What is the kingdom of God? Is it our local congregation, your family, or a particular nation on earth? Is the kingdom of God within human consciousness or is it a place we go on pilgrimage? These are just a few of the many questions about the kingdom of God that show us why it is such a mystery.
Recently, Graeme Goldsworthy’s book, Gospel and Kingdom, has helped me understand the kingdom of God. Goldsworthy gives us a simple way to think of the kingdom, and to see it throughout the Bible and history. He says the kingdom of God involves God’s people, in God’s place, under God’s rule. When we read the Bible, we can see that these three components of the kingdom are always present. We can also see that there is a development to the kingdom going on all the time. This is the saving activity of God in history.
This is important for us to understand so that history will make sense to us. God is active in history. History is the time in which God is working to expand his kingdom by extending his rule to more and more people. All the places in history where God ruled his people- Eden, the Promised Land, Jerusalem- point to the place where the kingdom of God will be in its final form. Someday, history as we know it will be brought to its conclusion, which will be the beginning of a new day, in a new place, with the new people of God living under his rule and care. There we will say with all the voices in heaven, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 11:15)
What about today? The kingdom of God is the rule of God over the people of God in the place of God. The kingdom is within a person through faith in Jesus Christ, and each person of faith enters into the kingdom to come. Today, the followers of Jesus are kingdom people living under his rule in the world. The kingdom of God is within us because Jesus is our Lord. Jesus has given us the way of the kingdom, which is faith and love and obedience to him. The good news of the kingdom is going out through the church and is extending God’s grace to more and more people. People are repenting and believing in Jesus and entering the kingdom of God. The kingdom is growing.
Our time in human history is a time of kingdom expansion, as people from every nation confess Jesus as Lord and come under his rule.
The question we are asking ourselves at Grace Community Church is how does the kingdom of God shape our praying, our longing, and our living?
Think about this question this weekend. I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.