We are going to talk about the Kingdom of God. “Kingdom” has become the buzzword of Christianity in these days. The feeling is that if you speak of the Kingdom you are a little farther up the spiritual ladder than others. The truth is, though, when the word “Kingdom” becomes fashionable, it is deteriorated. It becomes far less meaningful than it is in the Scriptures. We are going to use passages of Scripture concerning the Kingdom that are very familiar to us, but we want to see them in a very unfamiliar way. We want them to come alive to us. May the Holy Spirit enlighten our hearts as we study.
The teachings of the Kingdom among many of today’s churches are far off center. In most cases it is presented as something in the distant future. The Kingdom of God cannot be separated from the King of kings. Since the coming of the Lord is thought of as future, therefore the Kingdom must be future. This is their reasoning. It was the same with the Pharisees in respect of the Messiah. Jesus, though, denounced that theory emphatically. But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye shut up the Kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. Matthew 23:13. How did they shut up the Kingdom? They shut it up by keeping it in the future. It is impossible to experience anything in the future. They talked about what God did in the past and what He was going to do in the future. Very much like many of today’s churches. John the Baptist, Jesus, and His disciples all taught that the Kingdom was at hand (Matthew 3:2; 4:17; 10:7). That means it is now available; we can enter in. It has been available since John the Baptist said it was at hand (Matthew 3:2). It is not that we will have access into the Kingdom of God sometime in the distant future. Access is available now!
Now we are going to review some very familiar passages concerning the Kingdom, and as they open up to us we will wonder why we haven’t seen them in this light before.
Matthew 6:33 But seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Most of you have long ago memorized this verse. What does it really mean? Jesus spoke this in His Sermon on the Mount. Everything He said in this sermon (Matthew 5:1 – 7:29) is Kingdom related. We will not have time or space to review everything in it, but the next time you read it, be aware that He is teaching about the Kingdom of God. (Open Heavens Ministries has a book titled The Sermon on the Mount. It is a verse by verse study of chapters 5, 6, and 7 of the Gospel of Matthew. Order it; it’s free!)
There is a reason the Kingdom of God and His righteousness is connected together. It is impossible to enter into the Kingdom without simultaneously receiving His righteousness. There is none righteous, no, not one. Romans 3:10. That includes Christians; none are righteous in themselves. Only the Lord is righteous, and we become righteous only as His divine nature takes the place of our human nature. So, you see, there isn’t anything you can do to earn entrance into the Kingdom of God. The key is not what you do, it is what you become. It is not how much you speak in tongues, how much you prophesy, how many people you have healed of diseases, or how many revelations you’ve had of the mysteries in the Word that gives you entrance into the Kingdom of God. His righteousness taking over your whole being is what gives you entrance into the Kingdom of God. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love (This love is the agape love only found in the divine nature of God.), I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profits me nothing. I Corinthians 13:1-3. It is impossible to enter into the Kingdom of God without a nature change; human nature must be replaced by His divine nature. And, the Kingdom of heaven is at hand, which means you can start receiving His righteousness now. But also know this; you will only begin receiving His righteousness as you begin eliminating the things of self. Advancement in God takes place only as you eliminate self. He must increase, but I must decrease. John 3:30.
The Kingdom of God is usually thought of as a period of time in the future when Jesus Christ reigns as King. From what we have seen already we should understand that the Kingdom is not a period of time in history, it is a relationship with the King. Do you understand? It is your relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ that determines whether you are in His Kingdom or not. If you relegate the Kingdom to a historical place in the future, you are saying that many of His saints before us did not have access into the Kingdom. The Apostle Paul wrote of the Kingdom of God from his position in the Kingdom. The Gospel of Matthew is a Gospel of the Kingdom of God. He ministered the Kingdom of God in his Gospel, and he could only do that because he was in the Kingdom.
Acts 14:22 …we must through much tribulation enter into the Kingdom of God.
Many churches teach tribulation as a historical period of the future that precedes the Kingdom of God. This is not an accurate teaching. Anyone who enters into the Kingdom of God must do so by first going through much tribulation. Why is that true? It is because you will not empty yourself of self without the motivating influences of tribulation. This also explains why tribulation cannot be a period of time in history. If it was, anyone that lived and died before that time would not have the opportunity to enter the Kingdom, and for anyone born after that time it would be too late. The tribulation and the Kingdom must not be thought of as a period of time in history. Jesus explained that when He said, “My Kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). Regardless of where your lifetime takes place in history, there is a tribulation you can enter that will give you entrance into His righteousness and His Kingdom.
Luke 17:20-21 And when He was demanded of the Pharisees, when the Kingdom of God
should come, He answered them and said, The Kingdom of God cometh not with
21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! Or, lo there! For, behold, the Kingdom of God is within you.
The Kingdom of God does not come with observation. It is not on the natural realm so that you can see it or observe it in any way. Remember, Jesus said, “My Kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). The Kingdom is spiritual. It is determined by your relationship with the Lord. Christians that are still motivated by their soul life – their emotions and their own intellect – cannot experience the Kingdom. They can’t see it or detect it with any of their natural faculties. The Kingdom comes within those who have become His righteousness by going through tribulation. It is the same with the coming of the Lord; it happens when He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (II Thessalonians 1:10). The coming of the Lord and His Kingdom takes place in His saints.
When they say the Kingdom is here or it is there, don’t go. It doesn’t come in a way you could observe it with your natural abilities. It is another realm and it takes place in His saints. Most people are in a world of darkness. Even many Christians are in a world of darkness because they are only aware of what they can sense with their natural senses. At the same time there are some of God’s people that are walking around in the Kingdom of God completely unnoticed by others, for the Kingdom is within them. They have been delivered out of the power of darkness, and have been translated into the Kingdom of His dear Son (Colossians 1:13).
Matthew 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
The poor in spirit are blessed because they are not seeking self-importance. They are not looking for anything the world can offer. To be poor in spirit is to be humble of heart. They always seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.
Let’s look at this verse as it is directly from the Greek. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for of them is the Kingdom of heavens. Notice that the Kingdom is “of them.” The Kingdom is not merely something they possess; it is of them, that is, it is in them. They and the Kingdom become one. Also notice that the word “heavens” in the Greek is plural. It is the Kingdom of heavens, meaning there are many levels or realms of the Kingdom. This is magnificent! When you enter the Kingdom of heaven there is continual progression. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end (Isaiah 9:7). Seek first the Kingdom of God; you will not be disappointed!
Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness! How righteous do you need to become? Well, more righteous than the scribes and Pharisees. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the Kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:20. That means being religious will not help you. The scribes and the Pharisees were the most religious of all people, and Jesus called them serpents, a generation of vipers (Matthew 23:33). The outward forms of religion will not help you become righteous. What is the answer? Be poor in spirit, be meek, hunger and thirst after righteousness, be merciful, be pure in heart (Matthew 5:3-8). Let me say again: It is not what you do but what you become that makes you righteous! How do you become those things? You become poor in spirit, meek, and pure in heart because God takes you through your own personal tribulation. Without tribulation you will not be motivated to forsake self and to seek the Kingdom and His righteousness. “How do I get this started?” Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:33. Set your heart to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and everything else that is needed will be added. Just the right kind of tribulation and disciplines that you need will be added. You concentrate on hungering and thirsting after God and He will do the rest. He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6). When you seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, then the Lord begins His work in your life and He will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ, when you and Christ are of the same divine nature. Seek ye first….
Copyright © 2008 by Henry DuBose