVEN
There are many strange ideas around about the difference between the
terms “Kingdom of God” and “Kingdom of Heaven”.
It has been taught that the Kingdom of God
is spiritual and heavenly, whereas the Kingdom of Heaven is temporal and
earthly, and that the two cannot be mixed.
Actually, if there were any truth in that, it still sounds backwards! Some say that the Kingdom of God is an eternal kingdom of God over all and that the Kingdom of Heaven is an
earthly and temporal program, some future divine dynasty to be established on
earth, and that it is of special significance only to the Jews, who, still
awaiting their Messiah, will see His righteous government in control of the
world, and in their hands, during the Millennium. Others assume that the Kingdom of Heaven means a kingdom in
heaven, so they are waiting to die so they can go to their kingdom in
heaven where they intend to spend eternity strumming harps and dancing up
and down the streets of gold.
Ignorant men have long tried to make a distinction between the Kingdom of
God and the Kingdom of Heaven, as though they were two separate kingdoms.
They often explain that the Kingdom of Heaven embraces the “Church
age” and the Kingdom of God will be set up during the “Millennium”.
The simple truth is that the two terms are used interchangeably
in numerous places in scripture. To
cite only a few of several
examples, when Matthew recorded the Sermon on the Mount he quoted Jesus as
saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for their’s is the kingdom of heaven.”
But when Luke recorded the same saying of Jesus he said, “Blessed
be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.”
Again, Matthew quoted the Lord, “And from the days of John the Baptist
until now the kingdom of heaven
suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.
For all the law and the prophets prophesied until John” (Mat.
11:12-13). Luke says, “The law
and the prophets were until John: from that time the gospel of the
kingdom of God is preached, and every man entereth violently into it” (Lk.
16:16). In these two passages the
messenger spoken of in both cases is John.
His message was said to begin where the law and the prophets left off.
His message was announcing a kingdom.
In one passage that kingdom is called the Kingdom of God,
while in the other it is called the Kingdom of Heaven.
The time was the same, the man was the same, the message was the same,
and the kingdom was the same in both cases.
Our Lord’s instructions upon sending out the twelve were, according to
Matthew, “And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mat. 10:7).
According to Luke, “He sent them forth to preach the kingdom of God,
and to heal the sick” (Lk. 9:2). Certainly
Jesus did not preach two conflicting messages at the same time!
Certainly He was not announcing two separate and distinct kingdoms and
declaring them both to be at hand!
These, and many other passages, show the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom
of Heaven are one and the same. Yet
is a difference! God
does not have TWO KINGDOMS — He
has only ONE. There is not one
Kingdom of God and another Kingdom of Heaven.
There is only one Kingdom. However
each of these two terms is not without its special significance.
For, you see, heaven is a REALM and God is a PERSON. The Kingdom has its origin in the REALM OF HEAVEN, and in the
PERSON OF GOD. The term “Kingdom
of Heaven” denotes, on the one hand, from whence
(from what place, location, realm or dimension) the Kingdom proceeds, while the
term “Kingdom of God” reveals, on the other hand, from whom (from what person or being) the Kingdom originates.
When we consider these two items, place
and person, it immediately follows that as to REALM the Kingdom is out
of the heavenlies, but as to PERSON the Kingdom comes from God.
It is called the Kingdom OF God because it is from and by God.
He is the Instigator and Head of the Kingdom.
It is called the Kingdom OF Heaven because it has its inception in heaven
invisible realm of Spirit.
The prophet Daniel brings the two together when by inspiration he says,
“And in the days of these kings shall the GOD (person) of HEAVEN (place,
realm) set up A KINGDOM, which shall
never be destroyed” (Dan. 2:44). Jesus
then brings the two together when He says to Pilate, “MY (person) kingdom is
not of THIS WORLD (place, realm): for if my kingdom were of this world,
then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but
now MY (person) kingdom is not from HENCE (place, realm)” (Jn. 18:36).
Through their relationship we understand there cannot be a Kingdom of
Heaven without the presence of God. On
the other hand, where the presence of God is, there is a manifestation of
Ah, then, this Kingdom of God may also be called the Kingdom of Heaven!
To call, then, the Kingdom of God the Kingdom of Heaven is to ascribe to
the Kingdom of God every heavenly and spiritual perfection.
The Kingdom of God is, for example, heavenly in its origin — that
origin is the bosom of the eternal Father.
The Kingdom of God is heavenly in its purpose — that
purpose is to restore creation to its original glory.
The Kingdom of God is heavenly in its king — that
king is the Son of the Highest, Head and body.
The Kingdom of God is heavenly in its subjects — those
subjects are the children of God. The
Kingdom of God is heavenly in its nature — that
nature is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
The Kingdom of God is heavenly in its entrance — that
gateway is not by birth of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will
of man, but by birth of God. The
Kingdom of God is heavenly in its laws — those
laws are not ordinances, rules, or regulations — they
are spiritual principles. The
Kingdom of God is heavenly in its method — that
method is not by might, nor by power, nor by the enticing words of man’s
wisdom, but by the Spirit of the living God.
The Kingdom of God is heavenly in its prerogatives — those
prerogatives are for the sons of God to be the salt of the earth, the light of
the world, a kingdom of priests after the order of Melchizedek, saviours on
mount Zion. The Kingdom of God is
heavenly in its privileges — those
privileges are to be heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ to the inheritance
which is incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away.
In brief, the Kingdom of God is the Kingdom of Heaven — it
is the Kingdom of Heaven because it is the kingdom or dominion of the GOD OF
SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD AND THE KINGDOM
What holy assurance stirs within as the Spirit of God floods our souls
with the divine understanding of truth so sublime as this: “For BY HIM were
all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and
invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers:
all things were created BY HIM and FOR HIM: and He is before all things, and BY
HIM all things consist” (Col. 1:16-17). Your
whole outlook on life will change from one of fear and dread to one of blessed
assurance and confidence with the entrance of the understanding that ALL THINGS
are vassals of His power, His dominion, and His control, and ALL THINGS are in
His hands. Nothing exists without
His consent. None acts without His
orders or prospers without His blessing. In
His omnipotent hands the nations of the earth in all their vaunted might and
power are but dust upon the scales. You
will not spend sleepless nights worrying about the Chinese, or the Russians, or
the terrorists when your heart rests assured that God has ordained all these
things for His purpose and He is in control of them all as well as your life and
Oh, the unfathomableness of the wisdom and power of our God! How can mortal minds even begin to comprehend it?
He is the omnipotent and omniscient Source
of everything. He speaks and atoms
come into existence. He utters His
voice and light shines into the darkness. He
commands and billions of galaxies appear. He
breathes and life begins to flow. By
the manipulation of His fingers He sets the stars in their courses and with the
span of His hand He measures the heavens. He
sets bars and boundaries for the oceans. He
says to them, “Thus far and no farther, and here shall thy proud waves be
stopped.” They may beat upon the
shore and run up the beaches, but they have to fall back into the boundaries God
set for them. “Praise ye Him, all
ye His angels: praise ye Him, all His hosts.
Praise ye Him, sun and moon: praise ye Him, all ye stars of light. Praise Him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be
above the heavens. Let them praise
the name of the Lord: for He commanded and they were created. He hath also stablished them for ever and ever: He hath made
a decree that shall not pass. Praise
the Lord from the earth, ye dragons, and all deeps: fire, and hail;
snow, and vapours; stormy wind fulfilling His word: mountains, and all
hills; fruitful trees, and all cedars; beasts,
and all cattle; creeping things, and flying fowl: kings of the earth, and
all people; princes, and all judges of the earth: both young men, and maidens;
old men, and children: let them praise the name of the Lord: for His name alone
is excellent; His glory is above earth and heaven” (Ps. 148:2-13).
Oh, my soul, what words are these! All
things on earth and throughout the unbounded heavens are under His command.
The whole creation, like a great machine, every part working in precise
coordination with each other, all fulfilling the purpose they were designed to
do. Even fire and hail, the snow
and vapors, and the stormy wind fulfilling His word.
Everything obeying the will of the Almighty.
All accomplishing their designed purpose in the great scheme of creation. Listen in reverence to these divine words, “A man’s heart
deviseth his way, but the LORD directeth his steps” (Prov. 16:9).
“The king’s heart is in the
hand of the LORD, as the rivers of waters He turneth it whithersoever He
wills” (Prov. 21:1). “The steps
of a man are ordered of the LORD, and He delighteth in his way” (Ps. 37:23).
The Lord whom we worship controls the hearts of all kings, presidents,
prime ministers and rulers whether they realize it or not; God it is who is
ordaining their paths and directing their ways.
He turns their heart in the direction He wants them to go.
He raised up Pharaoh for a purpose, and it was the Lord Himself who kept
hardening his heart (Ex. 7:3,13). Now
I, like many who read these lines, was raised up with the mentality that somehow
the devil got the whole thing and that the earth belongs to “the prince of the
power of the air” and “the god of this world.”
No, it doesn’t! The word
of the prophet is wonderfully true, “The earth is the Lord’s, and the
fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” (Ps. 24:1).
God owns it all and He gives it to whom He wills.
He has the right to appoint stewards over creation based on His purpose
and their faithfulness, regardless of moral, religious, or other considerations.
Let’s look at three people in the scripture whom God raised up to rule
the earth. Isaiah talks about
Cyrus, the Persian king whom God put in charge of the earth (Isa. 44:24 to
45:7). God called Cyrus “My
shepherd.” That’s astounding,
to think that God would raise up a heathen king to accomplish His purposes in
the earth. But the Lord says, “I
will raise up Cyrus, My shepherd, and he is to rule over the whole thing by My
divine appointment.” In Daniel
4:28-37, we discover that Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, ruled by God’s
divine appointment. If we think of
the Kingdom of God as a democracy, we are falling short in our thinking.
There’s only one vote — and
it’s God’s. He says, “I’m
going to appoint you, Nebuchadnezzar, and you’re going to be the king and
you’re going to rule and you’re going to fulfill all my will, and I’ll
establish you in all the earth. And
I’ll give you wisdom and power and might and majesty.”
He promised it to him and it happened.
Then when Nebuchadnezzar started thinking that he had done it himself,
God said, “I’ll take it from you.”
took the kingdom from Nebuchadnezzar by causing him to lose his mind for a
season. He went insane and lived in
the wilderness, ate grass like a cow, had long hair all over his body, and his
fingernails grew like bird claws. At
the end of this humbling experience, Nebuchadnezzar repented and blessed the God
of heaven as the only source of all kingdoms and powers and confessed that God
was fully able to “humble those who walk in pride.”
If we look again in Daniel, we find that Belshazzar, Nebuchadnezzar’s
son, had the same problem with pride that his father did, and so God also smote
him in an instant and took away his kingdom.
Almighty God raises up kings, and casts them down at will. He drowns the mighty Pharaoh in the depths of the sea, and
puts His hand on a little shepherd boy tending the sheep and makes him the
greatest king the world has ever known. He
tells us what is going to happen on the morrow, and casts the shadow of events
that will happen in the years and ages to come.
He can do all this because He planned it all, created it all, and
controls it all; and it will all work out the way He has planned.
In spite of men, angels, or demons His purpose is always fulfilled.
He is the eternal King and the only Potentate, the King of kings, and
Lord of lords! What a mighty God we
serve! If the God we worship were
less than this, we would be in trouble. We
serve a God who is guiding us, our loved ones, our president, the governors of
our states, the kings and princes and rulers and even our enemies unto the ends
of the earth. His mighty hands are
in all things and the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord
and His Christ. In due time all
will see the fullness of all this.
I cannot emphasize too strongly that the will of God is
sovereign. It is done in the long run everywhere and always.
His thoughts are carried out; His laws are enforced; His purposes are
accomplished. Man may delay them,
defy them, deny them, set himself up with utmost strength against them; but he
can no more resist and defeat them
than he can push back the ocean tide. The
world moves on in the course that He has marked for it.
Not in a straight line — the
wickedness and perversity of men may push it back a little with His permission;
they drag it to the right and left of the true direction; but it returns again
and pursues its resistless course until the goal of the Almighty is reached.
As Nebuchadnezzar said long ago, “He doeth His will among the
inhabitants of the earth, and none can stay His hand or say unto Him, What doest
Nations and kings and the great ones of the earth are like clay in the
hands of the potter. “He girds
them though they have not known Him.” He
uses their very folly as an instrument of His wisdom.
He makes their wrath to praise Him, and the remainder of that wrath doth
He restrain. The greatest crimes
that have ever been committed have been wonderfully used by Him to further His
truth and justice in the world. The
crucifixion of Christ made Christ the world’s Saviour.
The slaying of the saints prepared the way for the triumph of the early
Church. The burning of the English
martyrs made England Protestant. The
atrocities of the Spaniards led to the establishment of the Anglo-Saxon race on
the American Continent. Out of the
hugest evil God’s foreseeing mind works good, and the march towards the
perfect day goes on in spite of the craft and strength of devils and men.
If it were not for this we should lose all faith in God, and all hope for
the future of His world, if we did not believe that in the end God is always
victorious , and that man’s haughty ambitions, evil designs, and fickle
passions are over-ridden and thrown aside by His unerring power. The world is not a battlefield in which the results depend
upon human combatants alone, or a huge game of chess in which statesmen, rulers,
soldiers, thinkers, the press, chance and accident, and the forces of goodness
and the forces of hell have the winning and the losing moves.
God is over all and in the midst of all.
He has the last, decisive word in every dispute, the final and winning
move in every game. Through all the ill-doings and stupidities of men His
unceasing purpose runs. And there
is only one will that always gets done. It
is the mighty will of Him who is the sole Master of the world, God in Christ
In all our lives that same will is done.
It is done in every saint’s life, in every life of faith and obedience,
in the joy and strength and peace of those who trust in God. It is done in every foul, unclean, intemperate, and godless
life, in the misery and unrest and hell which follow the heels of sin.
You cannot escape God’s will or overturn it.
It holds you in love or grips you in suffering.
He is the Lord of our lives, and if we will not take the way of His dear
children, then we have to take the hard way of transgressors, and that also is
of His appointment. The will of
God, whether infinitely gracious or terribly severe, is done on every one at
last. And what we are to pray for is not God’s sovereignty —
that is beyond
our praying — but
something much more beautiful, that HIS KINGDOM MAY COME.
“Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, in earth as
it is in heaven.” That is the
Kingdom of Heaven on earth! What I
want to point out to you is the difference between the sovereignty
of God and the kingdom of God.
The Kingdom is something beyond God’s sovereignty, higher than God’s
sovereignty, more glorious than God’s sovereignty.
We must never confuse the two.
The scriptures speak of the Kingdom of God as “everlasting” on one
hand, and as having a definite historical beginning, progress, and termination
on the other hand. When we allow
the Holy Spirit of Truth to teach us, we see that the Kingdom over which God
rules has two distinct aspects: the everlasting
and the limited, the universal and the local,
the general and the specific. There are passages of scripture that clearly declare that God
has always possessed absolute sovereignty over all creation and that He rules as
King over all. God is ruler over
heaven and earth. He is the supreme
Governor of the universe. If
Creator, then surely He is the Owner and Possessor of all realms. By inherent, incontestable right, He is sovereign Lord.
There is but one will in the universe and that will is the will of God.
“The Lord reigneth” is declared again and again.
He is King over all principalities and powers. “For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods” (Ps. 95:3). “The Lord is King for ever and ever...” (Ps. 10:16).
“The Lord sitteth King for ever” (Ps. 29:10).
“Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the
victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is
Thine; Thine is the Kingdom, O Lord, and Thou art exalted as head above all.
Both riches and honour come of Thee, and Thou reignest over all; and in
Thine hand is power and might; and in Thine hand it is to make great, and to
give strength unto all” (I Chron. 29:11-12).
“This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the
word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High
ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will, and setteth
up over it the basest of men” (Dan. 4:17).
God’s sovereignty is exercised over both heaven and earth. There have been many occasions when His sovereignty has been
manifested through His direct intervention in the affairs of kings, rulers, and
nations. He has often demonstrated
His sovereignty through mighty miracles and judgments, proving that He is Lord.
One such instance is seen in His dealing with Pharaoh, as we have
mentioned. The seat of God’s
government is His throne. The throne of the Most High is the highest thing in all of
God’s universe. There is nothing
higher. It is a throne of
consummate power and majesty and glory. From
that throne God rules over all creatures and things.
And yet, strange as it may seem, shocking
as it may sound, THIS IS NOT THE KINGDOM OF GOD!
The Kingdom of God is not
the sovereignty of God as such; God is always and everywhere the sovereign God.
If His sovereignty were His Kingdom there would be no need to pray,
“Thy Kingdom come.” Jesus would
never have said that it is necessary to be “born again” in order to
“enter” into the Kingdom of God. The
Kingdom is beyond sovereignty and only
the Kingdom ultimately satisfies the heart of the Father.
The Kingdom is what He is after through His sovereignty.
The Kingdom is the sovereignty of God in action to
overcome all resistance and bring willing submission of every creature.
Sovereignty is God ruling over
men. The Kingdom is man submitting
to God. In sovereignty God
enforces His will upon men even when they are not aware of it. In the Kingdom God is calling and wooing man until God and
man become one. Sovereignty is God above man ruling and overruling.
The Kingdom is God and man in union. In sovereignty there is only one will — God’s.
In the Kingdom God’s will and man’s will are united.
The Kingdom is not the reign of God as such, for God is ultimately
reigning as the King eternal and the King of the universe at all times..
The Kingdom is, rather, the gracious action of the sovereign God of
heaven by which His reign is recognized and reverenced
and entered into by those men whom God
had previously permitted to walk in their own sense of “self-hood.”
The Kingdom is the gathering together of all things into one in Christ.
The Kingdom is reconciliation. The
Kingdom is the restitution of all things. The
Kingdom is salvation. The Kingdom
is regeneration and transformation. The
Kingdom is every man presented perfect in Christ Jesus.
The Kingdom is God All-in-all.
the nineteenth century, Karl Marx went off to university, where he renounced his
faith in God in favor of atheism. He
defied God and seduced arrogant minds and ignorant masses.
Marx gathered his armies and weapons like a dark cloud over man’s
highest hopes. Marx and his hearers
shook their fists at history, revelation, and divine will.
But we have seen, are seeing, and shall yet see that Jesus Christ is Lord
of the opposition — “Bye-Bye
Marx!” Jesus Christ is Lord of
all! But some are persuaded that
the collapse of communism in Russia and eastern Europe heralds the dawn of the
new age of the Kingdom of God. After
decades of Godless tyranny both the Iron Curtain and the Berlin Wall fell and
the captive nations were set free. The
world looks with wonder on these astonishing events as a historic turning point
in the world political structure — Someone
in supreme authority raised His hand and actually rolled back the vast and icy
seas of communism. Great news! A
real cause to celebrate! New-found
freedom is always a cause to celebrate, and any undermining of godless systems
is surely a reason to be glad.
Now the light of the gospel of Christ can more easily penetrate the
darkness of those great lands. The
Lord revealed to me in a dream in 1983 that He would soon liberate Russia from
the yoke of communism and that this liberty would be followed by a massive
“religious revival” which in turn would ultimately be followed by a mighty
move of the Spirit of God. I have
witnessed these events take place with the exception of the final one.
How we praise God for what He is doing!
What a day to behold the wonders of our Lord! But — is
this a manifestation of the KINGDOM OF GOD?
I think not! It is rather an action of God’s sovereignty. Just as
“law” is a facet of the government of the United States, yet the government
is something vastly more than “law,” so is the Kingdom of God an aspect of
God’s sovereignty, yet God’s sovereign acts are not the Kingdom of God.
God sovereignly moved to bring
down atheistic communism, but this did not bring the Kingdom of God to Russia
nor to the world. Everything that
happens is controlled by His sovereignty. But
the Kingdom of God is something infinitely greater, grander, and more glorious
than the sovereign act of God to destroy a corrupt system of government.
Many such governments and tyrannies have fallen throughout history.
God Himself brought them down. But
casting a devil out of a man does not make him a saint.
After the devil is cast out he must then be quickened by the Spirit of
God and made alive unto God. In
like manner, eradicating communism out of Russia brings no one into the Kingdom
of God. Except the Russian people
be born again, born of God, born of the Spirit, they can neither “see” nor
“enter” into the Kingdom of God. That
is the realm beyond sovereignty.
The Kingdom of God is more narrow in scope than the region over which God
rules as Sovereign. At all times
and in all circumstances God has dominion.
He is Lord of ALL. Even evil
men and vile deeds in their worst expressions are under His sway and scepter.
Satan is the servant of God as an adversary to challenge us so that we
may grow stronger in the Lord. Yet
wicked men have not entered into the Kingdom of God.
Neither has Satan, though he does God’s bidding, been translated into
the Kingdom of God’s dear Son. All
men are subject to God’s sovereignty, but when we come to the Kingdom the
scriptures speak of a “calling” to the Kingdom of God, of “entering”
into it, of its being “shut” or of people being “cast out” from it, of
its being “sought,” “given,” “possessed,” “received,” and
The Kingdom of God is limited to that domain where God’s saving power has defeated all opposition, broken down every wall,
transformed all that is contrary of God’s nature, mind, and will, and has
brought men into willing submission to
His authority. Where the nature of
God and the mind of Christ have mightily conquered, the state of things is
called the Kingdom of God. Where
hearts are changed, where sin and error and darkness have been defeated, where
truth and righteousness advance, where the will and ways of God are raised up as
reality and life in a people, where the mind of Christ rules out of union with
God — there
the Kingdom of God has come and is advancing.
In the Kingdom it is no longer God ruling over
you by sovereignty, but the life, mind, heart, nature, power, wisdom,
knowledge, and will of God entering into
you, becoming your very own reality.
The Kingdom of God is the power to transform.
Its citizens are a holy people. Its
kings and priests are all righteous, wise, mighty through God.
Its territory is one of light and beauty and glory.
In the days of Christ’s earthly sojourn, as He was choosing the first
men for His Kingdom, He selected men of passions and faults like yours and mine;
but He manifested the power to change them!
He found Matthew the tax collector — mercenary,
commercial, selling his birthright for cash and commission, metallic, his god
more a Roman coin than the God of Israel. Yet
Christ changed him, and forsaking all, Matthew marched to the drum beat of the
Kingdom of God. Then James,
selfish, introverted, hedonistic, wanting the right hand at the throne of
Christ, finally finds that the glory of life lies in works of faith, mercy,
goodness, righteousness and the power of God.
Christ finds John, a man irascible and of bad disposition, “Boanerges —
a son of
thunder,” but when Jesus is done with him he becomes the great apostle of love
and reconciliation. He finds
Thomas, ever stumbling over his mind, intellectually slow to believe; but he
finally cries, “My Lord and my God” and marches to a great kingliness of
spirit. He calls Simon Peter,
impulsive, bragging, making great boasts but bogging down in the face of the
taunting of the crowd; but finally Peter is willing to be crucified head
downward for his Lord. Before their
change they were subject to God’s sovereignty, but after their change they
were one with God in nature, power and purpose.
That is the reality of the Kingdom of God!
It is the experiencing of God Himself BEYOND SOVEREIGNTY! This is the kingly life.
When you and I step into Christ
we become a part of a great imperial, majestic program to make Christ King of
kings and Lord of lords. Alexander
the great, Caesar, Hannibal, Napoleon and Hitler never dreamed of the
breath-taking consummation of power that Christ prophesied for Himself and those
who are one in Him when He uttered the sublime words: “MY KINGDOM”.
According to the good pleasure of His will, and to the praise of His
glory, the purpose of God from eternity focused on the Kingdom.
A Kingdom not of this world, a Kingdom not of men blindly ruled and
over-ruled by the unobserved sovereignty of an unknown God, but a reign in the
hearts of willing and loyal subjects. The
story is told of a king who was famous for his abhorrence of waste — so
it was quite surprising when he came into the room where his aides were
assembled carrying a breathtakingly beautiful pearl in his hands.
Showing it to the first of his aides, he asked, “What do you think this
pearl is worth?” “Oh, many trunks full of gold, your majesty,” he replied.
The king said, “Smash it.” “It
would be an insult to the king to destroy such a beautiful pearl,” replied the
aide. The king turned to a second man and showed him the pearl.
“How much do you think this pearl is worth?” he asked.
“One cannot put a price tag on such a beautiful pearl as this,”
replied the second man. “Smash
it,” said the king. “Such
senseless destruction is unthinkable,” replied the second aide.
The king turned to a third man. He
was a humble laborer who, in return for a kindness he had shown the king, had
been invited to live in the palace. “What
do you think this pearl is worth?” he
asked the man. “More than all the
gold I have ever seen in my entire life,” he replied.
“Smash it,” said the king. Without
a moment's hesitation, this man took the pearl to where there were two large
rocks and in an instant, reduced the pearl to a thimbleful of useless dust.
“The man is mad,” cried the others in the room.
Holding up his hand to quiet the murmurs, the laborer said: “Which is
of greater value; a beautiful pearl or obedience to the king’s command?”
The Kingdom of God that I am proclaiming today is composed of that
company of elect sons of God who have aligned themselves with God; who listen to
His voice, who put on His mind, who obey His commands, who walk in His nature,
who do His will and carry out His divine purpose in the heavens and on the
earth. They are the loyal subjects
of His Kingdom and ever do His bidding. Their
King is the Lord God Almighty and He is their Father.
They obey without question; for it is their nature to do only and always
those things that please the Father. They
are the true citizens of the Kingdom of God.
They are first under His rule and authority, but they are ambassadors of
that divine Kingdom. They are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.
They are destined to share His glory and sit with Him upon His throne.
They are the members of the government of God and the Kingdom of Heaven
is expressed through them and the power and the glory of the Kingdom is being
committed into their hands for the age and the ages to come.
This is the Kingdom Jesus came and announced, taught, personified,
demonstrated and brought into reality among men.
Are all Christians in the Kingdom of God?
Perhaps you have heard someone say, “All Christians have Jesus as
Saviour, but not all have Him as Lord.” A
young boy might put it this way: “I am the son of my father, but I don’t
want him to tell me what to do.” The
Kingdom of God in its simplest definition means that JESUS CHRIST IS
LORD! He must be Lord in
us, and He must be Lord through us.
This is the mark of sonship. This
is the power of the Kingdom.
Such is what God planned in a new creation species of men redeemed and
transformed into the image and likeness of God.
Such is what God has purposed to bring all men into in His due time.
Such a glorious climax to the Father’s plans, which has now been made
known unto God’s elect by the Spirit, has not always been revealed to the sons
of men. Righteous men and prophets
received glimmering hints, but it was not given to them to know.
Mighty angels were curious, but they too had to wait until the fullness
of time (I Pet. 1:10-12). Little by
little, however, God had dropped hints of a wondrous Kingdom to come. Dim at first, then becoming brighter and clearer, was the
lamp of prophecy. As a candle in a
dark place is helpful, so was the prophet’s testimony about Jesus and the
Kingdom, which inspired hope until the Day dawned and the Day Star arose within
glorious day the firstborn Son of the living God walked among men and announced,
“The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand” (Mk. 1:15).
The new reign of God had come to the birth.
The call went forth throughout all the earth in the power of the Spirit
for men to become willing subjects to the Kingdom of God.
First twelve, then seventy, then vast multitudes responded to the call.
On the day of Pentecost alone about three thousand precious souls,
quickened by the Holy Spirit with eyes to see and ears to hear answered the call
and were gathered into the reign of God. No
longer did devout men wait for the Kingdom, but they were in it, and they ate
and drank in the Kingdom of Heaven. Let
God be praised! for His rule in ransomed hearts had begun.
Everywhere men and women were translated out of the kingdom of darkness
into the Kingdom of Heaven. Even in
lonely exile on the isle of Patmos, John the disciple could exult that he was a
brother and companion to the saints “in
the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ.”
be continued... J.