Whether you want to be or not, whether you are aware of it or not, whether you are actively engaged in it or not, you are at war. Planet earth and especially the humans who live here are a battleground of epic proportions and eternal consequences. In case your view of life on earth is that this is merely a staging ground or a waiting room for the next life, beware — you are on a battleground filled with dangerous landmines that the enemy has planted to destroy you. You need to know about the kingdom of God.
So, as the Apostle Paul told the Roman Christians, Wake up … Don’t participate in the darkness (Romans 13:11, 13; NLT). If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, Satan wants to destroy you, your family, and your church because you have abandoned his side and changed your allegiance.
As a follower of Jesus Christ, you are an expatriate. You are living in a country that is not your own. You have renounced your native citizenship and taken an oath of loyalty to a new nation. Your adopted “country” is not a democracy; it’s a monarchy, a kingdom, and Jesus is King. He is not just the coming King, He is your King right now.
Philippians 3:20 tells us that our citizenship is in heaven; not “will be,” but now. I don’t know how you feel about your earthly, native country, but I have bad news for you — it is a fallen culture. In fact, all earthly cultures and nations are fallen. Only the kingdom that Jesus reigns over is not fallen, and that culture — the kingdom of God — should be our first allegiance. So, we need to know a lot more about that culture.
As His disciples, we need to learn about the kingdom of God because it is our new nationality, our Fatherland, the kingdom of which we are a part. Any other kingdom or nation we might belong to is not only fallen, it is under the authority of the powers of darkness. Proper decorum for living in God’s kingdom must be learned, so we had better understand this kingdom. We wouldn’t go to Buckingham Palace without first learning how to dress and behave appropriately. Nor is an alien granted citizenship without first learning the basic facts about his or her new country and government. So, we must learn more about this kingdom which demands our loyalty and spiritual patriotism, and for which we wage spiritual warfare. What, then, is the kingdom of God?
The Kingdom of God
The dominant theme of the teachings of Jesus was about His kingdom, which He also called the Kingdom of God. His unique kingdom was recognized in His infancy when the magi from the East came to Jerusalem asking, Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? (Matthew 2:2). His kingdom teaching and signs continued until His trial before Pontius Pilate who asked Him, Are you the King of the Jews? Jesus responded, It is as you say (Matthew 27:11). John’s Gospel reports that He went on to say to Pilate, My kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36).
If Pilate was confused, he wasn’t the only one. A question begged to be asked, but no one dared or thought to ask — what, exactly, do you mean by “kingdom”? The King used the phrase frequently, usually in the midst of a parable or story. Like when He said, “The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed.” But no one asked the obvious — “What do you mean by kingdom of God?”
And yet by His stories, and more by His life, an understanding of the kingdom of God gradually dawned on the disciples. They began to understand kingdom life because they were experiencing it!
The kingdom of God for King Jesus meant the rule of God in the hearts and lives of people who know, love, and obey God. It is not a geographical place where Jesus owns political control. It is a reign, not a realm. It is an active power in people due to the authority of God in their lives.
One time the Pharisees were asking Jesus about when the kingdom of God would come. He answered them,
The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, nor will they say, “Look, here it is!” or “There it is!” For, behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.
Jesus was affirming the presence of the kingdom in the lives of His followers, and yet it is obvious from many of the other teachings of King Jesus that there is a dimension of the kingdom that we know nothing about in this life.21
So where is the kingdom? What is the kingdom? When God chooses to confront a situation — that is the kingdom of God. His kingdom is His presence and power in authority. The kingdom of God was most clearly seen when Jesus used His power to defeat the effects of sin in the lives of people.
His authority astonished everyone who witnessed His mighty acts and teachings. Luke reports an interesting statement by King Jesus about His authority over demons and the nature of the kingdom. He had recently expelled a demon, and for doing that He was challenged by the Pharisees regarding the source of His authority. They were suggesting that His strength came from demons. King Jesus made a quick rebuttal to that foolish notion. Then He added, But if I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you (Luke 11:20).
So, King Jesus saw and taught that the kingdom of God has power over the forces of evil and the damning effects of sin on God’s creation. God’s kingdom overrules every power that would attempt to undermine and diminish the creative work of God and His eternal plan.
This article is an excerpt from David E. Schroeder’s book, The Lion, the Church, and the Warfare.