April 12, 2012, rev. May 11, June 15
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Matthew 13:44
Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place. John 18:36
The Biblical Kingdom of God
A “kingdom” is a place, with a king and his subjects, and with its own laws and culture. The Kingdom of God is present on earth wherever His rule is expressed in and through a human being who has chosen to receive Jesus as Savior and surrender to Him as Lord. Sometimes it appears to be as small as the Mt. 13:30-32 mustard seed but it might be expressed in something quite dramatic.
Certainly the Kingdom of God profoundly affects every aspect of the Christian’s life on earth, but its presence is always to bring glory to God and make Him known to the unsaved. It is His kingdom, not ours. It is about Him, more than us. For the present time it is more a spiritual kingdom. It is about righteousness, peace and joy, the life God offers and the deepest need of humanity (Rom.14:17), but in the age to come it will be expressed in all aspects of creation as it was in the Garden of Eden.
The Kingdom of God cannot be understood outside of at least a minimal knowledge of the battle between God and Satan, which began when Satan rebelled against God and will only end when he is cast into the Rev. 20:10 lake of burning sulfur. I describe that in “The Battle of the Ages,” Part I in the free online book, “The Cosmic Battle and the American Christian.” This battle takes place in man’s mind and will. Both God and Satan vie for the affection and loyalty of man although their tactics and tools, and their rewards, are polar opposites. As opposite as life and death, truth and lies.
We humans don’t ever get to rule ourselves. We are servants (slaves) to either God or Satan and we are advancing the agenda of one or the other. (Rom. 6:19-22) We glorify either God or Satan when we declare one of them superior by giving them our loyalty.
The Kingdom of God is so real, yet often misunderstood, underestimated, and seemingly evasive. I hope to help us get a better grip on that and to experience it more deeply. May it be so!
In the Garden
As I discuss in Part II of the free online workbook “The True Worshipers,” man was made with the need for wholeness from a source greater than and outside of himself. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve’s spirit was alive and they communed with God, spirit to Spirit. God spoke into their lives through their spirit, which then guided their body and soul (mind, will and emotions.) All was well and they had fullness of Life in every way.
When Adam and Eve sinned however, their spirit to Spirit communion with God was cut off. Satan had approached them through their soul and body and he gained rule over them. It easy for us to see that man is now guided by his soul (mind, will and emotions) and body and that they are influenced by Satan.
The death that man experienced when he was cut off from God was two-fold. First of all, he lost the spectacular “glory” of the Garden, which included evening chats with Creator God and all the benefits of being in harmony with Him. “Righteousness” was all they had known before sin, and its peace and joy were as natural as the sunrise, but now there was brokenness as our world knows it today. Secondly, man would now die physically after which he would pass into eternal (forever) existence in either Life or death. “Death,” as used here, is best described as separation from God and the Life He offers. The Life that he was created to enjoy, forever.
New Life in Christ
In the death and resurrection of Jesus, He provided for our freedom from the spiritual death that was obligatory because of original sin. When we born again we are transferred from the dominion of Satan to that of God; from darkness to light, from death to life, as in Acts 26:18 and Col. 1:12-14. I discuss that at length in Part III, “Born Again.”
The greatest part of being born again is that we spend forever in heaven with God. Incredible! However, there is also a spectacular “now” aspect of being reconnected to Him. We can again have fellowship with Him and can find our fullness and wholeness in Him! As America has been known for democracy, so (and even to a greater extent) the Kingdom of God is marked by the Rom. 14:17 righteousness, peace and joy - - qualities which represent the deepest cravings of humanity.
Our inner need - - our spiritual need - - is by far our greatest need and it is the only part of us that is eternal. Our few years here on earth in our physical bodies, with our present mind, will and emotions, are only a nanosecond compared to eternity. This is a preparation for what is to come, and while we are so wonderfully brought back into communion with God, the world we live in will continue to be shaped by the brokenness that came through sin. (Rom. 8:18-25)
We know that man was originally given dominion over the earth (Gen. 1:26-28 ) but that he lost that right and power when he disobeyed God. Satan is now “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2) and he has dominion over the earth (I John 5:19 and Eph. 6:12). God offers us fullness of life in the midst of this, through our surrender to His rule in our hearts which then enables us to live a godly life by His power. (Rom. 6:1-7)
This is the “now” aspect of the Kingdom of God, and greater things are to come. One of Satan’s ploys is to try to trick us into viewing the present Kingdom of God in earthly terms, and according to power that man supposedly has. This not only cheats Christians out of the wholeness they could receive through God’s rule in their hearts - - it sets them up for substitute, false doctrines including Dominionism and the signs and wonders movement.
I will be grieved if in my attempt to warn of the error of Dominionism, I fail to motivate Christians to become more zealous than ever before for the authentic Kingdom of God.
Other Study Resources
- The Kingdom of God is Within You, by Andrew Murray, 1897. A PDF. Fantastic - - read it!
- A Biblical Theology of the Kingdom of God – An extensive study
- Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, on “Kingdom”
- 162 New Testament verses where the Greek “basileia,” translated “kingdom,” is found in KJV
- See Links Page for more resources on Dominionism and why you don’t want to be part of it.
Ken Stoltzfus, P.O. Box 228, Kidron, OH 44636 USA
Tel. 330-857-6312 firstname.lastname@example.org